President Bush has asked Congress to help him create a new cabinet-level department in charge of homeland security.
In a nationally televised address Thursday, Mr. Bush said dramatic government reforms are needed to deal with the terrorist threats of the 21st century.
The president said the new department will take over several government agencies, including the Coast Guard, customs, immigration, the border patrol, and federal emergency management. He said it will also review all government agency intelligence to produce a single daily picture of threats against the United States.
Mr. Bush said the United States is leading the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror. He said the anti-terrorism coalition is strong, and that 90 countries have arrested more than 2,400 terrorist suspects over the past nine months.
The president's proposal comes amid mounting reports of intelligence lapses before the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush said this is the biggest government restructuring plan since 1947, when President Harry Truman created the Defense Department at the start of the Cold War.
Leaders of Congress are welcoming Mr. Bush's plan, which requires congressional approval. After the speech, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said he applauds the president's move, while noting he had been calling on Mr. Bush to create a homeland security department for months.
Speaking on CNN television, Senator Lieberman predicted a battle for the department's approval in Congress. He said existing agencies that would lose power under the president's plan will fight it on Capitol Hill.
The announcement comes as Congress continues its investigation into alleged security and intelligence failures prior to the September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.