13 July 2005
Homeland Security Agency Plans Major Reorganization
Secretary Chertoff says agency must be nimble, decisive
By Merle D. Kellerhals, Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the two-year-old federal agency designed to combat the threat of terrorism and protect the U.S. homeland must be able to adapt to the changing nature of the challenges confronting the nation.
"Our department must drive improvement with a sense of urgency. Our enemy constantly changes and adapts, so we as a department must be nimble and decisive," Chertoff said July 13 at a news briefing.
Chertoff announced an agenda designed to enhance terrorism intelligence analysis, step up detection systems in mass transit, strengthen border security and reform immigration processes, and improve the management and organization of the department's far-flung components.
"Our goal is to maximize our security, but not security at any price. Our security regime must promote Americans' freedom, prosperity, mobility and individual privacy," he said.
The reorganization and improvements Chertoff announced for the Department of Homeland Security stem from a second-stage review process, which studied the department's programs, policies, operations and structure.
Transportation and border security, as well as immigration enforcement, will receive more personnel, detection and screening technology, and other resources, he said.
"The tragic events in London last week served as a reminder of the terrorist threat against innocent civilians in our mass transit systems," Chertoff said. Soon after the deadly terrorist bombings in London, Chertoff held a national press conference in which he announced a higher terrorist threat level for the entire U.S. mass-transit system, especially commercial buses and subways.
And these security improvements will be coupled with efforts to reduce the demand for illegal border migration by channeling migrants seeking work in the United States into regulated legal channels, he said.
Chertoff said that the U.S. immigration process will be restructured to enhance security and to improve "customer service." Chertoff said that he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice soon would announce plans to ease visa problems for those entering the United States to vacation, work or study.
"Immigration policy is about more than keeping illegal immigrants out. Our heritage and our national character inspire us to create a more welcoming process for those who lawfully come to our shores to work, learn and visit," he said.
"Secretary Rice and I will, in the near term, announce a detailed agenda of work and innovation that the Department of State and DHS have begun together to ease the path for those who wish to visit, study and conduct business in this country."
And DHS will strengthen the US-VISIT program to require a one-time, 10-fingerprint scan upon enrollment, with the continued use of two-print verification during later entries, he said.
Significant personnel changes include plans to create the post of a homeland security intelligence director, who will centralize intelligence analysis gathered by 11 different bureaus in the department.
Chertoff opened his news conference by extending condolences to the British people following the July 7 terrorist attacks that have killed at least 52 people and wounded more than 700.
"Our hearts and our prayers go out to the British people and everyone who suffered loss in this barbaric attack," he said.