Report warns U.S. not ready for 9-11 repeat
Date: June 30, 2003
State and local agencies that would be called upon initially to respond to new catastrophic terrorist attacks are woefully underfunded and unprepared, a new report warns.
In a report co-authored by former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and former White House cyberterrorism chief Richard Clarke for the Council on Foreign Relations, analysts concluded the government "is drastically underfunding local emergency responders and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil, particularly one involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-impact conventional weapons."
Worse, the report says, if Washington doesn't dramatically increase funding to local communities in preparation for an expected new wave of terrorist assaults, the next incident "could be even more devastating than 9-11."
Specifically, the report says the government needs to spend nearly $100 billion more on emergency responder agencies, up from the current budget of $27 billion over the next five years. Analysts led by Rudman and Clarke sought input from local agencies, asking each what they truly needed – not a wish list – in order to become as prepared as possible for new terror assaults, including those involving weapons of mass destruction.
"These presently unbudgeted needs total $98.4 billion, according to the emergency responder community and budget experts," said the report, titled, "Responders: Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously Unprepared."
"Estimated combined federal state, and local expenditures therefore would need to be as much as tripled over the next five year to address this unmet need," the report stated. Rudman, who chaired the Council-sponsored Independent Task Force on Emergency Responders, said the panel did its best to come up with realistic estimates, but better measures are needed.
"While we have put forth the best estimates so far on emergency responder needs, the nation must urgently develop a better framework and procedures to generate guidelines on national preparedness," he said. "And the government cannot wait to increase desperately needed funding to emergency responders until it has these standards in place."
Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, defended the billions the agency has spent on beefing up local first responder agencies. "We have been committed for some time to make sure they have the equipment and training they need for this to be a better prepared country," Johndroe told CNN. "We are far more prepared than we were 20 months ago on 9-11, and we continue to get better every day."
He also promised the agency would spend billions more to help local agencies.
The panel praised the efforts of the Bush administration and Congress, as well as state governors and local mayors, for increasing preparedness and security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It also does not seek to assign blame. Rather, the report says, analysts' goal is aimed "at closing the gap between current levels of emergency preparedness and minimum essential preparedness levels across the United States."
"This report marks the first time that data from emergency responder communities has been brought together to estimate national needs," it said.
Original article: http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33333
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