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President Visits Homeland Security Complex

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2002

Remarks by the President After Visit with Employees at Nebraska Avenue Homeland Security Complex
Nebraska Avenue Homeland Security Complex
Washington, D.C.

2:43 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate Governor Ridge giving me a tour of this important facility. It's -- we're working hard to make sure that we do everything we can to protect our homeland, coordinate among the various agencies, until we get a department of homeland security.

Our House of Representatives has passed a good bill. The Senate is struggling with a bill. I urge the Senate to get a bill to my desk before they go home, a bill which give us the flexibility necessary to move the right people to the right place, in order to better protect the homeland. A bill which safeguards prerogatives that former Presidents have had, in regards to national security matters. We're at a time of war, and the Senate shouldn't be making it harder for an administration, whether it be this one, or future administrations, to do their job. Nor should the Senate be trying to strip this administration or future administrations from any prerogatives or power that former administrations have had.

We're aware that there is hard work on the Senate floor by Senator Gramm of Texas, a Republican, and Senator Miller of Georgia, a Democrat, to develop a comprehensive substitute for a piece of legislation which we believe is flawed. We hope the Senate would work with Senator Gramm and Senator Miller, vote that bill off the Senate floor, so we can get it to a conference committee, and get the bill to my desk before they go home.

This is a really important piece of legislation. America is still threatened. There are enemies out there which still hate us. We must do everything we can to secure the homeland today, and at the same time, leave a legacy behind so future Presidents and future members of Congress can deal with what will be an ongoing threat to our freedoms and to our people.

But anyway, I appreciate your hospitality, Governor. You've got some fine people here working hard on behalf of the American people. It's wonderful to see you all again today.

Q Is one vote enough -- is Zell Miller's vote enough on this compromise?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not counting votes, I'm just calling on the right -- calling on the Senate to do the right thing for the American people.

Q Did you hear the Iraqi Foreign Minster's speech at the U.N., sir? What did you think of it?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn't hear it, but let me guess: the United States is guilty, the world doesn't understand, we don't have any weapons of mass destruction. It's the same old song and dance that we've heard for 11 long years. And the United Nations Security Council must show backbone, must step up and hold this regime to account. Otherwise, the United States and some of our friends will do so.

For the sake of peace, for the sake of world security, for the sake of a viable United Nations, they must act. And if they don't have it in their will to do so, if they're not willing to fashion a resolution which is new and different and strong, and holds Iraq to account, holds them to the agreements they have made, the United States will be willing to do so.

Q Should the American people prepare themselves for war with Iraq, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: The American people must understand the serious threat which Iraq places on America. We've learned after September the 11th that oceans no longer protect us from an enemy. We also know full well this is a man who has invaded two countries, this is a man who has poisoned his own people, this is man who's poisoned his neighbors, this is a man who says that Stalin is his hero, this is a man who hates, this is a man who doesn't believe in freedom, this is a man who has weapons of mass destruction and says he doesn't. He poses a serious threat to the American people. And the first step is to get the United Nations to prove to the world whether it's going to be relevant or whether it's going to be a League of Nations, irrelevant.

END 2:48 P.M. EDT

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