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Bush: War On Terrorism Is Just Beginning - 2002-01-30

President Bush says the war against terrorism is just beginning. In his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening Mr. Bush vowed to continue the fight against terrorism abroad, strengthen security at home and help the economy recover.

Although the United States is at war and the economy in recession, President Bush says the state of the union has never been stronger.

He thanked the American people for their patience in the fight against terrorism and said the country will be steadfast in disrupting terrorist networks and protecting against chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

While hundreds of terrorists have been arrested since September 11th, Mr. Bush says tens of thousands of terrorists trained in Afghanistan are still at large and the United States will pursue them wherever they go. "So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk and America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it," he said.

President Bush says thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, he said, ready to go off without warning. "We cannot stop short. If we stopped now, leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked, our sense of security would be false and temporary," he said. "History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight."

President Bush said the United States must stop terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. He singled out North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as nations that he said "constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

He added, "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

The president asked Congress for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years to boost soldier salaries and buy more precision-guided weapons. He also wants to spend 38 billion dollars on homeland security focusing on bioterrorism, emergency response, improved intelligence, and airport and border security.

"Time and distance from the events of September 11th will not make us safer unless we act on its lessons. America is no longer protected by vast oceans," he said. "We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home."

Part of increasing that vigilance is a new program called the USA Freedom Corps which will bring together retired doctors and nurses to help in emergencies and community volunteers to help police and fire fighters. It will also recruit more than 200,000 volunteers for existing community service programs and double the number of Peace Corps volunteers over the next five years.

"This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity a moment we must seize to change our culture. Through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know we can overcome evil with greater good," he said.

Mr. Bush thanked Congress for their bipartisan support in the war against terrorism and urged them to carry that spirit of cooperation into the domestic agenda. He wants Senate Democrats to pass an economic stimulus package to create jobs and encourage business to invest more in a struggling economy.

"The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend," he said. "For the sake of American workers, let's pass a stimulus package."

The last time the President addressed the Congress, his goal was to rally the nation after the September 11th attacks. Since then, he says terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are now running for their own. With the Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, watching from the House gallery, Mr. Bush promised to help rebuild Afghanistan, and he said the two countries are now allies against terror.