Tags: 'Act | War' | Outrages | Congress

'Act of War' Outrages Congress

Tuesday, 11 September 2001 12:00 AM

"We are outraged at this cowardly attack on the people of the United States," the statement said. "Our heartfelt prayers are with the victims and their families, and we stand strongly united behind the president as our commander in chief. We will work with him to ensure that the full resources of the United States government are brought to bear to protect the American people and punish the perpetrators of these unconscionable acts. May God bless America."

Sens. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., joined House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., in releasing the statement of unity and confidence in President Bush as commander in chief.

Two top Republican senators managed to release public statements despite having to deal with a lack of offices and staff - the entire Capitol campus had been evacuated earlier in the day.

"This is the second Pearl Harbor. I don't think that I overstate it," said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona said, "These attacks clearly constitute an act of war."

"This is the first time in my 20 years on the Hill that the Capitol has been shut down," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "Even when a bomb went off nearby, I think in the early '80s, we never evacuated."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, "It is another Pearl Harbor for this country."

Capitol Police Lt. Dan Nichols said the congressional leadership was removed from the Capitol and taken to a secure location "to ensure the continuity of the government." He would not say where the leadership had been taken. Other members of the House and Senate remained near the Capitol to decide when they could resume the session.

Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who serves on a panel called the Speaker's Group on Terrorism and Homeland Security, which is part of the House Intelligence Committee, said: "The terrorists believe they can shut down the American government and terrorize the American people. They are mistaken. America is strong. America will remain strong. We will get through this."

Nichols said the U.S. government had been "challenged before, and we may be challenged again, but let me assure the American people we're ready to meet that challenge" or keeping the government open.

"We are dedicated to keeping this place open. We won't be dissuaded. We are going to do our job," he said.

Warner said he gathered his staff for a prayer meeting and then sent them home, telling them: "You're going to be the greatest generation. You're going to have to heal the wounds."

While the death toll was unknown from the attacks Tuesday, it was expected to be in the thousands, because at least 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center.

A witness to the wreckage at the Pentagon said there were many bodies lying in the debris.

"It's a terrible thing," Leahy said. "There are no words to describe how terrible it is. Our danger has always been terrorists, domestic and foreign - coordinated well-thought-out terrorism, especially if it is carried out by a suicide bomber. This is an example of this.

"We are always going to be vulnerable. We are a democratic nation. That is our strength, but it is also our weakness."

Warner said he had just met with three other senators - Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.; Joe Biden, D-Del.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "All of us feel an enormous sense of responsibility. … We have to bind our wounds and go forward with world leadership.

"At this point in time we have to remain calm … giving confidence to a shaken citizenship."

Leahy said he wanted "swift, hard action against those responsible. The terrorists win if they succeed in closing down the greatest democracy the world has ever known."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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We are outraged at this cowardly attack on the people of the United States, the statement said. Our heartfelt prayers are with the victims and their families, and we stand strongly united behind the president as our commander in chief. We will work with him to ensure that...
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Tuesday, 11 September 2001 12:00 AM
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