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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Bush rallies support for security revamp
George Bush makes TV address
Bush wants Congress approval by the end of the year
US President George W Bush has met congressional leaders, to try to rally them behind his proposals for a massive new Department of Homeland Security.


There's nothing wrong with a good turf battle

George W Bush
Mr Bush said he expected turf battles over the proposed department - which will take over responsibility from more than 100 existing agencies - and said Friday's meeting was the first step towards winning those battles.

He announced proposals to set up the new cabinet-level body to co-ordinate internal security and counter-terrorism activities in a prime-time national TV address on Thursday night.

Correspondents say the speech was an attempt to deflect attention from a high-level and potentially embarrassing investigation into apparent intelligence failures by the FBI and CIA ahead of the 11 September attacks.

Call for unity

"There's nothing wrong with a good turf battle fight," said Mr Bush after meeting the congressional leaders.

"One way to win that argument is to call upon the good services of effective members of the House and the Senate and that's what this meeting is all about. It's the beginning of winning the turf battle," he said.

Department of Homeland Security
170,000 employees
Annual budget of $37bn
Resources and personnel to be drawn from 100 existing government agencies
Mr Bush hopes to win lawmakers' approval for his plans by the end of the year, and have the new department up and running by 2003.

In a concession to Congress concerns, he said he would allow his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Ridge, to testify to lawmakers about the proposed department. Mr Ridge's status has previously made him exempt from such hearings.

Democrat Senator Joe Liebermann, who has already proposed legislation similar to the president's proposals, warmed to Mr Bush's call for unity.

Tom Ridge
Tom Ridge is tipped to head the new department
"If we're not together we're going to sustain vulnerability to terrorism and danger for the American people. We can't let that happen," he said, after the White House meeting.

Mr Bush's reforms come after searing criticism that turf wars and poor communication helped to create a situation where there may have been enough strands of information to predict the New York and Washington attacks, but no-one pieced them together.

Proposals

The intelligence "clearing-house" of the new Cabinet-level department will:

  • Analyse intelligence from a host of government agencies, including the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency to identify threats and stop them if possible
  • Protect critical infrastructure - including nuclear power plants, air, rail, road systems and ports
  • Lead US efforts to prepare for and cope with nuclear, chemical and biological attacks
  • Oversee federal emergency assistance
  • Unify federal authority over borders, territorial waters and transportation systems
  • Take control of the Secret Service.

Under the plans, the FBI and CIA will remain independent but will funnel information to analysts in the new department, which can decide if various pieces of information add up to a threat that needs to be addressed.

The new department will have a staff of 170,000 drawn from other agencies and an annual budget of $37bn.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"It is going to be very difficult to make it work"
President George W Bush
"America is leading the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror"
Patrick Lang, former US head of counter-terrorism
"It doesn't seem to me that this addresses problems of co-ordination"

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

07 Jun 02 | Americas
06 Jun 02 | Americas
06 Jun 02 | Americas
03 Jun 02 | Americas
03 Jun 02 | Americas
30 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Americas
16 May 02 | Americas
07 Jun 02 | Americas
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