Nation Making Progress on Homeland Security Needs
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2004 His signing of the 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act Oct. 18 provides the "essential resources" needed to protect the nation's skies, ports and borders, President Bush noted today during his weekly national radio address.
The act provides $28.9 billion and, Bush observed, will fund Coast Guard/port security operations, the federal air marshal program, and "technology that will defend aircraft against missiles."
The new law also earmarks funding "to patrol our borders," he said, "and to verify the identity of foreign visitors to America."
More funds will also be allocated for emergency first responders and for enhanced security at chemical, nuclear and water treatment plants, the president noted, as well as for programs to better protect the nation's bridges, subways and tunnels.
"All these measures show the unwavering commitment of our government," he said, noting that overall federal homeland security spending has tripled since 2001.
"We are doing everything in our power to protect the American people," the president declared. Yet, he conceded, "there is more to do, and we are moving forward."
To protect America the nation "needs the best possible intelligence," he pointed out. That's why, he said, "the vast majority" of the 9/11 commission's recommendations on intelligence reform that don't require congressional legislation are now being implemented.
"We are expanding and strengthening the capabilities of the CIA," Bush said, and are "transforming the FBI into an agency whose primarily focus is stopping terrorism."
And a Terrorist Threat Integration Center was established, he noted, "so we can bring together all the available intelligence on terrorist threats in one place."
Other proposed changes, the president said, like the creation of a national intelligence director, require new laws. Such a position, he observed, would have authority over personnel and budgets of U.S. intelligence agencies.
"These and other reforms are necessary to make our intelligence community more effective and to stay ahead of the threats," Bush explained, noting that executive branch proposals for intelligence reform legislation are now on Capitol Hill for discussion.
"We are working with Congress to pass a good bill," he noted.
The best way to safeguard America, Bush said, "is to stay on the offensive against terrorists." And "in an era of weapons of mass destruction," he pointed out, "waiting for threats to arrive at our doorstep is to invite disaster."