President Bush yesterday said the United States will stand with Britain, where terrorists have twice attacked commuters, and vowed that the staunch allies in the war in Iraq will not be intimidated by “thugs and assassins.”
“People of Great Britain must understand how, how strongly America stands with them during these trying times,” the president said in the opening of a speech on Medicare and Social Security in Atlanta.
London was rocked by a series of bombs on underground trains and a bus earlier this month that killed at least 56 persons and wounded over 700, followed by more attempted bombings this week.
In the war on terrorism, Mr. Bush said “we’re facing an enemy that has got an ideology based upon hate.”
“These folks believe in a dark vision of the world where there is no such thing as dissent or religious liberty,” he said.
The president said the best way to protect America is to stay on the offense and spread the ideology of democracy and freedom.
“The only way to protect America is a dual strategy: One, stay on the offense, bring these people to justice before they hurt us; and at the same time, spread an ideology that competes with their ideology, and that’s an ideology of democracy and freedom,” he said to applause.
The president also said the stakes are high: “They have designs, they have goals. They want to topple governments. They want us to retreat from the world so they can spread their ideology of hate. … We’re not going to let anybody frighten us from our great love of freedom.”
That sentiment was echoed yesterday by the vice chairman of the September 11 commission. Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, said the series of terrorist attacks in London demonstrates that “the enemy is patient, they are skillful.”
“Sometimes they make mistakes,” Mr. Hamilton said. “They’re very good at exploiting our vulnerabilities.”
Mr. Hamilton and Fred Fielding, a former White House counsel who served on the commission, said the violence in Britain has heightened their concerns about the Bush administration’s efforts to implement a host of recommendations that their panel made a year ago.
“A lot of things have not been done,” said Mr. Hamilton, appearing with Mr. Fielding on NBC’s “Today” show. “We still do not have a single watch list [for terrorist suspects] … that law enforcement can check on. That’s been years that we’ve been working on it. I feel, I think some of the commissioners feel, a sense of frustration.”
Story based in part on wire service reports