Good morning. I'm speaking to you from Europe where, this week, I am meeting
with NATO allies and friends to discuss terrorism and other threats to our shared
security. It has also been an important week at home on Capitol Hill.
After two years of achievements, which included tax relief and education reform,
the last days of this session of Congress brought additional historic progress.
Soon after I return from Europe, I will sign several important new laws to help
secure the homeland and create jobs.
Republicans and Democrats approved a department of homeland security that will
unite dozens of federal agencies and nearly 170,000 federal workers behind a
single, overriding mission, keeping Americans safe. This new department will
coordinate our response to any future emergency. It will help us know who's
coming into our country and who's going out. This new department will bring
together the best intelligence information about our vulnerabilities to terrorist
attack so that we can act quickly to protect America. I appreciate the Congress
listening to my concerns and retaining the authority of the President to put
the right people in the right place at the right time in defense of our country.
Congress also acted to protect the nation's ports and coasts by passing port
security legislation. With this law, we will add port security agents, restrict
access to sensitive areas and require ships to provide more information about
the cargo, crew and passengers they carry. These measures will help keep terrorists
and their weapons out of America.
In addition, Congress passed terrorism insurance legislation to help protect
our economy from any future terrorist attack. This new important law will lower
insurance premiums and get many real estate and construction projects that had
been put on hold moving again, creating thousands of hard-hat jobs.
On my trip this week here in Europe, I'm consulting with our friends and NATO
allies about the new threats to freedom that we face together. Today, the United
States is joined by more than 90 nations in a global coalition against terrorism,
sharing intelligence, cutting off terrorist finance and pursuing the terrorists
where they plot and train. The world is also uniting to answer the unique and
urgent threat posed by Iraq, whose dictator has already used weapons of mass
destruction to kill thousands. We must not and will not permit either terrorists
or tyrants to blackmail freedom-loving nations.
Our NATO allies are making important contributions. Sixteen NATO countries have
sent military forces to the fight against terror in Afghanistan and, at this
week's summit, NATO committed to build a new military response force with strong,
ready forces that are prepared to deploy on short notice wherever they are needed.
NATO members also voted to invite seven of Europe's newest democracies to join
our alliance. The addition of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,
Slovakia, and Slovenia will increase NATO's military strength. These nations
will also bring greater clarity to NATO's purposes because they know, from the
hard experience of the 20th century, that threats to freedom must be opposed,
not ignored or appeased.
This week, we saw the historic expansion of NATO and historic progress by Congress.
Both will make America more secure. Thank you for listening.