The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2002

President Bush Pushes for Homeland Security Bill

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We'll work together, and we'll work hard together to make sure this country is a stronger country, to make sure people can find work. We've also got to make sure it's a safer country. I think our biggest job is to protect the homeland, and the reason we need to do so, there is still an enemy out there which hates America. They hate us because of what we love. We love freedom. We love the fact that people can worship an almighty God any way they see fit here in America. We love the fact that people can have honest discourse and political debate. We love a free press. We love everything about freedom, and we refuse to relinquish that love. And so long as we love freedom, there are people that want to hurt us. See, that's the problem we face.

And the other difference is, we value life in America. Every life matters, everybody counts. Everybody is precious. Not to the enemy. They have hijacked a great religion, and murdered -- murdered innocent people, and could care less. And that's who we're fighting, and they're out there. So we've got to do everything we can to protect the homeland.

You've got to know, there's a lot of good people working hard to protect you. Conversations taking place that never took place before in Washington. A lot of information-sharing, a lot of folks running down every hint, every lead, every idea that somebody might be thinking about doing something to America. We're moving on it, within the confines of the United States Constitution, I might add. We're pursuing leads. We're disrupting. We're making sure, as best as we possibly can, that the enemy doesn't hit us again.

And that's why I went to the United States Congress and asked the Congress to join me in the creation of a homeland security department. I did so because there's over 100 agencies in Washington, D.C. that have something to do with securing the homeland. They're everywhere, and it seems like to me that if the number one priority of the government is to defend the homeland, they ought to be under one agency, so we can change the culture of these agencies, so we can insist on priority.

And the House moved and the Senate is stuck. And the Senate is stuck because they want to micromanage the process. Not all senators, but some senators. They want to have a thick book of rules that will tell the executive branch and this administration and future administrations how to deal with the -- securing our homeland. I appreciate these two senators here, standing strong for doing what's right, for leaving a legacy behind so future Presidents can more likely deal with an enemy who could care less about rules and regulations, an enemy which is willing to move fast.

Now, let me just tell you what I'm talking about, so you'll understand. After September the 11th, the Customs Service wanted to require its inspectors at our nation's 301 ports of entry to wear radiation detection devices so they could -- these guys would have them on their belts, and if there was -- somebody was trying to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into our country, we'd know about it. Somebody was trying to bring something in illegally, across the border, we would know about it, through the radiation detection device. The union that represents the Customs workers objected to this common sense action. They didn't like it. They sought to invoke collective bargaining, which would have taken a year to resolve.

See, it's those kind of rules which bind the capacity of the executive branch to do the job you want us to do. In order to locate employees in cases of emergency, the Customs Service sought to have employees provide their home addresses and their telephone numbers to the Customs Service. That makes sense. If you've got somebody you think may be getting ready to hit us and you need to move one of your Custom employees into a spot of action, you need his phone number. The union objected to listing the phone numbers, and said such a request would violate the privacy rights of workers. The union actually filed a grievance and sought to negotiate something as sensible as this request.

We do not need rules and bureaucracy to entangle us in the job you want us to do. Protection of the homeland is more important than special interests in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

In this state, you don't need to write your senators. In this state they've been strong in leaving a legacy behind, an important legacy. Because this enemy isn't going away. And the best way, however, to secure the homeland, short-term and long-term, is to hunt the killers down, one person at a time, one at a time, and bring them to justice, which is what the United States of America is going to do.

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