President Bush is putting the nation on a war footing as his administration moves ahead with building an international coalition to strike against those responsible for Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President Bush Saturday echoed the vow his father made that led to the Gulf War a decade ago, declaring Tuesday's terrorist strike against America "will not stand" and telling the nation to gird for the possibility of a long war against those responsible. "We're at war," he said. "There's been an act of war declared upon America by terrorists and we will respond accordingly."
It was the strongest indication yet that the United States is planning what could be a sustained military response to the worst terrorist attack on the country ever.
With tens of thousands of military reservists being called to active duty, Mr. Bush met with his national security staff at Camp David to plot a strategy and told the nation's military to prepare for war. Since Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the president and other administration officials have all pointed the finger of blame at Osama bin Laden calling him "a prime suspect". But Mr. Bush now appears to have moved closer to concluding, if he has not already, that the man believed to be hiding out in Afghanistan was in fact responsible. "And if he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies he will be sorely mistaken," said Mr. Bush.
Secretary of State Colin Powell tells reporters countries around the world are offering the United States solid support for whatever action the president decides to take. Mr. Powell says Pakistan, which supports Afghanistan's Taleban leaders, has agreed to a list of U.S. demands which could include using its territory to strike at suspected Afghan terrorist bases where U.S. officials believe Mr. Bin Laden is hiding out. "They've agreed to all those items," he said. "I'm not prepared to announce today what those specific items are but the Pakistani government was very forthcoming."
And the investigation into the terrorist bombings continues, along with the massive effort to find survivors under tons of rubble from the collapsed World Trade Center and a section of the Pentagon, both destroyed by hijacked airliners. The combined death toll is almost certain to reach into the thousands. Attorney General John Ashcroft says authorities have received thousands of tips and describes the most extensive investigation in FBI history as moving forward.
Even if a military strike is not imminent, it will be days if not weeks before the nation gets back to normal. Airlines have yet to resume normal schedules, major sporting events remain hold and bomb scares, most of them hoaxes, have not yet stopped. Some economists are even warning that the strain placed on the nation could push an already teetering economy closer to recession.
Across the country, American flags fly at half-staff from office buildings, decorate front porches, and even car windows, a sign that even though the country mourns, America will endure.