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: Again, that really echoes what was in the National Intelligence Estimate. That statement is not a new statement; that we relied on the intelligence community's assessment in framing the threat for this strategy.

We have enjoyed some of our biggest successes with our allies in Pakistan . You know, you've heard the litany of captures that we've had -- whether it's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Zubaydah -- all of these have been the result of cooperation with our Pakistani allies. We also know that Pakistan has cooperated not only with us, but with our British counterparts in a number of disruptions of al Qaeda plots.

So there's no taking away from them; they've also suffered the loss of life in confronting al Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal region. I have said repeatedly that the peace agreement with the tribals in Pakistan failed Pakistan and failed us. And obviously that's one of the fundamental things that al Qaeda took advantage of to reestablish a safe haven in the tribal areas. We work with -- we're continuing to work with the Musharraf government, with the Pakistani military and intelligence services to address that ongoing threat.

Q You said this is a multi-year plan, but how can you ensure that this plan is going to continue or be followed after the President's term?

MS. TOWNSEND: I'm glad you asked. I obviously can't ensure that it will, but homeland security both as a policy matter and as a concept didn't exist prior to 9/11 and prior to this President's - President Bush assuming office. And so we believe that we had an obligation, regardless of who the next President is, Republican or Democrat, to leave them the benefit of our thinking. They may obviously choose to adjust it, depending on their own policy priorities, but we believe that both the American people and whoever the next administration are, we owed them -- we had a responsibility, an obligation to provide them with what our thinking was, based on our experience.

Q Hi, Fran, thanks. Two questions. One, you mentioned the emerging threat of homegrown radicalism. How does this document attempt to address that? And two, you said that this focuses on risk-based planning and priorities. There has been an ongoing battle in Congress about formulage for homeland security grants. It was changed very slightly this year. But most of the money is still being distributed around the country based on things other than risk. Do you see this as becoming a blueprint for further change on that?

MS. TOWNSEND: Okay. Again, let me work backwards. I absolutely do think this is a call to have funding be entirely risk-based, and believe that further adjustments in that direction are necessary. I should also point out one of the things that hasn't been mentioned yet that is also in the report. As you know, one of the 9/11 recommendations that has never been implemented is reform in Congress. And we think that that is fundamental to long-term homeland security -- is reform of the oversight structure in Congress.

On the issue of homegrown radicalism, we've seen some good work on this -- on this issue with -- by our partners in the New York City Police Department. This is a combination of -- let me step back for a moment. No question that there are many patriotic, law-abiding American Muslims who cooperate and who do not believe that extremism represents the Islamic tradition, who work with sort of their local authorities, who work in their own communities to keep America safe. But to the extent that there are those who are advocating violence inside the United States or trying to misrepresent the religion of Islam, we have to reach out to those communities, we have to work with them, and we have to try and understand the radicalization process so that we can disrupt it and intervene and prevent additional individuals from being attracted to this sort of hateful and very violent ideology.