Saturday, August 12, 2006

Security and Politics

On the one hand, politicizing the matter of homeland security is crassly cynical and manipulative. On the other hand, debating how best to provide security for the US is not only a sensible campaign tactic, if handled honestly and with candor it is also a useful tool for the American voter when it comes to making choices. That is the dilemma that is facing both parties' candidates this season.

An article in today's Washington Post shows only that both parties are concerning themselves with only the first part of the dilemma.

More than a dozen Democrats ... criticized the GOP yesterday for refusing to implement all of the recommendations put forth by the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission. At the same time, Democratic leaders in Washington moved on several fronts to accuse Republicans of exploiting terrorism fears for political gain -- and to warn that Democrats will respond to weak-on-security attacks of the sort launched by Vice President Cheney on Wednesday.

...The politics of terrorism, however, remain uncertain this fall. The latest Washington Post-ABC News polls indicated that terrorism had dropped lower on the list of voters' concerns heading into the final three months of the campaign, trumped by such issues as gas prices and Iraq. Few candidates were talking about terrorism as a major part of their campaign plan before the London plot, other than to tout support for stronger homeland security measures, which virtually every lawmaker backs. Schumer twice cited the Washington Post-ABC poll -- which showed Democrats with an edge when people were asked which party they trusted to handle terrorism issues -- as evidence the political tide has turned.

The Democratic candidates can and should discuss homeland security, but they should do it in terms that makes sense to the voters. The current regime has been all about spying on citizens and handing out lucrative contracts to friendly businesses (see this WaPo article for an example). In the meantime, none of our ports are adequately protected: only a miniscule number of containers are actually examined, and technology to assist in examining those shipments is woefully underfunded. Chemical factories and nuclear power plants have no recognizable security plans in place.

We learned this week that terrorists operating out of the United Kingdom had planned an attack on several flights to the US, flights that were to land in New York, Washington, D.C., and California. The former two cities were, of course, the sites of the 9/11/01 attack. Yet more money has been earmarked for Indiana and Kansas and less for those major metropolises under a very strange and complicated formula put out by the Department of Homeland Security.

No agreed upon protocol for emergency communications between first responders has yet been implemented and funded. Basic infrastructure remains nakedly vulnerable. The list can go on and on, and should be a litany recited by the Democrats everytime the issue of security comes up.

What the Democrats can and should do is talk about the nuts and bolts of what can and should be done to provide security. Americans will understand that talk and appreciate it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, Diane. Every Dem, even that turncoat Bob Kerry, should be raising these issues whenever they get reporter and air time.

Keep up you good work--I really enjoy your comments and blog entries.

8:36 AM  
Blogger P-Tar said...

Check Wayne Madsen out on the whole London airplane liquid bombing thing.

He says the whole thing was a hoax, a staged sting set up by the Brits to give Tony Blair credit in the pinch and derail a move from within his party to unseat him and replace him.

Kinda like what Bush might pull if an element of the Republican party was thinking of, say, impeaching him for admitting to authorizing the NSA to spy on Americans in violation of US Law?

7:46 PM  

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