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09 February 2004

Terrorists Continue Plotting Against Civilized World, Cheney Says

Warns against "illusion that the danger has passed"

Terrorists continue to plot against the United States and the civilized world, Vice President Dick Cheney said February 7, and people should not delude themselves that the danger is over.

"Even though it has been more than two years now since 9/11, we should have no illusion that the danger has passed," Cheney said in remarks at a Republican Party event in St. Louis, Missouri.

"We see them for what they are: killers who will not be stopped by negotiations or a treaty, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience," he said.

"In the war on terror, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy."

Cheney noted that over 140,000 members of the U.S. military are currently deployed around the world to fight the war on terror.

And, he said, in the almost 29 months since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States, "we, and our friends and allies in many countries, have inflicted heavy losses on ... al Qaeda's leadership and on their foot soldiers, tracking them and finding them in hiding places from Pakistan to Indonesia. Those not yet captured or killed live in fear, and their fears are well founded," Cheney said.

He noted that the U.S. is "also working with governments on every continent to take down the financial networks that support terror, the hidden bank accounts, the front groups, and the phony charities that have helped them to function."

This work, he said, "has brought many successes, including the discovery of terror plots that we were able to stop in their tracks. Americans can be grateful every day for the skillful and the daring service of our nation's intelligence professionals," the vice president said.

He defended the war with the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, saying the United States and its allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator and rid the world of a menace to its future peace and security.

"We know that Saddam had the capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said.

"He had the science and the technology he needed. We know that he had the necessary infrastructure because we found the labs and the dual-use facilities that could be used to produce chemical and biological agents. We know that he was developing the delivery system, ballistic missiles, which the United Nations had prohibited. We know that Saddam had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein had something else -- he had a record of using weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against innocent Iraqis. There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq."

The gravest threat to America, Cheney said, "is the possibility of cooperation between terrorist groups and outlaw regimes developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction."

In his remarks, Cheney also discussed the importance of the Patriot Act in helping law enforcement officials. The legislation, passed by the U.S. Congress following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, authorizes federal law enforcement to share more intelligence information, to track terrorists, disrupt their cells, and seize their assets, Cheney said.

Following is a foreign policy excerpt of Cheney's remarks at a Missouri Republican Party event at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, February 7, 2004:

(begin excerpt)

In this time of testing, our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Even though it has been more than two years now since 9/11, we should have no illusion that the danger has passed.

Terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. We see them for what they are: killers who will not be stopped by negotiations or a treaty, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience. In the war on terror, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy.

Inside our country, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which authorizes federal law enforcement to share more intelligence information, to track terrorists, disrupt their cells, and seize their assets. We use these same tools to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers, and we need to have these tools available to hunt down terrorists, as well.

As the President said in his State of the Union Address, parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year, but the terrorist threat they were designed to combat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs the Patriot Act, and Congress needs to renew it.

Today, we have over 140,000 members of our armed forces deployed overseas and around the world to fight the war on terror. And in almost 29 months since 9/11, we, and our friends and allies in many countries, have inflicted heavy losses on the al Qaeda's leadership and on their foot soldiers, tracking them and finding them in hiding places from Pakistan to Indonesia. Those not yet captured or killed live in fear, and their fears are well founded.

We are also working with governments on every continent to take down the financial networks that support terror, the hidden bank accounts, the front groups, and the phony charities that have helped them to function. And our government is working closely with intelligence services all over the world, and our own intelligence officers continue to be engaged in some of the most perilous and sensitive intelligence work ever carried out.

This work has brought many successes, including the discovery of terror plots that we were able to stop in their tracks. Americans can be grateful every day for the skillful and the daring service of our nation's intelligence professionals.

On the night of September 11th, President Bush declared that the United States would no longer make a distinction between the terrorists and those who support them. This principle that has come to be known as the Bush doctrine is now understood by all. Any person or government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be brought to account.

The first to see its application were the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan by violence, while turning that country into a training camp for terrorists. With fine allies at our side, we took down the regime and destroyed the al Qaeda camps. But our work there continues. We have over 13,000 members of our armed forces in Afghanistan as part of an international security force now that includes 37 nations and a major role for NATO, as well. This force is on the hunt for the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda members. We're helping to train a new Afghan army and we're helping to provide security as the new government takes shape.

Under President Karzai's leadership, and with the help of our coalition, the Afghan people are building a decent and a just and a democratic society, and a nation fully joined with us in the war on terror.

In Iraq, the United States and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator and rid the world of a menace to our future peace and security. A year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of nearly 25 million people, tonight he's in jail.

He will never again brutalize his people, never again support dangerous terrorists, and never again threaten the United States of America. America has shown that we are serious about removing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We know that Saddam had the capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the science and the technology he needed. We know that he had the necessary infrastructure because we found the labs and the dual-use facilities that could be used to produce chemical and biological agents. We know that he was developing the delivery system, ballistic missiles, which the United Nations had prohibited. We know that Saddam had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein had something else -- he had a record of using weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against innocent Iraqis. There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq.

The gravest threat to America is the possibility of cooperation between terrorist groups and outlaw regimes developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction. As the President has said, we faced the choice: either take the word of a madman, or take action to defend the American people. Faced with that choice, George W. Bush will defend America every time.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq, terrorists who are targeting the very success and the freedom that we are providing for that country. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people.

With determined allies at our side, we are helping Iraqis build a free country, which will make us all the more secure. We are standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more responsibility for their own security and move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, yet they are absolutely essential. America will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror.

From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained a great deal of support. Yet, as the President has made clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.

America is the nation that is always ready to work and sacrifice for peace. The use of force is always a last resort. And when that need arises, all of us are fortunate to be defended by the United States Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In all they have done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of our services have performed with incredible skill and courage.

In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, American forces have struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos -- conducting raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers. Members of the active duty armed forces, of the National Guard, and of the reserves have faced hard duty, long deployments, and the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to protect all of us, and they are earning the trust of the people they've liberated. They reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America. And our entire country is proud of each and every one of them.

(end excerpt)