Remarks by the Vice President at the 56th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City
New York, New York
CHENEY: Your Excellency, Mr. Mayor, Governor Pataki, Senators Schumer and Clinton, distinguished guests on the dais, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to join you this evening. It's nice, for a change, to be at a disclosed location.
Al Smith was very kind to invite Lynne and me to join you. We haven't been out much lately.
And the Waldorf is a lot nicer than our cave. (LAUGHTER)
There's been a good deal of speculation about our whereabouts in recent days. I might as well address the rumors right here tonight. We have not actually been living in a cave. And, no, I did not sneak out for cosmetic surgery.
Although I'm not prepared to rule that out as an option.
Others were willing to bet that I'd been sent on some kind of a secret mission, an air raid over Afghanistan. That's not true either. But I think I know how the rumor got started. At the White House, Karl Rove was overheard to say, "We're sending Cheney to the Al Smith Dinner..."
"... and he's going to bomb."
But I wanted to be here, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, to commend all of you for going forward with this annual event at such a very difficult time for the city.
I'm also proud to play a small part in the good work of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. The story of Governor Al Smith, from his boyhood in the tenements on the East River, all the way to the presidential nomination, is one of the greatest in American politics.
At Al Smith's passing, Franklin Roosevelt remembered him as frank, friendly, warmhearted, as honest as the noonday sun.
This dinner and the charities it supports carry on the legacy of a good-hearted man, ever faithful to his beginnings and to his church.
I'm especially honored to be in the company of the present generation of New York leaders. You've heard many tributes, and every one of them is deserved.
Tonight, let me add my own opinion that the leaders of this city, state and archdiocese have, without exception, brought honor to yourselves and to your offices.
And though the archbishop could not be with us, I know that all New Yorkers have seen in Edward Cardinal Egan the kind of strength and courage and goodness that make him the worthy successor to John Cardinal O'Connor.
The people of New York have seen appalling tragedy and suffering. This afternoon I was at ground zero and I saw the damage at close range. It is staggering; almost beyond a person's ability to describe. Your firefighters and police, rescue and recovery workers have responded with true heroism, and the entire nation has been deeply moved by the images of men and women working beyond the point of exhaustion, of parish communities throughout the city and New Yorkers of all faith stepping forward to offer any help that is needed.
On his program the other day, Tim Russert told America the story of the fire department chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, who was killed while giving the last rites...
... while giving the last rites to a dying rescue worker.
Firefighters carried his body to Hook and Ladder Company 24, where they wrapped him in sheets and sang the prayer of St. Francis.
All Americans have come to see this city as a place of bravery, of generosity and grace. America loves New York.
Time will pass, but our nation will never forget that morning when thousands of innocent, unsuspecting human beings were murdered. I doubt there is a man or woman in this room tonight who did not experience a personal loss in the events of September 11. And I know there is not a man or woman in this room who does not wait on the day that justice is delivered, as it will be.
And it will be delivered methodically, unsparingly and in full.
CHENEY: September 11 was a day like no other we have ever experienced, requiring a war like no other we have ever waged. It began the hour we were attacked. Almost six weeks later, I can report that it is proceeding on course.
Terrorists and their supporters are, for the first time, worried about their own safety. They are being swept up in a worldwide roundup. Hundreds already have been arrested or detained. We have disrupted their operations and no doubt prevented some planned attacks.
We're untangling the very complex financial network that funds terrorist activity. The terrorists have wealthy patrons. We are finding them and freezing their assets. So far, dozens of these individuals and groups have been identified. But there are others, and they too will be dealt with.
On the diplomatic side, we have found great support in every part of the world. Tonight President Bush is in Shanghai meeting with leaders from Asia and the Pacific who have been cooperating in this global effort.
On the trip, he will also meet with President Putin of Russia, one of the many foreign leaders who have given important diplomatic and strategic assistance.
Secretary Rumsfeld recently visited the Persian Gulf states. Secretary Powell was in India and Pakistan earlier this week.
Different nations are helping us in different ways, but nearly all grasp the enormity of this situation.
They understand that they too are vulnerable, that terrorism now threatens every civilized nation, and that every civilized nation must work to destroy it.
Inevitably, this will mean military campaigns of the kind now under way against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Joined by British forces, we have struck terrorist camps, military training facilities, airfields, air defenses, ammunition storage areas and command and control facilities.
The success of our air campaign has cleared the way for further action, which the Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorists can neither predict nor escape.
It is important to realize that the military aspect will not always be so visible. There will be times like this when we can watch a videotape of the guided munitions finding their targets. Other successes will come from covert operations that are not seen or heard beyond a very small circle.
CHENEY: These operations will require a broader, more realistic approach to gathering intelligence. We are dealing here with evil people, who dwell in the shadows, planning unimaginable violence and destruction. We have no alternative but to meet the enemy where he dwells.
Sometimes that means doing business with people you would not like to have as your next-door neighbor. We must and we will use every means at our disposal to ensure the freedom and security of the American people.
Permit me this personal comment. I spent four years at the Pentagon working with some of the finest men and women I have ever met. More people died there on September 11 than we lost in combat in the Gulf War. When you think of that attack and of the merciless horror inflicted at the World Trade Center, no punishment for the terrorist seems too harsh.
I think one American air crew spoke for just about everybody when they painted the nose of B-52 with the words: "NYPD -- We remember."
Many of our planes have also been delivering tons of food supplies for the suffering people of Afghanistan, and that's the character of the United States. That's the character of the military campaign and every other aspect of this war against terror. We do not act indiscriminately, as the terrorists expected. We do not act rashly, as the terrorists would like. Unlike them, we value human life.
Unlike them, we understand the meaning of innocence. We do not target civilian populations. But in dealing with the terrorists themselves, we will be relentless and they will come to understand the meaning of justice.
The outcome of this struggle is certain. A few young men may be deluded into dying for the terrorist vision of the world, but only the terrorists themselves want to live in such a world, where law is replaced by brute force and morality is defined by vicious and violent men.
The world understands that we do not fight a religion. Ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Indeed, the innocent victims of these terrorist include many Muslims. This is a struggle against evil. That is why people in every part of the world and of all faiths stand together against this foe. And that is why we will prevail.
The president's made clear in this struggle there is no neutral ground.
CHENEY: Those who harbor terrorists share guilt for the acts they commit. And under the Bush doctrine, a regime that harbors or supports terrorists will be regarded as hostile to the United States.
It is certain also that the enemy is resourceful and ruthless. We must have no illusions about dangers still present. The enemy has shown a capacity to inflict great damage on the United States, and we have to assume there will be more attacks. That is the only safe way to proceed.
And I want to assure each of you that in the face of these dangers, we are doing everything we know how to do. For the first time ever, the country has a strategy of homeland security and a Cabinet officer to carry it out. We're greatly increasing our readiness to respond to the threat of bioterrorism and the kinds of incidents we've seen in recent days.
We are enhancing protection at vulnerable points, beginning with airports and aircraft. Equally important, we must continue working to anticipate potential threats and prepare accordingly with changes in how we collect intelligence, investigate suspected criminals and screen immigrants and foreign visitors.
These weeks have brought some changes into people's lives and a good deal of uncertainty for all of us. Americans reasonably wonder, "How long will it last?" The answer is that many of these changes we've made are permanent, at least in the lifetime of most of us. Vigilance against the new threat is not just a temporary precaution; it is a responsibility that we all share.
President Bush understands, as future presidents must also understand, that with this new century have come new necessities to guarantee our security. In the experience of the 20th century, war for Americans was something that happened overseas. There was the theater of battle and then there was the home front. And in our own lifetimes, the only grave threat to America came from a rival superpower. This we handled with summit meetings, arms control treaties and a policy of deterrence by which an act of aggression would put the aggressor's own nation at risk.
In the terrorists, however, we have enemies with nothing to defend. A group like Al Qaeda cannot be deterred or placated or reasoned with at a conference table. Former Vice President Gore has put it well. "The terrorists," he said, "are nihilists, and they are trying to kill as many Americans as they can and terrorize the rest." And for the first time in our history, we will probably suffer more casualties here at home in America than will our troops overseas.
We cannot deal with terror. It will not end in a treaty. There will be no peaceful coexistence, no negotiations, no summit, no joint communique with the terrorists. The struggle can only end with their complete and permanent destruction...
... and in victory for the United States and the cause of freedom.
CHENEY: America has always stood for human freedom, and never has this cause had more friends in every culture and on every continent.
Our enemies direct their rage at us not because of what we do, but because of who we are.
Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we know who we are. We are freedom's home and defender. We are a faithful friend to allies and a strong permanent presence in the affairs of the world. We love our country only more when she is threatened.
We did not ask for this trial, but it has come, and we will see it through to victory.
Thank you very much.
Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at the 56th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/286051