Briefing by Fran Townsend, Assistant to President Bush for counterterrorism and Homeland Security Via Conference Call

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a press briefing via conference call by Fran Townsend , Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security: 10:36 A.M. EDT MR. STANZEL...


Third, to respond to and recover from incidents that do occur, which means to save lives, mitigate suffering, and protect property in future catastrophes, we must strengthen the foundation of an effective, coordinated response. This includes clarifying roles and responsibilities across all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors. We must also focus on ensuring we have the operational capabilities and flexibility necessary to facilitate both short-term recovery and an effective transition to the long-term rebuilding and revitalization efforts.

Fourth, we must continue to strengthen the foundation to ensure our long-term success. To fulfill these responsibilities over the long-term we will continue to strengthen the principles, systems, structures and institutions that cut across the homeland security enterprise and support our activities to secure the homeland. Ultimately, this will help ensure the success of our strategy to secure the nation.

I'd like to make the point that this has really been a collaborative effort. We have had extensive conversations with current and former governors of both parties, state homeland security advisors and state emergency managers, as well as state, regional and local first responder and law enforcement associations, policy experts from academia and think tanks, business leaders and homeland security leaders in Congress. This strategy represents our effort to help align existing guidance and integrate national efforts, bringing together all instruments of national power to bear on the homeland security issue, and emphasize the importance of using a risk-based approach.

So if you look at it, we wanted to ensure alignment, integration, the full and synchronized integrated use of all instruments of national power, and make clear that homeland security must ultimately be a risk-based approach.

I'd encourage folks to look at the long-term -- sort of how to ensure long-term success towards the end of the strategy, because we really do make a point of emphasizing the comprehensive approach to risk management, the building of a culture of preparedness, developing comprehensive -- continuing to strengthen and build a comprehensive homeland security management system, which involves issuance of guidance, the planning for activities, the execution of those activities, and then the assessment and evaluation, so that you're coming full circle and constantly reevaluating both the risks and your capabilities, and then how do you build greater capabilities to face an evolving threat.

The building for long-term success includes improving and strengthening incident management, making the best utilization of science and technology, and as I've mentioned, the leveraging of all instruments of national power.

There should be no question that this involves education. The President signed an executive order on May 17, 2007 -- Executive Order 13434, the National Security Professional Development Executive Order -- and there was a resulting national strategy for the developing of security professionals. Homeland security is a foundation and fundamentally a part of our nation and our national security. And so we must build and train for the long-term individuals who look beyond their own -- the authorities of their own agency, and understand the authorities of other agencies and the capabilities of other agencies, so that they're best able to work together and leverage the full range of authorities of the government.

I should also note, one of the things we've found, based on our experience, to be most effective are the tools we provide those who must implement homeland security, and national security more broadly. A lot has changed since the original strategy of 2002. We now have a Department of Homeland Security; we've had the reauthorization of the Patriot Act; we've seen intelligence reform and the establishment of the DNI and the NCTC. And as you know, we are working with our allies in Congress to ensure permanent FISA reform legislation. This is incredibly important when we look at our ability to have the tools we need to do the long-term job of protecting the country.

Okay, Scott, I think I'm going to stop talking, and I'll open it up to questions.

Q How do you see this strategy different than the National Intelligence Estimate in July about al Qaeda?