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Why Obama, Part II: Homeland Security

January 26, 2008

For the second installment of the Chamber’s Why Obama series, I’ve picked the homeland security issue.  The same format applies; this is right from the Obama website:

Obama homeland security fact sheet (pdf)

The Problem

Five years after 9/11, our country is still unprepared for a terrorist attack. From improving security for our transit systems and chemical plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and seaports, the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been underfunded and ignored. The 9/11 Commission gave the government five F’s and 12 D’s on the implementation of its recommendations. Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and has supported efforts to base homeland security spending on risk rather than pork-barrel politics. He has also introduced legislation to strengthen chemical plant and drinking water security and to enhance disaster preparedness.

Barack Obama’s Plan

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 chemicalsobama08_thumblogo100.gif

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.

Protecting the Public from Radioactive Releases

Following reports that nuclear power plants in Illinois did not promptly notify local communities that tritium – a byproduct of nuclear generation – had leaked into the groundwater, Senator Obama introduced legislation to require nuclear plants to inform state and local officials if there is an unintentional leak of a radioactive substance. Chronic exposure to high levels of tritium can increase the risk of cancer, birth defects and genetic damage.

Barack Obama’s Record

There have been tritium leaks at other nuclear plants, though none so extensive as at Braidwood. The uproar over Braidwood prompted the Nuclear Energy Institute to outline a voluntary policy for monitoring tritium leaks and reporting such incidents. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has vowed to continue to push for federal legislation that requires reporting. “The nuclear industry already had a voluntary policy, and it hasn’t worked,” he said. Exelon’s past actions have helped to prove his point.

— Chicago Tribune, Editorial, May 25, 2006

We could kill a hundred thousand men in the deserts of the Middle East, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that a single terrorist cell here in the U.S. could strike at any number of our vulnerabilities.  Needless to say, I’ve long argued that the “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” rhetoric lies in the domain of two-dimensional thinking (not to mention a desperate attempt at retrograde justification for the Iraq debacle).  I was glad to see that Obama’s plan addresses many of the gaps in our security (outlined in the pdf), including the need for the screening of all inbound cargo at our ports.  I’ve never really understood the logic behind spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fund an ongoing occupation in Iraq while basic steps to “terror proof” our homeland have been largely ignored.   Obama and I are also on the same page in recognising that while intelligence is vital to preventing terrorist attacks, we cannot allow fear to drive us to sacrifice the civil liberties that defines our country. 

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29 comments

  1. I was born in England & a resident alien in America since I was 7 yrs old. I’m 40 now, and I just got my citizenship. Today I signed up to be a precinct captain in my distrct. I believe with all my head and heart that Obama is the best person for the job! To make reperations w/ the rest of the world, which George W. has so thoroughly trashed. And here at home, I believe Obama has the knowledge, record, & vision to stop all of this red/blue state bs. Love it r leave it mentality. Instead, it’ll be back to building, back to learning, back to giving a hoot about someone else less fortunate. And a black president, I think, would go a long way towards normalizing race relations in this counrtry, while giving the rest of the world the idea that maybe we’re not all a bunch of Texan cowboy assholios!


  2. One of the funniest things about this is how Obama has voted against the secure dump in Nevada.His record is not consistent with his goals.


  3. Seamus,

    Welcome aboard and congratulations on your citizenship.

    Now that you’re here, I can freely disagree with your worldly assessment without worry. I don’t think you’re just wrong. I think your assessment is diametrically opposed to being right. Your viewpoint never gets past the garbage you read from the MSM and the leftist world you live in; your judgment blinded by your BDS.

    Personally, I am of the opinion the U.S. world standing is better, not worse. Case in point, Germany and France. The rest of the supposed good will was a facade which lasted all of six weeks until we fought back, not in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. How many Palestinians must dance in the street after the towers fell? As a reminder, we were attacked in ’93 at the WTC long before Bush was here. Where was the good will then? This supposed good will we’ve supposedly lost is baloney. It never existed to begin with. At least now, the world knows we mean business when we say you attack us, you pay for it with your life.

    Reparations for the rest of the world? You’ve got to be kidding? Exactly who do we owe? Not only are we the least imperialistic superpower that has ever existed on this earth, the U.S. is the most generous. Twice in the 20th century, we saved the world from tyranny. In every disaster, we are the first and most prominent on the scene. We’ve provided 60 billion dollars to the continent of Africa expecting little or nothing in return. The EU doesn’t even come close on a per capita basis.

    And a black president, I think, would go a long way towards normalizing race relations in this counrtry, while giving the rest of the world the idea that maybe we’re not all a bunch of Texan cowboy assholios!

    Really? Now I’m not sure about many things but one thing I am sure of is the importance of a man’s faith and the people he associates. Let’s take Obama’s church, for instance. Here’s their summary:

    http://www.tucc.org/about.htm

    You will not find a mention of America once, the country Obama will supposedly represent. In fact, I could substitute the word Europe for Africa, white for black from their statement and not be too awfully far from Klan material. Do I need remind this “preacher” of Obama’s has awarded good citizenship to one Louis Farrakhan? And that’s your idea of bringing us all together? I’ll pass.

    And I would like to remind Chen, the one domestic terror event worth note in American history happened 13 year ago in Oklahoma City – during a Democratic regime and preceded by the deaths of 74 men, women and children at Waco, TX. When that tragedy occurred we had what you and Seamus should consider utopia; a Dimocratically controlled Congress, a liberal Supreme Court and Dimocratic President who parroted these words:

    It is time to heal America. And so we must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other. All of us—we need each other. We don’t have a person to waste. And yet for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what’s really wrong with America is the rest of us. Them. Them, the minorities. Them, the liberals. Them, the poor. Them, the homeless. Them, the people with disabilities. Them, the gays. We’ve gotten to where we’ve nearly themed ourselves to death. Them and them and them. But this is America. There is no them; there’s only us. ~ Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, July 16, 1992

    Gang, your Dimocratic party is not only a facade but both morally and spiritually bankrupt…


  4. Tex-

    It never existed to begin with. At least now, the world knows we mean business when we say you attack us, you pay for it with your life.

    psst…Iraq didn’t attack us, so if the world knows anything, it might be that we’re reckless warmongering imbeciles. We went from having the entire world on our side to a situation where the only country where Bush receives a positive reception is in Albania.

    Anyway, this might be for a future thread. Maybe I’ll make part III foreign policy?


  5. in2thefray-

    One of the funniest things about this is how Obama has voted against the secure dump in Nevada.His record is not consistent with his goals.

    I’d like to explore this further, as I was unaware. Do you have a link?


  6. psst…Iraq didn’t attack us, so if the world knows anything, it might be that we’re reckless warmongering imbeciles. We went from having the entire world on our side to a situation where the only country where Bush receives a positive reception is in Albania.

    Chen…you got to get that head out of The Guardian and the Slimes. The world was never on our side; complete rubbish, total myth.

    Bush got possibly the warmest reception ever received for an American President in Israel when he recently visited (which really smoked the Jew haters here in America; that in itself, makes it worth the trip). And it would be real interesting to ask the man on the streets of Baghdad whether he thinks more of America now or say 1998. Why is it you guys never ask the people who would really be in the know – it’s not the frickin’ journalists? psst…It’s the military.

    P.S. – Where’s the Rambo critique?


  7. I take your point that perhaps the world is not on our side, at least in literal sense, so I’ll rephrase. I don’t remember any scenes like this when Clinton was president.

    P.S. – Where’s the Rambo critique?

    Yea, I should probably post something. lol Coming right up!


  8. I had one that looked at his votes and talked of a site in Illinois. The premise being a secure option out of Illinois.
    Pending finding that this is even better:

    “I have said over and over again I’m against Yucca,” Obama said. “I’m against Yucca Mountain. I think the science is not there. I’ve never, I’ve never been for Yucca. Never been for it. Never said I was for it.

    “Suddenly you’ve got the Clinton camp out there saying, ‘He’s for Yucca.’ What part of I’m not for Yucca do you not understand?” he said, then laughed along with his audience.

    from here
    For what it’s worth the other piece looked into the science as well. I am unaware of Obama on Nuke energy though. There is buzz in the world about adopting French procedures of recycling. I throw that there just in case


  9. There I go again messing up links. Sorry for the leg work you’ll need


  10. I take your point that perhaps the world is not on our side, at least in literal sense, so I’ll rephrase. I don’t remember any scenes like this when Clinton was president.

    Very true. But during Clinton you didn’t see anything like this either:

    http://www.javno.com/en/world/clanak.php?id=117868

    Do you really believe that South America’s devolving into socialism and tyranny is due to George Bush. If so, I think you overrate the man’s influence and really discount the ability of a country to pick their own path: for good or for bad.

    I see you provided a Rambo critique. I can’t believe quickly approaching 50, I’ll still probably go see it (by myself – my friends and wife wouldn’t be seen in the theater).

    And to do the same thing for Godzilla while I became the laughing stock of my circle – and the movie was so bad I was one of two people in the theater.


  11. Tex- What is that in your avatar, anyway?


  12. Chenzen, two JDAM’s blowing up the bad guys. I picked it just for you. Feel honored…:P


  13. Tex- Well, I’ll do the Obama foreign policy thing in an upcoming post…so maybe we should just save our ammo. (not that I mind going off-topic, but it would make more sense), but I’m not sure I see your point re: Chavez


  14. Chen, my point is that many of the South American countries are in chaos due to their own fault; monetarily and spiritually – especially Venezuela.

    Their failing leaders have looked for someone to blame; anyone but themselves – the current U.S. President makes a convenient scapegoat. These are a bunch of rubes in cahoots with the failing leaders. So what? Bush is Hitler? Come on, for once take off the blinders.

    I’ve heard all the Brazilian economy you hear is so great? Baloney – it’s still a 3rd world country with millions below the poverty level. It’s Cuba, 1955 with an economy approximately 4% of the size of the U.S. but 2/3 the size in population. You don’t believe me, do the math.


  15. What’s the probability of a terrorist attack? I don’t know the answer, but incredibly small. You can probably improve security in some areas – chemical and nuclear plants come to mind. But tightened airport and seaport security has a huge cost attached to it, which needs to be weighed against the security benefits. My guess is any further security restrictions on airports are unlikely to deliver noticeable benefits at the margin. Again lack of detail is a problem here, but good post anyways. I had some things to say about Latin America but I guess I’ll talk about it later


  16. King-

    My point in the thread is that its money much better spent than over in Iraq, and it’d probably be a drop in the bucket by comparison. Sure, the chance of attack is small but it would get even smaller with even a half-assed attempt at addressing these issues. Nuclear proliferation is the big danger IMO, and I’ve argued on FB and elsewhere that a single nuke would bring this country to its knees. And if the nukes are loose, in the very least we should have some confidence that we can stop them from entering the country.

    BTW- Speaking of FB, let me know if you want your Pacino avatar for posting here and elsewhere in the blogosphere. I’ll hook you up. Just send me a message in the contact form.


  17. […] to start the discussion, I’m going to address the small portion I bolded above.  There may be those out there who feel that our position hasn’t really changed, and the idea that Bush has made the U.S. is […]


  18. Here’s that other one


  19. You will not find a mention of America once, the country Obama will supposedly represent. In fact, I could substitute the word Europe for Africa, white for black from their statement and not be too awfully far from Klan material. Do I need remind this “preacher” of Obama’s has awarded good citizenship to one Louis Farrakhan? And that’s your idea of bringing us all together? I’ll pass.

    B.S. man. It’s nice to pick and chose what you want, but you should look at the larger picture. (Sorry to get off topic but this Obama’s church mudraking cracks me up)

    It would seem to me that he would have more in common with you than you think, if you’re just going to base the man off of his congregation –

    “Trinity United Church of Christ has been called by God to be a congregation that is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that does not apologize for its African roots! As a congregation of baptized believers, we are called to be agents of liberation not only for the oppressed, but for all of God’s family. We, as a church family, acknowledge, that we will, building on this affirmation of “who we are” and “whose we are,” call men, women, boys and girls to the liberating love of Jesus Christ, inviting them to become a part of the church universal, responding to Jesus’ command that we go into all the world and make disciples!

    We are called out to be “a chosen people” that pays no attention to socio-economic or educational backgrounds. We are made up of the highly educated and the uneducated. Our congregation is a combination of the haves and the have-nots; the economically disadvantaged, the under-class, the unemployed and the employable.

    The fortunate who are among us combine forces with the less fortunate to become agents of change for God who is not pleased with America’s economic mal-distribution!

    W.E.B. DuBois indicated that the problem in the 20th century was going to be the problem of the color line. He was absolutely correct. Our job as servants of God is to address that problem and eradicate it in the name of Him who came for the whole world by calling all men, women, boys and girls to Christ.”

    Not too far off of your mantra about Christ being the only thing that will make us great again.

    Of course, in the matter of Homeland Security, neither God or Jesus is going to do a damn thing for us. It’s up to us.


  20. You REALLY don’t want to go down the Trinity United Rd. Obama shouldn’t be judged for the church he attends or more importantly the pastors embrace of the “Black Value System”.Also remember that WEB DuBois renounced his American citizenship so aligning him in any way to Obama isn’t helping BO.


  21. in2thefray- that is an interesting article on the Yukka mountain controversy. It’s a tough subject though, ’cause lets face it, I don’t know anyone who wants radioactive fuel rods anywhere near their backyard.


  22. I honestly offered it re: homeland security. I especially liked the idea of all the eggs in one place angle. I appreciate the controversy over getting the stuff there but Illinois has some stuff and getting rid of it would be a good thing. For full disclosure stand up guy that I am I’ll add that my guy (Mitt) is lacking on a Yucca specific position.


  23. I especially liked the idea of all the eggs in one place angle.

    I’ll admit that was fairly compelling on my end too.


  24. Securing our borders doesn’t seem to be a high priority in Mr. Obama’s Homeland Security plan. It isn’t even mentioned (In your post, anyway).

    How can we have “Homeland Security” when the door into our homeland is left wide open for absolutely ANYONE to enter?

    Any Homeland Security plan that doesn’t include border security is simply incomplete and full of half-measures.


  25. Red Pill- I’m pretty sure securing the borders was in the pdf at the top of the thread, as well as in the “Immigration” post we covered in Part I. In fact, we debated the border issue quite a bit on that one.


  26. Ah, I am new to your community here so that one got by me, and I didn’t click the PDF link assuming you had posted the entire piece.

    I will go back and read both.


  27. I’ve noticed that the pdf’s on Obama’s website are a bit more comprehensive, so I post both for the record.

    BTW- Thanks for stopping by!


  28. […] applies; this is right from the Obama website.  The selection of this topic was inspired by comments that arose in Part II, as well as posts I’ve stumbled upon elsewhere in the blogosphere.  […]


  29. In a fantastic way!

    By the way, what do you think about this icons site?



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