Letter on the "National Strategy for Homeland Security"
My fellow Americans:
Since September 11, 2001, our Nation has taken great strides to improve homeland security. Citizens, industry, and government leaders from across the political spectrum have cooperated to a degree rarely seen in American history. Congress has passed important laws that have strengthened the ability of our law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute terrorists and those who support them. We have formed a global coalition that has defeated terrorists and their supporters in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. More than 60,000 American troops are deployed around the world in the war on terrorism. We have strengthened our aviation security and tightened our borders. We have stockpiled medicines to defend against bioterrorism and improved our ability to combat weapons of mass destruction. We have improved information sharing among our intelligence agencies, and we have taken important steps to protect our critical infrastructure.
We are today a Nation at risk to a new and changing threat. The terrorist threat to America takes many forms, has many places to hide, and is often invisible. Yet the need for homeland security is not tied solely to today's terrorist threat. The need for homeland security is tied to our enduring vulnerability. Terrorists wish to attack us and exploit our vulnerabilities because of the freedoms we hold dear.
The U.S. government has no more important mission than protecting the homeland from future terrorist attacks. Yet the country has never had a comprehensive and shared vision of how best to achieve this goal. On October 8, I established the Office of Homeland Security within the White House and, as its first responsibility, directed it to produce the first National Strategy for Homeland Security.
The National Strategy for Homeland Security is the product of more than eight months of intense consultation across the United States. My Administration has talked to literally thousands of people—governors and mayors, state legislators and Members of Congress, concerned citizens and foreign leaders, professors and soldiers, firefighters and police officers, doctors and scientists, airline pilots and farmers, business leaders and civic activists, journalists and veterans, and the victims and their families. We have listened carefully. This is a national strategy, not a federal strategy.
We must rally our entire society to overcome a new and very complex challenge. Homeland security is a shared responsibility. In addition to a national strategy, we need compatible, mutually supporting state, local, and private-sector strategies. Individual volunteers must channel their energy and commitment in support of the national and local strategies. My intent in publishing the National Strategy for Homeland Security is to help Americans achieve a shared cooperation in the area of homeland security for years to come. The Strategy seeks to do so by answering four basic questions:
- What is "homeland security" and what missions does it entail?
- What do we seek to accomplish, and what are the most important goals of homeland security?
- What is the federal executive branch doing now to accomplish these goals and what should it do in the future?
- What should non-federal governments, the private sector, and citizens do to help secure the homeland?
The National Strategy for Homeland Security is a beginning. It calls for bold and necessary steps. It creates a comprehensive plan for using America's talents and resources to enhance our protection and reduce our vulnerability to terrorist attacks. We have produced a comprehensive national strategy that is based on the principles of cooperation and partnership. As a result of this Strategy, firefighters will be better equipped to fight fires, police officers better armed to fight crime, businesses better able to protect their data and information systems, and scientists better able to fight Mother Nature's deadliest diseases. We will not achieve these goals overnight... but we will achieve them.
Our enemy is smart and resolute. We are smarter and more resolute. We will prevail against all who believe they can stand in the way of America's commitment to freedom, liberty, and our way of life.
GEORGE W. BUSH
The White House, July 16, 2002
NOTE: The letter was published in the "National Strategy for Homeland Security."
George W. Bush, Letter on the "National Strategy for Homeland Security" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/212703