Remarks by President Bush in Address to the Nation
June 6, 2002
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. During the next few minutes, I want
to update you on the progress we are making in our war against
terror, and to propose sweeping changes that will strengthen our
homeland against the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.
Nearly nine months have passed since the day that forever changed
our country. Debris from what was once the World Trade Center
has been cleared away in a hundred thousand truckloads. The west
side of the Pentagon looks almost as it did on September the 10th.
And as children finish school and families prepare for summer
vacations, for many, life seems almost normal.
Yet we are a different nation today -- sadder and stronger, less
innocent and more courageous, more appreciative of life, and for
many who serve our country, more willing to risk life in a great
cause. For those who have lost family and friends, the pain will
never go away -- and neither will the responsibilities that day
thrust upon all of us. America is leading the civilized world
in a titanic struggle against terror. Freedom and fear are at
war -- and freedom is winning.
Tonight over 60,000 American troops are deployed around the world
in the war against terror -- more than 7,000 in Afghanistan; others
in the Philippines, Yemen, and the Republic of Georgia, to train
local forces. Next week Afghanistan will begin selecting a representative
government, even as American troops, along with our allies, still
continuously raid remote al Qaeda hiding places.
Among those we have captured is a man named Abu Zabedah, al Qaeda's
chief of operations. From him, and from hundreds of others, we
are learning more about how the terrorists plan and operate; information
crucial in anticipating and preventing future attacks.
Our coalition is strong. More than 90 nations have arrested or
detained over 2,400 terrorists and their supporters. More than
180 countries have offered or are providing assistance in the
war on terrorism. And our military is strong and prepared to oppose
any emerging threat to the American people.
Every day in this war will not bring the drama of liberating a
country. Yet every day brings new information, a tip or arrest,
another step, or two, or three in a relentless march to bring
security to our nation and justice to our enemies.
Every day I review a document called the threat assessment. It
summarizes what our intelligence services and key law enforcement
agencies have picked up about terrorist activity. Sometimes the
information is very general -- vague talk, bragging about future
attacks. Sometimes the information is more specific, as in a recent
case when an al Qaeda detainee said attacks were planned against
When credible intelligence warrants, appropriate law enforcement
and local officials are alerted. These warnings are, unfortunately,
a new reality in American life -- and we have recently seen an
increase in the volume of general threats. Americans should continue
to do what you're doing -- go about your lives, but pay attention
to your surroundings. Add your eyes and ears to the protection
of our homeland.
In protecting our country, we depend on the skill of our people
-- the troops we send to battle, intelligence operatives who risk
their lives for bits of information, law enforcement officers
who sift for clues and search for suspects. We are now learning
that before September the 11th, the suspicions and insights of
some of our front-line agents did not get enough attention.
My administration supports the important work of the intelligence
committees in Congress to review the activities of law enforcement
and intelligence agencies. We need to know when warnings were
missed or signs unheeded -- not to point the finger of blame,
but to make sure we correct any problems, and prevent them from
Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have
prevented the horror of September the 11th. Yet we now know that
thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us, and this
terrible knowledge requires us to act differently.
If you're a front-line worker for the FBI, the CIA, some other
law enforcement or intelligence agency, and you see something
that raises suspicions, I want you to report it immediately. I
expect your supervisors to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.
Information must be fully shared, so we can follow every lead
to find the one that may prevent tragedy.
I applaud the leaders and employees at the FBI and CIA for beginning
essential reforms. They must continue to think and act differently
to defeat the enemy.
The first and best way to secure America's homeland is to attack
the enemy where he hides and plans, and we're doing just that.
We're also taking significant steps to strengthen our homeland
protections -- securing cockpits, tightening our borders, stockpiling
vaccines, increasing security at water treatment and nuclear power
After September the 11th, we needed to move quickly, and so I
appointed Tom Ridge as my Homeland Security Advisor. As Governor
Ridge has worked with all levels of government to prepare a national
strategy, and as we have learned more about the plans and capabilities
of the terrorist network, we have concluded that our government
must be reorganized to deal more effectively with the new threats
of the 21st century. So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me
in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding
and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America, and protecting
the American people.
Right now, as many as a hundred different government agencies
have some responsibilities for homeland security, and no one has
final accountability. For example, the Coast Guard has several
missions, from search and rescue to maritime treaty enforcement.
It reports to the Transportation Department, whose primary responsibilities
are roads, rails, bridges and the airways. The Customs Service,
among other duties, collects tariffs and prevents smuggling --
and it is part of the Treasury Department, whose primary responsibility
is fiscal policy, not security.
Tonight, I propose a permanent Cabinet-level Department of Homeland
Security to unite essential agencies that must work more closely
together: Among them, the Coast Guard, the Border Patrol, the
Customs Service, Immigration officials, the Transportation Security
Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Employees
of this new agency will come to work every morning knowing their
most important job is to protect their fellow citizens. The Department
of Homeland Security will be charged with --
The Department of Homeland Security will be charged with four
primary tasks. This new agency will control our borders and prevent
terrorists and explosives from entering our country. It will work
with state and local authorities to respond quickly and effectively
to emergencies. It will bring together our best scientists to
develop technologies that detect biological, chemical, and nuclear
weapons, and to discover the drugs and treatments to best protect
our citizens. And this new department will review intelligence
and law enforcement information from all agencies of government,
and produce a single daily picture of threats against our homeland.
Analysts will be responsible for imagining the worst, and planning
to counter it.
The reason to create this department is not to create the size
of government, but to increase its focus and effectiveness. The
staff of this new department will be largely drawn from the agencies
we are combining. By ending duplication and overlap, we will spend
less on overhead, and more on protecting America. This reorganization
will give the good people of our government their best opportunity
to succeed by organizing our resources in a way that is thorough
What I am proposing tonight is the most extensive reorganization
of the federal government since the 1940s. During his presidency,
Harry Truman recognized that our nation's fragmented defenses
had to be reorganized to win the Cold War. He proposed uniting
our military forces under a single Department of Defense, and
creating the National Security Council to bring together defense,
intelligence, and diplomacy. Truman's reforms are still helping
us to fight terror abroad, and now we need similar dramatic reforms
to secure our people at home.
Only the United States Congress can create a new department of
government. So tonight, I ask for your help in encouraging your
representatives to support my plan. We face an urgent need, and
we must move quickly, this year, before the end of the congressional
session. All in our government have learned a great deal since
September the 11th, and we must act on every lesson. We are stronger
and better prepared tonight than we were on that terrible morning
-- and with your help, and the support of Congress, we will be
History has called our nation into action. History has placed
a great challenge before us: Will America -- with our unique position
and power -- blink in the face of terror, or will we lead to a
freer, more civilized world? There's only one answer: This great
country will lead the world to safety, security, peace and freedom.
Thank you for listening. Good night, and may God bless America.