State of the Union: America Still Dangerously Vulnerable




While the war in Iraq remains at the center of America’s agenda, we must not lose sight of the ongoing terrorist threat to the American homeland. While the war in Iraq remains at the center of America’s agenda, we must not lose sight of the ongoing terrorist threat to the American homeland.

Two areas warrant our urgent focus as our leaders consider national security priorities for the New Year, and the President prepares for the State of the Union address:

First, a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of a terrorist remains the single greatest threat to our nation. While progress has been made in securing these weapons and materials, we are still dangerously vulnerable. In the coming year we must:


Elevate to the highest priority our efforts to secure loose nuclear materials at their source, including substantially increased resources for the Nunn-Lugar program and the elimination of counterproductive congressionally imposed certification requirements;

Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and other arms control regimes;

Make the security of dangerous pathogens and technologies a leading issue in bilateral and multilateral forums;

Strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative and other multilateral efforts to detect nuclear materials in transit;

Invest in technologies and capabilities to detect nuclear materials crossing America’s borders, particularly through cargo containers; and

Increase efforts to secure chemical facilities that use, produce or store toxic materials.

Second, more than four years after September 11th, we are not nearly as prepared as we must be to respond at home to another massive terrorist attack. In the coming year we must renew our commitment to homeland defense by:


Allocating homeland security funds on the basis of risk, not politics;

Providing part of the broadcast spectrum for public safety purposes as soon as possible;

Adopting a unified incident command system so that someone is clearly in charge at the scene of a disaster;

Reinvigorating FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to make it a world class emergency response operation;

Improving cooperation between federal, state, and local governments; and

Setting priorities and making hard choices about how we will protect our critical infrastructure and transportation system.

Addressing these urgent and pressing needs demands Presidential leadership and bipartisan congressional support. As we continue to prosecute the war in Iraq, we must not lose sight of the highest priority of government: the safety and security of the American people.

Signatories

Warren Rudman US Senator (R-NH) 1980-92
Lee Hamilton US Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99, Vice Chair, 9/11 Commission
Madeleine Albright Secretary of State 1997-2001
Howard Baker US Senator (R-TN) 1967-85
Warren Christopher Secretary of State 1993-97
Slade Gorton US Senator (R-WA) 1981-87, 1989-2001, Commissioner, 9/11 Commission
Gary Hart US Senator (D-CO) 1975-87
Rita Hauser Chair, International Peace Academy 1992-present
Carla Hills US Trade Representative 1989-93
Richard Holbrooke Ambassador to UN 1999-2001
Nancy Kassebaum Baker US Senator (R-KS) 1978-97
Thomas Kean Governor New Jersey 1982-1990, Chairman, 9/11 Commission
Anthony Lake National Security Advisor 1993-97
Richard C. Leone President Century Foundation 1989-present
Robert McFarlane National Security Advisor 1983-85
Donald McHenry Ambassador to UN 1979-81
Sam Nunn US Senator (D-GA) 1972-96
William Perry Secretary of Defense 1994-97
Thomas Pickering Undersecretary of State 1997-2000
Ted Sorensen White House Special Counsel 1961-63
John C. Whitehead Deputy Secretary of State 1985-88
Frank Wisner Undersecretary of State 1992-93