Sept. 10, 2004
THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, 3 years ago this September 11, al-Qaida terrorists launched a brutal attack on American soil. Every American remembers that clear Tuesday morning when two planes smashed into the two World Trade Center towers in New York and brought them crumbling to the ground. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington, DC. A fourth plane may have been destined for this very Capitol were it not for the heroic passengers on that flight who put their country ahead of their lives.
Today and every day we honor the innocent victims who died that day while conducting America's business. We also honor the heroic first responders-police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel-who rushed in to save others. We honor the volunteers of that day and every day forward who lined up to help their fellow Americans. Millions donated money, time, efforts, and blood.
And we honor the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have risked their lives so Americans don't have to live in fear of being attacked again. Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Our all-volunteer military is the best in the world, and as full of courage as the military heroes from our Greatest Generation.
It is worth looking at what we have accomplished in the last 3 years. President Bush has led America in a global war on terror to destroy those who would attack us again. We have made incredible progress.
We have led an international military coalition to eradicate two of the vilest terrorist regimes on Earth-the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We have liberated over 50 million people. Over 10 million have registered to vote in this fall's election in Afghanistan. And Iraq has national elections scheduled for early next year.
Using diplomacy and sanctions, and with the help of the international community, we have pressured a third terrorist regime in Libya to abandon its path to weapons of mass destruction, that could have been given to terrorists. The lesson of Saddam Hussein surely served as an example here, and should continue to serve as such to despots around the globe who would do us harm.
Of the senior al-Qaida leaders, operational managers, and key facilitators that our government has been tracking, nearly two-thirds have been brought to justice or had justice brought to them. And with the help of our allies, we have severely disrupted the networks and organizations that flow money, supplies, people, and information to the terrorists.
Here at home, the defense and intelligence capabilities of the Federal Government have been reorganized more sweepingly than at any point since the 1940s, to prepare them for this, the first war of the 21st century. We have created a Department of Homeland Security and are currently weighing how best to strengthen our intelligence services to deal with today's threats.
Finally, America has reaffirmed her commitment to liberty across the world. Despite the negative words of a few naysayers in high places, most people around the globe draw strength from America's commitment to lead the global war on terror. Over 30 nations joined us to liberate Afghanistan and Iraq. We have never wavered in our pledge to root out the terrorists and punish the states that may harbor them. The world has been reminded that America lives up to its word.
We have made great progress in 3 years, and will continue to make great progress. The president has told us that this will be a long struggle lasting years, perhaps decades. We cannot be sure when the war may be won. But we can be sure that it will.
For nearly 50 years, America grappled with another seemingly entrenched enemy-the Soviet Union and the spread of communism throughout the world. For much of the cold war, the struggle seemed to be without end. Some said it couldn't be won. Some said coexistence was the best America could hope for. Some even morally equated American freedom with Soviet tyranny, and refused to take sides.
But today, schoolchildren learn that the Soviet Union collapsed, rotten from the inside, as an inevitable fact. We take our victory in the Cold War for granted today, but it took decades of resolve, perseverance, and faith that our way of life was superior to totalitarianism. Well, the American way of freedom-freedom to worship, freedom to speak, freedom to vote-is still the best way of life on Earth.
Today's generation must maintain that same faith. We cannot lose on the battlefield. We cannot lose the war of ideals. As long as we maintain our will to win, we will prevail.