President Bush will seek to rally domestic support for a battle on terrorism in a televised speech to the U.S. Congress Thursday night.
He is expected to detail the threat posed by alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden while seeking to reassure an anxious public.
Bush aides said the president will describe efforts the administration will make to stimulate the economy, stabilize the airline industry, improve airline safety and head off future attacks. But National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said he will also underscore the potential sacrifices that will be necessary in 'a very long campaign'' that could be as much 'a war of will and mind'' as of armies and beachheads.
After meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, Bush said he would use his second speech to the U.S. Congress since becoming president to 'urge our fellow Americans to go back to work and to work hard.'' But he said he would also emphasize that 'we must be on alert'' while the government works hard to 'run down every lead, every opportunity to find someone who would want to hurt any American.''
Bush and senior administration officials spent another day lining up international support for military, financial and economic actions that the president said would be designed to locate terrorist leaders, 'get them out of their caves, get them moving, cut off their finances.'' Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Germany and Russia were in Washington for consultations.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told Secretary of State Colin Powell that Russia would not object if the United States sought to enlist former Soviet republics in Central Asia for the campaign against bin Laden despite some recent opposition from leaders in Moscow, according to a senior State Department official. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan could provide important bases and logistical support for any military campaign in neighboring Afghanistan.
The White House and U.S. Congress, seeking to repair economic damage from last week's terrorist attacks and head off recession, are preparing an emergency package of more than $100 billion worth of tax cuts and spending increases that could match those of the early Vietnam War buildup, according to key congressional staffers and independent budget analysts.
Although key proposals could be scaled back during the usual political infighting of the legislative process, senior congressional budget staffers estimate that new tax cuts and spending programs could end up totaling between $115 billion and $180 billion next fiscal year alone, and amount to almost 2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
Nervousness was reflected on Wall Street. Stocks plummeted again Wednesday, although the market rebounded dramatically late in the day as word spread that the United States was moving more military forces to the Persian Gulf.
At its lowest point, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 423 points, or 4.8 percent. The blue-chip index closed down 144.27 points, or 1.6 percent, at 8,759.13 in very heavy trading.
The United States' two biggest airlines said Wednesday they were cutting 40,000 jobs, adding pressure to congressional leaders and White House officials who are rushing to craft a multibillion-dollar aid package for the industry.
The announcements by American Airlines and United Airlines'which are cutting or laying off 20,000 employees each'came as executives of the nation's carriers warned a U.S. House of Representatives committee that the industry's growing cash crunch since last week's terrorist attacks will push a number of airlines into bankruptcy.
Lawmakers from both parties expressed support for an airline-industry rescue plan, which could come before the U.S. House as early as Thursday. Bush administration officials and congressional leaders were still working on details of a plan Wednesday.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. carriers have slashed their flights by a about 20 percent and announced more than 68,000 layoffs, and analysts predict as many as 100,000 are likely.
A series of false bomb threats were made against airliners at the same time that hijacked planes were flying toward New York and Washington, D.C., last week, and government investigators say they believe it was probably accomplices of the hijackers attempting to confuse air traffic controllers.
Sources close to the investigation of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also said tapes of air traffic radio transmissions indicate that hijackers on two planes who thought they were using the airliner's public address system to tell passengers to remain calm were actually talking to air traffic controllers. Whether this was through crew trickery or hijacker mistakes may never be known.
Investigators began to suspect a possible link between the hijacking and the false bomb threats when they interviewed an air traffic controller in the Cleveland en route control center, who had charge of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11 when it turned south toward Washington, ultimately crashing in a Pennsylvania field.