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 Home > News & Policies > September 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 9, 2005

President Honors Ambassador Karen Hughes at Swearing-In Ceremony
United States Department of State
Washington, D.C.

10:17 A.M. EDT

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. Thank you. Thank you very much, and welcome to the State Department for the swearing in of Karen Hughes as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Ambassador for the same.

I'm delighted to be here in the company of so many people who mean so much, first of all, to the United States of America, but probably, more importantly, to Karen. We are joined today by Jerry Hughes, Karen's husband; her son, Robert Hughes, who I just have to say is on his way to Stanford University as a freshman -- (laughter) -- by Lauren Doggett, her daughter; Leigh Doggett, her granddaughter; Beverly Byrd, her sister; Nancy Bell, her sister-in-law; Kim Barnard, her niece; Jim Unger, her cousin; Val Unger, her cousin; and Chandler Bell, her grandnephew.

President George W. Bush watches as Karen Hughes is sworn-in by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Friday, Sept. 9, 2005 at the State Department in Washington, to be the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. Jerry Hughes, Secretary Hughes' husband, holds the Bible during the ceremony.  White House photo by Eric Draper We, of course, also are joined, most importantly, by the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush. I'll turn to the President in a moment to swear Karen in, but thank you, especially, Mrs. Bush, for joining us. (Applause.)

We're joined also by a number of members of the Cabinet: Secretary Gale Norton, Secretary Alphonso Jackson, Secretary Norm Mineta, Secretary Margaret Spellings, and Director for National Intelligence, John Negroponte; by a number of members of the diplomatic corps. Thank you Ambassador Antoine from Grenada, Ambassador Jawad from Afghanistan, Charg Massoud from Saudi Arabia, and Ambassador Pashayev from Azerbaijan.

And I'd also like to recognize Margaret Tutwiler, a former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy.

Mr. President, we appreciate greatly your coming to swear in Karen Hughes, your friend and confident, and person that you have chosen to lead this important public diplomacy effort for the United States of America.

Mr. President, all Americans in the world are grateful for your commitment and your dedication to the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity, to the fact that you believe, as Americans do, that democracy and liberty and freedom are the birthright of every man and woman around the world. And that is the message that we will try to get out in a better fashion, a more effective fashion. And I think with Karen Hughes leading the effort, we will be able to show the world the true heart of America, and people will understand that we mean it when we say that Americans believe that there is no corner of the Earth that should have to live in tyranny, and that every man and woman should bask in freedom.

Mr. President, thank you for joining us. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Madame Secretary, thank you. Thank you for the fine leadership you're providing for our country. Laura and I are pleased to be back here at the State Department, and we're really pleased to be here to honor our new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ambassador Karen Hughes. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush congratulates Karen Hughes after her swearing-in by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Friday, Sept. 9, 2005 at the State Department in Washington, to be the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.  White House photo by Eric Draper It's good to see many of Karen's friends here today, particularly those from Texas. Welcome. I want to say something about her family, her husband Jerry, and Robert and Leigh and Lauren. I want to thank you very much for supporting Karen. It is a real blessing for this country that she has decided to come back and serve. And I know she would not have done that without your support, so thank you all very much.

We're in a war on terror. We are still at war. And to succeed in this war, we must effectively explain our policies and fundamental values to people around the world. This is an incredibly important mission. And so I've asked one of America's most talented communicators to take it on.

Karen Hughes has been one of my closest and most trusted advisors for more than a decade. She understands the miracle of America. She understands what we stand for. After all, she's lived it. Her grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner. She's a working mom who rose to serve at the highest levels of our government. She has a compassionate heart, a brilliant mind, and a deep love for America. I can think of no one better to share the American experience with the world than Karen Hughes.

I want to thank my Cabinet Secretaries who are here. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and honor our friend. Don't hesitate to get back to work. We've got a lot to do. (Laughter.) I appreciate General Dick Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who's with us. I want to thank John Negroponte who is joining us, as well. And thank you all.

America is a strong and resilient nation. Our people have the spirit, the resources and the determination to overcome any challenge. And today this nation faces enormous challenges at home and abroad.

At this moment, our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast are struggling to recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our country's history. Many thousands have lost their homes. They've lost their loved ones. They've lost all their earthly possessions. The disaster area is larger than the size of Great Britain. Towns and communities have been flattened. One of our great cities has been submerged.

In this time of struggle, the American people need to know we're not struggling alone. I want to thank the members of the diplomatic corps who are with us today. I want to thank the world community for its prayers and for the offers of assistance that have come from all around the world. The outpouring of compassion and support has been substantial.

President George W. Bush addresses an audience attending the swearing-in ceremony of Karen Hughes, Friday, Sept. 9, 2005 at the State Department in Washington, to be the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. Karen Hughes is seen with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her husband Jerry Hughes. White House photo by Paul Morse Think of this, Afghanistan has pledged a hundred thousand dollars to aid -- in aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Ambassador, thank you. Canada has sent ships with disaster supplies. Air Canada -- Air Canada's planes assisted in the evacuation. Israel sent tents and mineral water and medical supplies. Italy has sent beds and sheets and blankets and inflatable rafts to help with rescue efforts. Kuwait has pledged $400 million in oil and a hundred million dollars in humanitarian aid. Qatar and the UAE has pledged $100 million each. Sri Lanka, one of the world's most impoverished nations that is struggling to overcome the effects of the tsunami, has sent a donation of $25,000.

In all, more than a hundred countries have stepped forward with offers of assistance, and additional pledges of support are coming in every day. To every nation in every province and every local community across the globe that is standing with the American people, and with those who hurt on the Gulf Coast, our entire nation thanks you for your support.

Four years ago, the American people saw a similar outpouring of sympathy and support when another tragedy struck our nation, the terrorist attacks of September the 11th, 2001. This Sunday, Americans will mark the fourth anniversary of that terrible day when nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered. The attacks took place on American soil, yet they left grieving families on virtually every continent. Citizens from dozens of nations were killed on September the 11th. Innocent men and women and children of every race and every religion.

And in the four years since the September the 11th attacks, the terrorists have continued to kill -- in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Bali, in Baghdad, in London, in Sharm-el-Sheikh and elsewhere.

In the war on terror, the world's civilized nations face a common enemy, an enemy that hates us, because of the values we hold in common. The terrorists have a strategy: They want to force those of us who love freedom to retreat, to pull back so they can topple governments in the Middle East and turn that region into a safe haven for terrorism.

To achieve these aims, they kill the innocent because they believe that all human life is expendable. And that stands in stark contrast to what we believe. We believe human life is a precious gift from our Creator. Every nation that shares this belief shares the belief in human rights and human dignity, shares a stake in the outcome of this struggle. Every nation that believes that human rights and human dignity applies to every man, woman and child shares a responsibility in ensuring our victory over the terrorists.

We're on a hunt for the terrorists. We are striking them in foreign lands before they can hurt our citizens again. Yet we know that this war will not be won by force of arms alone. We must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield, and we must also defeat them in the battle of ideas.

As Prime Minister Blair said after the London attacks, we must not fight just the terrorists' methods, but also their views; not just their barbaric acts, but also their barbaric ideas. In the long run, the only way to achieve lasting peace is to offer a hopeful alternative to the terrorist ideology of hatred and fear.

By spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East, Condi and Karen -- or should I say Madam Secretary and the Ambassador -- understand that spreading the message of freedom requires an aggressive effort to share and communicate America's fundamental values.

And so they have an ambitious agenda to carry out. First, I've asked them to marshal all the resources of the federal government to this critical mission. Public diplomacy is the job of every member of my administration. As the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen will direct the State Department's efforts to communicate with the world, and at the same time, she will coordinate the work of our administration in support of this vital mission, ensuring that every agency and department gives public diplomacy the same level of priority that I do.

Second, I've asked the State Department to enlist the support of the private sector in our nation's public diplomacy efforts. The experienced diplomats in this room will be the first to tell you, the American people are some of our nation's best ambassadors. We must find ways to utilize their talents and skills more effectively. Everyone who travels abroad or welcomes an exchange student into their home is an ambassador for America. And we need more of our citizens involved in our public diplomacy.

Third, I've asked the State Department to improve our government's capabilities to confront terrorist propaganda quickly, before myths have time to take root in the hearts and minds of people across the world. Listen, our enemies use lies. They use lies to recruit and train and indoctrinate. So Karen and her team have a vital task. They must ensure that the terrorist lies are challenged aggressively, and that our government is prepared to respond to false accusations and propaganda immediately.

Finally, I've asked the State Department to encourage Americans to learn about the languages and cultures of the broader Middle East. In the early days of the Cold War, our government undertook an intensive effort to encourage young Americans to study Russian language and history and culture so we could better understand the aspirations of the Russian people and the psychology of those who oppressed them. I've got to tell you, it's impressive to be with Condi, when you're with the Russian officials, to hear her speak the Russian language. She was a part of that initiative. Today the struggle for freedom has shifted to a new region of the world, and we need a similar effort to educate our people about the broader Middle East.

We must encourage young scholars to study the great history and traditions of the region. We need skilled linguists who can communicate with their people so we can engage in a fruitful dialogue about what it means to live in liberty.

We've living in dangerous and challenging times, yet this is also a moment of great hope and opportunity. Across the world, hearts and minds are opening to the message of human liberty as never before. In the last two years alone, tens of millions have voted for the first time in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Georgia. And as they claim their freedom, they are inspiring millions more across the broader Middle East. We must encourage their aspirations. We must nurture freedom's progress.

Karen will deliver the message of freedom and humility and compassion and determination. She knows that freedom is not America's gift to the world. She knows that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man, woman and child in this world. She will help America seize this moment of opportunity by working with other nations and peoples to replace tyranny with tolerance, and overcome hatred with hope. Together, we're going to help millions achieve the non-negotiable demands of human dignity so they can build a better life for their children, and so we can lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Karen, good luck in your task. May God bless you. (Applause.)

(Under Secretary Hughes is sworn into office.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Good luck. (Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you all very much. Thank you so much.

Mr. President, I guess, it wouldn't be good for a communicator to stand up and say I'm speechless. (Laughter.) But I'm certainly overwhelmed. Mr. President and First Lady, we're delighted that both of you joined us here at the State Department. Madam Secretary.

I thank all of you for once again giving me the great honor and privilege of serving my country. I thank Your Excellencies for joining us here today. I'm honored you would come. Many Cabinet members, members of Congress, my colleagues from the State Department and the White House, and friends and family -- all for joining us here today.

I was in Austin, Texas, last weekend, and city officials put out a call for volunteers and donations to help us welcome an estimated 5,000 of our Louisiana neighbors who had been left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. I went down to the Convention Center where a couple of volunteers had organized an impromptu donation drop-off line, and I pitched in next to people of all ages and races and backgrounds to help unload what seemed like a nonstop line of cars.

We witnessed an amazing outpouring. We saw big cars with trunks full of just-purchased mattresses and sheets and pillows. And we saw old cars whose -- smaller cars, whose back seats were full of old, worn towels and blankets and cans of food, whatever people could afford to bring. It was an overwhelming display -- I had tears in my eyes several times -- of love and concern and community, as well as concrete help. And it was repeated across Texas and across America.

And during the last week here at the State Department, we've witnessed that same spirit of generosity as governments and people around the world offered helicopters, food, money, tents -- all to help America in our hour of need. And Americans are so grateful to our friends and fellow citizens throughout the world.

As the President mentioned, this weekend we will mark the fourth anniversary of September 11th. And it struck me that in our response to these two tragedies -- one caused by the force of nature, the other by the evil intentions of men -- we have also witnessed something far, far more powerful: our common humanity, the decency that binds us together as civilized human beings, no matter what our nationality or faith. Yes, we saw terrorists who horrifically targeted innocents, and criminals who preyed on the vulnerable. But we saw far, far more people who opened their homes and their hearts to total strangers both here and across our world, and reached out to help others in need.

In our response to terror and tragedy both at home and across the world, we've been reminded that what unites us human beings is so much greater than even the important matters on which we sometimes disagree, and that our ability to differ freely, openly and respectfully is, in itself, something to be celebrated.

I believe there is no more urgent challenge for America's national security and for a more peaceful future for all the world's children than the need to foster greater respect, understanding and a sense of common interest and common values between Americans and people of different countries, cultures and faiths.

Mr. President, I am so honored that you and Secretary Rice had asked me to return to Washington. I once again pledge that I will always speak from the heart, and I will always stand for what you've called the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each of you who have joined us here today for this special day for me and my family. And I ask for your help and your prayers in the work that's ahead. Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)

END 10:42 A.M. EDT