of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge Before
the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, 20. May
Good morning. Chairman Cox, Congressman
Turner, distinguished members of the Committee. It
is a pleasure and privilege to be here today to discuss
the progress and outlook for the Department of Homeland
Since this is my first opportunity to
appear before you, let me begin by congratulating you
on the creation of this new committee.
I thank you for your willingness to serve
on a body that shares both a common focus and a common
purpose with DHS. Your commitment to the security
of our homeland and the success of our department will
be critical to achieving the mission for which we were
It has been slightly less than four months
since the Department of Homeland Security came into existence
and less than three months since we truly became an operational
Given that brief time-span, I believe
we have made a great deal of progress in this enormous
undertaking. I hope that you will share my assessment
that we are, indeed, off to good start.
During this short time period, the Department
of Homeland Security has:
Operation Liberty Shield, to prepare and protect our
nation, including our ports and critical infrastructure,
during a heightened threat period;
TOPOFF II, the most extensive terrorist response exercise
the multimedia "Ready" public information campaign,
to help families, businesses and schools become safer
and stronger citizens;
the US VISIT system, which will use biometrics to track
the comings and going of visitors at our airports and
seaports by the end of the year; and
the distribution of nearly $4 billion dollars in grant
monies to states and localities. We also began
to engage the Congress to make sure that we put a grant
system into place that maximizes every federal security
are just the most visible signs of progress.
we speak, across the country people have been hired, trained
and deployed; equipment has been provided; investigations
have been run and campaigns have been conducted that have
the terrorist networks off-balance and on the run.
quiet but remarkable progress has made a real difference.
And it was made possible by the sustained partnership
between Congress, the President and this Department, in
conjunction with the states and localities of this great
greatly appreciate the work you have done, the laws you
have written and the resources you have provided. And
in that spirit, I want to talk about how we can build
on this progress in the months to come.
that end, I ask for your support of the President's Department
of Homeland Security Budget request for Fiscal year 2004.
I believe it lays a critical and solid foundation
for the future.
$36.2 billion, the budget request represents an 18.3 percent
increase in funding for DHS programs over the FY2003 enacted
base levels. You'll note that it contains critical
initiatives to advance the efficiency and effectiveness
of our Department, as well as to sustain ongoing programs
and vital services unrelated to security.
short, the budget request for the Department of Homeland
Security supports and carries out the President's National
Strategy for Homeland Security.
strategy provides the right framework to pre-empt threats,
as best possible, and prepare for any incident, should
an incident occur.
helps meet our needs in every phase of homeland security,
from border and transportation security to infrastructure
protection to emergency response and recovery.
also engages the academic and scientific community and
private sector to find solutions to these challenges.
sum, it enables the 180,000 dedicated men and women of
DHS to maximize their strength - so that, together, we
can help our nation rise to a new level of readiness each
and every day.
would add that all of this makes us a stronger, healthier
country as well -- better able to cope with disasters,
diseases and incidents of every kind.
we go forward into the future, I want to assure you that
the Department of Homeland Security will vigorously pursue
our detection and prevention missions while, at the same
time work to respond and recover from acts of terrorism.
cannot choose one mission over the other. We must
put an equal effort into both.
we are significantly safer than we were 20 months ago.
are safer because, as a nation, we are more aware of the
threat of terrorism and more vigilant about confronting
are safer because our homeland security professionals
now have a single Department leading them, and our states
and cities have a place to turn to for financial and operational
are safer because Congress and the President have devoted
an unprecedented amount of resources and training to the
with the help of all of our partners in Congress, the
private sector and the cities and states of this country,
we will become safer every day.
Winston Churchill once said, when faced with another grave
worldwide threat to peace and liberty, "This is not the
end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But
it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
many ways, we are still just at the beginning of a new
chapter in American history -- a chapter of renewed commitment
and capabilities in the fight to safeguard the liberties,
ideals and precious lives that we hold sacred.
assure you: It is a chapter that, together, we,
as a nation, will write.
Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I thank you
for your commitment, and for helping us build the capabilities
to achieve our mission.
I thank you for the privilege of appearing before you
would be happy to answer any questions you have at this