Troops for Humanitarian Rescue
November 14, 2001
7:18 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today we've got incredibly good news. Our United
States military rescued eight humanitarian workers who have been in prison in
I'm really proud of our Armed Forces, and I'm also thankful for the folks in
Afghanistan who helped with this rescue. There have been a lot of people praying
for the eight -- eight innocent folks. Particularly interesting for me, since
I'm here in Crawford and the two Americans were from Waco. And I know a lot
of the Waco citizens have been in deep prayer that they be rescued, and their
prayers were answered.
I'm thankful they're safe. I am pleased with the way our military has conducted
its operations, and I am glad to report to the American people this chapter
of the Afghan theater has ended in a very positive and constructive way.
QUESTION: Sir, did the rescuers encounter any resistance?
THE PRESIDENT: You're going to have to talk to the Secretary of Defense about
QUESTION: Were they rescued or turned over by the Taliban?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think Secretary Rumsfeld will be making a statement --
we're calling it a rescue. They have been helped by, I know the International
Red Cross have been involved, and they were flown to safety by U.S. troops.
QUESTION: Where are they now?
THE PRESIDENT: In Pakistan.
QUESTION: Sir, is it your understanding that this was an operation where our
forces had to go in and extricate them?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't think it was a mission of that -- it was set up,
as I understand it. In other words, there was -- people on the ground were --
facilitated the ability of our troops to move in and put them on a chopper and
bring them to safety.
I have been -- I had spent a lot of time worrying about all eight, particularly
the two young ladies. I was worried that -- about the reports that perhaps the
enemy would put them in a house and then, for whatever reason, would encourage
that house to get bombed. I was worried for their safety. We had thought of
different ways in which we could extricate them from the prison they were in.
And there were some people on the ground that helped, including the International
Red Cross, and our military responded. And it's great --
QUESTION: How soon will you be able to speak to them or see them, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure. The good news is they'll be home for Thanksgiving.
And I would obviously -- if they come back to the States or are in a position
where I can call, I'd love to call them, and most of all, tell their parents
that I can imagine how they feel, how thrilled they are that their daughters
QUESTION: Other than the Red Cross, who else --
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure yet, Ron. I think we had -- Secretary Rumsfeld is
going to brief here in a second.
QUESTION: Was it a handover to U.S. troops or --
THE PRESIDENT: I think it was a -- I don't think it was -- I think it was, as
I understand it -- and again, the Secretary of Defense will be briefing, the
Defense Department will be briefing -- that it was a facilitated rescue. In
other words, there were people -- and I say "rescued" because it's
a very unstable part of the world still, obviously, and you never know what
the Taliban is going to do. They, first and foremost, detained these people
against their will and imprisoned them. And I was deeply concerned for their
safety. But the really incredibly positive news is that, thanks to help on the
ground and thanks to our U.S. military, they're now safe in Pakistan.
I've got to go to dinner with my guests. I've got my guests. You'll have to
talk to the Secretary of Defense.
QUESTION: Should the Taliban surrender now, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: It's up to the Taliban to make that decision. But we're not going
to end our mission until we accomplish the mission. And the mission is al Qaeda
and terrorists and terrorist training camps.
One of the things I said in front of Congress was that one of the conditions
were that these humanitarian aid workers be turned over. That part of the mission
is complete. We still want al Qaeda, and we want to make sure that Afghanistan
is no longer a safe haven for terrorist activity. That has yet to be accomplished.
In the meantime, we're making substantial gains on the ground. But this is --
I told the American people, this could take a while. And I'm patient and I am
steady. And our military is -- and our troops on the ground are on the hunt
to accomplish the objective. And we will stay there until we do accomplish the
Thank you all. I've got to go have dinner --
QUESTION: Are you going --
THE PRESIDENT: I've got my guests waiting --
QUESTION: Did the rain ruin the dinner?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it's perfect. Listen, any time it rains in Texas it is enhances
the dinner. (Laughter.) Thank you all for bringing it.