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Bush:  War on Terrorism Will be Long Fight - 2001-10-08

President Bush says America must be prepared for a long fight against terrorism, and must respond to the terrorist threat with unity and determination. Mr. Bush spoke Monday at a swearing-in ceremony for the head of the new White House Office of Homeland Security.

The President left no doubt he is satisfied with the initial reports he received from military officials. But he warned America that the fight has just begun.

"This will be a long war that requires understanding and patience from the American people," the president said.

Mr. Bush said the United States faces a unified, determined enemy. He said the nation must have a unified and determined response.

"Together, we will confront the threat of terrorism. We will take strong precautions aimed at preventing terrorist attacks and prepare to respond effectively if they might come again. We will defend our country, and while we do so we will not sacrifice the freedoms that make our land unique," Mr. Bush said.

The president acknowledged many Americans fear terrorist reprisals now that U.S. and British forces have launched attacks on terrorist camps and Taleban military installations in Afghanistan. He said the new White House Office of Homeland Security will play a major role in efforts to deal with the terrorist threat.

"It is hard for us to comprehend the mentality of people that will destroy innocent folks the way they have. Yet America is equal to this challenge. Make no mistake about it, they have roused a mighty giant," President Bush said.

The man Mr. Bush chose to head the Homeland Security Office is former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. He will coordinate the work of dozens of federal, state and local agencies. His goal is to come up with a comprehensive strategy to keep the nation safe. In his first public comments after taking the oath of office, Mr. Ridge said he faces an enormous task.

"While the effort will begin here, it will require the involvement of America at every level," Mr. Ridge said. "Everyone in the homeland must play a part. I ask the American people for their patience, their awareness and their resolve."

Mr. Ridge vowed to carry out, what he called "this extraordinary mission." He said terrorists will never do away with the American way of life.