Where Do The Candidates Stand on U.S. Homeland Security?


            The mere mention of 9/11 brings back vivid memories for most Americans.  Many can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when terrorists slammed airplanes into three American landmarks, killing thousands of innocent and unsuspecting people.  With that act of terrorism, America’s innocence was lost forever and U.S. homeland security became an issue that will remain relevant for generations to come.

            Barack Obama and John McCain will both agree that the safety of Americans is an issue that has to be solved, but how would each candidate address U.S. homeland security and make this country the safe harbor it was before September 11, 2001.

            John McCain co-wrote legislation that created the 9/11 Commission and helped implement many of is recommendations.  However, the 9/11 Commission gave the country five F’s and 12 D’s for its lack of effort in implementing the commissions recommendations, according to Barack Obama’s official website. 

Obama is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee and co-authored legislation that would increase security and safety for chemical plants and the nation’s water supply.  According to his website, “This bill requires chemical facilities to enhance security—including improving barriers, containment, mitigation, and safety training, and, where possible, using safer technology, such as less toxic chemicals.”

            The Illinois senator acknowledges that improvements have been made at chemical plants, but he wants to establish permanent security regulations that all plants would have to adhere to in order to strengthen U.S. homeland security.  Senator McCain would implement Security Vulnerability Assessments and Site Security Plans that would address security concerns at the plants.

            According to McCain’s website, “(He) will work to ensure that all States and municipalities that are responsible for water supply or storage function adequately secure those systems in a manner that eliminates any risk of devastating contamination.”

            Obama introduced a bill that will give $37.5 million over a five year period “for drinking water systems to upgrade their monitoring and security efforts,” because he believes that if water is contaminated it would disrupt society and produce a health catastrophe and compromise emergency services such as fire protection.

            Nevertheless, McCain believes the key to improve U.S. homeland security is to prevent terrorism before a catastrophe occurs.  He plans to accomplish this by working with United States allies and breaking up terrorist organizations and interrupting their financing to ensure that they do not obtain weapons of mass destruction.  The Arizona senator wants to modernize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to improve intelligence and “to provide in statute clear guidance for future actions that may need to be taken.”

            The Republican nominee also sees securing American borders as a key to improving U.S. homeland security.  He plans to accomplish this by establishing operational control over the entire U.S. border, providing funding to construct 700 miles of fencing and hiring and training more border patrol agents to prevent terrorists from entering into the country illegally.

            The senior senator also sees disaster recovery as a key to U.S. homeland security.  He wants to establish a uniform standard of dealing with natural disasters that would better assist state and local governments with relief efforts.  Obama also sees disaster recovery as highly important, introducing and passing legislation that requires a mandatory plan for evacuating special needs Americans.  He also introduced and passed legislation that creates a national database for family members to locate each other after disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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