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Homeland Insecurity

Reported by Ellen - July 9, 2005

Former Senator Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, came on Hannity & Colmes last night to tell the FOX News audience all the ways the Bush Administration is botching homeland security. It was a potent message packed into a short period of time.

Alan Colmes did an excellent job of setting up the discussion and allowing Graham to get right to the heart of his message. Colmes started by saying that the London attacks "bring home" how vulnerable we still are and at a time when Republicans want to cut Homeland Security funding.

Graham said while we have gotten "into the habit of chasing the last disaster," we have ignored a lot of vulnerabilities. He said that after 9/11, all the focus was on commercial airliners. Now everyone is focused on buses and subways. Meanwhile, 20 million cargo containers come through our sea ports that are not properly secured. We need to sit back and evaluate the whole scenario, Graham believes.

Colmes said that on "the very day of the Madrid bombings a budget was delivered that cut $155 million in Homeland Security spending next year and $857 million over the next five years. Why are we not focusing on what we should be prioritizing - what you just mentioned - the ports, rail systems - why is that not happening?"

That opened the door for Graham to really excoriate the job performance of the Bush Administration. Graham said it's because there's financial competition. The federal government is in terrible financial shape. He added, "We're spending in about six to eight weeks in Iraq what we're spending on a year protecting our homeland. I think we have wrong priorities, we have wrong policies. We aren't making the decisions to allocate the resources that I believe the American people are prepared to support for their own protection."

Substitute co-host Rich Lowry said that we must be doing something right since there hasn't been an attack since 9/11 and we have to assume that terrorists would love to hit us if they could.

Graham said that while we have been very, very fortunate, "that shouldn't be the basis of putting down our guard or doing unintelligent things. I think an unintelligent thing that occurred in 2002 (notice the Downing Street Memo implication) was when a decision was made that it was more important for the United States to go to war with clearly an evil person, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but at the cost of letting Osama bin Laden and AQ and other terrorist groups essentially get a free pass. What's happened in the last three years is that AQ has reorganized, it's bigger, it's more lethal. It has the capacity to institute attacks like we saw yesterday around the world."

Lowry, who seems unable to go more than two minutes without bashing Democrats, said that there are a lot of things done since 9/11 that have helped and one of those things is the Patriot Act "which a lot of your colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle or certainly on the left have beaten up on." (A lot of conservatives don't like it, either, but Lowry conveniently didn't mention that.)

Before Graham could respond to the Patriot Act swipe, Lowry added that Thursday's attack, horrific as it was, was smaller than 9/11 or Madrid. Isn't that evidence that the terrorists' capabilities have been "downgraded at least somewhat over the last several years?" I would have loved for Graham to try to pin him down on how the Patriot Act bears on that "improvement" but instead he talked about what a good job British intelligence has done.

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