- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

In his Saturday radio address, President Bush once again rose to the occasion, and did an excellent job of explaining what is at stake for Americans as they mobilize for war against terrorism. Mr. Bush emphasized that, in the new war Americans must face, some victories will occur without their knowledge far, far away from the television cameras. This was an apparent reference to secret operations which might be aimed at neutralizing terrorist cells around the world. Many of the successes will involve thwarting future attacks against the United States, such as the horrors Americans witnessed Sept. 11, when upwards of 6,000 people were viciously murdered.

The president (who continues to demonstrate extraordinary leadership skills during America's time of crisis) also urged Congress to change the law to enable the federal government to be able to detain non-U.S. citizens suspected of involvement with terrorist groups until they are either cleared or deported from the country. In recent years, CBS Television's "Sixty Minutes" and other media outlets have documented in detail how scores of immigrants from Middle Eastern countries and elsewhere arrive at U.S. airports without proper documentation and assert that they are refugees from "political persecution." They are then released on their own recognizance onto the streets of American cities with the promise that they will return for a future hearing on their plea for asylum. Many fail to show up for their hearings, often for very understandable reasons: It turns out that they are affiliated with terrorist groups like Hamas; Hezbollah; Islamic Jihad and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. But, if Congress joins with President Bush to ensure that such illegal immigrants are detained while awaiting their deportation hearings, this ill-conceived loophole can be closed.

And there is growing reason to be optimistic about the possibilities for bipartisanship. In his first major political speech since conceding last year's hard-fought presidential election to Mr. Bush, former vice president Al Gore brought Democrats to their feet in Des Moines on Saturday with a rousing pledge to keep the country united behind President Bush. In a remarkable display of statesmanship and patriotism, Mr. Gore declared that "we are united behind our president, George W. Bush, behind our country, behind the effort to seek justice, not revenge … and to make sure we have the strongest unity in America we have ever had." Mr. Gore called President Bush "my commander in chief," adding that: "Regardless of party, regardless of ideology, there are no divisions in this country where our response to terrorism is concerned."

All Americans whatever their political persuasion would do well to emulate the examples set by President Bush and Mr. Gore.

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