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For Immediate Release
September 27, 2002
President Presses Congress for Action on Defense Appropriations Bill
This is a different kind of war, and we need people with us. As I mentioned, these are folks that like to hide in caves or the dark recesses of cities around the world. They don't have tanks, they don't have airplanes, they don't have ships. We don't measure success based upon our capacity to destroy their ability to fight war. We measure success based upon how many we have hauled in, or how many weren't so lucky. We've gotten over a couple of thousand of them so far. "We" not only means the United States, but others with whom we work. And like number have not been as lucky. We're slowly, but surely, dismantling the al Qaeda terrorist network. (Applause.)
It's not a very glamorous war for some to cover. It's hard to get breathless over an arrest. Binalsheib popped his head up. He was the guy that thought he was going to be the 20th hijacker, or wanted to be. He's no longer a threat. He's no longer a threat to America, he's no longer a threat to our friends. It doesn't matter how long it takes, folks, the enemy has got to understand, we're going to get them. It doesn't matter how long it takes, we're going to pursue them. You see, we're fighting for our freedom. We're fighting for that which we hold dear.
I sent up to Congress the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. I did it for two reasons. One, any time we commit our troops into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best equipment, and the best possible training. (Applause.) We owe that to our troops, and we owe it to their loved ones, as well. And for those of you in the audience who have got a loved one in the military -- one, proud of your son or daughter; two, I have got full confidence in your son or daughter; and three, thank you for your sacrifice. (Applause.)
And secondly, the reason I asked for a increase the size of which I did is because I wanted to send a message to friend and foe alike that when it comes to the defense of our freedoms, we're not quitting. There's no calendar on my desk that says, well, we've reached this time, it's time to stop. That's not how I think. That's not how America thinks. We want our friends understanding that. We want the enemy to know it, as well -- that when it comes to the defense of our country, comes to defending the values we hold dear, it doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter how long it takes, the United States will be firm and resolved. We owe that to our children, and we owe it to our children's children. (Applause.)
I've got a problem, however. The defense budget I submitted hadn't made it to my desk yet. Here we are trying to defend the homeland, and it's stuck. The House passed it, the Senate passed it. Now it's time for the leadership in Washington, D.C. to get the defense bill to my desk before they go home. It's important for -- it's important signal to send. And they ought to stop playing politics with defense appropriations at this time in American history. (Applause.)
There's not going to be an easy road to secure our freedom. There is going to be -- there are some steep hills to climb. But we're ready to climb them as a nation, I think. There's a steep hill to climb in Iraq. I went to the United Nations the other day, and I want to share with you why I went. First, I wanted to make sure the world heard the case, this man is a dictator who tortures and rapes women -- has women raped in order to make a point, who kills, stifles decent through murder. A man who said he would get rid of weapons of mass destruction and still has them. And we need to fear the fact that he has weapons of mass destruction -- he's used them before. He's used them on his own people before. He's invaded two countries. He's lied and deceived the world.
The United States is no longer secure because we've got oceans. We're vulnerable to attack, as we learned so vividly. My job is to not only deal with problems, people kind of run around and lurk, my job is also to anticipate problems. My job is to be realistic about our future. My job is to make sure that the world's worst leader is not able to blackmail or hurt America or our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons. We've got to make sure that these dictators aren't able to team up with terrorist groups, use their weapons of mass destruction as a way to intimidate those of us who love freedom.
So I went to the United Nations. My message was, we want you to succeed as an organization. We remember what it was like when the collective body was the League of Nations, unable to stop totalitarianism; that in order to secure the freedom in the 21st century it's important to have an effective body. But you've been ineffective, I said. For 11 long years you have said one thing to the dictator in Iraq, and he has thumbed his nose. For 11 years you've allowed this man to be -- to lie and deceive about weapons of mass destruction, and you have not held him to account. And now is the time. For the sake of freedom, you have got a choice: You can hold him to account. And for the sake of freedom, he has got a choice: He can disarm.
There's no negotiations, by the way, for Mr. Saddam Hussein. There's nothing to discuss. He either gets rid of his weapons and the United Nations gets rid of his weapons -- (applause) -- he can either get rid of his weapons and the United States can act, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man. (Applause.)
I'm willing to give peace a chance to work. I want the United Nations to work. I want him to do what he said he would do. But for the sake of our future, now's the time, now's the time. For the sake of your children's future, we must make sure this madman never has the capacity to hurt us with a nuclear weapon, or to use the stockpiles of anthrax that we know he has, or V-X, the biological weapons which he possesses.
I appreciate both Republicans and Democrats in our country understanding this issue. The other day I was at -- greeted in the Cabinet Room members of both parties from the United States Congress, both parties, who understand the stakes -- members of both parties who understand the stakes. People who are willing to work with us to send a clear message to the world, a unified message, a strong resolution which defines our vision for peace.