WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today commemorated the 7th anniversary of September 11th by attending a ceremony to dedicate the new Pentagon Memorial and participating in a Congressional ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The Pentagon memorial was built along the southwestern corner of the Pentagon and is the first national memorial to those killed on Sept 11, to be dedicated. The memorial consists of 184 individual memorial units honoring the 59 people aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 in the Pentagon who lost their lives at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001. Senator Inhofe also spoke on the Senate Floor this afternoon to honor those who lost their lives on September 11 and praise the many who have worked to make the nation safer over the past seven years.
"On this national day of remembrance, my thoughts and prayers go out not only to those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001, but also to those who protect our nation from harm. Law enforcement, first responders, and our men and women in uniform deserve our support, our gratitude and our thanks. On this solemn day, Kay and I once again say ‘Thank You and God Bless.'"
Inhofe Senate Floor Remarks
This morning I was honored to attend the ceremony to dedicate the new Pentagon Memorial. The Pentagon Memorial was built along the southwestern corner of the Pentagon and is the first national memorial to those killed on Sept. 11 to be dedicated. The memorial consists of 184 individual memorial units honoring the 59 people aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 in the Pentagon who lost their lives at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Today we remember the nearly 3,000 American citizens who perished at the hands of an enemy that has no regard for the sanctity of human life. This is an enemy devoted to extinguishing the world's beacon of hope, prosperity and freedom. While that enemy has failed to extinguish the fire of democracy that burns so bright in this country, the fight is not over and we must never lose sight of this fact. This fight against terrorism is not a sprint. It is a marathon, and we must remain vigilant, determined and strong.
Remaining vigilant means understanding our past and what brought us to where we are now. It is not about today or tomorrow but about many tomorrows.
It is about our grandchildren's grandchildren and the world they will live in. Our nation paid a heavy price that day and we must never forget ...the Pentagon in flames...the towers that fell...the heroes who forced a plane into the ground, and most importantly, the loved ones we lost.
Seven years later we continue to fight for the oppressed and, more importantly, help the oppressed fight for themselves. With our coalition partners and allies, we continue to take the fight to the enemy at the time and place of our choosing...keeping them on the run and constantly looking over their shoulders. We have pursued the enemy in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, the Philippines and the Horn of Africa. There is no place the enemy can hide that we will not pursue.
Together with 39 other nations, we have freed the Afghan people from the oppressive and barbaric Taliban. We have taken away Al Qaeda's base of operations and freedom of movement, forcing them into the no man's land between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We have trained the Afghan National Army as they have grown to 65,000 troops and they are on track to reach their mandated strength of 86,000 by 2009. We have defeated the Taliban at every encounter, killed or captured over 60 of their senior leaders. We have helped Afghanistan build its infrastructure with over 1,000 buildings and 11,000 kilometers of roads. There are now more Afghan children in school than at any other time in their history.
The Iraqi people have been liberated from a tyrannical leader, and they are standing together to create a free and democratic country. We have and continue to work with nations around the world to help them defeat terrorism on their own by building global partnerships. We have increased the number and funding for these "train and equip" programs which help strengthen counter insurgency and military forces around the world. As our President has said, "To strike our country, the terrorists only have to be right once; to protect our country, we have to be right 100 percent of the time."
In the aftermath of September 11th, as a nation, we have worked together to:
-Pass the Patriot Act which broke down the walls between federal law enforcement and intelligence communities
-Create the Department of Homeland Security merging 22 different government organizations
-Create the position of the Director of National Intelligence to seamlessly integrate operations of intelligence agencies
-Create the National Counter Terrorism Center where agencies work side by side tracking terrorist threats across the globe
-Direct the National Security Agency to monitor international terrorist communications
-Create the Treasury's office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to track down and stop the terrorists funding
-Place state-of-the-art equipment in major cities in the United States to detect nuclear or radiological weapons and biological agents
-Place advanced screening equipment and Homeland Security personnel at foreign ports to pre-screen cargo headed for the US
And in so doing, we have prevented our enemies from striking again and captured many who have tried.
In December 2001, we captured an Al Qaeda operative named Ali Salih al-Mari in the United States who we believe was targeting water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange, and United States military academies. Al-Mari offered himself as a martyr to Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the mastermind of 9/11, who sent him to the U.S. after he received training in poisons at an Al Qaeda camp.
In 2002, we broke up two other post-9/11 aviation plots - one targeting the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the other targeting the East Coast. An Al Qaeda leader in Southeast Asia known as Hambali recruited Jemaah Islamiyah operatives who are less conspicuous.
In August 2006, we helped British authorities break up a plot to blow up passenger airplanes flying to America which could have rivaled 9/11. They had planned to blow up as many as 12 U.S.-bound passenger jets using liquid explosives hidden in carry on luggage. U.S. and British authorities had the group under surveillance for many months. Several of the suspects were British citizens of Pakistani origin.
In May 2007, we disrupted a plot by a group of Al Qaeda-inspired extremists to kill American soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Their capture was a result of a 16 month investigation by Justice Dept and FBI who were tipped off by an alert citizen, a video processing worker. Suspects had taken an incriminating video to the store to be transferred to a DVD. Video showed calls for jihad and radical and violent ranting in Arabic, including images of the men firing assault weapons.
In June 2007, four men were indicted in an alleged plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport by blowing up a jet fuel supply. They planned to hit fuel farms and a 40-mile aviation fuel supply pipeline. Suspects were tied to extremists groups in South America and Caribbean, specifically Guyana and Trinidad. One suspect was a former airport cargo worker.
Where we have been and what we have accomplished over the last seven years is truly astounding.
Our Nation and the world are safer because we have taken the fight to the enemy at the same time that we have protected our homeland. We should be proud of our Nation and all those that have protected her freedom and have fought against tyranny. But we still need to do more. Our enemy constantly adapts and we must continue to improve our intelligence collection capabilities, our security measures at airports, train stations, bus stations or public events, and our ability to respond to another attack.
We must remain committed to fighting against the extremists and their hate filled ideology in every corner that they hide and in so doing, inspire people of the world to reject the terrorists and what they stand for. We must keep them on the run, disorganized, without the opportunity to plan another 9/11 or a 7/7 in London or an 11/3 in Madrid. Our enemy is trying to cause us harm and we must continue to do all we can to prevent that. It will take the continued effort of this entire nation as well as the entire globe to rid this world of terrorism and make extremists an endangered species.
We must remain true to the cause of freedom and the road that President Bush has set us on. And as President Kennedy said so many years ago, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."