WASHINGTON -- A month after the deadliest attack on America, President Bush said Thursday the government was taking ''every possible step to protect our country'' from more terrorism. U.S. warplanes hit Afghanistan with bombs for a fifth day, while the United States and its allies reported freezing $24 million in assets of Osama bin Laden and his supporters.
There were memorial services around the nation to remember the more than 5,000 people killed when suicide hijackers seized four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside.
The FBI issued a public warning that intelligence indicated a possible new terrorist strike in the next few days. Bush said the alert was issued because of ''a general threat we received'' and urged all Americans to report any suspicious activity.
The Senate approved legislation to boost aviation security. It authorizes air marshals on commercial flights, directs that steps be taken to fortify cockpit doors, increases anti-hijacking training for flight crews and imposes a $2.50 passenger fee per flight leg to pay for the changes.
Bush, meanwhile, used the first prime-time news conference of his presidency to update Americans on the global effort to fight terrorism since Sept. 11. He noted that citizens should report suspicious activity, but avoid using that as a chance ''to pick on somebody that doesn't look like you or share your religion.''
''Americans tonight can know that while the threat is ongoing, we're taking every possible step to protect our country from danger,'' Bush said.
The president started the day at an emotional service on an unscathed side of the Pentagon. Troops with machine guns stood guard in camouflage as Bush and his wife, Laura, were joined by former President Clinton, dozens of members of Congress, relatives of attack victims and thousands of guests.
Outside the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that U.S. bombing in Afghanistan now is aimed at leaders of bin Laden's al-Qaida network and the nation's Taliban rulers.
Rumsfeld said it was likely that bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was still hiding in the Afghan hills.
Bush assembled his Cabinet for an update on the anti-terrorism effort, and called his first formal East Room news conference to talk about the U.S. terrorism response of the past month.
The government so far has questioned more than 600 people suspected of involvement in the attacks, and has frozen $24 billion in assets, Bush said. ''We want the terrorists to know that we're after them in all kinds of ways, and one good way to make them ineffective is to cut off their money,'' he said.
Bush also asked Congress for action on other domestic matters: passage of trade promotion authority and Senate approval of his House-passed energy proposal, which has languished since Sept. 11.
Vice President Dick Cheney returned to the White House for the first time since Sunday's U.S.-led airstrikes. He attended a war planning meeting, officials said, but left before Bush's news conference. Cheney has been staying at a secure location away from the White House to ensure continuous government in the event of another attack.
Bush called the suicide hijackers ''instruments of evil who died in vain.''
''Theirs is the worst kind of violence, pure malice while daring to claim the authority of God,'' Bush said at the Pentagon. ''We gave that regime a choice: Turn over the terrorists or face your ruin. They chose unwisely. Today, for al-Qaida and the Taliban, there is no shelter. ... They will be isolated, surrounded, cornered until there is no place to run or hide or rest.''
The crowd of several thousand gave Bush standing ovations and enthusiastic applause. They joined the president and first lady Laura Bush in waving small American flags as a military choir sang ''Battle Hymn of the Republic.'' Some family members wept, raised their hands or held on to each other as the names of all 189 Pentagon victims scrolled up two large TV screens, superimposed over the image of an ocean sunset; afterward, a Marine bugler played ''Taps.''
Similar ceremonies were held in New York, where the towers of the World Trade Center collapsed in flames after being hit by a pair of hijacked jetliners.
Also on Thursday:
n Tours resumed at the United Nations in New York. But the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island remained closed and officials wouldn't say when the two symbols of freedom would reopen.
n In a nationwide satellite hookup, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told audiences in 10 cities that a common sense of vulnerability will keep the international community united in fighting terrorism.
n At Boston's Logan Airport, United and American Airlines employees began a monthlong ''flag run'' on foot to Los Angeles, symbolically completing the planned flight paths of the two jets that were hijacked out of Logan and crashed into the trade center.
Bush's motorcade rolled up to the Pentagon past Humvees and other heavy vehicles at a tight security perimeter. The weather was sunny and flawless, much as it was on Sept. 11. A special section was reserved up front for victims' families, and each person there was given a single, long-stemmed red rose.
''The wound to this building will not be forgotten, but it will be repaired. Brick by brick, we will quickly rebuild the Pentagon,'' Bush said. ''In the missions ahead for the military, you will have everything you need, every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and the cause of freedom.''
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