WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters)–President George W. Bush led an angry nation in mourning on Friday for the thousands of dead and missing in this week’s aerial assaults–somberly vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice "at an hour of our choosing" as Congress started authorizing the use of force.
Some 35,000 reservists were called to duty and Congress approved $40 billion to fund military and recovery operations in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks by hijacked commercial aircraft on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
In New York–"ground zero" for the worst attack ever on American soil–rescue efforts were hampered by driving rain. The president visited the city later in the day. As the dead and missing were remembered in church services and momen’s of silent prayer around the nation and the world–Bush and US leaders past and present took part in an ecumenical service at the Washington National Cathedral.
Joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton–George Bush–Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford–as well as his election rival of last year Al Gore–Bush expressed the nation’s anguish and grief as well as determination to hit back.
"This nation is peaceful–but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing," Bush said in his brief address at the National Cathedral. When he returned to his seat–his father–former President George Bush–reached over and proudly grabbed his hand.
President Bush took a helicopter tour of the blasted-out site of the World Trade Center on Friday as he began a trip to New York to view the damage of Tuesday’s deadly aerial attacks.
Accompanied by New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki on Marine One–Bush surveyed the wreckage from the air before landing in lower Manhattan to visit rescue workers and inspect the destruction first hand.
Fighter jets escorted the presidential plane–Air Force One–from the Washington area and accompanied the helicopters as they toured the scene. Bush flew to an Air Force base in New Jersey with a 37-member delegation of lawmakers from New York–New Jersey and Connecticut before setting off in the helicopter.
On Wednesday Bush visited the Pentagon–which like the World Trade Center was hit by a hijacked airplane in Tuesday’s coordinated attacks.
As the president pledged retaliation–investigators scrambled to track the perpetrators of Tuesday’s carnage and their supporters.
Authorities released 19 names of people they said hijacked four planes in an operation that took great skill and careful planning. The United States has singled out Saudi-born extremist Osama bin Laden as a chief suspect in the case and Secretary of State Colin Powell warned nations that if they harbored terrorists they could be at risk.
Pakistan’s military government tightened security Friday as fears grew the United States might take action against neighboring Afghanistan for giving bin Laden a safe haven.
The attacks have also spurred fears that the world economy could be driven into a recession. US markets were closed until Monday but signs of economic unrest abounded.
European shares tumbled 5 percent–the dollar fell sharply and oil prices soared Friday as concerns mounted that the attacks could spark escalating violence in the Middle East. The dollar tumbled to its lowest levels in more than six months against European currencies and the yen on Friday as the pessimism mounted.
The US Senate unanimously approved a resolution on Friday authorizing President Bush to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against the perpetrators. The House of Representatives also was expected to back the bipartisan measure requested by the president.
Hundreds are confirmed dead and almost 5,000 reported missing in Tuesday’s attacks–which demolished the soaring twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center–turned its financial district into a desolate and ruined war zone–and tore a giant hole in the heart of the Pentagon–the symbol and headquarters of America’s military might.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld activated 35,000 reservists to provide "strike-alert" jet fighter protection and perform other duties at domestic military bases.
The Justice Department amended earlier reports that 18 hijackers were involved–saying it had determined there were in fact 19–seven of whom were pilots. Their names were: Marwan Al Shehhi; Fayez Ahmed; Mohald Alshehri; Hamza Alghamdi; Ahmed Alghamdi; Waleed M. Alshehri; Wail Alshehri; Mohamed Atta; Abdulaziz Alomari; Satam Al Suqami; Khalid Al-Midhar; Majed Moqed; Nawaq Alhamzi; Salem Alhamzi; Hani Hanjour; Ahmed Alhaznawi; Ahmed Alnami; Ziad Jarrahi; and Saeed Alghamdi.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the hijackers were believed to have several associates still at large.
The nation remained jittery after agents in combat gear stormed a plane at New York’s Kennedy airport on Thursday and detained a number of people. Officials later said it was a false alarm.
At the soaring–neo-Gothic National Cathedral–after brief words by Imam Muzammil Siddiqi and Rabbi Joshua Haberman–evangelist Rev. Billy Graham gave the main sermon–rallying Americans of all ethnic backgrounds–religions and political stripes to unity and calling on help from God.
"We’re facing a new kind of enemy–we’re involved in a new kind of warfare and we need the help of the spirit of God," said Graham–aged 83 and often referred to as the "nation’s minister." Following him to the podium–Bush said Americans felt a responsibility to history to answer the attacks "and rid the world of evil."
The service was a brief pause for a nation that is girding itself for what Bush has called "the first war of the 21st century" against those behind the attack and the countries that harbor them. Saudi-born Islamic militant Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government of Afghanistan that shelters him head the list of potential targets.
Television networks continued round-the-clock coverage and sporting events were canceled. Americans raced to buy US flags and flocked to prayer services–avidly following the many heartbreaking stories of people still awaiting word about their missing loved ones.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on Thursday the list of those missing from the attack that crumpled the 110-story twin towers in the heart of New York’s financial district totals 4,763 people–a figure that was not updated on Friday.
The Defense Department said 126 people were missing at the Pentagon–with another 64 people on board the plane that struck it. Forty-five people were on a fourth hijacked plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
Heavy rain fell in New York–turning the site of destruction into a sludgy nightmare–slowing the labor of sifting through the rubble for body parts and evidence.
Several other nearby buildings tottered on unstable foundations–posing a new threat to the thousands of exhausted rescue workers.
At the Pentagon–an official said searchers had found both black boxes–the flight data and voice data recorders–from the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Officials previously located the flight recorder in the Pennsylvania crash. But the boxes recovered from the Pentagon were reported to be badly damaged by the impact and may not be able to help.
Bin Laden–who has been reported to have denied involvement–is based in Afghanistan under the protection of the radical Islamic Taliban government. He was quoted by aides as calling the carnage "punishment from almighty Allah."
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the United States had yet to decide definitively if bin Laden were behind the attacks. One senior official said more than one extremist organization might have been involved.
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban warned of revenge "by other means" if the United States attacked the country in retaliation for the attacks.
Retaliation options being mulled by US officials ranged from heavy bombing to elite troop strikes.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Friday showed nearly nine in 10 Americans approved of Bush’s job performance–a huge leap in the aftermath of the crisis.
Nearly seven out of 10 Americans supported military action against the groups or nations responsible for the attacks–even if that meant a long war with heavy US casualties–the poll found.