The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
September 11, 2006
The Fifth Anniversary of September 11, 2001
Today, President Bush Remembered The Innocent Who Lost Their Lives And Paid Tribute To The Courageous Heroes Who Gave Their Lives So That Others Might Live.
The President Also Discussed The Nature Of The Threat Still Before Us, What We Are Doing To Protect Our Nation, And The Building Of A More Hopeful Middle East That Holds The Key To Peace For America And The World. On this solemn anniversary, we rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom.
What We Saw On September 11, 2001
On 9/11, Our Nation Saw The Face Of Evil - Yet We Also Witnessed Something Distinctly American: Ordinary Citizens Rising To The Occasion, And Responding With Extraordinary Acts Of Courage. We saw courage in office workers who were trapped on the high floors of burning skyscrapers, passengers aboard Flight 93, and the Pentagon staff who made it out of the flames and smoke - and ran back in to answer cries for help.
Since 9/11, We Have Learned A Great Deal About The Enemy
The War On Terror Is More Than A Military Conflict - It Is The Decisive Ideological Struggle Of The 21st Century, And The Calling Of Our Generation. We have learned that our enemies are evil and kill without mercy, but not without purpose. They form a global network of extremists driven by a perverted vision of Islam, and their goal is building a radical Islamic empire.
Our Nation Is Being Tested In A Way We Have Not Been Tested Since The Start Of The Cold War. We face an enemy determined to bring death and suffering into our homes. The War on Terror is not over and will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious. If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons. We are in a war that will set the course for this century.
On 9/11, We Resolved That We Would Go On The Offense Against Our Enemies
On 9/11, We Resolved That We Would Not Distinguish Between The Terrorists And Those Who Harbor Or Support Them. We helped drive the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. We put al Qaeda on the run and killed or captured most of those who planned the 9/11 attacks - including the man believed to be the mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He and other suspected terrorists have provided valuable intelligence that has helped stop attacks in America and across the world. Now these men have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, so they can be held to account for their actions.
On 9/11, We Learned That America Must Confront Threats Before They Reach Our Shores - Whether Those Threats Come From Terrorist Networks Or Terrorist States. Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks, but his regime was a clear threat. The Administration, Congress, and the UN saw the threat - and after 9/11, Saddam's regime posed a risk the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power, and now the challenge is to help Iraq build a democracy that fulfills the dreams of the nearly 12 million Iraqis who voted last December.
The Stakes In Iraq Are High
Al Qaeda And Other Extremists From Across The World Have Come To Iraq To Stop The Rise Of A Free Society In The Heart Of The Middle East. They have joined the remnants of Saddam's regime and other armed groups to foment sectarian violence and drive us out. Our enemies in Iraq are tough and they are committed, but so are Iraqi and Coalition forces. We are adapting to stay ahead of the enemy - and we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.
We Are Training Iraqi Troops So They Can Defend Their Nation And We Are Helping Iraq's Unity Government Grow In Strength And Serve Its People - And We Will Not Leave Until This Work Is Done. Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.
We Can Be Confident That Our Coalition Will Succeed - Because The Iraqi People Have Been Steadfast In The Face Of Unspeakable Violence And Because Of The Skill And Resolve Of America's Armed Forces. Since 9/11, more than 1.6 million Americans have volunteered to wear our Nation's uniform. Some have suffered terrible injuries - and nearly 3,000 have given their lives. America cherishes their memory, prays for their families, and will never back down from the work they began.
Five Years After 9/11, America Is Safer - But We Are Not Yet Safe
We Honor Those Who Toil Day And Night To Keep Our Homeland Safe - And We Are Giving Them The Tools They Need To Protect Our People. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, we have broken up terrorist cells in our midst and saved American lives. Since 9/11, we have:
Our Enemies Have Not Succeeded In Launching Another Attack On Our Soil, But They Have Not Been Idle. Al Qaeda and those inspired by its hateful ideology have carried out terrorist attacks in more than two dozen nations - and just last month, they were foiled in a plot to blow up passenger planes headed for the United States.
We Are Engaged In A Struggle For Civilization
We Are Fighting To Maintain The Way Of Life Enjoyed By Free Nations - And One Of The Strongest Weapons In Our Arsenal Is The Power Of Freedom. Given a choice, people will choose freedom over extremist ideology. So the terrorists' answer is to deny people this choice by raging against the forces of freedom and moderation. We are fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom, tolerance, and personal dignity.
Years Of Pursuing Stability In The Middle East To Promote Peace Left Us With Neither
For 60 Years, Doubts About Whether The People Of The Middle East Wanted Their Freedom - And Whether The Forces Of Moderation Could Prevail - Guided Our Policies In The Middle East. Then, on 9/11, it became clear that the "stability" we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage, providing no protection from the terrorists. We changed our policies, and committed America's influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.
With Our Help, The People Of The Middle East Are Claiming Their Freedom. From Kabul to Baghdad to Beirut, there are brave men and women risking their lives each day for the same freedoms that we enjoy. By standing with democratic leaders and reformers and by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism and we are enlisting the most powerful force for peace and moderation in the Middle East: the desire of millions to be free.
The Source Of America's Strength Is The Spirit Of Our People
The 9/11 Attacks Were Meant To Bring Us To Our Knees, And They Did - But Not In The Way The Terrorists Intended. Americans united in prayer, came to the aid of neighbors in need, and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word. We go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.