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For Immediate Release
March 4, 2003
President's Remarks to American Medical Association
You've come to our Capital when this government faces many critical issues. You're here at an historic time. We have got a lot of responsibilities here in Washington. We have the responsibility to defend the American people against the threats of a new era. We have a responsibility to win the first war of the 21st century. And we're working hard to win that war.
Over the weekend, American and Pakistani authorities struck a serious blow to al Qaeda by arresting Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the top operational planner, the top killer of the al Qaeda network. The man who masterminded the September the 11th attacks is no longer a problem to the United States of America. (Applause.)
It's a different kind of war than we're used to in America. It's a war that requires patience and focus. It's a war in which we will hunt down those who hate America, one person at a time. The terrorists are learning there is no place safe for them in this world. They're discovering that justice can arrive by different means, at any hour of the day or night. They're discovering the meaning of American resolve, our deep desire to defend our freedom and to keep the peace.
It is important for our fellow citizens to recognize life changed on September the 11th, 2001. Obviously, it changed in a tragic way for those who lost loved ones as a result of the cold-blooded attacks on our people. But we learned a harsh lesson, and that is, oceans can no longer protect us from those who hate American and what we stand for. And therefore, it's important for the United States to take every threat which may gather overseas seriously, that we can no longer pick or choose whether a threat requires our involvement. If we see gathering threats which can harm the American people, we must deal with them.
We're dealing with Iraq because the dictator of Iraq has got weapons of mass destruction; he's used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. He can't stand America, he can't stand our friends, he can't stand our allies. He's got connections to terrorist networks. The first war of the 21st century requires the United States to work with international bodies to deal with these threats, and we will continue to do so.
I went to the United Nations to remind them that body has a responsibility to make sure its words means something. I reminded them that for 12 long years the United Nations has asked Saddam to disarm because he's dangerous. We went and got another resolution almost four months ago, unanimously approved by the Security Council, which said, clearly, Saddam, you must disarm.
The choice is Saddam Hussein's to make. It is his choice to determine whether there's war or peace. It is his choice to decide whether to listen to the demands of the free world. But no matter what his choice may be, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of security of our people, Saddam Hussein will be disarmed. (Applause.)