Nation Marks Fifth Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
Monday, September 11, 2006; 5:52 PM
The nation today marked the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, memorializing the nearly 3,000 people who died that day in solemn remembrances that included the ritual reading of victims' names at the sites of the attacks, public tributes to lost loved ones and private tears and grieving among those they left behind.
President Bush, who today visited the three sites hit in those terror attacks, will address the nation in a televised speech at 9 p.m. from the Oval Office that salutes the victims and the rescue workers and renews Bush's determination to destroy terrorist threats.
"The war is not over -- and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious," the president will say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House. "If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons."
Bush will also again stress his belief that democratic reform in the Middle East is a strong weapon in the battle with terrorists.
"By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism. And we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East: The desire of millions to be free," the White House text said.
At the scene of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York, a 16-acre site that has come to be called Ground Zero, a crowd this morning observed four moments of silence coinciding with the exact times two hijacked planes struck the north and south towers and the times the two towers subsequently collapsed in massive clouds of dust and debris.
Relatives of those who died read their names aloud and added brief personal eulogies as solemn music played. It took more than three hours to go through the list of 2,749 people who were in the trade center, on board the two hijacked airliners and among the firefighters, police and other rescue personnel who rushed to the scene only to perish when the skyscrapers came crashing down.
Other ceremonies and commemorations were held across the United States, notably at the Pentagon, which was hit by another hijacked plane, and in a field near Shanksville, Pa., where the fourth commandeered jetliner went down when passengers revolted.
At CIA headquarters in Northern Virginia, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the agency's director, told employees that the Sept. 11 attacks triggered "our greatest recruiting drive ever," rallying the nation much as Pearl Harbor did for an earlier generation.
"In five years, more than 5,000 terrorists have been captured or killed," Hayden said in highlighting the CIA's "central role" in responding to the attacks. "Al-Qaeda's core operational leadership has been decimated, and their successors are in hiding or on the run." He did not mention Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top al-Qaeda leaders who remain at large nearly five years after their host government in Afghanistan, the radical Islamic Taliban movement, was driven by power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces.
"Working closely with our colleagues throughout the U.S. government and our foreign liaison partners, we have broken cells of al-Qaeda operatives, associates and sympathizers around the world," Hayden said. "Although the enemy, intelligent and resilient, has managed to launch attacks in Europe, Asia and Africa, many potential catastrophes have been averted."
Hayden added, "Five years into this campaign, we cannot say when victory will come. But we now know the enemy and understand his methods with far greater depth and precision."