- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

As the country prepared for war, President George W. Bush assured Americans yesterday the economy is "fundamentally strong."
The administration moved ahead on several fronts, stepping up military deployments as Mr. Bush consulted with Russian President Vladimir Putin and signed a $15 billion bailout for U.S. airlines.
The Pentagon yesterday activated an additional 5,172 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve troops. This raises to 10,303 the total of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve troops called to active duty since Thursday. Among the latest call-ups are units to provide air refueling and joint communications.
On Friday, eight B-52 bombers and dozens of other warplanes began departing U.S. bases toward a Persian Gulf region buildup within striking range of Afghanistan. U.S officials who asked not to be identified said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was preparing a second deployment order to send more warplanes to the Gulf, bringing to more than 200 the number that would join about 350 U.S. aircraft already there.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, commander of the U.S. Central Command's air component, has shifted operations from South Carolina to Saudi Arabia, where he can plan and direct air attacks against Afghanistan and other possible targets in the region. B-52 bombers thundered away from Louisiana en route to the region.
An executive order was being prepared identifying terrorist organizations and specific terrorists around the world, with the aim of freezing their U.S. assets.
Mr. Bush, who is at Camp David for the weekend, spent an hour yesterday talking by telephone with Mr. Putin about a united front against terrorism.
The United States considers Russia a wealth of valuable information on Afghanistan, where guerrilla fighters once repelled a Soviet invasion.
In other developments yesterday:
The president waived sanctions on both Pakistan and India that were imposed by Congress in the wake of nuclear tests in 1998.
Investigators pressed their international sweep for suspects. An investigator familiar with the probe said one of the four persons arrested in Britain on Friday was a pilot who took flying lessons in Arizona with one of the hijackers on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Also arrested were the pilot's wife and brother.
The Justice Department said federal investigators found box-cutter knives like those used by the hijackers after searches of some planes on the ground after the hijackings. A federal official said the security sweep discovered box cutters in two airplanes, but the official did not know where.
The Coast Guard has begun checking all lists of crew members and passengers on vessels entering the United States, and comparing names with those in law enforcement databases.
In New York, the air-traffic-control tower and a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport were evacuated because of a bomb scare. Some departures were halted but incoming flights were permitted to land; a backup tower was set up until operations could be brought back to normal.
Law enforcement agents found a manual on the operation of crop-dusters while searching suspect locations, Time magazine reported yesterday. The magazine said the FBI has asked members of a crop-dusters group to report any suspicious purchases of dangerous chemicals.
Starting today, flags will return to full staff. Mr. Bush will raise the flag at Camp David.
Mr. Bush yesterday tried to put a brave face on the worsening economy, saying the destruction of the World Trade Center would not destroy American prosperity.
"Our economy has had a shock," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"Many workers lost their jobs this week, especially in the airline and hospitality industries, in restaurants and in tourism, as companies struggle to remain afloat. Many Americans have also seen the value of their stocks decline. Yet, for all these challenges, the American economy is fundamentally strong."
Although the economy is not technically in a recession, the warning signs are ominous.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average just finished its worst week ever.
The hijacking and crashing of four jetliners, followed by a sharp decline in air traffic, has devastated the airline industry, which has announced layoffs that are nearing 100,000.
Even with Congress swiftly passing a $15 billion airline-bailout package, continued jitters among the flying public have decimated flight bookings, not to mention hotel reservations and related business expenditures.
In an effort to reassure travelers, Mr. Bush said the government is "working hard to make sure that a tough new security program is implemented in our airports and our airplanes." One component of that program calls for armed federal guards on some flights.
"The terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11th targeted our economy, as well as our people," said the president, who is at Camp David for a weekend of consultations with his national security team. "They brought down a symbol of American prosperity, but they could not touch its source."
Although Mr. Bush said his administration has "taken action to address the yearlong economic slowdown," most of that action was taken before the terrorist attacks redoubled the nation's economic woes.
Aside from the $15 billion airline bailout and a $40 billion package for military deployments and civilian reconstruction, the administration's best hope for an economic rebound remains the tax cut.
"Tax rebate checks continue to arrive in America's mailboxes," the president said. "The $40 billion in tax relief these rebates represent will nearly double next year to over $70 billion in tax relief, withmore in each of the next 10 years, as the child credit gets bigger, tax rates come down, and the marriage penalty relief kicks in.
"You can look forward to an improved business climate in America in the years ahead," he said.
But with many Americans seeking relief long before then, Mr. Bush hinted at additional measures the administration could take.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide