Schumer Releases Annual Comprehensive Homeland Security Report Card Revealing: After Seven Years, Government Effort Has Slackened; Massive Security Holes Still Remain - Federal Gov't Gets Overall Grade of "C-"
Schumer's Report Gives Lower Overall Grade Due to Lack of Progress Made Over the Last Year by the Administration in Implementing Long-Delayed and Over-Budget Programs Report Thoroughly Analyzes Major Security Areas Including Energy Infrastructure Security for the First Time, Aviation and Truck Security, and Protecting Our BordersSenator: As We Close the Book on the Bush Administration, New York and the Rest of the Country Remain Wide Open
Seven years after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released his annual comprehensive homeland security report rating current Administration efforts to close longexisting security holes. Schumer said that despite a national focus on homeland security in the wake of the attacks, the Bush Administration leaves America dangerously vulnerable as the President's term comes to an end. Schumer's report evaluates and gives grades for major critical security areas, including port, rail, aviation, and border security, rating the government's overall effort a "C", a decrease from last year's "C", due to lack of progress over the past year. Schumer said that though the Democratic Congress passed legislation implementing remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations last year, the Administration is dragging its feet on implementing those new requirements.
"As we close the book on the Bush administration, it is shocking that they will leave this nation vulnerable to the threat of terrorism," Schumer said. "In security area after area, there are still gaping holes that desperately need to be closed and should have been closed years ago, but the administration had other priorities. Despite repeated efforts by Congress and even the passage of a bill implementing a host of 9/11 Commission recommendations, this report shows that the Bush Administration and the DHS have failed to take important measures to keep America safe."
Schumer said that in the last year, DHS and the Bush Administration have made little to no progress on the vast majority of security gaps still open in the United States. Overall, Schumer's report card gives the Administration a C, down from the grade of C it received last year.
Below are the highlights and grades from the Senator's Report:
Border Security Weak border security, both on the northern and southern borders of the United States, has left a serious hole in our ability to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons, bombs, or even radioactive materials in to the country. Security experts have said that one of the most likely terrorist attack scenarios is one in which a terrorist smuggles in a small nuclear device, not by air or through our ports, but across one of our land borders. Longexisting staffing shortages at checkpoints, as well as overbudget and underperforming detection device programs, have hampered our ability to prevent that terrible scenario from becoming a reality. Grade: C
Port Security DHS has not completed testing on devices to secure cargo containers in transit, despite a promise last year to move quickly on this critical task. While 2012 is the statutory deadline to scan all cargo coming into the United States for nuclear devices, most cargo is not currently scanned before it reaches our shores. Also, final implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential has been pushed back yet again. Grade: D
Mass Transit & Truck Security Mass transit systems continue to remain highly vulnerable to the threat of terrorism. Across Upstate New York, rail, trucks and buses continue to remain vulnerable to terrorism as local law enforcement agencies have been forced to tackle this critical issue with little or no support from the federal government. The TSA has only 100 surface transportation inspectors charged with covering over 300,000 miles of freight rail lines and 10,000 miles of commuter rail lines. In addition, plans for advanced chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear detectors able to be deployed at stations and in cars remain years away from being widely available . Grade: D
Energy Security In addition to a national focus on the rising cost of energy, the security of the facilities and infrastructure that produce and deliver the now very expensive energy we depend on have been left dangerously vulnerable to attack. Our nation's precarious and dangerous dependence on foreign oil is only made worse in the event of a domestic attack on a major energy facility. From nuclear plants, to natural gas and other power installations, the Administration has done far too little to keep our nation's energy infrastructure safe.
Aviation Security Despite major improvements to beef up air passenger screeners, plans to upgrade the screening of cargo both on commercial and cargo flights has been absolutely stagnant and starved of required funding. In addition, efforts to reevaluate security systems put in place immediately after the 9/11 attacks and other needed security reassessments have been years delayed. Grade: C
Chemical Plant Security There are 15,000 hazardous facilities in the United States, over a hundred of which, if attacked, would threaten more than one million people. Some progress has been made towards securing chemical facilities, but the weaknesses that remain continue to be targets for terrorists. The Bush Administration has taken the approach of letting most chemical plants upgrade "voluntarily" and has not placed strict requirements on most plants to make security upgrades. Grade: C+
Nuclear Security The threat of terrorism still looms at nuclear facilities in the United States, due in part to poor performance by security contractors. It is imperative that the United States protect these plants, secure radioactive sources and sites across the country, and deploy accurate detectors at ports of entry into the country. Grade: B
High Threat Grant Funding Though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has remained consistent in the amount of high threat grant funding it allocates, it has never been able to both cover the costs associated with keeping our cities secure and catch up from years of cuts. Grade: D
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