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My fellow Americans,
More than 6 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, we remain at war with adversaries who are committed to destroying our people, our freedom, and our way of life. In the midst of this conflict, our Nation also has endured one of the worst natural disasters in our history, Hurricane Katrina. As we face the dual challenges of preventing terrorist attacks in the Homeland and strengthening our Nation’s preparedness for both natural and man-made disasters, our most solemn duty is to protect the American people. The National Strategy for Homeland Security serves as our guide to leverage America’s talents and resources to meet this obligation.
Despite grave challenges, we also have seen great accomplishments. Working with our partners and allies, we have broken up terrorist cells, disrupted attacks, and saved American lives. Although our enemies have not been idle, they have not succeeded in launching another attack on our soil in over 6 years due to the bravery and diligence of many.
Just as our vision of homeland security has evolved as we have made progress in the War on Terror, we also have learned from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. We witnessed countless acts of courage and kindness in the aftermath of that storm, but I, like most Americans, was not satisfied with the Federal response. We have applied the lessons of Katrina to this Strategy to make sure that America is safer, stronger, and better prepared.
To best protect the American people, homeland security must be a responsibility shared across our entire Nation. As we further develop a national culture of preparedness, our local, Tribal, State, and Federal governments, faith-based and community organizations, and businesses must be partners in securing the Homeland.
This Strategy also calls on each of you. Every one of us should develop our own personal and family readiness plans to help protect us in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, enabling emergency responders and resources to be focused on those in greatest need.
Many of the threats we face – pandemic diseases, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and natural disasters – also demand multinational effort and cooperation. To this end, we have strengthened our homeland security through foreign partnerships, and we are committed to expanding and increasing our layers of defense, which extend well beyond our borders, by seeking further cooperation with our international partners.
As we secure the Homeland, however, we cannot simply rely on defensive approaches and well-planned response and recovery measures. We recognize that our efforts also must involve offense at home and abroad. We will disrupt the enemy’s plans and diminish the impact of future disasters through measures that enhance the resilience of our economy and critical infrastructure before an incident occurs.
Today, our Nation is safer, but we are not yet safe. Since September 11, 2001, we have made great progress in confronting new challenges and refining our approach to homeland security. As acknowledged in 2002 in the first National Strategy for Homeland Security, we will not achieve all of our goals overnight, but we will achieve them. By the very nature of this struggle, many of our victories will be unheralded and achieved in silence.
Despite the difficult challenges ahead, we will fulfill our responsibility to safeguard America just as generations of Americans have before us. Together, guided by this National Strategy for Homeland Security, we will continue working to protect our families and communities, our liberty, and our way of life.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE
October 5, 2007