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Monday, 17 July 2006 06:59

DNC: Bush's Policies Have Made America Less Safe

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News from the DNC:

Washington, DC - As Vice President Cheney again rolls out the Republican smear machine, Americans have made it clear that they are tired of the blustery rhetoric that is a hallmark of the inept and dangerous foreign policies of the Bush Administration. President Bush's mishandling of the War in Iraq and America's subsequent disengagement from a host of military and diplomatic confrontations around the world highlight the fact that his policies have made America less safe. And at home, the Bush White House and the "Do-Nothing" Republican Congress have not done enough to keep our borders and or ports secure.

"Despite his Administration's latest attempt to scare the American people through fear-mongering and divisive rhetoric, President Bush's failed policies have made America less safe," said Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Stacie Paxton. "Five years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, despite rosy predictions, the insurgency in Iraq is growing and Bush's troops are stretched dangerously thin, and our failed diplomacy in Iran and North Korea have led to disastrous results. And at home, the 'Do-Nothing' Republican Congress has blocked Democratic attempts to strengthen our borders and secure our ports. Democrats have a new direction for America that includes a foreign policy that is both tough and smart and that restores America's credibility around the world and keeps Americans safe at home."

The Bush Administration Resurrects Hollow And
Misleading Election Year Rhetoric

Vice President Cheney Resurrects Election-Year War On Terror Rhetoric. "Vice president Dick Cheney urged Republicans Friday night to make the war on terror their top issue in the 2006 election, speaking at a fundraiser in a contested upstate congressional district. 'As we make our case to the voters in an election year, it is vital to keep issues of national security at the top of the agenda, Cheney told more than 300 donors to GOP candidate Ray Meier. 'The president and I welcome the discussion because every voter in America needs to know where the president and I stand where every candidate for federal office stands when it comes to the war on terror,' Cheney said." [AP, 7/14/06]

But, Five Years After 9/11 The Bush Administration
Has Failed To Keep America Safe

America's Top Army Commander: We Are "Closer To The Beginning... Than We Are To The End" In The War On Terror; Won't Say That America Is Winning, Only That We're Not Losing In Iraq. The Army's top uniformed officer said Friday he did not think the United States was losing the war in Iraq but declined to say the nation was winning. Americans should brace for a long fight against terrorism, said Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff. "I believe that we are closer to the beginning . . . than we are to the end," he said during a luncheon on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Defense Forum Foundation. When asked whether the military was winning in Iraq, Schoomaker paused before telling the audience of mostly congressional staffers: 'I don't think we're losing.'" [AP, 7/15/06]

* U.S. Commanders: US Troops Will Be In Iraq Until 2016. "U.S. war commanders think some level of American forces will be needed in Iraq until 2016... These were among the points made by Iraq war commanders at a closed-door conference last spring at Fort Carson, Colo., home to the 7th Infantry Division. Maj. Gen. Robert W. Mixon Jr., the division's commander, invited scores of retired generals and admirals in the Fort Carson area to hear the commanders and give them feedback." [Washington Times, 7/17/06]

* Report: Army Stretched Thin. "Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. ... "You really begin to wonder just how much stress and strain there is on the Army, how much longer it can continue," he said in an interview." [USA Today, 1/24/06]

President of Council on Foreign Relations: Iraq War "Absorbed A Tremendous Amount of U.S. Military Capacity," "Weakened Our Position." Richard N. Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations and head of policy planning at the State Department during the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, said that in hindsight, while history's judgment would depend on how things turned out in Iraq, the impact on U.S. foreign policy at this point was "clearly negative." The war, he said, "has absorbed a tremendous amount of U.S. military capacity, the result being that the United States has far less spare or available capacity, not just to use in the active sense, but to exploit in the diplomatic sense. It has therefore weakened our position against both North Korea and Iran." He said that it had also "exacerbated the U.S. fiscal situation, which obviously has all sorts of economic repercussions." "For all that, a lot of the impact on U.S. foreign policy still awaits how things turn out," Haass says. "It's a very different impact if Iraq suddenly implodes or becomes the venue for not just a civil war but a regional war. Obviously, in such a circumstance, the implications for U.S. foreign policy would be both greater and more negative." [Council on Foreign Relations Interview, 3/14/06]

Newsweek: "America Is Viewed As Weak...Distracted And Drained because of Iraq." According to an article in Newsweek by Michael Hirsh, "America is viewed as weak at the moment, distracted and drained because of Iraq - and everybody out there is taking advantage of it. Too often, Americans tend to see other players on the international stage as merely part of the backdrop, conforming to our movements or remaining stationary while we get our act together. In fact, most of these world leaders are aggressive players in their own right who will push back, and hard, when they see softness...they are betting that George W. Bush is too out of resources and time to protest while they make a mockery of his agenda and his leadership." [Newsweek, 6/15/06]

U.S. Peace Envoy in Middle East: Bush Administration "Preoccupied with Iraq." Middle East experts warned that a weakened Bush administration may be too preoccupied with its problems with Iraq and Iran to deal with the sharply escalating crisis around Israel. Dennis Ross, a longtime U.S. peace envoy in the region, said that "the Bush administration is preoccupied with Iraq and Iran and North Korea, and doesn't seem to have much time for this issue." Ross said that because it was distracted by the other crises the administration appeared to looking at the crisis in Gaza, where one Israeli soldier was being held captive, in narrow terms. In reality, the resolution of that problem "is going to have a very big impact" on future relations between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. [Newsday, 7/13/06]

House Republicans Voted Against Increased Port Security. Since 9/11, Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to strengthen the security of our nation's ports. In 2005, Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security Authorization proposal that would commit $41 billion to securing the nation from terrorist threats - $6.9 billion more than the President's budget. The proposal called for an additional $400 million in funding for port security, including $13 million to double the number of new overseas port inspectors provided for in the President's budget. The proposal addressed the holes in securing the nation's ports by requiring DHS to develop container security standards, integrate container security pilot projects, and examine ways to integrate container inspection equipment and data. Currently DHS, has three very similar container security pilot projects that are not coordinated in any fashion, resulting in wasted money and redundant efforts. Finally, the plan required DHS to conduct a study of the risk factors associated with the port of Miami and ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. The alternative plan failed, 196-230. [HR 1817, Roll Call #187, 5/18/05; Committee on Homeland Security Minority Office, http://www.house.gov/hsc/democrats/]

* DHS Report Card: Bush Administration Gets "C-/D+" on Port Security; Bush Port Policies A "House of Cards." The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security's annual report card on the Department of Homeland Security gave the department a C-/D+ on its port security policies. They called the current port security regime a "house of cards," and noted that containers arriving at American ports are rarely inspected and that the Department "remains unaware of security arrangements at foreign ports and vessels shipping goods to the United States." In addition to the threats millions of Americans face as a result of the Bush White House's failed port policies, it was estimated that "a terrorist attack at a major U.S. seaport would cause $60 billion in economic damages." [Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security, Annual Report Card, 2/06]

Republicans Opposed Comprehensive Approach to Homeland Security. In 2005, House Republicans voted against an alternative Homeland Security Authorization proposal that would commit $41 billion to securing the nation from terrorist threats - $6.9 billion more than the President's budget. The proposal contained $28.4 billion for border and transportation security, immigration processing, and other security functions -- $4 billion more than the President's budget. It required chemical facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments, and to make security enhancements based on the assessment and mandated that 100% of cargo carried on passenger planes be physically inspected for explosives or other dangerous materials within three years. Furthermore, the proposal addressed the holes in securing the nation's ports by requiring DHS to develop container security standards, integrate container security pilot projects, and examine ways to integrate container inspection equipment and data. Currently DHS, has three very similar container security pilot projects that are not coordinated in any fashion, resulting in wasted money and redundant efforts. Finally, the plan required DHS to conduct a study of the risk factors associated with the port of Miami and ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. The alternative plan failed, 196-230. [HR 1817, Vote #187, 5/18/2005; Failed 196-230; R 1-227; D 194-3; I 1-0; Committee on Homeland Security Minority Office, http://www.house.gov/hsc/democrats/]

* Republicans Voted Against Fulfilling 9/11 Commission Recommendations on Border Security and Immigration. In 2005, House Republicans voted against an alternative proposal to improve border security and immigration enforcement by fulfilling the 9/11 Commission's border security recommendations. On December 5, 2005 the 9/11 Commission issued its final report card that highlighted the many failures of the Republican Congress and Administration in implementing the commission's recommendations. As Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton said in a joint statement on December 5, "There is so much more to be done...Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed have not been...Some of these failures are shocking...We are frustrated by the lack of urgency about fixing these problems." The alternative proposal would have hired more border agents, ended the "catch and release" practice by authorizing 100,000 additional detention beds and incorporated state-of-the art surveillance technology, including cameras, sensors, radar, satellites, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in order to ensure 100% border coverage. [HR 4437 , Vote #660, 12/16/2005; Failed 198-221; R 0-219; D 197-2; I 1-0; Reps. Conyers, Thompson and Reyes Dear Colleague, "Fulfilling the 9/11 Commission's Recommendations," 12/16/05]

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