Bush is Endangering America
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
by Carla Binion
George W. Bush has misled the public by claiming he's hard at work
defending the homeland. Matthew Brzezinski says in his article, "Red
alert: how homeland security fell victim to Bush's obsession with Iraq," (Mother
Jones 2004) that U.S. airports, hospitals, borders, ports, biohazard
labs and other vulnerable spots are "understaffed, underfunded,
and ill-equipped," because Bush hasn't provided them enough budgetary
or political support.
For Bush, financing the Iraq war is a greater priority. The question
is, are terrorists a threat to America or aren't they? If Bush expects
terrorists to strike any time soon, why isn't he acting accordingly?
How does Bush think he's making America safer by spending far more
money in Iraq than on security here at home? What good will it do if
we somehow end up victorious in Iraq but at the same time experience
terrorist attacks on one or more of our airlines, ports or chemical
plants? How would our being in Iraq help prevent this? The obvious
answer is, it wouldn't.
According to Brzezinski, customs inspectors need more money to afford
equipment sensitive enough to distinguish between less harmful radiation
and plutonium or weapons-grade uranium-235. One Customs veteran told
him, "If protecting ourselves from a dirty bomb isn't a national
priority then we've completely lost track of what we are supposed to
Airlines can't afford to inspect all baggage; chemical plants are vulnerable;
ninety-five percent of cargo containers still come into the U.S. without
any kind of inspection; and the FBI doesn't have the money it needs
to properly track terrorist funding, according to Brzezinski. He writes
that meanwhile Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, "is
landing contracts in Iraq whose value is far more than the FBI's entire
$5 billion annual budget."
You'd think if Bush took his own warnings about terrorism seriously,
he'd put financing our safety ahead of pouring billions into Iraq.
We've spent around $200 billion on Iraq and far less on the Department
of Homeland Security. Bush claims he's allotted $40 billion for the
department, but according to Brzezinski, that figure is misleading.
Brzezinski says about a third of the allotment goes to agencies other
than the Department of Homeland Security such as the Pentagon, and
he adds that "most of the remaining $27 billion is not new money
- as opposed to the $150-plus billion that has been spent toppling
Saddam Hussein. Much of it simply lumps together the pre-existing budgets
of the 22 federal agencies that make up the department."
George Bush knows he's not budgeting enough to even begin to protect
us from a possible terrorist attack. He's aware he's misleading the
public when he presents himself as the safety and security candidate.
Why would Bush leave the country at risk if he really thought a terrorist
attack likely? Bush is a notorious risk-taker, but would he take a
risk with consequences that serious?
Brzezinski compares the amount of money we need to provide adequate
security with what the Bush budget has allocated. He compares those
figures with what we spend in Iraq. Here are three examples:
(1) We need $3 billion to provide all U.S. airports with machines that
screen baggage for explosives, but the Bush budget allocates only $400
million. At the same time, the Bush administration spends around $3
billion (the amount needed to do the screening) in ten days in Iraq.
(2) To purchase radiation portals to detect dirty bombs in U.S. ports,
we need $290 million. Bush has allocated just $43 million, yet in Iraq
the $290 million needed for U.S. port security would be spent in 23
(3) For security upgrades in subways and commuter trains in large cities,
$6 billion is necessary, but the Bush budget allows only $100 million.
The needed $6 billion is what we'd spend in Iraq in twenty days.
For George W. Bush to fail to adequately fund the Department of Homeland
Security is a slap in the face to the families of the victims of the
9/11 attacks. Bush is cruelly misleading those families and the rest
of America by implying he's adequately prioritizing and funding the
protection of our airlines, ports, subways, borders and other vulnerable
spots. Or, if the reason he isn't focusing on homeland security is
because he has reason to believe we're not in real danger from terrorists,
he's ruthless to let us think otherwise.
While Bush campaigns for votes based on the idea he'll make us safe,
the truth is, thanks to him we're far less safe than we would be with
a more competent president. In fact, thanks to Bush, American citizens
and our democracy are probably in more danger than ever before in our
A BUZZFLASH READER