|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
March 23, 2004
From an op-ed by NSA Rice in the Washington Post, 3/22/04
President Bush's vision and leadership have made America safer.
President Bush sought all possible links to the attacks of 9/11, including Iraq. Once advised that there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for September 11, the President told his National Security Council that Iraq was not on the agenda.
President Bush told the council that the initial U.S. response to September 11 would target al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The al Qaeda terrorist network posed a threat to the United States for almost a decade before the attacks in 2001. Throughout that period, the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.
The counterterrorism team held over from the Clinton Administration never turned over a plan to deal with al Qaeda. Some of their ideas had been around since 1998, but had not been adopted.
Once in office, the Bush Administration began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda network.
President Bush sought more than occasional, retaliatory cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda. Our plan called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets. It focused on the crucial link between al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Administration officials received no intelligence suggesting that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack airplanes to try to free U.S.-held terrorists.