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Reason 14 to Vote Obama: Meaningful Homeland Security

Update 10/9/2008 – Link to quoted material provided.

Before I get into reason 14 to vote Obama, a brief plug for the book Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation by Stephen Flynn. Flynn is a national security specialist who started out in counterterrorism. Watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina convinced him that there were many serious risks to the country and terrorism, while important, wasn’t at the top of the list. The book documents our natural and man-made disasters and how their terrible effects are often amplified by our actions — or negligence. Fortunately there is much we can do do mitigate the effects of nearly anything that happens to us IF the gov’t is willing to treat business and citizens as partners and not spectators in providing security. This book should be first one the new President reads. I hope that man is Barack Obama, but John McCain could learn much from it too! He should read it even if he stays a senator.

Ok. Back to why Homeland Security is an Obama issue. Barack Obama, like Stephen Flynn understands that America faces many risks, and that building resiliency in America will enable us to stand tall no matter what happens. Additionally, he is willing to pay current funds to make the following happen:

Protecting Our Chemical Plants

Chemical plants are attractive terrorist targets because they are often located near cities, are relatively easy to attack, and contain multi-ton quantities of hazardous chemicals. While a number of plants have taken voluntary steps to improve security, there are still major gaps; and the federal government has never established meaningful, permanent security regulations. Senator Obama worked with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to introduce comprehensive chemical plant security legislation that would establish a clear set of federal regulations that all plants must follow. The 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.

Keeping Track of Spent Nuclear Fuel

The nation has 103 operating nuclear power plants which annually produce over 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel that remains highly radioactive for many years. A report by the Government Accountability Office found inadequate tracking and security for spent nuclear fuel rods. Nuclear plants in Connecticut, Vermont and California have reported missing spent fuel in the last five years. Senator Obama introduced legislation to establish guidelines for tracking, controlling, and accounting for spent fuel at nuclear power plants.

Evacuating Special Needs Population in Emergencies

One of the most devastating aspects of Hurricane Katrina is that most of the stranded victims were society’s most vulnerable members – low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, and disabled Americans. Too many states and cities do not have adequate plans in place to care for special-needs populations. Senator Obama introduced and passed legislation to require mandatory planning for evacuating people with special needs.

Reuniting Families After Emergencies

After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people struggled to contact family and friends following evacuation. Evacuees were forced to comb through dozens of databases in an effort to reconnect with loved ones. Senator Obama introduced and passed legislation to create a centralized, federal database to allow individuals displaced by an emergency to call one phone number or go to one website and post their location and condition. Family members and law enforcement officials would be able to use this same secure, centralized system to check the status of missing loved ones.

Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe

There are almost 170,000 public water systems in the United States. An attack on a drinking water system could contaminate or disrupt water service, thereby disrupting society, impacting human health and compromising critical activities such as fire protection. Senator Obama introduced legislation to provide $37.5 million over 5 years for drinking water systems to upgrade their monitoring and security efforts.

Source: http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/homeland_security/

If we want to secure our country, we must understand the real levels of risks and how to appropriately defend against them. We can’t hype one risk that’s politically useful at election time, but won’t directly harm most Americans while ignoring risks that put millions at risk every year. Barack Obama understands this and that’s why he deserves your vote on November 4th.


2 Responses

  1. I agree with your observations – all of the above are security issues we need to address more fully as a country.

    But let me get this straight…. terrorism is not our most serious threat, yet terrorist issues are at the top and bottom of your list. Who will address terrorism in a manner best suited to protect and defend our country? I’m pretty sure it’s not Barack based on his 143 day track record on Iraq.

    Then let’s look at another issue on your list – Special Needs individuals. Again, simple logic tells you that the mother of a special needs child will have more experience and insight than someone who has voted to dispose of those society deems undesirable during his time in the Illinois senate. And let’s don’t forget who was at fault during Katrina and Rita for not getting those at-risk out of New Orleans – Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco, both of whom are ideological partners with Barack.

    Therefore, on at least three out of five issues that are important to the resiliency of this country, Barack is NOT the superior choice to address the issue. There may be multiple reasons to vote for Barack, but Meaningful Homeland Security is NOT one of them.

  2. Hi Bill, Thanks for stopping by.

    I’m afraid you’ve confused two lists, one of which isn’t mine. There is the list of five items in my blog entry. Those aren’t my ideas about factors to make America resilient. Those are five specific steps that Senator Obama would take to strengthen America’s national security. Then there is my list of reasons to vote for Barack Obama. This list is currently 14 items long and will be 18 reasons long the Monday before Election Day. So we really can’t talk about 3 of out of 5 items off of my list favoring one candidate or another.

    What factors will make America resilient? You can either read the book Edge of Disaster, or you could look at the 28 page Reform Institute report Building A Resilient Nation. They divide the task of building a resilient America into preparing, protecting (hardening), responding to events, and recovery. All of these factors focus on what we Americans can do here and now. It is about seeing ourselves as assets and not as victims. According to the Reform Institute, embracing resilience has three important benefits:

    Embracing national resilience in this age of peril has three significant benefits. It can serve to mobilize perhaps America’s greatest asset – her people – through individual effort or collective action within the private and non-profit sectors. It will also strengthen our economy by reinforcing
    our critical infrastructure, mitigating the possibility of a severe disruption in economic activity and providing American firms with a competitive advantage. Finally, it will enhance our security – including homeland, energy and financial – by making the country less vulnerable to the continuing threat of terrorism.

    Viewing Americans as assets, instead of potential
    victims, would revolutionize our homeland security policy and unleash the determination, spirit and ingenuity of Americans in overcoming our greatest challenges.

    President Bush has never personally embraced a view of resiliency. His answer to every problem is more spying powers for the government and a cry to “fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Seven years after 9/11 our first responders still can’t talk to each other and our infrastructure continues to crumble, making an ever appealing target to terrorists and more prone to failure during natural disasters.

    John McCain’s Homeland Security strategy appears to follow that of Bush. Therefore, it seems that electing him would not improve our resilience. Barack Obama realizes that terrorism is one threat among many and is willing to equip our first responders and rebuild our dams, dikes, bridges, and electrical grid. That’s one reason I’m voting for him.

    I’d like to take a moment to address three other items from your comment. First, you appear to feel that invading Iraq was addressing terrorism. This is wrong for two reasons. One, the 9/11 Commission and other bodies have documented the fact that Iraq had nothing to with 9/11 nor did it have links to al-Qaeda. The famous Weekly Standard article “Saddam: Case Closed” was discredited by the Pentagon itself barely a week after it came out. Secondly, world terrorism has risen sharply after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is al-Qaeda’s top recruiting poster and training ground.

    In terms of Katrina, that failure was at all levels of government as acknowledged in the White House report Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned.

    Finally, your comment:

    Then let’s look at another issue on your list – Special Needs individuals. Again, simple logic tells you that the mother of a special needs child will have more experience and insight than someone who has voted to dispose of those society deems undesirable during his time in the Illinois senate.

    I know a mother of a 10 year old special needs child. She is VERY knowledgeable and has navigated state and federal systems to do the best for her child. I’d love to see her spearhead new federal initiatives. But this experience and expertise took time to gain. She didn’t have it when her child was newborn. And unless someone majored in developmental disabilities in college, he or she won’t have instant knowledge or experience either.

    Barack Obama is a supporter of abortion rights. That does not make him an advocate of eliminating special needs children. That would be like saying that everyone willing to wage war was an advocate for genocide. Contrary to what’s been circulating in e-mails, Senator Obama has never been an advocate for infanticide.

    Since you are clearly not voting for Obama, I’m wondering if you’re for John McCain. If so, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d take my McCain Challenge where you’d tell my readers how Senator McCain would take this country in a new direction. This challenge has been open since June 7, 2008 and so far no one has taken me up on it.

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