Monday, September 8, 2008

House Dems criticize Bush on national security

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By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer

The Bush administration has missed one opportunity after another to improve the nation's security, according to a Democratic congressional report.

From securing rail and bus transportation to screening cargo, promoting democracy across the world and capturing weapons of mass destruction, the administration has fallen short on 25 major national security initiatives, Democrats on the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees concluded.

"The administration has just failed to act in so many ways," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "Let's say that we've been fortunate that we have not been attacked" since 2001, said Thompson, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. The report noted there is no national coordinator overseeing U.S. efforts to prevent terrorism from weapons of mass destruction. This, the report said, leaves no one to "connect the dots" or foresee dangerous gaps that terrorists could take advantage of.

"The Administration has failed to provide the American people the security they expect and deserve," the report said.

The Bush administration, however, insisted it is making progress in national security.

"I fundamentally reject the charge that the administration has made the world less safe from terrorism," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. Wood had not seen the Democrats' report.

The House Democrats also blast Bush policy in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as damaging to national security.

U.S. efforts to combat terrorists in Pakistan have suffered because of "unyielding support for a military dictator;" Iraq has drained resources from Afghanistan; and Saudi Arabia continues to serve "as a major source of terrorist activity," the report said.

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