Sep 122004

Though it has spent billions to deal with an imaginary threat in Iraq, it has not sufficiently funded, nor has it put forth realistic strategies to deal with, threats to America’s ports, railways, chemical plants and other infrastructure. It has also failed to secure America’s borders or establish effective terrorist watch lists. The Department of Homeland Security remains "grossly underfunded" and thecolor-coded alert system is dysfunctional. Fundamentally, the administration seems to think it can defeat terrorism by "taking the fight to the enemy," but as Homeland Security expert Stephen Flynn warns, "Targeting terrorism at its source is an appealing notion. Unfortunately, the enemy is not cooperating."

The 9/11 Commission concluded that the Bush administration had failed to adequately secure America’s borders and track new visitors. Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said, "We need secure borders with heightened and uniform standards of identification for those entering and exiting the country, and an immigration system able to be efficient, allowing good people in while keeping the terrorists out." The Department of Homeland Security currently has no strategy for tracking down and deporting people who remain beyond the conditions of their stay.

Remarkably, Bush administration homeland security cutbacks have meant fewer cops and first responders on the streets today than there were on 9/11. And despite a supposedly high level of domestic alert, the Bush administration’s 2005 budget calls for a 31.9 percent decrease in law enforcement funding from levels approved by Congress in FY2004. Foreign Affairs reports that on average, "U.S. fire departments have only enough radios to equip half their firefighters on a shift, and breathing apparatus for only a third. Police departments in cities across the country do not have the protective gear to safely secure a site following a WMD attack. And most emergency medical technicians lack the tools to determine which chemical or biological agent may have been used."

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