- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fighting back tears, President Bush vowed today that America would “lead the world to victory'' over terrorism in a struggle he termed the first war of the 21st century.
He announced plans to visit New York tomorrow, site of the World Trade Center twin towers that were destroyed by attacks earlier in the week. “I weep and mourn with America,'' the president said at the White House as officials said the death toll from attacks in New York and on the Pentagon Tuesday would reach into the thousands.
“There is a quiet anger in America,'' Mr. Bush said in a telephone conference call with New York Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
“My resolve is steady and strong about winning this war that has been declared on America,'' the president added. “It's a new kind of war. … This government will adjust and this government will call other governments to join us.''
Mr. Bush's eyes were red and wet as he ended his news conference, his head and hands trembling slightly as he made his remarks.
Mr. Bush spoke as Congress hastened to vote $20 billion as a first installment on recovery and anti-terrorism efforts. There was also discussion about passage of legislation authorizing a military response to the attacks in New York and Washington, although administration officials made clear they believed the president already had the authority he needed.
“We have just seen the first war of the 21st century,'' he said. He said he had consulted a broad range of foreign leaders, had found “universal support'' for the United States and expected there would be backing for whatever retaliation he ordered.
He also said pointedly the United States had been in diplomatic contact with Pakistan, and wanted to give the government there an opportunity to cooperate. Pakistan has close ties with the government of Afghanistan, which harbors Osama bin Laden, a suspect in Tuesday's fearsome attacks.
In later comments to reporters, Mr. Bush said firmly, “Now that war has been declared on us, we will lead the world to victory. Victory.''
The president spoke as officials in New York said the list of those missing was roughly 4,700 from attacks that leveled the twin towers at the World Trade Center. In addition, the Defense Department said it appeared about 190 people had died in the attack on the Pentagon, a preliminary estimate that included victims both in the building and in the hijacked airline that plowed into the structure.
Mr. Bush started work in the Oval Office at 7:10 a.m. today with another round of calls to world leaders as part of his effort to build a multinational coalition. Leaders of Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia and NATO “have all said they will stand together with the United States to combat terrorism,'' White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
He would not say what exactly Mr. Bush asked of his counterparts. The president had also talked to a half dozen leaders yesterday.
Congressional leaders spoke of a strong and sustained if unspecified response to terrorism.
“I believe it may take a lot of time, a lot of American treasure and perhaps some American blood,'' Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the morning talk shows. Similar expressions of unity and conviction came from Democrats.
“This is a national crisis,'' said House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo. He said political leaders were as unified now as they were after Congress voted to commit to the Gulf War.
Some of the options under consideration by Bush would go beyond the low-risk unmanned cruise missile strikes that have been deployed in past anti-terrorist operations, a senior administration official said today, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Among them: bombings from manned aircraft and the deployment of special troops on the ground.
The official said Mr. Bush has made no decision because investigators are still trying to determine with “as much certainty as possible'' who masterminded the attacks and what country, if any, harbored those individuals.


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