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White House Security Increased, Bush Vows Action Against 'Act of War' - 2001-09-14


Security is being tightened at the White House as President Bush prepares to go to New York City Friday to view the damage from Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush is vowing to lead the world to victory in the fight against terrorism.

The President calls the struggle against terrorism the first war of the 21st century.

On Friday, he will go to New York to see the first casualties and view the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

He announced the trip Thursday during a televised conference call with the Governor of New York State and the Mayor of New York City. Mr. Bush told them he is sad, but determined. He said there is a quiet anger in America that is very real. "...and this government will call others to join us, to make sure this act, these acts, the people who conducted these acts and those who harbor them are held accountable for their actions," he said.

After the conference call, Mr. Bush told reporters that he has been in contact with many world leaders. He said they voiced support for any steps he might take to fight terrorism. "They understand, fully understand that an act of war was declared on the United States of America. They understand, as well, that that act could have as easily been declared on them."

Mr. Bush was asked specifically about assistance from Pakistan. He noted Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff, whose government has close ties with Taleban leaders in Afghanistan, has indicated a willingness to work with the United States. "We will give the Pakistani government a chance to cooperate and to participate as we hunt down those people who committed this unbelievable despicable act on America," he said.

President Bush took questions for a few minutes with a steely look on his face and a firm jaw. But tears formed in his eyes when a reporter asked, "what is in your heart?" At that moment, the weight of the presidency was very obvious. "I think about the families, the children. I am a loving guy, and I am also someone, however, who has got a job to do, and I intend to do it," he said.

The President will lead the nation in prayers for the victims on Friday at Washington's National Cathedral. He will travel to New York City after the service.

Members of Congress from the New York area will join him. They met with Mr. Bush Thursday afternoon at the White House and won his support for an extra 20 billion dollars to help the region recover from the World Trade Center attack.

Republicans and Democrats talked about working together with the President, a sign this crisis has united America's political parties.

Democrat Charles Rangel is the longest-serving member of the New York congressional delegation. "I have served in combat. I have served in Korea. I know war as much as anyone would. I visited "ground zero". That is war. They may not have been in uniform, but they were Americans and they were attacked and the enemy should know that America is not going to say this is over until we say it is over."

The lawmakers arrived at the White House shortly after police increased the security perimeter around the executive mansion. It was also disclosed that Vice-President Dick Cheney has been moved for the time being from Washington to the Camp David retreat in the Maryland mountains. Aides call the move purely precautionary and part of a new security reality following the terrorist attacks.

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