Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on September 11: Five Years Later
Via Department of Homeland Security
September 8, 2006
Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome and for the opportunity
to address you in a very handsome hall here in what I gather is the
oldest building in the campus and one in which George Washington used
as the basis of his farewell to the diplomatic corps.
O’Donnell, I appreciate your introduction. I want to thank Gary
Schiffman, who is a former colleague at the Department of Homeland
Security, for welcoming me to the university to speak.
I’d also like to thank Daniel Byman, the Director of the Center for
Peace and Security Studies, who I gather was not able to be with us
here today. And of course, it’s a pleasure to have colleagues from the
Department, students, and friends, as well.
Today, we are
gathered just a few days before the 5th anniversary of the September
11th attacks against the United States. And as we begin to think back
on the events of that tragic day, we have an opportunity to look, both
in terms of what we’ve learned and to look ahead in terms of what we
know we need to do. It’s appropriate to reflect on some of the steps
we’ve already taken, and to measure the progress we have already made
to protect our country and our citizens against further attacks. And of
course, it’s certainly worth remarking on the fact that there has not
been a successful attack against Americans on American soil since
But we also have to recognize remaining
challenges and be clear about setting the priorities we need to have in
place to make sure that there is not a successful attack in the years
For everybody in this room and for everybody in
this country, September 11th remains a defining moment in our personal
lives and in the history of our country. Even today, looking back, it’s
difficult to comprehend the full nature of the devastation and loss of
life that flowed from this premeditated and infamous act of war against
innocent people from all over the world, doing nothing more than
working here or visiting here in the United States; a senseless
campaign of murder that resulted in the death of nearly 3,000 men,
women and children of all backgrounds and all faiths.
of us have our personal memories of that day where we each — where
each of us were, what we experienced, how we first learned about it. I
can tell you, speaking for myself, I was the head of the criminal
division, and from the moment that I first learned that there had been
airplanes directed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, I
dedicated myself, with my colleagues in the government, to tracking
down those who had done us harm and who still intended to do us harm.
even today, when I go into New York, and I look at the scar in the
earth that is what remains of the physical structure of the World Trade
Center, it’s hard to escape that feeling of the breathtaking
devastation and the infamous nature of that crime against humanity,
which was the attack on the World Trade Center.
those who need to be reinvigorated in the struggle against terror, I
suggest that as we approach this 5th anniversary, you visit the site of
the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, where an airplane killed many,
many of our soldiers and our defense workers, or to go out to the field
in Shanksville, where the heroic passengers of United Flight 93 averted
yet another attack against our nation’s capital.
of the matter is, no words can fully describe the measure of the
tragedy of 9/11. But amid the horror of that day, we should also
remember that we witnessed tremendous courage, valor, and sacrifice:
first responders who gave their lives entering burning buildings,
citizens who fought back over the skies in Pennsylvania, other citizens
on other aircraft who picked up their cell phones and called loved ones
in the last moments before those planes were turned into weapons of
mass destruction. Out of the crucible of 9/11, we witnessed not only
horrible evil, but also wonderful courage and virtue. And I think that
we ought to consider the shining example that comes out of it that day,
as well as the clear warning of what lies ahead if we do not continue
to build our safety and security here in the United States and all over
We’ve had five years to absorb the lessons of
9/11, and we have acted deliberately and decisively to reduce the risk
that we will ever face another day like that infamous September
morning. We’ve learned that we cannot be complacent in the face of
terrorism. The fact is that terrorists continue to plot, even as we
strike against them. That was exposed yet again this past August, when
we uncovered and disrupted a potential horrible attack against
airliners flying from the United Kingdom to the United States.
we’ve been less successful in other parts of the world. There have been
attacks against American citizens overseas, our allies and innocent
civilians in London, in Bali, and in Madrid, and all over. Americans
have come to understand that protecting our nation involves trade-offs.
We cannot pursue the illusion of perfect security obtained at any
price, but we must pursue a security that is strong, and it has to be
one that is also consistent with our freedoms, our values, and our way
As we begin this first decade of the 21st
century, therefore, having emerged from the Cold War and the struggles
of World War II, we face a new challenge that has every bit as much
danger as the challenges we have faced in this country in prior
decades. And we have to reorient our approach to that threat. We have
to build a security system with urgency, with flexibility, and with
Now, a critical part of the President’s strategy
in dealing with this new threat of terror involves in taking the war to
the enemy overseas — in Afghanistan, in Iraq, all over the world —
working with our international partners to disrupt terrorist plots and
to dismantle terrorist threats before they reach our own shores.
at home, we have to continue to work to build a unified set of
effective capabilities to manage the risk to the people of this
country. The Department of Homeland Security, which I am privileged to
lead, was created specifically to integrate our national capabilities
against all kinds of threats, whether they be acts of terror or natural
hazards, or even medical hazards like pandemic flu. And the key to this
integrated approach, this partnership, working with state and local
governments, working with the private sector, working with our allies
overseas, and most important, working with the individuals and families
and communities all over the United States.
back and looking forward, how do we build on our progress to date?
What are the remaining challenges we have to face? And how are we
going to allocate priorities among them? And what is the path we have
to follow to achieve those steps that must be in place to guarantee
ourselves and our families safety in the years to come?
let me say, there’s one critical thing we have to recognize at the
threshold. We have to be focused on the most significant risks, and we
have to apply our resources in the most practical way possible to
prevent, protect against, and respond to manmade and natural hazards.
That means we have to make a tough-minded assessment, and we have to
recognize that it is simply not possible to eliminate every threat to
every individual in every place at every moment. That is simply not the
way life works.
And if we could achieve absolute perfect
security against all threats, we would only be able to do so at an
astronomical cost to our liberty and our prosperity. As the President
said a couple of days ago, you need look no further than the words of
bin Laden, himself, to see that he sees victory for his cause in
bankrupting and destroying the countries of the West. And we cannot
hand him the victory by being so hysterical and overreacting to such a
great extent that we destroy our way of life in order to protect it.
means we do have to be disciplined in assessing the threats, looking at
our vulnerabilities, and weighing consequences, and then we have to
balance and prioritize our resources against those risks so that we can
ensure the right amount of protection for Americans in our nation
without under-protecting, but also without overprotecting.
let me ask the question: What are those things we ought to be most
concerned about? Well, it seems to me that our priority has to be
focusing on those possible terrorist events that pose the greatest
potential consequences to human life and to the continuity of our
society. At the top of that list is the threat of weapons of mass
destruction. Weapons of mass destruction are weapons that, if used,
would have a shattering, earth-shaking consequence for this country.
And preventing the introduction and use of those weapons has to be the
number one thing we attend to in the years to come.
also must continue to guard against infiltration of this country by
international terrorists, international terrorists who have the
capability and the intent to cause real damage to the functioning of
this country by engaging in multiple high consequence attacks on people
and our economy. And the illustration of this kind of a plot is the
plot of London — that plot in London that was uncovered this past
month; a plot that, had it been successful, would not only have caused
the lives of — cost the lives of thousands of people, but would have
had a — would have raised a very significant blow against the
functioning of our entire system of international trade and travel.
even as we look at these high consequence threats, we have to be
mindful of something else: the potential for home-grown acts of
terrorism. We have to recognize that there are individuals who
sympathize with terrorist organizations or embrace their ideology, and
are prepared to use violence as a means to promote a radical, violent
And to engage with this emerging threat, we have
to work not only across federal, state and local jurisdictions to
prevent domestic radicalization and terrorism, but we have to build a
new level of confidence and trust with our American Muslim community,
who have to remain critical partners with us in protecting our country.
let’s look back and measure where we’ve come, and then let me be very
clear about where we need to go and what our plan is to get there.
Well, over the last five years, we’ve taken some very significant steps
to address the threat of terrorism by closing vulnerabilities that
existed five years ago on September 11th, and by creating what we call
layers of security across land, sea and air.
And I think
I’m going to take the opportunity today to highlight some of the new
capabilities we have in place and point out what we’re building for the
next couple of years. These areas include screening people at the
border to keep bad people out of the country; screening cargo to
prevent bad things from coming into the country; protecting our
critical infrastructure so that even if someone mounts an attack, we
can reduce our vulnerability; sharing information so we can stop
attacks before they begin; and, finally, boosting our emergency
preparedness and response so that even if there were a successful
attack, we could minimize the damage by acting promptly and effectively
First, screening people at the border. Our
number one defense against terror involves the perimeter, keeping
dangerous enemies from entering the United States of America.
years ago, before September 11th, we had very limited tools to
accomplish that mission. We had fragmented databases, biographical
information to determine whether a person posed a security threat or
should be allowed to enter the United States. The process, even if it
worked at all, was cumbersome, inefficient, and fraught with
vulnerabilities. And the proof of the pudding is in what happened on
September 11th. We learned looking back that terrorists had accessed
this country on repeated occasions, even though we knew who some of
them were, and we weren’t able to screen them from coming into the
United States to execute their deadly plot.
years later, we have transformed our screening capabilities at the
international ports of entry. And we’ve done that in order to prevent
terrorists and criminals from entering the United States to do us harm.
We have pulled together and unified our counter-terror databases, and
we’ve dramatically strengthened the process we use to issue visas.
important, we have implemented biometric capabilities,
fingerprint-reading capabilities at all of our international ports of
entry. With these new fingerprint reading capabilities, which are part
of the program we call U.S. Visit, deployed all over the ports of entry
at land and in the air and at sea, we can now, within seconds,
positively confirm a person’s identity against their passport and
against our databases by checking two-digit finger scans against watch
lists and immigration records.
The result of this
dramatic step forward in screening at the border is illustrated to me
day in and day out when I come in to get my briefing in the morning as
Secretary. Because repeatedly I hear about dangerous people who have
been stopped at the border and denied entry based upon the tools we
have given our border security officials five years after 9/11.
course, we have to worry not only about those who come in through the
ports of entry, like the 9/11 hijackers, but we have to worry about
those who might come in to do us harm between the ports of entry. And
here again, we have made protecting our borders one of the top
priorities of the Department of Homeland Security and, indeed, of the
And we’ve made progress securing
the miles of border, the thousands of miles of border that lie between
our designated international ports of entry. We’ve done it by giving
the men and women who do the job of patrolling the border the tools,
the technology, and the resources they need to do their very important
job of protecting the perimeter of this country.
looking back five years ago, before 9/11, we had about 9,000 Border
Patrol agents along our southern and northern border. But under the
President’s leadership, today we have more than 12,000 Border Patrol
agents. And by the end of 2008, we will have over 18,000 agents. We
will have more than doubled the number of Border Patrol between our
ports of entry. And while we are waiting to recruit and train and
deploy these additional Border Patrolmen and women, the President has
ordered the National Guard to the border to support the existing Border
Patrol agents. And that has caused a huge amplification of our
capabilities in protecting this country against those who want to cross
illegally to come in to do us harm.
Since 9/11, the
Border Patrol has apprehended and turned away some 6 million illegal
migrants trying to cross our borders. Now, I’m not saying, of course,
the vast majority of those are terrorists. Quite the contrary, the vast
majority of those are coming for economic reasons. But the fact of the
matter is, if we can control our border and do it in an intelligent and
comprehensive fashion, we can focus ourselves in continuing to raise
the barrier against those who would come to this country to do us harm.
me tell you some other things we have done to control the space between
our ports of entry. Before September 11th, we did not have the adequate
bed space that we needed to detain people who came in illegally that we
captured. And so a significant number of these people, even if they
were caught entering illegally were released into the community — and
to no one’s great surprise, never showed up again for their court
But today, by taking a disciplined and
strategic approach to dealing with the crisis of illegal migration, we
have completely transformed that policy. We have ended this pernicious
practice of catch and release at the border. We now catch, detain and
return to their home country virtually everybody that comes across the
border illegally. And that is a major step forward, not only in
protecting our borders against terrorists, but in maintaining the
general integrity of our country against those who come in illegally.
see real results. For the first time, we are seeing a real decline in
the total number of illegal migrants that are trying to come across our
nation’s southern border. It proves that the efforts we are putting
into place are beginning to work. But we have more to do. Under the
Secure Border Initiative, we are going to be rolling out new
technology, new tactical infrastructure, unmanned aerial vehicles and
other high-tech to give our Border Patrol agents the kinds of tools
they need to do the job that we have entrusted to them.
still have a lot of work to do at the border, but we should certainly
remark on the progress we’ve made. We are now moving in the right
direction. And with the help of Congress, and with the continued
support of the fine men and women who work at the border, we’re going
to continue to make more progress.
So that’s where we’ve
come in screening bad people out. But what do we have to do next,
because there remain some very significant challenges. Well, as again
emphasized by last month’s London airline threat, we have to be able to
determine as early as possible who is trying to come into this country
from overseas, and who is trying to get on an airplane that might do us
Right now, under our current arrangement, we still
only get full information about the identity of passengers boarding
international air flights 15 minutes after the flight has left the
gate. That’s simply too late. Therefore, over the next two years, we
will implement a system that will require the airlines to transmit
passenger information in advance of departure. This will give us the
time to check passenger names against databases and to coordinate with
airlines and foreign authorities to prevent a suspicious person from
getting on an airplane before they get on the plane, rather than after
the plane leaves the gate. And we have already begun this process of
advanced notification for flights that come from the United Kingdom to
the United States.
But that only deals with the issue of
known terrorists. The other question is, what do we do about the
unknown terrorist, the terrorist who we have not yet identified? How
do we prevent that person from coming into the United States? Well,
there are three things we need to do. We need to get more information.
We need to get better, more secure documentation. And we need to use
even more our biometric technology. So let me turn to the first, more
One of the most valuable tools we can have
in identifying the unknown terrorist is actually already in our
possession. It’s in our fingertips. It’s information that is routinely
collected by the travel industry when a person makes an airline
reservation or buys an airline ticket. They call this passenger name
record data, and it includes such basic things as how you paid for the
ticket, what your telephone number is, and a little bit about your
travel history. By analyzing this kind of information, we can determine
if an individual has traveled with a known terrorist, if their ticket
was bought by a terrorist facilitator, if they’ve been in phone
communication with a terrorist. And that is precisely the kind of
information we need to have in order to figure out whether there is an
unidentified threat getting on an airplane. The information is there.
we are working with the Europeans to lift some of the restrictions on
our use of that information so we can fully analyze it before people
get on airplanes, to prevent the unidentified terrorist from trying to
come into this country.
Now, I can tell you from personal
eyewitness that this works because after the 9/11 hijacking, when I was
the head of the criminal division, in that first 24 hours when we were
trying to track who financed and who supported the 19 hijackers who
went down with those airplanes, what we did is look at exactly this
kind of data. And my plea in this country, and my plea to the Europeans
is this: For God’s sake, let us do that before the next 9/11, rather
an afterwards. It’s much better to be able to do this kind of detective
work to stop an attack, rather than to investigate an attack that has
So over the next year, I’m going to be
looking forward to working with my European colleagues on building on
this kind of information, allowing a full analysis, and still making
sure we respect the privacy of those who travel internationally.
second area we need to look at is more secure documentation. And,
again, 9/11 has a very, very vivid lesson for us. All but one of the
9/11 hijackers who carried out the plot five years ago used American
identification documents that they had obtained in fraudulent purposes,
including drivers’ licenses, which enabled them to move freely around
the country. And the 9/11 Commission, itself, focused on this use of
fraudulent documents as a major vulnerability in our protection against
those would come in and impersonate Americans.
solution is obvious. We have to take the advice of the 9/11 Commission
and other experts in developing standard secure identification
credentials that give us a high degree of confidence that an individual
is not using phony documents to enter our country or get on airplanes
or get into our critical infrastructure.
The good news
is we have underway a number of initiatives mandated by Congress that
will do exactly that. Under our Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,
we are in the process of developing a secure biometric credential for
individuals traveling in the Western Hemisphere. This card is going to
be wallet-sized. It’s going to contain biometric — that means
fingerprint-type security features — and it will allow for real-time
security checks at our ports of entry.
We’re also working
with the states to develop standards for a secure driver’s license
under the congressional Real ID Act. Drivers’ licenses are one of the
most common forms of identification in this country. There’s no reason
to facilitate the forging of these documents. We must have clear
guidelines for how drivers’ licenses are produced, who gets them, and
what kind of anti-forgery security features they contain.
all these recommendations have been out there. We are pushing forward
on all these initiatives, but there’s one obstacle we have to overcome.
Five years after 9/11, we’re starting to hear some complaints that
these measures are going to be too burdensome, or too expensive, or
that they’re somehow going to transform themselves into a national
identification card. And that kind of back-sliding runs directly
contrary to the lessons of 9/11, and directly contrary to the advice
that the 9/11 Commission gave and every other expert who has looked at
this problem has given.
Secure identification that cannot
be forged and cannot be exploited by terrorists is precisely what we
need now, just as we needed it five years ago. If we’d had it five
years ago, there would not have been a 9/11 — God help us if we don’t
take the steps to put into place as soon as we can to prevent another
9/11 from happening.
And then there’s a third thing we
can do, which would probably be, in my view, the greatest step forward
in protecting against the unidentified terrorists. And that is building
on the experience we’ve had with two fingerprint identification into a
10 fingerprint identification system.
What we are going
to do starting this fall, for those who want to come to the United
States, is at least on their first visit, collect 10 fingerprints —
not just two, but 10. For those of you who are watchers of some of
these programs like “CSI,” you know the value of latent fingerprints
for crime detection, latent prints being what people leave when they
touch a piece of glass or even a piece of paper.
tell you that latent fingerprints can be equally important as a tool
against terror, because with 10 prints taken from all visitors to the
U.S., we will be able to run everybody’s fingerprints against latent
fingerprints that we are collecting all over the world — in terrorist
safe houses, off of bomb fragments the terrorists build, or at
battlefields where terrorists wage war.
What that means
is, we will be able to check visitors not only against the known list
of names that we have, but against their fingerprints picked up
anyplace the terrorists have operated internationally. That will give
us a real capability to locate the unidentified terrorist before he or
she enters the country.
And by the way, it also has a
magnificent deterrent effect, because when we get this in place, every
single terrorist who has ever been in a safe house or a training camp
or built a bomb is going to have to ask himself or herself this
question if they’re going to come in the U.S.: Have I ever left a
fingerprint anywhere in the world that’s been captured? Because they
will know that if they have, we will match that fingerprint against
their 10 prints when they come into the country, and we will be able to
So to promote this vision of a real
biometric security net around this country, this year, the State
Department will begin to deploy new 10 print fingerprint reading
devices at U.S. visa issuing posts overseas. And by the end of 2008, we
will have not only deployed these readers overseas, where visas are
issued, but we will have deployed them at our ports of entry so we can
capture fingerprints from everybody who wants to visit the United
Now let me talk about what we’ve done since 9/11
to monitor the cargo that’s entered our country and to prevent bad
things from getting in. Again, five years ago, we’ve screened very few
cargo containers entering our ports for the risk of terrorism. We
didn’t have the ability to screen any of it overseas, and we didn’t
have scanning equipment that would test containers for radiation.
these tools, we had very little ability to stop someone from smuggling
radioactive devices or other dangerous implements through our maritime
trade system. But, again, five years later, this has dramatically
changed. Through our National Targeting Center at Customs and Border
Protection at DHS, every shipping container that enters the U.S. from
overseas is analyzed for risk, and the high-risk containers are
targeted for inspection.
Moreover, under our Container
Security Initiative, U.S. officials are now stationed overseas at more
than 40 ports and are screening 80 percent of the cargo bound for the
U.S. before it even gets on the ship that’s crossing the ocean. And by
the end of this year, those inspectors will be in a position to screen
90 percent of that cargo.
In addition, focused as we are
on the particular danger of radioactive material, we have deployed
hundreds of radiation detection monitors and thousands of hand-held
radiation detection devices to protect against radiological and nuclear
threats. As a result of this massive devotion of resources to the issue
of radiation detection, by the end of this year, we will be screening
80 percent of maritime cargo containers arriving at U.S. ports for
radioactive emissions. And we’re also working with almost 6,000
companies who have voluntarily taken additional steps to enhance
security when they ship into this country using their supply chains.
back and looking at what we’ve done over the years, here is a
remarkable number often not reported in the media. If you look at the
budget from fiscal year 2003 through the current budget proposal in
Congress for 2007, you will see that this administration has provided
for nearly $10 billion in port security — that’s billion with a “b” —
and that includes the resources and manpower devoted by the United
States Coast Guard, by Customs and Border Protection, and the research
and development efforts of our Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.
actions have not only significantly increased the security against bad
stuff coming in the country through our seaports, but we have been able
to do so without sacrificing the free flow of commerce and trade that
is essential to maintaining our economy.
So now this is
where we are. What do we have yet to do? First we are going to
complete to process of deploying radiation portal monitors to all of
our ports of entry at sea and on land by the end of next year. And we
will screen essentially 100 percent of cargo coming through those land
and sea ports of entry for radiation by the end of next year.
also going to move overseas and continue to push to do as much of the
screening as we can in foreign ports working with our foreign partners.
Our goal, again, in the next two years, working with the private sector
and our international partners, is to create an integrated system for
scanning and imaging containers for radiation in multiple overseas
ports, so that even before containers get on ships, we can have a high
confidence level that they do not pose a threat to the United States.
in order to expand the protection that we are able to put into place
with respect to the vast amount of cargo that moves around the world,
we are increasing the extent and depth of information that we’re
accumulating about the movement of cargo so we can have an even more
detailed and precise picture of those containers that we need to
physically open and inspect.
And the point in doing all
of this — bearing in mind, again, that bin Laden’s objective is to
destroy our economy — the point of doing all of this is to do it in a
way that actually furthers our economy, that actually increases
international trade, that pursues the dual goals of security and
prosperity in a way that advances both, without compromising either.
Congress has a role to play in this, too. And as I speak to you today
there is on the floor of the Senate legislation that the House has
passed to increase the efforts we made in port security. As we stand in
the shadow of the 5th anniversary of 9/11, I urge Congress to complete
its work on this port security legislation this month. That would be
not only a fitting tribute to the 5th anniversary, but would be an
important set of tools that we can use in achieving the goal we have
set for ourselves over the next couple years.
let me talk a little bit about the interior — because although we want
to protect our border, we recognize that particularly radioactive
material can even be accumulated here in the United States, itself. So,
therefore, we have a more ambitious goal than merely protecting the
border. We want to protect the heartland and the cities in our country,
Therefore, by the end of 2008, we will complete
the first phase of what we call a Securing the Cities Program. That is
a program — and we’re going to start in New York City — that will
conduct nuclear and radiological scanning on the principal pathways
into the city, whether they be overland, in the water, or underground.
And we also intend to provide grants to two additional cities to
purchase operational screening systems for radiation detection.
tools will allow us to build not only a layer of protection against
weapons of mass destruction at the perimeter of the country, but it
will allow us to build a second layer around our major cities for an
added measure of protection.
Now, let me turn to
protecting our infrastructure. We know that the vast majority of
critical infrastructure in our country is owned and maintained in
private hands, and the government, of course, cannot by itself protect
these critical assets and key resources. The way to do this is to work
in partnership with federal and state and local officials, and with
those private-sector folks who actually own the things we’re trying to
What have we done? Well, let’s start with the
aviation system. As was all too terribly demonstrated five years ago,
before September 11th, we did not have secure cockpit doors. We did not
have a federalized, efficient screener workforce at the airports,
trained to detect bomb components and detonation devices. We did not
have thousands of federal air marshals on aircraft protecting travelers
every day all over the world. We didn’t have armed flight deck officers
authorized and trained to defend the cockpit. We didn’t have 100
percent screening of all passenger baggage. And we didn’t have
thousands of explosive detection machines scanning passengers and
baggage at airports nationwide. All of these layers of security are now
in effect. And they now create a protective network — a fabric of
security that keeps hundreds of thousands of air travelers safe and
secure every day.
Now, to be sure, there’s more to do.
The enemy constantly adapts his tactics and his methods. And we have to
keep pace and get ahead of those. But we have succeeded in laying over
the last five years a solid foundation for the future of our aviation
security efforts for the five years and the 10 years to come.
of course we can’t confine our efforts only to aviation. So since
September 11th, we’ve looked at all of the fixed critical
infrastructure in this country. We’ve performed thousands of
vulnerability assessments and reviewed thousands of security plans with
the private owners of infrastructure all across the country, including
transportation assets, seaports, and chemical facilities.
also established new ways of information sharing with the private
sector to warn them about threats and give them advice on how to
increase the measure of protection for their facilities. We’ve
completed a national infrastructure protection plan, and by the end of
this year, we will have completed specific plans for each of the major
sectors of our national economy.
In the area of rail and
mass transit — and we’re certainly vividly aware of the threat there,
as we look at attacks overseas in Madrid and London — in the area of
rail and mass transit, we’ve invested in new technology. We have
bio-detection sensors in many cities that sample the air to determine
whether someone is trying to put a biological or chemical agent into a
mass transit system or elsewhere in a city. We’re funding sensors and
video cameras. And we’re building the capability to surge law
enforcement when there is an emergency, including the old-fashioned,
low-tech method of using bomb detection dogs. In all, we have provided
more than $1.1 billion in risk-based grants that are specifically
targeted to mass transit and other kinds of transportation systems.
again looking forward, we have more to do. And one area is the
challenge that we face in developing a risk-based regulatory structure
for our nation’s chemical plants and facilities. One of the lessons of
9/11 is the intent of the enemy to turn our own technology against us.
Five years ago, what the enemy did was they took our airplanes and they
fashioned them into deadly missiles.
Well, we know that
at least some chemical plants in high populated areas could also be
transformed into deadly agents to wreak destruction on our populace.
Now, since 9/11, most chemical companies have recognized that threat,
and they’ve been good corporate citizens. They have voluntarily taken
steps to improve their security and make sure their operations and
facilities are safe.
But not every company has acted
responsibly, and those few companies that don’t do the right thing put
everybody at risk. Therefore, we must develop a balanced, common-sense
approach for protecting the full range of chemical facilities all
across this country. And we have to protect their surrounding
communities, and we have to do it in a way that doesn’t destroy, of
course, the businesses, themselves.
In order to do that,
the Department of Homeland Security must have the authority to set
standards, develop the risk categories for different kinds of
facilities, check and validate security measures, and, most important,
insist on compliance with those security measures.
is why, today, to give us this critically needed authority, I want to
urge Congress to pass chemical security legislation that is currently,
again, before it. If Congress passes that legislation this month, we
will implement it promptly through regulations that will raise the
security for Americans all over this country.
area I want to touch on briefly is intelligence, because the best way
to protect ourselves is to stop something before it happens. And
there’s been a painstaking review of all of the intelligence failures
that led up to September 11th. But the good news here is that under the
President’s strong leadership, we have succeeded in integrating and
unifying intelligence collection and analysis across all of the
different elements of the national intelligence community.
my own department, the Department of Homeland Security, we now have a
strengthened and unified intelligence office led by a legendary
intelligence official. And through our Homeland Security Information
Network, thousands of state and local participants share information
everyday on threats and incidents within their communities. But we can
We need to build deeper partnerships with our
state and local officials to make sure that we’re not only tracking the
high visibility international threats, but looking at the low
visibility homegrown threats which could take root in any community in
the country. And there the first line of intelligence collection lies
with your local responders and your local law enforcement, because they
will often be the first to get a sense that a homegrown threat is
beginning to bud.
Therefore, we’re going to expand our
partnerships by substantially increasing our federal participation in
state and local fusion centers all across our country. DHS has sent
intelligence personnel to work side by side with their state and local
counterparts at intelligence fusion centers in New York, California,
Louisiana, and Maryland. Our goal is to have a two-way flow where
federal, state, and local officials contribute and analyze and make use
of intelligence information collected at every level.
the end of 2008, we will have intelligence and operations personnel at
every major fusion center in the United States. They will be sitting in
the same room with their local counterparts, they will be sharing and
analyzing information with their local counterparts, and they will be
taking steps to protect the country in real time.
what do we do if there is an attack, if, has against all the measures
we’ve taken, someone does succeed in carrying out a terrorist attack in
this country? And we all know that life is not without risk, and the
possibility of such an attack remains very real.
have to be prepared to respond to such attacks in a way that will
minimize the damage and effectively aid those who need assistance as
quickly and efficiently as possible. Over the past year, we have,
therefore, retooled and refashioned the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, which would be the principal means at the federal level to
assist state and local responders if there were a need to respond to an
emergency, whether it be a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
have given FEMA new and experienced leadership, leadership that has
literally decades of hands-on work experience dealing with disasters,
that is now bringing that experience to bear at the highest level. We
have given FEMA enhanced, real-time tracking capabilities for emergency
supplies. We’ve given them new communications systems that would
survive the possibility of a disaster.
We have now
identified and put into the field experienced federal leadership to
work with regional counterparts, particularly in high risk parts of the
country, so that when an event occurs that requires a response, the
federal, state and local responders will have trained together and
exercised together. We never again want to have a circumstance where
federal, state and local responders meet each other for the first time
during an ongoing, catastrophic event.
And to respond to
the possibility of a no-notice or short-notice event, we’ve worked very
hard in the last year, with our own operational agencies — like the
Coast Guard, and TSA, and the air marshals — and with other agencies,
like the Department of Defense, to create pre-positioned and
pre-structured force packages that we could rapidly deploy to an
incident or a disaster zone to provide an immediate capability to
assist those who have needs and to secure an area against disorder or
But here, again, we still have more work to
do. One area in particular that requires continued action is the area
of interoperable communications. Again, looking back five years, we
remember the sad story of firefighters and police who entered the
burning World Trade Center and were unable to communicate with each
other at any level. That cost lives, and that was unacceptable. We
cannot let that happen again.
Therefore, we have put
considerable effort and hundreds of millions of dollars into developing
communications interoperability at the command level. We have achieved
this in 10 of the highest threat cities through our RapidCom program.
And we provided a total of $2.1 billion to states and localities since
2003 for interoperable communications equipment, planning, training,
As we sit here today, five years after
9/11, we have the technology that allows interoperable communications,
that allows different jurisdictions and different agencies to talk with
one another even if they don’t yet have the same frequencies on their
radios. But that doesn’t mean we’ve done everything we need to do. We
need new technology to get to the next generation, and we also have to
assess whether we have fully deployed this equipment and trained
ourselves to use it in a way that would stand up if there were a real
So this year we initiated a National
Interoperability Survey to take a hard look at the communications
interoperability among our law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical
service responders in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Using
this survey, as well as a survey that’s going to be looking at
interoperability in 75 urban areas, we’re going to take a critical eye
and say, here’s what’s been done, but here’s what remains to be done.
I will tell you in a very straightforward way, the obstacle here is not
technological; we have the technology. The obstacle is that we need to
build procedures across governments and among agencies where we have
agreement about what the rules of the road are going to be.
is something the federal government can lead. It is something the
federal government can make recommendations about. It is something the
federal government can test. But in the end, the decision for these
jurisdictions and these agencies to come together and work together is
one they, themselves, have to make. And we are going to be encouraging
and putting a spotlight on this over the next year, because it’s very
important we complete the job of making this technology work in real
life in emergency circumstances.
Five years ago, on what
still, with some irony, seems to have been a remarkably beautiful,
clear morning, men and women went to work in the World Trade Center,
the Pentagon; they got on airplanes leaving from airports in the
northeast, and they looked forward to what, I imagine, they expected
would be a beautiful day. Those people never got to see the sun set.
the victims of 9/11 are not only those who perished, but the mothers,
fathers, sisters, and brothers, like all of us here. Many of you, like
me, probably lost someone that you were friendly with or even a family
member on 9/11. Many of you have memories of the Pentagon or of the
World Trade Center that resonate in your mind when you go back and you
see the site of these attacks.
And we’re reminded when we
do go back and visit Ground Zero or look at the Pentagon of the dreams
that perished, the plans that were never brought to fruition, and the
lives that were snuffed out. If we ever needed a reminder, taking a
moment on September 11th will be a very vivid reminder of the fact that
this nation is still at war.
Just in the last couple of
days, bin Laden has released another video celebrating what he views as
his accomplishment in murdering innocent people. An ideology that
celebrates the murder of the innocent is an indecent ideology, and
those who worship at its altar are an enemy that we cannot walk away
This is a struggle that will be with us in years to
come, and it is a struggle that we will win as long as we remain
steadfast, dedicated, and balanced in the approach that we take. Over
the last three years, the people that I am privileged to work with at
the Department of Homeland Security have built an agency whose only
mission is to protect the American people and to protect the homeland.
the 185,000 men and women who I serve with, this is a mission that we
proudly undertake every single day, whether it’s patrolling the border,
taking to the skies in helicopters over our oceans, or patrolling in
boats or in subway stations all over the country. I turn to them and I
turn to you and say, we can win this struggle, and we can do it in a
way that will preserve the values and the freedom and the way of life
that we cherish, but we can only do it if we remember that the greatest
strength is the spirit that we bring.
If we recognize
that the only people who can defeat us are ourselves, and as long as we
remember the bond that ties us together, the importance of what we do,
the faith that we cherish — if we remember that, we will succeed in
I hope that five years from now the only
attack that people have to remember in this country remains that first
attack on September 11th. And I tell you, on behalf of the people of
the Department of Homeland Security, that all of us will work
tirelessly every single day and night to do everything we can to try to
make sure that that dream remains true.
Thank you very much.