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9/17/04 - THREE YEARS AGO  - 2004-09-17

Three years ago the United States was attacked by terrorists. On September 11th, 2001, “In the space of only one-hundred-two minutes,” says President George W. Bush, the U.S. “lost more citizens than were lost in the [1941] attack [by Imperial Japan] on Pearl Harbor”:

“Time has passed, but the memories do not fade. We remember the images of fire, and the final calls of love, and the courage of rescuers who saw death and did not flee. We remember the cruelty of enemies who murdered the innocent, and rejoiced in our suffering. We remember the many good lives that ended too soon -- which no one had the right to take.”

Other attacks followed. Al-Qaida and other terrorists have killed civilians in Indonesia, Russia, Spain, and elsewhere. These Islamic extremists want to impose conformity and repression, religious dogmatism and censorship. They oppose liberty and freedom, tolerance and open expression.

Since the war on global terrorism began, U.S.-led coalitions have liberated more than fifty-million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S., said President Bush, “saw the goals of a determined enemy: to expand the scale of their murder, and force America to retreat from the world.” And the U.S., he says, “accepted a mission: We will defeat this enemy”:

“The United States is determined to stay on the offensive, and to pursue the terrorists wherever they train, or sleep, or attempt to set down roots. We have conducted this campaign from the mountains of Afghanistan, to the heart of the Middle East, to the horn of Africa, to the islands of the Philippines, to hidden cells within our own country.”

The war on terror goes on. More than three-quarters of al-Qaida’s key members have been killed or are in jail. President Bush says the U.S. and its allies will remain “strong and resolute, patient in a just cause, and confident of the victory to come.”