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Gephardt Promotes Accountability for Homeland Security

Aired May 21, 2002 - 11:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You see there Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt. He's speaking this morning about how most of these reports that we've been hearing about, the lapses in terrorism of late, are proof that there needs to be strengthening of the office of Homeland Security.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DICK GEPHARDT (D), MINORITY LEADER: ... are having different levels of success in identifying homeland security needs and allocating resources to them. As Dave Obey has pointed out repeatedly since last fall, identifying our most crucial homeland security needs and utilizing the resources to address them has been uneven.

The homeland security director should have budgetary authority. He should have operational authority. Not only should he be accountable to the president, he should also be accountable to the Congress and to the American people. He should be allowed to testify in front of Congress so that we know the steps our government is taking to safeguard the homeland. And the public has a right to hear him explain, without divulging sensitive security matters, his efforts to coordinate our counter-terrorism operations.

FBI Director Mueller warned yesterday that future suicide bombings are, to use his word, "inevitable," and that we won't be able to stop them. But we can take strong additional steps to do everything in our power to prevent further attacks. We can and we must strengthen the homeland security efforts of our government. We can and we must rise to the challenge that the president stated in his September 20 speech. That is our mission; that is our responsibility. And we are determined and united that we will prevail.

I'd like to now call on Jane Harmon, who is doing wonderful work in the Intelligence Committee and has presented this bill. And then we'll hear from David Obey, who has been very, very effective in pointing out the needs that we have in homeland security -- Jane.

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