02 March 2004
Bush Says U.S. Remains Relentless in War Against Terrorists
Praises accomplishments on first anniversary of Homeland Security
The American people will not yield to terrorism or fear, President
Bush said March 2 at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
"Two and a half years ago, our nation saw war and grief arrive
on a quiet September morning," the president said. Since then,
the United States has gone on the offensive against terrorists,
disrupting their operations, cutting off their funding and "chasing
down their leaders one at a time. We are relentless. We are strong.
We refuse to yield. Some two-thirds of al Qaeda's key leaders have
been captured or killed. The rest of them hear us breathing down
their neck ... We will bring these killers to justice."
President Bush cited the [USA] Patriot Act as an essential tool
in counter-terrorism and urged Congress to renew provisions of
the act due to expire next year. "The terrorist threat will
not expire on that schedule," he said. "For years, we've
used similar provisions to catch embezzlers or drug traffickers.
My attitude is pretty simple on this matter: if these methods are
good enough for hunting criminals, they're even more important
for hunting terrorists."
The president also pushed for passage of his legislative proposal
creating Project BioShield to speed the development of new vaccines
and treatments against attacks from chemical or biological weapons.
He noted the administration has already expanded the national stockpiles
of vaccines, drugs, and medical supplies, with enough smallpox
vaccine now on hand "to immunize every American in the case
of an emergency." Sophisticated equipment, he said, has been
placed in many metropolitan areas to detect the presence of biological
Bush pointed to the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan and
Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the destruction of Pakistani scientist
A.Q. Khan's nuclear proliferation network, and Libya's renunciation
of its weapons of mass destruction programs as successes in the
global war against terrorism.
In the United States, he said, DHS has developed programs to make
air travel safer, control borders and ports of entry, protect key
infrastructure, communication systems, power grids, and transportation
networks, and to respond rapidly to any national emergency.
Calling the past year "one of progress and achievement for
DHS," the president praised the agency's employees and Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge, for securing the "American homeland
and ... protect[ing] the American people" but warned that "none
of us charged with defending this nation can rest. We must never
forget the day when terrorists left their mark of murder on our
Following is the text of Bush's remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
March 2, 2004
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Ronald Reagan Building
10:06 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all, please be seated. Please be seated
-- unless, of course, you don't have a seat. (Laughter.) Thanks
for the warm welcome. I'm honored to join the proud men and women
of the Department of Homeland Security in celebrating this agency's
Many of you were here from day one. Others have come aboard in
the days since. Yet, from the President to the Secretary to the
newest employee, all of us here are tasked with a single, vital
mission: to secure the American homeland and to protect the American
people. (Applause.) There is no duty more important. We're meeting
that duty together, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I thank
you all for what you do to defend our country.
I appreciate Secretary Ridge's leadership. I plucked him out of
the ranks of the governors because I knew he knew how to manage
and to set an agenda. He has not let me down. Along with the other
leaders here, he and the team are doing a fantastic job of leading
this Department. I appreciate Deputy Secretary Jim Loy, as well,
for his outstanding leadership. I want to thank all the officials
who are here. I appreciate the members of the United States Congress
who have come. Two Texans, Mac Thornberry and Jim Turner, I appreciate
you all being here. I appreciate Jennifer Dunn, from the great
state of Washington; and Chris Cox, from the state of California.
Thanks for taking time to honor these employees today.
I appreciate all the employees who are here. I appreciate you
working hard for the American people. I'm sure people don't thank
you enough. Well, I'm here to thank you as much as an individual
possibly can, for working the long hours, for taking the risks
on behalf of the security of this country.
Today, I had the honor of meeting the family of Agent Jimmy Epling.
Jimmy was the first Department of Homeland Security employee to
be killed in the line of duty. He did so rescuing an individual.
He risked his life to save a life. And on behalf of our nation,
Monica and Seth and Shaine and Sean and James, and his loving parents,
Ken and Amy, thank you for raising such a good son and thank you
for having such a good husband; boys, you need to be proud of your
daddy. Thanks for coming. (Applause.)
Two-and-a-half years ago, our nation saw war and grief arrive
on a quiet September morning. From that day to this, we have pursued
a clear strategy: We are taking the offensive against the terrorists
abroad. We're taking unprecedented measures to protect the American
people here at home. The goal of the terrorists is to kill our
citizens -- that's their goal -- and to make Americans live in
fear. This nation refuses to live in fear. We will stand together
until this threat to our nation and to the civilized world is ended.
We have been called to service. We've been called to action. And
we accept that responsibility. With fine allies, we are winning
the war against the terrorists. We're disrupting terrorist operations.
We're cutting off their funding. We are chasing down their leaders
one person at a time. We are relentless. We are strong. We refuse
to yield. Some two-thirds of already Qaeda's key leaders have been
captured or killed. The rest of them hear us breathing down their
neck. We're after them. We will not relent. We will bring these
killers to justice. (Applause.)
It is vital our nation speak with a clear voice, and when we speak,
we mean what we say. It's essential that this nation not be a nation
of empty words, but a nation that is determined to do our duty.
I laid out a doctrine a while ago, and it said if you harbor a
terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the
terrorists. I meant what I said. And so did our nation. And the
Taliban, the brutal dictators, the barbarians that ran Afghanistan
now fully understand America will keep its commitments and means
what it says. (Applause.)
We delivered an ultimatum to Mr. Saddam Hussein, that he listen
to the world, disclose and disarm his weapons and weapons programs.
It's what the world had said time and time again. The United States
said the same thing. We saw a threat. It was time to deal with
that threat Mr. Saddam Hussein had the choice to make. He chose
defiance. He now sits in a prison cell, and the Iraqi people are
free and America is more secure. (Applause.)
We have said we will deal with weapons of mass destruction. We
have shown the world we mean what we say. With our allies, we're
taking action to stop the spread of chemical and biological, radiological
or nuclear weapons. We're working together with our friends to
prevent terror networks from gaining the means to match their hatred.
We're confronting states that develop deadly weapons. We're shutting
down networks that trade in the means to produce the technologies
of mass murder.
Nations like Libya have gotten the message and renounced their
weapons programs. The proliferation network of A.Q. Khan, which
sold nuclear secrets to Iran and North Korea, is being dismantled.
Its top leaders are out of business forever. America will not allow
terrorists and outlaw regimes to threaten our nation and the world
with the world's most dangerous technologies. (Applause.)
As we work to make this nation more secure, we're also working
with a broad coalition of nations to spread freedom. America believes
that freedom is the Almighty's gift to each and every person who
lives in this world. That's what we believe. We have liberated
more than 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those people
have our help and the help of many nations to build free and democratic
We seek to spread the benefits of democracy and tolerance and
freedom throughout the greater Middle East. By opposing the stagnation
and bitterness that feed terror, this great nation and our friends
are bringing hope to millions, thereby strengthening the long-term
security of America and making the world a more peaceful place.
We will stay on the offensive. We will not relent. And as we wage
this war abroad, we must remember where it began, here in our homeland.
Life in America, in many ways, has returned to normal, and that's
positive. It means we're doing our jobs. But life will really never
return to normal so long as there's an enemy that lurks in the
shadows, that aims to destroy and kill. The enemies are wounded,
but they're not broken. They still have desires to strike America
again. That's the reality with which we live. The reality is, vast
oceans can no longer protect us, and therefore we must have, and
we do have, a clear strategy to defend our homeland. Oh, we'll
do everything we can to prevent attacks on America. As we do so,
we'll reduce our vulnerabilities and prepare for any attack that
might come; that's our duty; that is our collective mission.
To meet the goals, we have tripled federal funding for homeland
security since 2001, to some $30.5 billion. I want to thank the
Congress for working with the administration to make sure these
good folks have got the ability to implement the strategy to protect
We've undertaken the most sweeping reorganization of the federal
government since the beginning of the Cold War. The FBI has transformed
itself into an agency dedicated primarily to the prevention of
future terrorist attacks. The Department of Defense has established
a new top-level command whose priority is to protect the American
homeland. We established the Terrorist Threat Integration Center,
to merge and analyze in a single place all vital intelligence on
global terror. We created the Homeland Security Council within
the White House -- John Gordon is here with us today -- to help
coordinate all homeland security activities across our government.
We'll face the terrorist threat for years to come. Our government
is prepared to meet that threat. One of the most important steps
we've taken is creating the Department of Homeland Security, combining
under one roof, with a clear chain of command, many agencies responsible
for protecting our nation. All of you go to work every day with
a single, overriding responsibility: to make this nation more secure.
Creating the newest department of our federal government was a
tough task. It required a lot of hard work, changing some old habits,
in order to merge into a new strategy and a new department. You've
accomplished an historic task. In just 12 months, under the leadership
of your President, you have made air travel safer, you've strengthened
the security of our borders and infrastructure, you've taken steps
to protect the American people from dangerous weapons, and you
helped prepare our first responders for any emergency. You faced
the challenges standing up this new Department and you get a --
and a gold star for a job well done. (Applause.)
Since September the 11th attacks, we've taken significant steps
to ensure the safety of air travel. DHS is completing a massive
overhaul of security at our nation's airports. Federal air marshals
are flying on hundreds of commercial flights every day. We are
determined to protect Americans who travel by plane. We're determined
to prevent those planes from being used as weapons against us.
The Department of Homeland Security is strengthening control of
all our borders and ports of entry, to keep out terrorists and
criminals and dangerous materials. We're using technology to allow
law abiding travelers to cross the border quickly and easily, while
our officials concentrate on stopping possible threats. We've increased
the number of border inspectors and improved access to sophisticated
DHS personnel are checking ships and analyzing manifests to prevent
high risk cargo from entering our nation by sea. DHS officials
are also posted at foreign ports, working with other governments
to inspect shipments before they're loaded and shipped to America.
America welcomes tourists and students and business people, legitimate
cargo. Yet, we're working hard, you're working hard, to make sure
our border is closed to terrorists and criminals and weapons and
Third, we've worked with state and local governments and the private
sector to strengthen the defenses of our key infrastructure, communication
systems and power grids and transportation networks. DHS is helping
the operators of chemical facilities improve security.
We're working with Congress on new legislation that establishes
uniform standards for securing chemical sites, and gives DHS the
power to enforce those standards. We've established a national
cyber security division to examine cyber security incidents and
track attacks and coordinate nationwide responses. America's infrastructure
drives our economy and serves our people. We're determined to provide
the infrastructure with the best possible protection.
Fourth, we're bringing the best technologies to bear against the
threat of chemical and biological weapons; we placed sophisticated
equipment to detect biological agents in many metropolitan areas.
We've greatly expanded the strategic national stockpile for drugs
and vaccines and medical supplies. We now have on hand, for instance,
enough smallpox vaccine to immunize every American in the case
of an emergency.
Last year, I proposed Project BioShield, which will speed the
development of new vaccines and treatments for biological agents
that could be used in a terrorist attack. Congress needs to send
this vital legislation to my desk. Attacks from a chemical or biological
weapons is one of the gravest threats our country has ever faced.
We're doing what is necessary to protect this country.
Even with all these measures, there's no such thing as perfect
security in a vast and free country. So as a fifth step, we've
worked to improve the ability of state and local authorities to
respond quickly and effectively to emergencies. My administration
has provided over $13 billion to equip and train local officials,
such as firefighters and police officers and EMS workers and health
professionals. I thank the Congress for their work on this important
The new budget proposes additional money, $5 billion, to continue
to help the first responders. We're focusing more of our resources
on the areas of greatest risk. It's essential we set priorities
with the taxpayer's money, to better protect the American people.
And so DHS is creating a national incident management plan, a strategy
to make sure taxpayer's money is wisely spent. Under this plan,
first responders at all levels of government will know their responsibilities,
will follow a clear chain of command, and will be able to work
with each other effectively in a time of crisis.
Your hard work is already paying off. The system has proven its
worth in coordinating responses to such emergencies as Hurricane
Isabel and the California wildfires. America's first responders
are the first on the scene of danger. They need a strategy. They
need coordination. They need training. And they will get our help.
This administration has also worked to ensure that those charged
with defending America from the threat of terror have all the tools
necessary to fight the terrorists. One of those essential tools
is the Patriot Act, which enables federal law enforcement officials
to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells and to seize their
assets. For years we've used similar provisions to catch embezzlers
or drug traffickers. My attitude is pretty simple on this matter:
If these methods are good enough for hunting criminals, they're
even more important for hunting terrorists.
The Patriot Act made other important changes official to the success
of this new department. It tore down the walls that blocked the
FBI and the CIA from sharing intelligence. It's hard to track terrorists
if we can't share information. It was essential that all elements
of law enforcement be able to work together to secure this homeland.
The Patriot Act imposed tough new penalties on terrorists and those
who support them. We want to make it abundantly clear to anybody
who wants to hurt America: there will be significant penalty. These
are responsible measures, fully consistent with the United States
Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year.
The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. You, and
others in law enforcement, need this vital legislation to protect
our citizens. We cannot afford to let down our guard. Congress
must renew the Patriot Act. (Applause.)
For the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,
the past year has been one of progress and achievement. You have
risen to confront a new threat and to meet unprecedented challenges.
You have responded to hurricanes and tornadoes and wildfires with
incredible skill and speed. You've worked hard to protect our borders,
you've saved lives. You're prepared for greater dangers. You've
passed every single test. You should be proud of all you've accomplished,
and you need to know America is proud of you. (Applause.)
We have done a lot in a year. It's been an incredible year of
accomplishment, but none of us charged with defending this nation
can rest. We must never forget the day when the terrorists left
their mark of murder on our nation. We must never forget that day.
We will remember the sorrow and the anger. We'll also remember
the resolve we felt that day. All of us have a responsibility that
goes on. We will protect this country, whatever it takes.
God bless your work, and may God continue to bless our country.