17 January 2003
Text: Ridge Pledges Stronger Public-Private Effort to Curb Terrorism
(Homeland security nominee at confirmation hearing) (5120)
Homeland Security Secretary-designate Tom Ridge says there is no more
serious job than stopping terrorist attacks on American soil, and he
pledged increased public-private collaboration as part of the new
Department of Homeland Security's anti-terrorism efforts.
In remarks prepared for his January 17 confirmation hearing as head of
the Department of Homeland Security, Ridge emphasized that though much
work has already been done since the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001, much more remains to be done.
"If I should become the new secretary," Ridge said, "you have my
pledge that I will focus on increased collaboration and coordination
so that public and private resources are better aligned to secure the
homeland and support each one of our critical missions."
Ridge reiterated that the new agency will have six critical missions:
intelligence and warning, border and transportation security, domestic
counterterrorism, protecting critical infrastructure and key assets,
defending against catastrophic threats, and emergency preparedness and
He said the department will be divided into four directorates: border
and transportation security, information analysis and critical
infrastructure protection, emergency response and preparedness, and
science and technology.
In the area of border and transportation security, Ridge noted that
the new agency will separate the Immigration and Naturalization
Service's enforcement and services functions.
"This plan will allow the new department to greatly improve the
administration of benefits and services for applicants, while at the
same time ensuring full enforcement of the laws that regulate the flow
of aliens to the United States," Ridge said. "[I]f we are to remain
the land of freedom and opportunity, we must retain complete control
over who enters our country and maintain the integrity of our
immigration system so that we always know who is in our country and
for what purpose," he added.
Ridge also noted that the Coast Guard and the Secret Service "will
retain their independence and will play key roles in supporting all of
the critical missions." He observed that the recently passed Maritime
Transportation Security Act gives the Coast Guard and the Customs
Service authority to develop standards and procedures to assess U.S.
port vulnerabilities. He also pledged that alongside its homeland
security missions, the Coast Guard will continue to perform its other
critical tasks, including maritime search-and-rescue, fisheries
enforcement, migrant patrols and illegal drug interdiction.
As for the Secret Service, Ridge sees its decades-long development of
vulnerabilities assessment and risk minimization strategies as a key
asset of the new Homeland Security Department. Ridge foresees this
capability as important "to nearly all of the missions in the
department, but none more so than protecting our critical
In his remarks, Ridge also discusses his plans for emergency
preparedness and response, and the rationale for creating the
directorate of science and technology. He also mentions some broad
personnel policies for the 170,000 federal workers who are now part of
the new agency.
Ridge is the former governor of Pennsylvania and was selected by
President Bush October 8, 2001 to become his director of Homeland
Security within the White House.
Following is the text of Ridge's prepared remarks:
WRITTEN TESTIMONY FOR THE CONFIRMATION HEARING
OF TOM RIDGE, NOMINEE FOR THE SECRETARY,
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
I would like to first thank you, Senator Collins and Senator
Lieberman, and all the members of the Committee for moving
expeditiously to conduct today's hearing.
As I have said many times before my nomination was announced, and as I
have said many times since, to me there is no more serious job in all
the land than stopping future terrorist incidents from occurring on
American soil. I can imagine no mission more imperative than
protecting the American people; and should another terrorist attack
occur, I can think of nothing more crucial than working to ensure that
every single echelon of society is as prepared as possible to respond.
I wish to commend the Congress again for pressing forward and taking
bold and historic steps to establish this new Department of Homeland
Security. Together, the Congress and the executive branch realized the
current structure of our government limited our ability to protect
America. Now, for the first time, we will have a federal department
whose primary mission is the protection of the American people.
America is undoubtedly safer and better prepared today than on
September 10th, 2001. We have taken key steps to protect America -
from pushing our maritime borders farther from shore and
professionalizing airport screening to developing vaccination plans
and tightening our borders. Public servants at all levels of
government, private sector employees, and citizens all across the
United States have changed the way in which they live and work in a
unified effort to improve our security since the September 11th
For the first time in our nation's history, the president has created
a National Strategy for Homeland Security, a strategy which provides
the framework to mobilize and organize the nation -- the federal
government, state and local governments, the private sector, and the
American people -- in the complex mission to protect our homeland. We
have begun the very first steps of critical work in the initiative by
identifying and assessing our vulnerabilities to see where we are
exposed to an unpredictable enemy.
That said, we are only at the beginning of what will be a long
struggle to protect our nation from terrorism. While much has been
accomplished, there is much more work to do. We are a country that is
built from ingenuity and hard work and we will not rest on our
laurels. We must stay focused. We must stay vigilant.
We have no higher purpose than to ensure the security of our people to
protect and preserve our democratic way of life. Terrorism directly
threatens the foundations of our Nation, our people, our freedom, and
our economic prosperity. We face a hate-filled, remorseless enemy that
takes many forms, has many places to hide, and is often invisible.
The role of the Secretary of Homeland Security will be, first and
foremost, the protection of the American people. Since being sworn in
by the President as the first Homeland Security Advisor on October
8th, 2001, I have been focused solely on this mission.
Shortly after the President made his speech to the nation announcing
his intention to propose the creation of the Department of Homeland
Security, he also appointed me as Director of the Transition Planning
Office. It was in that capacity that I testified in front of
congressional committees in both the House and Senate about the vision
we were undertaking that began the critical partnership of working
with Congress to ensure the success of this venture.
In the time since, I have helped to guide the men and women in the
Transition Planning Office, who are detailed from all of the agencies
affected by the legislation. They have been working undeterred and
with a strong sense of urgency. In the nearly 60 days since the
President signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law, our
Transition staff has laid the framework for an organizational
structure that will best accomplish our goals and create a
professional workforce focused first and foremost on the mission of
protecting our homeland.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, however, is only one person who,
without the support of those who have dedicated and risked their lives
to protecting America, will not succeed. Should I be confirmed as the
Secretary of Homeland Security, I will go to work every single morning
with the mission of protecting the American people from the threat of
terrorist attack, knowing that the most valuable asset the new
Department will have is not funding, or technology, or equipment, but
the men and women who work there.
These are the true patriots in every sense of the term. They are vital
to the mission.
The more than 170,000 future employees of the Department of Homeland
Security will be doing the same job in the new Department that they
are doing today: protecting our country from terrorist attack. That
focus exists now, and it will exist long after the Department is
We will also not forget the breadth of the task at hand. This is the
largest and most significant transformation of the U.S. government in
over a half-century. We will not be naive to the challenge of merging
22 separate work cultures, operating procedures and management
procedures into one cohesive organization. At the same time, we cannot
lose sight of the individual missions of each of the agencies. But we
must create a mindset in which everyone is thinking about how each of
their missions fit into the larger mission of protecting our homeland.
From day one, we will not allow for invisible barriers to lead to the
breakdown of information. To be successful, we will need to foster
teamwork and a strong sense of pride about working together to
accomplish the mission.
However, unifying in one Department on the federal level will not in
itself be able to stop all attempts to do harm to America. We must
realize fully the value of cultivating partnerships and cooperating
with our partners in other federal agencies, state and local
governments, the private sector and with the American people.
As a former Governor, I am keenly aware of the shared responsibility
that exists between the federal, state, and local governments for
homeland security. In fact, over the past year I have often said that
"when our hometowns are secure, our homeland will be secure." That is
not merely rhetoric, but a fundamental principle of the nation's
homeland security effort.
I'm pleased to report that all 50 states and the territories have
appointed homeland security advisors and that they participate
regularly in meetings at the White House and in bi-monthly conference
calls with the Office of Homeland Security. We have, for the first
time, created a single entry point to address many of the homeland
security concerns of our Governors and Mayors.
We know, however, that much more needs to be done. We must recognize
that communities and state and local governments face new and
unprecedented threats. As such, the new Department should stand ready
to work with them to obtain the tools, resources, and information they
need to do their jobs. We also must develop new channels of
communication with private sector organizations, and provide clear,
concise, scientifically sound and easily accessible information so
that Americans citizens can be prepared in the event their community
is affected by a terrorist act.
If I should become the new Secretary, you have my pledge that I will
focus on increased collaboration and coordination so that public and
private resources are better aligned to secure the homeland and
support each one of our critical missions.
Supporting the National Strategy for Homeland Security
I also wish to state my promise that I will do everything in my power
to use the office of the secretary to keep the Department focused on
all six of its critical missions outlined in the National Strategy for
Homeland Security. They include:
-- Intelligence and Warning,
-- Border and Transportation Security,
-- Domestic Counterterrorism,
-- Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets,
-- Defending Against Catastrophic Threats, and
-- Emergency Preparedness and Response.
While each of these missions is unique, each is essential to our
primary mission of protecting the security of the United States. Some,
such as Emergency Preparedness and Response, have long played key
roles in helping society overcome hardship and emergencies; while
others are byproducts of the harsh reality that terrorism can strike
on our soil.
As I said earlier, the future employees of the Department of Homeland
Security will be doing the same job in the new Department that they
are doing today. The difference is that the new structure of the
Department will refocus, consolidate and reorganize the functions of
each of the 22 agencies involved in protecting the homeland.
The Department will be structured into four Directorates, each
responsible for implementing the applicable components of the six
critical missions. They are:
-- Border and Transportation Security,
-- Information Analysis and Critical Infrastructure Protection,
-- Emergency Response and Preparedness, and
-- Science and Technology.
The United States Coast Guard and Secret Service will retain their
independence and will play key roles in supporting all of the critical
I would like to give you a sense of how I believe this unified
homeland security structure will mobilize and focus the resources of
the federal government, state and local governments, the private
sector, and the American people to accomplish its mission; beginning
first with one of the most sizable challenges, border and
Border and Transportation Security
America has historically relied on two vast oceans and two friendly
neighbors for border security. And our country has long cherished its
identity as a nation of immigrants. Nearly 500 million people enter
our country each year at our numerous border checkpoints, seaports and
airports. The sheer volume of those wishing to visit our great country
or move here permanently in search of the American dream, coupled with
the burden of processing vast amounts of information from disparate
federal agencies, has severely taxed our border security and
immigration systems. Even before September 11th, it had become
apparent that the system could no longer determine who exactly was in
our country, for what reason, and whether they left when they said
they were going to leave.
Since then, we have made substantial improvements to tighten security
in areas like visa issuances and border patrol; but more importantly,
we have laid the foundation for a comprehensive plan with tangible
benchmarks to measure success through the National Strategy for
The new Department will be organized to implement this plan
efficiently and meet its two inherent strategic goals: to improve
border security while at the same time, facilitate the unimpeded flow
of legitimate commerce and people across our borders.
We will implement the President's plan to separate the Immigration and
Naturalization Service into two functions: services and enforcement.
This plan will allow the new Department to greatly improve the
administration of benefits and services for applicants, while at the
same time ensuring full enforcement of the laws that regulate the flow
of aliens to the United States. I realize that this is no simple task.
But if we are to remain the land of freedom and opportunity, we must
retain complete control over who enters our country and maintain the
integrity of our immigration system so that we always know who is in
our country and for what purpose.
The integrity of our borders goes hand-in-hand with the security of
our transportation systems. Today, Americans are more mobile than
ever. We enjoy the freedom to go where we want, when we want, using
the best transportation system in the world. This efficient system is
also one of the engines that drives our economy. Shutting down that
engine is not a viable option.
But the destructive potential of modern terrorism requires that we
fundamentally rethink how we should protect this system. Virtually
every community in America is connected to the global transportation
network by seaports, airports, highways, railroads, and waterways.
One area in which we have shown significant progress is security at
our nation's airports. The Transportation Security Administration,
under the leadership of the Department of Transportation, has hired,
trained and deployed a new federal screening workforce that is
professional and focused on providing the highest levels of security
without hindering our aviation system. We need to build on that
success, but at the same time realize we have farther still to go. The
new Department must work with its federal and private sector partners
to assess and take the necessary steps to secure our means of
transportation, including our railways, roadways, bridges, waterways
and especially our seaports.
We must take immediate action to make sure our seaports are open to
process the flow of goods and commercial traffic, but are closed to
terrorists. A vast majority of container cargo remains unscreened.
Port security remains the responsibility of a myriad of local port
authorities, federal agencies and the Coast Guard. However, we are
making changes. We must enhance risk management and implement
practices that allow for higher efficiency screening of goods. Our
fundamental goal is to make certain that heightened security does not
obstruct legitimate trade.
Progress, however, is already underway. Programs like the Container
Security Initiative are helping nations spot and screen the
highest-risk containers. Operation Safe Commerce focuses on
business-driven initiatives to enhance security for the movement of
cargo throughout the entire supply chain. Most recently, Congress
passed the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which gives authority
to the Coast Guard and Customs Service to develop standards and
procedures for conducting port vulnerability assessments.
United States Coast Guard
The men and women of the United States Coast Guard, who live under the
guiding principle Semper Paratus or Always Ready, have been performing
the mission of Homeland Security in a complex and dangerous maritime
environment for more than 200 years. The Coast Guard's fundamental
responsibilities -- preparedness, protection, response and recovery --
cut across all facets of the Department's mission.
Every day since the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Coast Guard
pushes our maritime borders farther from shore. All ships bound for
the U.S., regardless of registry, face a multi-layered, interagency
security screening process in addition to traditional safety,
environmental and operational standards enforcement, plus random
boardings. Vessels now must provide 96-hour advance notice of arrival
to the Coast Guard National Vessel Movement Center, including detailed
crew and passenger information, cargo details, and voyage history. The
Coast Guard has also created highly trained and specially equipped
Maritime Safety and Security Teams to add an extra layer of security
and additional quick-response capabilities in key U.S. ports.
But let me make one thing clear. The new Department will not lose
focus of the Coast Guard's other critical missions. From search and
rescue, anti-drug and illegal migrant patrols to fisheries enforcement
and aids to navigation, I will work personally to ensure that the
Department continues to support the entirety of the Coast Guard
No branch of the Armed Forces has as much history in protecting the
homeland, and should I be confirmed as Secretary, I can think of no
honor that would make me more proud than calling myself a Service
Secretary of the Coast Guard.
United States Secret Service
The Secret Service represents another unique critical mission that
aligns with the core competencies of the new Department and will
remain independent. Through its two distinct missions, protection and
criminal investigation, the Secret Service is responsible for the
protection of the President, the Vice President and their families;
heads of state; the security for designated National Special Security
Events; and the investigation and enforcement of laws relating to
counterfeiting, fraud and financial crimes.
The Secret Service is, and has been for decades, in the business of
assessing vulnerabilities and designing ways to reduce them in advance
of an attack. This expertise will greatly benefit the Department as we
strive to create an overall culture of anticipation, vulnerability
assessment, and threat reduction. Building on these institutional
ideals will be of the utmost importance as it pertains to nearly all
of the missions in the Department, but none more so than protecting
our critical infrastructure.
Information Analysis and Critical Infrastructure Protection
On September 11th, we were dealt a grave, horrific blow, and today we
face the real possibility of additional attacks of similar or even
greater magnitude. Our enemy will choose their targets deliberately
based upon weaknesses in our defenses and preparations. Thus, a
fundamental priority in our mission must be to analyze the threat,
while concurrently and continuously assessing our vulnerabilities. The
Department is structured in such a way as to efficiently conduct this
The Information Analysis and Critical Infrastructure Directorate will
bring together for the first time under one roof the capability to
identify and assess threats to the homeland, map those threats against
our vulnerabilities, issue warnings, and provide the basis from which
to organize protective measures to secure the homeland.
For this Directorate to play an effective role in the mission of
securing our homeland, I believe a top priority will be to work with
the CIA, the FBI and other intelligence-gathering agencies to define
the procedures from which to obtain the appropriate intelligence. This
means that the Department will be a full participant, at all levels,
in the mechanisms for setting foreign intelligence requirements,
including the prioritization for terrorism, weapons of mass
destruction, and other relevant foreign intelligence collection
activities. We also must continue to work with the FBI as they
reorganize to most effectively collect domestic intelligence.
More than just countering each identified threat, the Department will
design and implement a long-term comprehensive and nationwide plan for
protecting America's critical infrastructure and key assets. A key
mission of the Information Analysis and Critical Infrastructure
Protection division will be to catalogue and reduce the Nation's
America's critical infrastructure encompasses a large number of
sectors ranging from energy and chemical to banking and agriculture.
Each has unique vulnerabilities, and each requires different kinds of
protection. This, coupled with the fact that nearly 85 percent of
critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector -- and that 12
separate federal agencies have oversight authority -- creates an
Realizing the breadth of this task, the Office of Homeland Security
began working with the federal lead departments and agencies for each
of the 14 critical infrastructure sectors designated in the
President's National Strategy for Homeland Security. This cooperation
has included the identification of infrastructures and assets of
national-level criticality within each sector; facilitating the
sharing of risk and vulnerability assessment methodologies and best
practices; and enabling cooperation between federal departments and
agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector.
This process, however, is only the beginning. The Department of
Homeland Security will provide greater uniformity to these efforts and
further strengthen the relationships with the private sector and state
and local governments so that we can integrate the threat and
vulnerability analysis in a way that will help produce effective
countermeasures. As this information is collected and mapped to
critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, our top priority must be to
get this information to those federal, state and local officials to
whose mission the information is relevant. These individuals represent
the first line of defense against and response to a terrorist attack,
and we must make it a priority to keep them properly informed and
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Our nation's three million firefighters, police officers, and EMTs
[Emergency Medical Technicians] are the first on the scene in a crisis
and the last to leave. Their heroic efforts saved lives and speeded
the recovery from the attacks of September 11th, and they will be
called upon to do so in the event of future attacks against our
hometowns. They're living proof that homeland security is a national,
not a federal effort.
We must give these brave men and women all the assistance and support
possible. Under the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate in
the new Department, we will strengthen our relationship with first
responders and partner with the states, cities and counties that
manage and fund them. We will work with Congress to provide them with
the resources they need, beginning with the President's First
Responder Initiative, which offered a 1,000-percent increase in
funding to equip, train and drill first responders to meet a
conventional attack or one involving a weapon of mass destruction.
We will build on the strong foundation already in place by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, which for decades has provided command
and control support and funding support in disasters, whether caused
by man or Mother Nature.
The new Department of Homeland Security will consolidate at least five
different plans that currently govern federal response to disasters
into one genuinely all-discipline, all-hazard plan -- the Federal
Incident Management Plan. This will eliminate the artificial
distinction between "crisis management" and "consequence management."
Moreover, it will consolidate grant programs for first responders and
citizen volunteers that are now scattered across numerous federal
agencies. This will prevent waste and duplication, and ultimately save
lives, including the lives of first responders.
In a crisis, the Department will for the first time provide a direct
line of authority from the President through the Secretary of Homeland
Security to a single on-site federal response coordinator. All levels
of government will have complete incident awareness and open
The Department will also direct our federal crisis response assets,
such as the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile and nuclear incident
response teams -- assets that work best when they work together. In
doing all this, we believe we can build the capabilities for a
proactive emergency management culture -- one that is well-planned,
well-organized and well-equipped to not just manage the risk, but
reduce the risk of death and damage to property.
It is vitally important to remember that no matter what steps we take
to pre-empt terrorists, we cannot guarantee that another attack will
not occur. However, we must be prepared to respond. We must also take
brave new steps, think creatively and invest in homeland security
technologies that aim to stay one step ahead of the technologically
Science and Technology
As stated in the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security,
our Nation enjoys a distinct advantage in science and technology. We
must exploit that advantage. And just as technology has helped us to
defeat enemies from afar, so too will it help us to protect our
Creating a Directorate in the new Department specifically devoted to
Science and Technology for the homeland represents an exciting
milestone. For the first time, the federal government will harness
American ingenuity to develop new synergies and form robust
partnerships with the private sector to research, develop and deploy
homeland security technologies that will make America safer.
The science and technology organizational structure, while still being
defined, is envisioned to be a streamlined, integrated team that will
access the technical resources and assets of the private sector,
academia, and federal government. It will be based on customer-focused
portfolios for countering chemical, biological, radiological and
nuclear attacks and for conducting and enhancing the normal operations
of the Department. Research, development, test and evaluation programs
will address the greatest threats and highest priorities based on
assessments of threats, customer requirements and technological
The technologies developed through this research and development
should not only make us safer, but also make our daily lives better.
These technologies fit well within our physical and economic structure
and our national habits. And the Science and Technology Directorate
will have a structure that ensures those who are the end users of all
technologies provide their expertise throughout the entire lifecycle
of research, development and acquisition of systems.
Before any new homeland security technologies are deployed, we will
ensure that we are upholding the laws of the land. Any new data mining
techniques or programs to enhance information sharing and collecting
must and will respect the civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed
to the American people under the Constitution. Furthermore, as we go
about developing new technologies and programs to strengthen our
homeland, treating citizens differently on the basis of religion or
ethnicity will not be tolerated.
Before I close, I wish to again underscore an earlier point. No matter
how this organization is structured it will not achieve its mission
without the dedication of its employees. And the key to ensuring the
Department's mission and focus throughout the transition will be the
continuing support of those conducting the day-to-day work. This will
be an all-inclusive effort. We will eagerly solicit and consider
advice from employees, unions, professional associations and other
We will create a human resource model that will be collaborative,
responsive to both its employees and the mission of the agency.
First, we will work to create some measure of stability for employees
even as we undergo the transition. For the first year, employees can
expect to receive at least the same pay and benefits, and probably in
the same location. Some people will certainly be able to take
advantage of new career opportunities.
Second, we will work hard to create a modern, flexible, fair,
merit-based personnel system. Third, we will communicate to ensure
that personnel know what to expect and when to expect it. Fourth, we
will work hard to ensure that employees continue to receive the same
civil service protections that they currently enjoy. Most importantly,
we aim for the Department's employees to be better able to do their
jobs with more support and more effective use of resources.
Finally, I will insist on measurable progress from all of the agencies
and bureaus that will make up the Department of Homeland Security.
Americans must and will know when improvements have been made.
In a town hall I hosted with future employees of the Department in
December, I made all of these promises to them, as well as the pledge
to keep them informed and aware of historic changes before them.
Should I be confirmed, I make that same pledge to you.
In closing, during our darkest hour on September 11th, American spirit
and pride rose above all else to unify our Nation. In the time since,
we have fought a new kind of war -- one that has a new enemy, new
techniques, new strategies, new soldiers and is fought on a new
battlefield -- our own homeland. Our response has been strong,
measured and resolute. But nothing has been more profound as the
creation of one Department whose primary mission is the protection of
the American people.
The Department of Homeland Security will better enable every level of
federal, state and local government; every private sector employee;
and, ultimately, every citizen in our Nation to prevent terrorist
attacks, reduce America's vulnerability and respond and recover when
attacks do occur.
The road will be long, and the mission difficult. We will not have
truly succeeded until the day when terrorists know the futility of
attacking Americans and Americans know we have the ability to protect
them. The bottom line is, we will secure the homeland - whether by the
efforts of thousands of people working together, or by a single
scientist working alone in a laboratory -- whether from behind a desk
in Washington, or at the far corners of the continent. We will
accomplish our mission.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)