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Bush orders strike on web site

Bush raises his hand in a futile attempt to block the picture before seeing it.
Bush raises his hand in a futile attempt to block the picture before seeing it.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- At an unexpected press conference this morning, President Bush announced that on his orders a combined attack was launched by the United States Air Force and Navy on computers hosting an Internet site formerly located at

Although full details of the raid are still forthcoming, the President apparantly encountered the web site while using the Internet last night. Immediately, he ordered the strike and Pentagon planners worked through the night to prepare for the dawn mission.

"This is the first time our military has fought on American soil since the Civil War," Bush said, "but I think that those of you who have seen the site will agree the use of force was at least as justified today as it was in 1860."

Although the military is still analyzing the results of the attack, Bush added, the raid was believed to be a complete success. However, he did not rule out the possibility of future strikes against mirror sites.

U.S. President George W. Bush discusses Kyoto treaty and missile defense in Britain. CNN's John King reports (July 19)

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Web Site Hosted Near Kansas City

According to National Security Officer Condoleeza Rice, who answered press questions after the president's statement, the servers hosting the web site were based near Kansas City. "Despite the .cx domain, this atrocity was actually located in the Kansas City area."

Rice said the attack, launched from McConnel Air Force Base in Kansas, was carried out by an unspecified number of B1 strategic bombers escorted by F-16 fighters. Rice declined to say if the F-16 fighters also carried bombs in an attack role.

Asked about possible collateral damage to innocent American civilians in the heavily populated Kansas City area, Rice characterized civilian losses as "light".

Navy Bombers Hit Christmas Island

As the Air Force bombs fell in Kansas, fighters from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Carl Vinson attacked selected sites in the Christmas Islands, home of the .cx domain

"Although Christmas Island does not actually host the offending web site, it was felt that we needed to be sure the URL could not be reactivated," Bush said of the attack.

The press was not given any firm details but preliminary reports indicate F/A-18 attack aircraft bombed the Christmas Island Technology Centre, responsible for handling .cx domain registrations, as well as sever and telecommunications centers elsewhere on the island.

The Australian ambassador to Washington, Michael Thawley, admitted "something had to be done" but questioned why the Australian government had not been consulted.

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia.

Bush and Blair at their news conference Thursday.
At the press conference, Bush winces as he remembers the picture.  

Reactions Positive At Home, Mixed World-Wide

As might be expected, Republican leadership praised the action. "President Bush has once again made a bold step towards assuring the mental peace of mind of both American citizens and people around the world," said Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Support on Capitol Hill, however, was unusually bipartisan. "The will of the American people on this issue was clear," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, referring to a recent Gallup poll which indicated an unprecendented 98% of Americans wanted the web site taken down.

"The ascendancy of in truth threatened the entire Internet," said Jon Katz, self-appointed Internet expert and contributor to a popular web site, "as it betrayed the trust that an Internet user implicitly gives when clicking on a link."

American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Ira Glasser provided a lone note of dissent. "Because the servers were hosted in the United States the picture on the web page was protected by the First Amendment. We should not stand for this censorship."

Asked about Glasser's objection during a press conference on his education initiatives later that day, President Bush retorted, "If that's constitutionally protected, I'm moving to Singapore."

Around the world, reactions to the strikes were more varied.

"They blew up that awful goatsex website?" Tony Blair asked when a BBC television reporter told him of the news. "Thank God someone has finally taken action."

Across the English channel, where European leaders have lately been harshly critical of Bush, reactions were not so positive. "I see it as another example the close-mindedness that has defined the Bush administration," said a high ranking EU official.

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was concerned about the innocent lives taken and wished "the U.S. had done this through more traditional channels as with the AYB incident," referring to the 22-nation U.N. Peacekeeper force which occupied the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy during the "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" crisis.

Annan also cast doubt on the accuracy of Bush's assertion that the picture posted at the website constituted a crime against humanity, "although I can see where he's coming from on that one."

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