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[infowar.de] NY-Times: Bush Is to Propose Broad New Powers in Domestic Security
aus der NY-Times:
Bush Is to Propose Broad New Powers in Domestic Security
By ELIZABETH BECKER
WASHINGTON, July 15 =97 The Bush administration's broad new proposal for=20
domestic security, to be made public on Tuesday, calls for sweeping changes=
that include the creation of a top-secret plan to protect the nation's=20
critical infrastructure and a review of the law that could allow the=20
military to operate more aggressively within the United States.
Tom Ridge, the president's adviser on domestic security, has been at work=20
on the plan for more than eight months =97 beginning long before the=
for a new department of homeland security, which was hastily announced last=
month as Congressional investigators were making public new information=20
about intelligence lapses before Sept. 11.
The administration could impose some changes on its own authority, while=20
others would require Congressional action. Dozens of the recommendations=20
are familiar initiatives that the government has tried to enact for years=20
but are newly popular to help reach the goal of preventing terrorist=20
attacks within the United States. Many fall outside the scope of the=20
proposed new department.
Given the difficulties the president's proposal for the department is=20
facing in Congress, the idea that this new plan could be enacted as written=
These are among the administration's proposals:
- Establish national standards for state driver's licenses.
- Create an "intelligence threat division" in the new department that uses=
what the plan calls "red teams" of intelligence experts. These teams would=
act like terrorists and plot attacks on vulnerable new targets in the=20
country so that means of preventing such attacks can be devised.
- Increase inspections of international shipping containers before they=20
leave foreign ports and as they cross United States borders.
- Ensure that government agencies can communicate with one another,=20
something successive administrations have tried and failed to do.
The plan also calls for the first thorough inventory of the country's=20
critical infrastructure =97 both public and private =97 followed by a secret=
plan to protect it. The inventory would include, for example, highways,=20
pipelines, agriculture, the Internet, databases and energy plants.
"That's one of the big points," said a senior administration official, who=
provided a copy of the plan to The New York Times. "The whole society is=20
vulnerable with hundreds, thousands of targets we have to protect, but the=
most important stuff we do won't be released."
In a letter accompanying the plan, also provided by the official, President=
Bush said that the federal, state and local governments and private=20
companies should share the responsibility for =97 and the $100 billion=
cost of =97 combating what he called the greatest threat to the United=
this century. It was a sign that full financing for his plan would not come=
from the federal budget.
"We must rally our entire society to overcome a new and very complex=20
challenge," Mr. Bush said.
The senior official said that the idea for the homeland security department=
actually grew out of the secret deliberations on this broader plan. But the=
official insisted that the administration actively fought Congressional=20
efforts to legislate a new department throughout the winter and spring=20
because the White House wanted to keep deliberations secret.
"People were asking for a strategy, but we weren't ready," the senior=20
official said. "We announced the department first because we had finished=20
that part of the study."
Congressional Democrats are openly criticizing the White House for having=20
been too closed and secretive in the development of what amounts to the=20
largest reorganization of government in 50 years.
Democratic lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee issued a=20
statement today complaining that the legislation for the security=20
department was written by White House political appointees without proper=20
consultations. "That kind of secretive and arrogant behavior has produced a=
plan that, in many areas, is poorly constructed and complicates Congress's=
ability to produce a good final bill," said David Sirota, a committee=20
The plan begins with an acknowledgment of the difficulty of defining the=20
problem: "Terrorism is not so much a system of belief, like fascism or=20
communism, as it is a strategy and a tactic =97 a means of attack."
Domestic attacks like Timothy J. McVeigh's on Oklahoma City in 1995 and the=
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should be treated as=20
terrorism even if the motives may differ widely, according the study. For=20
that reason, it proposes to make better use of the military to counter=20
Before today, senior Pentagon officials had repeatedly said that they had=20
no plans to ask Congress to revamp the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which=20
sharply restricts the military's ability to participate in domestic law=20
In a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee in May, Senator Ted=
Stevens, Republican of Alaska, asked Secretary of Defense Donald H.=20
Rumsfeld whether the administration was hoping to make changes in the act.
"No, Senator, we're not," Mr. Rumsfeld replied. "We're not looking for any=
long-term or short-term change with respect to Posse Comitatus."
But the Bush plan says that "the threat of catastrophic terrorism requires=
a thorough review of the laws permitting the military to act within the=20
United States in order to determine whether domestic preparedness and=20
response efforts would benefit from greater involvement of military=20
personnel, and if so how."
Adding these initiatives could only complicate relations with Congress,=20
where members of both parties insist that the administration's proposed=20
department is conceptually too unwieldy. A series of House committees,=20
controlled by Republicans, essentially rewrote the Bush plan last week,=20
voting not to move the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Federal=20
Emergency Management Agency and a large part of the Immigration and=20
Naturalization Service to the department.
Mr. Ridge, appearing today before a special House committee that is=20
managing the legislation on the department, said the administration opposed=
each of those changes and more demanded by lawmakers.
"The president's reorganization is well planned and well thought out, based=
on input from every level of government, the private sector, the academic=20
community and of course the Congress of the United States," Mr. Ridge said.
He also said the department must have wide-ranging flexibility to move=20
money to different uses as needs arise.
The chairman of the special committee, Representative Dick Armey of Texas,=
the House Republican leader, told Mr. Ridge flatly that "it's not likely=20
that that's going to happen," but Mr. Ridge said the usual close=20
Congressional oversight could cripple the new department's ability to=20
respond to terrorism.
"We're at war," Mr. Ridge said. "The enemy =97 if you agree that they're=20
agile, that they'll move and change targets =97 we ought to be able to give=
the secretary some flexibility to target some of these resources based on=20
the threat, based on the vulnerability."
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