DHS tagged as a failure


    The Homeland Security Department, created in response to the Sept.
    11 terrorist attacks, has failed to fulfill 33 of its own pledges to
    better protect the nation, according to a report released Tuesday by
    House Democrats.

    The report concludes that gaps remain in federal
    efforts to secure an array of areas, including ports, borders and
    chemical plants. There also are still delays in the department’s
    sharing terror alerts and other intelligence with state and local
    officials, the review said.

    Compiled for 13 Democrats on the
    House Homeland Security Committee, the report analyzes public
    statements and congressional testimony on Bush administration security
    goals since 2002.

    Responding, Homeland Security spokesman Russ
    Knocke said the department is prioritizing resources and programs based
    on “today’s greatest threats.”

    “Rather than looking backward at
    yesterday’s threats, we are building upon what we have already
    accomplished to meet evolving threats,” said Knocke.

    According to the Democrats, since the department began operating in March 2003, it has failed to:

    _Compile
    a single, comprehensive list prioritizing protections for the nation’s
    most critical and potentially vulnerable buildings, transportation
    systems and other infrastructure.

    _Install monitors at borders and every international seaport and airport to screen for radiation material entering the country.

    _Install surveillance cameras at all high-risk chemical plants.

    _Create
    one effective network to share quickly security-related intelligence
    and alerts with state, local and private industry officials.

    _Track
    foreign visitors through a computerized system that takes their
    fingerprints and photographs as they enter and exit the country.

    “It
    would be one thing if the department didn’t identify security lapses in
    the first place, but a more troubling situation when they make promises
    to the American people and then leave them unfulfilled,” Rep. Bennie G.
    Thompson of Mississippi, the committee’s top Democrat, said in a
    statement accompanying the report.

    Although the department has missed many of the original deadlines it set for some programs, it is working to complete them.

    In
    June, for example, Homeland Security for the first time agreed to
    pursue federal security regulations for chemical plants that have been
    mostly policed by private industry.

    And last week, Homeland
    Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the department will have
    finished the entry portion of the system to track foreigners _ named
    US-VISIT _ by the end of the year at 115 airports, 14 seaports and 150
    land crossings into the country.

    ___

    On the Net:

    Homeland Security Department: http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/index.jsp

    House Homeland Security Committee Democrats:

    http://hsc-democrats.house.gov/

    © 2005 The Associated Press