Dems criticize GOP on homeland security

"America at Risk: GOP Choices Leave Homeland Vulnerable"

A new Democratic report charges that the Bush administration and Republican congressional leadership have fallen short in providing some homeland protections such as cargo inspections to communications interoperability.

"The gap between the rhetoric and reality is indeed wide, and that's because the GOP is not making the right choices to bring security to our country," Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas), who is the ranking member on the Homeland Security Select Committee, said today in a conference call with reporters.

With a little more than two weeks before the election, Turner said he thought it was appropriate to release the report, "America at Risk: GOP Choices Leave Homeland Vulnerable," because President Bush delivered a speech on homeland security today while campaigning in New Jersey.

Bush also signed into law a $32 billion discretionary budget today for the Homeland Security Department for fiscal 2005, which began Oct. 1.

In a prepared statement, Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), who chairs the Homeland Security Select Committee, criticized the Democrats' report.

"This is partisan politics at its worst," he said. "It's fear mongering. The Democrats' report focuses on recycled, outdated material to make politically-inspired accusations on the state of America's homeland security."

Turner said this year's budget is only $1 billion more than last year's whereas Americans with incomes more than $1 million are receiving $89 billion in tax cuts this year. He said the Bush administration's choices are not consistent with the grave threat.

He pointed to several examples in the report including the failure to deploy radiation-detection portals at all ports and land ports of entry at a cost of $200 million and screening only 5 percent of all cargo that enters the country.

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