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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dent: Homeland Security Funding Based on Risk

The following is a portion of my interview with LV Congressman Charlie Dent, originally conducted on August 14.

LVRamblings: As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, how do you explain our total lack of progress in securing our ports and industrial and energy infrastructure as well as countless other points of vulnerability?


Congressman Dent: "The only thing I would say, very respectfully, is that we have made progress on port security. In fact, in my first term, we passed a very significant piece of port security legislation. It was a bipartisan agreement worked largely between my friend and colleague, Dan Lungren of California, a former Attorney General and Jane Hartman, a Democrat from California, a very strong leader on the committee and on intelligence issues. We did pass some very significant port security legislation as well as chemical plant security.

"Speaking to the question more generally, homeland security funding must be based on risk. It is risk-based funding - that is threat, vulnerability, consequence of attack. That's what directs our funding, not so much political criteria but those three conditions. Threat. Vulnerability. Consequence of attack.

"And it is true, we have many more vulnerabilities than we have funds to fortify all of them. I'll give you an example. You mentioned energy security. To be very candid, a nuclear power plant is not very vulnerable."

LVRamblings: It's not very vulnerable?

Congressman Dent: "Well, if somebody wants to take a jumbo jet and crash it into a cooling tower, maybe you'll destroy the plane. I've seen the simulations. I've seen what they've done. They are designed to withstand major impacts, both the reactor and those cooling towers. They're not very vulnerable. You'd need an army to try to take over one of those. There is incredible security. You'd need a massive conspiracy from the inside.

"Energy infrastructure, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and since 9/11, there are some very strong security measures in place, for example in a nuclear power plant.

"There are a lot of other pieces of American infrastructure that I worry a great deal about. There are soft targets. You don't need to be particularly smart to figure out where those vulnerabilities are. A crowded mall at Christmas time. They're very vulnerable. And there are other sites that I'd rather not mention publicly but there are a lot of very vulnerable sites out there.

"The point is, you take your limited Homeland Security dollars and you place them where they will have the most impact, looking at those issues of threat, vulnerability and consequence of attack. How many people will be impacted or killed or properties damaged - that's what you're looking at. There are some rather complex methodologies we use to determine that. Much of that is classified so I can't talk a whole lot about it.

"The good news is that, despite all the challenges, we have not experienced a terrorist attack since 9/11 . . . "

LVRamblings: That's true, that's true . . .

Congressman Dent: "That is something we should never lose sight of. I recently sat on a hearing of the Homeland Security Committee with Jane Harmon and we brought in the leading expert on al-Qaeda, who wrote the book, Peter Bergen.

"He and another expert felt we had been pretty effective in disrupting al-Quaeda. He believes that al-Qaeda seems to be unravelling. His words, not mine. Leading expert.

"Are they still lethal? Absolutely. Do they have an intent to do harm? Absolutely.

"The real al-Quaeda threat is going to come to this country through Europe, through the VISA waiver program. The Jihadis movement has had a hard time recruiting in our country and that's a great thing. Many people come to this country - Christian, Muslim or Jew - to adopt the American dream. In Europe, they are more segregated, and al-Qaeda has the intent and can do the damage and one doesn't have to be particularly bright to buy fertilizer and fuel oil to stick it in the back of a truck and ignite it."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Concerning Blogs "Cream rises to the top"
yeah, and sooner or later it goes sour. Bernie "Comment's I don't like go poof" O'Hare,
we get you love Dent. Are you having his baby?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Comments that contradict me are more than welcome here. I may be wrong, and find out pretty quickly, as I did in the case of the Palin photo.

My blogs won't go poof. But vicious comments will.

I will not hesitate to delete malicious personal attacks, especially if they are anonymous. This is NOT the MC reader forum. Hateful and vicious slams will be deleted or disemvowelled.

TINKERBELL said...

"They are designed to withstand major impacts... They're not very vulnerable... There is incredible security. You'd need a massive conspiracy from the inside."

SOUNDS A LOT LIKE HOW STRONG THE TOWERS WERE BUILT IN ORDER TO WITHSTAND PLANES CRASHING INTO THEM. WE SAW HOW EASILY A MASSIVE CONSPIRACY FROM THE INSIDE TOOK DOWN THE SEPTEMBER
11TH TOWERS. NOTHING IN THIS COUNTRY IS "NOT VERY VULNERABLE"

Valima said...

Tinkerbell, I agree with you regarding vulnerability. What is unfortunate is that the response about nuclear power plants seem to be politcal rhetoric.

Bernie, great piece! Keep it up.:)

Anonymous said...

I lost a niece on September 11, 2001 in the WTC south tower; her actual moment of death likely depicted in the photo that accompanies this blog.

For seven years, I've been frustrated and infuriated with the intellectual laziness of conspiracy theorists in attributing the attacks to our own government, and not the Islamic radicals who did it.

I'm not a blind patriot of the same government that perpetrated the Tuskegee experiments, but there is not a shred of credible evidence to indicate US government involvement in my niece's death (unless you consider US military presence in any number of Islamic countries; that is a legitimate topic for a long discussion).

Wild theorizing for political sport isn't very funny to those of us who try to keep an open mind, but also want closure from that horrible day in our families' lives. Real people from real families were killed that day. Their memories and our families should be respectfully considered before making flip comments about 9/11 from either political perspective.

Valima said...

"Wild theorizing for political sport isn't very funny to those of us who try to keep an open mind, but also want closure from that horrible day in our families' lives. Real people from real families were killed that day. Their memories and our families should be respectfully considered before making flip comments about 9/11 from either political perspective."

I lived right across the bridge when this occured. Although none of my family was lost, many of my long time neighbors did not come home. I can appreciate your frustration as many of us who lived in or had families in one of the three attack sites that day have dealt with lost. With that said, the beauty of this democratic republic we call home is to allow freedom of thought and freedom of speech.

What is more frustrating is that those who lost their lives, those who lost their love ones on that day are disrespected daily with this nonsense in Iraq. My own frustration is with this administration, their blatent disregard for the rule of law and their constant lies about why Iraq and September 11, 2001 were/are connected.

Anonymous said...

Yes, even the tin foil hat crew has the right to speak their nonsense. God bless America.

Anonymous said...

Steel doesn't melt.

And the most ineffective administration in history staged the biggest cover-up of all time.

That's the argument, right?