- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

ARGONNE, Ill. President Bush yesterday demanded that Congress "give up some of its turf" in order to establish a Department of Homeland Security, saying creation of the new agency is essential to secure the safety of Americans.
In a speech to 1,000 workers at Argonne National Laboratory, the president said quick action by Congress will prove lawmakers are serious about "doing everything we possibly can to protect innocent American lives."
"What I'm telling you is, I understand that these changes won't be easy for some in Congress, but for the sake of the security of the American people, Congress needs to give up some of its turf, and recognize turf is not nearly as important as security for the people security for the American people," Mr. Bush said to loud applause.
"We're in new times, folks. We're in a different world. We face an unprecedented threat, and we cannot respond with business as usual," he told the workers, who are developing technology that will be employed in detecting, preventing and responding to terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush has proposed consolidating nearly 100 federal agencies that now oversee some portion of domestic defense into a new department. Versions of his plan this week are moving through the House and Senate, where a key committee is expected to take up the bill tomorrow.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey said Sunday that the president could have the bill on his desk by the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"It's very possible. I can't guarantee that, but that is a real possibility. And wouldn't it be lovely to send that message to the terrorists?" the Texas Republican said. Several Democrats, however, say they want to go slowly to make sure the new department is well planned and able to function.
While Mr. Bush is optimistic Congress will quickly act on legislation ranging from trade-promotion authority to the creation of the new department, his spokesman had some harsh words for lawmakers.
"Common sense suggests, get these items finished this week so they don't jam themselves up for when they return in September and October," Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said.
With the House set to go on summer recess Friday, and the Senate set to depart the following Friday, the spokesman said there is just enough time to get things done.
"It's not atypical for Congress to wait until the last second to get things done. But Congress is sure cutting it close," Mr. Fleischer said.
Mr. Bush spoke outside a building that houses the Advanced Photon Source (APS) a massive particle accelerator large enough to encircle a Major League baseball stadium that applies light 1 million times brighter than an X-ray. With the beam, the lab can identify an agent such as anthrax in less than three minutes.
For instance, researchers at the facility recently used the APS to determine the structure of "Edema Factor" one of three toxins that makes anthrax a deadly biohazard and that is being used to help create an antidote for the toxins.
During his brief visit, Mr. Bush watched demonstrations of high-tech devices being designed to thwart terror attacks, including a chemical sensor that detects cyanide gas, a biochip that can determine the presence of anthrax and a portable device that finds concealed nuclear materials.
"The American people need to know we've got a lot of brainpower working on ways to deal with the threats that we now face as we head into the 21st century," Mr. Bush said.
"Our scientific community is serving on the front lines of this war by developing new technologies that will make America safer. And as you tackle new scientific challenges, I want you to know, our government will stand by your side."
Mr. Bush said creation of the new Department of Homeland Security will aid in accountability and ensure that all agencies are communicating to prevent another terrorist attack.
"We need to have an effective strategy of mating up our brainpower with the problems we face, so as to stay on the cutting edge of technological change necessary to protect the homeland," he said.
The president said Republicans and Democrats should come together for the good of the country.
"This Department of Homeland Security is not a good Republican idea, it's not a good Democrat idea, it's simply an American idea, and they need to get their work done," he said to loud applause.


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