Chertoff Presents Homeland Budget to Congress

In one of his first actions after being sworn in as Homeland Defense Secretary, Michael Chertoff presented President George W. Bush's FY 2006 budget for the Department of Homeland Security to the House Appropriations Homeland Security Sub-Committee on March 2.

Chertoff told the committee that Bush requested the allocation of $41.1 billion in new resources for DHS, a 7 percent increase over the current year. The money, he said, will be used to "expand and improve existing programs as well as put in place new initiatives that will further strengthen and protect our homeland." Speaking to the committee members, Chertoff warned, "We must remember one chilling fact – America's enemies remain as resolute as ever in their desire to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. The terrorists who seek to attack us are not ready to concede defeat. Rather, they appear determined to adapt their methods to create new threats to our homeland."

In order to meet that threat, Chertoff noted, the DHS must look not only at the past practices of the terrorists and existing intelligence information, but "must also think creatively about the dynamic threats that the terrorists will pose in future."

He said he planned review the organization of DHS, its operations and its policies. "As the Department of Homeland Security marks its two-year anniversary this month, we now have the opportunity and obligation to benefit from experience and hindsight, look at how the pieces are fitting together, and see if the structure and systems we have in place today enable us to perform our core mission of protecting and safeguarding this nation."

He emphasized that the analysis of threats and risks will drive the structure, operations, policies and missions of the department, and not the other way around. "We will analyze the threats and define our mission holistically and exhaustively," said Chertoff, "then seek to adapt the department to meet those threats and execute that mission."

He also emphasized that while fighting terrorism was the reason for the creation of DHS, it is not the department's sole function. Its other functions – including responding to natural disasters, securing the coasts and providing immigration services and enforcement – are all essential parts of the mission of DHS, said Chertoff. "We owe it to the American people to bring the same dedication and energy to these tasks as we do to preventing terrorist attacks," he added.

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