23 January 2002
Transcript: U.S. Homeland Security Depends on Partnership
(Security chief asks mayors for cooperation against terrorism) (4430)
National, state and local governments must all work together to build
an effective defense against terrorists, said U.S. Director of
Homeland Security Tom Ridge in a Washington speech January 23 before
the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
"We're asking you to work with your governors and with us as we
implement a seamless national strategy on terrorism. It's only
possible through partnerships," said Ridge, who resigned as governor
of Pennsylvania to take the security position, created after the
September 11 terrorist attacks.
Ridge spoke with admiration about the partnerships that have been
achieved to manage the security threats at two major sporting events
coming up in the next few weeks -- the February 3 Superbowl football
championship in New Orleans, Louisiana and the February 8-24 Winter
Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The United States is also working with Canada and Mexico to improve
border security without causing undue delays for people and goods
moving across the borders, Ridge said.
"By building better borders, we make ourselves not only more secure
but we make ourselves better because we enhance our capacity -- our
economic capacity for growth" as cross-border trade increases, Ridge
added. This issue was of particular concern for mayors from border
states, where local economies are dependent upon the movement of goods
and labor across international borders.
Ridge said his office is engaged in ongoing discussions with Canada
and Mexico about how to facilitate cross-border economic activity
without compromising risk. "We don't want to compromise security, but
we think with the deployment of technology and collaboration between
the two countries we can really facilitate this. And that's a very
high priority, I might add, for the president of the United States."
Following is the White House transcript of Ridge's remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
January 23, 2002
REMARKS BY HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR TOM RIDGE TO THE U.S. CONFERENCE
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Thank you very, very much. Well, first of all, let me
thank you again for the opportunity to spend some time with you. You
have been more than open and generous with your time in working with
the Office of Homeland Security. We have a mutual interest in making
our communities not only safer, but better. And I'm convinced that the
new partnership and relationship we are developing with the group of
seven will get us there. And I'm reminded not only by that wonderful
video that you've put together, but also in my continuing discussion
with Mayor Morial, that you are the domestic troops, that you are
front line. And that is very consistent with the president's point of
The President has made it very, very clear that the war against
terrorism has two fronts: one is in Afghanistan, and the other is in
the United States. And in his directive to me to create a national
homeland security strategy, it was pretty clear that the effort that
we have to undertake together has to be a federal, state and city
partnership, perhaps unlike anything we've seen in the past, as we
build a safer and stronger 21st century.
So I'm very pleased to be here. I want to acknowledge -- at least
they're registered; they've heard me speak many times, so I'm not sure
all of these mayors from Pennsylvania will be here -- they say, oh,
I've listened to him before -- but I know they're registered. I would
like to say hello to my friends, men with whom I've worked for seven
years as governor, Tom Murphy from Pittsburgh -- I don't know if Tom
is here -- and John Street from Philadelphia.
I am hopeful that I have to be with your leader down in New Orleans on
February 3rd, and this is going to break your hearts in Missouri and
in Massachusetts when the Steelers play the Eagles in the Super Bowl.
I just thought I'd throw that out there. (Laughter.)
And Mayor McGroarty from Wilkes-Barre, and Don Cunningham from
Bethlehem. And I would be remiss if I also didn't pay public
acknowledgment and a debt of gratitude to the leadership that Mayor
Williams has provided to the capital city. We've begun to work with
him very, very closely. And I appreciate the relationship we are
developing with him, as well.
On September 11, America's mayors became a symbol of strength
worldwide. Mayor Giuliani's commanding response in the face of the
terrible tragedy that befell upon New York City helped calm a nation's
fears. And now this country is counting on you to help ensure that our
cities are prepared and our citizens are safe.
Now, the President has asked me to develop a national strategy for
homeland security, but I need your help to do so. And I underscore
that: I need your help to do so. Our office may be based in
Washington, but the effort will begin in the big cities and small
towns that you lead.
An important milestone will be on February 3, the Super Bowl in New
Orleans. Last year we designated the Super Bowl as a national special
security event, placing the United States Secret Service in charge of
security. This is the first time a Super Bowl has been so designated.
And Mayor Morial, working with Governor Foster, has provided
invaluable support and coordination in order to get the job done.
Five days later, the Winter Olympics take place in Salt Lake City. It,
too, is a national special security event. I toured the site two weeks
ago, and was thoroughly impressed with the work that's being done to
keep those 900 square miles safe, including all those extraordinary
venues that the athletes will be performing on.
Mayor Anderson and Governor Leavitt have done an outstanding job
helping to secure these games. And as Mayor Anderson commented, our
first priority is to make the games safe and secure. Our
administration has done and will do everything possible to ensure we
meet this challenge with abundant preparations for the expected, as
well as the unexpected.
Obviously, there are no guarantees, but I believe Salt Lake City will
be a very safe place to visit in February. Once again, the world will
be watching America, and I think what they will see is the
extraordinary accomplishments, the good that can come from working
We have two Democrat mayors working with two Republican governors, two
impressive partnerships, two levels of government and two of the best
planned, best coordinated and best prepared events in our nation's
history. That theme of partnership --partnership -- is an important
one as the President gets ready to announce the homeland security
initiatives in this year's budget.
It includes unprecedented support for our nation's first responders --
the police officers, the fire fighters, the medical personnel who died
for their country on September 11th. But you know, you know that these
men and women risk their lives everyday. They did so before September
11th, and they've done so everyday since. They work around the clock
to protect their communities, one home, one block, one neighborhood at
a time. And for them, the potential of a new challenge, a new battle
is with them every, single day.
Now, this unprecedented support that I'm talking to you about in this
year's budget isn't a one-year-and-out initiative. This is a major
investment. We want to empower cities and states to build upon their
first-response capability, and then we want to help you sustain it in
We're asking you to work with your governors and with us as we
implement a seamless national strategy on terrorism. It's only
possible through partnerships. And I'm not talking about the old
Washington definition of partnership, which goes something like this:
I'll tell you what to do or I'll tell you what you need, and then
you'll do it. This isn't about what Washington wants anymore. It's
about what our cities, our communities, our regions and our states
New hazmat equipment, bioterror training, new emergency communication
system. The list is fairly long. And, depending on your own individual
assessment of your needs within your cities and regions, we need to
give you the flexibility to meet those needs.
The approach we will take will enable communities to build capacity so
that cities and regions are similarly equipped to combat the widest
possible range of terrorist attacks. In the process, making our cities
more secure and safer, we will make them better. And by helping to
meet your needs, we hope to change the old relationship --
cities-state-federal model -- into one based on mutual cooperation,
collaboration and partnership.
I think we can all look back -- I certainly can look back to my time
in Congress, and even the seven years I served as governor -- to know
that that sometimes the city, state and federal relationship was not
seamless; that sometimes the three jurisdictions struck out on their
own, all well-intentioned, all with mutual desires and mutual goals to
be accomplished -- but there wasn't the harmony and the coordination
that we really needed in order to affect maximum change.
I believe the terrorism -- the threat of terrorism gives us an
opportunity in certain areas to restructure that relationship and to
create a lasting partnership that ensures that the resources that we
provide at the local, state and federal level are put to their very
best use. Now, the President will have considerably more to say about
Now, this is just one part of our emerging national strategy. We will
also work to build up our nation's immune system to bioterrorism.
We'll provide more money for research and increase hospital's ability
to respond to a bioterror emergency.
One of the opportunities the President has given this office, and I
think it's an opportunity that this country should embrace, as we take
a look at ourselves through the lens of security, we may find that if
we look a little bit beyond just security, we'll find ways to
dramatically improve our communities, our states and our country, as
Clearly, we want to ramp-up our support for first-responders in
anticipation of a terrorist attack. But just as clearly, if we do a
better job in supporting our police and firemen and emergency service
personnel, we'll enhance the quality of life in our communities. We
will be a safer community, surely, but we'll be a better community.
Surely, we want to ramp-up our support for bioterrorism initiatives
and combating bioterrorism at the federal, state and local level.
Surely, we want to beef-up the public health system in response to the
potential of a bioterrorist attack. But don't we all agree that in
addition to looking at the possibility of attack through the lens of
security, we say to ourselves, that infectious disease is a challenge
to our individual citizens, to our families, to our communities,
whether Mother Nature brings it to us or terrorist event imposes it
upon us, so why not build up our public health infrastructure not only
to combat terrorism, but also to enhance the quality of life in our
cities and in our states.
And the list goes on and on. So as we take a look at where we want to
invest to make ourselves more secure, we look beyond just security and
find wonderful opportunities to make ourselves a better country, as
We are working with Canada and Mexico to institute smart borders that
will keep terrorists out, while letting the flow of commerce in.
Again, mayors on bordering communities, bordering cities to Mexico and
Canada understand it's not only about making your borders more secure,
but we have to facilitate the flow of goods and services, and people
across those borders, because it has economic implications. It means
jobs to our communities. So, again, by building better borders we make
ourselves not only more secure, but we make ourselves better, because
we enhance our economic capacity for growth. This is a national, not
just a federal effort.
We will work -- we are working with your organizations and others
throughout this country to find ways to share information with you in
a more timely way. And I'll tell you, we're making great progress
working on instituting a more effective threat assessment system.
We've been working with your organizations representing your law
enforcement community, the International Association of Chiefs of
Police, state police, others across the board, so that we can put some
context or texture around the threat information that we share with
you locally or on a statewide basis in the months and years ahead.
We have met with many mayors from around the country, and we'll
continue to do that. We certainly appreciate the enthusiasm and the
dedication and the commitment that you bring to our discussions, as we
prepare a different kind of relationship, a 21st century partnership
among the state, local and federal entities that all have a
responsibility to help improve security around this country.
I believe that by working together we will provide not just a safer
and more secure America, but clearly we will be a stronger and better
country because of it. I look forward to building this kind of country
with you in the months and years ahead.
If I might just make one final comment. I understand as a governor --
former governor, that mayors of cities have a great concern that the
federal government may authorize and appropriate large sums of money,
that there may be delays or impediments to the money flowing to your
individual communities as you try to deal with ramping-up the capacity
of your first-responders in dealing with your public health system.
And I will assure you that we are very mindful of the need to get
these dollars to you in a way that gives you some flexibility to meet
your individual needs, but in a timely way so you get those dollars
and put them to use as soon as possible. (Applause.)
I want to, again, thank you for the extraordinary cooperation that
you've extended to the Office of Homeland Security. I will look
forward to returning or seeing you tomorrow with the President. He'll
elaborate in greater detail some of the ideas that I've shared with
you. But to the extent that you're willing, we have a few minutes, I'd
be happy to respond to any questions you might have.
QUESTION: I have a question about the proposed partnership that you're
talking about. In California, we have a master mutual aid agreement
that's statewide. It basically governs how resources get sent from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction in time of crisis. It's all based on the
notion of local control, because what we found out over the years is
that all disasters are local.
And the people who are best able to marshal resources and point them
in the right direction are local folks. So I'm intrigued by your
description of this seamless partnership amongst the different levels
of government. It sounds great, but I -- my question is, will it be
based on the notion of local control?
GOVERNOR RIDGE: In one word, yes. Let me elaborate. First of all, to
the point you made, one of the opportunities I think we have as we
develop this partnership -- the 21st century security partnership, the
federal government and the state and local government -- is to see to
it that all 50 states have statewide plans and have local plans and
have mutual aid plans. And you can well-imagine as you survey the 50
states that some states have been more aggressive in adopting these
mutual aid pacts and really thinking about their local and regional
needs and others.
So, clearly, one of our goals in creating this partnership is to have
the cities and the counties and the regions, particularly the smaller
communities, develop mutual aid pacts. You're going to see that -- as
a governor, I realized that the governors need resources to do what
they need to do at the state level, but the bulk of the resources have
to be driven down to the local level. And I think you'll be pleased
with the manner in which we're seeing to it that the bulk of the
resources get to you and that you're given some flexibility to deal
As you know, the Department of Justice, FEMA -- you work with them, I
mean, you've helped us do a national inventory and a need's
assessment. And what we're trying to do is build up the basic capacity
in just about every region in every city around the country. So we
envision flexibility for you to help build up that capacity, and we
also understand that the bulk of the resources have to go in your
direction. And I think you'll be comfortable with how it flows to you
in a timely way.
Q: Ninety percent of the lettuce comes out of our community in the
winter months. When 9/11 occurred we had a major problem in crossing
the border. All of the field workers that come over to harvest a
billion dollar crop were taking anywhere from four to six hours to get
across the border.
Our governor helped by sending in the National Guard, reduced that
time to an hour and a half to three hours. That goes away in just
another month. We are very concerned, because we still have a crop out
in the field to get out of the field. And it's going to be -- when you
go to McDonalds they're going to ask, do you want that hamburger with
lettuce for an extra $2, instead of hamburger with fries. And so we're
very concerned about getting that crop out of the field.
And we want to know what is the plan at the federal level to beef-up
our borders? We understand the need for security, but we also need to
get that crop out of the field.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: You're question raises a couple of very critical
elements in our discussions with Canada and Mexico. First of all, in
the supplemental that was passed by Congress and signed into law by
the President in December, we're going to build even more capacity
with Customs and INS to put additional agents on both borders. That
still won't be enough, because we think, again, as we look for safer
borders, we need to devise ways with our Canadian and Mexican
counterparts to make it easier for people and goods to flow across the
borders without compromising risk.
And we've got a couple of experimental programs we're working with up
in Canada. I'll be going with several representatives from different
executive agencies to Mexico the first part of March to try to
streamline and harmonize on both sides of the border, means with which
we can facilitate goods and services, but at the same time reduce
We're very sensitive to the economic impact of tight border controls.
We don't want to compromise security, but we think with the deployment
of technology and collaboration between the two countries, we can
really facilitate this. And that's a very high priority, I might add,
for the President of the United States. He understands.
Q: Governor Ridge, let me thank you for your leadership, particularly
in the area of the national security special events. Louisville,
Kentucky, where I'm mayor, I'm delighted we host First Saturday of
May, one of the great sporting events of the world. We have a lot of
outstanding international leaders and a lot of wealthy individuals who
come from around the world to gather in Louisville, Kentucky.
As its mayor, we've always been concerned about the threat of
terrorism because of the number of people who are there and assembled.
I might add, I'm an applicant for such a designation.
I want to thank you for the collaboration, but I want to point out
something that you've already mentioned here. The collaboration and
the test ground, if you will, for cities like Louisville, Kentucky,
the state of Kentucky and the federal government to come together as a
working unit is a real opportunity to learn more about how we can
handle events of this nature, because international events are going
to be the thing of the future, not of the past. So it's my hope,
Governor Ridge, to have the opportunity to work very closely with you
and your office as we move ahead.
Thank you very much.
GOVERNOR RIDGE: Thank you, Mayor. To that point, because I know it
affects so many of your colleagues, we have -- it's unique to our
country, unique to our culture -- but we have so many high-profile
events throughout the country in all 50 states, where we literally
have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, attracting
both domestic and international visitors.
And I had a conversation with several Cabinet members, and one of the
things that we will do in the future -- because we can't designate
every major event as a national special security event; I mean, just
think of the NCAA, think of the NFL, think of the horse racing
industry, think of NASCAR, and the list goes on and on, where we
literally have hundreds of thousands of people -- but we do think that
there are certain practices and lessons and there are models that we
And one of the things I assure that we will do for you as governors
and for these organizations that put on these events, on a fairly
regular basis host seminars. We're going to bring in some of your
security personnel and sit down and talk to you about planning and
preparation and coordination.
The mayor has done a terrific job -- Mayor Morial -- with Governor
Foster. Mayor Anderson has done a great job with Governor Leavitt. But
if you take a look at those two experiences and you see how the
federal, state and local agencies coordinate their activity, that's
really what a national special security event is all about. And we
think there are plans and models that we would share with you as how
you can go about seeing to it that you maximize security at the events
in your communities, as well.
We're going to continue to recognize some as national special security
events. But, frankly, if you have a widely-attended, highly visible
athletic event, recreational event, or the like, you need to know what
the model is and you can apply it. It's about collaboration and the
partnership. And there are a couple of models that, I think, are
working rather successfully.
Q: Governor Ridge, I just want to echo the sentiments of many people
that stood and said thank you for your leadership in this area.
I'm from the city of Detroit. As a major point of entry to this
country -- and you've heard of our specific problems that we've had on
our border, and actually Secretary Mineta mentioned the eight-mile
backups of trucks, which affects the entire economy of the United
States of America with the just-in-time delivery -- even with the
spirit of civic responsibility, with the new patriotism, with this new
spirit of renewed volunteerism, our police department, even in a
coordinated effort, has spent an enormous amount of money and time on
those borders -- people volunteer their time. Since Sept 11th -- from
September 11th to December 31st, our police department spent about $3
million. If we keep that current pace up, we'll be at $11 million by
December 31, 2002.
Referencing your earlier comments about those initiatives to actually
push money down to the local level, are we talking about retroactive
money making police departments whole, or are we just talking about
prospective money? (Applause.)
GOVERNOR RIDGE: It's a good point. We would be -- as we prepared --
two things. One, as we prepared the budget -- and we'll be sending it
up to the Hill -- there is some flexibility in that for you to use
money for overtime. All right? I'm just going to tell you, it won't
cover all your cost and you'll have to make a decision. But there are
substantial dollars in the budget that's going to the Hill for
equipment and training. But there's a portion of those dollars that we
say to you, because you may incur unanticipated costs in a particular
period of time, that we want to give you a little flexibility to defer
some of those monies to those costs. And the details you'll see in the
course of laying out the budget, and I'm sure we'll have continuing
discussions about the kind of flexibility that's in that budget. But
it would be prospective -- prospective.
Secondly, to your point, it will be incumbent upon us, I think, at the
national level to work with Canada to make sure that your burden, in
terms of policing those borders and facilitating commerce, is reduced
and hopefully one of these days even eliminated. And one of the many
initiatives that we have with our Canadian friends involves the use of
technology to form an EZ-PASS system between Canada and the United
States, where people predesignated can basically flow through quickly.
We want to extend that to commerce, as well, so that companies that
have historic relationships -- you have so many subcontractors on both
sides of the border, so many companies that have been doing business
on both sides of the border -- they can be checked and pre-certified
on either side of the border so they don't have to wait either.
So the short-term answer is, we're going to give you a little
flexibility to deal with some of these costs. The longer-term answer,
particularly at the border, is an agreement -- we're working both with
our Canadian and Mexican counterparts -- to deal with the flow of
people, as well as the flow of goods, in a more orderly, 21st century
manner, which includes, I think, pre-certifying people and commerce
far away from the border so you can move across quickly, reducing and,
hopefully, long-term, eliminating the need to put local law
enforcement to help secure the borders. (Applause.)
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