Ridge Sworn In as Secretary of Homeland Security
The Cross Hall
The White House
January 24, 2003
1:20 P.M. EST
Good afternoon, and thank you all for coming. Welcome to the White House and
welcome to this historic moment. As of today, the law creating the United States
Department of Homeland Security comes into effect. And now this Department has
its first Secretary, Thomas Joseph Ridge.
Homeland Security becomes the 15th executive department of my Cabinet. It begins
a vital mission in the defense of our country. We've learned that vast oceans
no longer protect us from the dangers of a new era. This government has a responsibility
to confront the threat of terror wherever it is found.
And that is why we're taking the battle to America's enemies, disrupting their
networks, we're destroying their camps, we've got them on the run and we're
going to keep them on the run.
And at home we are taking every measure to protect the American people against
a serious and ongoing threat. The Department of Homeland Security will lead
a comprehensive and unified effort to defend this nation. The Department will
analyze threats; guard our borders and airports; safeguard critical infrastructure
and coordinate the response of our nation to future emergencies.
Under the leadership of Tom Ridge, more than 170,000 dedicated Americans, dedicated
professionals, will have the overriding mission of protecting their fellow Americans.
In October of 2001, when I established the office -- the White House Office
of Homeland Security -- I knew immediately that Tom was the right man for the
assignment. He's a decisive, clear-thinking executive who knows how to solve
problems. He's a person of integrity and a person of good judgment. At the White
House he has done an outstanding job and he's earned the gratitude of the American
This week he earned an unanimous vote of confirmation. And I want to thank the
United States Senate for its swift action. This new Department will face many
challenges in the year to come. The American people can be certain that the
mission of homeland security will be carried out with focus and resolve, with
the resources the task requires. And the American people can know, as well,
that the Department is under the command of a superb leader who has my confidence.
Congratulations, Tom, and thank you for serving our country. (Applause.)
SECRETARY RIDGE: Thank you, Mr. President -- (applause.)