Just days from its official fifth birthday on March 1, the Department of Homeland Security is crowing about its successes in establishing tighter security to thwart terrorism.
"We're going to leave for the next administration a pretty well-managed organization," said Secretary Michael Chertoff. The Homeland Security boss, meeting with reporters this morning, spelled out several security nightmares that the department has fixed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that led to its creation five years ago.
For example, he said that every ship container box that comes into the United States is checked for radiation. He also said that terrorist financing had been squeezed and that scrutiny of travelers in and out of the country had been tightened. Chertoff said that he had taken a special interest in tracking small aircraft and boats coming to U.S. shores and suggested that such aircraft would be the easiest way for terrorists to deliver a nuclear attack on the United States.
While Chertoff said that his department had come together well, he expressed concern that the public wasn't as interested in homeland security anymore and fretted that the next administration might nibble at the DHS budget. "Interest is waning," he said. However, he pledged to make that a big point in an exit memo to the next secretary that he says he's already writing in his head.