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CNN Live Event/Special
President Bush Addresses Nation on War on Terror
Aired October 06, 2005 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush due to deliver what the White House is calling a major speech, the war on terror. And he'll address how Iraq fits into that campaign. A White House spokesman says the president's speech will include what they are calling unprecedented details. We're going to carry it for you live. Once again, coming up in 10 minutes. Extensive in-depth coverage of the speech is ahead.
First, though, let's go ahead and check in on other stories making news on this Thursday morning.
It was just about two hours ago that a drugmaker announced a new vaccine that could provide a major breakthrough against cervical cancer. Merck and company says an experimental vaccine has shown 100 percent short-term effectiveness against the two most common viruses that cause the disease. Cervical cancer kills some 300,000 women around the world every year.
Firefighters in Southern California trying to rein in a wildfire that has charred about 6,400 acres. It's threatening about 100 homes. The blaze erupted yesterday in northern Riverside County. Residents have been urged to evacuate about 20 homes.
This hour on Capitol Hill, as we look at a live picture, a Senate committee is scrutinizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its handling of Hurricane Katrina. The agency has received scathing criticism for its response in the immediate aftermath. Acting FEMA Director David Paulison is among those who is called to testify today.
Also this morning, a former U.S. Marine, he worked at the White House, he is under investigation for allegedly stealing classified information. His name is Leandro Aragoncillo. He has worked in the vice president's office for three years and had top secret clearance. Multiple U.S. government sources tell CNN that Aragoncillo funneled his information to people in the Philippines.
And good morning. I'm Daryn Kagan at CNN Center in Atlanta.
In just a few minutes from now, President Bush giving what the White House is calling a major speech on the war on terror. The president is expected to go into detail about the link between Iraq and the larger battle against al Qaeda. Mr. Bush will deliver the speech at Ronald Reagan Building down the street from the White House.
We have a team of reporters covering the president's remarks. Let's go over our team. It is a fine one. Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House, Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, Aneesh Raman is in Baghdad, and National Security Correspondent David Ensor is in Washington.
Suzanne, we'll start with you at the White House. What do we expect to hear this morning?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, you can bet that we're actually going to be listening very closely for what the White House promises to be new details. We know the president is not going to talk about any kind of new initiatives regarding Iraq. We know he is going to make a similar case as he has before, linking Iraq, saying it is an essential front in the war on terror. He'll say, now is not the time for U.S. troops to go.
What may be new here, new details that the press secretary is calling unprecedented, is about the al Qaeda strategy. How it's evolved. How al Qaeda may be communicating with other loose network of regional or local cells in the Middle East in Iraq. That is what we're going to be listening for.
The broader context here, though, Daryn, of course, is that this is a speech that comes at a time when many Americans do not support the Iraq mission, the war there, and as well as a time when the Iraqis themselves will be looking at their constitution, trying to vote on that constitution. President Bush very much aware that they expect the violence to go up.
KAGAN: A tradition of ladies first. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. We're hearing about President Bush might talk about this loose network in Iraq of insurgents. What do we hear about that from the Pentagon?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Daryn, that's something that military intelligence has been talking about for some time now. That they believe al Qaeda, the entire terrorist network, basically is moving into cyberspace, if you will. That it is now a virtual network. That does, in fact, loosely link a number of terrorist cells around the country and they do believe there is now two-way communication between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his network of insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, and Osama bin Laden and the traditional al Qaeda network.
They call all of this now here, the word is the long war. The long war ahead against this network of terrorists. It is not unprecedented. This has been talked about in military intelligence for some time now.
KAGAN: All right, Barbara, we'll be back to you.
Now to Baghdad and our Aneesh Raman.
Aneesh, President Bush has been talking in recent days, looking forward to this election on October 15th. He expects an uptick in violence in Iraq and events today would appear to support that idea. ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Daryn. He said it before and he will likely say it again today. The attacks do continue ahead of that October 15th vote. A suicide bomber detonating on a minibus that was filled with Iraqi police recruits this morning just outside of the Iraqi oil ministry. At least 10 people were killed, eight others wounded.
Meantime, a suicide car bomb detonated. The target was a convoy of American contracts. That attack wounded some eight Iraqi civilians. And south of the capital, Daryn, in the town of Hilla, the residents there today beginning to mourn the dead. At least 36 people were killed, upwards of 95 others wounded last night when a suicide bomber detonated inside a Shiite mosque as a funeral was taking place for someone who had been killed in an explosion there just days before.
So as these attacks continue before that, both the U.S. military, of course, continuing some three major military operations in the western part of the country, Operation River Gate, Frontier and Iron Fist. They are saying this is a good step forward because, unlike previous operations, they plan to leave troops in that area after they route out the insurgency and have Iraqi security force presence. It will be low at the beginning, but they will increase the numbers in the weeks and months to come.
But that is the big issue here, a numbers game, Daryn. In that one operation, the biggest one, River Gate, U.S. military outnumber Iraqi forces five to one. And while there are well over 190,000 upwards of 198,000 trained and equipped Iraqi security forces, only about one battalion is at level one, able to operate independently. The military says, though, a good number, an increasing number are at level two, able to lead operations with U.S. military support. But as the violence does spike ahead of that vote, the question is whether they'll be needed elsewhere.
KAGAN: All right, Aneesh Raman in Baghdad. Once again, we're going to keep you on board and be back to you.
It looks like President Bush has just arrived in the amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. Will not begin to speak right away. We're still off for about a few minutes until President Bush begins. And, of course, once the president does speak, we will go back to that live.
Meanwhile, I want to welcome in David Ensor.
I would expect, because we've heard this from President Bush in other speech, that he will talk about that there have been incredible progress and there are positive things to report from Iraq. What about a status report from you, David?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think he will probably stress once again that 75 percent of al Qaeda, as it was at the time of 9/11, has been rounded up and, of course, there's been no attack against the United States. He very much understands, though, that the war on terrorism will be a long one. And as our colleagues said, he will probably address this nexus between what analyst Peter Bergen calls al Qaeda 1.0 and 2.0. 1.0, the al Qaeda that existed before the 9/11 attacks. 2.0 are the wannabes. The groups like those in London, Madrid and, of course, Iraq who are inspired by the bin Laden idea. Who see him as a poster boy and use him as a recruiting tool for the kind of terrorism that they want to go on committing in Iraq if they can -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right, David, it looks like President Bush stepping up to the podium. Let's listen in.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for the warm welcome.
I'm honored once again to be with the supporters of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Since the day President Ronald Reagan set out the vision for this endowment, the world has seen the swiftest advance of democratic institutions in history. And Americans are proud to have played our role in this great story.
Our nation stood guard on tense borders. We spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exiles. We aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny.
BUSH: And all the costs and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it because from Latin America to Europe to Asia we've gained the peace that freedom brings.
In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies, determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory.
Again, I want to thank you for inviting me back. Thank you for the short introduction.
I appreciate Carl Gershman.
I want to welcome former Congressman Dick Gephardt, who is a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy.
It's good to see you, Dick.
BUSH: And I appreciate Chris Cox, who's the chairman of the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and a board member for the National Endowment of Democracy, for being here as well.
And I want to thank all the other board members.
I appreciate the secretary of state, Condi Rice, who has joined us. Alongside her, our secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.
Thank you all for being here.
I'm proud as well that the newly sworn-in chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the first Marine ever to hold that position, is with us today, General Peter Pace.
And I thank members of the diplomatic corps who are here, as well.
BUSH: Recently, our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil and looked back on a great turning point in our history.
We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoice in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day and continues to this hour.
We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.
The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans.
BUSH: Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days in other places -- in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul, in Madrid, in Beslan, in Taba and Natanya and Baghdad and elsewhere.
In the past few months, we've seen a new terror offensive with attacks in London, Sharm el-Sheikh and a deadly bombing in Bali once again.
All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the new can seem like random and isolated acts of madness. Innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train or worked in the wrong building or checked into the wrong hotel.
And while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil but not insane.
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism. Others militant jihadism.
BUSH: Still, others Islamo-fascism.
Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.
These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus and also against Muslims from other traditions that they regard as heretics.
BUSH: Many militants are part of global borderless terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like September 11th.
Other militants are found in regional groups often associated with Al Qaeda; paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia and the Philippines and Pakistan and Chechnya and Kashmir and Algeria.
Still others spring up in local cells inspired by Islamic radicalism but not centrally directed.
BUSH: Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives fighting on scattered battlefields share a similar ideology and vision for our world.
We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and Web sites.
First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions.
Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, "their resources sons and money to driving infidels out of their lands."
BUSH: Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter century: They hit us and expect us to run.
They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993, only this time on a larger scale with greater consequences.
Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.
BUSH: Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover.
They achieved their goal for a time in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq.
Bin Laden has stated the whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries: It's either victory and glory or misery and humiliation.
The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity, and we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.
BUSH: With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.
Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme and they should not be dismissed.
BUSH: Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either we achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life."
And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history.
Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
Defeating a militant network is difficult because it thrives like a parasite on the suffering and frustration of others.
The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution.
They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror.
And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade.
BUSH: And this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.
The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes: allies of convenience like Syria and Iran that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America and on the Jews. The radicals depend on front operations such as corrupted charities which direct money to terrorist activity. They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world.
The militants are aided as well by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of so-called "American war on Islam" with seldom a word about American actions to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq.
BUSH: Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.
I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, and Al Qaeda attacked us anyway.
The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet militants killed more than 180 Russian school children in Beslan.
BUSH: Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the crusades of a thousand years ago.
In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.
BUSH: No act of ours invited the rage of the killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
Against such an enemy there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory.
BUSH: The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.
Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses.
Osama bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers.
BUSH: He assures them that this is the road to paradise, though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life.
We've seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan and many others.
In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I do not feel your pain because I believe you are an infidel."
And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.
BUSH: When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple; the total rejection of justice and honor and moral and religion.
These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity.
BUSH: We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags and the Cultural Revolution and the killing fields.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be in an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies.
In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves.
Under their rule, they have banned books and desecrated historical monuments and brutalized women.
BUSH: They seek to end dissent in every form and to control every aspect of life and to rule the soul itself.
While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent.
Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures," but let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs and cuts the throat of a bound captive and targets worshipers leaving a mosque.
BUSH: It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage and the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom.
BUSH: And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure.
By fearing freedom, by distrusting human creativity and punishing change and limiting the contributions of half the population, this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible and human society successful.
The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past, a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself.
BUSH: And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation decline and collapse.
Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future.
We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence and a comprehensive strategy.
Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond.
BUSH: Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, destroying their ability to make war, and working to give millions in a troubled region of the world a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.
First, we're determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist network before they occur. We're reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agency for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources here and abroad.
We're acting, along with the governments from many countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders.
Together, we've killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks, as well as some of bin Laden's most senior deputies, Al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries: the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing who was chief of Al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf, the mastermind of the Jakarta and the first Bali bombings, a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner who was planning attacks in Turkey, and many of Al Qaeda's senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.
BUSH: Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious Al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three Al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more Al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country.
Because of the steady progress, the enemy is wounded. But the enemy is still capable of global operations.
BUSH: Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized, international terror networks are exposed and broken and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.
Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation.
The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan.
Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear programs as well as long-range ballistic missiles.
In this last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspected weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.
This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but it has not removed it.
BUSH: Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we're working urgently to keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.
Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror.
The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder.
BUSH: Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account. Fourth, we're determined to deny the militant's control of any nation which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror.
For this reason, we're fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq.
The terrorists' goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence.
BUSH: Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power. And so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.
Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning.
Within these areas, we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence.
This work involves great risk for Iraqis and for Americans and coalition forces.
BUSH: Wars are not won without sacrifice and this war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve.
The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced. They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare.
No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.
Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified.
With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters. They are murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.
In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress: from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution in the space of two and a half years.
BUSH: With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.
Progress isn't easy, but it is steady.
BUSH: And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.
Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom.
We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who disagree, building consensus by persuasion and answering to the will of the people.
We've heard it said that the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy.
BUSH: In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country.
It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower. It is a healthy, sturdy tree.
As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere prefer freedom to slavery and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all.
BUSH: And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.
Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. It's a dangerous illusion refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe or less safe with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people and its resources?
Having removed a dictator and aided free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers dedicated to the destruction of our own country seizes control of Iraq by violence.
BUSH: There's always a temptation in the middle of a long struggle to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder.
This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality.
The enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence.
In Iraq, there is no peace without victory.
BUSH: We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.
The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East.
This is a difficult, long-term project, yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked.
If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger for our generation and the next.
BUSH: If the peoples in that region are permitted to chose their own destiny and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end.
By standing for the hope and freedom of others we make our own freedom more secure.
America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people.
We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow.
BUSH: We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination and the rule of law and religious freedom and equal rights for women; beliefs that are right and true in every land and in every culture.
As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself.
BUSH: And this work has begun.
Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity.
After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person."
The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends and defiles a noble faith.
Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause.
BUSH: Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat Al Qaeda in their own country.
These brave citizens know the stakes: the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition. And the United States of America is proud to stand beside them.
With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle between those who put their faith in dictators and those who put their faith in the people.
BUSH: Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe.
Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure until those societies collapse in corruption and decay.
Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent until the day that free men and women defeat them.
We don't know the course of our own struggle, the course our own struggle will take, or the sacrifices that might lie ahead.
BUSH: We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.
May God bless you.
(APPLAUSE) KAGAN: We've been listening to President Bush as he speaks in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater, speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy, refocusing the nation's attentions on the war on terror and the situation on Iraq. The president and the White House had promised some unprecedented details in that speech. A lot of rallying the troops and supporters. I don't know how many facts there were. We're going to get to that in just a moment, but the president saying things like, "Now we will see freedom's victory. We will confront mortal danger to all humanity." He said, Iraq is the central front in the war on danger.
We have brought David Ensor on board to be our CNN fact checker, and we're looking for some specific facts.
David, why don't you take it from here.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, you know, it was more a speech about passion, a well-crafted and passionate speech, making an appeal and sort of an attack, an ideological attack, on Al Qaeda, than it was a speech about hard facts.
There was, however, one passage that I'm sure reporters will be following up on, I certainly will, the rest of the afternoon and in the coming days, where the president got specific about attacks, he says, were disrupted. Here's what he said:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious Al Qaeda terrorist plots since September 11th, including three Al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more Al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of the steady progress, the enemy is wounded, but the enemy is still capable of global operations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENSOR: Now the president is talking about successful disruption of attempts to attack around the world and in the United States in greater numbers than are known about publicly. So it will be interesting to see, Daryn, whether any of the officials in the administration are willing to fill in the details there and tell us about 10 successful disruptions of Al Qaeda attacks, including three in the United States -- Daryn.
KAGAN: But, David, in some ways it's hard to prove a negative of something that hasn't happened. It is true we have not seen a major terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11, and don't you, indeed, have to count that as a victory, as something that Americans can look to as success?
ENSOR: It's the proudest single fact in this area that the Bush administration can point to, as well as, of course, what he noted in the speech, that 75 percent of the Al Qaeda leadership that existed at the time of 9/11 has been wrapped up. Trouble is, the critics would say Iraq has become a recruiting ground, a flashpoint that is causing more people to get interested in terrorism and is creating as many problems as it may be solving -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right, David Ensor, we'll be back to you. Thank you. I want to go ahead and take a closer look at President Bush's speech, from two sharply contrasting viewpoints. And for that, I welcome in Paul Begala, a former member of the Clinton administration. He is now a CNN political contributor, also sharing the title of CNN contributor, Bay Buchanan, a conservative strategist.
Good morning, and welcome to both of you.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POL. CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Daryn.
BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POL. CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Daryn.
KAGAN: Paul, I'm going to go ahead and start with you. We also heard from the president, as he said, "no act of ours has incited terrorists." He's addressing the idea of those who believe that what has taken place in Iraq and the U.S. presence in Iraq has actually led to more violence. He says that is not true. He points out that 9/11 happened before the U.S. was ever in Iraq, and he says appeasement will not work. What did you think of the president's speech?
BEGALA: Well, I thought that the tone was interesting. There he was in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater. And yet, there wasn't the same Reagan-esque, sunny optimism that President Reagan always gave us in the Cold War. Where, again, we were facing implacable foes, great ideological struggle.
KAGAN: Well, Paul, he wasn't coming here to promise us a rose garden. He was coming here to give us an update in the war on terror.
BEGALA: Right. And this is an important shift in tone. The president, for years now, has -- before the war, supporters said it would be a cakewalk; others said that we'd be greeted as liberators. Vice President Cheney said that. The president himself gave that famous speech with the banner "Mission Accomplished" behind him. This is not that tone.
This is an important shift in tone for the president. Frankly, it's one that I welcome. But it's an important one. There were not very many facts in there. And David Ensor, of course, got right to the news and I'd like to know a whole lot more about the attacks that the president says that we have disrupted. I think it's terrific news for Americans.
But I don't know that this will stop the slide in support that's going on in the war for Iraq. I mean, that's an awfully tall order to ask of just one speech at 10:0 a.m. Eastern time, at that. But I think the audience sounded a lot more...
KAGAN: Don't go knocking my time slot, Paul. Don't go knocking my time slot. BEGALA: No, I love your time slot. But it's interesting. I think that perhaps the audience was more the Muslim world than U.S. public opinion. I think that -- I know the president's very close aide, Karen Hughes, who's now at the State Department, has just come back from a tour of the Muslim world. And I see her fine hand in this. I think that the speech may have been more directly aimed at Muslim popular opinion than American popular opinion.
KAGAN: Well, and one of the points the president made, that most of the victims in Iraq have been Iraqi civilians.
Bay, let's go ahead and bring you in. There was a promise from the White House that we were going to hear unprecedented details in this speech. I don't know that we heard that. Also a demand early on from congressional Democrats saying we want an outline, we want specifics about where we go from here. It's not enough to say we're going stay the course.
BUCHANAN: You know, I think what the president did was outstanding. First of all, it was a very strong speech, and he was extremely confident. He came across as the commander in chief. He understands this problem. He's laying it out for us. And I'll tell you what he did that I thought was extremely effective. He gave a face to this enemy. You know, up to now it's war on terrorists, we're after terrorists. And now he actually called it, it was radical Islam. It is a global problem. He gave ideas of what their methods are, how they recruit, what their goals were. And he tied Iraq into it. The goal that would be a base for them, then they would spread out from there.
I think what he did -- then he tied the communism into it, which is something tangible Americans can understand, know that it was a tough battle but that we won it, showing some real hope there. I think it was extremely effective. I disagree with Paul. I think this is possibly a turning point where at least American people will start saying, yes, this, is something we can win, we need to win, but it is going to be a tough battle. And I think his support will start to rise again.
KAGAN: OK, we have one minute left, so I'm going to give about 20 seconds to each of you. Paul, first of all, do you think this is going to change the numbers? And will Democrats actually come up with a plan as an alternative?
BEGALA: It will not change the numbers, because the numbers are being driven by facts on the ground, not words in the air. The president said -- and I'm quoting here -- he said, 80 Iraqi battalions are quote, "fighting alongside our troops." Well, alongside our troops...
KAGAN: You say it's not going change numbers. I have to give Bay the last 10 seconds, sorry.
BEGALA: No, it won't, because...
KAGAN: OK, Bay, are they going to change -- is it going to change numbers, this speech?
BUCHANAN: As I said, I think it will start -- I think people will start looking more positively and I think the president's going to have to stay at it. But I think this is a heck of a good turning point for the president.
KAGAN: And I'm going to make that the last word. Paul and Bay, thank you. Got to go make some money. Got to get commercials in. We're back after this.
KAGAN: Getting back to the idea of President Bush's remarks that we were just listening to live from Washington, D.C. Let's go ahead and check on the situation on the ground in Iraq.
Our Jennifer Eccleston is embedded with U.S. forces involved in Operation Iron Fist. It's an offensive that began on Saturday. It is aimed at routing insurgents in Anbar Province in the western part of the country. Jennifer joining us by phone now from the town of Haditha.
Jennifer, I understand you were able to listen to about 70 percent of the president's speech?
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Daryn. Unfortunately, with our lack of communications here, we use satellite phones and they drop off periodically. But I think there were a few parts of his speech that are specifically referencing the ongoing operations here in western Al Anbar provinces. One of those operations, as you mentioned, was Operation Iron Fist, which is a place down near Al Qaim, which is very close to the Syrian border. I'm now a part of Operation Rivergate, which is taking place a little further East, near the town of Haditha.
And those two points which I think addressed these operations is when he said those that harbor Muslims, that harbor terrorists (INAUDIBLE) increasingly responsible, one can probably assume from that that at least one of the things he's referring to is Syria, neighboring Syria to Iraq.
And this is where the U.S. administration and the U.S. forces that are fighting here in predominantly Ream (ph) believe that most of the foreign fighters that are coming in to Iraq are coming from -- crossing across the Syrian border and taking the main route, which is in western Al Anbar Province, west of the major population centers, including Baghdad, Falluja and Ramadi, where we've seen a series of horrendous attacks.
And also he was talking about going area by area, city by city. That is very much the approach by both of operations ongoing in the Al Anbar Province. This whole sweeping clean. They go into the towns, they look through people's homes. They detain people that are considered high valued individuals, HVIs, those that are on sort of local regions' most wanted lists. And they glean intelligence from them. And they're hoping to (INAUDIBLE) people on the ground are able to find further activity of the insurgents operating in this area.
It's hard to gauge the successes right now. There's been very limited response from the insurgency. They believe -- the marines here believe they may have gone to ground and that they will reemerge once the Americans established firm bases here in this part of the country. The Americans will be the predominant force in the early stages, but there will also be Iraqi forces coming in in great numbers to take over that responsibility, to secure this region and to gain the trust of the local population.
What's striking now is we are seeing a great deal of cooperation of activity between the American forces in Reams (ph), Army who are also conducting activities in this area, and the Iraqi forces who are here. Again, their numbers are small right now, but they are expected to increase to several battalion levels in the coming days and weeks -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right. Jennifer Eccleston, joining us from inside Iraq. She's embedded with the U.S. military. We'll hear more from her later in our program.
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