[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 37, Number 38 (Monday, September 24, 2001)]
[Pages 1322-1324]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Arrival at the White House and an Exchange With Reporters

September 16, 2001

    The President. Today millions of Americans mourned and prayed, and 
tomorrow we go back to work. Today people from all walks of life gave 
thanks for the heroes; they mourn the dead; they ask for God's good 
graces on the families who mourn. And tomorrow the good people of 
America go back to their shops, their fields, American factories, and go 
back to work.
    Our Nation was horrified, but it's not going to be terrorized. We're 
a great nation. We're a nation of resolve. We're a nation that can't be 
cowed by evildoers. I've got great faith in the American people. If the 
American people had seen what I had seen in New York City, you'd have 
great faith, too. You'd have faith in the hard work of the rescuers. 
You'd have great faith because of the desire for people to do what's 
right for America. You'd have great faith because of the compassion and 
love that our fellow Americans are showing each other in times of need.
    I also have faith in our military. And we have got a job to do, just 
like the farmers and ranchers and businessowners and factory workers 
have a job to do. My administration has a job to do, and we're going to 
do it. We will rid the world of the evildoers. We will call together 
freedom-loving people to fight terrorism.
    And on this day of--on the Lord's Day, I say to my fellow Americans: 
Thank you for your prayers; thank you for your compassion; thank you for 
your love for one another. And tomorrow when you get back to work, work 
hard like you always have. But we've been warned. We've been warned 
there are evil people in this world. We've been warned so vividly--and 
we'll be alert. Your Government is alert. The Governors and mayors are 
alert that evil folks still lurk out there.
    As I said yesterday, people have declared war on America, and they 
have made a terrible mistake, because this is a fabulous country. Our 
economy will come back. We'll still be the best farmers and ranchers in 
the world. We're still the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world. 
On this day of faith, I've never had more faith in America than I have 
right now.

National Economy

    Q. Mr. President, are you worried this crisis might send us into a 
    The President. David [David Gregory, NBC News], I understand that 
there are some businesses that hurt as a result of this crisis. 
Obviously, New York City hurts. Congress acted quickly. We worked 
together, the White House and the Congress, to pass a significant 
supplemental. A lot of that money was dedicated to New York, New Jersey, 
and Connecticut, as it should be. People will be amazed at how quickly 
we rebuild New York, how quickly people come together to really wipe 
away the rubble and show the world that we're still the strongest Nation 
in the world.
    But I have great faith in the resiliency of the economy. And no 
question about it, this incident affected our economy, but the markets 
open tomorrow. People go back to work, and we'll show the world.
    Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News].

Usama bin Laden

    Q. Mr. President, do you believe Usama bin Laden's denial that he 
had anything to do with this?
    The President. No question he is the prime suspect. No question 
about that.

U.S. Diplomatic Response

    Q. Mr. President, can you describe your conversation with the 
President of Pakistan and the specific comments he made to you? And in 
addition to that, do you see other--you've asked Saudi Arabia to help 
out, other countries?
    The President. John [John King, Cable News Network], I will--
obviously, I made a call to the leader of Pakistan. We had a very good, 
open conversation. And there is no question that he wants to cooperate 
with the United States. I'm not at liberty to detail specifically what 
we have asked him to do. In the course of this conduct of this war 
against terrorism, I'll be asked a lot, and members of my administration 
will be asked a lot of questions about our strategies and tactics. And 
in order to protect the lives of people

[[Page 1323]]

that will be involved in different operations, I'm not at liberty to 
talk about it, and I won't talk about it.
    But I can tell you that the response from Pakistan, Prime Minister 
Vajpayee today of India, Saudi Arabia, has been very positive and very 
straightforward. They know what my intentions are. They know my 
intentions are to find those who did this, find those who encouraged 
them, find them who house them, find those who comfort them, and bring 
them to justice.
    I made that very clear. There is no doubt in anybody's mind with 
whom I've had a conversation about the intent of the United States. I 
gave them ample opportunity to say they were uncomfortable with our 
goal. And the leaders you've asked about have said they were 
comfortable. They said, ``We understand, Mr. President, and we're with 

U.S. Law Enforcement Response

    Q. Mr. President, the Attorney General is going to ask for enhanced 
law enforcement authority to surveil and--things to disrupt terrorism 
that might be planned here in the United States. What will that mean for 
the rights of Americans? What will that mean----
    The President. Terry [Terry Moran, ABC News], I ask you to talk to 
the Attorney General about that subject. He'll be prepared to talk about 
it publicly at some point in time. But what he is doing is, he's 
reflecting what I said earlier in my statement, that we're facing a new 
kind of enemy, somebody so barbaric that they would fly airplanes into 
buildings full of innocent people. And therefore, we have to be on alert 
in America. We're a nation of law, a nation of civil rights. We're also 
a nation under attack. And the Attorney General will address that in a 
way that I think the American people will understand.
    We need to go back to work tomorrow and we will. But we need to be 
alert to the fact that these evildoers still exist. We haven't seen this 
kind of barbarism in a long period of time. No one could have 
conceivably imagined suicide bombers burrowing into our society and then 
emerging all in the same day to fly their aircraft--fly U.S. aircraft 
into buildings full of innocent people and show no remorse. This is a 
new kind of--a new kind of evil. And we understand. And the American 
people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism 
is going to take a while, and the American people must be patient. I'm 
going to be patient.
    But I can assure the American people I am determined. I'm not going 
to be distracted. I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are 
these brought to justice, but anybody who's been associated will be 
brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to 
justice. It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century 
decisively, so that our children and our grandchildren can live 
peacefully into the 21st century.
    Q. Mr. President, you've declared we're at war and asked those who 
wear the uniform to get ready. Should the American public also be ready 
for the possibility of casualties in this war?
    The President. Patsy [Patricia Wilson, Reuters], the American people 
should know that my administration is determined to find, to get them 
running, and to hunt them down, those who did this to America. Now, I 
want to remind the American people that the prime suspect's organization 
is in a lot of countries. It's a widespread organization based upon one 
thing: terrorizing. They can't stand freedom. They hate what America 
stands for. So this will be a long campaign, a determined campaign, a 
campaign that will use the resources of the United States to win.
    They have roused a mighty giant. And make no mistake about it: We're 
determined. Oh, there will be times when people don't have this incident 
on their minds. I understand that. There will be times down the road 
where citizens will be concerned about other matters, and I completely 
understand that. But this administration, along with those friends of 
ours who are willing to stand with us all the way through, will do what 
it takes to rout terrorism out of the world.

U.S. Diplomatic Response

    Q. Mr. President, in your conversation with Pakistan's leader, was 
there any request or demand you made of him that he failed to satisfy?
    The President. The leader of Pakistan has been very cooperative. He 
has agreed with

[[Page 1324]]

our requests to aid our Nation to hunt down, to find, to smoke out of 
their holes the terrorist organization that is the prime suspect. And I 
am pleased with his response. We will continue to work with Pakistan and 
India. We will work with Russia. We will work with the nations that one 
would have thought a couple of years ago would have been impossible to 
work with--to bring people to justice but, more than that, to win the 
war against terrorist activity.
    The American people are used to a conflict where there was a 
beachhead or a desert to cross or known military targets. That may 
occur. But right now we're facing people who hit and run. They hide in 
caves. We'll get them out.
    The other day I said, not only will we find those who have affected 
America or who might affect America in the future, we'll also deal with 
those who harbor them.

September 11 National Security Decisions

    Q. Mr. President, would you confirm what the Vice President said 
this morning, that at one point during this crisis you gave an order to 
shoot down any civilian airliner that approached the Capitol? Was that a 
difficult decision to make?
    The President. I gave our military the orders necessary to protect 
Americans, do whatever it would take to protect Americans. And of course 
that's difficult. Never did anybody's thought process about how to 
protect America--did we ever think that the evildoers would fly not one 
but four commercial aircraft into precious U.S. targets--never. And so, 
obviously, when I was told what was taking place, when I was informed 
that an unidentified aircraft was headed to the heart of the Capital, I 
was concerned. I wasn't concerned about my decision. I was more 
concerned about the lives of innocent Americans. I had realized there on 
the ground in Florida, we were under attack. But never did I dream we 
would have been under attack this way.
    That's why I say to the American people we've never seen this kind 
of evil before. But the evildoers have never seen the American people in 
action before, either, and they're about to find out.
    Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:23 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al 
Qaida terrorist organization; President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan; 
and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India. A tape was not 
available for verification of the content of these remarks.