A former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, Marc A. Thiessen offers a record of Bush’s two terms and the events and policies that shaped them—including his response to the devastating attacks of 9/11.
In chapters covering the economy, education, foreign policy, health care, disaster response, immigration, and a number of other topics, this book offers an in-depth look at this period in presidential history and its effects on both America and the world.
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KEEPING AMERICA SAFE
For many Americans, the war on terror began on September 11, 2001. But the threat to our Nation emerged long before. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the followers of a hateful and radical ideology grew in strength and ambition. These extremists unleashed an unprecedented campaign of terror against the United States. In 1993, they attacked the World Trade Center. In 1998, they bombed two of our embassies in Africa. And in 2000, they struck the USS Cole.
Then came September 11, 2001. In the space of a single morning, 19 terrorists claimed nearly 3,000 lives. By nightfall, the sun had set on a very different world. With rumors of more attacks swirling, Americans went to bed wondering what the future would bring.
On that night, few people could have imagined that more than seven years would pass without another terrorist attack on American soil. This is not for lack of effort on the part of the terrorists. Working with allies around the world, the United States has stopped several al Qaeda attacks on our homeland. These attacks include a 2002 plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles, a 2003 plot to crash airplanes into targets on the East Coast, and a 2006 plot to blow up multiple passenger jets flying across the Atlantic from Britain to North America.
The success we have had in keeping America safe is a tribute to the men and women who have toiled day and night to defend this land. It is also a testament to the wise and farsighted decisions that President Bush made beginning immediately after 9/11.
President Bush responded to the attacks by launching a broad and sustained war on terrorist networks across the globe. He promised the American people: "[W]e will direct every resource at our command to win the war against terrorists: every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence. We will starve the terrorists of funding, turn them against each other, rout them out of their safe hiding places and bring them to justice."
The President has followed through on this commitment. Under the President's leadership, the United States has bolstered its homeland security and intelligence capabilities, taken the fight to the terrorists abroad, and countered their ideology of death and destruction with an alternative vision of freedom and hope. And as President Bush departs from office, he leaves behind the policies, alliances, and institutions needed to prevail in the long struggle ahead.
The Bush Doctrine
In this new war, President Bush set forth a doctrine with three key elements: First, the United States would make no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them.
Second, America would not wait to be attacked again. We would confront grave threats before they fully materialize. We would stay on the offense against the terrorists — fighting them abroad so we did not have to face them here at home.
Third, America would counter the hateful ideology of the terrorists by promoting the hopeful alternative of human freedom. The desire for liberty is universal, and in the long run the only path to lasting peace is the advance of freedom in the broader Middle East and across the globe.
The Liberation of Afghanistan
The Bush Doctrine was applied in Afghanistan, immediately after 9/11. The President told the leaders of the Taliban regime that they must close every terrorist training camp and hand over every terrorist to appropriate authorities. He told them they must give the United States full access to the terrorist training camps so we could ensure they were no longer operating. And he told them these demands were not up for negotiation. He gave the Taliban a choice: comply immediately or share the same fate as the terrorists.
The Taliban regime refused to comply with these just demands. So on October 7, 2001, the United States and its coalition partners launched Operation Enduring Freedom. This operation removed the Taliban from power, captured or killed hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, shut down the terrorist camps where the enemy planned 9/11, and liberated 25 million Afghans.
The Hunt for Al Qaeda
After the fall of the Taliban, the Administration remained on the offensive and kept the pressure on the terrorists. Since 9/11, America and its allies have captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda leaders, managers, and operatives.
Those brought to justice include many of al Qaeda's operational commanders — the senior leaders responsible for day-to-day planning of terrorist activities across the globe.
Today, because America has stayed on the offensive, al Qaeda has been weakened, and many of those responsible for the destruction of 9/11 are in custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, awaiting trial.
While Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri remain at large at the time of this writing, they are in hiding, under pressure, and unable to direct the day-to-day operations of the al Qaeda network as they once did.
The Removal of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein was a dictator who had pursued and used weapons of mass destruction, sponsored terrorists, paid the families of suicide bombers, invaded his neighbors, brutalized his people, deceived international inspectors, and refused to comply with more than a dozen United Nations (UN) resolutions. In 2003, when the UN Security Council gave him one final chance to disclose and disarm or face serious consequences, he refused. Saddam Hussein had a clear choice between peaceful disclosure or war — and he chose war. President Bush assembled an international coalition. And on March 19, 2003, coalition forces crossed into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athist regime from power.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime liberated 25 million Iraqis. And it had benefits beyond Iraq's borders. The leader of Libya announced in December 2003 that he was abandoning his country's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The Libyan nuclear program — the uranium, the centrifuges, the designs to build bombs, as well as key missile components — was flown to secure storage facilities in the United States. Libya committed to destroy its chemical weapons. Today, Libya is out of the business of pursuing weapons of mass destruction and off the list of state sponsors of terror.
Public disclosure of Libya's weapons of mass destruction programs gave momentum to international efforts to roll up the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network, which had spread sensitive nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. Today, A.Q. Khan's activities have been restricted, and his international network for disseminating nuclear technology has been largely dismantled.
In the years that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, there was difficult fighting in Iraq. Our men and women in uniform have made enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and more than 4,200 have given their lives. As the President stated, "[t]he battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated." But he also reminded the American people that "after September the 11th, America decided that we would fight the war on terror on the offense, and that we would confront threats before they fully materialized. Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States of America. America is safer today because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power."
To prevail in the war on terror, President Bush built new alliances to confront the threats of a new century. He formed a coalition of more than 90 nations to fight the war on terror. These nations are working together in many different ways. Some are sharing intelligence. Some are freezing terrorist assets or breaking up terrorist cells on their territory. Some are providing airlift, basing, over-flight, and refueling. Others are contributing air, sea, and ground forces, combat air patrols, mine clearing, and special operations forces. Some are helping to confront the ideology of the enemy. Some are helping quietly, others openly. Each is making important contributions to the war on terror.
The President's diplomacy and leadership encouraged nations like Saudi Arabia to launch crackdowns on al Qaeda and its allies. Indonesia crippled the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which had worked with al Qaeda in planning attacks against the American homeland. The Philippines worked to combat the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, an al Qaeda affiliate. Algerian forces have struck blows against al Qaeda's North Africa wing. In Europe, security services have broken up al Qaeda and al Qaeda-related or inspired cells in Germany, Denmark, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
In Iraq, more than 140,000 troops from 41 other nations have served as part of the coalition. Forces from all these countries have served bravely, and many made the ultimate sacrifice.
The President assembled a broad coalition in Afghanistan. And in 2003, NATO took over the International Security Assistance Force in that country. This NATO mission increased from a small force operating only in the capital city of Kabul to a large multinational force that is leading operations across all of Afghanistan. At the end of 2008, approximately 62,000 personnel from all 26 NATO countries and 17 partner nations were serving in Afghanistan, helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Afghanistan is the most difficult and ambitious mission NATO has ever taken on — and the first mission in the history of the Alliance outside the North Atlantic Area.
New Institutions, Authorities, and Programs
As the Bush Administration mobilized the international community to meet the terrorist threat, it also built institutions, obtained authorities, and established programs necessary to protect America.
The Bush Administration undertook the most sweeping reorganization of the Federal Government in half a century. Not since President Truman worked with Congress to create the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the CIA, and other institutions to fight the Cold War, has an American President done more to transform the national security institutions of this country. Working with Congress, the President created the new Department of Homeland Security — merging 22 different government organizations into a single department with a clear mission: to secure the homeland and protect America from future attacks.
At the Department of Defense, the President created: a new Northern Command responsible for homeland defense; a new Africa Command to help America's friends and allies on that continent promote stability and protect against transnational threats; a transformed U.S. Special Operations Command — more than doubling its budget, adding thousands of new troops, and making it the lead command in the global war on terror; and a retooled U.S. Strategic Command, with responsibility for combating weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush launched the largest transformation of the Army in over a century. He helped lead the most dramatic transformation of the NATO Alliance since its founding in 1949 — bringing in seven new members, creating a new NATO Response Force, and deploying NATO forces outside Europe for the first time in the history of the Alliance.
The President also:
Signed a new law establishing the position of Director of National Intelligence and directed a broad restructuring of our Nation's intelligence agencies to address the threats of the 21st century.
Created the National Counterterrorism Center, where personnel from Federal, State, and local departments and agencies work side by side to track terrorist threat reporting and prevent new attacks.
Reorganized the Department of Justice and the FBI to focus on preventing terrorism.
Created a new Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Department of the Treasury, tasked with tracking the finances of terrorists, proliferators, and rogue states and denying the enemy the funds they need to threaten our country.
Worked with Congress to enact the USA PATRIOT Act — breaking down barriers that had prevented America's law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing vital information on terrorist threats.
Secured Congressional approval of legislation allowing our intelligence community to effectively monitor foreign terrorist communications — to help us learn who the terrorists are talking to and what they are planning.
Secured Congressional approval of the Military Commissions Act — so that captured terrorists accused of war crimes can be brought to justice for their acts.
Authorized a program at the Central Intelligence Agency to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives — so we can find out what captured terrorists know about planned attacks. Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.
New Measures to Protect the Homeland
As he reformed government to help prevent terrorist attacks, President Bush provided unprecedented funding and support for our law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security communities.
To stop terrorists from infiltrating our country, the President made our borders more secure and deployed new technologies for screening people entering America. The Administration:
Doubled the number of Border Patrol agents to more than 18,000, and increased their funding by more than 60 percent.
Unified the Federal Government's various watchlisting databases into one central database and created a program to screen visiting foreign nationals using biometrics and other advanced technologies.
Improved the way we evaluate visa applicants and made it harder to counterfeit travel documents.
Ramped up enforcement of our Nation's immigration laws in the interior of the United States, including at the country's worksites.
The President increased the number of Federal marshals on passenger flights. He also created the new Transportation Security Administration to screen commercial air passengers in the country.
To stop terrorists from smuggling biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons into American cities, the Administration deployed a layered system of protections that starts overseas, continues along our borders, and extends throughout our country. Today, we partner with the world's leading U.S. importers to pre-screen cargo entering the country and examine high-risk maritime cargo at foreign seaports before they are loaded on vessels destined for the United States. In addition, the people who load and unload cargo are properly credentialed. The Administration also launched programs to protect major metropolitan areas by providing early detection of biological, nuclear, or radiological attacks. For example, a groundbreaking air monitoring system that can detect biological agents and sound a lifesaving warning now operates in 30 U.S. cities.
To protect our critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks, the Administration worked with the private sector to develop security plans for 18 of the Nation's key sectors — including our food and water supplies nuclear and chemical facilities, power grids, and telecommunications networks. Under Operation Neptune Shield, the men and women of the Coast Guard are protecting more than 360 ports and more than 95,000 miles of coastline. The Administration took actions to protect our transportation systems, including new steps to protect airports, railways, and mass transit systems.
To better defend against cyber attacks, the Administration launched the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and created a new National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security charged with protecting against virtual terrorism.
To improve our capacity to prevent and, if necessary, respond to terrorist attacks, the President strengthened Federal cooperation with State and local governments. Today, there are 21st century lines of communication in place that allow Federal officials to share classified threat information rapidly and securely. The Administration also helped State and local officials establish intelligence fusion centers in 48 States. These centers allow Federal officials to provide intelligence to their State and local partners and allow locally-generated information to get to officials who need it in Washington.
Since September 2001, the Bush Administration has provided cities and States with more than $27 billion in homeland security grants; worked with officials in 75 major metropolitan areas to improve the ability of first responders to communicate clearly in an emergency; supported mutual aid agreements among States; and strengthened the Emergency Management Assistance Compact — so that when communities need help from their neighbors, the right assistance will get to the right people at the right time.
The Nation's stockpile of drugs and vaccines that would be needed in the event of a bioterrorist attack or a mass casualty incident has been expanded. The Federal Government now has enough smallpox vaccine for every American. The Administration also increased our investments in bio-defense medical research and development at the National Institutes of Health by more than 3,000 percent — from $53 million in 2001 to more than $1.7 billion today. The Administration also launched Project BioShield — an effort to speed the development of new vaccines and treatments against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents that could be used in a terrorist attack.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Charge Kept"
Copyright © 2019 Marc A. Thiessen.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
KEEPING AMERICA SAFE,
TRANSFORMING THE MILITARY FOR THE 21st CENTURY,
BUILDING A MORE HOPEFUL WORLD,
BUILDING A MORE HOPEFUL AMERICA,
ECONOMY & BUDGET,
REDUCING DRUG USE & CRIME,
FOSTERING A CULTURE OF LIFE,
ENERGY SECURITY & CLIMATE CHANGE,
ENVIRONMENT & CONSERVATION,
IMMIGRATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY,
THE FIRST LADY'S LEADERSHIP,
THE FINAL YEAR,