The Following speech was delivered by President Bush to a joint session of congress on September 20, 2001:
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tempore, members of Congress, and fellow Americans, in the
normal course of events, presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the union.
Tonight, no such report is needed; it has already been delivered by the American people.
We have seen it in the courage of passengers who rushed terrorists to save others on the
ground. Passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer. And would you please help
me welcome his wife, Lisa Beamer, here tonight?
We have seen the state of our union in the endurance of rescuers working past exhaustion.
We've seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying
of prayers in English, Hebrew and Arabic.
We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who have made the grief of
strangers their own.
My fellow citizens, for the last nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of
our union, and it is strong.
Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has
turned to anger and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring
justice to our enemies, justice will be done.
I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time.
All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats
joined together on the steps of this Capitol singing "God Bless America."
And you did more than sing. You acted, by delivering $40 billion to rebuild our communities
and meet the needs of our military. Speaker [Dennis] Hastert, Minority Leader [Richard]
Gephardt, Majority Leader [Thomas] Daschle and Senator [Trent] Lott, I thank you for your
friendship, for your leadership and for your service to our country.
And on behalf of the American people, I thank the world for its outpouring of support.
America will never forget the sounds of our national anthem playing at Buckingham Palace,
on the streets of Paris and at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.
We will not forget South Korean children gathering to pray outside our embassy in Seoul,
or the prayers of sympathy offered at a mosque in Cairo.
We will not forget moments of silence and days of mourning in Australia and Africa and Latin
Nor will we forget the citizens of 80 other nations who died with our own. Dozens of
Pakistanis, more than 130 Israelis, more than 250 citizens of India, men and women from
El Salvador, Iran, Mexico and Japan, and hundreds of British citizens.
America has no truer friend than Great Britain.
Once again, we are joined together in a great cause.
I'm so honored the British prime minister had crossed an ocean to show his unity with America.
Thank you for coming, friend.
On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country.
Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil,
except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the
center of a great city on a peaceful morning.
Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians.
All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world
where freedom itself is under attack.
Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking, "Who attacked our country?"
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist
organizations known as al Qaeda. They are some of the murderers indicted for bombing
American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.
Al Qaeda is to terror what the Mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money, its goal is
remaking the world and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.
The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim
scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the
peaceful teachings of Islam.
The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and
make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children.
This group and its leader, a person named Osama bin Laden, are linked to many other
organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad [and] the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan.
There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries.
They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places
like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their
homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.
The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime
in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan we see al Qaeda's vision for the world.
Afghanistan's people have been brutalized, many are starving and many have fled.
Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion
can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard
is not long enough.
The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest
source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime.
It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring
and sheltering and supplying terrorists.
By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder. And tonight the
United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban:
Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land.
Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned.
Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately
and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist
and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities.
Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are
no longer operating.
These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act
immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith.
It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that
America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil
in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.
The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.
The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our
enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
Americans are asking, "Why do they hate us?"
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government.
Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our
freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi
Arabia and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive
Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.
These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With
every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and
forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their way.
We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They're the
heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve
their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the
path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to
where it ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
Americans are asking, "How will we fight and win this war?"
We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of
intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every
necessary weapon of war -- to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.
Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of
territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago,
where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should
not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may
include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place
to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every
region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be
regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice.
We're not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to
Today, dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as state and local governments,
have responsibilities affecting homeland security.
These efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight, I announce the creation
of a Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me, the Office of Homeland Security.
And tonight, I also announce a distinguished American to lead this effort, to strengthen
American security: a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted
friend, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge.
He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our
country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come.
These measures are essential. The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life
is to stop it, eliminate it and destroy it where it grows.
Many will be involved in this effort, from FBI agents, to intelligence operatives, to the
reservists we have called to active duty. All deserve our thanks, and all have our prayers.
And tonight a few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military:
Be ready. I have called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason.
The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.
This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom.
This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress
and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.
We ask every nation to join us.
We will ask and we will need the help of police forces, intelligence services and banking
systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many
international organizations have already responded with sympathy and with support
-- nations from Latin America to Asia to Africa to Europe to the Islamic world.
Perhaps the NATO charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an
attack on all. The civilized world is rallying to America's side.
They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens
may be next. Terror unanswered can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability
of legitimate governments.
And you know what? We're not going to allow it.
Americans are asking, "What is expected of us?"
I ask you to live your lives and hug your children.
I know many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the
face of a continuing threat.
I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so many have come here.
We're in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should
be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or
I ask you to continue to support the victims of this tragedy with your contributions. Those
who want to give can go to a central source of information, libertyunites.org, to find the
names of groups providing direct help in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The thousands of FBI agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your
cooperation, and I ask you to give it. I ask for your patience with the delays and
inconveniences that may accompany tighter security and for your patience in what will be
a long struggle.
I ask [for] your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists
attacked a symbol of American prosperity; they did not touch its source.
America is successful because of the hard work and creativity and enterprise of our people.
These were the true strengths of our economy before September 11th, and they are our
And finally, please continue praying for the victims of terror and their families, for those in
uniform and for our great country. Prayer has comforted us in sorrow and will help strengthen
us for the journey ahead.
Tonight I thank my fellow Americans for what you have already done and for what you will do.
And, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, I thank you, their representatives, for what you
have already done and for what we will do together.
Tonight we face new and sudden national challenges.
We will come together to improve air safety, to dramatically expand the number of air marshals
on domestic flights and take new measures to prevent hijacking.
We will come together to promote stability and keep our airlines flying with direct assistance
during this emergency.
We will come together to give law enforcement the additional tools it needs to track down
terror here at home.
We will come together to strengthen our intelligence capabilities to know the plans of
terrorists before they act and to find them before they strike.
We will come together to take active steps that strengthen America's economy and put our
people back to work.
Tonight, we welcome two leaders who embody the extraordinary spirit of all New Yorkers,
Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As a symbol of America's resolve, my
administration will work with Congress and these two leaders to show the world that we will
rebuild New York City.
After all that has just passed, all the lives taken and all the possibilities and hopes that died
with them, it is natural to wonder if America's future is one of fear.
Some speak of an age of terror. I know there are struggles ahead and dangers to face. But
this country will define our times, not be defined by them.
As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of
terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world.
Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we
have found our mission and our moment.
Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our
time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us.
Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future.
We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will
not falter and we will not fail.
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead life will return almost to normal. We'll go
back to our lives and routines, and that is good.
Even grief recedes with time and grace.
But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day and to
whom it happened. We will remember the moment the news came, where we were and what
we were doing.
Some will remember an image of a fire or story or rescue. Some will carry memories of a face
and a voice gone forever.
And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard who died at the
World Trade Center trying to save others.
It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. It is my reminder of
lives that ended and a task that does not end.
I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not
rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.
The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice
and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.
Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice, assured of the rightness of our cause
and confident of the victories to come.
In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom and may He watch over the United States
President Bush addresses congress September 20, 2001