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...


MS. TOWNSEND: Sure. Martha, I would say, both -- DHS has the website www.ready.gov. <http://www.ready.gov./> Non-profits like the American Red Cross have similar preparedness websites to provide information. I will tell you that at -- having just sort of gone through the memory of that tragic day on the sixth anniversary, I do worry about complacency. I do worry about the American people thinking that we're past this now. We're not past it. We see the intelligence every day. We know we have a very determined enemy. And I do think each of us within our own families and communities have a responsibility to be asking our schools, our community and our elected officials, what are their emergency plans, and satisfy ourselves that we're taking steps to protect our families and our children.

Q Can you -- can I ask two questions? First part, can you take a minute to describe who outside and inside the administration might have led calls in the development of this new strategy? And the second question is, can you talk about how this new strategy will affect areas where the homeland security structure has drawn some criticism? For instance, you talk about the need to focus more on all hazards or natural disasters. Well, you changed the 15 preparedness scenarios that people have said only one or two deal with natural disasters. Will you -- will this affect the natural response framework, which talks about -- which has drawn criticism from states and locals for not including them as part of the effort -- human capital, transition planning, where the deputy secretary is vacant at the end of this month; and then grants, where people have complained that those weren't risk-based enough?

MR. TOWNSEND: Okay, Spencer, I'm going to do my best here. You'll come back to me, because I think you've asked more than two questions. Let me try to pull this together. The strategy should -- will be used by each federal department and agency as well as state, local and tribal governments, as a tool to help inform budgets and plans and interaction among the various levels of responders, because what we know for sure is, unless there is seamless synchronization among all levels, then the response is not -- isn't adequate, and it certainly is not as strong as it could be. And so it will inform all levels, including the federal government and federal departments, of our plans and our -- sort of the operating and implementation plans across the federal government.

I will tell you that I think -- we have spent time talking to, as I said, former governors; we've talked to state homeland security advisors; we've talked to sort of the senior military leadership both at NORTHCOM and in DOD; we've talked to experts on both sides of the aisle. We talked to -- staff talked to Bruce Hoffman and Frank Cilluffo, we've talked to Steve Flynn , and we did a think-tank roundtable. We really reached out. Does that mean everybody agreed with us? No. But the idea was to reach beyond sort of our traditional stakeholders and make sure we cast a wide net and incorporated what we believed to be the best ideas.

I personally talked to a number of governors on both sides of the aisle. We reached out to the National Governors Association and mayors. The idea was to solicit input from a broad group of stakeholders with a very varied and wide array of interests and views, and to try and incorporate that. We also worked with members of Congress.

Q But any specific changes, you think, in some of the areas, the programs that DHS has been criticized in that this strategy will contribute to?

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, I think that, again, it is a strategy, not a plan. It will be for the department to look at. But of course, it very closely aligns to what the Secretary's priorities are going forward: protecting people, protecting the things that cross our borders, greater boarder security. And in many respects, I think the Secretary's priorities align very much with the National Strategy.

Q Fran, just wanted to follow up a little bit on what Martha was asking about. You said the White House didn't ever access -- on the SITE issue here -- didn't access the information. According to the Post, both Fred Fielding and Joel -- is it Bagnal -- expressed interest in getting it, and Katz told the Post that she sent them both an email with the link to the SITE page that contained the video and the English transcript, and Fielding replied that he'd received it and thanked her.