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15 September 2001

Transcript: Bush Says U.S. Will Do "Whatever It Takes" to Defeat Terrorists

(Sept. 15: Bush, Powell, Ashcroft at Camp David) (1870)
Opening a meeting of top national security advisors at the
presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, President Bush said
September 15 that his administration will dedicate itself to winning
the war against the terrorists who have declared war on America.
He also confirmed that Osama bin Laden is a "prime suspect" in the
investigation into the hijacking and crashing of four U.S. commercial
airliners, the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York and
partial destruction of the Pentagon September 11.
"None of us could have envisioned the barbaric acts of these
terrorists," Bush said. "But they have stirred up the might of the
American people, and we're going to get them, no matter what it
takes."
"This act will not stand; we will find those who did it; we will smoke
them out of their holes; we will get them running and we'll bring them
to justice. We will not only deal with those who dare attack America,
we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them,"
the President said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell mentioned the "expressions of support
from around the world" that the United States has received. "Dozens of
countries lost lives [at the World Trade Center] and they realize that
this was an attack against them, as well," he said.
Powell praised Pakistan "for the support that they have offered and
their willness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part
of the world as we determine who these perpetrators are." Asked for
details, he said, "We put before the Pakistani government a specific
list of things that we would like cooperation on, and they've agreed
to all those items. I'm not prepared to announce today what those
specific items are."
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the investigators are working on
"thousands of leads. "We have named 19 individuals that we have high
levels of confidence were the hijackers. And we are further refining
our understanding of the ways in which this terrible crime was
developed."
Following is a White House transcript of their remarks:
(begin transcript)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Smithsburg, Maryland)
September 15, 2001
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT, SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL AND ATTORNEY
GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT
Camp David
Thurmont, Maryland
9:19 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I've asked the highest levels of our government to come
to discuss the current tragedy that has so deeply affected our nation.
Our country mourns for the loss of life and for those whose lives have
been so deeply affected by this despicable act of terror.
I am going to describe to our leadership what I saw: the wreckage of
New York City, the signs of the first battle of war.
We're going to meet and deliberate and discuss -- but there's no
question about it, this act will not stand; we will find those who did
it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running
and we'll bring them to justice. We will not only deal with those who
dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed
them and house them.
Make no mistake about it: underneath our tears is the strong
determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.
I'm going to ask the Secretary of State to say a few things, and then
the Attorney General.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Mr. President. I might just say that I'm
very pleased with the response we've been getting from the
international community. I think every civilized nation in the world
recognizes that this was an assault not just against the United
States, but against civilization.
We should also take note, it's not just Americans who lost lives in
the World Trade Center -- dozens of countries lost lives and they
realize that this was an attack against them, as well.
We are receiving expressions of support from around the world -- and
not just rhetorical support, but real support for whatever may lay
ahead in this campaign that is ahead of us to win the war that the
President has spoken of.
I might especially want to thank the President and the people of
Pakistan for the support that they have offered and their willingness
to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world
as we determine who those perpetrators are. It's a coalition that will
stay intact, that will be built upon over time. And what we have to do
is not just go after these perpetrators, and those who gave them
haven, but the whole curse of terrorism that is upon the face of the
earth. And this is a campaign that we have begun this week and we will
stick with it until we are successful.
THE PRESIDENT: Attorney General.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ASHCROFT: Four days ago we began an investigative
effort to understand not only those who perpetrate this heinous
assault against America and free people everywhere, but to develop an
understanding of those who are associated with it and how it was
conducted.
The FBI, together with very cooperative local and state officials and
law enforcement agencies has processed thousands of leads. We are
making the kinds of contacts and developing the information that allow
us to describe this as proceeding with reasonable success. We believe
that the picture is developing a kind of clarity that's appropriate.
We have named 19 individuals that we have high levels of confidence
were the hijackers. And we are further refining our understanding of
the ways in which this terrible crime was developed.
I might add that we have put in place very serious measures that we
believe will provide greater security and provide a basis for our
country returning to the kind of freedom and business and conduct that
is characteristic of this great nation.
Q: Sir, what do you say to Americans who are worried that the longer
it takes to retaliate, the more chance the perpetrators have to escape
and hide and just escape justice?
THE PRESIDENT: They will try to hide, they will try to avoid the
United States and our allies -- but we're not going to let them. They
run to the hills; they find holes to get in. And we will do whatever
it takes to smoke them out and get them running, and we'll get them.
Listen, this is a great nation; we're a kind people. None of us could
have envisioned the barbaric acts of these terrorists. But they have
stirred up the might of the American people, and we're going to get
them, no matter what it takes.
In my radio address today I explained to the American people that this
effort may require patience. But we're going to --
Q: How long --
THE PRESIDENT: As long as it takes. And it's not just one person.
We're talking about those who fed them, those who house them, those
who harbor terrorists will be held accountable for this action.
Q: Sir, are you satisfied that Osama bin Laden is at least a kingpin
of this operation?
THE PRESIDENT: There is no question he is what we would call a prime
suspect. And if he thinks he can hide and run from the United States
and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.
Q: Mr. President, do you have a message for the Reservists that you
called up yesterday? Can you tell us whether you think more may have
to be called up?
THE PRESIDENT: The message is for everybody who wears the uniform: get
ready. The United States will do what it takes to win this war. And I
ask patience of the American people. There is no question in my mind
we'll have the resolve -- I witnessed it yesterday on the construction
site. Behind the sadness and the exhaustion, there is a desire by the
American people to not seek only revenge, but to win a war against
barbaric behavior, people that hate freedom and hate what we stand
for.
And this is an administration that is going to dedicate ourselves to
winning that war.
Q: What did Pakistan say it would do to help the United States?
SECRETARY POWELL: We put before the Pakistani government a specific
list of things that we would like cooperation on, and they've agreed
to all those items. I'm not prepared to announce today what those
specific items are. But the Pakistani government was very forthcoming
and we're appreciative.
Q: Mr. President, what kind of military options are you considering,
if you could talk broadly?
THE PRESIDENT: This is an administration that will not talk about how
we gather intelligence, how we know what we're going to do, nor what
our plans are. When we move, we will communicate with you in an
appropriate manner.
We're at war. There has been an act of war declared upon America by
terrorists, and we will respond accordingly. And I appreciate very
much the American people understanding that. As we plan, as we put our
strategy into action, we will let you know when we think it's
appropriate -- not only to protect the lives of our servicemen and
women, but to make sure our coalition has had proper time to be
noticed, as well. But we're going to act.
Q: What is the risk of additional attacks on us at this point?
THE PRESIDENT: I would think the American people need to be -- go
about their business on Monday, but with a heightened sense of
awareness that a group of barbarians have declared war on the American
people.
Q: Sir, how much of a sacrifice are ordinary Americans going to have
to be expected to make in their daily lives, in their daily routines?
THE PRESIDENT: Our hope, of course, is that they make no sacrifice
whatsoever. We would like to see life return to normal in America. But
these people have declared war on us and we will do whatever it takes
to make sure that we're safe internally. So, therefore, people may not
be able to board flights as quickly. Our borders are tighter than
they've ever been before. We're taken a variety of measures to make
sure that the American people are safe, just as the Attorney General
spoke about.
But we hope, obviously, that the measures we take will allow the
American economy to continue on. I urge people to go to their
businesses on Monday. I understand major league baseball is going to
start playing again. It is important for America to get on about its
life. But our government will be on full alert and we'll be tracing
every lead, every potential to make sure that the American people are
safe.
Q: How long do you envision --
THE PRESIDENT: The definition is, whatever it takes.
END 9:28 A.M. EDT
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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