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:

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.

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

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

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.

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:


© 2005 The Associated Press