Fighting Back Against Terrorism
Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
October 1, 2001
In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, our nation is being tested as we?ve never been tested before. In fighting a war against terrorism, we are confronting an enemy that has no stated diplomatic goals, no real territory of its own to defend, and no remorse about killing countless innocent civilians.
Following September 11, many said we were living in a new world. However, the world changed long before these attacks. Osama bin Laden declared war on us years ago and commission after commission warned us that we had better be ready to deal with a terrorist attack here in the United States. Now it?s happened and we will respond, not out a sense of anger or thirst for vengeance, but out of a desire for justice and to prevent future incidents.
During his recent speech before Congress, President Bush emerged as a true world leader. The President?s words were simple and direct. He gave voice to the spirit of the American people. And I can?t think of a more talented group than Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, National Security Advisor Rice, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to help him plan and carry out the task at hand.
The President?s campaign against terrorism has begun. We are assembling and beginning to deploy our military forces. Our diplomatic efforts have resulted in declarations of support and pledges of assistance from around the globe. One of the primary weapons in this campaign will be cutting off the terrorists? money supply. The Treasury Department has frozen approximately 30 Al Qaeda accounts in the U.S. and almost 20 overseas. The Justice Department has arrested or detained over 400 persons and issued over 4,000 subpoenas. In the vital area of information gathering, over 100 countries have offered increased intelligence support. Approximately 150 arrests and detentions of terrorists and suspected supporters of terrorism have taken place in over 25 countries.
At the same time, Congress has worked in a bipartisan manner to pass important legislation to aid the President?s efforts. We are working on additional pieces of legislation to combat terrorism, increase security at airports, and boost our economy. We know at the outset that we won?t agree on everything, but the partisan squabbling over issues that aren?t as important has been replaced by bipartisan agreement to work on issues that are.
Finally, I have been heartened over the past several weeks by the response of Tennesseans to this tragedy, though it came as no surprise. In the days following September 11, I repeatedly saw stories from all across the state about local efforts to help the victims and their families. I was filled with pride to see the Volunteer spirit on display during this crisis. I had the honor to spend some time at the Pentagon meeting with a group of Tennesseans from Memphis who were assisting with the recovery efforts there. I was impressed not only with their dedication, but with their spirit in the face of a very difficult task.
Shortly after the attacks, I was fortunate to be able to travel across Tennessee, meeting with folks and talking about what had happened, and what was going to happen. I talked about how this will not be a quick made-for-television war marked by pinprick responses. We?re in for the long haul, and we?re going to have to make sacrifices. The Tennesseans who came up to me, whether it was following a church service, an event at a school, or elsewhere, demonstrated a strong resolve to see this through.
Our opponents are counting on just the opposite. They are banking on the false hope that we will not be able to sustain such a high level of commitment. They are wrong. They don?t understand us and they underestimate us. This will be their downfall. As President Bush said in his speech, this campaign will not be won in a matter of weeks or months. Rather, the fight against terrorism will be a sustained effort that will last years. But in the end, we will prevail.
For more information on this column and other issues, visit my web site at http://web.archive.org/web/20020626123651/http://thompson.senate.gov/.
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