WASHINGTON – Reaction from the U.S. Congress (search) to the terror attacks in London on Thursday was swift and forceful among Republicans and Democrats alike, who quickly condemned the bombings and offered solidarity with the British people.
"Americans extend their deepest sympathies to Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) and the people of London. These terrorist attacks are an attempt to shake our resolve and to disrupt our way of life. Just as the United Kingdom stood with America after the September 11th attacks, we stand with the British people today and continue to stand firm in waging the war on terrorism," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said the attack against Great Britain is an attack against all free nations. "All Americans stand with our brave British allies today as always, united in our prayers, mourning and our resolve," he said.
"My heart goes out to the British people. They are a wonderful, strong people, and I know that all Americans stand with them on this tragic day. This senator offers her help in any way possible," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
At least 37 people were reported dead and at least 700 others were wounded in attacks in London that appeared to coincide with the opening of the G-8 summit of industrialized nations (search). Unofficial reports said at least 40 people were killed and 1,000 people injured.
A previously uncredited terror cell, "Secret Group of Al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe," claimed responsibility in the name of Al Qaeda (search) for the blasts, saying they were in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the attacks in London demonstrate that "preventing terrorist attacks is tough business."
"But the notion that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them in our cities is clearly false. It is past time to face the fact that the nature of the threat has changed. It is not confined to a battle zone, like Iraq or Afghanistan. It is everywhere," she said.
This year's G-8 summit was the first since the Sept. 11, 2001 (search), terror attacks on the United States that did not have counterterrorism and security as a primary theme. Instead, the summit was focused on global environmental issues and fighting poverty in Africa and elsewhere.
"On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn't be clearer," President Bush said after Blair, the host of this year's summit, left the meetings to return to London.
Many U.S. lawmakers echoed Bush in saying that the bombings in London demonstrated the juxtaposition between the industrialized nations that have gathered to extend assistance to less-developed nations versus terrorists who seek to destroy those countries aiming to help others.
"Today's savage attacks once again remind us of the nature of this war and our enemies," DeLay said. "As the civilized world gathered in Scotland to combat poverty, help the environment, and end the scourge of AIDS, evil men targeted innocent people for murder in the street."
"We must reaffirm that cold-blooded killers will not for a moment stop the critical work of the G-8 nations in showing the world the strength of our shared values and our commitment to ending poverty around the globe. The terrorists should hear from all of us today: The future belongs not to fear, but to freedom," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate.
"We must also be vigilant here at home to take every step needed to complete the unfinished work of homeland security, strengthening our port security, rail security, protecting chemical plants, and securing loose nuclear materials abroad. While these attacks remind us that the fight is far from over, they also strengthen our resolve to stand together for the right of free people to live in a peaceful world," Kerry said.
The attacks, three on the city's Underground subway system and one on a double-decker bus that is used for tourists, resembled an attack on Madrid's railway system in March 2004 that killed nearly 200 people. The hits show that transportation points appear to be a favorite target of terrorists.
Hours after the attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (search) said that the federal government was raising the threat level for mass transit in the United States despite no knowledge of an imminent attack. The level was going to orange, or high, the second highest level, from yellow or elevated.
"The intent of Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations to attack in Europe and the United States has been well-documented and continues to be reflected in intelligence reporting. We've already taken additional measures to secure transit systems since 9/11 and since the railway bombing in Madrid," Chertoff said, adding that all necessary precautions are being taken to increase security of transportation systems.
The bombings apparently also prompted Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to look at tightening ground transportation systems. He announced he would introduce amendments to the Homeland Security appropriations bill that would double the current $100 million proposed for mass transit and rail security and double funding to $20 million for bus security improvements, particularly for New York.
"Following the attack on Madrid's rail system, the terrible terrorist attack in London is our second wake-up call to greatly improve our rail and mass transit security here in America. It is clear that we're not doing close to enough and must do more. The soft underbelly of buses and subways and railroads are fully exposed to similar terrorist attacks unless we take real steps to beef up mass transit security immediately," Schumer said.
Others suggested that despite tightening security, the fight against terror will not let up.
"The terrorists who committed these atrocities have no respect for human life or the rule of law and must know that people around the world will remain vigilant in fighting to protect the freedom of human life and to eliminate global terrorism. The United States stands with the people of Great Britain and will work with the British government to bring those responsible for these heinous acts to justice," said Rep. Robert Wexler, a member of the House Judiciary and International Relations Committees.