TOPICS > Politics

President Bush Details Homeland Security Plan

BY Admin  July 16, 2002 at 2:30 PM EDT

The plan centers on the president’s already-proposed Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. The new department would oversee 22 investigative agencies, including the FBI and the CIA.

The president said his plan would call for additional changes to state and federal laws and other long-range programs for homeland security.

“Protecting Americans from attack is our most urgent national priority and we must act on the priority,” the president said, flanked by Cabinet members and lawmakers.

“This comprehensive plan lays out clear lines of authority and clear responsibilities — responsibilities for federal employees and for governors and mayors and community and business leaders and the American citizens,” Mr. Bush said. “With a better picture of those responsibilities, all of us can direct money and manpower to meet them.”

The strategy outlines a range of other specifics, including securing international shipping containers, adding to vaccine stockpiles and creating a national standard for state driver’s licenses. It also proposes newly formed “red teams,” which would fan out across the country to identify weak spots that terrorists could exploit.

“Our society presents an almost infinite array of potential targets that can be attacked through a variety of methods,” a White House summary of the strategy said. “We must be prepared to adapt as our enemies in the war on terrorism alter their means of attack.”

Democratic lawmakers criticized the administration for proposing sweeping changes without open consultations.

“That kind of secretive and arrogant behavior has produced a plan that, in many areas, is poorly constructed and complicates Congress’s ability to produce a good final bill,” David Sirota, a committee spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said.