Bush to Mark 9/11 With Televised Address

By Anushka Asthana and Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 10, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 8 -- President Bush plans to address the nation from the Oval Office on Monday night, capping two days of ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The White House has requested network television time for the address, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. All four major broadcast networks have agreed to air the president's remarks.

"This is not a political speech. There are not going to be any calls to action for Congress," said White House press secretary Tony Snow. "It will be a reflection of what September 11th has meant to the president and to the country, the realities that it has brought to all of our attention, and how we can move forward together to try to win the war on terror."

Bush's commemoration of the anniversary of the attacks will begin Sunday afternoon in New York, where he will lay a wreath at Ground Zero before taking part in a prayer service.

On Monday, he will begin his day with breakfast with emergency service personnel in New York, then participate in a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time that the first plane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. After that, he will join a ceremony with New York first responders.

From there, Bush will travel to Shanksville, Pa., where just after noon he is scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying. Later that afternoon, he will conclude his visits to the three crash sites by taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon.

The anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation's history also will inspire a brief moment of bipartisan comity. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) will be among those joining Bush at the Pentagon ceremony. That evening, congressional leaders from both parties will lead a commemoration of the national tragedy with speeches, a moment of silence and patriotic songs from the steps of the Capitol.

The solemn observances will come after a series of impassioned speeches in which Bush has evoked memories of the terrorist attack in an effort to shore up flagging public support for the war in Iraq. He also has called on Congress to support his plan for military tribunals to try terrorism suspects and to give him authority to conduct warrantless wiretapping.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have used the impending anniversary to remind voters that Osama bin Laden has eluded the government's five-year effort to hunt him down and to argue that Bush's decision to wage war in Iraq has needlessly complicated the nation's anti-terrorism efforts.

White House aides announced plans for Monday's speech on a day that Bush headlined closed-door fundraisers for GOP Senate candidates in Michigan and Missouri. His first stop was a $2,100-per-person fundraiser in Clarkston, Mich., where he hoped to raise about $1 million for Senate candidate Mike Bouchard and state Republicans. Bush then traveled to Missouri to boost the reelection bid of Sen. James M. Talent (R), who is locked in a tight race with State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D).

Bush's motorcade passed a small demonstration by protesters in Michigan holding up signs that read "President You've Let Us Down" and urging him to meet with the chief executives of the nation's struggling automobile manufacturers. A planned meeting between Bush and the heads of the nation's leading automakers has been repeatedly delayed, and deputy press secretary Dana Perino said the session will be held sometime after the November election to "avoid getting it mired in politics."

Fletcher reported from Washington.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company