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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 01:25 GMT
Bush victory boosts new department
Tom Ridge, US director of homeland security, in London
Ridge said al-Qaeda was still an urgent threat

The US presidential adviser on homeland security, Governor Tom Ridge, says this week's Congressional elections - which saw the ruling Republicans take control of both Houses of Congress - mean his large new government department designed to thwart terrorism will be fully established by the end of this year.

Department for Homeland Security
Conceived after 11 September exposed security gaps
Blocked by Democrat-controlled Senate over trade union concerns
Republicans swept both Senate and House of Representatives at elections this week
Conceived after the attacks on the US last September, the Department for Homeland Security was described by Governor Ridge, who was speaking at a public meeting in London, as the biggest reorganisation of the federal government since President Truman united the various US military forces under a single body after World War II.

It is a measure of how much the world has changed since 11 September: a whole new American government department employing 170,000 people, drawing together agents from the CIA, the FBI, military intelligence and scores of other security agencies.

Turf wars between the agencies and lack of co-ordination were partly to blame for the drastic failure of intelligence that led to 11 September.

Now, says Governor Ridge, a united Congress behind President Bush should ensure the speedy establishment of his new department and better-intelligence sharing.

Permanent vigilance

But there was no room for complacency. Mr Ridge said terrorist networks were working to obtain chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and he singled out al-Qaeda as an immediate and serious threat:

"The modus operandi of this organisation emphasises careful planning, tight operational security and exhaustive field preparations - the prerequisites for spectacular operations."

The second plane heads for the Twin Towers
The new department is a child of 11 September
Governor Ridge is in Europe to arrange tighter security for ships and aircraft moving to the United States.

He has encountered some opposition from transporters here who say this will disrupt trade but Mr Ridge said he was determined to establish the new systems.

He also appealed for more understanding between the West and the Muslim world, saying that what al-Qaeda did was inconsistent with the Islamic faith.

"Frankly, a better understanding in the Muslim community of the Western world, democratic principles and who we are and how we treat one another would be helpful too," he added.

Throughout his speech, Governor Ridge stressed that the fight against terror could only be successful with international co-operation.

Terrorist threats, he said, hid within many nations, including the United States.


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05 Nov 02 | Middle East
26 Aug 02 | Americas
21 Sep 01 | Americas
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