Ridge Launches New Homeland Security Dept.
With the swearing in of Tom Ridge as secretary of Homeland Security on Friday, President Bush launched a new Cabinet department with the “vital mission” of protecting Americans from a repeat of Sept. 11, 2001. In a White House ceremony, Vice President Dick Cheney formally swore in Ridge to head a department conceived after suicide hijackers killed more than 3,000 people, sparking a U.S.-led global war on terrorism and the biggest government revamp in 50 years. Ridge’s department, which has been criticized as unwieldy and under-funded, will merge all or parts of 22 existing federal agencies into a mammoth operation charged with reducing America’s vulnerability to terrorism. It will have 170,000 employees and a budget of almost $40 billion. “Homeland Security becomes the 15th executive department of my Cabinet,” Bush said. “It begins a vital mission in the defense of our country. Full Story