16 September 2001
Transcript: Bush Says Foreign Leaders Want to Cooperate Against Terrorists
(Speaks September 16 after arrival from Camp David) (2050)
President Bush, speaking to reporters September 16 upon his arrival at
the White House from Camp David, Maryland, said he had talked with
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf "and there is no question that
he wants to cooperate with the United States. "
Bush said responses from India and Saudi Arabia have also been "very
positive and very straightforward. They know what my intentions are.
They know my intentions are to find those who did this, find those who
encouraged them, find them who house them, find those who comfort
them, and bring them to justice. ... They said, we understand, Mr.
President, and we're with you."
He said the United States will continue to work with Pakistan, India,
Russia and other nations "to bring people to justice. But more than
that, to win the war against terrorist activity."
Asked whether he believe Osama bin Laden's denial that he had anything
to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks, Bush replied that there
is "no question he is the prime suspect."
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 16, 2001
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT UPON ARRIVAL
The South Lawn
3:23 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Today, millions of Americans mourned and prayed, and
tomorrow we go back to work. Today, people from all walks of life gave
thanks for the heroes; they mourn the dead; they ask for God's good
graces on the families who mourn, and tomorrow the good people of
America go back to their shops, their fields, American factories, and
go back to work.
Our nation was horrified, but it's not going to be terrorized. We're a
great nation. We're a nation of resolve. We're a nation that can't be
cowed by evil-doers. I've got great faith in the American people. If
the American people had seen what I had seen in New York City, you'd
have great faith, too. You'd have faith in the hard work of the
rescuers; you'd have great faith because of the desire for people to
do what's right for America; you'd have great faith because of the
compassion and love that our fellow Americans are showing each other
in times of need.
I also have faith in our military. And we have got a job to do -- just
like the farmers and ranchers and business owners and factory workers
have a job to do. My administration has a job to do, and we're going
to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers. We will call
together freedom loving people to fight terrorism.
And on this day of -- on the Lord's Day, I say to my fellow Americans,
thank you for your prayers, thank you for your compassion, thank you
for your love for one another. And tomorrow when you get back to work,
work hard like you always have. But we've been warned. We've been
warned there are evil people in this world. We've been warned so
vividly -- and we'll be alert. Your government is alert. The governors
and mayors are alert that evil folks still lurk out there.
As I said yesterday, people have declared war on America, and they
have made a terrible mistake, because this is a fabulous country. Our
economy will come back. We'll still be the best farmers and ranchers
in the world. We're still the most innovative entrepreneurs in the
world. On this day of faith, I've never had more faith in America than
I have right now.
Q: Mr. President, are you worried this crisis might send us into a
THE PRESIDENT: David, I understand that there are some businesses that
hurt as a result of this crisis. Obviously, New York City hurts.
Congress acted quickly. We worked together, the White House and the
Congress, to pass a significant supplemental. A lot of that money was
dedicated to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as it should be.
People will be amazed at how quickly we rebuild New York; how quickly
people come together to really wipe away the rubble and show the world
that we're still the strongest nation in the world.
But I have great faith in the resiliency of the economy. And no
question about it, this incident affected our economy, but the markets
open tomorrow, people go back to work and we'll show the world.
Q: Mr. President, do you believe Osama bin Laden's denial that he had
anything to do with this?
THE PRESIDENT: No question he is the prime suspect. No question about
Q: Mr. President, can you describe your conversation with the
President of Pakistan and the specific comments he made to you? And,
in addition to that, do you see other -- you've asked Saudi Arabia to
help out, other countries?
THE PRESIDENT: John, I will -- obviously, I made a call to the leader
of Pakistan. We had a very good, open conversation. And there is no
question that he wants to cooperate with the United States. I'm not at
liberty to detail specifically what we have asked him to do. In the
course of this conduct of this war against terrorism, I'll be asked a
lot, and members of my administration will be asked a lot of questions
about our strategies and tactics. And in order to protect the lives of
people that will be involved in different operations, I'm not at
liberty to talk about it and I won't talk about it.
But I can tell you that the response from Pakistan; Prime Minister
Vajpayee today, of India, Saudi Arabia, has been very positive and
very straightforward. They know what my intentions are. They know my
intentions are to find those who did this, find those who encouraged
them, find them who house them, find those who comfort them, and bring
them to justice.
I made that very clear. There is no doubt in anybody's mind with whom
I've had a conversation about the intent of the United States. I gave
them ample opportunity to say they were uncomfortable with our goal.
And the leaders you've asked about have said they were comfortable.
They said, we understand, Mr. President, and we're with you.
Q: Mr. President, the Attorney General is going to ask for enhanced
law enforcement authority to surveil and -- things to disrupt
terrorism that might be planned here in the United States. What will
that mean for the rights of Americans? What will that mean -
THE PRESIDENT: Terry, I ask you to talk to the Attorney General about
that subject. He'll be prepared to talk about it publicly at some
point in time. But what he is doing is, he's reflecting what I said
earlier in my statement, that we're facing a new kind of enemy,
somebody so barbaric that they would fly airplanes into buildings full
of innocent people. And, therefore, we have to be on alert in America.
We're a nation of law, a nation of civil rights. We're also a nation
under attack. And the Attorney General will address that in a way that
I think the American people will understand.
We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be
alert to the fact that these evil-doers still exist. We haven't seen
this kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have
conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and
then emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft -- fly U.S.
aircraft into buildings full of innocent people -- and show no
remorse. This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil. And we
understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This
crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while. And the
American people must be patient. I'm going to be patient.
But I can assure the American people I am determined, I'm not going to
be distracted, I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are
these brought to justice, but anybody who's been associated will be
brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to
justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century
decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live
peacefully into the 21st century.
Q: Mr. President, you've declared we're at war and asked those who
wear the uniform to get ready. Should the American public also be
ready for the possibility of casualties in this war?
THE PRESIDENT: Patsy, the American people should know that my
administration is determined to find, to get them running and to hunt
them down, those who did this to America. Now, I want to remind the
American people that the prime suspect's organization is in a lot of
countries -- it's a widespread organization based upon one thing:
terrorizing. They can't stand freedom; they hate what America stands
for. So this will be a long campaign, a determined campaign -- a
campaign that will use the resources of the United States to win.
They have roused a mighty giant. And make no mistake about it: we're
determined. Oh, there will be times when people don't have this
incident on their minds, I understand that. There will be times down
the road where citizens will be concerned about other matters, and I
completely understand that. But this administration, along with those
friends of ours who are willing to stand with us all the way through
will do what it takes to rout terrorism out of the world.
Q: Mr. President, in your conversation with Pakistan's leader, was
there any request or demand you made of him that he failed to satisfy?
THE PRESIDENT: The leader of Pakistan has been very cooperative. He
has agreed with our requests to aid our nation to hunt down, to find,
to smoke out of their holes the terrorist organization that is the
prime suspect. And I am pleased with his response. We will continue to
work with Pakistan and India. We will work with Russia. We will work
with the nations that one would have thought a couple of years ago
would have been impossible to work with -- to bring people to justice.
But more than that, to win the war against terrorist activity.
The American people are used to a conflict where there was a beachhead
or a desert to cross or known military targets. That may occur. But
right now we're facing people who hit and run. They hide in caves.
We'll get them out.
The other day I said, not only will we find those who have affected
America, or who might affect America in the future, we'll also deal
with those who harbor them.
Q: Mr. President, would you confirm what the Vice President said this
morning, that at one point during this crisis you gave an order to
shoot down any civilian airliner that approached the Capitol? Was that
a difficult decision to make?
THE PRESIDENT: I gave our military the orders necessary to protect
Americans, do whatever it would take to protect Americans. And of
course that's difficult. Never did anybody's thought process about how
to protect America did we ever think that the evil-doers would fly not
one, but four commercial aircraft into precious U.S. targets -- never.
And so, obviously, when I was told what was taking place, when I was
informed that an unidentified aircraft was headed to the heart of the
capital, I was concerned. I wasn't concerned about my decision; I was
more concerned about the lives of innocent Americans. I had realized
there on the ground in Florida we were under attack. But never did I
dream we would have been under attack this way.
That's why I say to the American people we've never seen this kind of
evil before. But the evil-doers have never seen the American people in
action before, either -- and they're about to find out.
Thank you all very much.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list