(WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2007) — On April 30th, I wrote a weblog column entitled, “Nuclear Attack: How Real Is The Threat? Ex-CIA Chief Says Its Al-Qaeda’s Top Priority.”
In the piece, I quoted a number of analysts warning that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” that a nuclear, chemical or biological attack will occur inside the American homeland. Among them, I quoted Graham Allison, author of the book, Nuclear Terrorism, who has warned: “If policy makers in Washington keep doing what they are currently doing about the threat, a nuclear terrorist attack on America is likely to occur in the next decade. And if one lengthens the time frame, a nuclear strike is inevitable.”
After I posted the story, I was contacted by a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security who said the statistics Allison cites were out of date. He briefed me on how much DHS has been doing in recent years to “plug up the holes.” He specifically pointed me to the administration’s “Container Security Initiative,” as well as its “Secure Freight Initiative,” both of which represent dramatic increases in funding, manpower, technology and advanced intelligence strategies (such as the “Megaports Initiative”) designed to prevent any ship, truck or airplane from carrying cargo into U.S. territory that could have weapons of mass destruction inside. What’s more, he noted that the administration’s new budget also call for increases funding for these initiatives.
After reviewing this material, I thought it only fair to pass it on. I do believe the administration is taking large and important steps in the right direction. I think that more needs to be done, but so does DHS. Hopefully Congress will authorize sufficient funding to make our ports safe and secure. We dare not lose our focus. After all, all the intelligence we’re gathering indicates that radical Islamic jihadists want to trigger a catastrophic series of attacks to cripple our economy and decapitate our government. As I continue to do research amidst writing my next novel, Dead Heat, I’ll continue to update you on what I’m learning.
SAMPLE DHS BUDGET REQUEST
February 5, 2007
Priority: Continue to Protect our Nation from Dangerous Goods
“We are aggressively working to improve maritime cargo security, including enhancing domestic and overseas container scanning. In addition, the Department is dedicating funding to improve technology and reduce costs to the BioWatch program, a key element in its comprehensive strategy for countering terrorism. The following initiatives are fundamental to the Department achieving our goal of protecting the nation from dangerous goods:
* Total funding of $178 million will provide for the procurement and deployment of radiation portal monitors, including next-generation Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) systems. The requested resources will assist the Department in achieving its goal of screening 98 percent of all containers entering the United States by the end of FY 2008.
*An increase of $15 million is requested for the Secure Freight Initiative that is designed to maximize radiological and nuclear screening of U.S. bound containers from foreign ports. Secure Freight includes a next generation risk assessment screening program and an overseas detection network, while merging existing and new information regarding containers transiting through the supply chain to assist customs and screening officials in making security and trade decisions.
* An increase of $47.4 million is requested for the Acceleration of Next-Generation Research and Development program which will increase funding across multiple research, development, and operations program areas.”