Washington, DC — Two days from the second anniversary of the attacks in Madrid, and less than one year from the London bombings, Democratic Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Tom Carper, Hillary Clinton, and Bob Menendez called for a new focus on America’s rail security to ensure similar attacks do not occur on U.S. soil.
The recent focus the Dubai port deal has revealed a stunning inattention by the White House and Congressional Republicans to America’s homeland security, but our nation’s vulnerability stretches beyond our ports. America’s rail and transit lines remain critically insecure, and Democrats believe we must do more to protect them.
“Since 9/11, the FBI has issued repeated warnings to local law enforcement that terrorists have targeted U.S. rail cars with chemical and conventional attacks,” said Biden. “Of course, we can’t protect every mile of railroad across our country. But we need to take immediate action to keep passengers safe and make our rail system more secure. We need more dogs to sniff for explosives. More police officers, better lighting, fencing – nothing fancy or experimental, just resources to do what we already know can work.”
“For every seven dollars we spend on an airline passenger we spend just over a penny for a mass transit or rail passenger, and this leaves our transit system woefully under-funded and under-protected” Schumer said. “Whether it is the security of our passenger rails or of our seaports, we need to do much better, for the protection of New York and America.”
“Since 9-11, we’ve done an admirable job beefing up the security of our airlines, but we’re still not doing all we can to keep our vulnerable rail and transit lines safe and secure,” said Carper. “The Homeland Security Department can’t afford to be the Department of 9-11. We can’t be fighting the last war. We need to be preparing for the next one.”
“Rail security is just one more example of how the Bush Administration is asleep at the switch when it comes to protecting our homeland. The President’s budget does not provide adequate funding to secure our rail, transit, port and other transportation systems security needs. We need to target funding to meet our homeland security needs. And we need to make sure rail security is on track,” said Senator Clinton.
“For too long the Bush Administration’s rhetoric on homeland and hometown security has been strong and strident while their actions have been incomplete and inadequate,” Menendez said. “Tough talk doesn’t make a single American safer and it certainly doesn’t secure our rail and transit lines. It is well past time for us to truly address the vulnerabilities identified on our rail and transit lines.”
The American people expect their government to ensure real security for our nation, but the Bush Administration has chosen to neglect our trains and transit systems. Democrats believe America can do better to ensure that what happened in London and Madrid never happens here.