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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 2, 2003
Remarks of Secretary Tom Ridge to the American Enterprise Institute: "Securing America in a Post 9/11 World"
MR. DeMUTH: School is back in, and we're all here to begin the fall lectures and seminar programs at AEI.
My colleagues and I are thrilled that Secretary Tom Ridge of the Department of Homeland Security will be with us to speak today. Tom Ridge grew up in a bipartisan working class family in Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended Harvard College on a scholarship. He was drafted by the United States Army and served with distinction as an infantry staff officer in Vietnam, for which he was awarded the Bronze Medal for valor.
Several years later, when he went into politics, he was the first Vietnam enlisted man to be elected to the United States Congress. He was re-elected five times by thumping majorities, and when he moved on to run for governor in 1994, he was twice elected with similar majorities and became one of the most popular and successful chief executives in the history of the Keystone State.
He and George W. Bush had been very close friends from their days as governor together, and when President Bush had a big problem on his hands in October 2001, he turned to his old friend and his friend responded with alacrity and has served the President and the nation very, very well.
Two years ago today, the very idea of a Department of Homeland Security would have seemed bizarre and inexplicable to all of us. Today there probably isn't anyone in the room, certainly frequent fliers, that do not have some gripes with some of Secretary Ridge's 180,000 colleagues.
We all understand that the task before them is immense, of critical importance to the nation; that they are learning as they go along and making great improvements very, very fast. And we also know that the Department is blessed to have a leader of such extraordinary intelligence and energy.
Please give a warm welcome to Secretary Tom Ridge.
SECRETARY RIDGE: Thank you for your kind introduction. Thank you, thank you.
Thank you, Chris, very much for that kind introduction, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I certainly appreciate your invitation and am truly honored to join you this afternoon.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate the American Enterprise Institute on your 60th anniversary. New ideas and reasoned thought are the foremost instruments of democracy, and AEI has not only widely contributed to that proud element of American life, but you've also helped engage and elevate for nations everywhere and many a productive discussion.
Today I'm here to address a subject that we would prefer had no reason for discussion. After all, we would, if we could, rewrite history and never know the pain and peril that so beset this nation two years ago.
We would, if we could, never know the new normalcy of a war against terror that has touched our daily lives. And yet we would never take back the coming together of community and country that has so emboldened this nation since that tragic September day.
We do remember them. We remember 3,000 souls, men, women and children from 80 countries, who rose to the heavens on the morning of September 11th. We remember them in prayers spoken in places of worship and in quiet places within our own hearts. We remember them as good friends, loving family, and true heroes.
And we remember those who took them from us. Terrorists come in many forms and factions, but they are civilization's collective shame. They walk a senseless path of murder, destruction, and chaos. They fight a vacant cause. They represent no religion, no form of government, no people. They salute no flag, and they are bound by no value system.
Their motivation and methods are merely to kill what they do not understand: freedom-loving people around the world. Their actions must never go unanswered. Such an enemy must be rooted out and destroyed. Rooted out, of course, because the followers and fanatics of terror spill insidiously across many nations around the world, burrowed in cities and cells, hidden by mountain terrain and murderous dictators.
And unlike the openly acknowledged enemies of history's largest battles, today's terrorists can be but one rogue regime or renegade that releases dangerous pathogens in the air, one crude group of zealots in a cave with both the desire and the means to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction.
Two years ago, in the clear skies darkened over Shanksville, over the Pentagon, over New York, actually darkened over all of us, we vowed then as we pledge anew today that our actions would be decisive.
We vowed then as we pledge anew today to do everything possible, use every means possible to secure the themes of life our founding fathers set out 227 years ago: the blessings of freedom, the promise of economic opportunity, and the safety and security of our people.
We can never guarantee that we are free from the possibility of terrorist attack, but we can say this. We are more secure and better prepared than we were two years ago. Each and every single day we rise to a new level of readiness and response, now the highest level of protection this nation has ever known.
There are many reasons for such a statement. We start with our President, who has no tolerance for hatred and no patience for these cold-blooded killers, and it is under his leadership that America and its allies have exacted a war unknown to terrorists in decades before, a global war on terrorism, distinct from any battle, any conflict, any world war ever waged.
From Beirut to Lockerbee to the USS Cole, we can see that terrorists are not deterred by time, but as our country has made clear, their time is up.
Now, it is absolutely essential to confront terrorism at its source. From Afghanistan to Iran (Iraq), coalition forces have removed dictators and taken out terrorists. They have turned the tide of tyranny to one of hope for newly freed nations and people.
We are making progress, but make no mistake. Terrorists have lashed out in Iraq and elsewhere, not because we are failing, but because we are succeeding. And these successes remind us why we fight: because every single victory in a far-away land makes us safer here at home.
In the 20th century, America wielded a strength best used in the service of peace. It was as true then as it must remain today. But strength must be sustained and sharpened when the enemy changes, and in the 21st century the enemy has changed.
So we must enlist a new kind of warfare. That is why the President's decision to create the Department of Homeland Security was not only a bold decision, but the right decision for our country and our fellow citizens. Because while it goes without saying that we will win the war against terrorism, we will win most notably for how we fight as much as why. For this is a war in which the citizen and the scientist, the computer programmer and the cop on the beat are as crucial to victory as the general, the admiral, the sergeant, the private, or the ensign. This is a war fought with a strategy that isn't federal, but federalist, when proffered on the notion that we are all pledged to our Constitution, that we are all called to serve as long as we call ourselves free.
Though we would wish otherwise, there was no single technology, no single group of people, and no single line of defense that can protect us. Homeland Security, instead, requires a combination of those factors, we like to say within the Department layers of defense.
In the eight months since we first launched the Department, we've made significant progress towards shoring the necessary layers of homeland security that have helped to make America safer.
Information that people can act upon is an invaluable weapon in any war. Through the Terrorist Threat Integration Center information generated by the Department of Homeland Security and the entire intelligence community will be fused, analyzed, and then distributed for action to all of us with a stake in protecting our country.
Additionally, the new Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Unit focuses exclusively on threats to the homeland and how we can reduce our vulnerability to attack, strengthen our critical infrastructure, both cyber and physical.
We've also instituted systems that allow us to share critical intelligence with key individuals at the state and local level.
We are also safer today because, with strong bipartisan support, we provided over $4 billion in equipment and training to our first preventer and first responder communities. Certainly the response of our cities and state during the recent blackout demonstrate how much progress we've made.
Think back for a moment. You remember one of the key fears of the anthrax cases was the fear that we didn't have enough antibiotics available. Well, that's no longer a problem.
We are safer today because we've stockpiled more than a billion doses of antibiotics and vaccines, likewise vaccinated thousands of health care workers against smallpox, and installed sensors around the country that can identify certain biological and chemical agents.
This is a critical improvement that will help us save lives in the immediate aftermath of an incident. In partnering with the EPA, the Health and Human Services and other federal agencies, I'm convinced that we will develop and deploy new and additional tools in our fight to protect America.
Additionally, we are safer today because security at our borders is more robust and comprehensive than ever before. Smart border accords have significantly improved our coordination and our cooperation with Mexico and Canada. We've also trained and hired new inspectors and border patrol agents.
By the end of the year, we will have launched US Visit, which essentially creates a virtual border. We will use biometrics to confirm the identity and status of travelers both to and from the United States.
Equally important, of course, related to it, we are safer because we have layered defenses around air travel, everywhere from the curb to the cockpit. This includes measures to arm our pilots and harden cockpit floors, the expansion of the Federal Air Marshals Service to accompany travelers on flights. Thousands of passenger and baggage screeners better trained to do their jobs and federal security officers to oversee our airports.
Under federal law, all air carriers now must provide advance passenger information on international flights. This enables us to identify high-risk passengers attempting to enter or leave the United States.
We recently suspended the Transit Without Visa program, for example, when we received information that indicated terrorists might exploit that system to cause Americans harm. The important point is that when we got intelligence that we could act upon, we acted upon it.
We also continue to work diligently to address the threat of shoulder-fired missile attacks on civil aviation. This effort encompasses strategies to stop the proliferation of these weapons, work with state and local officials to improve perimeter security at our busiest airports, and develop new technologies that can counter this threat.
Progress made at our ports and waterways has also made us safer. That's why we work so very hard to extend our zone of security outward, so that our borders become our last line of defense, not our first line of defense. And that's why we build security measures that begin thousands of miles away, long before a container is first loaded on a ship.
We are safer today, and without a doubt, it is because of the new level of cooperation the President has spearheaded with our allies around the world. As the bombings in Bali, Jakarta, and U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad demonstrate, terrorism touches us all. This is not a problem unique to the United States and its citizens, so we must all be united in confronting it.
Americans are a target around the globe, as are freedom-loving people everywhere. Yet through layered defenses on land and sea, to information-sharing, law enforcement, inspections, presence, technology, funding, regulations, and, of course, vigilance at every turn every day, the global community has successfully deterred threats, foiled attacks, and captured many an enemy of freedom. Together with our partners we've saved many lives.
All of this progress speaks to why we are safer, and yet, clearly, our work is not done. The constant daily effort to protect both liberty and life must continue in both tangible and intangible ways. In Homeland Security we have to be right several thousand times a day. The terrorist only has to be right once or twice.
Every day Homeland Security works to deliver on our mission to better prevent, prepare, and respond to a terrorist attack. We pursued that mission not merely by setting up one authority for 22 different agencies, but by setting goals and meeting them, and we are, and we will.
We're meeting our goals by reorganizing to better mobilize the people and resources of the Department to make America more secure. And today I'd like to announce and share with you a few new initiatives that illustrate this philosophy at work.
At the beginning of the year, for example, I announced a reorganization of our border security agencies. Today I am pleased to report that we are further delivering on our promise to strengthen security at airports, seaports, and land border crossings.
We're doing this through an initiative that will unify the border inspection process under one customs and border protection officer, an officer cross-trained to address all three inspection needs.
If you recall correctly, and many of you have done enough travel to know that when you come into this country in many places, first you'd see a legacy INS inspector, and then conceivably a customs inspector, and if you had some food or plants, you'd see a plant health inspection service inspector.
Today travelers first stop at a primary inspection booth, and they meet the immigration inspector, and then the second stop is with the customs inspector, and if you have foods and plants, you've got that third inspector.
The disadvantage there was that each inspector was trained for only one specific area. The other two issues were basically somebody else's problem.
The three separate faces of government and the many inefficiencies that go with it will soon be gone. We will have one face in one uniform, a single officer trained for primary inspection as well as how to determine who needs to go through secondary inspections.
And since we know that al Qaida is interested in entering our ports, this officer, now trained in all three areas of inspection and armed with the best intelligence we have, improves our ability to identify and stop these terrorists quickly and keep them out.
We've already recruited our first group of customs and border protection officers who will be trained throughout this fall. For the Department, this is another significant step toward our effort to retool, make sense, and create efficiencies and unity around a single mission.
Another goal we are meeting is to increase our level of readiness and response in aviation security. Today I'm announcing a plan that will dramatically increase the number of armed federal law enforcement officers available to protect passenger aircraft during times of increased threat.
This will be achieved by realigning the Transportation Security Agency's Federal Air Marshals Service with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This realignment offers a sweeping gain of additional armed law enforcement officials who will be able to provide a surge capacity during increased threat periods or in the event of a terrorist attack.
Importantly, with this single move, we will be able to deploy more than 5,000 additional armed federal law enforcement agents to the skies when needed. Again, it's another way we're meeting our goal to maximize existing resources the better protect our citizens.
We must continue to meet our goal to harness America's innovative spirit and develop technologies that can better secure our country. And, obviously, I urge Congress to act quickly and pass the '04 budget, which includes a critical research and development funding increase of 60 percent. That increase will make the Department of Homeland Security one of the largest resources of research and development funding and provide hundreds of millions of dollars toward the development and deployment of new technologies.
These new technologies offer the promise of assessment and detection capabilities of virtually every possible kind. On the horizon, for example, are sensors that can detect whether an individual has been handling radioactive materials or has been immunized against or exposed to dangerous pathogens or chemicals, potential indicators of terrorist activity.
In that same spirit, we've initiated development of smoke alarm like devices that can be placed in facilities, on lamp posts, at inspection stations to detect any release of suspicious pathogens or chemical agents. And when used inside facilities, these sensors will be able to link with the air handling systems to automatically and optimally redirect air flow to contain any possible threat.
In January I spoke of the Department's goal to build strong relationships with our state and local partners. I think we met this goal with both great speed and great success.
State and local communication and coordination, after all, reflects the very nature of homeland security, the homeland working with the home towns to keep America safe and free.
One way we are further strengthening state and local partnerships is an initiative that will create a single point of access for locating Department of Homeland Security grant and program information quickly and efficiently.
Under this new initiative, we plan to work with Congress to centralize our terrorism preparedness grant programs into one location within this organization, and we will send the plan to Congress shortly that provides these details.
As part of this new effort, we will also launch a Web porter designed to make the grants more accessible while simplifying the application process as well. Once Congress has approved these dollars, it's our job to make sure that the states and locals have access to it. And, ultimately, if we can turn the process, we can make the process simpler, paperless, we can get the dollars out the door for training exercise and equipment acquisition quicker than ever before.
Now, the overall benefit is clear. No longer will our state and local partners and the out partners have to go to different places within the department to apply for terrorism-related funding. It ensures that nationwide, across the country, Homeland Security officials have one place where they can tap into the resources as well as the information they need. From applying for funds to protect critical infrastructure to securing guidance and expertise for first responders, it's a clear win-win for the state, the locals, and the new Department.
And now one of our primary objectives is to share information with officials in each state or in the critical loop of both response and authority. Sometimes, this information is actionable. Other times, it's simply more important for us to pass the information along so that the state-wide intelligence -- that the folks at the state and local level have intelligence that is as up-to-date as ours is at the federal level. No, you know this hasn't always been possible. There's been a lack of secure telephone and video conferencing equipment at the state level, and too few state officials with the appropriate security clearances. To fill this need and to build another layer, I am pleased to tell you we recently launched Homeland Security Strategic Communication Resource Initiative, also known as SECURE. The SECURE initiative. Already under this effort, we have provided all 50 states, as well as two of the territories and the District of Columbia with the capability to communicate over secure phones and video-conferencing equipment.
Also, every governor in just about every state, a Homeland Security advisor now has access to classified information and the appropriate federal security clearances to receive it. And just recently, we've gone back to our nation's governors and asked them to identify five other people within their state to receive the same level of clearance.
One of our key tools of information-sharing with our state and local partners is our Homeland Security Advisory System. And as you've noted, and has been occasionally reported, intelligence information is often both vague and yet strategic in nature. When we do decide to raise or lower the level of threat, it is based upon the most careful and best assessment of the United States intelligence community. The purpose of raising or lowering the threat level is to help and direct state and local authorities as to additional action. We need to help them determine what to do. From that point, they can then make informed decisions about when, where, and to what degree they need to strengthen security within their states, within their cities, at critical infrastructure throughout their individual states.
Now, I need to underscore this and emphasize it. The system was, in fact, designed for region or sector-specific warnings. To date, we've never received specific credible information that would enable us to use the system in that very focused and targeted way. Nevertheless, as the system works now, we believe it continues to offer a vitally important means of communing information to our state and local partners.
One promising observation to note, we are far more secure at Code Yellow, or yellow level today, ladies and gentlemen, than we were a year ago when we first launched the National Threat Warning System. The Code Yellow of today, in comparison with the Code Yellow of a year ago, is an entirely different level of preparedness and readiness. The Code Yellow today reflects stronger and more comprehensive security at our borders, at our airports and our seaports. The Code Yellow of today signals a stronger national and international intelligence network; stronger partnerships with our global, state, local and private sector partners. The Code Yellow of today means that every day we inspect more passengers and containers, guard more territory, equip and train more first-responders, and engage our citizens in a two-way conversation about this nation's security and their safety -- absolutely unprecedented in modern times.
And because of these efforts, and because of this progress, and because, without hesitation, we as a people came to our country's defense and the charge of terrorism's defeat. Because of all these things, we are safer. Now, more than ever, there's a level of preparedness, and thus a level of security grounded in the purest notions of performance and outcomes, partnership and patriotism, preservation of freedom, and our accountability to its future.
Since 9/11, we have worked as only a true nation does, to do great things together. We have built higher barriers to terrorism, and better bridges to each other. We've worked hard to protect our freedoms, which will ensure that our freedoms protect us. We have learned the lessons of time and events.
September 11th is a tragic moment, and has not held us back. Rather, it has steered us ever forward, more determined to deliver peace in a world so lacking without it. Because now we know adversity begets unity, unity yields resolve, resolve secures our freedom, and freedom, like hope, does not disappoint. And so when unity, resolve, freedom and hope we will continue in the great work we've been engaged in for nearly two years. Let's forge ahead in the war on terror. That is the President's charge. It is mine. It is the charge of all Americans. It is the call to every freedom-loving nation around the world. And I join you in full confidence that we will succeed. Thank you very much.
MR. DeMUTH: Secretary Ridge has agreed to take a few questions. I will call on people, and I ask that you introduce yourself and give your affiliation and ask a question into the roving microphone. Now, I would like to say I know we have many members from the press here who get to get a crack at Secretary Ridge far more often than others, and I'd like to ask you to hold back until we've had some questions people at AEI and some of our other desks. Yes.
QUESTION: Thanks very much for coming here. John Lott, the American Enterprise Institute. When you went through airline security, the first thing you mentioned was arming pilots. And I was just curious, though, right now the pilots' groups are claiming that there's about 150-200 pilots that have been armed. And they surely have this impression that there's a lot of difficulties and impediments and hostility to them becoming armed, which, I think affects their willingness to work with the program in different ways.
For example, I guess up until a couple of weeks ago, about, the claim was that half the 5,000 or so pilots that had applied for the program had been initially rejected. And then they had gotten, within the last couple of weeks, phone calls, I guess, changing who had been rejected, and I guess just kind of the vagueness, they don't know why people get rejected from the program. I think if affects their willingness to apply for the program, because they're worried that whatever vague rejection might be there, that they'll never know about might be used against them in terms of whether they have a pilot's license or other ramifications. So you know, you wanted 5,000 more people that can go and be armed marshals. It seems like there's a large group of people that you could fairly quickly train that can go and do the first thing that you mentioned there.
SECRETARY RIDGE: Congress has contributed much to our effort to lay on defenses around commercial aviation, and directing the Transportation Security Administration on the pilots as one of their defenses. The decision was made internally to start with a smaller group of pilots in order to come up with a training regimen, and really come up with a protocol to train these pilots. I mean the notion of having some of these pilots have used firearms before, others have not. But what are the rules of engagement? How do we -- do they carry their firearms with them through the airport, if they're secured on an airplane, do they have -- there're a lot of questions to be worked out, and I think you're just going to see that it is part of the layer defense and the program will accelerate once ahead.
First couple of training sessions were, I think predictably slower and smaller classes, but I think we pretty much decided what the training protocol should be, and you're going to see a ramp-up in the training for those volunteers who choose to be armed in the cockpits.
QUESTION: Sir, could you give more details about the Secure Initiative? What will the next steps be in the Secure Initiative to improve information sharing, please? Wilson Dyside with Government Computer News.
SECRETARY RIDGE: One of the charges that the President and Congress directed to the Department in developing the partnership with the state and local government is to begin - to develop a method where we can share information, some of which is actual, some of which they just need to have that they need not act upon it, but they just need to be aware of what we're aware of.
Obviously, a lot of this is sensitive information, so the Secure Initiative deals with security clearances for governors, Homeland Security advisors, it deals with -- we now have secure telephone links to the governors. We've gone back to them and said identify five other people within your administration or within your respective states who would get and have access to these security clearances so they could have access to this additional information.
And again, as we continue to build that information-sharing partnership, we will not only want them to receive information that we generate, or that we get from the intelligence community elsewhere through the threat integration center, but at some point in time, we expect they'll be sending information back to the federal level that we may integrate into the threat integration -- that we may use in the Threat Integration Center ourselves.
So it's about people being cleared, secure equipment to have those kind of conversations, and expanding the number of people that have access to that kind of informationcrex TV. Immigration and Customs not agencies generally thought of as being over-manned. How are you going to manage to shift resources from those two agencies over to the FAMS program without degrading the other two? And also, what's being done to try and bolster the Air Marshals on a daily basis, when there might be threats that we're not aware of?
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, first of all, you should know that there are literally no budgetary implications from moving the Federal Air Marshal Program from TSA to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. So we're not going to degrade an existing capability that we're trying to, frankly, beef up. And we're going to see more resources, more people into the BICE units to start with.
So number one, we see as value added because, in time, these FAMS will also be cross-trained to perform some of the other missions as law enforcement officers within the federal government. We also see the availability because some of these agents from Legacy Customs and Legacy INS, but are BICE agents now, there is continual training and retraining. So, training additional -- these men and women to be FAMS in case we need them to respond to a threat is something --
QUESTION: -- to move the bodies.
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, yeah, well clearly there'll be an integration -- but the accountability and the responsibility will be moved -- they are law enforcement officers. Secretary Hutchinson has advocated this for several months. He's absolutely right. We put them in with these other law enforcement officers, ultimately all to be cross-trained in the years ahead, to perform multiple functions, but are particularly good, in this instance, because we can have more people providing the threat for the information dictates coverage on airlines.
QUESTION: But don't you lost from one if you transfer to the other?
SECRETARY RIDGE: But it's like any other organization. I think one of the reasons the President wanted to develop this entity is so that we would have flexibility within our personnel system, cross-training with these very able and highly-motivated people so that, depending on the need, we can move people in and out of situations where we needed them. It doesn't necessarily mean that any assignment for one of these agents is going to be permanent, but it gives us a surge capability, so that if we get information we have to act on, we have the ability and capacity to act on it. Just basically more people being able to do more things, and if the situation warrants, send them out to deal with that particular mission, or that particular threat.
QUESTION: Dan Wattenburg from AEI. I wondered if you had any views you might share with us on the political situation in Pennsylvania for 2004? I don't know enough of the technical stuff to ask a question.
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, the President has spent -- I'm out of my lane on this one, Dan, because I don't pay too much attention to Pennsylvania politics anymore, but I think I'm prepared to say, and it can be verified, the President spent a great deal of time in Pennsylvania, and politically it's a state that I suspect you'd have to ask others involved in the political shop, that they target and hope to win. I believe he can. Obviously, they couldn't win with a Republican governor. Maybe they can reverse it now that they've got a Democrat governor. I don't know. I'm not equipped to comment.
QUESTION: I'm Matt Walden, New York Times. Mr. Secretary, do you anticipate when you have the Customs, Agriculture and Immigrations people melded into a single front-line officer, that the number of secondary screenings will rise or fall?
SECRETARY RIDGE: Could very well rise.
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, we're just -- we will have the capacity to, depending on the interrogation by that principal officer to direct more people to secondary screening if we need to be. I mean, we have three people ostensibly trained for single missions. It's like the FAMS. If we really want to maximize the abilities of these people -- and they're enormously motivated people. They're highly talented people. I can't tell you the number of times I've spent with folks at these agencies, at the borders and airports. They are prepared and willing to do more, but obviously they need the training.
So it at least gives us the potential, based on threat information, based on need, to send more people to secondary screening, and have more people there equipped to interrogate them properly. And it's just preparing for a contingency. More people better trained to do more things, and positioned to be directed if the need arises. It's flexibility. We've got to be as adroit and as flexible as the enemy. Sorry.
QUESTION: Sean Waterman from United Press International. Secretary Ridge, there were reports at the weekend that the Defense Department -- that there's a move afoot at the Pentagon to strip the Coast Guard of its responsibilities for naval force protection during wartime. Do you have any comment to make on that?
SECRETARY RIDGE: The Coast Guard has a 200-plus-year history of both maritime and military service, and I think they would be difficult to replace. If you didn't have a Coast Guard, you'd probably look to create one. So, let those who make those decisions, including Congress, make that determination. I'm very proud to be their Secretary. Matter of fact, I had the occasion to award some unit recognitions and individual citations for the military -- their military effort in support in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
So again, they've got a proud military and maritime history, and again, they are an entity, they are a unit, they are a group of men and women who are trained to do many different things on behalf of the country. And when the need arises, they can surge to fill that need and then go back to their more traditional missions. It's kind of the approach -- that's part of the approach that we're taking with many men and women within Homeland Security in the years to come.
QUESTION: The argument, as I gather it, from Pentagon officials, is precisely that the readiness wasn't there. And that last year, when plans were being made for the war with Iraq, there was some question of whether the Coast Guard would be able to fulfill that role.
Do you have any comment to make on that? Are there plans to ramp up the Coast Guard's force protection capability to deal with those concerns at the Pentagon in another way?
SECRETARY RIDGE: Well, I'm not in a position to comment on somebody else's assessment as to whether or not they were able to ramp up quickly enough. Based on my observation, they did a pretty darned good job of it. I mean, it's interesting, one of the, a couple of the units and people that we decorated were actually the Coast Guard-provided vessels in front of the minesweepers -- a rather interesting operational capability that you bring to a maritime military situation, and they did that and a lot of other things with great distinction.
I do think that the Coast Guard has, and will continue to press on, what they call the Deep Water Initiative, in order to get additional resources so that they can fulfill the traditional issues as well as the Homeland Security mission. You should know that the President, in this year's '04 budget, gives the Coast Guard the largest single appropriation that they've ever received, and enable them to go out and recruit a couple of thousand more Coasties -- it's a term of endearment -- they are great people -- as well as, you know, begin down that path of this Deep Water Program that provides more technology and more vessels for them. So I think we enhance the capability of under the Deep Water project. Everyone should be satisfied with their ability to meet either military or maritime mission.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Fernando Pizarro, Univision. Your One Face at the Border initiative seems like a very complicated training process. Do you foresee any particular timetable for the implementation and which types of ports of entry would come first?
SECRETARY RIDGE: First of all, you should know that this is -- the One Face at the Border will apply to all new hires on the Border and Customs Protection unit. We still have the Legacy Agencies that we're dealing with. But the first entering class of new BCP officers will be cross-trained, and classes begin, I believe in September and October. Where they are deployed remains to be seen. It's a couple month program. Obviously, we want them to have comparable skill sets in both Immigration, Customs, as well as the APHIS protocol.
So it's a pretty rigorous training session, but we just think we need that one face at the border. You don't need to be stopped by three different people at a land border, or three different people at an airport. If they're properly trained and equipped, and if they have any questions, then they can turn them over to a more rigorous secondary inspector.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it's Tim Hartman with the Toronto Star. Just to follow on that question. I understand that your one face at the border you say will enhance security. What are the potential effects on air and land travelers coming into this country with more potential secondary interrogations? Could it slow down traffic coming into this country, both business and tourism people?
SECRETARY RIDGE: We recognize the unique relationship we have with our partners to the north in Canada. Deputy Secretary Manly and I have worked for almost a year and a half on the Smart Border Agreement to which I referred in my remarks, and it is about positioning people and resources so that legitimate passengers and travelers, and legitimate trade can come across the border quickly, so then we can use people and technology and directed it at individuals and cargo we know nothing about.
In time, we strongly believe that this will accelerate that process and let us focus on our resources on our side of the border on those people we know nothing about. But again, we wouldn't be where we are today with programs, pilot programs, with Canada identifying people who transit the border on a regular basis, or identifying companies and suppliers that do cross-border trade without the collaboration of Canada. And the point has always been facilitate legitimate people, legitimate trade, focus your resources and your staff on those you know nothing about. We've accelerated it and it continues to work, and we think this will enhance it.
MR. DeMUTH: Secretary Ridge, thank you
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