Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Create the Department of Homeland Security
To the Congress of the United States:
I hereby transmit to the Congress proposed legislation to create a new Cabinet Department of Homeland Security.
Our Nation faces a new and changing threat unlike any we have faced before— the global threat of terrorism. No nation is immune, and all nations must act decisively to protect against this constantly evolving threat.
We must recognize that the threat of terrorism is a permanent condition, and we must take action to protect America against the terrorists that seek to kill the innocent.
Since September 11, 2001, all levels of government and leaders from across the political spectrum have cooperated like never before. 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 dramatically improved information sharing among our intelligence agencies, and we have taken new steps to protect our critical infrastructure.
Our Nation is stronger and better prepared today than it was on September 11. Yet, we can do better. I propose the most extensive reorganization of the Federal Government since the 1940s by creating a new Department of Homeland Security. For the first time we would have a single Department whose primary mission is to secure our homeland. Soon after the Second World War, President Harry Truman recognized that our Nation's fragmented military defenses needed reorganization to help win the Cold War. President Truman proposed uniting our military forces under a single entity, now the Department of Defense, and creating the National Security Council to bring together defense, intelligence, and diplomacy. President Truman's reforms are still helping us to fight terror abroad, and today we need similar dramatic reforms to secure our people at home.
President Truman and Congress reorganized our Government to meet a very visible enemy in the Cold War. Today our Nation must once again reorganize our Government to protect against an often-invisible enemy, an enemy that hides in the shadows and an enemy that can strike with many different types of weapons. Our enemies seek to obtain the most dangerous and deadly weapons of mass destruction and use them against the innocent. While we are winning the war on terrorism, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations still have thousands of trained killers spread across the globe plotting attacks against America and the other nations of the civilized world.
Immediately after last fall's attack, I used my legal authority to establish the White House Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council to help ensure that our Federal response and protection efforts were coordinated and effective. I also directed Homeland Security Advisor Tom Ridge to study the Federal Government as a whole to determine if the current structure allows us to meet the threats of today while preparing for the unknown threats of tomorrow. After careful study of the current structure, coupled with the experience gained since September 11 and new information we have learned about our enemies while fighting a war, I have concluded that our Nation needs a more unified homeland security structure.
I propose to create a new Department of Homeland Security by substantially transforming the current confusing patchwork of government activities into a single department whose primary mission is to secure our homeland. My proposal builds on the strong bipartisan work on the issue of homeland security that has been conducted by Members of Congress. In designing the new Department, my Administration considered a number of homeland security organizational proposals that have emerged from outside studies, commissions, and Members of Congress.
The Need for a Department of Homeland Security
Today no Federal Government agency has homeland security as its primary mission. Responsibilities for homeland security are dispersed among more than 100 different entities of the Federal Government. America needs a unified homeland security structure that will improve protection against today's threats and be flexible enough to help meet the unknown threats of the future.
The mission of the new Department would be to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that may occur. The Department of Homeland Security would mobilize and focus the resources of the Federal Government, State and local governments, the private sector, and the American people to accomplish its mission.
The Department of Homeland Security would make Americans safer because for the first time we would have one department dedicated to securing the homeland. One department would secure our borders, transportation sector, ports, and critical infrastructure. One department would analyze homeland security intelligence from multiple sources, synthesize it with a comprehensive assessment of America's vulnerabilities, and take action to secure our highest risk facilities and systems. One department would coordinate communications with State and local governments, private industry, and the American people about threats and preparedness. One department would coordinate our efforts to secure the American people against bioterrorism and other weapons of mass destruction. One department would help train and equip our first responders. One department would manage Federal emergency response activities.
Our goal is not to expand Government, but to create an agile organization that takes advantage of modern technology and management techniques to meet a new and constantly evolving threat. We can improve our homeland security by minimizing the duplication of efforts, improving coordination, and combining functions that are currently fragmented and inefficient. The new Department would allow us to have more security officers in the field working to stop terrorists and fewer resources in Washington managing duplicative activities that drain critical homeland security resources.
The Department of Homeland Security would have a clear and efficient organizational structure with four main divisions: Border and Transportation Security; Emergency Preparedness and Response; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures; and Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.
Border and Transportation Security
Terrorism is a global threat and we must improve our border security to help keep out those who mean to do us harm. We must closely monitor who is coming into and out of our country to help prevent foreign terrorists from entering our country and bringing in their instruments of terror. At the same time, we must expedite the legal flow of people and goods on which our economy depends. Securing our borders and controlling entry to the United States has always been the responsibility of the Federal Government. Yet, this responsibility and the security of our transportation systems is now dispersed among several major Government organizations. Under my proposed legislation, the Department of Homeland Security would unify authority over major Federal security operations related to our borders, territorial waters, and transportation systems.
The Department would assume responsibility for the United States Coast Guard, the United States Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (including the Border Patrol), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Transportation Security Administration. The Secretary of Homeland Security would have the authority to administer and enforce all immigration and nationality laws, including the visa issuance functions of consular officers. As a result, the Department would have sole responsibility for managing entry into the United States and protecting our transportation infrastructure. It would ensure that all aspects of border control, including the issuing of visas, are informed by a central information-sharing clearinghouse and compatible databases.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Although our top priority is preventing future attacks, we must also prepare to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that may occur.
My legislative proposal requires the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the preparedness of our Nation's emergency response professionals, provide the Federal Government's response, and aid America's recovery from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. To fulfill these missions, the Department of Homeland Security would incorporate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as one of its key components. The Department would administer the domestic disaster preparedness grant programs for firefighters, police, and emergency personnel currently managed by FEMA, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health and Human Services. In responding to an incident, the Department would manage such critical response assets as the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (from the Department of Energy) and the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (from the Department of Health and Human Services). Finally, the Department of Homeland Security would integrate the Federal interagency emergency response plans into a single, comprehensive, Government-wide plan, and would work to ensure that all response personnel have the equipment and capability to communicate with each other as necessary.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures
Our enemies today seek to acquire and use the most deadly weapons known to mankind—chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons.
The new Department of Homeland Security would lead the Federal Government's efforts in preparing for and responding to the full range of terrorist threats involving weapons of mass destruction. The Department would set national policy and establish guidelines for State and local governments. The Department would direct exercises for Federal, State, and local chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attack response teams and plans. The Department would consolidate and synchronize the disparate efforts of multiple Federal agencies now scattered across several departments. This would create a single office whose primary mission is the critical task of securing the United States from catastrophic terrorism.
The Department would improve America's ability to develop diagnostics, vaccines, antibodies, antidotes, and other countermeasures against new weapons. It would consolidate and prioritize the disparate homeland security-related research and development programs currently scattered throughout the executive branch, and the Department would assist State and local public safety agencies by evaluating equipment and setting standards.
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
For the first time the Government would have under one roof the capability to identify and assess threats to the homeland, map those threats against our vulnerabilities, issue timely warnings, and take action to help secure the homeland.
The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division of the new Department of Homeland Security would complement the reforms on intelligence-gathering and information-sharing already underway at the FBI and the CIA. The Department would analyze information and intelligence from the FBI, CIA, and many other Federal agencies to better understand the terrorist threat to the American homeland.
The Department would comprehensively assess the vulnerability of America's key assets and critical infrastructures, including food and water systems, agriculture, health systems and emergency services, information and telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, transportation, the chemical and defense industries, postal and shipping entities, and national monuments and icons. The Department would integrate its own and others' threat analyses with its comprehensive vulnerability assessment to identify protective priorities and support protective steps to be taken by the Department, other Federal departments and agencies, State and local agencies, and the private sector. Working closely with State and local officials, other Federal agencies, and the private sector, the Department would help ensure that proper steps are taken to protect high-risk potential targets.
In addition to these four core divisions, the submitted legislation would also transfer responsibility for the Secret Service to the Department of Homeland Security. The Secret Service, which would report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security, would retain its primary mission to protect the President and other Government leaders. The Secret Service would, however, contribute its specialized protective expertise to the fulfillment of the Department's core mission.
Finally, under my legislation, the Department of Homeland Security would consolidate and streamline relations with the Federal Government for America's State and local governments. The new Department would contain an intergovernmental affairs office to coordinate Federal homeland security programs with State and local officials. It would give State and local officials one primary contact instead of many when it comes to matters related to training, equipment, planning, and other critical needs such as emergency response.
The consolidation of the Government's homeland security efforts as outlined in my proposed legislation can achieve great efficiencies that further enhance our security. Yet, to achieve these efficiencies, the new Secretary of Homeland Security would require considerable flexibility in procurement, integration of information technology systems, and personnel issues. My proposed legislation provides the Secretary of Homeland Security with just such flexibility and managerial authorities. I call upon the Congress to implement these measures in order to ensure that we are maximizing our ability to secure our homeland.
Continued Interagency Coordination at the White House
Even with the creation of the new Department, there will remain a strong need for a White House Office of Homeland Security. Protecting America from terrorism will remain a multidepartmental issue and will continue to require interagency coordination. Presidents will continue to require the confidential advice of a Homeland Security Advisor, and I intend for the White House Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council to maintain a strong role in coordinating our govern-ment-wide efforts to secure the homeland.
The Lessons of History
History teaches us that new challenges require new organizational structures. History also teaches us that critical security challenges require clear lines of responsibility and the unified effort of the U.S. Government.
President Truman said, looking at the lessons of the Second World War: "It is now time to discard obsolete organizational forms, and to provide for the future the soundest, the most effective, and the most economical kind of structure for our armed forces." When skeptics told President Truman that this proposed reorganization was too ambitious to be enacted, he simply replied that it had to be. In the years to follow, the Congress acted upon President Truman's recommendation, eventually laying a sound organizational foundation that enabled the United States to win the Cold War. All Americans today enjoy the inheritance of this landmark organizational reform: a unified Department of Defense that has become the most powerful force for freedom the world has ever seen.
Today America faces a threat that is wholly different from the threat we faced during the Cold War. Our terrorist enemies hide in shadows and attack civilians with whatever means of destruction they can access. But as in the Cold War, meeting this threat requires clear lines of responsibility and the unified efforts of government at all levels—Federal, State, local, and tribal— the private sector, and all Americans. America needs a homeland security establishment that can help prevent catastrophic attacks and mobilize national resources for an enduring conflict while protecting our Nation's values and liberties.
Years from today, our world will still be fighting the threat of terrorism. It is my hope that future generations will be able to look back on the Homeland Security Act of 2002—as we now remember the National Security Act of 1947—as the solid organizational foundation for America's triumph in a long and difficult struggle against a formidable enemy.
History has given our Nation new challenges—and important new assignments. Only the United States Congress can create a new department of Government. We face an urgent need, and I am pleased that Congress has responded to my call to act before the end of the current congressional session with the same bipartisan spirit that allowed us to act expeditiously on legislation after September 11.
These are times that demand bipartisan action and bipartisan solutions to meet the new and changing threats we face as a Nation. I urge the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission— securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people. Together we can meet this ambitious deadline and help ensure that the American homeland is secure against the terrorist threat.
GEORGE W. BUSH
The White House, June 18, 2002.
NOTE: The Office of the Press Secretary also released an "Analysis for the Homeland Security Act of 2002" and made available the text of the proposed legislation.
George W. Bush, Message to the Congress Transmitting Proposed Legislation To Create the Department of Homeland Security Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/213269