National Defense Authorization Act
December 2, 2002
2:30 P.M. EST
Thank you, all. (Applause.) Thank you, all. Please be seated. (Applause.) Please
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your
candor. Thank you -- you're doing a fabulous job on behalf of the American people.
It's an honor for me to be here today with the leaders of our military, the
good folks who are serving our country, to sign the 2003 Defense Authorization
We're a nation at war. America must understand we're at war. But those who wear
the uniform must understand how proud all of America is for your service to
our great country. On behalf of a grateful nation, I'm here to thank you.
Our military is making good progress in this war. We've liberated an oppressed
and friendless people. We're hunting down the terrorists all across the globe.
We're performing our missions with speed and skill. You have the strong, united
support of this great land. And this bill should reflect the strong and united
support of the United States Congress.
And I want to thank the members of the Congress who are here on stage, Senator
Warner and Congressman Duncan Hunter. And members of the Senate and the Congress
who are with us, I want to thank you for your good work on this important legislation.
I appreciate so very much all those who work in the Secretary's office who worked
hard on this bill. I want to thank the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs who are
here, and the Vice Chairmen are with us, and those who represent the enlisted
personnel of our military.
Most of all, I want to say a word about Bob Stump. Chairman Stump, who couldn't
be with us today, distinguished Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who
has served our nation well. He's a dedicated public servant who has decided
to retire. And as the Secretary said, this bill is appropriately named for this
fine American. We will miss him, and we wish Bob and his family all the very
I want to thank the service secretaries who are here with us. And I want to
thank you all for coming.
The legislation I sign this afternoon was passed by Congress in a remarkable
spirit of unity. It sets priorities of our Defense Department in a critical,
critical period for our country. Our country has unprecedented challenges, and
we're facing them with unmatched technology, careful planning and the finest
traditions of valor.
We're rewarding the service and sacrifice of our military families with higher
pay, improved facilities and better housing. We're procuring the best weapons
we possibly can and the best equipment, while adding funds for operations and
maintenance, as well. We're investing in missile defenses and all new technologies
we need to gain every advantage -- every advantage -- in the battlefields of
And since intelligence is playing a critical role in our ability to achieve
military victory, this new law creates a new high-level position within the
Department of Defense called the Under Secretary for Intelligence.
This generation of Armed Forces has been given two difficult tasks, fighting
and winning a war; and at the same time, transforming our military to win the
new kind of war. In the first stages of our fight against terror, we've already
seen the future face of warfare, forces that are more agile and mobile and lethal
-- along with weapons that are smarter and tactics that are more inventive.
These priorities are reflected in this year's budget. You'll see them reflected
in every military budget I submit and sign as your President.
America's military is strong. And that's the way it should be. Our nation and
the world are safer that way. Now and in the future, we will maintain a military
that is second to none. And the greatest strength of America's military is the
cause we all serve. That cause is freedom in a world at peace. Today that cause
is being challenged by determined enemies. And we will not rest and we will
not relent until our freedom is secure.
Our troops in Afghanistan remain engaged in a difficult and dangerous mission.
We're hunting down trained killers. And that's all they are -- nothing but a
bunch of cold-blooded killers. We're destroying their weapons. The Secretary
reports to me in the White House that day after day, we're finding giant caches
of weapons which we're destroying. And while we hunt them down -- hunt the killers
down, we'll continue to help the Afghan people, as they work to build lives
of dignity and lives of security. Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for
hijackers and bomb-makers and assassins. Thanks to the United States military,
the terrorist training camps are closed. Many terrorists have met their fate
in the caves and mountains of Afghanistan. Others are now in custody.
Yet we know that many terrorists are still at large. They hide and they plot
in over 60 different countries. We face an enemy that's attacked cities in America,
embassies and airplanes in Africa, ships in the Gulf, tourists in Bali. This
enemy lives like a parasite. They plot in shadows. They prey on failed states.
And they ally themselves with outlawed regimes.
Defeating this enemy requires fighting a different kind of war, what we call
the first war of the 21st century. We're pursuing the terrorists wherever they
dwell. It doesn't matter where they -- where they hide, we're after them, one
by one. We follow them wherever they run. They think they can run; they can't
run far enough from the long arm of justice of the United States. We're freezing
their finances. We're disrupting their plots. We're killing them or capturing
them, one person at a time. That's how you win the first war of the 21st century
-- a war we are going to win. (Applause.)
Some of the successes in this war will make headlines, and sometimes you won't
even know about it. But all the terrorists can be certain of this: Their hour
of justice will come. And that hour has already arrived for an increasing number
of field generals of the terrorist army. Recently, we took a guy named al Nashiri
into custody. Until last month he was the top al Qaeda operative, the top al
Qaeda leader in the Gulf region. He was plotting and planning. But today this
much is certain -- he won't be executing any more attacks against the United
States and our friends like the attack he mastermind against the USS Cole.
Success in the war on terror will only come by taking every measure to protect
innocent people from sudden and catastrophic violence. And we must oppose the
threat of such violence from any source. We oppose the terror network and all
who harbor and support the terrorists. And we oppose a uniquely dangerous regime
that possesses the weapons of mass murder, has used those weapons, and could
supply those weapons to terrorist networks.
Saddam Hussein's regime has a long history of aggression against his neighbors
and hostility towards America. It has a long history of ties to terrorists.
The dictator has a long history of seeking biological and chemical and nuclear
weapons -- even while U.N. inspectors were present in his country. Now the world
has told him the game is over. The U.N. Security Council, the NATO Alliance
and the United States are united -- Saddam Hussein will fully disarm himself
of weapons of mass destruction. And if he does not, the United States will lead
a coalition to disarm him.
As the U.N. weapons inspections process gets underway, we must remember that
inspections will not -- will only work -- will only work if Iraq fully complies.
You see, the inspectors are not in Iraq to play hide and seek with Mr. Saddam
Hussein. Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible
weapons hidden in a vast country. The responsibility of inspectors is simply
to confirm the evidence of voluntary and total disarmament. It is Saddam Hussein
who has the responsibility to provide that evidence as directed, and in full.
Any act of delay, deception, or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has
not adopted the path of compliance and has rejected the path of peace.
In the inspections process, the United States will be making one judgment: Has
Saddam Hussein changed his behavior of the last 11 years? Has he decided to
cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not? So far the signs are
not encouraging. A regime that fires upon American and British pilots is not
taking the path of compliance. A regime that sends letters filled with protests
and falsehoods is not taking the path of compliance.
On or before the 8th of December, Iraq must provide a full and accurate declaration
of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. That declaration
must be credible and complete, or the Iraqi dictator will have demonstrated
to the world once again that he has chosen not to change his behavior.
Americans seek peace in this world. We're a peaceful nation. War is the last
option for confronting threats. Yet the temporary peace of denial and looking
away from danger would only be a prelude to broader war and greater horror.
America will confront gathering dangers early, before our options become limited
and desperate. By showing our resolve today, we are building a future of peace.
In the decisions and missions to come, our military will carry the values of
America and the hopes of the world. The people of Iraq, like all human beings,
deserve their freedom. And the people of Afghanistan -- with the help of the
United States Armed Forces -- have gained their freedom.
One guardsman from Florida tells of meeting a member of the new Afghan national
army. This Afghan soldier said he enlisted to honor the memory of this brother
who was killed by the Taliban, and to ensure that his own son would live in
freedom. The Florida guardsman wrote home that "being here makes me realize
that people are giving up their lives to have a fraction of the freedoms we
take for granted." He said taking -- "talking to one soldier made
me realize how lucky I am to have been born in the United States of America."
"I'm honored to have met an Afghan patriot," he wrote. Every time
I visit this building or any American base around the world, I'm honored to
meet American patriots. The men and women of our military bring credit to our
flag and security to our country. On behalf of the American people I thank you
for all you've done, for all you will do in the cause of freedom and the cause
And now I'm pleased to sign the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2003. (Applause.)