Senate Democrats

SENATE DEMOCRATS CALL FOR A NEW DIRECTION FOR AMERICA’S SECURITY

Washington, DC — As America turns from solemn remembrance to a renewed resolve to defend America the right way, New York and New Jersey Senators Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, and Robert Menendez today called for a new direction to give the American people the real security they deserve. Five years after the terrorist attacks, security at America’s ports and transit systems remains dangerously ignored, America is bogged down in Iraq and diverted from the War on Terror. Democrats are fighting for a change.

Despite the continued threat of terrorism at home and abroad, Republican leaders in Washington have failed to fully address the security at our nation’s ports, airports, and mass transit systems. Five years after 9/11, only a fraction of the cargo that passes through America’s ports is even screened. Meanwhile, around the world, terrorist attacks are on the rise, with America’s military bogged down in Iraq and unable to pursue the terrorist networks that threaten our nation. Democrats have offered an aggressive, comprehensive plan to change course and fix these troubling problems. The Real Security Act of 2006, as well as the Menendez amendment to the Port Security bill under debate in U.S. Senate, will require 100% screening of cargo at our nation’s ports, and will change course in Iraq to allow America to finally win the war on terror.

“Port security has been the neglected step-child of homeland security for far too long,” Schumer said. “Screening only 5 percent of roughly 11 million containers that come in to the United States is not only an outrage, it’s dangerous. This past week everyone has been asking, “Are We Safe?” Well, if you look at the area of port security, the answer is a resounding no. Our greatest risk is that a terrorist could easily smuggle a nuclear weapon through our ports and in to the United States. And once it gets out of the ports, it’s gone and we probably wouldn’t know about it until it was too late. The bottom line is this Administration had its chance. Programs to screen for nuclear materials are years delayed, funding for research and development has been squandered, and international security programs have been grossly mismanaged and underfunded.”

“The American people want real security at our ports and airports – not the illusion of security we have today,” said Lautenberg. “Real security requires us to hire as many TSA screeners as we need, not allow an arbitrary cap on personnel to dictate our security. Inspecting five percent of containers coming into our ports is not real security. Real port security means checking all containers.”

“It would be unacceptable to screen only five percent of White House tourists, so why is it acceptable to scan only five percent of cargo entering our country,” Menendez said. “Scanning anything less than 100 percent of cargo that enters our ports is irresponsible and downright negligent. The Bush administration needs to provide a tangible plan – in writing – that describes how they will move America closer to 100 percent scanning.”

Five years after 9/11, the time has come for a real change to give the American people the real security they deserve. Sadly, Republican leaders in Washington still haven’t learned the real lessons of the terrorist attacks, and their failed policies have left America less safe than it should be. Democrats have offered the aggressive, comprehensive, smart policies that are needed to finally put America’s security back on the right track.

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