WAR OF THE WORDS
ON THE RECORD
“When it comes to protecting America from terrorism, the Bush Administration is big on bluster and short on action. The administration is tinkering while the clock on Homeland security is ticking. And we really don’t have a moment of time to waste. America doesn’t need leaders who play politics with 9/11 or see the war on terror as just another campaign issue. [As President, I] will work toward victory in the war on terror, knowing that those on the front lines of this battle are heroes, not political props.”
GEORGE W. BUSH
ON THE RECORD
“I know exactly what we need to do to win the war on terror, and to bring freedom and peace to the world. My opponent has said the war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation. I disagree. After the chaos and carnage of Sept. 11, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their allies declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got.”
The rhetoric is heating up on the campaign trail, and Homeland security is a frequent topic — especially among the major presidential candidates.
ON THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY:
Bush: Points to the fact his administration saw the most significant increase in federal research and development funding for defense and Homeland security since the Cold War. Many high-technology initiatives have been launched across the federal government in the past few years, including the DoD common access card program, the smart border plan, the Homeland security command center, and more.
Kerry: Proposes to call on the nation’s greatest scientists to develop vaccines and antidotes to the biological and chemical weapons; to partner with the technology community to improve detection technologies; and to develop and implement new security systems to prevent tampering with goods in transit.
ON CONTROLLING IMMIGRATION AND PROTECTING THE BORDERS:
Bush: Proposes increasing the budget to enforce immigration laws and programs, such as the recently-implemented US-VISIT program. Favors continued use of advanced technology to track the movement of cargo and the entry and exit of individuals.
Kerry: Has called for reforming and adequately funding border enforcement to ensure that only legal immigrants can enter the country. Proposes accelerating the timetable for the action plans agreed to in the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico “smart border” accords.
ON FEDERAL HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING FOR LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS:
Bush: In 2004, allocated $4.037 billion to the Office for Domestic Preparedness for state and local government first responders, and $13 billion overall in grants since 2002. Plans to allocate $3.6 billion for terrorism preparedness at the state and local levels in 2005.
Kerry: Proposes to roll back the Bush tax cuts to invest more in Homeland security, especially for first responders, saying the government should immediately fund the backlog of requests for protective gear, ensuring that these resources go directly to responders, rather than trickling through the bureaucracy.
ON AIRPORT SECURITY:
Bush: Reminds voters of the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has begun training pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit, and has worked to improve passenger screening. More than 50,000 federal screeners are deployed at American airports, where new baggage inspection equipment helped TSA institute 100 percent checked baggage screening. The Federal Air Marshal program has also been expanded.
Kerry: Contends that 22 percent of air cargo is carried on passenger planes each year, yet less than 5 percent is screened. Favors ensuring that air cargo on passenger planes is screened. “We also need to move quickly to employ advanced security checkpoints at our airports that are capable of detecting explosives to ensure that they are not smuggled on aircrafts,” he says.
ON PORT SECURITY:
Bush: Electronic advance cargo manifests are now required from sea carriers 96 hours before arrival to give officials more time to check for potentially dangerous crew, passengers and cargo. Also, more than 35,000 port security patrols and 3,500 air patrols are maintained over 115 Maritime Security Zones. Launched the container security initiative to target high-risk cargo.
Kerry: “We need to develop standards for security at loading facilities for containers and assure facilities can meet basic standards, including developing containers capable of being inspected instantly by detection and identification equipment,” he says.
ON THE PUBLIC HEALTH:
Bush: Plans to implement Project BioShield to accelerate availability of next-generation vaccines and other products to counter bioterror threats.
Kerry: Proposes connecting the Nation’s Public Health Systems with a Real Time Detection System, applying modern technology to provide real-time reporting of disease outbreaks and to track and monitor health trends.
ON PROTECTING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE:
Bush: DHS has provided increased security at critical facilities for water supplies, power plants, bridges and subway systems, and it established a new office dedicated to cyber-security.
Kerry: At least 75 percent of the country’s major infrastructure is in private hands, and its security should not be left up to business. Wants to develop modest, minimal safety standards for certain kinds of industry and infrastructure, to look at requiring private terrorism insurance, and to help owners find economical ways to improve security.
ON DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE GATHERING:
Bush: Points to the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which analyzes and disseminates threat information collected domestically and abroad; and the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which consolidates terrorist watchlists and provides constant operational support, ensuring government screeners are working from the same unified set of anti-terrorist information.
Kerry: Believes that the TTIC will not be able to do the job, given its dependence on other agencies’ analysts, the bureaucratic divide created between people identifying vulnerabilities and individuals charged with eliminating those vulnerabilities, and the number of people in charge which could complicate efforts to work with the state and local governments on information sharing. Believes that simplifying the bureaucratic charts makes more sense.
Compiled by Paul Rothman, from the candidates’ campaign Web sites.
GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE
On Homeland security and civil rights:
Calls on the Department of Justice to implement regulatory and procedural reforms to restore constitutional protections in government investigations and handling of detainees.
On immigration restrictions:
The rounding up of Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans by the government has blurred the distinction between immigration cases and terrorism investigations.
On the Patriot Act:
Opposes extension of provisions past the 2005 scheduled expiration.