After Visiting with Employees at Nebraska Avenue Homeland Security Complex
Nebraska Avenue Homeland Security Complex
September 19, 2002
2:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate Governor Ridge giving me a tour of this important
facility. It's -- we're working hard to make sure that we do everything we can
to protect our homeland, coordinate among the various agencies, until we get
a department of homeland security.
Our House of Representatives has passed a good bill. The Senate is struggling
with a bill. I urge the Senate to get a bill to my desk before they go home,
a bill which give us the flexibility necessary to move the right people to the
right place, in order to better protect the homeland. A bill which safeguards
prerogatives that former Presidents have had, in regards to national security
matters. We're at a time of war, and the Senate shouldn't be making it harder
for an administration, whether it be this one, or future administrations, to
do their job. Nor should the Senate be trying to strip this administration or
future administrations from any prerogatives or power that former administrations
We're aware that there is hard work on the Senate floor by Senator Gramm of
Texas, a Republican, and Senator Miller of Georgia, a Democrat, to develop a
comprehensive substitute for a piece of legislation which we believe is flawed.
We hope the Senate would work with Senator Gramm and Senator Miller, vote that
bill off the Senate floor, so we can get it to a conference committee, and get
the bill to my desk before they go home.
This is a really important piece of legislation. America is still threatened.
There are enemies out there which still hate us. We must do everything we can
to secure the homeland today, and at the same time, leave a legacy behind so
future Presidents and future members of Congress can deal with what will be
an ongoing threat to our freedoms and to our people.
But anyway, I appreciate your hospitality, Governor. You've got some fine people
here working hard on behalf of the American people. It's wonderful to see you
all again today.
QUESTION: Is one vote enough -- is Zell Miller's vote enough on this compromise?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not counting votes, I'm just calling on the right -- calling
on the Senate to do the right thing for the American people.
QUESTION: Did you hear the Iraqi Foreign Minster's speech at the U.N., sir?
What did you think of it?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn't hear it, but let me guess: the United States is guilty,
the world doesn't understand, we don't have any weapons of mass destruction.
It's the same old song and dance that we've heard for 11 long years. And the
United Nations Security Council must show backbone, must step up and hold this
regime to account. Otherwise, the United States and some of our friends will
For the sake of peace, for the sake of world security, for the sake of a viable
United Nations, they must act. And if they don't have it in their will to do
so, if they're not willing to fashion a resolution which is new and different
and strong, and holds Iraq to account, holds them to the agreements they have
made, the United States will be willing to do so.
QUESTION: Should the American people prepare themselves for war with Iraq, Mr.
THE PRESIDENT: The American people must understand the serious threat which
Iraq places on America. We've learned after September the 11th that oceans no
longer protect us from an enemy. We also know full well this is a man who has
invaded two countries, this is a man who has poisoned his own people, this is
man who's poisoned his neighbors, this is a man who says that Stalin is his
hero, this is a man who hates, this is a man who doesn't believe in freedom,
this is a man who has weapons of mass destruction and says he doesn't. He poses
a serious threat to the American people. And the first step is to get the United
Nations to prove to the world whether it's going to be relevant or whether it's
going to be a League of Nations, irrelevant.