Technology Key to Homeland Security
Argonne National Laboratory
July 22, 2002
10:33 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Please have a seat -- (laughter) -- unless you
don't have a chair. (Laughter.) Thank you all very much for welcoming me here.
I'm honored to be here. I'm honored to be here with some of the finest Americans
in our country. (Applause.)
We're in a new kind of war today. We face a ruthless and a resourceful enemy,
we do. That's the reality of the 21st century. These people seek to acquire
the most destructive of weapons, because they hate freedom. They intend to spread
fear and death around the world. To prevail in this war, we're going to take
the battle to the enemy, in foreign lands. To prevail in this war, we'll use
our law enforcement and our intelligence gathering all across our country to
prevent the American people from being harmed. And to prevail in this war, we
will fight on the frontiers of knowledge and discovery.
In this new war, we will rely upon the genius and creativity of the American
people. (Applause.) And that's why I'm here, to look in the eyes of those who
posses the genius and the creativity of the American people. (Applause.) Our
scientific community is serving on the front lines of this war, by developing
new technologies that will make America safer. And as you tackle new scientific
challenges, I want you to know, our government will stand by your side to make
your job easier. It is in our interests that we work together.
I want to thank Spence Abraham for his leadership at the Department of Energy,
and I want to thank all of you for working for the fine Department of Energy.
I want to thank Tom Ridge for coming. He's a man -- I asked him, I said, you
know, you need to serve your country. He was serving as the Governor of Pennsylvania.
I said, you've got a nice mansion over there. (Laughter.) It's heavy lifting,
but we need you in Washington. And for the good of the country, he came to help
us spearhead the effort for a Department of Homeland Security.
And I want to thank Dr. John Marburger who is the Director of Office Science
and Technology Policy. Dr. Marburger is a fine scientist, who represents the
best of American scientists in Washington, D.C.
I appreciate the Speaker of the House being here. He's my friend, he's doing
a fine job on behalf of the citizens of Illinois and the United States of America,
Speaker Denny Hastert. (Applause.) And I want to thank Senator Durbin and Senator
Fitzgerald for coming, as well. I know they've got busy schedules. (Applause.)
Thank you all for being here, I appreciate you coming. I appreciate Judy Biggert,
Jerry Weller and Mark Kirk, fine members of the House of Representatives from
Illinois being here today. (Applause.) I look forward to giving them a lift
back to Washington. (Laughter.) It's a nice way to travel. I think you all will
like it. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the Governor, George Ryan, for coming. Governor, I appreciate
your time. I want to thank the Attorney General of Illinois, Jim Ryan, for coming
as well. (Applause.) I want to thank Ray Orbach, who is the Director of Office
and Science at the Department of Energy, who led us on our tour. And of course
I've got to thank Dr. Grunder. If everybody had a spirit like Dr. Grunder, the
world would be an incredibly happy place. (Applause.) We're proud of you, Herman.
Thank you for your service to the country, and thank you all very much.
The Argonne National Laboratory is a cutting edge facility. You're on the cutting
edge, and you've got a great history, as well. It is a direct decedent of the
University of Chicago laboratory, where in 1942 Enrico Fermi and his colleagues
achieved the world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction. This is a place
where smart people work. (Laughter.) It is the home of some of America's greatest
scientists, who continue to dazzle the world with astonishing breakthroughs.
I've just come back from viewing some demonstrations of the great work done
at national laboratories, whether it be here, or Los Alamos, or Sandia or others.
The American people need to know we've got a lot of brain power working on ways
to deal with the threats that we now face as we head into the 21st century.
For example, I saw a warning and response system that will supply first responders
with timely and life saving information in the event of a chemical attack on
a subway or any other enclosed space. I saw a project that uses new advances
in genetic research to identify and understand biological agents that could
be used against us. I saw computer simulations to help policy makers and first
responders anticipate the effect of an attack of natural disaster, and to develop
life saving plans.
What I saw was new technologies that our scientists are developing to help us
secure the homeland. America is grateful -- it's grateful for your work. And
our government must be organized and focused to support these efforts. Right
now there are more than a hundred different federal agencies that have some
role in the homeland defense of our country. And despite everyone's best intentions
in those agencies, this inevitably leads to a dispersal of authority. Imagine,
a hundred of them scattered all over Washington, D.C. It makes it hard to have
accountability when you've got a hundred agencies scattered around. And it's
a drain on critical resources.
So I asked Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent, Cabinet-level
Department of Homeland Security with an overriding and urgent mission, with
this primary focus: to secure the American homeland. (Applause.) Their agencies,
once they're under this -- in this new department will have other missions,
no question about it. But their primary mission is to recognize the new world
in which we live. The world has changed, and so must our government change with
it, in order to allow all of us who have responsibility to say to the American
people, we're doing everything we possibly can to protect innocent American
This Department of Homeland Security will foster a new culture throughout our
government, one that emphasizes cooperation and working together on behalf of
the American people. And this department will have four primary tasks. First,
it will work to control our borders. (Applause.) There needs to be much better
cooperation amongst the agencies to make sure we know who is coming in the country,
what they're bringing in the country, why they're coming in the country, and
are they leaving when they said they're going to leave the country. (Applause.)
We need to work -- one of the primary responsibilities will be to work with
state and local authorities to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies.
In other words, we need to be better coordinated with the brave, first time
responders -- that means police and fire and EMS teams which exist all across
our country. We want to have them have the strategy necessary to respond, the
tools to respond effectively, and to be coordinated not only at the federal
level, the state level and the local level.
Thirdly, we need to merge under one roof the capability to identify and assess
threats to the homeland, map those threats against our vulnerabilities, and
address the vulnerabilities. So prior to September 11th, we had the CIA collecting
information and we had the FBI collecting information, and sometimes they weren't
talking all that much. Now they talk. Now they coordinate. (Applause.)
When I'm there in Washington, I meet every morning, face to face, with the Director
of the CIA and with the head of the FBI. It's a way to make sure that, at least
at the very top levels of government, people are communicating, and we're sharing
information. We need to do that throughout all our government, and the Department
of Homeland Security. We need to be able to take the information intelligence
gathered from around the world, as well as at home, and understand what might
or might not be happening. One of the key tools that we need to use effectively
against the cold-blooded killers who we're trying to chase down is the capacity
of our nation to collect and analyze information.
And, finally, we need our scientists to develop the kinds of technologies I
saw today. We need to have an effective strategy of mating up our brain power
with the problems we face, so as to stay on the cutting edge of technological
change necessary to protect the homeland.
And this last point is an incredibly important point -- and that's why I've
come to this laboratory to make the point. (Laughter.) It's a perfect place
to make the point. (Applause.) We will harness our science and our technology
in a way to protect the American people. We will consolidate most federally
funded homeland security research and development, to avoid duplication, and
to make sure all the efforts are focused.
You see, we need to learn to set priorities in our government. And the number
one priority is to protect America from attack, because we're at war. (Applause.)
The Department of Homeland Security will work to create a long-term plan. And
once you have the long-term plan, with the goal of securing the homeland, then
we can set funding priorities. We give our scientists the resources they require,
and that's important for you to know -- (applause) -- resources necessary to
counter the chemical and the biological and the radiological and nuclear threats
that our nation faces.
And these threats are real. And therefore we need to stay focused, not only
to make sure resources are spent, but that critical research continues, because
you all know better than anybody, when we research and we set priorities, this
great nation can achieve any objective. (Applause.)
We're making progress. We are making progress in Washington. I appreciate so
very much the House Select Committee getting a bill out, and it's going to get
to the floor. And the Speaker was telling me today that it looks like they may
get a vote this week. And the Senate is working hard on it, both Republicans
and Democrats are working hard to reconcile any differences that may be had.
It's important for people to understand, particularly in Washington, this Department
of Homeland Security is not a good Republican idea, it's not a good Democrat
idea, it's simply an American idea, and they need to get their work done. (Applause.)
And as they do so, the new Secretary of Homeland Security must have the freedom
and the flexibility to be able to get the right people in the right job at the
right time, so we can hold people accountable in Washington. We need the freedom
to manage. We don't need to be micro-managed.
And that's sometimes what happens in Washington, D.C. The new Secretary needs
the ability to move money and resources quickly, to respond to true threats.
I understand why that may not happen sometimes in Washington, and it's because,
for example, appropriators may not want the executive branch to have the capacity
to make decisions necessary to make the Homeland Department work effectively.
But we're in new times in America, and that requires new thinking. And Congress
must give us the flexibility necessary to make the right decisions to achieve
our goal, which is to protect the American people.
As well, this new Department must have every tool it needs to secure the homeland.
This new agency should include all of the departments which protect our border
-- all of the departments, not just some, but all of the departments. That includes
the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the INS, INS inspectors, Border Patrol
and Customs agents must report to the same boss and work together for the same
And this new Department needs to be able to respond effectively to any attack
that might come, so it must house FEMA in its entirety. What I'm telling you
is, I understand that these changes won't be easy for some in Congress, but
for the sake of the security of the American people, Congress needs to give
up some of its turf, and recognize turf is not nearly as important as security
for the people -- security for the American people. We're in new times, folks.
We're in a different world. (Applause.) We face an unprecedented threat, and
we cannot respond with business as usual.
But I want you to know something, how I feel, and what I know. I know that the
best way to secure the homeland is to hunt these cold-blooded killers down,
one by one, and bring them to justice. And that's what we're going to do. (Applause.)
And it's going to take a while. It's going to take a while. Unlike past wars
-- where you could see platoons and battalions moving here, or airplane formations
moving there -- we're chasing down these people who are willing to hide in a
cave and send youngsters to their death. That's the kind of people we're facing.
You know, these people hate -- they hate America because we love freedom. They
hate the fact that -- as I look out, I mean, I can see people who worship an
Almighty and some who don't; who worship an Almighty one way and others another
way. They hate that. They can't stand a society which honors freedom -- freedom
to worship, freedom to speak, freedom to express our opinions. That's what they
hate. And they're going to hate us for a long time because those are the values
we'll never relinquish in America. (Applause.)
We believe in tolerance in America. That's what we believe in. We respect the
other person -- we always don't agree, but we respect and we tolerate. And we
believe everybody ought to have access to the great American experience, regardless
of how they're raised or where they're from. That's what we believe.
And any time anybody who tries to get us because of those beliefs, they're going
to find something out about America. I don't know what was going through the
minds of the enemy when they were plotting and planning. I don't know who they
thought they were attacking. They must have thought this country was so materialistic,
so self-absorbed that we would sit back and, you know, after the attacks, maybe
file a lawsuit or two. (Laughter.) That's not the America I know. And that's
not the America you're a part of.
Listen, when people come after us, we're plenty tough. (Applause.) We're a compassionate
nation. (Applause.) And so we're on the hunt. You just need to know we're after
them one by one. One by one. And so long as I'm the President of this country,
we're going to chase them down one by one to make sure the American homeland
is secure. (Applause.)
And we're making progress, progress. As I said in a speech in front of about
10,000 of our troops and their families in Ft. Drum, New York, last friday:
we've hauled in thousands -- that means captured. (Laughter.) And another couple
of thousand weren't quite as lucky. We're making progress. Sometimes it's not
quite as dramatic as, you know, the newscasters would like. Because they learned
their lesson, by the way. They understand if they bunch up, if they get together,
our military is going to find them and it's not going to be a pleasant day when
our military does find them. Because we're good. I'm really proud of the United
States military and those who serve. (Applause.)
And I'm proud of you all, too. That's really what I'm here to tell you. I'm
proud of you. We're depending on you to develop the tools we need to lift the
dark threat of terrorism for our nation -- and, for that matter, the world.
All of us here today, whether we're scientists or engineers or elected officials,
share in a great calling. It's an honor to participate in a noble cause that's
larger than ourselves.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: God bless America. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: It's an honor to defend this nation. It's a high honor, to be
called into action and to defend our nation when it's threatened. And that's
what you're doing. It's an honor to help protect the American people against
the forces of evil.
History has called each of us to defend America. That's what's happened. History
has called us into action in a time of great peril. The struggles against Naziism
and communism helped to define the 20th century. The war on terror will be the
defining conflict of the 21st century.
It's our solemn duty, it's our responsibility, and it's our great privilege
to help America prevail in this war -- and prevail we will. (Applause.)
May God bless you all, may God bless your work and may God bless America. Thank
you very much. Thank you, all. (Applause.)