Nation on maximum alert

Bush calling up Reserves, Congress votes $40 billion and authorizes military force

By David Espo

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Bush vowed Friday that America would meet its “responsibility to history” and wipe out terrorism. He approved the call-up of thousands of reservists, and Congress rushed to post a $40 billion down payment for the struggle.

“This nation is peaceful but fierce when stirred to anger,” the president said at a prayer service beneath the soaring ceiling of Washington National Cathedral. “This conflict was begun in timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.”

Bush spoke in a city on edge – and to a nation in mourning for the loss of an estimated 5,000 souls who perished in attacks on Tuesday at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington.

“We will read all these names and linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep,” the president said.

Bush addressed the nationally televised service on a day he declared should be marked by prayer and remembrance.

The nation on maximum alert, President Bush approved the call-up of thousands of reservists and Congress rushed to post a $40 billion down payment Friday for a war on terrorism and the likes of Osama bin Laden. The nation’s leaders joined in prayer for the victims of deadly attacks in Washington and New York.

Bush summoned his Cabinet to the White House in a capital city on edge, military police now a familiar presence on city streets and helicopters buzzing overhead.

Rain fell on the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York and on the wounded Pentagon, dampening the ruins and the efforts of search crews. “There’s no question they’re hampered by it,” said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. “At the same time, they’re going on, because there is still a strong hope that we’ll be able to recover people.”

The death toll seemed likely to approach 5,000 souls, most of them trapped inside the 110-story Trade Center towers that crumpled after being struck by hijacked jetliners on Tuesday.

Administration officials said Bush had decided to authorize the call-up of as many as 50,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld opened the Cabinet meeting with a prayer asking for “patience to measure our lust for action, resolve to strengthen our obligation to lead, wisdom to illuminate our pursuit of justice and strength in defense of liberty.”

Congress showed its resolve, the Senate voting 96-0 for the money to wage war on terrorism. House passage was delayed only until lawmakers could return to the Capitol from the prayer service at Washington National Cathedral. Congress also moved toward passage of a companion bill to endorse Bush’s still-emerging plans for a military response. The bill cleared the Senate 98-0, with a House vote set for Saturday.

Bush and most of his immediate predecessors gathered under the soaring ceiling of the cathedral on what he proclaimed a day of prayer and remembrance. Vice President Dick Cheney alone among the nation’s senior political leaders did not attend.

Later Friday, Bush arranged to visit the site of the attack in New York City.

“Our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation,” he president said Thursday as he mapped a military response, consulted with world leaders and consoled the wounded in the wake of coordinated attacks Tuesday on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The fight against terrorism, Bush said, “is now the focus of my administration.”

But recovery was uneven at best in a land on edge.

Authorities hustled Vice President Dick Cheney out of Washington, kept the New York stock markets shut another day and slowly — very slowly — brought the nation’s air traffic system back to life. Information in the hands of the government "suggests we haven’t seen the end of this current threat," said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. He cited concerns that terrorists may strike in a different manner now that airport security has been improved.

The body count, meanwhile, was grim and getting grimmer.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said 4,763 people were reported missing at the World Trade Center site, where hijackers flew two jetliners fully loaded with fuel into the twin towers Tuesday morning. There were 184 confirmed fatalities.

Authorities said they expected 190 deaths at the Pentagon, where a third plane blew a hole in one side of the nation’s five-sided defense nerve center. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania, with 65 aboard.

Early Friday, searchers found the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from the jet that crashed into the Pentagon. A day earlier, the data recorder was recovered from the hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania.

The FAA cleared airports for reopening only after strict new security measures were in place. But even then some airlines didn’t fly, others flew shortened schedules. The New York area’s three major airports — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark, N.J. — were opened and then abruptly shut down as FBI officials searched for several people wanted for questioning in the attacks.

As many as 10 people of Middle Eastern descent were detained at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. But Alan Hoffman, chief of staff to Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Friday the FBI determined the travelers had no connection to the attacks. Biden told CNN the arrests were based on suspicions of a link, but any connections turned out to be "totally, totally coincidental."

In Washington, Congress was moving with uncommon speed to approve tens of billions of dollars for anti-terrorism and rebuilding, and legislation authorizing military action was likely, as well.

Administration officials said no military response was imminent — but that didn’t prevent officials from discussing it. "I think Osama bin Laden ought to say his prayers," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., shortly after the Bush administration publicly named the Saudi expatriate the main suspect in the attacks.

Three days after the attacks, Bush arranged to travel to New York to "thank and hug and cry" with those closest to the worst terrorist attack ever in America.

Before departing, he was attending a prayer service in the nation’s capital, and urged all Americans to offer their prayers during the day. Former Presidents Carter, Clinton, Ford and Bush also were expected to attend the service. Among former presidents, only Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer’s, was not expected.

In New York, crews working around the clock and battling airborne ash and dust had carted tons of debris away from the Trade Center wreckage.

Their grim task was made even more difficult early Friday when violent lightning ripped the night sky and rain pelted down. Rescue workers pulled on rain jackets and plastic bags and continued their work.

But they reported discouragingly few signs of hope in the rubble of buildings that once housed thousands of workaday New Yorkers. To compound the city’s misery, lower Manhattan remained closed off, tens of thousands unable to return to their homes.

At Bellevue Hospital, a blue wall erected around a construction site was crowded with pictures and descriptions of the missing. Many family members stopped by an armory-turned-counseling center. All lived under a seemingly endless plume of acrid, white smoke from the wreckage.

Bomb threats forced the evacuation of Grand Central Terminal and many other buildings around the city. In Washington, a bomb scare forced lawmakers out of the Capitol.

Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell both said they were prodding Pakistan to cooperate in the effort to hunt down their key suspect, bin Laden, a millionaire Saudi exile who uses Afghanistan for his base. The Pakistani government maintains good relations with the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

But the United States is urging Pakistan to close its border with Afghanistan and to cut off funding for terrorist groups, a senior White House official said. The U.S. government also asked Pakistan for permission to fly over its territory in the event of military action, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Without addressing the administration’s specific requests, Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in a statement, promised Bush "unstinted cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

Paul Wolfowitz, second in command at the Pentagon, hinted broadly at a campaign that wouldn’t stop at the borders of countries that harbor terrorists. "It’s not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism," he said.

Fallout from Tuesday’s tragic attacks went well beyond New York and Washington as organizers of many of the nation’s major sporting events, from professional baseball and football to stock car racing and golf, postponed or canceled their contests.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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