A Bush administration official said anti-terrorism efforts in the United States are working, and will further improve, once the newly created Department of Homeland Security is up and running. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card also said he thinks there is a relationship between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and terrorism.
Mr. Card said the United States is safer today from acts of terrorism than it was on September 11, 2001, when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and severely damaged the Pentagon in Washington, killing about 3,000 people.
In an interview on the NBC television program Meet the Press, Mr. Card said, efforts to root out terrorist cells, and to secure America's homeland during the past year-and-a-half have paid off.
"And it's dramatic, in terms of how we've been able to disrupt [terrorist] cells and discover plots, and prevent them from being implemented. And that will continue. We have to be vigilant. We have to be ever-vigilant, because the terrorist networks are still looking to attack us," the White House chief of staff explained.
Mr. Card - speaking on the television program Fox News Sunday - expressed concern that terrorists could acquire weapons, or weapons technology from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and said the Iraqi leader must be disarmed.
"One horrible thing that the world never wants to have happen is for weapons of mass destruction to get into the hands of terrorist organizations, no matter who those terrorist organizations are, or who they represent. We do know that Saddam has had a history of relationships with terrorist organizations in the past, and it would be horrible if his weapons of mass destruction got into the hands of terrorists," he said.
Mr. Card said U.S. borders will become even more secure beginning March 1, when the newly created Department of Homeland Security begins operation, coordinating a host of law enforcement agencies, dedicated to anti-terrorism efforts.