The Future of the Patriot Act
July 20, 2005
Thanks for the warm welcome. It's good to be back in
Baltimore, home of the mighty Orioles. (Applause.) And my friend, Raphael
Palmiero. (Applause.) I had the honor of calling -- I call him Raffy --
the other day to congratulate him on his 500 home run, 3,000 hit club
membership. And I know you're proud of him here. He's a -- as you can
tell, I'm a baseball guy. And one of the things about Baltimore is you're
great baseball fans, and I think we're all thrilled that our friend,
Raphael Palmiero, is such a great player.
It's also an honor to be here at the Port of Baltimore. It's an impressive
place to chopper over. There is a lot of action here in Baltimore. And I
want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by to talk about how
to secure this port, other ports, the borders and our country. That's the
task at hand. And for those of you involved with protecting our homeland,
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work.
I want to thank the Governor for welcoming me. And I appreciate the First
Lady coming, as well. The Governor asked how my mountain bike is going.
It's not going well when you fall. (Laughter.) It seems like it's
happening quite often these days.
Congratulations on a billion-dollar surplus. (Applause.) I want to thank
the Attorney General, Al Gonzales, for joining me. Al has been a longtime
friend of mine. He is a superb lawyer. He's been my counsel as Governor
of Texas, and in the White House; he is now the Attorney General of the
United States of America. And I'm proud of the job he's doing for our
And I appreciate my friend, Mike Chertoff, for agreeing to come, the
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He has got a mighty
task, to make sure that old ways are abandoned for new ways; that we work
closely together; that the kind of giant bureaucracy that has been created
out of other bureaucracies functions smoothly. And he's doing a very good
job of leading this important agency in the right direction. Mike, thanks
for serving, thanks for your leadership, thanks for your clear vision about
the job that you need to do.
I want to thank Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger for being here. Dutch,
it's good to see you. I appreciate you coming. You're a good man to take
time out of your schedule to be here. I want to thank the Mayor for
joining us. Mr. Mayor, proud you're here. Thanks for taking time out of
your schedule to come by to say hello.
I want to thank Brooks Royster, the Executive Director, for hosting this
event. It is not easy to host a President. It turns out the entourages
are quite large these days. But I want to thank you for making this an
important event. I want to thank all of you who are here. Once again, I
want to thank those who wear the uniform for joining us.
Last night I announced my nomination of a good and highly qualified man to
the Supreme Court -- Judge John Roberts. (Applause.) He's somebody
Americans will be proud to have seated on that bench. He has the qualities
that our country expects in a judge -- experience, wisdom, fairness and
civility. He has profound respect for the rule of law. He has respect for
the liberties guaranteed to every single citizen. He will strictly apply
the Constitution and laws; he will not legislate from the bench. I urge
the Senate to rise to the occasion, to provide a fair and civil process and
to have Judge Roberts in place before the next Court session begins on
October the 3rd. (Applause.)
I not only have the duty to nominate good people to the bench, I have the
duty to work with you all to protect this country. That's our most solemn
I'm going to talk about securing the homeland. But I want you to remember,
as we work to secure the homeland, we have to be right one hundred percent
of the time, and the enemy only has to be right one time. And so,
therefore, the best way to protect the homeland is to go on the offense, is
to find these people in foreign lands and bring them to justice before they
come here to hurt us.
And that's exactly what we're doing. We're pursuing a two-pronged
strategy. We're sharing intelligence with our allies. We're working with
people around the world. We're on the hunt, and we will stay on the hunt.
If your most important duty is to protect the homeland, it's important not
to lose our nerve, our will, and our focus. And the United States will not
do so. We'll continue to lead to bring people to justice all around the
We're facing cold-blooded killers who have an ideology that is the opposite
of ours. These people believe that there should be no dissent, no freedom,
no rights for women, that there only ought to be one religion, which is a
misinterpretation of the great religion of Islam. That's what they
believe. And they have designs, they have goals. And what are those
goals? Well, they want to topple nations. They want to drive the United
States and freedom-loving countries out of parts of the world so their
ideology can take hold. That's what they want. And they want to shake our
will and weaken our determination.
See, the only real weapon they have is the capacity to kill innocent people
and to shake our conscience, to get us to withdraw. That's what they want.
And there's a reason why they want us to withdraw from the world --
because they want to impose their vision, their dark vision on people.
The only way to defeat an ideology of hatred is with an ideology of hope.
And so our strategy is not only stay on the offense and to bring these
people to justice; our strategy is to spread the ideology of hope found in
democracy and freedom. History has proven that democracies are peaceful
countries. History has proven that democracy and freedom have the
capability of converting enemies into allies. The best way to secure the
future for our children and grandchildren is to spread democracy and hope
and freedom to parts of the world that simmer in resentment and anger and
And that's precisely what the United States of America is doing, and will
continue to do. These terrorists will not shake our will; they will not
cause us to retreat. I believe strongly we have a duty not only to defend
our homeland today, we have a duty to lay the foundation of peace for
generations to come -- which is precisely what we're doing.
As we work to defend the country overseas -- first of all, for those of you
who have got relatives in the service, for those of you who wear the
uniform, I want to thank you for what you're doing. (Applause.) And if
you're in contact with a loved one in Iraq or in Afghanistan, you can tell
them this: The citizens of this great country, the citizens of the United
States of America stand squarely with those who wear the uniform of the
United States military. (Applause.)
I found an interesting contrast that when I was in Scotland a while ago,
that we were there to talk about how to end poverty and disease, how to
help women, how to educate young girls on the continent of Africa -- that's
what we were there to discuss. We were there to discuss how nations that
have been blessed with riches can do our part to save lives. I don't know
if you know this or not, but the United States of America is, by far, the
most generous nation in the world when it comes to feeding the hungry, or
providing help for those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. I believe that
to whom much is given, much is required.
And in the midst of those discussions, terrorists murdered in cold blood
people from all walks of life, innocent people. It's an interesting
contrast, isn't it? It should be a vivid reminder about the world in which
we live. We will not let down our guard. And, therefore, at home, we're
doing everything we can to protect the American people.
There are a lot of people who are working hard, and you're some of them.
And I want to thank you for what you're doing. Oftentimes, you don't get
recognized enough by the citizens. We take your work for granted often.
But I know how hard you're working, and I want to thank you for that. And
the federal government has a responsibility to help you in your work.
We're taking four key steps to protect the homeland. The first thing is to
make sure that we spend resources necessary to protect the nation -- spend
the money and spend it wisely, by the way, make sure that we spend it on
areas that need -- that need the help. And we're spending unprecedented
resources to protect our nation. We have more than tripled funding for
homeland security since September the 11th. I want to thank the members of
Congress for working on that. Dutch, thanks.
We're developing innovative programs to defend this country against a
biological, chemical, or nuclear attack. In other words, one of the
biggest dangers we face is if a biological, chemical, or nuclear device
gets in the hands of terrorists. Listen, they will use them. By the way,
you can't negotiate with these people or reason with them. That's what
you've got to understand. These are not the kind of people you sit down
and send a counselor over and hope to convince them to change their ways.
These are cold-blooded ideologues who will kill. And therefore, we've got
to plan for the worst.
We provided -- since that fateful attack on our country, we provided more
than $14 billion to train, equip state and local first responders. That
makes sense, doesn't it? Those who are going to be responsible for
responding to an attack are at the local level; the federal government
ought to help, as part of the homeland security strategy, help train
people. And we're spending money to do so. We've increased federal
homeland security funding by more than tenfold for firefighters, and police
officers, and other responders. I mean, if we're asking you to be on the
front line, we ought to help you. And that's what we've done at the
Secondly, we're strengthening the defenses at our most important and
vulnerable locations. In other words, part of the strategy is to try to
figure out where the enemy may attack. You assess your weaknesses and you
build on those -- and you strengthen your weaknesses. Remember, this is a
war. This isn't a -- maybe a law enforcement adventure. We're at war with
these people. And therefore, during a time of war, you've got to do
everything you can to strengthen your defenses. And so we'll continue to
enhance protection at our borders and coastlines and airports and bridges
and nuclear power plants and water treatment facilities, and other critical
sites, including transportation infrastructure.
Since September the 11th, we've provided more than $350 million to help
state and local authorities improve security on mass transits. I'm sure
you can figure out why I'm trying to explain what we've done about mass
transit. That's what the enemy hit the other day on one of our strong
allies. They used their mass transit system to try to shake our will.
The city of Baltimore and other cities around the country have received
$2.4 billion in urban security grants, which they have the choice to use
for mass transit security. I think that makes sense to say to a mayor, if
you've got a problem with your mass transit, here's a grant, and if you
feel that's the best use of the money, use it there.
My budget for the next year proposes a 64-percent increase in
infrastructure protection grants -- in other words, grants that will go
specifically for infrastructure, to safeguard subway, light rail, city
buses, and other critical systems. And we're going to continue to work
closely with state and local leaders to make other vital improvements in
mass transit security.
First of all, we're constantly monitoring intelligence reports. And part
of our job is to collect intelligence, look at it, analyze it, and if it's
a problem that relates to a security system at a local level, we'll let you
know as quickly as possible.
We take extra precautions at times of heightened risks. That's what Mike
Chertoff recommended to me after the London bombings. In other words, he
took a look at the situation and said, let's enhance our security and
infrastructure points, and he raised the threat level. We're widening the
use of explosive detection teams and nearly doubling the number of rail
security inspectors. We're targeting assets and resources to our
infrastructure. We're accelerating the development and deployment of new
technologies to rapidly detect biological, radiological and chemical
attacks. That's what Mike announced last week. We're going to continue to
make sure that we assess our weaknesses and strengthen our transportation
Our seaports are another critical element of our national infrastructure.
We've done a lot of work at our seaports, and I want to thank those of you
here who have helped. In the Port of Baltimore, ships from around the
world arrive with products ranging from lumber to fuel to electronics and
automobiles, and you've got a lot of it coming in, which is good news.
Commerce at this port generates more than a billion dollars of revenue, and
sustains thousands of Maryland jobs. This port is important for your
economy, in other words.
This is a gateway for foreign markets, which provides an opportunity and an
important challenge for us. And we recognized that early. We've made
dramatic advancements in port security since September the 11th. We've
established strict new safety rules for both domestic and international
shipping, and we have taken new steps to identify and inspect high-risk
cargo. And that's important for our citizens to understand.
We launched what we call the Container Security Initiative, to screen
American-bound containers at more than 35 foreign ports so we can identify
dangerous cargo before it reaches our shore. Doesn't that make sense? It
seems like it does to me. In other words, we're stationing Custom folks
overseas and we're working with places that ship goods to us, to inspect
cargo there so we don't burden our ports. Since September the 11th, we've
provided more than $700 million in federal grants to close off the
vulnerabilities at individual ports, including $15 million for this port
The success of all these efforts depends on the vigilance of the men and
women protecting the ports. And you're taking critical steps here in
Baltimore. And I want the citizens of this city to understand what you're
doing. You've upgraded cargo inspection technology from clipboards to
keyboards. I just saw some of your new cargo inspection technology. It's
sophisticated. It enables a person to do a lot of inspections relatively
easy. You're employing advanced screening devices, such as new radiation
detectors and x-ray equipment that can penetrate steel containers. That's
what I saw. I mean, you can look inside the truck, you don't even have to
get in it. That's called technology. And it's working. It makes a big
difference. You're patrolling the waters around the port.
I want to thank all of you who are working hard here. I want to thank
members of the Coast Guard and Border Patrol and the Baltimore Port
At a major international port like this, there's a lot to do to safeguard
the people. And so we're committed to help you build on the progress. The
budget for next year proposes $2.3 billion in port security funding -- 10
times higher than the funding since September the 11th. The budget
increases the Coast Guard budget by more than 11 percent, including new
funding for patrol boats. The budget boosts support for cutting-edge cargo
screening technologies. I mean, we're really good at technology and we
might as well be using that technology to protect the American people.
What I'm telling you is, is that we're focused here in -- and I want to
thank again, thank Congress for staying focused with us. When you're at
war, you can't lose sight of the fact that you're at war. And if your most
important priority is to protect the people, you've got to work together to
Thirdly, to protect this homeland we're making our security operations more
unified and more effective. More than 180,000 men and women from 22
different agencies are working together at the Department of Homeland
Security. That's a lot of folks with a lot of agencies. So Chertoff's job
is to make sure everybody heads in the same direction. And we're making
good progress -- changing cultures, streamlining cultures, and getting
people to work under a unified Department.
The FBI is changing its mission. Its primary mission is to prevent a
terrorist attack. Of course, we want the FBI agents to find people and to
bring them to justice when they break the law. We want them to be a part
of the preventative aspect of this war on terror, too. We've reformed the
intelligence community to stay a step ahead of our enemies. We created a
new Director of National Intelligence to help integrate our intelligence.
We want our intelligence folks sharing information and talking better.
I went to the National Counterterrorism Center the other day. It's an
impressive place. It's a place where people from different agencies in our
government sit side-by-side to share information. This is a new kind of
war. We're dealing with people who hide in the shadows of our cities.
They kind of lay low and then they show up with deadly devices. And,
therefore, the best way to stop them is to share intelligence. And so
we're constantly working to make sure our intelligence is as good as
And to strengthen the security, we've got to strengthen our partnership
with state and local officials. It doesn't do any good if we can figure
something out and we don't share it with people at the local level. In
this state, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center -- known as MCAC
-- brings together more than 20 federal, state and local agencies. You're
doing a good thing in the state and for the local level to coordinate
information. I want to tell you a story about MCAC's success. Last
summer, Baltimore County Police officers spotted a suspicious person
videotaping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. First of all, you have somebody who
is alert on the ground. It was odd looking, somebody is videotaping the
bridge. Maybe that happens a lot; maybe it doesn't. Anyway, this person
was wise, he saw something suspicious. So they alerted the Maryland
Transportation Authority Police, which then notified MCAC. When the
personnel team there learned that the man was part of a federal terrorism
investigation in Illinois, they secured a warrant and arrested the guy
Think about what you just heard. You got a local man sees somebody doing
something suspicious; he immediately makes a call; it goes to MCAC.
Because we have information-sharing from state to state, and from federal
government to state, information popped up that this person was more than
suspicious, he was wanted. Today I got to see Gary McLhinney -- I
appreciate you being here, Gary. He is the Chief of the Maryland
Transportation Authority Police. I don't know who gets the credit in your
organization, but whoever did acted wisely.
Let me tell you what he said. He said, "Our officers would not have been
successful in detaining and subsequently arresting the individual without
the MCAC. This is how it's supposed to work." You're right, this is how
it's supposed to work. Congratulations on setting up a smooth system here
in the state of Maryland to better protect the people. You're serving as a
And, see, that's what's taking place all around the homeland. People have
got to understand, we're changing the old ways so people can better talk.
We're all in this deal together. We all have a responsibility to protect
our local citizens. And therefore, it makes sense to have a seamless
capacity to talk to each other in a real-time basis. And it's working,
Fourth, to protect the homeland, we've got to give our law enforcement
better tools to track and stop terrorists before they strike. And one of
the most important tools is the U.S.A. Patriot Act. The Patriot Act closed
dangerous gaps in America's law enforcement and intelligence capabilities,
gap that terrorists exploited when they attacked us on September the 11th.
Both houses of Congress passed the Patriot Act by overwhelming bipartisan
majorities, and I was proud to sign this law. And it's working. The
Patriot Act authorized better sharing of information between law
enforcement and intelligence. Before the Patriot Act, criminal
investigators were separated from intelligence officers by a legal and
bureaucratic law. Imagine that. You get somebody investigating a problem,
and somebody collecting intelligence, and they couldn't share information.
And so the Patriot Act broke down that wall. How in the heck can people
expect us to protect our country when you can't share intelligence with
people who are investigating? The Patriot Act helped tear down the wall so
that people can share information better, and work as a team and break up
Listen, finding our enemies in the war on terror is tough enough. Law
enforcement should not be denied vital information their own colleagues
already have. And so, for the sake of our security, the United States
Congress must not rebuild the wall that prevents law enforcement from doing
The Patriot Act allowed investigators to pursue terrorists with the same
tools they use against other criminals. Think about that statement. We
had people that could use certain tools against drug dealers, but couldn't
against terrorists. Before the Patriot Act, it was easier to track the
phone contacts of a drug dealer than the phone contacts of a terrorist.
Before the Patriot Act it was easier to get the credit card receipts of a
tax cheat than that of an al Qaeda bank-roller. Before the Patriot Act
agents could use wire taps to investigate a person committing mail fraud,
but not specifically to investigate a foreign terrorist carrying deadly
weapons. Before the Patriot Act, investigators could follow the calls of
mobsters who switched cell phones, but not terrorists who switched cell
phones. That didn't make any sense. The Patriot Act ended all these
The theory is straightforward and it makes sense to me, Dutch, and I know
it does to a lot of your colleagues. If we have good tools to fight street
crime and fraud, then our law enforcement ought to have the same tools to
fight terrorism. The Patriot Act also has updated the law to meet
high-tech threats like computer espionage and cyber-terrorism. For
example, before the Patriot Act, Internet providers who notified federal
authorities about threatening emails ran the risk of getting sued.
Needless to say, that stopped some people from sharing threatening emails
-- nobody likes to get sued. It happens too often in our society, by the
way. The Patriot Act modernized the law to protect Internet companies who
voluntarily disclose information to save American lives.
Terrorists are using every advantage of the 21st century technology, and
we've got to make sure our law enforcement has got the tools to fight off
that advantage. The Patriot Act helps us defeat our enemies while
safeguarding civil liberties for all Americans. The judicial branch has a
strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Law
enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign
terrorist's phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property.
Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we're talking
about. And they are fully consistent with the Constitution of the United
Congress also oversees the use of the Patriot Act. Our Attorney General,
Al Gonzales, delivers regular reports on the Patriot Act to the House and
the Senate. The Department of Justice has answered hundreds of questions
from members of the Congress. In other words, there is a strong oversight
I want you to hear what Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, said the
other day. She said, "We have scrubbed the area and have no reported
abuses." She was speaking about the Patriot Act. I want you to remember
that the next time you hear someone make an unfair criticism of this
important, good law. The Patriot Act hasn't diminished American liberties;
it has helped to defend American liberties.
Over the past three-and-a-half years, our law enforcement and intelligence
personnel have put the Patriot Act to effective use. In other words, it's
working, because we've got good people using the tools within the Patriot
Act. They've used the law to break up terrorist cells in New York and
Oregon and Virginia and Florida. We prosecuted terrorist operatives and
supporters from California to Texas and New Jersey to Illinois, North
Carolina and Ohio. In other words, we're making progress. It's one thing
to have the tools; it's another thing to use them effectively within the
guidelines of the United States Constitution.
The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. The
problem is, at the end of this year 16 critical provisions of the Patriot
Act are scheduled to expire. All 16 provisions are practical, effective
and constitutional, and they are vital to defending our freedom.
This week, the House of Representatives will vote on legislation to renew
the Patriot Act. As we saw in London, the terrorists are still active and
they are still plotting to take innocent life. So my message to the
Congress is clear: This is no time to let our guard down, and no time to
roll back good laws. The Patriot Act is expected to expire, but the
terrorist threats will not expire. I expect, and the American people
expect, the United States Congress and the United States Senate to renew
the Patriot Act, without weakening our ability to fight terror, and they
need to get that bill to my desk soon. (Applause.)
I appreciate you letting me come by to talk to you about the war on terror.
This is going to be a long war. But freedom is going to prevail. This
nation of ours has always handled duties brought to us -- history has
always brought us challenges and problems. We've always handled them;
we'll handle this one, too.
See, the enemy doesn't understand the nature of the American people. We're
not going to be blackmailed, we're not going to be threatened. We'll stay
strong. When history has called us to action in the past, we've responded.
And history is calling us now. It's the great struggle of the 21st
century, and we're going to stay in the fight until it's won. We're going
to make this country safer. And, as importantly, for the moms and dads out
there, and grand folks, we're laying the foundation of peace for your
children and grandchildren.
It is such an honor to be involved with good men and women like you all who
are -- we're all joined together in this solemn duty to protect this great
I want to thank you for your hard work. I want to thank you for your
dedication. May God bless you and your families, and may God continue to
bless our country. (Applause.)
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