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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on United States Efforts in the Global War on Terrorism

March 20, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

On September 24, 2001, I reported the deployment of various combat-equipped and combat support forces to a number of locations in the Central and Pacific Command areas of operation. On October 9, 2001, I reported the beginning of combat action in Afghanistan against terrorists and their Taliban supporters. In my reports to the Congress of March 20 and September 20, 2002, I provided supplemental information on the deployment of combat-equipped and combat support forces to a number of foreign nations in the Central and Pacific Command areas of operations and other areas. As a part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed, I am reporting further on United States efforts in the global war on terrorism.

Our efforts in Afghanistan have met with success, but as I have stated in my previous reports, the U.S. campaign against terrorism will be lengthy. To date, U.S. Armed Forces, with the assistance of numerous coalition partners, have executed a superb campaign to eliminate the primary source of support to the terrorists who viciously attacked our Nation on September 11, 2001. The heart of al-Qaida's training capability has been seriously degraded. The Taliban's ability to brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists has been virtually eliminated. Pockets of al-Qaida and Taliban forces remain a threat to U.S. and coalition forces and to the Afghan government. What is left of both the Taliban and the al-Qaida fighters is being pursued actively and engaged by U.S. and coalition forces. Additionally, training missions and combat operations with Pakistani special forces are ongoing near the Afghan/ Pakistan border.

Due to our success in Afghanistan, we have detained hundreds of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters who are believed to pose a continuing threat to the United States and its interests. The combat-equipped and combat support forces deployed to Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the Southern Command area of operations since January 2002, continue to conduct secure detention operations. We currently hold more than 600 enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay. All are being treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

In furtherance of our worldwide efforts against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the United States, our friends and allies, and our forces abroad, we continue operations in other areas around the globe. Our relationship with the Government and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) developed and matured throughout 2002. Last year's actions from February to July 2002 on Basilan Island, with AFP in command and with U.S. forces in a support role, helped to drive hundreds of Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists from the island, restoring order and reestablishing government services. To ensure that the AFP has the skills to fight terrorism over the long term, we have a robust security assistance training program and a variety of exercises that will provide the AFP much needed counter-terrorism training and equipment. There are approximately 300 combat-equipped and combat support U.S. military personnel working with the AFP and U.S. forces continue to plan with the AFP for possible future activities. Continued U.S. support is warranted as the Government of the Philippines has provided unwavering support in the global war on terrorism.

Additionally, we continue to conduct maritime interception operations on the high seas in the Central and European Command areas of responsibility to prevent the movement, arming, or financing of international terrorists who pose a continuing threat to the United States.

Combat-equipped and combat support forces also have been deployed to Georgia and Yemen to assist the armed forces of those countries in enhancing their counter-terrorism capabilities, including by training and equipping their armed forces. Similar U.S. forces have deployed to Djibouti to command and control operations and other activities as necessary against al-Qaida and other international terrorists in the Horn of Africa region. These activities include providing oversight for urban and maritime counter-terrorism training with the Yemen special operations forces. We continue to assess options for working with other nations to assist them in this respect.

I have taken these actions pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. In addition, these actions are consistent with Public Law 107-40. As I stated in my previous reports, it is not possible to know at this time either the duration of combat operations or the scope and duration of the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter the terrorist threat to the United States. I will direct additional measures as necessary to exercise our right to self-defense and to protect U.S. citizens and interests. Such measures may include short notice deployments of special operations and other forces for sensitive operations in various locations throughout the world.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution and Public Law 107-40. Officials of my Administration and I have been communicating regularly with the leadership and other Members of Congress, and we will continue to do so. I appreciate the continuing support of the Congress in our efforts to protect the security of the United States of America and its citizens, civilian and military, here and abroad.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Ted Stevens, President pro tempore of the Senate.

George W. Bush, Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on United States Efforts in the Global War on Terrorism Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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