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21 March 2003

Text: Bush Informs Congress of U.S. Efforts in Global War on Terrorism

(Reports progress in Afghanistan, global counter-terrorism operations)
(1250)


In keeping with the War Powers Resolution and Public Law 107-40,
President Bush has sent a letter March 20 informing Congress of the
U.S. efforts in the global war against terrorism.


Regarding U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, Bush stated that "al-Qaida's
training capability has been seriously degraded. The Taliban's ability
to brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists
has been virtually eliminated."

Bush added that hundreds of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, believed to
pose a continuing threat to the United States and its interests, have
been detained.

"We currently hold more than 600 enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.
All are being treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and
consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the
principles of the Geneva Conventions of 1949," said Bush in his letter
to Congress.

The operations that the U.S. continues to maintain and develop,
according to the letter, include:

-- Providing a security assistance training program and a variety of
exercises to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
counter-terrorism training and equipment;

-- Conducting maritime interception operations on the high seas in the
Central and European Command areas of responsibility to prevent the
movement, arming, or financing of international terrorists who pose a
continuing threat to the U.S.;

-- Deploying combat-equipped and combat support forces to Georgia and
Yemen to assist the armed forces of those countries in enhancing their
counter-terrorism capabilities.

Bush noted that the United States continues to assess options for
working with other nations to assist with their counter-terrorism
efforts.

Following is the text of Bush's March 20 letter to Congress:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2003

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
AND THE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE

March 20, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker:   (Dear Mr. President:)

On September 24, 2001, I reported the deployment of various
combat-equipped and combat support forces to a number of locations in
the Central and Pacific Command areas of operation. On October 9,
2001, I reported the beginning of combat action in Afghanistan against
terrorists and their Taliban supporters. In my reports to the Congress
of March 20 and September 20, 2002, I provided supplemental
information on the deployment of combat-equipped and combat support
forces to a number of foreign nations in the Central and Pacific
Command areas of operations and other areas. As a part of my efforts
to keep the Congress informed, I am reporting further on United States
efforts in the global war on terrorism.

Our efforts in Afghanistan have met with success, but as I have stated
in my previous reports, the U.S. campaign against terrorism will be
lengthy. To date, U.S. Armed Forces, with the assistance of numerous
coalition partners, have executed a superb campaign to eliminate the
primary source of support to the terrorists who viciously attacked our
Nation on September 11, 2001. The heart of al-Qaida's training
capability has been seriously degraded. The Taliban's ability to
brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists has
been virtually eliminated. Pockets of al-Qaida and Taliban forces
remain a threat to U.S. and coalition forces and to the Afghan
government. What is left of both the Taliban and the al-Qaida fighters
is being pursued actively and engaged by U.S. and coalition forces.
Additionally, training missions and combat operations with Pakistani
special forces are ongoing near the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Due to our success in Afghanistan, we have detained hundreds of
al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who are believed to pose a continuing
threat to the United States and its interests. The combat-equipped and
combat support forces deployed to Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in
the Southern Command area of operations since January 2002, continue
to conduct secure detention operations. We currently hold more than
600 enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. All are being treated humanely
and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity,
in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions
of 1949.

In furtherance of our worldwide efforts against terrorists who pose a
continuing and imminent threat to the United States, our friends and
allies, and our forces abroad, we continue operations in other areas
around the globe. Our relationship with the Government and Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) developed and matured throughout 2002.
Last year's actions from February to July 2002 on Basilan Island, with
AFP in command and with U.S. forces in a support role, helped to drive
hundreds of Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists from the island, restoring
order and reestablishing government services. To ensure that the AFP
has the skills to fight terrorism over the long term, we have a robust
security assistance training program and a variety of exercises that
will provide the AFP much needed counter-terrorism training and
equipment. There are approximately 300 combat-equipped and combat
support U.S. military personnel working with the AFP and U.S. forces
continue to plan with the AFP for possible future activities.
Continued U.S. support is warranted as the Government of the
Philippines has provided unwavering support in the global war on
terrorism.

Additionally, we continue to conduct maritime interception operations
on the high seas in the Central and European Command areas of
responsibility to prevent the movement, arming, or financing of
international terrorists who pose a continuing threat to the United
States.

Combat-equipped and combat support forces also have been deployed to
Georgia and Yemen to assist the armed forces of those countries in
enhancing their counter-terrorism capabilities, including by training
and equipping their armed forces. Similar U.S. forces have deployed to
Djibouti to command and control operations and other activities as
necessary against al-Qaida and other international terrorists in the
Horn of Africa region. These activities include providing oversight
for urban and maritime counter-terrorism training with the Yemen
special operations forces. We continue to assess options for working
with other nations to assist them in this respect.

I have taken these actions pursuant to my constitutional authority to
conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief
Executive. In addition, these actions are consistent with Public Law
107-40. As I stated in my previous reports, it is not possible to know
at this time either the duration of combat operations or the scope and
duration of the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter
the terrorist threat to the United States. I will direct additional
measures as necessary to exercise our right to self-defense and to
protect U.S. citizens and interests. Such measures may include short
notice deployments of special operations and other forces for
sensitive operations in various locations throughout the world.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress
informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution and Public Law
107-40. Officials of my Administration and I have been communicating
regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress, and we
will continue to do so. I appreciate the continuing support of the
Congress in our efforts to protect the security of the United States
of America and its citizens, civilian and military, here and abroad.

Sincerely,
GEORGE W. BUSH

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)