September 21, 2001 08:24 AM

Americans overwhelmingly support Bush’s decision to use force should the Taliban refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden to U.S. authorities. Ninety-one percent of Americans polled immediately after Bush’s Thursday night speech agree with the way he handled last week’s attacks, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Eight in ten Americans watched the president’s speech and liked what they heard. The same number felt more confident in the country’s ability to deal with the crisis after hearing Bush’s speech. In that speech, given to Congress and the nation Thursday night, President Bush said that unless the Taliban hands Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda associates over to the U.S., they, and the Taliban, will be punished. “Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land,” Bush said. “Close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities.” He also warned other nations that house and abet international terrorism that they, too, could expect to be attacked by the U.S. and its allies. “Great harm has been done to us. But in our grief and anger, we have found our mission, and our moment,” Bush said. “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” To an audience that included several New York City police officers and firefighters, as well as Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki, Bush demanded that the Taliban free American citizens it currently holds captive. He also warned Americans to respect those of different religious faiths and ethnic groups.

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