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President Bush speaks to area crowd

'I don't know what the terrorists were thinking. . .'
he tells gathering at Oak Park High School

by Danielle Hillix
Landmark reporter

Several Platte County citizens and leaders gathered son Tuesday to have their sense of security reassured by the man in position to do the most assuring—the President of the United States.

President George W. Bush addressed a crowd of several hundred people for approximately 35 minutes in the full gymnasium of Oak Park High School in the Northland, focusing on America post-Sept. 11 and his proposed Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department.

"I don't know what was going through the heads of the terrorists," Bush said as he began his speech. "They must've thought that Americans were so materialistic that we'd just file a couple lawsuits. But we love freedom and if someone takes it away from us, we will respond."

President Bush spoke in limited detail about his response to the terrorism—the Homeland Security proposal. He went on to emphasize the need to streamline government and "align government functions."

"Right now, there are 100 different government entities responsible for homeland security. I want more accountability than that, because I know who the American people will hold accountable if something happens," Bush said.

With the development of the Homeland Security plan, Bush hopes to create more accountability by grouping these 100-plus entities together under the umbrella of one department.

This department will then take on four main responsibilities of Homeland Security—protecting the border, supporting first responders (firefighters, paramedics, police, etc.), weapon detection, and intelligence.

The prevention of something happening is the responsibility of everyone, President Bush made clear.

"When people ask what they can do to help, I tell them: love your neighbor like you would like to be loved yourself."

The federal government will also rely on local leaders to prevent future terrorist attacks.

"We don't have all the smarts in Washington," the President said.

Many Platte County leaders were on hand to hear the President's message. County commissioners Betty Knight, Michael Short, and Steve Wegner were all in attendance, as was Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks.

Congressman Sam Graves was also announced to strong applause.

"Sam must have some cousins in the audience," Bush quipped.

While in town, President Bush toured a Kansas City water treatment fac