Presidential Radio Address - 24 July 2004
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, the independent commission on the September the 11th attacks issued its final report. I appreciate the hard work of the commission over the past 20 months. They have produced a serious and comprehensive report, and I welcome their recommendations.
Indeed, we have already put into action many of the steps now recommended by the commission, and we will carefully examine all the commission's ideas on how we can improve our ongoing efforts to protect America and to prevent another attack.
The events of September the 11th, 2001, dramatically demonstrated the threats of a new era. In the nearly three years since the attacks, we have waged a steady, relentless, determined war on terrorists. We're fighting them in foreign lands so we do not have to face them here in America, and we are taking unprecedented steps to defend the homeland. Since September 2001, America and our allies have captured or killed thousands of terrorists, removed terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, convinced Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction, and put the world's most dangerous nuclear trading network out of business. We're chasing down terrorist enemies abroad, and within our own borders.
On the home front, we have dismantled terrorist cells and prosecuted terrorist supporters from California, to Florida, to Massachusetts. As the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean, said this week, we are safer today than we were on 9/11. But as Governor Kean also noted, the danger to America has not passed. In a vast, free society such as ours, there is no such thing as perfect security. And no matter how good our defenses are, a determined enemy can still strike us. Yet all Americans can be certain our government is using every resource and technological advantage we have to prevent future attacks.
We have created a new Department of Homeland Security with a single mission—protecting the American people. We have established better communications networks to make information on rapidly emerging threats available to local officials in real-time. We are transforming the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping terrorism. And we created a new Northern Command in the Department of Defense with the mission of defending the American homeland. To better protect the country, we have posted Homeland Security personnel at foreign ports, beefed up airport and seaport security at home, and instituted better visa screening for those entering our country. We have placed state of the art equipment in major cities to detect biological agents, and stockpiled enough small pox vaccine for every American in case of an emergency. And this week, I signed a new law establishing Project BioShield, which will speed the development of new vaccines and treatments against biological agents that could be used in a terrorist attack.
On Thursday, I visited with first responders at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy. I thanked them for their service and assured them that America will give them the tools they need to do their jobs. Since September of 2001, my administration has provided more than $13 billion to equip and train more than half a million first responders across America. There's still more to do. As Commander-in-Chief, it is critical that I receive the best intelligence to defend the American people. The 9/11 Commission's recommendations will help guide our efforts as we work to protect the homeland. And we can be confident, although the threats of this new century are dangerous, America has the resources, the strength, and the resolve to overcome them.
Thank you for listening.