People In Charge
Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell is America's top diplomat. Regarded as a moderate on the staff, the 65-year-old former General has the tough job of going overseas and talking to other nations about American policy. It's his job to build consensus, or agreement, among many countries on how to fight the war on terrorism. Powell, a retired four-star Army General, planned the Desert Storm operation in the Gulf War in 1991. Today, he is also working to make peace in the Middle East, and keeping a watchful eye over the conflict between
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Tough, determined, and decisive, the 70-year-old Rumsfeld has a reputation as a "hawk." That means he favors using military might when necessary. He is now in the middle of the war on terrorism as the chief person coordinating military forces and developing a plan for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld draws from plenty of experience. He served as Secretary of Defense under President Gerald Ford, and was a Congressman for Illinois. He was a wrestler during his college days at Princeton University, and later a pilot for the Navy.
Vice President Dick Cheney. The 61-year-old Vice President went into hiding as a safety precaution after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, he has kept a low profile in the media, but is very active in helping President Bush fight the war on terrorism. And Cheney has the political clout, or power, to do it. He once served as White House Chief of Staff under President Ford at the young age of 34. He has also served as a Congressman, then as Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush, the current President's father. In preparation for the Gulf War in 1991, Cheney encouraged the military to plan a strong counterpunch against Iraqi forces. Over the years, he has developed a reputation for bouncing back: Cheney has suffered from four heart attacks over the years, and has undergone quadruple-bypass surgery.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Rice is one of Bush's most-trusted advisers on foreign policy, and is the first woman to hold the position. The 47-year-old Rice has specialized in Russian and European affairs, and speaks fluent Russian. President Bush had little experience in foreign affairs before the presidency, and Rice has helped bring Bush up to speed. She also served under the current President's father, former President George H.W. Bush. She was on the elder Bush's National Security Council, working on Soviet and East European issues. Rice's philosophy is to put the national interests of the U.S. above the rest of the world. She wants to pull U.S. troops out of the Balkans in Europe. She was also instrumental in America's refusal to sign a global environmental agreement in Kyoto, Japan.
Attorney General John Ashcroft. As head of the Justice Department, the 60-year-old Ashcroft is the nation's top lawyer. He is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of suspects behind the terrorist attacks. Ashcroft is viewed as very conservative from his days as Governor and Senator of Missouri. In the war on terrorism, Ashcroft encouraged Congress to pass an anti-terrorism bill that granted government agencies greater freedom in pursuing suspects. Critics say the law takes away civil liberties, or basic rights, of individuals.
Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta. The 70-year-old Mineta is the only Democrat on Bush's cabinet. He is assigned the task to make sure the skies are safe. His department oversees the Transportation Security Administration, created last year in the aftermath of 9/11. He comes with vast experience in the transportation industry, including a 20-year stint on the House Transportation Committee. Mineta and his family were among 120,000 Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during World War II. As a Congressman from California, he lobbied for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized for the injustices suffered by Japanese-Americans during the war.
FBI Director Robert Mueller. Talk about timing: Mueller, 58, started his job as FBI director just six days before 9/11. Since then, he's been in the hot seat. The FBI has come under fire with many officials questioning the efficiency of an agency that failed to anticipate the attacks. The agency ignored internal memos by agents warning of suspicious activity at flight schools. Mueller now must reshape the FBI, including its image. He has a reputation as a strong manager, and is a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He also served as a federal prosecutor on high-profile cases, such as the prosecutions of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and mafia boss John Gotti. That experience should help him guide future investigations in the hunt for terrorists.
CIA Director George Tenet. Tenet, 49, has served as CIA Director since 1997, when he was appointed by President Bill Clinton. As director, he oversees the agency that runs secret missions abroad to protect American interests and security. Tenet also serves as the official adviser to the President for intelligence, or information gathered about an enemy or area. Al Qaeda remains the most serious threat facing America, Tenet testified before the U.S. Senate this year. Tenet has asked the government for a 70-percent increase in new spies, and his agency has received 100,000 applications since 9/11, up from 60,000 a year earlier. But Tenet's challenge will be finding the right spies. Most applicants have been white, middle class, and without language skills in Arabic, Persian, Dari, and Pushtun. That's not the best crew to go after Islamic-based terrorist groups.
Homeland Security Advisor Tom Ridge. A former Congressman and Governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge, 57, was selected by President Bush last year to run the new Homeland Security Agency. Ridge's task is to help develop and coordinate a national strategy to protect the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. Ridge has to ask for cooperation from more than 40 federal agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, armed forces, Coast Guard, and Border Patrol. Politics have gotten in the way. Each agency is resistant to freely handing over information, wanting to protect its turf. Recently Bush has proposed a Department of Homeland Security, making it a cabinet-level appointment. That would give Ridge a lot more authority. Ridge also comes from a military background: He once served as an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, earning the Bronze Star for Valor.