at today's swearing-in ceremony for new Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff, President Bush praised Secretary
Chertoff as "a talented public servant with an outstanding
record of achievement and a deep commitment to the cause
"He will be an outstanding secretary
of homeland security," he said.
In its actions against terrorism taken since
the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington,
including creating the Department of Homeland Security,
Bush said his administration is sending the world the clear
message that "terrorists will not be permitted sanctuary
or safe haven or the tools of mass murder."
Since the department's establishment, Bush
said, it has performed many tasks, including implementing
a new strategy to guard U.S. borders at ports and airports,
and instituting more effective visa screening for those
entering the United States.
The president said the department also has
an ambitious agenda for the future, including plans to develop
new vaccines and treatments to protect Americans against
biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological attacks.
Secretary Chertoff during swearing-in ceremony
Judge Chertoff with U.S. Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein during his visit to Uruguay (10/25/2004)
Following is the transcript of President
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
March 3, 2005
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SWEARING-IN
OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY MICHAEL CHERTOFF
Ronald Reagan Building
9:25 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I'm pleased to be here at
the Department of Homeland Security with our new Secretary,
Michael Chertoff. (Applause.) And I'm honored to share this
moment with Meryl and their children.
This is the third time -- not the first
or second, but the third time that I've asked Mike to serve
our nation. I keep asking him back for a reason: He is a
talented public servant, with an outstanding record of achievement
and a deep commitment to the cause of justice. As a federal
court of appeals judge, assistant attorney general, U.S.
attorney and federal prosecutor, Mike has worked tirelessly
to make our people safer and our nation more secure. And
now he will carry on that vital work as the Secretary of
I appreciate Michael's in-laws for being
here. Always a good thing, Mike -- (laughter) -- to listen
to your mother-in-law. (Laughter.)
I thank Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, not
only for being here to administer the oath of office, but
for serving our nation with such class and such dignity.
(Applause.) I want to thank the members of the United States
Senate, Senator Lautenberg and Senator Corzine, from New
Jersey, for being here, and thank you for helping shepherd
this good man's nomination through the Senate. I want to
thank all the members of the House of Representatives who
are here -- and there is a lot from New Jersey that have
joined us. I want to thank the members of my Cabinet who
are here, and former members of my Cabinet. And I want to
thank the employees of the Department of Homeland Security.
You have got a great boss. (Applause.)
Since September the 11th, 2001, we have
taken unprecedented steps to protect the American people.
We have assembled a strong coalition of nations to secure
our respective countries. We have closed down terrorists,
networks, and chased down their leaders in mountains and
deserts around the world. We've removed two dangerous regimes
that harbored terrorists and threatened the peace; we convinced
a third to voluntary abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons
programs. We have broken up the world's most dangerous nuclear
trading network, and busted up terrorist cells around the
We have been relentless, and we will continue
to be relentless in our mission to secure the people of
this country. From Florida to California to Massachusetts
we have arrested and prosecuted terrorist operatives and
their supporters. By our actions, we are sending the world
a clear message that terrorists will not be permitted sanctuary
or safe haven, or the tools of mass murder. (Applause.)
As we have taken the battle to the enemy,
we have also taken extraordinary measures to better protect
the homeland. We've carried out the largest reorganization
of government in a half century, merging 180,000 people
from 22 government organizations into a single department
with a single mission: protecting America from attack. The
success of the men and women of the Department of Homeland
Security do not always make the headlines. But I understand
what you've done, and I appreciate your hard work. By your
tireless efforts behind the scenes, you have helped protect
our citizens and secure our nation. And this country is
grateful for all you do. (Applause.)
In the last two years, this department has
implemented a vigorous new strategy to guard our borders,
posting Homeland Security personnel at foreign ports; strengthening
airport and seaport security; and instituting better visa
screening for those entering the United States. We've taken
important steps to protect our nation's critical infrastructure
-- our bridges and tunnels and nuclear power plants and
water treatment facilities and the cyber networks that keep
our government and our economy running.
This department has also taken action to
strengthen the hand of our partners in state and local law
enforcement. Local police and other authorities are those
most likely to encounter terrorists. And we're giving them
the tools and information they need to do their jobs. We've
established secure connections to emergency operations centers
in every state and every governor's office to ensure that
they get threat information on a real-time basis. We've
helped states establish mutual aid agreements and reasonable
response plans, so that when first responders need help
from their neighbors they can be sure the right assistance
will get to the right people at the right time.
We've provided more than $14 billion over
the last four years to train and equip state and local first
responders across America: funds for mobile command centers,
communications equipment, mobile decontamination equipment,
HAZMAT trucks, mobile WMD detection equipment and other
capabilities they need to protect our citizens and our communities.
Since 2001, we've trained more than 600,000 first responders,
and more than tripled spending on homeland security. And
all of you in this department, and the members of the Congress
can be proud of the accomplishments and the progress we
have made. (Applause.)
You have done all this, and more, under
the skilled leadership of Tom Ridge. Tom is a longtime friend,
and I thank him for his leadership and his dedicated service
to our country. (Applause.)
And I have found an able successor in Mike
Chertoff. As the 9/11 Commission said in its report, America
is safer because of your efforts, but we are not yet safe.
Mike Chertoff knows we cannot afford to become complacent.
He understands that as we adapt our defenses, the terrorists
will adapt their tactics in response. He understands they
continue to pose a great threat to the American people.
Recently, we learned that Osama bin Laden
has urged the terrorist Zarqawi to form a group to conduct
attacks outside Iraq, including here in the United States.
We're on a constant hunt for bin Laden. We're keeping the
pressure on him, keeping him in hiding. And today, Zarqawi
understands that coalition and Iraqi troops are on a constant
hunt for him, as well. Coalition and Iraqi forces have caught
and killed several of his key lieutenants. We're working
every day and night to dismantle his network and to bring
him to justice. (Applause.)
Bin Laden's message is a telling reminder
that al Qaeda still hopes to attack us on our own soil.
Stopping them is the greatest challenge of our day. And
under Mike's leadership, we will do everything in our power
to meet that challenge. Mike is wise and he is tough --
in a good way. (Laughter.) And he knows the nature of the
enemy. As head of the criminal division at the Department
of Justice, Mike helped trace the September 11th attacks
to the al Qaeda network. And it didn't take him very long
to do so. He understands that the terrorists are brutal
and determined, and that to stop them all our agencies must
work more closely together using every resource and technological
advantage we have.
I have given Mike an ambitious agenda to
carry out. We will continue to work to fully integrate the
agencies within the Homeland Security Department. We will
build on the progress that has been made. We will continue
working to reduce our nation's vulnerabilities and prepare
effective responses for any future attack. We will speed
the development of new 21st century vaccines and treatments
to protect Americans against biological, chemical, nuclear
and radiological attacks. We will continue our historic
investments in homeland security to match the threats facing
our country. We will protect the American people from new
dangers while protecting their civil liberties.
Mike understands that we need to work closely
with state and local officials because he has shared their
vantage point. Like men and women who wear our nation's
uniform on distant battlefields, those who wear the uniform
here at home risk their lives every day to protect our people.
By their service and sacrifice, our police, our firefighters
and emergency rescue personnel are making the homeland safer.
And our nation must constantly thank them for their work.
Mike is the right person to lead this department
in this vital work. He knows that to win the war on terror
abroad, we always must remember where it began -- here in
the homeland. He will be an outstanding Secretary of Homeland
Security. Mike, thank you for willing -- for your willingness
to serve our nation once again. God bless. (Applause.)
CHERTOFF: Thank you. Mr. President, members of my family,
friends and colleagues. Mr. President, I am grateful to
you for affording me the privilege of working under your
leadership to protect and safeguard our nation. As you have
so powerfully described, since September 11th, the job of
defending the homeland has become the challenge and the
calling of our generation. Under your steadfast and determined
guidance, our country has risen to meet the threat of the
age of terror. We have responded in a unified, strategic
and comprehensive manner, and as a result, America today
is safer, stronger and more secure.
Thousands of men and women, including many
here, now stand watch across this country and overseas guarding
our families and our freedoms. In taking the oath as Homeland
Security Secretary, I am honored to join these dedicated
public servants. Ours is a Department in which the American
public is deeply invested. Just in the past few weeks, I
have encountered many citizens who have personally expressed
to me their gratitude, their hopes and their prayers for
the work of DHS. These citizens -- indeed, all Americans
-- have placed their trust in the men and women who carry
out the important work of homeland security. I look forward
to carrying out this vital charge as we strengthen the protections
already in place at our ports of entries, in our skies overhead,
and in our cities and our communities.
My predecessor, Secretary Tom Ridge, his
Deputy, Jim Loy, and other founding leaders of DHS did a
superb job in launching this new Department. In building
on their achievements, I am conscious that my new leadership
team and I will be standing on their shoulders and building
on what they accomplished.
Our task now is to advance the exceptional
achievements of the first two years of this department,
to meet and manage the threats of today, and to prepare
to confront the risks of the future. Our mission is no less
than this: protect America, while fostering the values of
liberty, privacy and opportunity we all hold dear.
For their willingness to stand beside me
in this endeavor, I thank Meryl and my children. Once again,
you have given me your love, your sacrifices and your constant
support. And as all members of this department know, the
work we do is possible only because of the support and sacrifices
of our families and friends. (Applause.)
I first embarked on public service over
20 years ago as an assistant United States attorney in Manhattan.
Now as Secretary of Homeland Security, I have taken the
oath of office for the fifth time. As with each prior time
I have sworn the oath, I dedicate myself to serving America
and the American people.
Mr. President, again, thank you for this
opportunity and for your resolute commitment to the cause
of freedom and the protection of our families and our way
of life. I appreciate the trust you have placed in me, and
stand ready to devote my full energy and strength to the
duty we all share: the preservation of our nation and the
liberties we cherish.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 9:46 A.M. EST