Many Americans have been anxiously awaiting evidence of decisive government action against the terrorists.
Each day has brought clues to how the United States will react to Tuesday’s attacks, but no solid data.
Bush and senior Pentagon officials have lessened the tension by announcing some of their objectives.
Bush’s statement declaring the attacks an ‘act of war’ has been elevated to a higher degree.
“We have just seen the first war of the 21st century,” Bush said Thursday.
A statement from a senior Pentagon official made the government’s intentions clearer Thursday. The United States will launch sustained military strikes against those behind the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the Associated Press reported.
“Sustained military attacks” is an ambiguous statement, and without further information from the government it is open to interpretation.
“I took it to mean that we were not talking about a single strike but rather a sustained attack over a long period of time, not weeks but years, looking for terrorist organizations and striking at them in one way or another,” UW political science professor Charles Franklin said.
Permanently eradicating the terrorist groups is a likely part of the policy the United States will adopt.
“I think more than anything else, once they start, they aren’t going to stop until the end comes,” UW professor Don Kettl said. “Very clearly, it is going to be a long and possibly quite difficult ordeal.”
Unifying as a nation as well as uniting with other nations is a government priority. The United States has gained the support of many nations.
“There is universal approval of the statements I have made, and I am confident there will be universal approval of the actions this government takes,” Bush said.
Since the onset of the catastrophe, Osama bin Laden has been a suspect. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday identified bin Laden as a prime suspect; however, no details were released.
“We will not discuss intelligence matters, how we gather intelligence and what we know about anybody,” Bush said. “When our government acts, you will be informed.”
Bush did not comment about bin Laden, but Powell’s assurances have begun the trial in the public.
“Bush knows that if he says anything, it will be taken as official policy,” Kettl said. “We won’t hear about any suspects from Bush’s lips until after an attack is launched.”
In a conversation between Bush, Rudolph Giuliani, mayor of New York City and George Pataki, governor of New York, Bush accepted an invitation to visit New York. He also offered insight into his next step.
Bush told the two men, “I weep and mourn with America,” but said prosecuting the offenders is imperative.
“My resolve is steady and strong about winning this war that has been declared on America,” he said. “It is a new kind of war. And I understand that it is a new kind of war. And this government will adjust, and this government will call others to join us, to make sure this act, these acts, the people who conducted these acts and those who harbored them, are held accountable for their actions.
“Make no mistake.”