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pd19jy04 Checklist of White House Press Releases...
competitive, the best place in the world to do business, the best place where the entrepreneurial spirit can continue to flourish and be strong. I also told you I want to be President again because I want to keep America safer. That's my solemn duty, is to protect the American people. It was a solemn duty that really became so evident on September the 11th, 2001. I mean, the enemy hit us in a way that was nearly impossible for anybody to dream that they would attack us, using our own airplanes to kill thousands of innocent people, a sudden attack. It says a couple of things about the nature of these people. They are coldblooded killers. They're not religious people. They've hijacked a great religion. They think they're religious, but they're not. Their hearts are filled with evil. They are--you can't negotiate with them. There is no peace treaty you can sign with these kind of people. They've got a dim vision of the world. I resolved then that I will do whatever it takes to defend America. My duty is to do everything I can to protect our country. I called a good man into action named Ridge. You might remember him. His job is to see to it that the Homeland Security Department functions well, and he's doing a great job. And it's not easy--it's not easy. For the first- responders who are here--that would be your firefighters and your police and your EMS teams--I thank you for the job you're doing. We're all working together. We're on the frontlines. We're communicating better. We're sharing information better. We've now got the FBI and the CIA sharing information. We've got divisions within the FBI sharing information. Before September the 11th, we couldn't have the criminal division and the intelligence division of the FBI even talking to each other about certain cases. No wonder information slipped through the net. That's why we passed what they call the PATRIOT Act. So--by the way, let me say something about the PATRIOT Act. Nothing happens without court order. The same rules that we're using to catch drug lords is now--we're finally starting to apply to terrorists. It's essential that these tools stay in place if we expect to be safe. Anyway, I decided then and there that I'd do everything to defend the country, so we [[Page 1244]] set up this Department of Homeland Security. But we've got to be 100 percent correct here at home; they've got to be right once. And therefore, the best way, really, to defend the country is to stay on the offensive, is to find these killers before they get here, is to use every asset we have, everything at our disposal to hunt down these evildoers and bring them to justice, which is exactly what I will continue to do as your President. We're making progress. Two-thirds of the known Al Qaida leaders are--have been brought to justice, and we're slowly but surely, methodically, finding them and bringing them to justice. It's hard work, and we've got some really fine people working hard, really fine people. A lot of them wear the uniform of the United States military. Politicians make a lot of promises, I know, and I've tried to do everything I can to meet them. One of the promises I did make is that help is on the way. When I--2000, Dick Cheney and I were campaigning, we used to go to see the military--go to a military base or talk to military families. Our pledge was, help is on the way. Help has happened. Our military is strong, vibrant, skilled. They're getting paid better, and they're getting housed better. They're getting all they need, and that's what they deserve. Listen, I--as the Commander in Chief, I've got to be able to tell the husbands and wives and the moms and dads, we're doing everything we can, everything we can to make sure you've got what you need to help us do our duty, which is to protect America. A second lesson in all this business is that when a President says something, he better mean it. In order to make the world more peaceful, the President must speak clearly and mean what he says. I said, ``If you harbor a terrorist''--I said the first thing is we will find--we will stay on the offense and bring Al Qaida to justice. And then I said, ``If you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist.'' In other words, I was sending a message to those who felt like that they could maybe give Al Qaida safe haven and maybe we would just ignore it. But that's not how you make sure America is secure. You not only have to deal with Al Qaida and their affiliates and friends, but you have to say to people, ``Don't provide safe haven for them.'' In other words, you've got to keep them on the run. As you might recall, the Taliban in Afghanistan were providing safe haven for these people. We gave them an ultimatum. They, of course, didn't believe it. And we went in. And we went in to not only eliminate the training bases and the safe havens for Al Qaida, to protect ourselves; we also went in to liberate the people of Afghanistan from the Taliban. These people, as I mentioned to you earlier, are barbaric people. America weeps when they know that young girls are brutalized by a government. And that doesn't--that's not our value system. We care about human suffering. This is a compassionate country. And we also understand that when people are free, they're going to be peaceful. And so we did a couple of things in Afghanistan. One, we liberated the people. Secondly, we got rid of Al Qaida safe havens. And thirdly, Afghanistan is now on the road to democracy, and Afghanistan is an ally and a friend in our task to make America more secure. And then, as you know, I looked at intelligence and facts, and I came to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to America. You see, because the other lesson of September the 11th is when we see a gathering threat, that we've got to deal with it--sooner, rather than later; that we can't hope that a gathering threat just goes away. That's the lesson of September the 11th. And, therefore, I went to the United Nations and said, ``Listen, I've looked at this intelligence, and it says he's a threat.'' I also, during my talk, reminded them that the guy had actually used weapons of mass destruction on his own people and that he had harbored terrorists. Abu Nidal is a terrorist. As you might recall, he killed an American. This guy Zarqawi got hospital aid there in Baghdad when Saddam Hussein was in power. He was the guy running a poisons factory in northeast Iraq. He's still in Iraq. He's the guy killing a lot of innocent people, ordering suiciders, bragging about it, cutting people's heads off. He's an Al Qaida affiliate. In other words, it was a safe haven. And the Congress looked at the very same intelligence I did, the exact same intelligence, and came to the [[Page 1245]] same conclusion: He's a threat. Interestingly enough, so did the United Nations. Remember, I went to the United Nations and said, ``We've got a problem here. As a matter of fact, it's such a problem that I think you probably have passed over a dozen resolutions saying he's a problem, and yet nothing has happened.'' And so I said, ``Why don't we pass one and really mean what we say.'' And so with a 15-to-nothing vote, the United Nations Security Council did just that--15 to nothing--said, ``He's a threat.'' ``Disclose, destroy, or face serious consequences,'' is what the United Nations said, a collection of nations. So we all felt the same thing back there. And of course, Saddam Hussein defied, and he just ignored what the free world had to say once again. Now, once you say something, you better mean it. At least that's the way I think. And we said ``serious consequences.'' We meant serious consequences. I had a choice to make: Either trust this madman, who clearly hated America, who had--was fooling around with terrorists, who had used weapons of mass destruction and we had thought had weapons of mass destruction--take his word for it, or defend the country. Given the lessons of September the 11th, I chose to defend the country. And that's exactly what I would do again. America is a more secure place because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. The Senate is looking at intelligence failures, and should. We all ought to welcome an investigation about where we went right and wrong with our intelligence-gathering. You know why? Because it's important for a President and the Congress to get the best intelligence possible in this war against these terrorists. One of the key components of finding out who is going to hurt us is good intelligence. And there are a lot of really good people working in our intelligence-gathering, by the way--dedicated, solid, fine Americans. They too want the intelligence services to be as effective as possible. So I welcome their investigation. I really do. And like Members of the Senate and the House, we thought there would be stockpiles of weapons. We haven't found them yet. We do know, however, and I just want you to remember this, that the man had the capacity to make weapons. He had the ability to make weapons. He had the intent and the capability, which is why I say I would have done it again, because he's a dangerous person. The work is hard in Iraq right now. It's really hard because we're trying to take people from a society run by a tyrant to a free society. We've done this kind of work before, though. I want our fellow citizens to remember that. After World War II, we helped to rebuild Germany and Japan. And that wasn't easy. If you go back and look at the history, you'll find that there was articles written about how the reconstruction effort wasn't properly planned, why the societies were still violent, how maybe Japan couldn't conceivably self-govern because of its past history. There were a lot of skeptics and pessimists about the ability of liberty to have a transforming effect on societies. And I can understand that. It's hard work. But fortunately, my predecessors didn't listen to the skeptics. And today, I'm able to sit down with the Prime Minister of Japan and discuss key issues like North Korea. In other words, a former enemy--former enemies sit at a table together and say, ``How can we work to keep the peace,'' because there were people that preceded me that had great faith in the ability of freedom to change societies. The Iraqi people want to be free. We've got a good leader there named Alawi. He's a tough guy. He's a strong guy. He's dedicated to a pluralistic, self-governing society. He's courageous enough to get them there. He just needs America to stand by his side. The terrorists have got--they've got an advantage over us: They don't have hearts, and we do. They kill in the hope that we--our hearts will be so full with sorrow, like they are every time, that we'll forget our promise and that we'll leave. We're not leaving. We will stand. Let me tell you an interesting story. I'm probably going on--am I going on too long? [Laughter] Either Laura or Jenna will give me the hook. [Laughter] Let me tell you an interesting story. They said that they've got some people from Iraq coming to see you. The door opens up in the Oval Office--which, by the way, is a fantastic place. It's a shrine to democracy. It's a powerful office. [[Page 1246]] Just being in there is such an honor. And in walk seven people who have had their right hands cut off by Saddam Hussein. These were small- business guys. And not only did they have their right hands cut off, they had X's carved on their foreheads by the Hussein henchmen. The currency of the country had devalued, and he needed a scapegoat, so he found seven small merchants to blame the currency devaluation on and punished them by cutting off their right hands. I asked one guy, ``Well, why you?'' He said, well, he was a jeweler, and he sold dinars to buy--I think it was either dollars or euros so he could get gold to use as a product for his jewelry. And they round him up--of course, no jury, no press looking after human rights, nothing. He cut off seven hands off. Interestingly enough, a documentary was made of these seven guys, and the documentary was seen by a Houston newsman named Marvin Zindler. He is the--I don't know if you ever saw ``The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,'' the play. He's the guy, the newsman, that discovered this place in central Texas--anyway, famous in Texas, at least. [Laughter] But he started a foundation years ago to help people. And he saw the story, and he flew them over. And so these seven guys walk in with new hands as well, because in Houston they had been outfitted because of the compassion of this American. In other words, what a contrast, isn't it, the brutality of a tyrant and the compassion of an individual citizen. And they came in, and one guy took his new hand--they're just learning to use their hands--and he wrote ``God Bless America'' in Arabic. I nearly broke out in tears right there, it was such an emotional--I said, ``Welcome to the Oval Office.'' I said, ``I'm glad you're here.'' I said, ``You don't have to worry about America. When we say we're going to do something, we'll do it, and we will stand with you so your children can grow up in a free society, which will make us more secure.'' See, a free Iraq, free societies in the Middle East are in the long- term interest of America. In the short term, we get after them with every asset we got. In the long term, we defeat terror and darkness with the light of democracy and freedom. That's what we believe. Look what happened in Japan and Germany. And I'm telling you, it can happen. Anyway, I told these guys, I said, ``It's good you're in the Oval Office because I want to tell you something about our society. The office of the President is bigger than the person. This is a great place to meet because it's a chance to remind you that in your new country, when you've survive, the institutions you put in place will be bigger than the people, and therefore, your society will be stable, and you're more likely to be free.'' Now, finally, I want your vote because I want to make America a better place--a better place. There's a lot of ways we can do so. I want to make sure the education system works well. I'm telling you, the No Child Left Behind Act is a good piece of legislation. We spent more money than we ever have at the Federal level. At the same time, we said we trust local people to make decisions for their schools, and we did something else that I thought was very wise. We said, ``Show us the results.'' For too often we'd just spend money and hope for the best, and guess what would happen? Kids whose parents didn't speak English as a first language just get shuffled through the system--the hard-to- educate, inner-city kids--``Just move them through. Maybe they'll learn; maybe they won't.'' That's not good enough for the 21st century, and it's certainly not good enough for me. And so we've raised the bar. And we said, ``You're going to get more money, but now you're going to devise accountability tests to show us whether the kids can learn,'' to read, for example. We want every child reading at grade level by the third grade. That's what we want, right? Seems like a reasonable national goal to me. That's not too hard to ask in America, to say, ``How about just reading at the 3d grade level? And if you don't, there will be remedial help, and the parents will get more choice.'' In other words, there needs to be accountability. And it's working. We've raised the bar. We're saying, ``Show us whether or not the kids can read and write and add and subtract.'' We're paying for curriculum that works. Listen, some reading programs work; [[Page 1247]] some of them don't. You know what I'm talking about. And the best way to determine whether yours does is to measure. And that's what we're doing with local control of schools. See, we called it the No Child Left Behind Act. That's exactly what I mean. I don't want any children left behind in America. I want everybody to be able to realize their full potential. And so a better America is going to come when our public schools get better, and they are. They are. Another way to make sure America is a better place is to surround people with love. The Government is not a loving organization, however. [Laughter] Government is law and justice. Love comes from the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens. Love is found in our churches and mosques and synagogues. Love is found in those kind of daily acts of kindness that take place all the time not because of governmental law, because-- many times because of a higher law. And it happens in America every single day. The strength of this country is the hearts and souls of the American people, and a President must understand that. And so we started what I call the Community and Faith-Based Initiative, which says we're going to open up Federal monies to applications for grants from faith-based organizations. I mean, if you want somebody to quit drinking, sometimes you have to change his heart and therefore change his behavior. Not every time--it doesn't have to happen every time. But a lot of times, if you change a person's heart, good chance they're going to change their behavior. And faith-based organizations are pretty good at changing hearts. That's why they exist, isn't it? And so Government must be willing to allow faith-based programs to access Federal money without causing the faith-based program to change their mission. How can you practice to be a faith-based program if you cannot practice your faith? And so what I'm telling you is, is that part of a changing and better America is for Government to understand--or for the person, for the President to understand the true strength of the country and be willing to rally that strength. We're going to change America one heart at a time, one soul at a time, because the American people are so loving and so caring and so decent. And one of my jobs is to call upon that decency and to rally the armies of compassion. Listen, I am honored that you came out and given me a chance to share with you my vision for a safer, stronger, better America. I'm here asking for the vote. I'm working for the vote, because I have something to do. I've got a reason to serve. There are things I want to do to make this country the greatest country it can possibly be. It's a honor to serve America. Thank you for coming, and may God bless you all. Note: The President spoke at 3:16 p.m. in the warehouse at Lapp Electrical Service, Inc. In his remarks, he referred to Charles W. Dent and Scott Paterno, candidates for Pennsylvania's 15th and 17th Congressional Districts, respectively; former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, who was found dead in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 19, 2002; senior Al Qaida associate Abu Musab Al Zarqawi; Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan; and Prime Minister Ayad al-Alawi of the Iraqi Interim Government. This item was not
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