Michael Chertoff and Marsha Evans

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Marsha Evans, president of the American Red Cross, were Tuesday's guests. They are cosponsors of National Preparedness Month, beginning Sept. 1. Here are excerpts:

On whether the public will fund countermeasures for bioterrorism and radiological incidents:

(Evans) "A concern, frankly, is we know that the public will support the Red Cross in doing our natural-disaster responsibilities.... One of the questions on my mind is, will the public provide the same level of support as we prepare for something [tied to terrorism]."

On assessing the nation's safety almost four years after 9/11:

(Chertoff) "We are safer than we have ever been. We are not perfectly safe yet. In some ways, perfect safety is an ideal. It is not anything you can achieve."

On whether the US would be more secure if it changed its foreign policy in the Middle East:

(Chertoff) "We would be really fooling ourselves if we suggested there is some way to appease our way out of the ideological challenge we face with this kind of radical terrorism."

On his view of his work after six months as Homeland Security secretary:

(Chertoff) "In some ways, we are further along than perhaps the public is aware. I realize there are things that are facing us that we still have to get better prepared for.... We are in a race against the clock, and we are never quite sure when the buzzer is going to go off."

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