This past weekend, the stakes heightened in the war against terrorism the United States had entered.
President Bush spent the weekend at Camp David calling world leaders and informing the American public as to the action the United States will take.
In an earlier statement, Bush said an ‘act of war’ has been committed towards the United States. The rhetoric sharpened Saturday as Bush stated that war has been declared on the United States. He urged the nation to prepare for a state of war.
“The American people need to go about their business on Monday, but with a heightened sense of awareness that a group of barbarians has declared war,” Bush said.
Vice President Cheney and Bush have been separated since the attacks on Tuesday, but in their first appearance together, Bush made a bold statement about the state of military affairs in the United States, declaring, “We are at war.”
Bush said the United States is a chief member in the war against terrorism, and the actions it takes will not be minimal.
“Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terror organizations and those who harbor and support them,” Bush said in a radio address Saturday. “I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective.”
Some Americans blame Osama bin Laden for the attacks, and although Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed bin Laden as a prime suspect, it was not until Saturday that Bush also confirmed these allegations.
“No question, he is the prime suspect. No question about that,” Bush said.
In response to the accusations, bin Laden denied any involvement in the attacks.
“I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation,” bin Laden said in a statement.
UW political science professor Charles Franklin said that by labeling bin Laden as a prime suspect, Bush is nearly assuring Americans bin Laden is the person responsible.
“It clearly shows a willingness to say he is our guy, presumably because the evidence is more conclusive and it is pointing to [bin Laden],” Franklin said.
In Bush’s first address to Americans Tuesday night, he made it clear that those who harbor terrorists will be punished as harshly as the terrorists themselves. Bringing accusations against bin Laden has also brought accusations against the organization that he leads.
Even if bin Laden were found, his organization may be punished as well in the war against terrorism.
“If someone walked in with Osama bin Laden’s head on a plate today, they would be happy to take it but that wouldn’t finish this,” Franklin said.
Bush guaranteed the perpetrators would be found.
“I will keep my focus to make sure that not only are these brought to justice, but anybody who has been associated with them will be brought to justice. Those who harbor terrorists will be brought to justice,” Bush said. “It is time for us to win the first war of the 21st century decisively so that our children and our grandchildren can live peacefully into the 21st century.”