November 1, 2007
By President George W. Bush
EDWIN J. FEULNER:
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the 21 members of the Board
of Trustees, the 240 employees and the 320,000 members of The
Heritage Foundation around the country, it is my very great
pleasure to welcome you here to our Heritage Foundation
Mr. President, 24 years ago last month we opened this building,
and the man who wielded the scissors was the then-Vice President of
the United States, George H.W. Bush. Fast forward 12 years, 1993,
several of us had the opportunity to go to Coral Gables, Fla., to
talk to a prominent entrepreneur there. We invited him to join our
board. And businessman Jeb Bush served on our board with great
distinction for five years before he went on to other things.
You sir, honored us just four years ago when you spoke at the
Reagan Center to more than 1,000 members of our President's Club,
and you shared your insights and the outlook for the future
As you know, here at Heritage we focus on policy ideas. We let
other people worry about horse races and things like that. And I
would just leave you, sir, with two basic points. The first one: In
the 14 months that you will be serving as our President, all of us
look forward to working closely with you and your team on policy
issues and ideas across the board. There are going to be many
opportunities to do that, and we look forward to it.
And secondly, sir, I want you to know that you are always and
will always be welcome at The Heritage Foundation. Ladies and
gentlemen, please join me in welcoming officially President George
W. Bush to The Heritage Foundation.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:
Ed, thanks. Thanks for the kind introduction. I'm looking
forward to working with you for the next 14 months, but you better
put on your running shoes, because my spirits are high and my
energy level is good and I'm sprinting to the finish line.
I congratulate you on your 30th anniversary as the
No such thing as term limits here.
And rightly so, because Ed is a person who has taken the
conservative movement from one that used to meet in a phone booth
here in Washington...
... to a robust group of folks who are shaping policy in
As a matter of fact, you've got a little bigger phone booth
these days than you did 30 years ago.
I appreciate all you've done and I really want to thank
One of the interesting things about the Heritage legacy is that
the folks here have been tireless advocates, tireless champions of
liberty and free enterprise and democracy and religious
These are values that came under attack on September the 11th,
Our nation was attacked by a brutal enemy that despises freedom,
that rejects tolerance, that kills the innocent in the pursuit of a
dark vision. These folks believe that it's OK to subjugate women
and indoctrinate children and murder those who oppose their harsh
They have stated clearly they want to impose this ideology on
millions. They are at war with America because they hate what they
stand for and they understand that we stand in their way.
And so, today I've come to talk to you about the war on terror,
my firm commitment that we'll do everything in our power to protect
the American people, and my call on the United States Congress to
give us the tools necessary so we can do the job the American
I, too, want to thank the members of the Heritage Foundation
board of trustees who've joined us. Thank you for supporting this
I can't tell you how important it is to have good centers of
thought in Washington, D.C., people who are willing to look at
today's problems and come up with innovative solution based upon
sound principle to solve those problems. And that's how I view
I thank all the members and guests who've joined us today as
well. It's a pleasure to be with you.
It's been now more than six years since the enemy attacked us on
September the 11th, and we are blessed that there has not been
another attack on our soil.
With the passage of time, the memories of the 9/11 attacks have
grown more distant. And for some, there is the temptation to think
that the threats to our country have grown distant as well. They
The terrorists who struck America that September morning intend
to strike us again. We know this because the enemy has told us so.
Just last year, Osama bin Laden warned the American people, quote,
Operations are under preparation and you will see them on your own
ground once they are finished.
Seven months later, British authorities broke up the most
ambitious known Al Qaida plot since the 9/11 attacks, a plot to
blow up passenger airplanes flying over the Atlantic toward the
Our intelligence community believes that this plot was just two
or three weeks away from execution. If it had been carried out, it
could have rivaled 9/11 in death and destruction.
The lesson of this experience is clear: We must take the words
of the enemy seriously.
The terrorists have stated their objectives. They intend to
build a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and
former Muslim lands stretching from Europe to North Africa, the
Middle East and Southeast Asia.
In pursuit of their imperial aims, these extremists say there
can be no compromise or dialogue with those they call infidels, a
category that includes America, the world's free nation, Jews, and
all Muslims who reject their extreme vision of Islam.
They reject the possibility of peaceful coexistence with the
Again, hear the words of Osama bin Laden last year: Death is
better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.
History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil,
ambitious men is a terrible mistake.
In the early 1900s, the world ignored the words of Lenin as he
laid out his plans to launch a communist revolution in Russia, and
the world paid a terrible price. The Soviet empire he established
killed tens of millions and brought the world to the brink of
In the 1920s, the world ignored the words of Hitler as he
explained his intention to build an Aryan superstate in Germany,
take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews. And the world paid a
terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers
and set the world aflame in war before it was finally defeated at a
terrible cost in lives and treasure.
Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as
clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is, will we
America and our coalition partners are listening. We have made
our choice. We take the words of the enemy seriously.
Over the past six years, we have captured or killed hundreds of
terrorists. We have disrupted their finances. We have prevented new
attacks before they could be carried out. We've removed regimes in
Afghanistan and Iraq that had supported terrorists and threatened
our citizens and, in so doing, liberated 50 million people from the
clutches of tyranny.
With our allies, we're keeping the pressure on the enemy. We're
keeping them on the move. We're fighting them everywhere they make
their stand, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the deserts of
Iraq to the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa.
On every battlefront we're on the offense, keeping constant
pressure. And in this war on terror, we will not rest or retreat or
withdraw from the fight until this threat to civilization has been
I fully understand that, after six years, the sense of imminent
danger has passed for some. And it can be natural for people to
forget the lessons of 9/11 as they go about their daily lives.
I just want to assure you that I'll never forget the lessons of
September the 11th, and nor will the people with whom I work.
I know that when I discuss the war on terror, some here in
Washington, D.C., dismiss it as political rhetoric; an attempt to
scare people into votes.
Given the nature of the enemy and the words of its leaders,
politicians who deny that we are at war are either being
disingenuous or naive. Either way, it is dangerous for our
We are at war. And we cannot win this war by wishing it away or
pretending it does not exist.
Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving
as if America is not at war.
For example, in a time of war, it is vital for the president to
have a full national security team in place. And a key member of
that team is the attorney general.
The job of the attorney general is essential to the security of
America. The attorney general is the highest ranking official
responsible for our law enforcement community's efforts to detect
and prevent terrorist attacks here at home.
I've selected an outstanding nominee to fill this vital role:
Judge Michael Mukasey.
Judge Mukasey has a long record of accomplishments in matter of
law and national security. He has been praised by Republicans and
Democrats alike as a man of honesty, intellect, fairness and
Judge Mukasey provided nearly six hours of testimony. He
patiently answer more than 200 questions at the hearing. He's
responded to nearly 500 written questions less than a week after
Yet the Senate Judiciary Committee has been holding up his
As a price for his confirmation, some on that committee want
Judge Mukasey to take a legal position on specific techniques
allegedly used to interrogate captured terrorists.
As Judge Mukasey explained in a letter to committee members, he
cannot do so for several reasons.
First, he does not know whether certain methods of questioning
are, in fact, used, because the program is classified. And
therefore, he is in no position to provide an informed opinion. He
has not been read into the program and won't until he is confirmed
and sworn in -- won't be until he's confirmed and sworn in as the
Second, he does not want an uninformed opinion to be taken by
our professional interrogators in the field as placing them in
Finally, he does not want any statement of his to give the
terrorists a window into which techniques we may use and which ones
we may not use. That could help them train their operatives to
resist questioning and withhold vital information we need to stop
attacks and save lives.
In the war on terror, intelligence is one of the most crucial
tools for our defense. If a captured terrorist has information
about a plot against our homeland, we need to know what he
And so, that's why I put in place, under the CIA, a program to
question key terrorist operatives and its leaders. Last year,
Congress passed a law that allows the CIA to continue this vital
The procedures used in this program are safe, they are lawful
and they are necessary.
Senior leaders in the House and the Senate from both political
parties have been briefed on the details of this program. It's
wrong for congressional leaders to make Judge Mukasey's
confirmation dependent on his willingness to go on the record about
the details of a classified program he has not been briefed on.
If the Senate Judiciary Committee were to block Judge Mukasey on
these grounds, they would send a new standard for confirmation that
could not be met by any responsible nominee for attorney general.
And that would guarantee that America would have no attorney
general during this time of war.
By any measure, Judge Mukasey is eminently qualified to be the
next attorney general.
And now, after allowing his nomination to languish for 41 days,
the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote for next
Senate leaders must move this nomination out of committee, bring
it to the Senate floor and confirm this good man.
Congress has also failed to act on intelligence legislation that
is vital to protect the American people in this war on terror.
Stopping new attacks on our country requires us to make sure we
understand the intentions of the enemy. We've got to know what
they're thinking and what they're planning. And that means we got
to have effective measures to monitor their communications.
This summer Congress passed the Protect America Act, which
strengthened our ability to collect foreign intelligence on
terrorists overseas. And this good law closed the dangerous gap in
Unfortunately, they made this law effective for only six months.
The problem is that Al Qaida doesn't operate on a six-month
And if Congress doesn't act soon, the law will expire, and the
gap in our intelligence will reopen, and the United States of
America will be at risk.
We must keep the intelligence gap firmly closed.
The terrorists are communicating with each other and are
plotting new attacks. We need to know what they're planning.
We must ensure that the protections intended for the American
people are not extended to terrorists overseas who are plotting to
harm us. And we must grant liability protection to companies who
are facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits only because they are
believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation
following the 9/11 attacks.
The Senate Intel Committee has approved a bipartisan bill that
contains provisions to preserve our ability to collect intelligence
on terrorists overseas, while protecting the civil liberties of
Americans here at home.
This bill still needs some improving. But it's an important step
in the right direction.
Time is of the essence. And the full Senate and the House of
Representatives need to get -- pass a good bill and get it to my
desk promptly so our intelligence professionals can continue to use
the vital tools of the Protect America Act to keep us safe.
Congress is also stalling on the emergency war supplemental to
fund our troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. This
crucial bill includes funds for bullets and body armor, protection
against IEDs and mine-resistant ambush-protective vehicles.
Congress should be able to move the supplemental quickly.
There's no reason why they're not moving the supplemental. After
all, it had more than eight months to study most of its
In fact, nearly 75 percent of the funding requests in the
supplemental were submitted along with my annual budget in February
of this year.
The supplemental is critical for our troops. And Congress should
not go home for the holidays while our men and women in uniform are
waiting for the funds they need.
Congress also needs to pass the Department of Defense spending
bill, as well as a funding bill for our nation's veterans.
There are reports that congressional leaders may be considering
combining the funding bills for our military and our veterans
together with a bloated labor, health and education spending
It's hard to imagine a more cynical ploy than holding funding
for our troops and our wounded warriors hostage in order to extract
$11 billion in wasteful Washington spending.
If reports of this strategy are true, I will veto such a three-
I ask Congress to send me a clean veterans funded bill by
Veterans Day and to pass a clean defense spending bill. Congress
needs to put the needs of those who put on the uniform ahead of
their desire to spend more money.
When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should
spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama
bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground and less
time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and Code Pink
Here's the bottom line: This is no time for Congress to weaken
the Department of Justice by denying it a strong and effective
leader. It's no time for Congress to weaken our ability to gather
vital intelligence from captured terrorists. It's no time for
Congress to weaken our ability to intercept information from
terrorists about potential attacks on the United States of
And this is no time for Congress to hold back vital funding for
our troops as they fight Al Qaida terrorists and radicals in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the struggle against the terrorists and extremists, I hope I
made my strategy clear today, that we will keep constant pressure
on the enemy in order to defend the American people. We will fight
them overseas so we do not have to fight them here at home.
At the same time, we'll use every available tool of law and
intelligence to protect the people here. That's our most solemn
duty. It's a duty I think about every day.
In the long run, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to
advance freedom as the great alternative to radicalism and
repression. We can have confidence in this cause because we have
seen the power of liberty to transform nations and secure peace
Here at The Heritage Foundation, you understand this better than
most. During the Cold War, there were loud voices in Washington who
argued for accommodation for the Soviet Union, because they
believed the watchword of our policy should be stability.
At Heritage, you knew that when it came to the Soviet Union, the
watchword of our policy should be freedom. Together with a great
president named Ronald Reagan you championed a policy of rolling
back communism repression, and bringing freedom to nations enslaved
by communist tyranny.
And by taking the side of the dissidents who helped millions
across the world throw off the shackles of communism, you helped
build the free and peaceful societies that are the true sources of
stability and peace in the world. And now we're at the start of a
new century, and the same debate is once again unfolding, this time
regarding my policy in the Middle East. Once again, voices in
Washington are arguing that the watchword of the policy should be
And once again they're wrong.
In Kabul and Baghdad and Beirut and other cities across the
broader Middle East, brave men and women are risking their lives
every day for the same freedoms we enjoy. And like the citizens of
Prague and Warsaw and Budapest in the century gone by, they are
looking to the United States to stand up for them, speak out for
them and champion their cause, and we are doing just that.
We are standing with those who yearn for the liberty -- who
yearn for liberty in the Middle East, because we understand that
the desire for freedom is universal, written by the almighty into
the hearts of every man, woman and child on this Earth.
We are standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle
East because we know that the terrorists fear freedom even more
than they fear our firepower. They know that, given a choice, no
one will choose to live under their dark ideology of violence and
We're standing with those who yearn for liberty in the Middle
East because we know that when free societies take root in that
part of the world they will yield the peace we all desire.
The only way the terrorists can recruit operatives and suicide
bombers is by feeding on the hopelessness of societies mired in
despair, and by bringing freedom to these societies, we replace
hatred with hope.
And this will help us to marginalize the extremists and
eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism, and make the
American people more secure.
The lessons of the past have taught us that liberty is
transformative. And I believe 50 years from now an American
president will be speaking to Heritage and say, Thank God that
generation that wrote the first chapter in the 21st century
understood the power of freedom to bring the peace we want.
Thank you for coming. God bless.
President Bush at The Heritage Foundation
President George W. Bush
Read More >>
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2013, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973