President Bush Declares Attacks on Country ‘Acts of War'

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President Bush called the terror that struck four U.S. airliners, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "acts of war."

After meeting with his national security team, Bush said the battle against the terrorists would take time and resolve.

"But make no mistake about it, we will win," Bush said.

"This enemy attacked not just our people, but all freedom-loving people everywhere in the world. The United States of America will use all our resources to conquer this enemy. We will rally the world."

As rescue crews continued to sift through rubble for survivors in New York and Washington, and airports and stock markets remained shut down, the government reopened Wednesday with top government officials responding to the attacks, now expected to have killed 20,000 people.

Congress approved a resolution Wednesday supporting the president and a retaliatory response. Lawmakers from both parties said they stand shoulder to shoulder supporting any retribution Bush deems appropriate.

Attorney General John Ashcroft later said intelligence agencies confirmed that the White House and Air Force One were among the targets of the airplane hijackers. He said American Airlines Flight 77 was headed for the White House when it crashed into the Pentagon, killing all 64 people on board and at least 100 people in the building.

The North American Treaty Organization has said it would also support retaliatory action by the United States, stating that an attack against the United States is an attack against the alliance.

White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said the president is working with Congress to plan the U.S. response. He would not say if the president is seeking a declaration of war.

"The president is working with Congress to determine the appropriate language," Fleischer said in response to reporters' questions about a possible declaration of war.

At a press conference with Ashcroft, FBI Director Bob Muller said the bureau has launched the largest investigation in its history to seek out the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.

"We will leave no stone unturned in our quest to find those responsible and to bring those people to justice," Muller said.

He said the FBI has identified many of the hijackers on each of the four planes that crashed within minutes of each other Tuesday morning.

Ashcroft said investigators are examining phone audio recordings, videotapes and witness accounts to apprehend those involved in the attacks. He confirmed that several terrorists on each plane used small knives and bomb threats to gain control of the planes.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced yesterday that airports and airlines will be allowed to reopen once they have complied with new, "stricter screening measures."

He said all airports and aircraft must undergo searches to ensure safety before passengers are allowed to enter them. Curbside check-ins are indefinitely halted, and only ticketed passengers will be allowed past airport security screenings to the gates.

Ron Wilson, spokesperson for San Francisco International Airport, said the airport had hoped to be operational by Wednesday afternoon, but late last night the Bay Area's three main airports remained shut down.

Airports are expected to open within the next few days. Stock markets are expected to reopen Monday.

In New York, rescue efforts continued Wednesday. At least 55 people were pulled from the rubble of the two 110-story World Trade Center towers, according to media reports. Rescuers were evacuated from the wreckage momentarily yesterday when other surrounding buildings threatened to cave in.

Forty-eight people have been confirmed dead in New York, although the Port Authority estimated the death toll could reach 20,000.

At least 300 New York firefighters and police officers are presumed dead after responding to the plane crashes at the World Trade Center, only to be buried when the towers collapsed a few hours later.

In Washington, the Pentagon continued to burn early Wednesday morning. Fire officials estimated up to 800 people were dead. The hopes of finding survivors are diminishing.

The nation's capital was open for business Wednesday amid increased police protection, said J.V. Jetley, a student participating in the UC Berkeley-Washington program.

Jetley said chaos erupted Tuesday after the crash at the Pentagon, as evacuation clogged roadways and the Metro subway system. Getting home from his internship near Capital Hill took hours, he said.

At least two UC Berkeley alumni have fallen victim to the terrorist attacks. Brent Woodall, 31, a former Cal football player, was evacuating the south tower of the World Trade Center when it collapsed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Mark Bingham was aboard United Airlines flight 93 that crashed 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.


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