For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 5, 2002
View the President's Remarks
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Fact Sheet: Biological Terrorism
1:55 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thanks for that warm welcome. It's great to be back in Pittsburgh. Never did I think I'd come back and say, America is under attack. Never did I dream I'd come back to this beautiful city and say, we've got to be on alert. But here I am and that's what I'm saying.
I walk into the Oval Office every morning. And, by the way, walking into the Oval Office is a fabulous experience. (Laughter.) It's -- I can't tell you what an honor it is. It is -- it's great. It is a beautiful office. I get there early in the morning. Spot, the dog, goes with me. (Laughter.) I don't let Barney go. Got a brand new rug, so he doesn't get to go. (Laughter.)
But I sit at this magnificent desk. It's a desk that was used by President Roosevelt and President Kennedy and President Reagan. And I read threats to the United States of America. Every morning, I'm reminded that my most important job is to make our country secure; is to protect the homeland of the United States of America. And that's what I want to talk to you all about today -- how best to protect the homeland.
The best way to start to do so is to pick a good general, somebody who knows how to organize, somebody who's tough, somebody who's smart, and somebody who can articulate the issues we face. And I found a good one right here in Pennsylvania in your former governor. (Applause.)
I've also got a great team, a wonderful team of Americans who are there to serve something greater than their own self-interests. Not only do I have a great foreign policy team, I've got a wonderful domestic policy team. And one of the key members of that team is a former governor, friend of mine, who is doing a fabulous job, and that's Tommy Thompson of Health and Human Services. (Applause.)
I'm sorry your current governor couldn't be here, but he's giving his budget address. I completely understand why he's not here. But I also want to thank him publicly for his work in coordinating the anti-terrorist activities of the state of Pennsylvania -- the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- with the federal government. He's doing a fine job, and you need to be proud of his efforts and his desire to make Pennsylvania as safe a place as possible. (Applause.)
I also want to thank two members of the United States Congress who are here, one Democrat, Mike Doyle; one Republican, Melissa Hart. The reason I bring them up with their party affiliations is there is no difference, as far as I can tell, in Washington, D.C. about love for country. You don't have to be a Republican to love the country, or a Democrat to love the country; we all love our country. And one of the healthy things that I think is beginning to happen in Washington, D.C. is we're beginning to recognize that it's time to put aside partisan differences and focus on what's best for America and do what's right for our citizens. (Applause.) So I want to welcome you both here. Thank you.
I also want to thank those who have briefed us on some of the innovative work that is going on here at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as with Carnegie Mellon -- Mike Wagner and Andrew Moore. They gave us a fascinating program I'm going to explain briefly in a second. I appreciate D.A. Henderson, the Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness, who has traveled from Washington with us. D.A., where are you? Thank you for coming, D.A.
D.A.'s got a big job. His job is to take some of the interesting things that have been developed in places such as Pittsburgh and make sure they're duplicated around the country, make sure others go to school on what you've done at this school, so that America is safe as it can possibly be.
I also want to welcome Tony Fauci here of the NIH. Tony, thank you for coming. Tony does a fabulous job at the NIH. He represents a very important part of the research and develop arm of the United States. We've significantly boosted the NIH budget, not only to help fight the war against terror, but also to help fight the war against disease. And I'm proud of the efforts of our NIH folks. And thanks for coming, Tony. (Applause.)
I want to thank Mark Nordenberg for letting us come. It kind of strains the resources when the President shows up. I fully understand. But thanks, Mark, for letting us use your beautiful campus, and Jared Cohon, as well, from Carnegie Mellon. Thank you for greeting us and briefing us today. And Arthur Levine, I want to thank you, as well. You did a fine job of explaining what's going on. And I look forward to kind of sharing some of that with the American people.
Homeland defense takes many forms. One, of course, is to secure our borders, to make sure we understand who's coming in and out of our country. Part of making sure America's safe is to have as good information as possible about what takes place in our ports of entry. That's why I spent a little time in Maine the other day, talking about how we're going to boost the presence of the Coast Guard, for example, to make sure our border and our homeland is as secure as possible.
Part of having a secure homeland is to have a good airport system, that's safe for people to travel; an airport system that is inspecting bags by inspectors who are qualified to inspect bags. Part of a homeland defense is to have good intelligence sharing between the federal, the state and the local level. Part of homeland security is to have a first responders mechanism that's modern and current. And part of homeland security is to be prepared to fight any kind of war against bio-terror.
And that's what I want to spend some time talking about today. Some of us remember that back in the '50s we had what was called the DEW line on the Arctic Circle, to warn us if enemy bombers were coming over the North Pole to attack America. Well, here in Pittsburgh, I had the honor of seeing a demonstration of the modern DEW line, a Real-time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance system, developed right here, which is one of the country's leading centers on monitoring biological threats.
What we saw was how to take real -- data on a real-time basis to determine if there was an outbreak of any kind, including a terrorist attack. The best way to protect the homeland is to understand what's taking place on the homeland so we can respond. And so the modern-day DEW line to me was fascinating. And I appreciate those who have worked so hard to come up with an incredibly useful tool for America, a useful tool to protect ourselves.
I also appreciate the fact that the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon Institute launched what's called a biomedical security institute to help protect the nation in all ways from the insidious biological attack.
You know, I've come to realize -- having spent some time in Pittsburgh and particularly hearing the briefings today, that while Pittsburgh used to be called "Steel Town," you need to call it "Knowledge Town." (Applause.) There's a lot of smart people in this town. And I'm proud to report to my fellow citizens, they're working in a way to make America safe. A lot of money, obviously, comes from the state government for that. We are grateful. But the federal government has a role to play, as well.
I'm proud to say the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services all provide financial support to the Biomedical Security Institute. But, as you can tell from reading the papers and tell from my -- hopefully, if you listened to my State of the Union address, I have made the homeland security a top budget priority and I asked Congress to respond in a positive way to this request.
For example, we're asking for $1.6 billion. This is additional money for state and local governments to help hospitals and others improve their ability to cope with any bio-terror attack. One, it's important to be able to recognize what's happening; and, secondly, we've got to respond, respond in a modern way, a way that will help the American people survive any attack if it were to come.
I want to make sure that each region around the country has the proper equipment and the right amount of medicine for the victims of any attack, should it occur. We've got to upgrade our communications, not only between the federal government and the state government, but between state governments and local communities, and between counties and local jurisdictions. We've got to be able to talk to each other better, so that there's real time communications, so that we can share information in a crisis. Information-sharing will help save lives. And so part of the money is to bring our systems up to speed, to make them more modern and more responsive.
The budget also adds $2.4 billion to develop new test protocols and new treatments for bio-terror weapons. We were able to save lives during the anthrax outbreak, but some infections were identified too late, and some people were too badly infected to save. We must do everything in our power, everything to protect our fellow Americans. We need better testing, better vaccines, and better drugs if America is going to be as safe as it can possibly be.
And there's some hopeful news. Scientists tell us that research we do to fight bioterrorism is likely to deliver great new advances in the treatment of many other diseases, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The monies we spend to protect America today are likely to yield long-term benefits, are likely to provide some incredible cures to diseases that many years ago never thought would be cured. It's an investment that will pay off not only for better security, but for better health. And I ask Congress to support me on spending this money.
We're also going to expand our nation's stockpile of antibiotics and vaccines. We're going to have more of these important antibiotics and vaccines readily available. By the end of the current fiscal year, we'll have enough antibiotics on hand to treat up to 20 million people for anthrax, plague and other bio-terrorist diseases. We're preparing for the worst.
We'll provide funds to states to make sure they can distribute medicines swiftly. And we're also going to expand our bio-terror intelligence service. During the Korean War, we created what was called an Epidemic Intelligence Service to help defend America if any of our Cold War enemies tried to use bio-weapons against us. Now we need to adapt the EIS to a new era and to a new mission. We'll make the commitment to expand and modernize the service, and to work with scientists in this country and friendly nations around the world.
All in all, my budget will commit almost $6 billion to defend ourselves against bioterrorism -- as Tom mentioned, an increase of over 300 percent. It's money that we've got to spend. It's money that will have good impact on the country. It's money that will enable me to say that we're doing everything we can to protect America at home.
But I want to remind you all, the surest way to protect America at home is to find the enemy where it hides and bring them to justice. The surest way to protect America is to unleash the mighty arm of our United States military, and find the killers, wherever they hide, and rout them out, and bring them to justice. (Applause.)
History has called us into action, here at home and internationally. We've been given a chance to lead, and we're going to seize the moment in this country. As we've mentioned more than once, what we do here at home is going to have lasting impact for a long time. And I want to tell you what we're doing abroad is going to have lasting impact, as well.
I view this as an opportunity to secure the peace for a long time coming. I view this as a struggle of tyranny versus freedom, of evil versus good. And there's no in between, as far as I'm concerned. Either you're with us, or you're against us. Either you stand for a peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren, either you're willing to defend freedom to its core, or you're going to be against the mighty United States of America.
I truly believe that by leading the world, by rallying a vast coalition, by holding people accountable for murderous deeds, the world will be a more peaceful place for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
And I'm proud to report this country understands what I just said. We are patient; we're deliberate. Oh, I know the news media likes to say, where's Osama bin Laden? He's not the issue. The issue is international terror. I like our chances against bin Laden, however. (Laughter.) There's no cave deep enough for him to hide. He can run, and he thinks he can hide, but we're not going to give up until he and every other potential killer, and every other body who hates freedom will be brought to justice.
You know, the enemy hit us, and they said, oh, this great country is going to wilt. They're not great, they're weak. I like to needle them by saying, they must have been watching too much daytime TV. (Laughter.) They got the wrong impression of America, because quite the opposite is happening. We're unified; we're focused; we are deliberate; we're patient. We're certain of our values, and sure of the need to defend freedom. And for that, the enemy is going to pay a serious price.
You know, I'm asked all the time here at home, what can I do to help. Well, when I look out and see the docs, every day you show up for work, you're helping, by helping develop some antibiotic, or perhaps helping some poor person who can't afford health care.
The reason I bring that up is because I think the way to fight off evil is to do some acts of goodness. See, the great strength of the country is the hearts and souls of our fellow Americans. And the best way to declare our position, the best way to make our position known to the world, is through what I like to call the gathering momentum of millions of acts of kindness and compassion and decency; acts of compassion and decency which take place on a daily basis, in all kinds of ways.
People say, how can I help? Well, just walk across the street and tell a shut-in you love her, and what can you do to visit to make her day complete? Or how about mentoring a child in a school, and teaching that child how to read? Maybe if you're interested in helping fight the war on terror you should become a mentor to a child whose mother or dad may be in prison, so that child can have somebody put their arm around them, and say, I love you. In America, it belongs just as much to you, as it does to me.
Now, there's all kinds of ways to join this war against terror. And it starts by Americans leading with their heart. There's no doubt in my mind we'll make the right decisions here at home. There is no doubt in my mind that the United States will prevail in the war of terror. And there's no doubt in my mind that out of the incredible evil that was done, great goodness will come, and America will be better off for it.
May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 2:17 P.M. EST