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Bush Rallies Troops for 'Tireless, Relentless' Campaign Against Terror - 2002-03-15

President Bush says the United States is still threatened by terrorists who are trying to regroup for another attack. Mr. Bush rallied U.S. troops in the state of North Carolina Friday, outlining the second phase of the fight against terrorism.

The president told soldiers they are fighting a "tireless, relentless" campaign to eliminate the threat of terrorists who are trying to reorganize after their defeat in Afghanistan.

"They want to try to regroup and they want to hit us," the president said. "We are doing everything we can to stop them. We know their strategy. We also know they are the most committed, the most dangerous, the least likely to surrender. Folks, these are trained killers who hate freedom and so long as they are on the loose, we are in danger."

Mr. Bush told a rally of civilians and army and air force personnel that U.S. forces will hunt terrorists down one by one. He says America will not yield in its drive to bring killers to justice as part of the second phase of the coalition fight against terrorism.

"We want every terrorist to be made to live like an international fugitive," he said. "On the run with no place to settle, no place to organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind, not even a safe place to sleep. We are going to stay at it. You watch, we are going to stay at it for however long it takes."

The president says he will not allow other nations to help terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction. In this year's State of the Union address, Mr. Bush said Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are part of an "axis of evil" that threaten world peace because they could help terrorists get chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

Without mentioning any countries by name Friday, the president said the international community must not let the world's most dangerous regimes team-up with terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies.

"We will be deliberate, but inaction is not an option," he said. "Men who have no respect for life must never be allowed to control the ultimate instruments of death."

Mr. Bush says there is no margin for error in dealing with weapons of mass destruction. While White House officials say there are no plans for imminent military action against any of those countries included in the president's "axis of evil," Mr. Bush said Friday his administration will do "whatever it takes" to defend America.

The president used the rally and lunch with troops at Ft. Bragg to call on Congress to pass his $379 billion defense budget, the largest increase in U.S. military spending in two decades. Saying "the price for freedom is high, but it's never too high." Mr. Bush urged lawmakers to make the defense budget their first order of business.