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Text: Bush on Finding the Terrorists

eMediaMillWorks
eMediaMillWorks
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001

Following is the transcript of President Bush's news conference from the White House on efforts to curb terrorism and find the people involved in the attacks on the U.S.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is it safe to fly? Specifically, would you want a close member of your family to get on a commercial airplane today?

BUSH: We have taken every precaution to make sure that it is safe to fly in America. There are beefed up security at our airports. There is increased presence on the airplanes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, how close are you, sir, to finding out--to nailing down who is responsible for these acts? And what kind of international coalition are you trying to build? Is it similar to the one your father built for the Persian Gulf War?

BUSH: First, let me condition the press this way: Any sources and methods of intelligence will remain guarded and secret. My administration will not talk about how we gather intelligence, if we gather intelligence and what the intelligence says. That's for the protection of the American people. It is important, as we battle this enemy, we conduct ourselves that way.

Secondly, I've been on the phone this morning, just like I was yesterday, and will be on the phone this afternoon with leaders from around the world who express their solidarity with this nation's intention to route out and to whip terrorism. They fully understand that an act of war was declared on the United States of America. They understand as well that that act could have easily been declared on them.

These people can't stand freedom. They hate our values. They hate what America stands for. Many of the leaders understand it could have easily have happened to them.

Secondly, they understand that unlike previous war, this enemy likes to hide. They heard my call loud and clear to those who feel like they can provide safe harbor for the terrorists, that we will hold them responsible as well. And they join me in understanding, not only the concept of the enemy but that the enemy is a different type of enemy. They join me also in solidarity about holding those who fund them, who harbor them, who encourage them responsible for their activities.

I'm pleased with the outpouring of support--Jiang Zemin, Vladimir Putin. I had a great visit this morning with His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I will continue to stay on the phone. And there is universal support for the American people, sadness in their voice, but understanding that we have just seen the first war of the 21st century. And there is universal approval of the statements I have made. And I am confident there will be universal approval of the actions this government takes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, if this is a different kind of war, it might require perhaps a different kind of coalition. Many people believe that for a real war on terrorism to work, you'll need cooperation from governments that haven't necessarily done so in the past, specifically, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Have you made any progress on that front?

BUSH: I would refer you to the statements that the Pakistani leader gave about his--I don't have the exact words in front of me--but his willingness to work with the United States. And I appreciated that statement and now we'll just find out what that means.

Won't we? We will give the Pakistani government a chance to cooperate and to participate as we hunt down those people who committed this unbelievable despicable act on America.

QUESTION: Mr. President, how confident are you that Osama bin Laden is behind these attacks? Do you know what is whereabouts are? And secondly, what kind of support are you looking for from Congress in terms of your willingness to act?

BUSH: We will not discuss intelligence matters, how we gather intelligence and what we know about anybody. When our government acts, you will be informed. Secondly, we had a great meeting yesterday here in the Cabinet room with leadership of the House and the Senate.

I was touched by their response, their encouragement and their willingness to work together and I would be very pleased to see a strong resolution come out of Congress supporting the administration in what we intend to do and we're working closely with Congress.

Progress is being made on a supplemental. I thought that was very swift action, and I'm most appreciative again of Senator Daschle and Representative Gephardt, as well as my Republican colleagues, for really showing solidarity again and uniting the nation. Now is the time for the country to be united and, you know, through the tears of sadness, I see an opportunity. Make no mistake about it, this nation is sad, but we're also tough and resolute.

And now is an opportunity to do generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, hunting it down, finding it and holding them accountable.

The nation must understand, this is now the focus of my administration. We will be very much engaged in domestic policy, of course. I look forward to working with Congress on a variety of issues. But now that war has been declared on us, we will lead the world to victory.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) threat to Air Force One and do you believe that the terrorist attempted to assassinate you, sir?

BUSH: I will not discuss the intelligence that our country has gathered.

QUESTION: Do you believe (OFF-MIKE) assassinating you?

BUSH: I believe I took the--I know, I don't believe--I know I took the appropriate actions as the commander-in-chief to be in a position to be able to make the decisions necessary for our government to handle the crisis.

You didn't hear the end of the phone call with the mayor and George Pataki, both of them thanked me for the fact that we got immediately on the phone with them from Air Force One, and our government responded quickly.

QUESTION: Could you give us a sense as to what kind of prayers you are thinking and where your heart is for yourself, as you work on that?

BUSH: Well, I don't think about myself right now. I think about the families, the children. I'm a loving guy. And I am also someone, however, who's got a job to do, and I intend to do it. And this is a terrible moment.

But this country will not relent until we have saved ourselves and others from the terrible tragedy that came upon America.

Thank you all.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company