the american police state is officially here on Monday November 25, 2002 with Bush signing the homeland security police state act.
Bush signs Homeland Security bill Ridge nominated to oversee massive agency
By Amy Schatz
Cox News Service
Nov. 26, 2002
WASHINGTON - President Bush signed legislation Monday creating a Department of Homeland Security and launching the largest government reorganization since 1947.
"The continuing threat of terrorism, the threat of mass murder on our own soil will be met with a unified, effective response," Bush vowed shortly before signing the 484-page bill.
"Dozens of agencies charged with homeland security will now be located within one Cabinet department with the mandate and legal authority to protect our people," he said.
Although Bush initially opposed the idea of a department focused on preventing domestic terrorism, he unexpectedly embraced the idea in June.
Bush proposed moving 170,000 workers in 22 agencies into the new department, saying it would foster better communication between agencies and could prevent future terrorist attacks on American soil.
As expected, Bush nominated former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to lead the Cabinet-level department, calling him "the right man for this new and great responsibility."
Ridge took charge of the White House Office of Homeland Security in October 2001 and lobbied tirelessly on behalf of the department.
Bush tapped Navy Secretary Gordon England, a former executive vice president at General Dynamics Corp., to become Ridge's deputy, and former Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas to become undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security.
All three are expected to be easily confirmed by the incoming Republican-controlled Senate.
Even as partisan bickering in Congress threatened to derail approval of the department last month, White House aides were quietly making plans to integrate the federal agencies that will become part of the new department. They studied compatibility problems with computer and phone systems and began plotting which agencies would be first to merge.
On Monday night, the White House released an 18-page reorganization plan detailing when agencies will be added to the new department.
By Jan. 24, Ridge must set up an office and nominate aides to head divisions within the department. The bulk of the agencies will move into the new department on March 1, including the Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and Transportation Security Administration. Other smaller agencies will move into the department over the summer with a goal of it being completed by Sept. 30. The Bush administration has a year to complete the entire transition.
That won't be easy, White House aides warned Monday. As in any merger, employees will be shifted into new jobs and personality conflicts will arise.
"There are going to be growing pains," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "Wrinkles are going to have to be ironed out."
Three agencies that won't be included in the Homeland Security Department are the country's intelligence-gathering agencies: the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. However, all three will be asked to share information with the new department to prevent domestic terrorism.
Creation of the Homeland Security Department represents a significant congressional victory for the Bush administration. Democrats had stalled the proposal because of concerns about Bush's ability to hire or fire unionized workers. After Democrats lost control of the Senate on Election Day, a few key moderates backtracked and voted for the measure.
After the ceremony, Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who first proposed the creation of a homeland security department a few weeks after Sept. 11, said he hoped the "partisan disputes" over the department were in the past. He also hailed the law's passage as a step in the right direction for the country.
The first test of that unanimity will come in January when Congress takes up the task of actually funding the new department.