And justice will prevail

Herald news services

NORFOLK, Va. – Alternating between words of grief and retribution, President Clinton sought Wednesday to comfort the sailors and families of the USS Cole. He praised the fallen as patriots and sternly warned the “hate-filled terrorists” whose attack killed 17 aboard the Navy destroyer: “We will find you and justice will prevail.”

Under a gray sheet of sky, Clinton addressed a memorial ceremony at a Norfolk Naval Station pier crowded with destroyers and aircraft carriers. Sailors in white dress uniforms lined every deck of every ship, listening to Clinton praise the colleagues lost in the Oct. 12 explosion at a Yemeni harbor as “our finest young people, fallen soldiers who rose to freedom’s challenge.”

“They all had their own stories and their own dreams,” Clinton said. “In the names and faces of those we lost and mourn, the world sees our nation’s greatest strength: People in uniform, rooted in every race, creed and region on the face of the Earth.”

Clinton described the attackers – still unknown – as “hate-filled terrorists” who “envy our strength” while holding warped religious, political, racial, or ethnic views of the world.

“For them, it is their way or no way,” he said. Addressing those attackers directly, the president warned: “You will not find a safe harbor. We will find you and justice will prevail.”

One by one, Clinton called out full names and ranks of the 17 dead, including those whose bodies have yet to be recovered.

In the end, a lone Navy trumpeter played “Taps” from the deck of the destroyer USS McFaul, one of two Cole sister ships docked nearby. A wounded sailor saluted from his front-row stretcher, his wife at his side.

The Pentagon will appoint a retired Navy admiral and a retired Army general to lead an investigation of the Cole’s security practices in the Yemeni port of Aden, officials said Wednesday.

At the request of Defense Secretary William Cohen, retired Adm. Harold Gehman and retired Gen. William Crouch will lead the investigation.

Gehman was commander in chief of U.S. Joint Forces Command until his retirement this summer. Crouch is a former commander of U.S. Army Europe and chief of NATO’s Allied Land Forces Central Europe. In that capacity he was commander of the U.S.-led NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia in 1996-97.

Also Wednesday, the Navy said the bodies of two more American sailors were recovered from the Cole. The search was to resume toTday for the last four missing bodies believed still aboard.

Meanwhile in Yemen, investigators found the vehicle and trailer that carried a small boat used in the bombing, Yemen’s president announced Wednesday.

“We were able to discover the car that transported the boat, and the launcher that lowered the boat, and we found the workshop that made the engine and the house that the people who carried out the crime were living in,” President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Qatar’s satellite television network Al Jazeera.

“The attack had been planned for a long time,” Saleh said.

The landlord of a dwelling here where bomb-making equipment was found earlier this week was taken into custody Wednesday by police investigating last week’s attack on the U.S. warship, Yemeni officials said.

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