U.S. President George W. Bush says Americans should be vigilant against possible future terrorist attacks without giving in to undue fear. In a speech last night, Bush said America will prevail in its war against terrorists both at home and abroad. And he called on U.S. citizens to channel their fears into action by doing volunteer work.
Washington, 9 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush is urging Americans to help deter possible future terrorist attacks by being vigilant -- but without yielding to fear.
The Bush administration has been criticized for issuing vague terrorist warnings while simultaneously telling Americans to go on about their lives. The U.S. government has issued two such alerts since the 11 September terrorist attacks, which killed an estimated 5,000 people.
In his speech last night, Bush tried to explain to Americans how they should respond when faced with a general threat of the possibility of terrorist attacks: "Our enemies have threatened other acts of terror. We take each threat seriously. And when we have evidence of credible threats, we will issue appropriate alerts. A terrorism alert is not a signal to stop your life. It is a call to be vigilant, to know that your government is on high alert, and to add your eyes and ears to our efforts to find and stop those who want to do us harm." Bush said the 11 September attacks have transformed the United States into a different country -- one that is sadder and less innocent, but also stronger, more united and more courageous.
And he said Americans must shoulder new responsibilities as citizens after the September attacks. In addition to being more aware, he said Americans can help by performing public service in their communities -- by volunteering in hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, emergency services, and at military facilities.
Bush said the United States -- with the help of its allies -- is waging a war against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and the terrorists it is suspected of harboring. This war, Bush said, is being waged not just to protect America's way of life -- a system that values individual freedoms and political and religious liberties. It has a higher purpose, he said: "We wage a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we will fight it and we will prevail."
Bush said the great national challenge now facing America is to hunt down terrorists and to guard against further attacks. He said that through the tragedy of 11 September, the United States is renewing and reclaiming its values: "This new enemy seeks to destroy our freedom and impose its views. We value life. The terrorists ruthlessly destroy it."
Bush spoke in Atlanta in the southern U.S. state of Georgia. The city is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading U.S. facility for such health matters. The center is investigating the medical aspects of the anthrax attacks that have killed four Americans in the past month.
During his visit, Bush expressed doubt that Americans should be vaccinated against smallpox to deter a potential biological attack. He noted that the vaccine can cause death in some cases.