- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

The Department of Homeland Security met its congressionally mandated deadline today and officially begins its responsibility to defend the country against terrorist attacks.
"Since the day this nation was attacked, you have been on the front lines on the war against terror," President Bush said yesterday in welcoming more than 170,000 current federal employees into the new Cabinet-level department.
"You've worked hard under urgent and sometimes incredibly difficult circumstances. America is really grateful," Mr. Bush said.
About 17,000 of the employees will be stationed in the metro area 1,000 of them in the department's temporary headquarters at a Navy complex in Northwest Washington.
More than 20 agencies have been combined into the department since it was created by Congress in the fall and signed into law by Mr. Bush. The new structure encompasses the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service and the Transportation Security Administration.
It is the largest government reorganization since 1947, when the Department of Defense was created, and Mr. Bush called it a "historic day for our government and our country."
The Department of Homeland Security will be responsible for securing the United States' air traffic, ports, waterways and borders, protecting against bioterror and cyberterrorism, and training and funding local responders.
Mr. Bush asked for $3.5 billion to fund first responders, but Democrats say it is not enough. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, is pushing for a supplemental spending bill.
"We truly are engaged in a two-front war: one abroad, where we make sure to prepare and equip our men and women in uniform, and one at home where the men and women also wear uniforms police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel," Mrs. Clinton said.
To protect neighborhoods, the Bush administration formed local Citizen Corps Councils in every state that has conducted emergency response training in 244 cities.
The Transportation Security Administration was created and has assigned thousands of air marshals to commercial flights and deployed more than 50,000 newly trained airport screeners.
Additional inspectors are being posted at more than 20 ports around the world to examine high-risk cargo before it sets sail for the United States.
"Oceans no longer protect America from the dangers of this world," Mr. Bush said. "We're protected by daily vigilance at home, and we will be protected by resolute and decisive action against threats abroad."
The national stockpile of critical drugs, vaccines and other medical supplies has been increased, and can be delivered within 12 hours.
The president has sent a new project called "BioShield" to Congress as part of the administration's plan to deal with bioterrorist attacks.
He requested almost $6 billion to quickly make available vaccines against deadly threats such as anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola and plague.
"We must assume that our enemies would use these diseases as weapons, and we must act before the dangers are upon us," Mr. Bush said.
The employees being absorbed into the new department will retain their rights as federal workers but must adopt a fresh mind-set, he said.
"We created this Cabinet department in a time of war, and every professional in the Department of Homeland Security plays a valuable role in winning the first war of the 21st century," Mr. Bush said.

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