Ridge Calls for More Private-Sector Support for Security

March 9, 2004
Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Tom Ridge noted in a speech marking the first full year of operation that, "In less than 12 months, we significantly

Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Tom Ridge noted in a speech marking the first full year of operation that, "In less than 12 months, we significantly expanded the nation's container security initiative, known as CSI. Today there is an inspector in Rotterdam, in Singapore, in Hong Kong, and 14 other ports of trade, working alongside our allies to inspect and secure the nearly 20,000 containers of cargo that arrive at our shores every day."

Ridge went on to establish goals for the coming year. "We have established a unique, integrated threat and vulnerability assessment process to map threat information against the nation's critical infrastructure," he said. "We want to know that it's okay to pass over or through the bridges, tunnels, roads and subways that we take to work," he continued. We need to know that our oil refineries, chemical and nuclear facilities have a security presence -- visible and undercover -- and that each retains the watchful eye of everyone from local law enforcement to the National Guard to the private sector businesses that own 85 percent of these entities."

Ridge pointed out that the tools to share information about critical infrastructure threats and vulnerability will require a unified national database. Speaking of private involvement, including the business and industry sectors, Ridge said, "Our private sector partners should know -- the citizens of this country rely on you for your resources -- but they depend on you, too, for their protection," referring to the protection of critical infrastructure and resources. "We are partners. And as such, we need you, and expect you, to take the initiative, as so many of you have rightly done, to strengthen the security of your facilities ... with your dollars and with your determination. It is what we must ask of everyone -- to make the fullest protection of this nation, the highest charge of all."

Ridge highlighted the challenge facing DHS, saying, "We patrol 95,000 miles of shoreline and navigable waters and 7,500 miles of land border with Canada and Mexico. Every year, more than 500 million people, 130 million motor vehicles, 2 .5 million railcars, and more than 11 million containers are processed at the border. U.S. overseas trade passes through our country's 300-plus ports."

DHS will expand border security by installing US-VISIT at the 50 busiest land ports of entry and will add seven FAST lanes, bringing the total to 18 locations. It will also deploy aerial surveillance and sensor technology, expand CSI (the Container Security Initiative) to 10 additional high-volume ports, and it will work with the private sector to facilitate compliance and assessment of new maritime security regulations. Ridge described the effort as a layered, risk-based, "all-hands" approach. He added that President Bush has said, "Our enemies are not idle, and neither are we." Then Ridge went on to add, "I ask all of our partners -- our international counterparts, state and local authorities and private businesses -- to engage in this important effort." www.dhs.gov