Cheney: America Is Safer, But 'Not Yet Safe'
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2005 Although the United States has achieved many victories against global terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the homeland remains in harm's way, Vice President Dick Cheney told federal law enforcement officials May 2.
Following Sept. 11, the Department of Homeland Security was created, along with a host of other initiatives designed to thwart another terrorist attack on America, Cheney said to students and staff at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Ga.
"America is safer" today, thanks to the implementation of legislation and programs -- such as Project BioShield, the Patriot Act and the establishment of a national intelligence director -- that increase homeland security.
"But," the vice president cautioned, "we are not yet safe."
Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that perpetrated the Sept. 11 attacks, "is wounded and off-balance and on the run," Cheney observed.
However, Osama bin Laden's organization remains "very active," as al Qaeda continues to recruit while plotting "to find ways to hit us," Cheney said.
Those seeking to strike the United States again "are hoping that our country will grow complacent" after U.S.-coalition military victories against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cheney said.
It's therefore paramount, the vice president emphasized, that the United States "never lets down its guard."
Cheney said he's been "immensely impressed" with the work conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. "Vigilance, and professionalism, and adaptability" are key components of national security, he said, and they are "the watchwords" at the center.
The training center was established in Washington, in 1970 as part of the Treasury Department to provide standardized training for government law enforcement officers and agents, according to the organization's Web site. The facility moved to Georgia in 1975, and in 2003 it was placed under the Department of Homeland Security.
The center, Cheney said, has "stepped up to meet the needs of a new and very different era for law enforcement." The top priority for U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies since the Sept. 11 attacks is "countering and investigating terrorist activity," he said.
U.S. homeland-defense organizations have quickly acted "to develop the equipment and procedures to protect against (weapons of mass destruction), radioactive material, and vehicle-borne explosives," as well as providing additional air marshals, airport baggage screeners and visa/passport security officers, Cheney said.
Cheney also told the assembled law enforcement officials that he and President Bush appreciate their efforts, adding that their hard work "is paying off."
The vice president also praised the worldwide efforts of U.S. servicemembers, noting that "a good number of the people who work and train" at the center are military veterans or have loved ones serving overseas in the war against global terrorism.