October 11, 2002 | Lecture on Department of Homeland Security
It is a pleasure to be here this morning to say a few words on this very important topic, especially in New York City where we all stand in the shadow of what tragically transpired here a year ago.
On September 11 of last year, I was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. But that morning, I was actually on the taxiway at Dulles on a United flight to San Francisco and a few planes behind American flight 77, which tragically found its way to the Pentagon.
My plane fortunately never got off the ground that day and returned safely to the terminal. After accounting for the folks in my office, I was called back into the Pentagon--still burning and belching smoke--to help develop our response to these terrible events.
I spent the next 40-plus hours at the Pentagon working with many others on what was to become the global war on terrorism and securing our homeland. We've made significant progress due to the outstanding work of many hard-working people, but there's still more to do.
Before I get started, I want to commend the organizers of this very timely conference as well as congratulate all of today's awardees, who will receive Maritime Security Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to maritime security.
I especially want to congratulate Ambassador Bill Middendorf, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of my organization, the Heritage Foundation. Congratulations, Ambassador, and all the other awardees.
On September 11, we learned that America is not impervious to terrorism. Despite significant success against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, experts suggest that a new wave of terrorism involving new--and perhaps even more powerful--weapons looms in our nation's future.
Today's terrorists can strike anywhere, at any moment, and with a wide variety of weapons--from biological weapons to cyber attacks. Perhaps most difficult to conjure is that we may never be sure that we have ultimately defeated those who aim to harm us. Therefore, we can never again allow ourselves to become complacent about the security of our nation.
These two facts mean that the threat of terrorism is likely to be an enduring condition of this country's and this century's security environment. The country is now in a state of war, and securing our homeland is--and will continue to be--a new national calling. We all must answer this call.
The government of the United States has no more important priority than securing our nation from terrorism. This effort will obviously involve major new programs at all echelons of American government, by the private sector, and international partners: essentially, a cross-section of the people sitting in this room today.
The extraordinary response to terrorism began immediately. Almost all Americans contributed in some meaningful way through personal bravery, support, or compassion. We all saw the pictures. We have much to be proud of as a nation.
Congress appropriated $40 billion to wage war in Afghanistan, aid the reconstruction efforts, and enhance security. $10.6 billion was allocated directly to homeland security, which enabled the government to:
Moreover, since the attacks of last September, the Administration has identified potential terrorist targets and put in place additional security. This includes airports, sea and water ports, nuclear facilities, dams, water and sewer plants, electric power plants, gas pipelines, dams and bridges, and biological and chemical facilities.
At the state level, the National Governors' Association has estimated that states have spent at least $650 million to help protect their citizens. Additionally, the states that border our neighbors to the South and North have shared with the federal government the responsibility for bolstering America's land borders and increasing security at crossing points into the United States.
Local governments have also answered the call by spending $525 million for additional security, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In addition, they expect that these urban governments will spend about $2.1 billion in 2002 on securing their cities.
It is evident that homeland security efforts will require significant new spending by federal, state, and local authorities. All in all, it is estimated that $100 billion will be spent annually by federal, state, and local governments and private business on an array of homeland security measures--not including the U.S. armed forces and their efforts in the war on terrorism.
As you know, the U.S. seaport and maritime system is an integral part of what makes the United States the world's largest trading nation. One drawback of this proud fact is that ships may well serve as a medium for terrorist activities. Despite this, I would suggest, it is possible to keep global commerce moving while putting in place systems, practices, and procedures that will reduce our risk and vulnerability to terrorism.
Vulnerabilities in the U.S. maritime system include undetected dangerous cargoes in sea containers, the hazardous nature of energy products carried in tanker vessels, passengers on cruise ships, visiting merchant seamen, and seaports located near major cities like the venue for today's conference--New York City.
But in some ways, the homeland security mission is not new to us. Protecting more than 361 ports and 95,000 miles of coastline, homeland security is more visible today than it was prior to the tragic events of September 11, but it is just as important as it was when we first began protecting our national sovereignty over 200 years ago.
It has been said that maritime trade is the most valuable, and perhaps the most vulnerable, sector of the world's economy. It must be protected. Improving the security of our maritime transportation networks, therefore, is about preventing terrorists from using these systems as an instrument of terror while continuing international maritime commerce.
This is not only a domestic concern. We must work internationally as well with our global trading partners such as overseas megaports in Europe and Asia. We must seek universal standards of security and information sharing.
By working together, we can jointly achieve far greater security for maritime shipping than by working independently. Recognizing that trade is vital to the world economy and our way of life, we must strive to achieve a more secure maritime trade environment while ensuring economic efficiencies in global commerce.
Perhaps the most ambitious of the new policy initiatives is the President's proposal to consolidate 22 federal agencies and 170,000 employees into a new Department of Homeland Security. This will be the largest restructuring of the federal government since 1947 and the establishment of the Department of Defense.
The establishment of a DHS would consolidate responsibility and accountability for homeland security and create a unity of purpose among the agencies currently responsible for this mission. The new department will unite the efforts of 100 federal agencies and organizations that have homeland security responsibilities.
The Congress has not yet finished its work on the legislation that will establish the new department, slated to be opened in January 2003. There are many critical issues that need to be resolved, including ensuring that the President and the new Secretary of Homeland Security have the needed management flexibility in terms of reorganization, budgetary transfer authority, and personnel to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the DHS and the safety and security of our country.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon of last September placed homeland security at the top of the nation's priorities. Since then, the President, Congress, state and local authorities, and the private sector have done much to meet daunting new challenges to our security.
At the same time, however, there are many areas that require additional attention--including maritime security. As our security and well-being lies in the balance, it is more important now than ever that the right decisions be made in a timely manner.
--Peter Brookes is Senior Research Fellow for Homeland Defense and National Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. This lecture is adapted from remarks delivered at the Maritime Security Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City on September 18, 2002.