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pd09fe04 Statement on Representative...

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    I want to thank South Carolina's State and local first-responders 
who are with us, the police and the firefighters and the emergency squad 
    But most of all, thank you for coming. I've got some things I want 
to talk about. [Laughter] This country is a strong country, and we're 
rising to meet great challenges.
    The first great challenge is to make sure people can find work. The 
first great challenge of this country is to have a progrowth

[[Page 198]]

environment so people can find a job. Our economy is growing. It's 
getting better, but I want to remind you of where we have come from. 
See, people say, ``President Bush is optimistic.'' You bet I'm 
optimistic. I know where we have been, and I know where we're going.
    We have--this country went through a recession. And as we were 
coming out of the recession, we got attacked. And make no mistake about 
it, that attack hurt our country's economy. It also--you'll hear me talk 
about how it affected my view of national security as well. It hurt.
    And as we began to recover from that, we discovered that some of our 
fellow citizens forgot what it meant to be a responsible citizen. In 
other words, they didn't tell the truth. They didn't tell the truth to 
their employees, and they didn't tell the truth to their shareholders. 
And that affected the confidence of our economy. By the way, we passed 
laws to hold those corporate criminals to account. They will understand 
now that there is a consequence for not telling the truth.
    And then, of course, there were the uncertainties of war. That 
affected the economy. Yet we're still strong, in spite of the hurdles. 
And one reason we're strong is because we acted in Washington, DC. We 
passed tax relief. You see, we understand that when somebody has got 
more money in their pocket, they're more likely to demand a good or a 
service. And when they demand that good or a service, somebody is more 
likely to produce the good or a service. And when somebody produces that 
good or a service, someone is more likely to be able to find work. The 
tax relief we passed, the willingness to have people have more money in 
their pocket to spend, to save, or invest, is helping this economy 
recover from tough times.
    We also understand that most new jobs are created by small 
businesses. Most new jobs in the American economy are created by the 
entrepreneurs and small-business owners of America. And so the tax 
relief we passed not only helped individuals and helped families raise 
children, but it was also directed at the small-business sector of our 
economy. We must never forget the vital role that small businesses play 
in the United States economy.
    Things are looking good across the country. New home construction in 
2003 was the highest in 25 years. Homeownership rates are the highest 
ever. And for the first time, most minority households own their own 
homes. We're closing the housing gap in America. Manufacturing activity 
is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are 
growing. Productivity is high. Jobs are on the rise. The tax relief we 
passed has made a difference.
    One of the things I know about your great State--I've spent some 
quality time in South Carolina in the past--one of the things I know 
about your great State is this is a State full of decent, hard-working, 
honorable people. You've got a great workforce in the State of South 
Carolina. Many foreign companies and companies from other States move 
here because South Carolina workers are dependable, good people.
    Yet, the State has got economic challenges. Even though the 
unemployment rate is down, it's still too high. Many factory workers in 
textiles and apparel have faced layoffs. But there are new jobs being 
created, and the challenge at all levels of government is to make sure 
that people are trained for jobs which actually exist.
    I laid out what's called the Jobs for the 21st Century program, 
which says to States and local communities, ``We want to help you. We 
want to help you make sure the hard-working people who are looking for 
work have got the skills necessary to take advantage of a changing 
economy.'' The numbers aren't as good as they can be, but they will be 
with focused efforts. They will be so long as Washington promotes a pro-
entrepreneur, pro-growth agenda. They will be if the Congress makes sure 
the tax cuts we passed are permanent.
    I'm optimistic about our economy's future because the numbers look 
good, but that's not the true reason I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic 
because I understand the entrepreneurial spirit of America. I'm 
optimistic because I know the type of worker we have in this country. 
I'm optimistic because I trust the American people.

[[Page 199]]

    The second great challenge is to fight and win the war on terror. 
After we were attacked in 2001, I said time would pass, and people would 
assume that the threats to our country had gone away. That's false 
comfort. The terrorists continue to plot against us. They still want to 
harm us. This Nation will not tire; we will not rest until this threat 
to civilization is removed.
    Part of doing our duty in the war on terror is to protect the 
homeland. That's part of our solemn responsibility, and we are taking 
unprecedented steps to protect the homeland. In the 2005 budget, as the 
Secretary mentioned, we proposed increases in homeland security 
spending, and some of those increases are measures to protect our 
seaports. And that's why I've come to this vital seaport, to remind 
people--to remind the American people, as they pay attention to the 
debates in the Halls of Congress, that we have a solemn duty to protect 
our homeland, including the seaports of America.
    Our National Targeting Center in Northern Virginia, where I'll be 
going tomorrow with the Secretary, is analyzing cargo manifest 
information and focusing frontline inspection on high-risk shipments. 
We're looking at things differently now in America. We're adjusting our 
strategies to better protect the American people.
    We've got a Container Security Initiative, which means we're posting 
officers at foreign ports to identify and inspect high-risk shipments 
before they're loaded and shipped to America. We've extended the reach 
out to make sure America is more secure. We're doing things more wise in 
order to protect our country. We're not waiting for ships and planes to 
arrive. We've got what we call a Proliferation Security Initiative, 
fancy words which means America is working with other governments to 
track and stop the shipments of dangerous weapons and dangerous cargo. 
We're determined to keep lethal weapons and materials out of the hands 
of our enemies and away from our shores.
    We have a duty to protect the American people, a solemn duty. And 
there's a lot of people in this crowd who have heard that duty, and I 
appreciate your service. I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice on 
behalf of the people.
    Another vital tool in the homeland security is for Congress to pass 
laws that enable us to do our job. I'm referring to the PATRIOT Act. The 
PATRIOT Act gives Federal law enforcement the tools they need to seize 
terrorists' assets and disrupt their cells. It removes--the PATRIOT Act 
removed legal barriers that prevented the FBI and the CIA from sharing 
information, information that is vitally needed to uncover terrorist 
plots before they are carried out in America. Imagine a system that 
would not allow people who collect information to share information. It 
makes it awfully hard to protect the homeland if the FBI and the CIA 
can't share data in order to protect us. The PATRIOT Act made that 
    The PATRIOT Act imposes tougher penalties on terrorists and their 
supporters. We want to send a clear message to people that there will be 
a consequence. For years we've used similar provisions, provisions that 
are now in the act, to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers. What's in 
the PATRIOT Act today is nothing new. We've been using these provisions 
in the past. If the methods are good enough for hunting criminals, 
they're even more important for hunting terrorists. The Congress needs 
to extend the PATRIOT Act.
    We'll do everything in our power to defend the homeland. Yet, we 
understand this, that the best way to defend the homeland is to stay on 
the offensive. The best way to protect America is to find the killers 
and bring them to justice before they ever harm another American, and 
that's exactly what this administration will continue to do.
    There are thousands of our troops and troops of our friends on an 
international manhunt. We're running down Al Qaida. We're finding them 
where they hide. For our own security, we're bringing them to justice. 
Nearly two-thirds of the Al Qaida leaders have been captured or killed. 
And we're chasing the rest of them. There is no hole deep enough to hide 
from America.
    Part of this new war, this different kind of war, is to confront 
regimes that harbor terrorists, that support terrorists, that could 
supply them with weapons of mass murder. This is an essential part of 
the war on terror. When America speaks, we better mean what

[[Page 200]]

we say. And I said right after September the 11th, ``If you harbor a 
terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the 
terrorists,'' and the Taliban found out exactly what we meant.
    It wasn't all that long ago that Afghanistan was a haven for 
terrorists. This is where many terrorists learned to kill. There were 
training camps, places for them to hide. Thanks to the United States and 
our friends, thanks to the bravery of many of our fellow citizens, 
Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terror. Afghanistan is a free 
    America also confronted a gathering threat in Iraq. The dictatorship 
of Saddam Hussein was one of the most brutal, corrupt, and dangerous 
regimes in the world. For years, the dictator funded terrorists and gave 
reward money for suicide bombings. For years, he threatened and he 
invaded his neighbors. For years, he murdered innocent Iraqis by the 
hundreds of thousands. For years, he made a mockery of United Nations 
demands that he account for his weapons. For years, Saddam Hussein did 
all these things. But he won't be doing any of them this year. Instead, 
he's sitting in a prison cell, and he will be sitting in a courtroom to 
answer for his crimes.
    The liberation of Iraq was an act of justice, delivering an 
oppressed people from an evil regime. The liberation of Iraq removed a 
source of violence and instability from the Middle East, and the 
liberation of Iraq removed an enemy of this country and made America 
more secure.
    America and our friends have shown the world that we are serious 
about removing the threats of weapons of mass destruction, and the facts 
are becoming clearer. In Iraq, our Survey Group is on the ground, 
looking for the truth. We will compare what the intelligence indicated 
before the war with what we have learned afterwards. As the chief 
weapons inspector said, ``We have not yet found the stockpiles of 
weapons that we thought were there.'' Yet, the Survey Group has 
uncovered some of what the dictator was up to.
    We know Saddam Hussein had the capability to produce weapons of mass 
destruction. He had the scientists and technology in place to make those 
weapons. We know he had the necessary infrastructure to produce weapons 
of mass destruction because we found the labs and dual use facilities 
that could be used to produce chemical and biological weapons. We know 
he was developing the delivery systems, ballistic missiles that the 
United Nations had prohibited. We know Saddam Hussein had the intent to 
arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction, because he hid all 
those activities from the world until the last day of his regime.
    And Saddam Hussein had something else; he had a record of using 
weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against innocent 
Iraqi citizens. Knowing what I knew then and knowing what I know today, 
America did the right thing in Iraq.
    We had a choice: Either take the word of a madman, or take action to 
defend the American people. Faced with that choice, I will defend 
America every time. September the 11th, 2001, was a lesson for America, 
a lesson I will never forget and a lesson this Nation must never forget. 
We cannot wait to confront the threats of the world, the threats of 
terror networks and terror states, until those threats arrive in our own 
cities. I made a pledge to this country; I will not stand by and hope 
for the best while dangers gather. I will not take risks with the lives 
and security of the American people. I will protect and defend this 
country by taking the fight to the enemy.
    When you're the Commander in Chief, you have to be willing to make 
the tough calls and to see your decisions through. America is safer when 
our commitments are clear, our word is good, and our will is strong. And 
that is the only way I know how to lead.
    If some politicians in Washington had their way, Saddam Hussein 
would still be in power. All of the Security Council resolutions and 
condemnations would still be issued and still be ignored, scraps of 
paper amounting to nothing. Other regimes and terror networks, had we 
not acted, would have concluded that America backs down when things get 
tough. Saddam would still have his weapons capabilities, and life would 
sure be different for the Iraqi people. The secret police would still be 
making arrests in the middle of the night. Prisons and torture chambers

[[Page 201]]

would still be filled with victims. More innocent Iraqis would have been 
sent to mass graves. Because we acted, Iraq's nightmare is over. Their 
country, our country, and the entire world are better off because the 
regime of Saddam Hussein is gone and gone forever.
    Because of American leadership, the world is changing for the 
better. Other dictators have seen and noted our resolve. Colonel Qadhafi 
in Libya got the message and is now voluntarily disclosing and 
eliminating his weapons of mass destruction programs.
    These are historic times, times of change. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 
more than 50 million people once lived under tyranny. And now they live 
in free societies, societies that are moving toward democracy, societies 
that will set an example for all of the Middle East. And that's 
important. That's important for our own security. Free societies do not 
attack their neighbors. Free societies do not develop weapons of mass 
terror. Freedom and peace go hand in hand. These are great and hopeful 
events. And they came about because America and our allies acted bravely 
in the cause of freedom.
    We know there are challenges ahead. We know that freedom still has 
enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, surviving Ba'athists, the Taliban, 
suicide bombers, and foreign terrorists. All these enemies have one 
goal: They want to stop the advance of freedom and to shake the will of 
the United States of America. But they don't understand us. They don't 
understand the nature of the American people. We will never be 
intimidated by thugs or assassins. The killers will fail, and the people 
of Iraq and Afghanistan will live in freedom. And that's important to us 
in America, because we understand freedom is not America's gift to the 
world. We understand freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and 
woman in this world.
    South Carolina is a State that is really proud of the people who 
wear the uniform. Over 5,000 reservists and National Guardsmen are 
currently deploying in Iraq and Afghanistan and Kosovo and for the 
defense of the homeland. Hundreds of officers from the Citadel are 
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the war on terror. Like 
everyone who serves in uniform today, these fine citizens of your State 
are protecting this Nation from danger, and they're making us proud.
    I made a commitment to the men and women of our military: America is 
asking a lot of you, and you deserve a lot in return. You deserve our 
praise and our thanks, and we will give you the resources you need to 
fight and win the war on terror.
    So we depend on our military; our people in uniform depend on their 
families. These are challenging times for military families. Some of 
them have experienced great loss. We ask for God's blessings. We ask God 
to give them strength in their time of grief. Our Nation will never take 
their sacrifice for granted. All of us are grateful to the families of 
the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States.
    By the unselfish dedication of Americans in uniform, people in our 
own country and in lands far away can live in freedom and know that--the 
peace that freedom brings. America has been given great 
responsibilities, and those responsibilities have come to the right 
country. By our actions, we have shown what kind of nation we are, a 
good and just and generous people. We don't shrink from any challenge. 
We're rising to the call of history. Now and in the future, this great 
land will lead the cause of freedom and peace.
    May God bless you all. Thank you for coming. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:12 a.m. at the Union Pier Terminal. In 
his remarks, he referred to Gov. Mark Sanford and Lt. Gov. R. Andre 
Bauer of South Carolina; Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, SC; David H. 
Wilkins, speaker, South Carolina House of Representatives; Maj. Gen. 
Stanhope S. Spears, Adjutant General of South Carolina; Comdr. Gary W. 
Merrick, USCG, commanding officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, 
Charleston, SC; Capt. Jim Tunstall, USCG, commander, USCG Group 
Charleston; David Kay, former CIA Special Advisor for Strategy Regarding 
Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs; and Col. Muammar Abu Minyar 
al-Qadhafi, leader of Libya.

[[Page 202]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 202]
Monday, February 9, 2004
Volume 40_Number 6
Pages 175	208

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