Homeland Security Department plan is unveiled

Homeland Security Department plan is unveiled

The White House today took the wraps off its plan to create a new cabinet-level agency to combine existing homeland defense activities of other agencies. Creating the Homeland Security Department will require legislation by Congress, which Homeland Security Office director Tom Ridge will shepherd through the lawmaking process.

President Bush will address the nation at 8 p.m. about the plan, which comprises a major restructuring of the U.S. government.

The new department will have four components, press secretary Ari Fleischer said:

  • Border and transportation security

  • Emergency preparedness and response

  • Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures

  • Information analysis and infrastructure protection.

  • The new department will draw primarily from eight cabinet agencies, he said, and some parts of departments and agencies will also be included.

    The Bush Administration has not announced who will be nominated to be Homeland Security secretary. Ridge will be the "voice and face" of the process to create the new department, Fleischer said.

    Vice President Richard Cheney and others briefed members of Congress about the proposed department today.

    "This is a major restructuring of the federal government, the biggest restructuring of the federal government since 1947,"' Fleischer told reporters. "The 1947 restructuring was as a result of the need to fight and win a Cold War, to recognize the differences in moving from World War II to fight in the Cold War.

    "This is a restructuring of government recognizing the need to fight an enduring war against terrorism on a permanent basis, because it's the creation of a cabinet department, which is permanent."

    The cost of the new department will be "essentially budget-neutral" because it will be pieced together from existing agencies, Fleischer added. The missions of the FBI and CIA will stay the same, he said, while a small part of the FBI will be shifted to the DHS, according to the plan. The Homeland Security Office in the White House will remain in operation, he said.

    The Bush administration seeks to secure passage of the legislation this year.

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