Bush braces Americans for sacrifice and tells military ``get ready'' for war

Saturday, September 15th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush ordered U.S. troops to get ready for war and braced Americans for a long, difficult assault against terrorists to avenge the deadliest attack on the nation. ``Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction,'' he declared Saturday.

``We will smoke them out of their holes,'' Bush vowed. ``We'll get them running and we'll bring them to justice.''

But first the nation had to bury its dead. ``This is indeed a sad occasion, one to be repeated thousands of times by our fellow citizens across the country,'' Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said at the funeral for Barbara Olson, wife of U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson.

She was among the 64 passengers and crew members on American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. Rescue workers searched with diminishing hopes in the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York and the crash-scarred Pentagon for any survivors.

Four days after hijackers seized commercial airliners and slammed them into the symbols of American military and economic might, the president said that prime suspect Osama bin Laden's days are numbered. ``If he thinks he can hide and run from the United States and our allies he will be sorely mistaken.''

``This act will not stand,'' he said.

The vow recalled the words of his father, former President Bush who put Iraq on notice in 1990 that the United States would not tolerate the invasion of Kuwait. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice _ who played key roles in the Persian Gulf War _ huddled with Bush under extraordinary security Saturday at Camp David in western Maryland.

``We're at war,'' the commander in chief said.

``Everybody who wears the uniform: Get ready,'' Bush instructed. The White House would not rule out the use of ground troops.

As for civilians, the president urged Americans to go about their lives but cautioned the threat might not be over. He said there should be ``a heightened sense of awareness that a group of barbarians have declared war on the American people.''

As American struggled to find a sense of normalcy, jarring developments kept them on edge.

_Recovery workers found many bodies at the Pentagon where officials believe 189 people were killed.

_Workers toiled in the muck and stink of what was the World Trade Center in New York, finding a small fraction of the thousands of bodies buried beneath tons of rubble.

_Continental Airlines laid off 12,000 employees and cut its flight schedule by 20 percent because of an expected drop in air travel.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, with Bush at Camp David, said that investigators ``are beginning to understand the ways in which this terrible crime was committed.''

Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Pakistan has offered to ``assist us in whatever might be required.'' Pakistan shares a 1,560-mile border with Afghanistan, which is believed to be harboring bin Laden.

One day after leading the nation in prayer, Bush changed his tone to begin preparing Americans for sacrifices ahead.

``I will not settle for a token act. Our response will be sweeping, sustained and effective,'' he said. ``We have much to do and much to ask of the American people.''

His advisers said that fighting terrorists will expose U.S. troops to severe risk and American citizens to retaliatory strikes. Bush did not speak in such blunt terms, but used his weekly radio address to raise the first words of caution.

``You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength, because the course to victory may be long,'' he said.

Bush sounded a patriotic chord as citizens emptied store shelves of U.S. flags and other American emblems, held fund-raising drives and gave blood.

``A terrorist attack designed to tear us apart has instead bound us together as a nation,'' he said. ``They have stirred up the might of the American people.''

Vengeance will come, he promised.

``We will find those who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes. We'll get them running, and we'll bring them to justice,'' he said.

``Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them,'' Bush said. ``We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism.''

Bush did not mention his father's Persian Gulf War, but spoke of a new type of battle.

``This is a conflict without battlefields or beachheads, a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible. Yet they are mistaken,'' the president said. ``They will be exposed.''

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