W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 20, 2001 -- President Bush rallied Congress, the nation and the world behind a war against terrorism tonight, vowing "justice will be done" to the people who have attacked "freedom itself."
In his speech to a heavily guarded joint session of Congress, Bush pronounced the nation "awakened to danger and called to defend freedom" following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that left 6,736 people either missing or dead. The fight will be coordinated in a new Cabinet-level post with sweeping powers.
"Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution," Bush said, putting terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his "loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda" in the crosshairs of the largest investigation in U.S. history. "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." Transcript of Bush's speech.
Investigators believe al Qaeda was behind the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole.
Bush's speech capped off a busy day at home and abroad in the search for those responsible for the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. In other developments today:
A council of Afghan clerics recommended bin Laden leave Afghanistan voluntarily. But the council also said a holy war should be declared if an attack is launched on the country.
Federal officials warned of a possible second wave of terrorist strikes. See story.
The number of people believed missing or dead in the attack on theWorld Trade Center swelled by more than 900 to 6,333. See story.
Peace groups at colleges across the country held rallies calling for a nonmilitary response. See story.
‘Found, Stopped and Defeated’
With rescue workers and the wife of a man killed in one of the doomed planes watching him from the House gallery, Bush ticked off a series of demands to Afghanistan, where bin Laden is thought to be hiding.
Tops on the list: "Hand over every terrorist." Issuing an ambitious promise to root out terrorism throughout the world, the president also pointed to threats from radical Islamic organizations linked to bin Laden in 60 nations, including Egypt and Uzbekistan.
"Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there," Bush said. "It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated."
Earlier today, the administration rejected as inadequate a move by Islamic clerics to ask the Taliban to invite bin Laden to leave Afghanistan voluntarily.
"I hope the voluntary aspect of that will be changed by the Taliban and they will eject him and turn him over to authorities who can deal with him and his lieutenants," Secretary of State Colin Powell told ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings.
New Job, Difficult Task
Seated in the visitor's gallery was Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a popular Republican the president has tapped to lead the war against terrorism at the helm of a new Cabinet-level office of Homeland Security. Though he had been passed over last year as a finalist in Bush's vice-presidential search, Ridge now comes to Washington with an urgent charge and a vast portfolio. Profile of Tom Ridge.
The post, tasked with coordinating among 47 federal agencies and departments that currently have some responsibilities for combating terrorism, will identify problems and present solutions to the president. Ridge's reach will span from the FBI, CIA and Defense Department to local police and fire departments.
"We will direct every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financialinfluence, and every necessary weapon of war to the disruption and defeat of the global terror network," Bush said.
Asked whether that meant the United States was prepared to use nuclear weapons, a senior administration official answered, "No. I would not interpret it that way." Such weapons are not "the size and scale of the force needed to combat terrorism," the official said.
Preparing for Attack
Just over a week after hijackers piloted jets into the Pentagon, the twin towers of the World Trade Center and a field in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Capitol was under the tightest security ever for tonight's speech.
Underscoring the sense of urgency, the traditional opposition criticism that usually follows a presidential address to Congress was replaced with a joint appearance by the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate.
"The president asked for our unity. He asked for our support. He asked for our patience," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, said with Republican counterpart Trent Lott by his side. "We want President Bush to know — we want the world to know — that he can depend on us."
Even as the president spoke, the deployment of military forces near Afghanistan was under way. Military sources say teams of elite U.S. "special forces" teams were already moving into position in several different countries that border Afghanistan.
Some of these teams will work inside Afghanistan itself, working with tribal factions that have been fighting a five-year war against the ruling Taliban militia. Others will operate from outside the country, moving in for covert surveillance.
The London Times reported today that the United States and Britain are finalizing plans for what could be a 10-year battle against terrorists. According to the report, allied nations would not invade Afghanistan, "D-Day style," or stage a Gulf War-type of attack. Instead, it would be a concentrated battle designed to capture or destroy terrorists and their facilities, as well as put political and economic pressure on nations that support them.
On the diplomatic front, Bush and Powell continue to talk with foreign leaders to build international support for striking at bin Laden and other suspected terrorists. Saudi Arabia, China and 16 European nations pledged to support the United States today in its efforts to fight terrorism.
The 16 European nations said in a statement that they would tighten airport security, deny financing to terrorist groups and tighten border and export controls. Bush also welcomed support from Japan, which pledged to improve security for the 47,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in the country.
To lend even more support, British Prime Minister Tony Blair toured the destruction at the World Trade Center and then met with Bush in Washington. Blair also sat in the visitor's gallery during Bush's speech.
"We stand side-by-side with you, without hesitation," Blair said before the speech. "This is a battle that concerns us all. We have to bring those responsible for this horrendous act to account, dismantle the apparatus of terror."