Bush- Bin Laden may have 'slithered out' of Afghanistan

Saturday, December 22, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Osama bin Laden may "slither out" of Afghanistan, but he won't escape the global reach of U.S. forces, President Bush said Friday. He said the United States would send troops to nations seeking help to hunt down terrorists.

In a bluntly worded call for help, the president said to world leaders: "Thank you for your condolences. I appreciate your flowers. Now arrest somebody if they're in your country."

Gathering reporters in the Oval Office for an end-of-the-year review, Bush pronounced 2001 a success for the Republican domestic agenda and America's budding war on terrorism. He praised lawmakers for cutting taxes and reshaping federal education programs, but called Congress' failure to pass economic legislation "a big disappointment."

The war on terrorism dominated the conversation, just as it consumed the final three months of Bush's first year in office.

"The country is more secure today and less vulnerable to attack than before Sept. 11, because the enemy has made it clear that we are a target, and we've responded," the president said 101 days after suicide hijackings over New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

"Is it still totally safe? No. And that's why, as I've told you, my main job -- my main worry -- for America is to prevent another attack," he said.

Bush did not reveal his next target, but said the United States will reap intelligence gains and track terrorists across the globe.

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