For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 8, 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
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, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The disadvantage there was that each inspector was trained for only
one specific area. The other two issues were basically somebody else's
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: But don't you lost from one if you transfer to the
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
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.
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
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
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
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