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Bush: US-Led Iraq Invasion Made America Safer - 2003-09-13

President Bush says the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has made America safer from terrorist attack. Congressional Democrats say the president has not done enough to protect the country, following the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington.

President Bush says he has a clear strategy in Iraq to destroy terrorist threats, transfer authority to the Iraqi people and enlist international support for rebuilding the country.

"We will fight and defeat the terrorists there, so we don't have to face them in America," the president said. " And we will help transform Iraq into an example of progress and democracy and freedom that can inspire change and hope throughout the Middle East."

With U.S. troops suffering near-daily casualties in Iraq, public support in the United States for the occupation appears to be slipping, with one opinion poll showing nearly 60 percent of Americans do not believe Mr. Bush has a clear plan for handling Iraq.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush repeated many of the themes he has stressed in marking the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, that the invasion of Iraq and the broader fight against terrorism will make a more peaceful world and bring stability to the Middle East.

"Today, with our help, the people of Iraq are working to create a free, functioning and prosperous society. The terrorists know that if these efforts are successful, their ideology of hate will suffer a grave defeat," Mr. Bush said. " So they are attacking our forces, international aid workers and innocent civilians. Their goal is to drive us out of Iraq before our work is done. They are mistaken, and they will fail. We will do what is necessary to win this victory in the war on terror."

Two years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the president is facing criticism from Congressional Democrats, who say he has not done enough to properly fund the new Department of Homeland Security.

In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, California Congresswoman Jane Harman says the Bush administration has been slow to improve emergency communications and establish a terrorist watch list to help prevent terrorists from entering the country.

"Two years after the most deadly single-day attack in our nation's history, the question is whether we are as secure as we need to be from future terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, the answer is no," she said.

Congresswoman Harman, who is the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, quoted from a report by the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, which concluded that the United States remains "dangerously unprepared" to prevent and respond to another terrorist attack.