President George W. Bush said on Monday the US stood with Britain in the face of terrorism, and vowed to continue to fight “until this enemy is defeated”.
“Just as America and Great Britain stood together to defeat the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, we now stand together against the murderous ideologies of the 21st century,” the president said. He spoke minutes after Tony Blair, the British prime minister, addressed the House of Commons about last week's bomb attacks.
Mr Bush's speech at the Federal Bureau of Investigation academy in Quantico, Virginia, was planned before the London attacks, but the bombings gave his remarks new urgency.
While critics of the war in Iraq have called it a distraction from the war on terror, Mr Bush continued to link the two.
“In the war on terror, Iraq is now the central front,” the president said. “The terrorists fight in Iraq because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake.”
Mr Bush provided an update on his administration's strategy in the war on terror, as well as its accomplishments. “When terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks,” he said.
In spite of those efforts, he acknowledged: “We know that there's no such thing as perfect security and that in a free and open society it is impossible to protect against every threat.”
In a CNN/Gallup poll released on Friday, 47 per cent said the London bombings made them more worried about another attack in the US, while 39 per cent said they were not more worried. Homeland security officials have taken a high public profile since the London blasts, underscoring steps taken to guard against future attacks.
But Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, complained on Monday that the Bush administration had not spent enough to protect US cities.
Mr Reid said the US spent more in Iraq in a single month than the annual budget for “first responders” police, fire and other emergency response services. “Failure in Iraq is not an option, and we will continue to support our troops but we must do more to support the war on terror here at home.”
To help win the war on terror, Mr Bush called on Congress to renew the Patriot Act, enacted quickly after the terror attacks of September 11 2001 to give investigators a range of new tools to pursue suspected terrorists. Portions of law are set to expire at the end of the year.
Current and former US government officials have argued that the US is safer from terrorist attacks than many European nations as a result of its more aggressive investigation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. The UK has tolerated Islamist radicals and allowed them to operate more freely, they have suggested, even as Washington has tried since September 11 to disrupt these groups. Frances Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said on Fox News the Patriot Act had allowed the US to “get ahead” of potential terrorist attacks.