Presidential Radio Address - 15 February 2003
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Last week the national terrorist threat level was raised to "high." This is primarily a signal to federal, state and local law enforcement to take additional precautions and increase security measures against potential terrorist attacks. Raising the threat level also informs the general public to be more alert to their surroundings and prepared for possible emergencies in the event of an attack.
Americans should go about their lives. And for those seeking specific guidance on how to be more vigilant, I encourage you to visit the Department of Homeland Security website at DHS.gov.
These recent threats are a stark reminder that our country remains engaged in a war on terror. Our enemies are still determined to attack America, and there is no such thing as perfect security against a hidden network of killers. Yet, I assure you that our government at every level is responding to this threat, working to track down every lead and standing watch 24 hours a day against terrorism.
This past week, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge issued strategic plans to protect our critical infrastructure. These plans will guide local officials in securing our nation's dams and power plants, electrical goods, computer networks and communication systems.
Our effort to safeguard the homeland includes tighter security at the borders and ports of entry. We have posted more than 50,000 newly trained federal screeners at airports. We have begun inoculating troops and first responders against small pox. We are deploying the nation's first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack. And we are moving to better coordinate the efforts of law enforcement.
This week at FBI Headquarters, I spoke to some of the fine men and women who are leading our anti-terrorism efforts in law enforcement and intelligence. The FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense are working together as never before to assemble and analyze the threat information so we can act before our enemies can strike us.
We are gathering the best information possible, and using it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect our citizens. Throughout the country, joint terrorism task forces are bringing together federal, state and local officials to fight terrorism. The FBI is expanding its terrorist identification system, so that 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies will be able to identify known or suspected terrorists almost immediately. Local police will be able to access federal terrorist information from their squad cars to determine whether individuals they have pulled over or detained have terrorist links.
I've also asked Congress to fill a critical need in our defense against bioterror by committing almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like small pox, anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola and plague.
Our nation is preparing for a variety of threats we hope never will arrive. Many of these dangers are unfamiliar and unsettling. Yet the best way to fight these dangers is to anticipate them, and act against them with focus and determination. This vigilance is a fundamental responsibility of your government, and we are fulfilling that duty in every way we can.
In the fight against terror, the American people are resolute. We will persevere, and we will prevail.
Thank you for listening.