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IN THE NEWS - Bush Proposes New Security Department

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This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

President Bush has proposed creating a new federal agency. If approved by Congress, the Department of Homeland Security would become the fifteenth cabinet-level department of the United States government. Its creation would be the largest government re-organization in more than fifty years.

Graphic Image
Graphic Image

The proposal calls for the new agency to be divided into four parts. One part, Border and Transportation Security, would unite control of federal security operations linked to borders, territorial waters and transportation systems. A second part of the agency would be Emergency Preparedness and Response. It would supervise federal government assistance in training emergency workers and direct the government's disaster reaction efforts.

Another part would deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. It would lead efforts to prepare for and react to terrorist threats involving such weapons. And, the fourth part of the proposed department would combine and examine intelligence and other information gathered by many organizations. The Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are among the organizations that gather information.

Parts of about twenty-two separate government organizations would be included in the Department of Homeland Security. The Secret Service, the Customs Service, the Coast Guard, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service are among them. About one-hundred-seventy-thousand people would be employed in the new agency. Its proposed first year budget is about thirty-seven-thousand-million dollars. That is about one-tenth the current budget for the Department of Defense.

The President has not yet named possible candidates to lead the proposed department. The head of the new department would be a member of the cabinet. Many observers expect the current director of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, will be a nominee.

Congressional leaders of both parties have been calling for the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security for months. They have met with Mister Bush to discuss his proposal. Both parties say they expect several congressional committees will get chances to re-shape the proposal. Congressional leaders promised to pass some version of it by September eleventh. That will be the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Several lawmakers have said that they want a new homeland security department to have more control over the C-I-A and the F-B-I. The House and Senate are currently holding hearings about possible intelligence failures by those agencies in connection with the September eleventh attacks.

This VOA Special English In The News program was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.

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