Cheney to CPAC: We Will Hunt Down Terrorists

On January 30, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the noontime address on the opening day of the 30th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. Here is an edited transcript of his remarks. I’m delighted to be here today to spend some time with CPAC on the 30th anniversary of a great organization. CPAC has consistently over the years championed those ideas that have made America great: limited government, free enterprise, low taxes, and a strong national defense. And today, I’m honored to serve alongside a great President who is putting principles into practice, George W. Bush. . . . Under President Bush, we will continue to build a culture that upholds the dignity of every life. We will encourage the compassionate work of faith-based and community groups all across the country. As a great nation, we will set a high standard for humanity by passing a law against human cloning and ending the practice of partial-birth abortions. For the well-being of America’s families, we are working every day to set this economy on a path of vigorous long-term growth. President Bush has a very clear economic philosophy. We recognize that government does not create wealth; it does not create jobs. The role of government is to remove obstacles standing in the way of economic growth. . . . Under the President’s tax plan, Americans will receive $98 billion in tax relief over the next 16 months. Nearly half of that amount—$47 billion—are tax cuts intended for small business owners. And to help ensure that small business people, farmers and ranchers can pass along their life’s work to the next generation, we want to eliminate the death tax once and for all. Today’s fourth quarter economic figures underscore the need for Congress to pass the President’s jobs and growth plan as soon as possible. The President’s proposals will reduce the tax burden on the American people by $670 billion over the next 10 years. By leaving more money in the hands of the people who earn it, people who will spend and invest and save and add momentum to our recovery, we’ll help create more jobs and ultimately increase tax revenues for the government. . . . Once again, we are defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. As President Bush said, we accept this responsibility. Today America leads a worldwide coalition that is sharing intelligence, hunting down terrorists, freezing the assets of terrorist groups and front organizations. We’ve deprived al Qaeda of its stronghold in Afghanistan. We continue to disrupt their efforts to regroup. We’ve captured or killed leading al Qaeda terrorists and have disrupted their chain of command. Our law enforcement and intelligence officials are working long and hard to thwart terrorist plots, both here and abroad. And while many of their successes must go unheralded, I can tell you that numerous terrorist attacks against the United States and our allies have been thwarted since 9/11. The United States and our partners have also dismantled terror cells in Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, France, Singapore, Malaysia, and frozen many millions of dollars in terrorist assets. We’ve arrested more then 3,000 suspected terrorists worldwide and taken out of business many of the top al Qaeda leaders responsible for murdering Americans and other innocent citizens. We will continue to hunt for those remaining at large. Where al Qaeda and its allies are concerned, we’re dealing with a network that operates in 50 or more countries around the globe, that has murdered Americans in Bali, in Kuwait, in Yemen, and in Jordan, and that is determined to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction against us and our allies. Against such enemies, America and the civilized world have only one option: Wherever terrorists operate, we will find them; wherever they dwell, we will hunt them down. We will also continue our efforts to address the grave danger posed by the outlaw regime in Iraq. We will not permit a brutal dictator with ties to terror and a record of reckless aggression to dominate the Middle East and to threaten the United States of America. Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm Iraq of all of its weapons of mass destruction. For 12 years he has violated that agreement, pursuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while UN inspectors were in Iraq. Last fall, thanks to the leadership of President Bush, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution giving Iraq one final chance to disarm. Inspectors were sent to Iraq not to determine whether Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, but simply to confirm that Iraq truly was disarming itself—as required by UN Security Council resolutions. Unfortunately, the declaration that Iraq provided to the United Nations last month about its weapons and missiles program clearly demonstrated that Saddam has absolutely no intention of complying with the world’s demands. Some time ago, the UN confirmed that Iraq has sufficient material to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax, more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard gas, and VX nerve agents. We know he had about 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical weapons and several mobile biological weapons laboratories designed to produce germ warfare agents on the move. Yet Saddam Hussein has never accounted for, nor destroyed these instruments of terror. And his desire for nuclear weapons remains undiminished. Saddam Hussein is continuing his decade-old game of defiance, delay and deception. He’s blocking unrestricted aerial reconnaissance. His security agents are hiding documents and materials from the UN inspectors. His intelligence agents are posing as scientists. And Saddam Hussein has decreed that real scientists who cooperate with UN inspectors will be killed, along with their families. Saddam Hussein’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction poses a grave danger—not only to his neighbors, but also to the United States. His regime aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. He could decide secretly to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us. As the President said on Tuesday night, it would take just one vial, one canister, one crate to bring a day of horror to our nation unlike any we have ever known. That is why confronting the threat posed by Iraq is not a distraction from the war on terror, it is absolutely crucial to winning the war on terror. America seeks a world of peace, but we will not accept a serious threat to our country, to our friends, and to our allies. Next Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence to the UN Security Council about Iraq’s ongoing defiance. Our purpose is not simply to follow a process, it is to end the terrible threats to the civilized world. As the President said the other night, the course of this nation does not depend upon the decisions of others. Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, we will defend the freedom and the security of the American people. Ladies and gentlemen, in this critical hour I have the honor of standing beside a great President who is determined to prevent the world’s terrorists and their sponsors from realizing their evil ambitions. Speaking at this conference more than 20 years ago, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan assured the audience that “If we carry the day and turn the tide, we can hope that as long as men speak of freedom and of those who have protected it, they will remember us. And they will say, ‘Here were the brave and here their place of honor.'” As everyone in this room knows, President Reagan proved equal to the challenges of his time. And President Bush is proving equal to the challenges of ours. We will make our country stronger, better, more secure. We will confront every threat from every source that could possibly bring harm to America and to our friends. And in all that we are called to do, we will serve the highest ideals of this nation—liberty and justice—in a world at peace.