For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2004
April 11, 2004 Remarks by the President to the Travel Pool
Fort Hood, Texas
10:15 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Happy Easter to everybody. It's our honor to have
celebrated this holy day with family members whose loved one is in
Iraq. Fort Hood has made a mighty contribution to freedom in Iraq and
to security for the country. I value my time with the family members
and those who sacrifice on behalf of the country.
Today I ask for God's blessings for our troops overseas, may He
protect them and may He continue to bless our country.
I'll answer a couple of questions. Scott.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. We're coming off a week in which dozens
of American soldiers have died. We've seen images of incredible
violence and chaos. Should Americans brace for weeks, or months of
this? Do you expect it to abate soon? And, also, what's General Abizaid
telling you about how many more troops he'll need, if any?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I've spoken to General Abizaid twice in the
last four or five days. He knows full well that when he speaks to me
that if he needs additional manpower he can ask for it. He believes,
like I believe, that this violence we've seen is part of a few people
trying to stop progress toward democracy. Fallujah, south of Baghdad,
these incidents were basically thrust upon the innocent Iraqi people by
gangs, violent gangs.
And our troops are taking care of business. Their job is to make
Iraq more secure so that a peaceful Iraq can emerge. And they're doing
a great job. And it was a tough week last week, and my prayers and
thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our security. A
free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq is going to
change the world. And it's been tough, and our troops are -- our troops
are performing brilliantly and bravely.
Q Do you think it's going to ebb soon?
THE PRESIDENT: It's hard to tell. I just know this, that we're
plenty tough and we'll remain tough. Now, listen, obviously, we're open
minded to suggestions -- members of the Governing Council wanted a
chance to move into Fallujah and see if they could bring some order to
the gangs and violence. And as you can tell, our military is giving
them a chance to do so. Obviously, I pray every day there's less
But I know what we're doing in Iraq is right. It's right for
long-term peace. It's right for the security of our country. And it's
hard work. And today, on bended knee, I thank the good Lord for
protecting those of our troops overseas, and our coalition troops and
innocent Iraqis who suffer at the hands of some of these senseless
killings by people who are trying to shake our will.
Q Mr. President, could you tell us, did you see the presidential --
the President's Daily Brief from August of '01 as a warning --
THE PRESIDENT: Did I see it? Of course I saw it; I asked for it.
Q No, no, I'm sorry -- did you see it as a warning of hijackers?
And how did you respond to that?
THE PRESIDENT: My response was exactly like then as it is today,
that I asked for the Central Intelligence Agency to give me an update
on any terrorist threats. And the PDB was no indication of a terrorist
threat. There was not a time and place of an attack. It said Osama bin
Laden had designs on America. Well, I knew that. What I wanted to know
was, is there anything specifically going to take place in America that
we needed to react to?
As you might recall, there was some specific threats for overseas
that we reacted to. And as the President, I wanted to know whether
there was anything, any actionable intelligence. And I looked at the
August 6th briefing, I was satisfied that some of the matters were
being looked into. But that PDB said nothing about an attack on
America. It talked about intentions, about somebody who hated America
-- well, we knew that.
Q Just to follow up on that, Mr. President. There was, in that PDB,
specific information about activity that may speak to a larger battle
plan, even if it wasn't specific. So I wonder if you could say what
specifically was done, and do you think your administration should have
done anything more?
THE PRESIDENT: David, look, let me just say it again: Had I known
there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved
mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My
job is to protect the American people. And I asked the intelligence
agency to analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat
internally, like they thought we had faced a threat in other parts of
the world. That's what the PDB request was. And had there been
actionable intelligence, we would have moved on it.
I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to in the PDB, but if
you're referring to the fact that the FBI was investigating things,
that's great, that's what we expect the FBI to do.
Q Wasn't that current threat information? That wasn't historical,
that was ongoing.
THE PRESIDENT: Right, and had they found something, they would have
reported it to me. That's -- we were doing precisely what the American
people expects us to do: run down every lead, look at every scintilla
of intelligence, and follow up on it. But there was -- again, I can't
say it as plainly as this: Had I known, we would have acted. Of course
we would have acted. Any administration would have acted. The previous
administration would have acted. That's our job.
Q Are you satisfied, though, that each agency was doing everything
it should have been doing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's what the 9/11 Commission should look
into, and I hope it does. It's an important part of the assignment of
the 9/11 Commission. And I look forward to their recommendations, a
full analysis of what took place. I am satisfied that I never saw any
intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America
-- at a time and a place, an attack. Of course we knew that America was
hated by Osama bin Laden. That was obvious. The question was, who was
going to attack us, when and where, and with what. And you might recall
the hijacking that was referred to in the PDB. It was not a hijacking
of an airplane to fly into a building, it was hijacking of airplanes in
order to free somebody that was being held as a prisoner in the United
Okay, thank you all. Happy Easter to everybody. Thank you.
END 10:22 A.M. CDT