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Homeland Security to announce changes

July 12, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Homeland Security chief
will announce changes to the two-year-old department on
Wednesday in an effort to boost security and respond to
criticism of the agency charged with ensuring the country’s
safety, officials said.

They said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who
ordered a review of the department after taking office in
February, will outline steps aimed at better addressing threats
to the nation in a speech on Wednesday

“He will be laying out a very clear picture of our
priorities,” one senior department official said on Tuesday
night.

In ordering a review of the department, Chertoff was trying
to see how to make the mammoth bureau — which merged 180,000
employees from 22 agencies — more effective and efficient.

“The review examined nearly every element of the department
… in order to recommend ways (it) could better manage risk in
terms of threat, vulnerability and consequence,” the department
said in a statement about the changes obtained by Reuters.

One week after attacks on London’s transportation network
have focused attention again on importance of security to mass
transit, Chertoff will announce a goal of creating better
transportation security systems to move people and cargo more
security and efficiently, the officials said.

Exact details of the changes will be not be released
immediately, they said. But Chertoff plans to use new
technology to improve transportation security and better detect
explosives.

The department’s handling of transportation security in the
wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the
United States has been criticized as inefficient and
incomplete.

Some critics say the government too rapidly invested a lot
of money in boosting aviation security without doing it
properly. Others say other mass transit — like trains or
subways — are still vulnerable to attacks like those in London
or Madrid.

Chertoff also plans to shuffle the bureaucracy of the
department by deleting some positions and creating new ones.

As part of an effort to improve preparedness for a future
attack, Chertoff will name a new assistant secretary for cyber
security and telecommunications.

He will also create a new position of chief medical officer
who will be responsible for coordinating response to any
biological attacks.

A new chief intelligence officer will be charged with
consolidating the 11 parts of the department that are involved
in gathering and analyzing intelligence.




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