Bush Demands Taliban Turn Over Terrorist Leaders
That statement came after Mr. Bush denounced the religious extremists in control of most of Afghanistan since 1995 for allowing Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization to operate from their country.
By “aiding and abetting murder,” the president said, “the Taliban regime is committing murder.”
Mr. Bush demanded the Taliban “close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities.”
He also called for full U.S. access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan “so we can make sure they are no longer operating.”
US demands “are not open to negotiation or discussion,” the president said. “The Taliban must act and act immediately.”
Mr. Bush warned the US would track down each and every person involved in the September 11 attack that killed as many as 6,000 Americans.
“I will not forget this wound to our country, or those who inflicted it,” he said. “I will not yield. I will not rest.”
The president announced the creation of a Cabinet-level position to defend against future attacks, the Office of Homeland Security. He named Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to that position.
To the US military, the president’s message was “be ready.”
“I have called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.”
Security in Washington D.C. was tight, with Vice President Dick Cheney, second in line to the presidency, watching the speech from an undisclosed location. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) sat in Cheney’s seat behind the president and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WVa.), the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, sat next to Hastert.
During his address, Mr. Bush also remarked on the international community’s support for the US effort to build an anti-terrorism coalition.
“The civilized world is rallying to America’s side. They understand that if terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens might be next,” he said.
“Terror unanswered cannot only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments and we will not allow it.”