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Text: President Bush at the CIA

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2001

The following is a transcript of President Bush's speech to CIA employees. The president was introduced by CIA Director George Tenet.

TENET: Mr. President, the exceptional men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency and our entire intelligence community, the wonderful patriots with whom I'm honored to serve, welcome you back at this turning point in the life of our nation.

On September 11, the forces of terror issued a brutal challenge to civilization itself. And under your leadership, the American people are responding with unity, resolve and enormous strength. All of us here and at places of duty around the world know that the present fight will neither be short nor easy. But our shared determination to see that fight through to victory--the victory of life and freedom--could not be greater.

That is what we pledge to you today, Mr. President--our greatest service in this greatest of causes.

Now it is my high honor and privilege to introduce our great commander-in-chief, the president of the United States, the Honorable George W. Bush.

BUSH: Thank you all very much.

Well, George, thank you very much and thanks for inviting me back.


There's no question that I am in the hall of patriots, and I've come to say a couple of things to you. First, thanks for your hard work.

You know, George and I have been spending a lot of quality time together.


There's a reason. I've got a lot of confidence in him and I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA.


And so should America. It's important for America to realize that there are men and women who are spending hours on the task of making sure our country remains free. Men and women of the CIA, who are sleeping on the floor, eating cold pizza, calling their kids on the phone saying, ``Well, I won't be able to tuck you in tonight,'' because they love America.

And I'm here to thank everybody who loves America in this building, and I want to thank you for what you're doing.

We are on a mission to make sure that freedom is enduring. We're on a mission to say to the rest of the world, ``Come with us. Come with us, stand by our side to defeat the evildoers who would like to rid the world of freedom as we know it.''

There is no better institute to be working with than the Central Intelligence Agency which serves as our ears and our eyes all around the world.

This is a war that is unlike any other war that our nation is used to. It's a battle and--it's a war of a series of battles that sometimes we'll see the fruits of our labors and sometimes we won't. It's a war that's going to require cooperation with our friends. It is a war that requires the best of intelligence. You see, the enemy is sometimes hard to find. They like to hide. They think they can hide, but we know better.

This is a war that not only says to those who believe they can disrupt American lives or for that matter any society's, that believes in freedom, lives. It's also a war that declares a new declaration that says, if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists. If you provide safe haven to a terrorist, you're just a guilty as the terrorist. If you fund a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist.

And in order to make sure that we're able to conduct a winning victory, we've got to have the best intelligence we can possibly have. And my report to the nation is we've got the best intelligence we can possibly have, thanks to the men and women of the CIA.

The cooperation with Capitol Hill is unique, and I hope lasting. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the work of Senator Daschle and Senator Lott, Speaker Hastert, and leader Gephardt of deep concern in both Republicans and Democrats at Capitol Hill to do what's right for America--is to come together to provide the necessary support for an effective war.

And that includes making sure that the CIA is well funded, well staffed, has got the latest in technology. I believe we can work together to make sure that's the case. After all, as America is learning, the CIA is on the front line of making sure our victory will be secure.

I intend to continue to work with Congress to make sure there are law enforcement officials at home have got the tools necessary, obviously within the confines of our Constitution, to make sure the homeland is secure, to make sure America can live as peacefully as possible and to make sure that we run down every threat, take serious every incident. And we've got to make sure as well that those who work for the nation overseas have got the best available technologies and the best tools and the best funding possible.

There's a good spirit on Capitol Hill, because Americans want to win. They want to win the first war of the 21st century, and win we must. We have no choice. We can't relent.

Now, there's going to be a time hopefully in the near future where people say, gosh, my life's almost normal. September 11 is a sad memory, but it's a memory. But those of us on the front lines of this war must never forget September 11. And that includes the men and women of the CIA. We must never forget that this is a long struggle; that there are evil people in the world who hate America. And we won't relent.

The folks who conducted the act on our country on September 11 made a big mistake. They underestimated America. They underestimated our resolve, our determination, our love for freedom. They underestimated the fact that we love a neighbor in need. They underestimated the compassion of our country. I think they underestimated the will and determination of the commander-in-chief, too.


So I was sitting around having coffee with George and Michael...


... I said I think I'd like to come out to thank people once again.

I'd like to come out to the CIA, a center of great Americans, to thank you for your work.

I know how hard you're working, and I hope all the Americans who are listening to this TV broadcast understand how hard you're working, too. You're giving your best shot, long hours, all your brain power, to win a war that we're going to win. And I can't thank you enough on behalf of the American people.

Keep doing it. America relies upon your intelligence and your judgment. America relies upon our capacity to work together as a nation to do what the American people expect. They expect a 100 percent effort, a full-time, no-stop effort on not only securing our homeland, but to bring to justice terrorists, no matter where they live, no matter where they hide. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

Thank you very much. May God bless your work, and may God bless America.


© 2001 The Washington Post Company