Bush delivers Homeland blueprint

President Bush delivered to Congress June 18 the massive blueprint for a new Homeland Security Department that would combine agencies and rely heavily on technology to fight terrorism.

Working swiftly to gain congressional support, homeland security adviser Tom Ridge delivered the proposal to lawmakers seeking the biggest change in the government's structure since 1947. The administration wants work completed by Sept. 11, the first anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

"Our goal is not to expand government, but to create an agile organization that takes advantage of modern technology and management techniques to meet a new and constantly evolving threat," Bush said.

The objective, he said is to minimize duplication, improve coordination and combine "functions that are currently fragmented and inefficient."

Members of Congress appear to support the proposal after Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California was removed from the new agency and by keeping the FBI's computer crime unit outside as well. The administration wants to keep the FBI and the CIA separate, although some lawmakers argue that they should be part of the new department.

The legislation also calls for creation of an undersecretary for information analysis and infrastructure protection.

A small number of FBI agents from the National Infrastructure Protection Center, which protects online commerce and the Internet against cyberattacks, would be moved to the new department. Several other agencies that deal with information analysis and infrastructure protection will be transferred to the department.

These include:

* The Defense Department's National Communications System.

* The Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office.

* The Computer Security Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

* The Energy Department's National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center.

* The General Services Administration's Federal Computer Incident Response Center.

The new agency will rely on many technology systems, including communications, border security and information sharing as well as emergency preparedness and rapid response to biochemical and nuclear threats.

The legislation calls for the department to secure critical infrastructures and integrate relevant information, intelligence analysis and vulnerability assessments — all tasks that require sophisticated technology systems.

The new department also will oversee the Domestic Emergency Support Team, the Strategic National Stockpile, the National Disaster Medical System and the Nuclear Incident Response Team.

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