The U.S. vs. al Qaeda Documents
President George W. Bush's Remarks on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, Episcopal National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
September 14, 2001
In his first major speech after 9/11, given during a national prayer service for the victims of the attacks, Bush urged Americans to see the tragedy as a call to action to "rid the world of evil." Denouncing the strikes as an act of war, he declared: "This nation is peaceful but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing."
U.S.A. Patriot Act, Public Law 107-56
October 26, 2001
Signed into law on October 26, 2001, the Patriot Act granted the United States' law enforcement bodies greater authority to counter terrorism in the United States and overseas, including expanded federal authority to track communications for intelligence and enforcement purposes, monitor borders, and combat money laundering operations.
Security Council Resolution 1377, Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts
November 12, 2001
Two months after 9/11, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted this declaration proclaiming international terrorism "one of the most serious threats to international peace and security in the twenty-first century" and urging a "sustained, comprehensive" international effort to combat it.
President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address, Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
January 29, 2002
In his first State of the Union address after 9/11, Bush struck a note of confidence, stating that the United States had begun rebuilding New York, had secured Kabul, and had captured or killed thousands of terrorists. But he also declared that the struggle against terrorists and their state sponsors would continue. North Korea, Iran, and particularly Iraq, he said, along with their terrorist allies, "constitute an axis of evil": "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. . . . The price of indifference would be catastrophic." He continued: "Time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun."
President George W. Bush's Graduation Address to the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York
June 1, 2002
In this June 2002 speech to the graduating cadets at West Point, the president laid out his arguments for a policy of "preemptive action"-more accurately, proactive defense or preventive war-one of the hallmarks of what would become known as the Bush doctrine. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long," he declared. "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act."
The National Security Strategy, George W. Bush
September 17, 2002
The 2002 National Security Strategy formalized the Bush doctrine. In addition to reiterating a number of standard themes of U.S. foreign policy, it struck a triumphalist tone, noting that "the United States possesses unprecedented-and unequaled-strength and influence in the world." It asserted that "the great strength of this nation must be used to promote a balance of power that favors freedom." The country, it declared, "is fighting a war against terrorists of global reach. ...The enemy is terrorism-premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." The strategy called on the United States to preserve its global hegemony, transform its national security institutions to better fight terrorism, and promote democracy worldwide.
Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296
November 25, 2002
In this act, passed on November 25, 2002, the Bush administration and Congress created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, tasked with preventing terrorism and enhancing security, securing and managing U.S. borders, enforcing and administering U.S. immigration laws, safeguarding and securing cyberspace, and ensuring resilience to disasters. The act also created the position of homeland security secretary, a cabinet-level post first held by Tom Ridge.
Bin Laden Statements, 1994-2004, U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service
This collection of bin Laden's interviews, statements, and messages was compiled and translated by the U.S. government. It includes his 1998 declaration of jihad against the United States, his denial of involvement in the 9/11 attacks, and other noteworthy documents.
"A Strategy of Partnership," Colin L. Powell, Foreign Affairs
In this article, Colin Powell, then U.S. Secretary of State, defended the Bush doctrine. "U.S. strategy is widely accused of being unilateralist by design," he wrote, "It isn't. It is often accused of being imbalanced in favor of military methods. It isn't." Arguing that Bush's war on terrorism and freedom agenda were in the United States' interest, he continued: "It would be churlish to claim that the Bush administration's foreign policy has been error-free from the start. We are human beings; we all make mistakes. But we have always pursued the enlightened self-interest of the American people, and in our purposes and our principles there are no mistakes."
9/11 Commission Report, The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
July 22, 2004
This is the official report on the 9/11 attacks and the events leading up to them. It criticized the handling of the looming terrorist threat between 1990 and 2001 by both the Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as the Bush administration's immediate response to the attacks. It concluded that the attacks "revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management." To prevent further catastrophes, it recommended creating the position of national intelligence director to oversee the entire intelligence community, the development of an information-sharing system for counterterrorism officials, the enhancement of congressional oversight, and the strengthening of the FBI.
President George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address, Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
January 20, 2005
In his second Inaugural Address, Bush set out his "freedom agenda." "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," he declared. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." Advancing freedom was "the calling of our time," he proclaimed. "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
"Renewing American Leadership," Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs
In this article, Obama, then a presidential candidate, criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism: "The Bush administration responded to the unconventional attacks of 9/11 with conventional thinking of the past, largely viewing problems as state-based and principally amenable to military solutions." Obama continues, "It was this tragically misguided view that led us into a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized and never should have been waged."
"Rethinking the National Interest: American Realism for a New World," Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Affairs
After the 9/11 attacks, wrote Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State, "the United States was swept into a fundamentally different world." The Bush administration decided that it was necessary to change "how we view the relationship between the dynamics within states and the distribution of power among them. As globalization strengthens some states, it exposes and exacerbates the failings of many others-those too weak or poorly governed to address challenges within their borders and prevent them from spilling out and destabilizing the international order." This meant "that democratic state building is now an urgent component of our national interest. And in the broader Middle East, we recognize that freedom and democracy are the only ideas that can, over time, lead to just and lasting stability."
President George W. Bush's Remarks on National Security, Homeland Security, and the Freedom Agenda, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
December 17, 2008
In this, one of his last major speeches, Bush defended his handling of the war on terrorism. He argued that the passage of seven years without another terrorist attack was "not a matter of luck" but "the result of tough decisions that we began making immediately after September the 11th."
President Barack Obama's Remarks on Osama Bin Laden, The White House, Washington, D.C.
May 2, 2011
In these remarks, delivered close to midnight on May 2, 2011, Obama declared that bin Laden had been found and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda," he said, but "his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must-and we will-remain vigilant at home and abroad."
The National Strategy for Counterterrorism, President Barack Obama
June 28, 2011
Obama's new counterterrorism strategy, released in June 2011, charted a course for the second decade of the war on terror. Bin Laden's recent death and the revolutions sweeping the Middle East, it said, had "changed the nature of the terrorist threat," because they had diminished "the relevance of al-Qa'ida and its ideology." It called on the United States to keep the pressure on al Qaeda by encouraging responsive government and respect for rights and the rule of law. It would also be important for the United States to dismantle terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, from which al Qaeda continued to husband its strength and plan future attacks.