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1:36 P.M. EDT
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. September 11th was one of those rare dates that forever divides history into distinct categories of before and after. Everyone will remember what he or she was doing on September 11th.
It was a day when the dark and impossible became a horrific reality for our country and for the world. We commonly hear the refrain that everything changed on September 11th. In many ways, that is true. And one of the things that has changed is how we are going to organize the United States government to defend against, and ultimately defeat, the threat of terrorism, how we are going to organize to win the war on terrorism about which the President has talked for the last several days.
Yesterday, as you know, the President signed an executive order establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council. This organization will coordinate federal, state and local efforts to strengthen protections against terrorist attacks here in the United States.
But something that did not change on September 11th is the fact that we need America's very best people to be a part of an effort of this magnitude. And that is why, as the President said yesterday, he chose a good man for this most important task.
We're all so pleased that Tom Ridge has agreed to head the Office of Homeland Security. Tom is, of course, a public servant of extraordinary ability and experience, and America is very fortunate that he has answered the call to duty.
Tom and I will work very closely together to ensure that America's security is truly seamless. We will make sure that what we are doing abroad to protect and defend American national security is closely coordinated and matched with what we are doing to protect the security of Americans at home.
Today, it is an honor for both Tom Ridge and me to announce the creation of two additional posts, stemming from this reorganization of the government. And, to tell you that there are two outstanding public servants who have agreed to fill those posts.
Dick Clarke will be the President's Special Advisor for Cyber security, and General Wayne Downing will serve as the National Director and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combatting Terrorism.
Both these individuals will report to both Tom Ridge and to me. And we are pleased and gratified that both have agreed to serve. The American people and our press around the world have a difficult task ahead of us. We know that with the perseverance of America, with the leadership of the President, with the leadership of members of Congress -- and I want to recognize, I believe, Senator Bennett is here, who has been a real leader in this area -- we believe that we will be able to persevere, and we will be able to succeed in this war on terrorism.
I would now like to introduce the President's Homeland Security Advisor, Tom Ridge, who will tell you a little bit more about the two individuals who have joined us here on the stage. Thank you very much. Tom?
DIRECTOR RIDGE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Condi, it's a great pleasure to join with you and the extraordinary team that the President has assembled in this effort. And I look forward to working with you to ensure that our defenses against terrorism are both strong and seamless.
The tragic events of September 11th proved just how critical it is that America have a coordinated and comprehensive national strategy to protect against terrorist threats and attacks. Our efforts with the Office of Homeland Security will be an important part of that strategy.
But I'm here to say only one part of that strategy. Today the President is putting in place two additional elements that are just as important. First, the administration is extremely pleased that Dick Clarke has agreed to serve as Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Security. This position and its mission is vitally important.
Information technology pervades all aspects of our daily lives, of our national lives. Its presence is felt almost every moment of every day, by every American. It pervades everything from a shipment of goods, to communications, to emergency services, and the delivery of water and electricity to our homes. All of these aspects of our life depend on a complex network of critical infrastructure information systems. Protecting this infrastructure is critically important.
Disrupt it, destroy it or shut it down these information networks, and you shut down America as we know it and as we live it and as we experience it every day. We need to prevent disruptions; and when they occur, we need to make sure they are infrequent, short and manageable. This is an enormously difficult challenge. It is a technical challenge, because we must always remain one step ahead of the hackers.
It's a legal challenge, because this effort raises cutting-edge questions of both privacy and civil liberties. It's a political challenge, because the government must act in partnership with the private sector, since most of the assets that are involved in this effort are owned by the private sector, which owns and operates the vast majority of America's critical infrastructure.
Dick Clarke is the right man for the job. He is one of our nation's leading experts on cyber security, appointed as the first national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism in May of 1998. In his long career of government service, he has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence under President Reagan, and as Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs under President George Herbert Walker Bush.
In his new role, he will be the President's principal advisor on all matters related to cyber security. He will serve as chairman of a government-wide board that will coordinate the protection of critical infrastructure systems. The President is expected to sign an executive order, establishing the board shortly. You know Dr. Rice and I are anxious to be working with him in our capacities as well.
The second action the administration is announcing today is the appointment of General Wayne Downing to be our National Director for Combatting Terrorism. And here again, Dr. Rice and I look forward to this day-to-day working relationship.
The President has made it clear from the outset that our campaign against terrorism will be fought across a very broad front. There is a diplomatic component, a law enforcement component, an intelligence component, a financial component and a military component as well. All of these facets, all of them, have to operate together in a very tightly coordinated fashion. It will require close coordination among many, many government agencies.
And ensuring this coordination is challenging, it's important, and it certainly is a full-time job. And again, I'm confident we have the right person for that job. Wayne Downing spent 34 years wearing the uniform of the United States Army. When he retired as General in 1996, he had served in everything from the infantry to armored units, spent nine years serving in Europe in Asia. Perhaps most importantly, his last assignment was the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Special Operations Command.
Following his career in the Army, he was appointed by the Secretary of Defense to assess the 1996 terrorist attack on the U.S. base at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and to make recommendations on how to protect Americans in U.S. facilities world wide from terrorist attacks. Most recently, he served on the national commission on terrorism which was mandated by Congress.
In short, General Wayne Downing is a leader who understands terrorism, he understands how terrorist organizations operate, and he understands what it takes to defeat them. He will be the President's principal advisor on combatting global terrorism. The President is glad, we're very glad and America is truly glad that General Downing has once again answered the call of duty to his country.
Now I would like to invite both Dick and Wayne to make a few remarks. Dick?
MR. CLARKE: Thank you, Governor. Governor Ridge, Dr. Rice, Senator Bennett and friends, thank you all for coming. What's happening here today is an important step in making America secure for the future. Even as our heroic men and women fight today, on the other side of the world, and as our law enforcement personnel and the personnel of so many government agencies are working all across the country to make this country secure from terrorism.
We also have to look ahead, and that is why I'm so delighted that the President has asked me to worry about the war next time, the future security of the United States through cyberspace. Our economy, our national defense, increasingly our very way of life, depends upon the operation, secure and safe operation of critical infrastructures, that in turn depend on cyberspace.
America has built cyberspace, and America must now defend its cyberspace. But it can only do that in partnership with industry. As the Governor said, private sector companies own and operate most of our critical infrastructure cyberspace systems. So we have been working closely with industry. I'm glad to see representatives of industry here today. We'll be working even more with them in the future, to secure our cyberspace from a range of possible threats, from hackers to criminals to terrorist groups, to foreign nations, which might use cyber war against us in the future.
I look forward to working with the Congress, as we have been. I look forward to working particularly with Senator Bennett, and so many of the leaders of the government here on the cyberspace security issue. I want to thank you all, from so many departments, for coming.
And now, it gives me pleasure to turn the podium over to a true American hero, who I've had the pleasure of knowing for 28 years, Wayne Downing.
GENERAL DOWNING: Senator Bennett, Governor Ridge, Dr. Rice, Dick Clarke, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it's an honor for me to be asked back into this fray. I live in Colorado now. I was happily retired, out there trying to improve my trout fishing, and really resisted all efforts to get me to come back in the government. And last summer, when I was asked to come in and look at a certain position, I said, I'll never come back to the government unless there is a national emergency. And that got played back to me about two-and-a-half, three weeks ago.
Because it is a national emergency, and I'm honored to be joining in this fight, in this war -- this war that our President has said is his number one priority -- against combatting global terrorism and the threat that it represents not only to this nation, but to our friends and our allies around the world.
I look forward to joining with my colleagues in the United States government and our friends and our allies overseas as we wage campaigns to fight global terrorism. And let's not make any bones about it: this is going to be an extremely difficult job. It's a tough foe, it's a determined foe. And as events have shown us, it's a very, very smart foe and a crafty foe.
So it's going to be a long fight and it's going to be a tough fight. And the challenge that we have is to bring the great elements of power of this great country of ours to bear on this. I certainly look forward to helping doing exactly that.
We intend to exert unrelenting pressure on global terrorism and on the nations and the groups that support global terrorism wherever we can find them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year; we intend to give these people and those who support them no place to hide -- no place to hide. It's going to be a tough fight, but we will prevail.
Thank you very much.
END 1:52 P.M. EDT
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