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Continuous Innovation Critical to Homeland Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2005 – While tremendous progress has been made in protecting the United States from terrorist attack, there's much more work ahead that demands "continuous innovation" at every level, the newly nominated deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security said March 7.

Michael Jackson told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee it's impossible to completely protect the country from those who wish to do it harm.

Committee members opened the session acknowledging that while he's not the only Michael Jackson in the headlines these days, the nominee is being considered for a position critical to the nation's long-term security.

That's a challenge that can't be underestimated, Jackson said during his nomination hearing.

"We can't eliminate vulnerability. We can't eradicate risk," he said. "We have to keep working on it and stay one step ahead of the ones that President Bush called 'the evil ones' shortly after the attack of 9/11."

This demands "continuous innovation," not just within the Department of Homeland Security, but also among its partners at every level, Jackson said. "We cannot ever stop innovating or rest on our laurels," he said.

Jackson outlined the broad initiatives involved in protecting the homeland - from strengthening the transportation infrastructure to reducing vulnerability at chemical plants to protecting the food supply.

It's critical that the department continue to focus on its counterterrorism mission "with all of the best and brightest minds that we can bring," he told the committee members. "By doing this, we honor the tragic victims of 9/11 - and nothing else but that is what we have to hold dear."

If confirmed by Congress, Jackson will serve as deputy to Secretary Michael Chertoff, who was sworn in March 3.

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