Senate Democrats


Real Security Act of 2006 makes defense of nation reflect lessons of 9/11

Washington, DC — Five years after September 11, 2001, with America left less safe that it can and should be by Republican leadership that has failed to learn the lessons of the terrorist attacks, Senate Democrats today announced major new legislation that will take America’s security in a new direction. Announced by the Senate Democratic Leadership, along with New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as Senators Leahy, Levin, Rockefeller, Reed, and Menendez, the Real Security Act of 2006 is an aggressive plan to take action on the real lessons of 9/11.

The Real Security Act of 2006 marks a major change from status quo Bush Republican policies that have left America less safe than it must be. Unveiled against the backdrop of a new White House media offensive, the legislation spells out the tough AND smart path to make America more secure and to deal more effectively with threats that confront America at home and abroad. From the Levin-Reed proposal to change course in Iraq, to the NSA domestic surveillance program, to bringing terrorists to justice in a manner consistent with the recent Supreme Court Hamdan decision, the Real Security Act of 2006 replaces the years of Bush Republican tough but empty rhetoric with a major investment in the tools our nation needs to give the American people the Real Security they deserve. A complete description of the Real Security Act of 2006 follows below and may also be accessed online at

“Republicans have ignored the lessons of 9/11 and failed to make America as safe as we can and should be,” said Senator Reid today. “They want to ‘stay the course’ in the face of failure. We won’t. We’ll change course in Iraq. Make America safer at home. And refocus our military on the War on Terror and destroying al Qaeda. Democrats refuse to settle for the insecurity Republicans have created. They haven’t led. We will. Americans deserve Real Security. And with Democrats, that’s what they’ll get.”

With the Real Security Act of 2006, Democrats will:

Change the Course in Iraq. Democrats know that three years into a failed stay the course policy that has led American troops to be bogged down in Iraq, it is time for a change of course. Democrats are offering the Reed-Levin resolution that will move in a new direction by beginning the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq this year to face the terrorist threats around the world. Democrats will also finally provide the oversight that Republicans have failed to do to track the billions of dollars that have been wasted in Iraq in no-bid contracts, fraud and abuse.

Provide Better Tools to Bring Terrorists to Justice. Democrats want to do everything we can to defeat the terrorists by improving our monitoring of terrorists and finally bringing those in custody to justice. Democrats believe we can best do that by following the law and the Constitution and will work to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as needed to ensure our intelligence agencies have the tools they need to defeat the terrorists. Five years after September 11th, not a single terrorist or detainee in Guantánamo Bay has been brought to justice because of the Bush administration’s failure to listen to the military and conduct trials in the right way. Democrats call for following the advice of our uniformed military leaders and creating a set of tough and smart rules that will lock up terrorists and respect our Constitution.

Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations. Five years after the September 11th attacks, Washington Republicans have still failed to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Democrats will implement those recommendations by providing adequate resources for first responders, distributing homeland security funding based on risk, improving intelligence oversight, strengthening Congressional oversight of homeland security, strengthening public diplomacy and improving our tracking of nuclear weapon material.

Refocus on the War on Terror. Learning the lesson of 9/11 means refocusing on the threat posed by radical Islamic fundamentalism. Democrats will work to increase our Special Operations forces to kill and capture the terrorists where they are and to better protect Americans here at home. Democrats will also improve efforts to effectively fight terrorism by working with our allies, reigning in the spread of nuclear material and improving our communication with the Islamic world.

Protect Our Transportation Systems. Democrats will work to protect Americans from terrorism here at home by improving our transportation security including our rails, ports, mass transit and aviation. Democrats will protect our ports by improving and increasing screenings, better assisting foreign ports, increasing security of containers and radiation screenings. Democrats will increase rail security by providing new technology upgrades, creating new grant programs and improving the tracking of hazardous materials.

Equip Our Intelligence Community to Fight Against Terrorists. For the first time in 28 years, the Republican Congress failed last year to pass an Intelligence Authorization act. Democrats know that it takes the most effective intelligence gathering and strong Congressional oversight to protect Americans from terrorism. Democrats will do the Congress’s job by passing this crucial piece of legislation. It’s time to give our intelligence community the tools they need to fight terror effectively.

Five years after September 11th, 2001 the American people deserve a government that has learned the lessons of the terrorist attacks, and that will implement the tough and smart policies needed to finally secure this country. Bush Republicans have talked tough but failed to protect this country. It is time for a new direction. It is time for the Real Security Act of 2006.



Change the Course in Iraq

With more than 2,600 U.S. troops killed, 20,000 wounded, over $300 billion expended, and still no plan in sight, Democrats know we can not afford to continue with President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq. The Real Security Act provides a blueprint for changing course in Iraq by implementing the Reed-Levin resolution, and giving our troops and the Iraqi people a chance for success by transforming the U.S. mission and beginning the phased redeployment of U.S. forces. It also finally provides the oversight that Republicans have failed to deliver to track the billions of dollars that have been wasted in Iraq on no-bid contracts, fraud and abuse.

Providing a Blueprint for Success. The Real Security Act continues the progress made in last year’s “United States Policy in Iraq Act,” which passed the Senate by a vote of 79-19 as part of the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Authorization Act. In that Act, Congress called for 2006 to be a year of “significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty”, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.” Specifically, the Real Security Act calls for:

  • Transitioning the Mission and Beginning the Phased Redeployment. The Real Security Act begins the transition of U.S. forces to a more limited mission of training and logistics support of Iraqi security forces, protection of U.S. personnel and facilities, and targeted counterterrorism activities. This legislation does not establish a timeline for withdrawal. Rather, it urges that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces begin before the end of the year. By the end of 2006, the administration should submit to Congress its plan for continued redeployment beyond 2006.
  • Engaging in More Robust Diplomacy to Help Resolve Sectarian Differences. In addition, the Real Security Act highlights steps the Iraqis need to take to put their country on the path to success including: achieving a broad-based and sustainable political settlement; fairly sharing political power and economic resources to invest all Iraqi groups in the formation of their nation; disarming the militias and purging Iraqi security forces of members not loyal to the national government.
  • Internationalizing the Effort. The involvement of the international community is essential in paving Iraq’s path to stability. In addition, the Bush Administration has yet to convince the international community to fully deliver on its $13.5 billion pledge towards Iraq reconstruction. The Real Security Act calls for an international conference to assist Iraq in overcoming problems such as the potential threat of interference by neighboring countries and payment of pledges in order to get Iraq’s reconstruction back on track.

Hold the Bush Administration Accountable For Contractor Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Iraq. During World War II, the Truman Commission investigated waste, fraud and abuse in military contracts. Its efforts saved the American taxpayers an estimated $15 billion. Now, while American taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the war in Iraq, contracting companies continue to profit. Since 2003, there have been many examples of the misuse of American taxpayer dollars in Iraqi contracting. A key example of Iraqi contract abuses is Halliburton – with Pentagon auditors questioning $1.4 billion of the billings that Halliburton submitted for its Iraqi work. Unfortunately, Republicans have rejected every effort by Democrats to investigate these abuses. The Real Security Act establishes a modern-day Truman Commission to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in U.S. contracts in Iraq.

Change Course/Change the Secretary of Defense. Finally, the Real Security Act includes the Sense of the Senate that in order to succeed in Iraq, the President must change course. A good indication of that change and a step in the right direction to give our troops and the Iraqi people the best chance for success is for the President to replace the current Secretary of Defense.



Provide Better Tools to Bring Terrorists to Justice

Democrats want to take all necessary action to defeat terrorists, including those hiding here in the United States and helping terrorists overseas. The Real Security Act reflects the commitment of Senate Democrats to provide the President with the legal tools he needs to apprehend and punish terrorists, but to require that he act within the rule of law. Specifically, the bill expresses our commitment to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as needed to ensure our intelligence agencies have the tools they require to engage in electronic surveillance of individuals with ties to terrorist organizations, as well as our commitment to enact legislation to bring terrorists to justice consistent with the recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

Adapting FISA to Fight to a Modern Day War on Terror. Democrats believe that government authorities should have the legal authority to engage in electronic surveillance of any telephone conversation or other communication in which one party is reasonably believed to be a member or agent of a terrorist organization. We are committed to ensuring that FISA, which became law in 1978, is still adequate to thwart terrorists in 2006. We will do so in a way that is consistent with the Constitution and that protects the privacy of law-abiding Americans with no ties to terrorism.

A Tough and Effective Way to Hold Terrorists Accountable. Five years after September 11th, not a single terrorist or detainee in Guantánamo Bay has been brought to justice, because the Bush Administration established flawed procedures over the objections of our military lawyers. In its recent decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Administration’s approach, finding that: (1) Congress should establish the rules for trying suspected terrorists and (2) President Bush must abide by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions by using regularly constituted military courts to try accused war criminals. In the Real Security Act, Democrats call for a bipartisan legislative process to authorize such military commissions, guided by the views of professional military lawyers who have experience prosecuting, defending and judging cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.



Ensuring the Implementation the 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Five years after September 11th Republicans in Congress have still not implemented the bipartisan recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. In order to truly be safe, we must take all the steps necessary to secure our homeland, support first responders and equip our intelligence community with the tools they need to protect Americans from terrorism.

Improve Emergency Preparedness and Response. The legislation provides ample radio spectrums for first responders so they can adequately respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters. The proposal provides $500 million for interoperability grants.

Increase Assistance for First Responders. The legislation distributes homeland security funding based upon assessments of risk and vulnerability of a particular region. It also requires a review of first responder training and removes civil liability barriers that discourage the donation of fire equipment to volunteer fire companies. The Act provides $790 million for first responders.

Implement Real Border Security. The legislation requires reports on the 9/11 Commission recommendations regarding counterterrorist travel intelligence, comprehensive screening system, biometric entry and exit data system, international collaboration on border and document security, standardization of secure identification, and security enhancements for social security cards. The Act provides $320 million to enhance border security.

Reform the Intelligence Community. The legislation requires mandates the continuing implementation of intelligence reform measures from the 9/11 Commission involving the director of national intelligence, national counterterrorism center, the creation of a Federal Bureau of Investigation national security workforce, new missions for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and incentives for information sharing.

Balance Civil Liberties and Executive Power. The legislation balances security needs and civil liberties while strengthening the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and setting privacy guidelines for government sharing of personal information.

Promote Institutional Reform in Congress. The legislation strengthens House and Senate Homeland Security oversight of homeland security and intelligence programs.

Create Standardize Security Clearances. The legislation requires a report on the implementation of standardization of security clearances with the purpose of preventing national security leaks.

Improve the United States’ Foreign Policy. The legislation mandates the implementation of a long-term economic plan to ensure Afghanistan’s stability and to assist Pakistan’s failing education system. The Act calls for the elimination of terrorist sanctuaries, details a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism, sets a course for developing standards for the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists and emphasizes the use of economic policies to help battle the conditions that foster extremism. Finally, the act also sets forth actions to ensure vigorous efforts against terrorist financing.

Improve the United States’ Public Diplomacy. The legislation requires a report on the implementation of public diplomacy training and members of the Foreign Service and the expansion of U.S. scholarship, exchange, and library programs in Islamic countries. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is required to submit a review of the progress, impact and funding needs of Radio Sawa and Radio Al-Hurra. The Act also supports the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and authorizes the appropriation of $50 million in Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008 to support the International Youth Opportunity Fund

Increase Nonproliferation Efforts. The legislation establishes the Office of Nonproliferation Programs in the Executive Office of the President, expands the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. A report on Russia’s non-strategic nuclear weapons is also required.



Refocus on Winning the War on Terror

Democrats are determined to wage the most effective war on terror. The Real Security Act lays out a comprehensive U.S. strategy to combat radical Islamic fundamentalism, win the battle of ideas over freedom and democracy, and win the war on international terrorism. In contrast to the Bush Administration’s piecemeal approach, this legislation establishes four interlocking pillars necessary to wage an effective war on terrorism: (1) taking the fight to the terrorists; (2) empowering Middle Eastern moderates to win the battle for freedom and democracy; (3) enhancing the U.S. government’s accountability and effectiveness to deal with this issue; and (4) reducing the possibility terrorists could acquire and use nuclear materials and other deadly materials as a weapon, the greatest single threat to U.S. national security.

Take the Fight to the Terrorists. The Real Security Act contains three basic provisions that will allow the U.S. to take the fight to the terrorists in a more effective manner. First, this legislation substantially increases the number U.S. Special Forces over the next several years, greatly enhancing this nation’s ability to track down and eliminate international terrorists in all corners of the globe. The bill also increases foreign language experts in the U.S. government, thereby ensuring that our troops and security personnel receive timely translations of critical conversations between terrorist organizations. Finally, the Real Security Act strengthens measures to combat terrorist financing, a critical aspect of the war on terror.

Empowering Middle Eastern Moderates to Win the Battle For Freedom and Democracy. A long term complement to the offensive measures, the Real Security Act contains four key long-term initiatives that are designed to dry up the breeding grounds of terrorism. The bill authorizes additional funding for basic education programs to help nations provide a clear alternative to the madrassas that preach radical Islam; support to non-governmental organizations working to enhance democracy and development in the Muslim world; new public diplomacy programs to explain U.S. policies and counter anti-U.S. propaganda, and a long term strategy to deal with key states; including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Increase the U.S. Government’s Accountability and Effectiveness to Counter the Terrorist Threat. The U.S. government lacks the basic tools to determine if our efforts to combat terrorism are actually working. The Real Security Act deals with these problems by establishing a mechanism to assess the effectiveness of U.S. polices and programs on the war on terror. The Act also creates tough criminal penalties for anyone caught defrauding or profiteering from U.S. foreign assistance programs; and creates an independent commission to examine how the U.S. government policy towards detainees captured in the war on terror.

Prevent Terrorist Acts With Weapons of Mass Destruction. Terrorist acts with weapons of mass destruction are the single greatest threat to U.S. national security. The Real Security Act expands the pace and scope of programs to eliminate and safeguard nuclear materials by authorizing a global cleanout of radioactive materials; constructs permanent security arrangements for radioactive materials; expands the Cooperative Threat Reduction program beyond the Former Soviet Union; and dramatically increases resources for a range of under-funded, yet vital, State and Defense Department programs. The bill also includes a number of measures to increase border and port security and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack. The Act also creates or restores a number of programs designed to ensure that this nation’s state and local first responders have the training and equipment they need to deal with this threat.



Providing Real Transportation Security

Five years after the attacks of September 11th, our transportation systems are still not secure because Republicans in Congress have refused to take the steps necessary to protect Americans. Democrats have learned the lessons of 9/11 and know that we must do better to secure our ports, provide real rail security, increase mass transit security and ensure our airports and airplanes are safe.

Provide Real Port Security. The Real Security Act enhances cargo security by improving the Container Security Initiative, which calls on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to develop standards for the evaluation, screening and inspection of cargo destined for the U.S. before it leaves a foreign port. It provides assistance to foreign ports to improve cargo security and expedites the Coast Guard’s international foreign port inspection program. The Act mandates the establishment of additional Interagency Operational Command Centers for port security and creates training and exercise programs to enhance ports’ ability to deter and react to terrorist acts. The proposal also establishes plans for the resumption of shipping in the event of a terrorist incident or natural disaster and calls for the inspection of all containers by radiation at the United States’ busiest 22 seaports. Finally, $648 million is provided for security initiatives, including radiation portal monitors, Coast Guard activities and port security grants.

Provide Real Rail Security. The Real Security Act provides $1.2 billion for rail security and requires that the Transportation Security Administration conduct a railroad threat assessment and submit recommendations for improving rail security. The Act creates a security research and development program, encourages the use of rail car tracking equipment for hazardous material shipped on railways and requires rail companies shipping dangerous materials to create plans to protect their cargo and the public during times of high threat. This legislation also creates a security training program for railroad workers and provides whistleblower status for workers who report security problems.

Provide Real Mass Transit Security. The Real Security Act provides $3.5 billion for projects designed to deter terrorist attacks, including tunnel protection, chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive detection systems, surveillance technologies as well as perimeter security programs. This legislation also enhances the Information Sharing Analysis Center which provides intelligence to transit systems. A needs-based grant program intended to identify and address transit system vulnerabilities would also be created.

Provide Real Aviation Security. The Real Security Act removes the screener cap of 45,000 full-time employees that is currently imposed on the Transportation Security Administration’s screener workforce. This would ensure that the agency is permitted to properly screen travelers. The Act also increases authorizations for aviation security research and development while requiring the DHS to work with the TSA and DOT to improve the detection of emerging explosive threats such as bomb components that can be assembled beyond the checkpoint and liquid explosives. The strengthening of security at foreign aviation repair stations that perform maintenance on domestic air carriers is also required by mandating that security rules be put in place within 90 days of passage of the Act and that any security rules established be reviewed and audited within a 6 month period. Finally, the proposal includes $250 million for TSA aviation security programs, including explosives monitoring equipment. A separate $55 million is provided for increased air cargo inspection.



Equip Our Intelligence Community to Fight Against Terrorists

Democrats want to strengthen our intelligence gathering and provide the oversight necessary to keep Americans safe. For the first time in 28 years, Congress failed last year to pass the Intelligence Authorization Act, a “must pass” piece of legislation. The bill languishes again this year. This legislation guides the intelligence community, providing the necessary resources for the intelligence community, improving Congressional oversight of our nation’s intelligence, and ensuring effective interrogation methods. As the Republican Congress stalls, vital intelligence operations are on hold. The Real Security Act includes the Intelligence Authorization Act because passage of this act is critical to our Nation’s security.

Providing the Intelligence Community with the Necessary Funding. Funding our intelligence community should be a top priority. The Real Security Act provides all the funding for the intelligence community for the next year, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), so the men and women of our intelligence community can continue their critical work on the front lines of the war on terror.

Providing the Intelligence Community with the Necessary Tools and Capabilities. Specifically, the Real Security Act includes funding for important tools and capabilities, including: funding for new language capabilities in key Middle Eastern and Asian languages; funding for the CIA’s overseas facilities to win the fight against Al Qaeda and capture and kill Osama bin Laden; and funding to improve paramilitary capabilities, information sharing databases, and innovative technologies and platforms to collect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism targets.

Improving Congressional Oversight of Our Nation’s Intelligence. The congressional intelligence committees play an important role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence activities. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has undermined oversight and stalled in providing information on these matters to the Congress. The Real Security Act requires the intelligence community to respond to such requests no later than 15 days after the request has been made. In addition, this legislation would require all members of the congressional intelligence committees be briefed regarding intelligence activities, rather than only to a limited number of policymakers, as it stands now.

Ensuring Effective Interrogation Methods to Win the War on Terror. Reports of Administration political appointees designing detention and interrogation practices based on shaky legal reasoning have undermined America’s influence and power in the world and proven counterproductive in the war on terror. The Real Security Act requires the Director of National Intelligence to submit to the congressional intelligence committees a comprehensive report on the intelligence community’s compliance with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. It also requires a report on clandestine detention facilities for individuals captured in the war on terror. Finally, this legislation establishes an Inspector General, who will serve as an independent watchdog to ensure that the intelligence community acts within the law.