- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

NEW YORK Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last night said President Bush's homeland security plan is a "myth" and the nation is only marginally safer than it was before the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"Our people remain vulnerable, nearly as vulnerable as we were before 8:56 a.m. on September 11," Mrs. Clinton said of the Bush administration's domestic anti-terror efforts at a homeland security conference in Manhattan.
"Our vigilance has faded at the top, in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., where the strategy and resources to protect our nation are supposed to originate, where leaders are supposed to lead," the New York Democrat said.
Mrs. Clinton's attack on the president's anti-terror initiatives at home came four days before he is to deliver the State of the Union address and on the same day Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. A department spokesman had no immediate comment on her speech.
"We have relied on a myth of homeland security a myth written in rhetoric, inadequate resources and a new bureaucracy, instead of relying on good, old-fashioned American ingenuity, might and muscle," Mrs. Clinton said.
"The truth is, we are not prepared, we are not supporting our first responders, and our approach to securing our nation is haphazard at best," she said. "Somewhere along the line, we lost our edge. We let our guard down."
The former first lady said that, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did more to inspire vigilance, calling for factories to double their weapons production and for Americans to recycle and ration food and gasoline.
Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, said the Bush administration's top priority is homeland security and Mrs. Clinton's criticism only exposes the country to more terror.
"I just think it was a cheap shot," Mr. King said. "It just invites the enemy to attack again."
Mrs. Clinton also promoted her Provide for the Common Defense Act, which she argues will force the federal government to help states and cities protect the public from terrorist threats.
The legislation calls for developing anti-terror technologies, creating a task force to set minimum security standards and adding federal security personnel in areas with large populations, including New York City.


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