American Forces Press Service

Bush: FBI 'Fully Engaged' in Anti-Terror War

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2003 - America has been on the offensive at home and overseas against global terrorists in the two years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush told FBI employees today at the agency's crime laboratory at Quantico, Va.

In his address, the president praised the FBI, noting the agency "is fully engaged" in the war on terror, helping the nation make progress against would- be terrorists.

Efforts by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security on the home front, he added, also are helping to protect Americans from terrorists.

Since 9-11, Bush said, the FBI has doubled its assets used in uprooting terrorist plots against this country. The bureau, he added, also has become better at analyzing and sharing intelligence information with other government organizations.

Consequently, the "left hand now knows what the right hand is doing," the president remarked, noting that U.S. government agencies are using more teamwork to uncover threats to the homeland.

As a result, Bush noted, terrorist fronts in Buffalo, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; Tampa, Fla.; Seattle; Detroit; and North Carolina have been broken up. More than 260 suspected terrorists have been brought before U.S. courts, he added, resulting in more than 140 convictions.

The Transportation Security Administration - part of DHS -- now has 48,000 professional security employees working at the nation's airports, the president pointed out. And every piece of baggage going on an airplane, he noted, is now being electronically screened.

The presence of thousands of federal air marshals aboard U.S. flights and the hardening of cockpit doors are also helping to make the skies over America safer, Bush said, forestalling "planes from being used as weapons against the American people."

DHS is also making U.S. borders more secure, Bush said, by increased surveillance and working with the State Department to conduct enhanced visitor background and visa application checks.

These measures, he noted, prevent terrorists from gaining entry into the country, noting that America's borders "must be closed to criminals and terrorists."

Yet America will remain "a welcoming society" for law-abiding families, tourists, students and business people from other countries, the president said.

Since the 9-11 attacks, the United States "has made the largest commitment to securing its seaports since World War II," Bush pointed out. The Coast Guard, he continued, has conducted more than 124,000 port security patrols and more than 13,000 air patrols, and has boarded more than 92,000 vessels.

Also, ships' captains now are required to provide electronic cargo manifests 24 hours in advance of container loading, Bush explained, to allow U.S. officials "time to check for potential dangers."

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