WASHINGTON – President Bush will remind America Tuesday night that the war against terror won't end in Afghanistan.
As the president prepares the finishing touches on his first State of the Union address, administration officials say he will mention that "tens of thousands" of terrorists have been trained in Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda camps, and those terrorists were then sent across the world to wage war against America.
The administration is particularly concerned about Yemen, calling the nation a nest of Al Qaeda terrorists. "They're still out there waiting to hit us," one official said.
Earlier Bush senior adviser Karen Hughes said 100,000 terrorists had been trained by Al Qaeda, but senior officials said the number is closer to 20,000. The 100,000 applies to all Afghanistan-based fighters who have been trained by external forces, including the Soviets and United States.
Presidential aides say the address will focus almost entirely on security; domestic issues "will not be a very significant part of the speech," according to aides. Bush will focus on the war and what officials call the continuing danger of an attack in this country.
Officials are particularly anxious about upcoming high profile events, especially Sunday's Super Bowl and the upcoming Winter Olympics. One high-ranking official said the U.S. must stop terrorists at almost any cost short of breaching the Constitution.
Bush gave congressional leaders a preview of the speech during a breakfast meeting Tuesday. Both Republicans and Democrats emerged talking about bipartisanship, but admitting it won't be easy.
"It will be particularly hard, it being an election year, but the American people expect that of us," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. "We have an opportunity to come together, find agreement on key issues ... to make sure we do the right thing in giving some stimulus to the economy and getting an agriculture bill soon so the farmers know what they can expect."
Lott added that a national energy policy and trade promotion authority are also high priorities for Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., listed a number of legislative objectives, but said there are significant differences between the parties on non-security issues.
"The president wants to address, as he should, the war on terror and homeland security and, as we have from the very beginning, there's been a great deal of bipartisan support for the effort that he has undertaken," Daschle said. "There's a tremendous interest in a number of domestic issues as well. We'll be continuing to work on our economic stimulus bill, the energy bill, the farm bill and trade promotion authority legislation."
According to aides, Bush is hoping to use his strong public support on security issues to push his domestic agenda on the Democratic-controlled Senate.
But on security issues, the president has asked for a $10 billion war reserve for the Pentagon's 2003 budget. Aides say privately that Bush believes there is a likelihood that military activity will continue in 2003.
Bush is also expected to warn North Korea, Iran and Iraq that their actions will not go unnoticed. There is concern Iraq has upgraded its Scud missiles to carry bigger warheads a longer distance.
The president will add a non-military component to the war on terror, expanding the Peace Corps into the Arab world. He will also use U.S. clout to push more Islamic countries to respect the rule of law and tolerance, women's rights and the freedom of the press.