Gibbons in prime position

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Nevada Congressman Jim Gibbons is in prime position to help lead a historic reorganization in federal government that, we hope, will make significant improvements to homeland security and fix some long-standing ills in defense of this nation's borders.

Gibbons was tapped last week by President Bush as one of the lead sponsors of legislation in the U.S. House to create a Department of Homeland Security.

The department, announced by Bush in a televised speech, would absorb existing agencies such as the Secret Service, Coast Guard, Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Services.

While it would be the biggest reorganization in decades, Bush may have stopped one agency short of a truly comprehensive home-defense strategy. Why not include the FBI? If the FBI's attention is to shift toward security, then it could benefit from a fresh perspective as well.

Gibbons, as a member of the House Intelligence and Armed Services committee, has the legislative background to guide Bush's proposal. As a veteran of Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars and former commercial airline pilot, Gibbons has insight into the details of how security must work -- from the military in hostile foreign lands to the family checking its bags at the airport.

When we spoke with Gibbons a couple of weeks ago, it was clear he and other members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have already set in motion many organizational changes in the CIA and FBI to help resolve the deficiencies exposed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It was also clear Gibbons is thinking forward to lasting solutions, rather than pointing fingers or dwelling on the mistakes of the past.

We have no idea where terrorists may strike next. Gibbons, from his intelligence briefings, may have a guess at the likely targets. More important, though, is that he helps craft legislation allowing the people who gather such information to put it to use protecting the nation.


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