Are We Really More Secure Under the Republicans?

by Clive Pellings

 

The President's fiscal year 2007 cuts $612 million out of first responder grants and

training programs administered by the Preparedness Directorate. Overall, funding

levels for programs designed to assist state and local law enforcement agencies were

slashed by more than $1 billion compared to fiscal year 2006. Representatives of the

National Sheriffs' Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police

have questioned whether these cuts demonstrate a lack of commitment to homeland

security on the part of the Administration.

President Bush's FY07 budget "eliminates the port security grant program, the only

source of funds committed to help ports pay for post-9/11 security requirements."

And, instead of funds set aside specifically for ports, the White House "has

proposed $600 million in Targeted Infrastructure Protection Program (TIPP) grants,

forcing ports to compete with rail, mass transit, and other critical infrastructure

for funding."

Republicans Killed A Vote On An Amendment That Would Have Added $250 Million For

Port Security Grants. Republicans killed the vote on the Obey, D-Wis., amendment

that would add $2.5 billion for homeland security, including $800 million for first

responder grants, $250 million for port security grants, and $150 million for

research to develop capabilities against chemical weapons. [HR1559,Vote#104,4/3/03]

NOTE: Every Republican present voted to kill this amendment.

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll104.xml

Republicans Voted Against $400 million Increase in Port Security. In 2005,

Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security Authorization proposal

that would commit $41 billion to securing the nation from terrorist threats - $6.9

billion more than the President's budget. The proposal called for an additional $400

million in funding for port security, including $13 million to double the number of

new overseas port inspectors provided for in the President's budget. The proposal

addressed the holes in securing the nation's ports by requiring DHS to develop

container security standards, integrate container security pilot projects, and

examine ways to integrate container inspection equipment and data.

[HR1817,RollCall#187,5/18/05] http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll187.xml

On March 16th, 2006, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment

proposed by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN) that would have provided $1.25 billion in

desperately needed funding for port security and disaster preparedness. The Sabo

amendment included:

– $300 million to enable U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk containers at all

140 overseas ports that ship directly to the United States. Current funding only

allows U.S. customs agents to operate at 43 of these ports.

– $400 million to place radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. Currently,

less than half of U.S. ports have radiation monitors.

– $300 million to provide backup emergency communications equipment for the Gulf Coast.

 

Meanwhile, the Bush budget – which most of the members who voted against this bill

will likely support – contains an increase of $1.7 billion for missile defense, a

program that doesn’t even work.  Congress also defeated an amendment by Sen. Bob

Menendez (D-NJ) to provide an additional $965 million for port security, a $5

billion amendment by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for emergency responder

communications equipment, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman's (D-CT) $8 billion amendment

for homeland security programs.

Seventy-five percent of our ports do not have the ability to screen a container for

dirty bombs or nuclear weapons. But, President Bush "requested only $157 million for

radiation portal monitors, which means U.S. seaports will not have the ability to

screen containers for nuclear weapons."

Finally, the President's FY07 budget requested $934 million for the Coast Guard's

Deepwater program, which delays by twenty-five years the overhaul of the Coast

Guard's cutters and aircraft, which are used to patrol and protect our ports and

coastline.

In 2005, Senate Republicans voted against an amendment to the FY 2006 Budget

Resolution to provide an additional $855 million in homeland security funding,

including $150 million for port security grants. [Vote64,3/17/05]

In 2004, Senate Republicans voted against an amendment to the FY 2005 Homeland

Security Appropriations bill to provide an additional $150 million to develop

equipment to detect nuclear weapons hidden in containers entering U.S. ports.

[Vote166,9/8/04,AssociatedPress,9/10/04]

In 2003, Senate Republicans voted against an amendment to the FY 2004 Homeland

Security Appropriations bill to increase funding for port and maritime security

grants by $100 million and funding for Coast Guard operations and security by $42

million. [Vote300,7/24/03]

In 2003, Senate Republicans voted against an amendment to the FY 2004 Homeland

Security Appropriations bill to increase overall homeland security spending by $1.75

billion, including $238.5 million for port and border security. Senator Robert Byrd

(D-WV) said, "The Transportation Security Administration received over $1 billion of

applications from the ports for the limited funding that was approved by Congress

last year." [Vote291,7/22/03;CongressionalRecord,7/22/03]

In April, 2002, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham sent a letter to the Director of

the Office of Management and Budget, requesting a budget increase. The money was for

guarding nuclear weapons, weapons materials and radioactive waste and was part of a

$27.1 billion emergency spending bill before Congress. Additional funds were needed

for:

·        Equipment to detect explosives in packages and vehicles entering Energy

Department sites ($12 million)

·        Better perimeter barriers and fences ($13 million)

·        Improvements in Energy Department computers, including “firewalls” and

intrusion detection equipment and increasing the ability to communicate “critical

cyber threat and incident information” ($30 million).

·        A reduction in the number of places where bomb-grade plutonium and uranium

was stored. ($42 Million).

In November, 2002, Stephen E. Flynn, Retired Commander, speaking on behalf of the

Council of Foreign Relations, he brought a request that Congress “Fund, equip, and

train National Guard units around the country to ensure they can support the new

state homeland security plans under development by each governor. Also, triple the

number of National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Support Teams from twenty-two

to sixty-six.”

And then there’s America’s ports. “. . . the Customs Service has created the

Container Security Initiative, a program to screen containers at foreign ports

before they are loaded onto ships. Such a program is extremely promising . . .”

So how’d Bush respond?

That post-9/11 budget requests? Bush met with House Appropriations Committee members

and said, “... I want to make it clear that if Con­gress appropriates one dollar

more than we have requested, I will veto the bill.”

The DOE request for more funding to protect weapons and nuclear materials? Turned down.

The Council on Foreign Relations request for funds to beef up the Coast Guard? Denied.

The proposal to increase port security? Unfunded.

When pressed on the issue of security funding, the administration gets quite testy.

Said White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels in said. “There is not enough money

in the galaxy to protect every square inch of America and every American against

every conceivable threat that every hateful fanatic in the world might conjure up.”

Concluded a report by the Brookings Institute: “President Bush vetoed several

specific (and relatively cost-effective) measures proposed by Congress that would

have addressed critical national vulnerabilities. As a result, the country remains

more vulnerable than it should be today.”

After 9/11, Bush repeatedly posed with firefighters, praised their heroism, and

promised first responders (police, fire and emergency medical personnel) the funding

they needed for adequate equipment and staffing. But he vetoed a bill that included

$340 mil­lion for equipping fire departments across the country. That same month

Bush promised $3.5 billion to help states equip and train first responders. $2.7

bil­lion of these “new” funds, it turned out, were merely being shifted from

existing homeland security programs. According to Congressional Quarterly, “the Bush

plan for funding new responders amounts to double-entry bookkeeping.”

Soon after 9/11, a Brookings Institute study and the General Accounting Office

reported that the United states contains 12,000 chemical facilities, and about 193

handle toxic chemicals that, if released, could each potentially threaten one

million people. The study maintained, “These chemical facilities are not adequately

protected against terrorist attack.” The EPA tried to establish regulations to

bolster security, but were rebuffed by Bush Administration, which was busy preparing

legislation authored by the chemical industry trade groups shielding them from

strict compliance measures.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigated sixty chemical plants and found a pattern

of lax security. At a plant in New Jersey where an incident could endanger more than

7 million people, gates were left open and unguarded and there was almost no

security at all. Prompted by such reports, the Senate Committee on the Environment

and Public Works approved by 19 to 0 a bill toughening security standards at

chemical plants, which Al Qaeda was known to have studied. The chemical industry

lobbied against it, Bush refused to intervene, and the Bill died in congress.

When the GOP subsequently took control of Congress in 2003, Bush demanded they cut

$10 billion from previously approved spending levels to meet his budget, forcing

deep cuts in homeland security programs. The Congressional Quarterly observed, “. .

. the future of homeland security is going to be fights over every penny, whether it

is radios that allow New York City police and fire departments to talk to each other

or radiation detectors for ocean shipping containers in Long Beach, Calif.

As terror warnings were raised, then lowered, then raised again, key agencies

complained they lacked means for a response. Years ago, Congress mandated

bomb-detecting machines in most airports, but a recent Wall Street Journal inquiry

found that only 190 out of 1,290 required machines were in place.

Stephen E. Flynn, who earlier testified before Congress regarding national security

deficiencies, compiled his findings in a book, America The Vulnerable. The forward

reads, “Despite increased awareness, we still offer our enemies a vast menu of soft

targets . . . The measures we have cobbled together to protect these vital systems

are hardly fit to deter amateur thieves, vandals, and smugglers, let alone

determined terrorists”

The White House prefers free-market solutions: Bush’s National Strategy for Homeland

Security document reads as follows:

“To achieve [securitygoals] we must carefully weigh the benefit of each homeland

security endeavor and only allocate resources where the benefit of reducing risk is

worth the amount of additional cost.” The administration finds that for many

security activities such as protecting large buildings and public venues,

sufficient incentives exist in the private market to supply protection.”

The report goes on to slam regulation, claiming that the private sector’s sense of

civic duty can be counted on to pony up for security measures. Hmmm. Applying a

rigid cost-benefit analysis to public spending on homeland security? I doubt most

Americans see the issue through that prism.

The Brookings Report quoted earlier noted, “. . . because of the administration’s

ideological resistance to government action, the Federal government made little or

no progress in guiding private-sector firms--even ones that handle dangerous

materials--toward improving their own security.”

A recent independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations

declared, “The United States remains dangerously ill-prepared to handle a

catastrophic attack on American soil.” It noted that fire departments across the

country were still short on radios, breathing equipment, and police departments

lacked protective gear needed to secure a site following an attack. That same month,

amid new warnings of possible Al Qaeda suicide hijackings, the Transportation

Security Administration announced it wanted to cut $104 million from the air marshal

program to help offset a budget shortfall.

The Sept. 11 commission said that screening travelers for explosives was a reform

that was “needed soon,” but the Bush administration is reluctant to increase the

$5-billion annual aviation security budget by the necessary hundreds of millions of

dollars, officials said. Rep Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore), Chair of the House Aviation

Panel claimed the agency and the Bush administration were “in denial on this issue.”

Said DeFazio “They have no intention of quickly deploying bomb detection equipment

to screen passengers and carry-on bags. . .”

Sources

The most important thing is to find Osama bin Laden.

http://www.hibbingmn.com/placed/index.php?sect_rank=4&story_id=180764

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12889667&BRD=1601&PAG=461&dept_id=477736&rfi=6

“Our government will take every possible measure to safeguard our country and our

people.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/sep11/homelandsecurity.html

http://www.rnw.nl/hotspots/html/us021126.html

“We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th. My

administration will continue to act on the lessons we”ve learned so far to better

protect the people of this country. It”s our most solemn duty.”

http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2002/11/sec-021127-whitehouse01.htm

who would “have the full attention and complete support of the very highest levels

of our government.”

http://www.detnews.com/2001/nation/0110/09/a06-314266.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1590984.stm

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham sent a letter to the Director of. . .

http://www.nci.org/02/04f/23-10.htm White House Cut 93% of Funds . . .

Matthew Wald New York Times, April 22 2002

Fund, equip, and train National Guard units around the country to ensure they can

support the new state homeland security plans. . .

http://www.cfr.org/publication.php?id=5100.xml

“. . . the Customs Service has created the Container Security Initiative, a program

to screen containers. . .”

http://www.house.gov/appropriations_democrats/bushdhs.pdf

Lieberman”s demand for an extra $16 billion per year for homeland security . . .

http://govt-aff.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&Affiliation=R&PressRelease_id=234&Month=5&Year=2003

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&db_id=cp108&r_n=sr225.108&sel=TOC_101857&

“... I want to make it clear that if Con­gress appropriates one dollar more than we

have requested, I will veto the bill.”

http://www.house.gov/appropriations_democrats/hsspeech.htm

https://ssl.tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=20030310&s=chait031003

http://www.thetalentshow.org/archives/000666.html

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1101/113001cdpm1.htm

President Bush vetoed several specific (and relatively cost-effective) . . .

http://www.brookings.edu/views/papers/daalder/20030101.htm

There”s a new sheriff in town, and he”s dedicated to fiscal discipline.”

http://www.siecus.org/policy/PUpdates/arch02/arch020033.html

“These chemical facilities are not adequately protected against terrorist attack.”

http://www.brook.edu/dybdocroot/fp/projects/homeland/newpreface.pdf (PDF FILE)

. . . by the Council on Foreign Relations declared, “The United States remains

dangerously ill-prepared. . .

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030922&s=corn

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0709/p09s01-cojh.html

Transportation Security Administration announced it wanted

to cut $104 million from the . . .

http://www.ohiostategrange.org/mod.php?mod=userpage&menu=1702&page_id=106

http://www.democrats.org/specialreports/bushpresser/ scroll down to “...what we can

do is we can be -- obviously at home, continue to be diligent on the inspection

process. . . “

. . . . both Democrats on the House Appro­priations Committee wanted to add $8

billion to the budget . . .

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1101/113001cdpm1.htm

http://www.house.gov/appropriations_democrats/hsspeech.htm

https://ssl.tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=20030310&s=chait031003

http://www.thetalentshow.org/archives/000666.html

America the Vulnerable”

http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=1-0060571284-2

. . . but Bush turned down a request for $52 million to hire more agents . . .

http://www.uaw.org/solidarity/rnews/04/q3/r3/r3n301.cfm

http://www.house.gov/appropriations_democrats/bushdhs.pdf

vetoed a bill that included $340 mil­lion for equipping fire departments . . .

http://www.steveransom.com/BushBites.cfm?ID=6

http://www.literalpolitics.com/BushWeek/bushweekaug02.htm scroll down to “Vetoing

the Firemen and the Farmers.”

“. . . the Bush plan for funding new responders amounts to double-entry bookkeeping.”

http://www.house.gov/appropriations_democrats/bushdhs.pdf

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigated sixty chemical plants and found a pattern of

lax security. http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressreleases/030909.asp

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31530.pdf A PDF file. See page 15.

Wall Street Journal inquiry found that only 190 out of 1,290 required . . .

http://www.ncpa.org/iss/ter/2002/pd011602c.html

http://www.why-war.com/news/2002/05/25/thanksfo.html

January 16, 2002,  The Wall Street Journal, ”Airport Bomb Detection Faces Big Hurdles”

. . . the future of homeland security is going to be fights over every penny. . .

http://www.thetalentshow.org/archives/000666.html by Jonathan Chait (originally

published by The New Republic - 3/10/03)

To achieve [securitygoals] we must carefully weigh the benefit of each. . .

http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/book/sect5.pdf A PDF file.

“so many have fallen out of regulatory control that . . . a radiological attack

appears to be all but certain within the coming years.”

“Experts Say “Dirty Bomb” Attack Likely” June 19th, 2004 CHARLES J. HANLEY,

Associated Press http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0604/154063.html

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0604/154063.html

 

 

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