21 February 2004
U.S. Fighting Terrorism With "Focus and Determination," Says
Says creation of a free Iraq will be watershed event in Middle
Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have made Iraq "the central
front" in the U.S. war against terrorism, and the United States
will counter this threat with "focus and determination," said
In his weekly radio address to the nation February 21, Bush called
attention to a letter intercepted from a senior al Qaeda associate
describing a strategy to destabilize Iraq through ethnic violence
and suicide bomb attacks on innocent Iraqis, Iraqi security, and
"The terrorists know that the emergence of a free Iraq will
be a major blow against a worldwide terrorist movement. In this,
they are correct," he said.
"The establishment of a free Iraq will be a watershed event
in the history of the Middle East, helping to advance the spread
of liberty throughout that vital region," Bush said.
The president said terrorists were on the run, with nearly two-thirds
of al Qaeda's known leaders captured or killed since the September
11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
He said success in the war against terror required that regimes
that might arm terrorists with weapons of mass destruction should
be confronted, and justified the coalition invasion of Iraq on
The U.S. government, Congress and the United Nations Security
Council knew former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's history and saw
a threat based upon intelligence information, he said.
Saddam had invaded neighboring countries, cultivated ties to terrorists,
built weapons of mass destruction, and had used chemical weapons
against thousands of Iraqis and Iranians, said Bush.
Following is the transcript of President Bush's Radio Address
to the Nation:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________
Embargoed Until Delivery
At 10:06 A.M. EST
Saturday, February 21, 2004
RADIO ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week I traveled to Fort Polk,
in Louisiana, to visit with soldiers and family members who are
giving vital service in the war on terror. Fort Polk is home to
some of the Army's oldest and finest units. Since September the
11th, 2001, Fort Polk has trained and deployed more than 10,000
troops to fight the terrorist enemy worldwide, including in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Thanks to their bravery and skill, America is waging
this fight with focus and determination.
Over the last 29 months, many terrorists have learned the meaning
of justice. Nearly two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leaders have
been captured or killed. The terrorists are on the run, with good
reason to fear what the night might bring. Success in the war on
terror also requires that we confront regimes that might arm terrorists
with the ultimate weapons. America is determined to meet this danger,
and to deny terrorists and dangerous regimes the ability to threaten
us with the world's most deadly weapons.
For 12 years, the former dictator of Iraq defied the international
community. He refused to disarm, or account for his illegal weapons
and programs. My administration looked at the intelligence information
and we saw a threat. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence
and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked
at the intelligence and it saw a threat. All of us knew Saddam
Hussein's history. He waged aggressive wars against neighboring
countries and inspired to dominate the Middle East. He cultivated
ties to terrorists. He built weapons of mass destruction. He hid
those weapons. And he used chemical weapons against thousands of
Iraqis and Iranians.
Saddam Hussein doubted our resolve to enforce our word. Now he
sits in a prison cell while his country moves toward a democratic
future. Today in Iraq, our coalition faces deadly attacks from
a remnant of Saddam's supporters, joined by foreign terrorists.
Recently we intercepted a letter sent by a senior al Qaeda associate
named Zarqawi, to one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants. The
letter describes a terrorist strategy, to tear Iraq apart with
ethnic violence, to undermine Iraqi security forces, to demoralize
our coalition and to prevent the rise of a sovereign, democratic
government. This terrorist outlines his efforts to recruit and
train suicide bombers, and boasts of 25 attacks on innocent Iraqis
and coalition personnel. And he urges al Qaeda members to join
him in waging war on our coalition and on the people of Iraq.
Zarqawi and men like him have made Iraq the central front in our
war on terror. The terrorists know that the emergence of a free
Iraq will be a major blow against a worldwide terrorist movement.
In this, they are correct.
But we have seen this enemy before and we know how to deal with
them. Fighting alongside the people of Afghanistan, we are defeating
the terrorists in that country. And fighting alongside the people
of Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists there, as well. Iraq, like
Afghanistan, will be free.
Our coalition is working with Iraq's Governing Council to draft
a basic law with a bill of rights. We're working with Iraqis and
the United Nations to prepare for a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty.
The establishment of a free Iraq will be a watershed event in the
history of the Middle East, helping to advance the spread of liberty
throughout that vital region. And as freedom takes hold in the
greater Middle East, the people of the region will find new hope,
and America will be more secure.
Two-and-a-half years ago, on a clear September morning, the enemies
of America brought a new kind of war to our shores. Three days
later, I stood in the rubble of the Twin Towers. My resolve today
is the same as it was then: I will not relent until the terrorist
threat to America is removed.
Thank you for listening.