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U.S. Homeland Security Still a Priority - 2003-03-21


As strengthened security forces protected the White House, Congress, and other public buildings in the capital Wednesday, Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge went before a House appropriations subcommittee.

Secretary Ridge urged speedy passage of President Bush's spending package for homeland security, terming the matter urgent:

TOM RIDGE, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
"In the quest to secure our homeland, we face fanatical and sinister enemies. Their willingness to contemplate the most evil of means, and the possibility that others might help them to acquire those means, create an absolute imperative that we sustain a scientific and technological edge to stay ahead of our enemies."

Secretary Ridge said the White House would request a supplementary spending package because of security costs during the military action against Iraq. But he was unable to give a specific money figure:

TOM RIDGE, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
"You've given the new department several hundred millions to go out and take a look at critical infrastructures to assess its vulnerability. We'll be looking at the ports, we will be looking at pipelines, we'll be looking at transportation assets, we'll be working with the governors and the private sector to take an assessment."

Later, Secretary Ridge joined President Bush at the White House for a national security meeting.

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