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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com
Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
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Bush: 'We're at war'

President urges resolve, points to bin Laden

By Anne E. Kornblut, and Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff, 9/16/2001

CAMP DAVID, Md. - President Bush braced the nation yesterday for sweeping attacks on terrorism, telling the US military to ''get ready'' and the country to prepare for sacrifices that prolonged conflict may bring.

''We're at war,'' Bush said.

For the first time since Tuesday's aerial strikes on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, Bush explicitly named Islamic militant Osama bin Laden as ''a prime suspect.''

''This act will not stand,'' Bush said, echoing the words of his father, who waged war in the Persian Gulf a decade ago.

''We have much to do and much to ask of the American people,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address. ''You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long.''

As authorities pursued more suspects yesterday, two highly placed aviation sources said one of the suspected hijackers, posing as an airline pilot, may have received a personal tour of Logan International Airport's control tower on Sept. 8, three days before the attacks.

His identity could not be determined. The Federal Aviation Administration, which operates the tower, is investigating.

Within hours of Bush's remarks at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Iran announced it would seal its 560-mile border with Afghanistan to prevent a possible influx of refugees as the possibility of US airstrikes against the Taliban movement increased, the official Iranian news agency reported.

As Afghans readied for war, the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, issued an edict of jihad, or Muslim holy war, against any nation that helps the United States. It was a thinly veiled threat against neighboring Pakistan, which yesterday agreed to broadly assist the United States with attacks.

''Stand proud as Afghans in the defense of Islam,'' said Omar in a radio address.

Yesterday, Logan Airport, where the attacks on the World Trade Center originated, reopened to about a quarter of its usual air traffic.

The country's heightened wariness of air travel began to inflict economic damage. Continental Airlines, following American and Northwest, announced a 20 percent cut in flight schedules yesterday.

Continental also said it will lay off 12,000 workers, more than a fifth of its work force. Northwest said it will review its staffing.

In New York, 159 bodies had been recovered by yesterday, and the first list of victims, containing 39 names, was released. Grieving families of some of the victims gathered in houses of worship for solemn and prayerful farewells. New York's Fire Department mourned three top officials at funerals.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said the 4,000 FBI agents assigned to investigate the nation's worst terrorist attack were obtaining ''reasonable success.''

As part of the wide-ranging inquiry, 25 people have been detained for immigration violations as part of the investigation. But none has been formally charged, either on immigration counts or with crimes relating to the four hijackings, one government official said.

The Justice Department said more arrest warrants would be issued soon.

At Camp David, Bush huddled with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, all of whom helped his father plot strategy after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Bush, using a word other officials have avoided, described the United States as a nation seeking ''revenge.''

''Behind the sadness and the exhaustion, there is a desire by the American people to not seek only revenge, but to win a war against barbaric behavior, people that hate freedom and hate what we stand for,'' the president said.

Bush thanked Congress for giving him broad authority to use force against terrorists and those who shelter them.

To retaliate against the terrorists behind Tuesday's attacks, Bush said he will demand nothing less than a sustained, sweeping response.

''We will find those who did it,'' the president said. ''We will smoke them out of their holes. We'll get them running. And we'll bring them to justice.''

Later, meeting with reporters here, Bush said of bin Laden: ''There is no question he is what we would call a prime suspect. And if he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.''

The president and his advisers convened at the Laurel Lodge inside the tightly secured Camp David complex until lunch time, considering possible military options. They were to meet over dinner last night, with their spouses.

''My message is for everybody who wears the uniform: Get ready,'' Bush said. ''The United States will do what it takes to win this war.''

White House aides, operating under extremely heightened security measures, did not disclose when Bush would leave Camp David.

Bush's stepped-up rhetoric was one indication the nation is moving closer to military combat, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

''There is a natural process where the events, where the timing of the event passes with each day, the planning proceeds each day,'' Fleischer said. ''There is an ongoing process that shifts into the planning phase and the action phase. And the president is preparing the nation for that.''

Powell, who has taken the lead in the US response since last Tuesday's violence, said more explicitly than before that Pakistan has agreed to help the United States with its retaliatory campaign.

Pakistan, which borders land-locked Afghanistan, has close intelligence ties to the Taliban and has been reluctant to allow ground forces on its territory. But Powell said yesterday that he had ''put before the Pakistani government a specific list of things that we would like cooperation on, and they've agreed to all those items.''

Other US officials said the list included sharing intelligence gathered from the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan about bin Laden's whereabouts in the mountainous country.

''We are receiving expressions of support from around the world and not just rhetorical support, but real support for whatever may lie ahead in this campaign that is ahead of us to win the war that the president has spoken of,'' Powell said.

Kabul, the Afghan capital, readied for that war yesterday, as Westerners and the well-to-do fled and locals stockpiled goods and heard defiant rhetoric from their spiritual leaders.

The Taliban issued a stern warning to Pakistan, raising the possibility of a regionwide conflict.

''If any regional or neighboring country helps the United States attack us, it would spark extraordinary dangers,'' said Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. ''It would draw us into a reprisal war.''

In New York, the criminal investigation intensified.

One man, picked up on a material witness warrant executed Friday night, is believed to have a connection to bin Laden's brother. The FBI also said that the man has information important to the government's investigation and that agents feared he would flee.

A second arrest warrant for a material witness was issued in New York late yesterday.

So far, 19 men have been identified by the FBI as the hijackers, and agents are continuing to look for nearly a dozen other suspects believed to remain in the country.

''We believe that the picture is developing a kind of clarity that is appropriate,'' Ashcroft said. ''We've named 19 individuals that we have high levels of confidence were the hijackers. And we are further refining our understanding of the ways in which this terrible crime was developed.''

To further fight terrorism, some congressional leaders on intelligence issues say that restrictions on US spy agencies should be relaxed. House Intelligence Committee chairman Porter Goss, a Florida Republican, said Congress should end a 1996 rule that prohibits the CIA from using human rights violators as paid informants. ''Unmistakably, it has restricted our capabilites,'' Goss said on CNN yesterday.

Restictions may have been too lax in the case of the Logan control tower tour. Asked whether one of Tuesday's hijackers could have toured the control tower three days before the attack, FAA spokewoman Laura Brown said: ''The movement of any of the pilots involved in the events of Sept. 11 are part of the FBI investigation, and we cannot comment on them. There is no facility log, no video, and we have initiated an internal investigation to look into the allegations.''

At the top of the tower, controllers direct planes on the ground and those taking off and landing.

The FAA, as a courtesy, allows pilots to tour the tower. Access is restricted, but the elevators run from the central parking garage up to the FAA facilities. Aviation sources said there is a video camera operating, but its tape is rerecorded after 24 hours.

Federal aviation authorities are also examining evidence from the downed jets. The cockpit voice recorder from American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, was badly burned, but the FBI believes it might able to salvage the sounds on the recorder, said a source with knowledge of the investigation. The voice recorder from United Air Lines Flight 93, which crashed near Pittsburgh, also was badly damaged and was sent to Seattle for analysis.

Separately, Newsweek reported yesterday that two of the men suspected of hijacking American Airlines Flight 77 had been pursued by the FBI for two weeks before they struck. But the FBI was unable to find them.

At a press briefing, Ashcroft said the Justice Department has put in place ''very serious measures that we believe will provide greater security and provide a basis for our country returning to the kind of freedom and business and conduct that is characteristic of this great nation.''

That security was on full display at the ticket counters and boarding gates in airports around the nation yesterday.

At Logan, the first step toward reopening was signaled by United Flight 1439, a Boeing 737 bound for Chicago, which roared off the runway at 6:50 a.m. It was the first jetliner with passengers aboard to leave Boston in four days.

Logan's first arrival was a United flight from Los Angeles which landed just before 7 a.m.

''It's a lot smoother than I thought it would be,'' said Jason Carroll, a US Border Patrol officer flown in from Arizona to stand guard at a security checkpoint in Terminal C. ''Everyone's being patient and seems to understand what needs to be done here.''

While limited air travel resumed across the country Thursday and international flights to the US resumed yesterday, it remained far from normal yesterday. Travelers nationwide confronted long lines, delays, and sketchy service, as airports implemented mandatory federal security measures. Curbside check-in was banned, and access was limited to boarding gates beyond security screening points.

The pressures on the airline industry have produced the prospect of big losses in the airline industry.

With airlines warning that they face a financial crisis, the Bush administration said it would hold urgent talks next week with executives at carriers hard hit by Tuesday's hijack attacks. But it stopped short of backing a multibillion-dollar plan to shore up their finances.

But other sectors of the economy were looking hopefully toward the coming week. Wall Street successfully tested its trading systems yesterday and plans to reopen tomorrow, after its longest closure since World War I.

A few blocks away, at the crash site in lower Manhattan, 92 bodies had been identified by yesterday, some through DNA samples supplied by survivors. Police increased their estimate for the number of missing by more than 200 to 4,972. Hundreds of firefighters and 23 police officers are among the missing.

The massive emergency operation at the tip of Manhattan was converted from a search to a recovery operation, meaning hopes for miracles had been extinguished.

More than 1 million tons of rubble remain, and only five people have been rescued, none in the past four days.

The body of a flight attendant, her hands bound, was recovered, the New York Times reported yesterday. A worker told the newspaper that he had found the remains of people strapped to what appeared to be airplane seats.

Officials yesterday said that amid the rubble, the passport of a suspected hijacker was found. His name was not disclosed.

Raja Mishra, Matthew Brelis, Glen Johnson, Wayne Washington, Raphael Lewis, and Mac Daniel of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from wire services also was used.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 9/16/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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