Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a White House press briefing conducted by Tony Snow: The White House James S. Brady Briefing Room 12:32 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: Good afternoon all...

The fact is that there have been profound changes in the way Iraqis themselves are viewing the military operations, but also the development of a government, as General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker also pointed out. When it comes to a lot of the political benchmarks we've been discussing -- distribution of oil revenues, it's happening without a law. De-Baathification, some of that is happening without a law. In other words, people are taking the business of reconciliation into their own hands.

Now, both of them have made it clear that they would like to see more in the way of active political reconciliation on the part of political forces within Iraq . But I think it is safe to say that, you go back and look at their testimony, they do believe that, in fact, what we have seen is an important increase in security, but also maybe even more important, a sense of empowerment on the part of the Iraqi people that they not only have a stake in democracy, but they have the ability to go ahead and fight against those who have been using terror as a way of frustrating their dreams and aspirations.


Q Tony, six years to this day, the worst terrorist attack happened on American soil. What is President Bush 's feelings today? Osama bin Laden has not been found; he continues to make tapes. What is his feeling today?

MR. SNOW: What is his feeling? The feeling is that September 11th not only changed America -- many people see this as a cleavage point, where before September 11th we may have been naive about the existence of a terror network; after September 11th , it is a shadow over our lives. And therefore, it is the commitment of this President to fight a war on terror and terrorists so that future generations will not have to worry about September 11ths in the future, and that although this is a long battle -- which he said at the very beginning -- on September 20, 2001 , he said, this is going to be a long battle. He pointed out that the terror network was not confined to one nation, but it was spread throughout the globe, and that it was important for us to use our resources and our commitment to fighting it.

Six years simply demonstrates that we have a determined enemy, but we also have a noble and worthy goal, which is to advance the cause of liberty, and also to demonstrate to the rest of the world that mere acts of terror will not be enough to dissuade the United States from following through on its word. And furthermore, mere acts of terror are not the kind of thing that ultimately are going to allow terrorists to continue to take over governments and to oppress and to betray the aspirations of people in nations that become captive to the terrorists themselves.

Q Understanding that, but again, what is the President's feeling about the fact that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind, has not been found?

MR. SNOW: Well, we're going to find him. I mean, we -- he said all along we're going to find him. The other thing that is clear is that Osama bin Laden is somebody, again, that does not have the kind of freedom or liberty of movement that he used to have; the tapes we have seen are the first that we've seen in three years; that Ayman al-Zawahiri is the person who has been a lot more active and aggressive in terms of trying to be the ideological leader.

But bin Laden is somebody who is a symbolic leader of al Qaeda. Certainly, the capture of bin Laden will be of enormous symbolic importance. But the fact is that the war against terror is not the war against one guy, Osama bin Laden, it is against a network that uses all sorts of ways of trying to recruit new terrorists, whether it be through the Internet or through training facilities or so on. And it is the responsibility of this government in protecting the American people to pursue terrorists wherever we find them, and, by the way, also, to develop the capability and the intelligence capacity to know what they're doing so that we can protect the American people.

Q But, Tony, years passed --

MR. SNOW: This will -- I know you want a hand-wringing sort of --

Q No, I don't want hand-wringing. No, this is major, this is major, because he is still out there. He attacked the United States . And many people are concerned that other things have been used as a diversionary tactic. And I'm just trying to get a handle on --

MR. SNOW: Other things have been used as a diversionary tactic -- what does that mean?