The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Latest White House budget requested cut in bomb detection technology

Stories like this have become so commonplace it would be comical if it weren't such a serious matter. Whenever there's talk of preventing terrorist attacks, somehow port security or securing unprotected nuclear material is never discussed. Instead, we're told how important it is that government agencies be free to act outside the law with no accountability. Then it's revealed that the agencies are spending their resources spying on pacifists and anti-war activists. And round and round we go.

Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who joined Republicans to block the administration's recent diversion of explosives detection money, said research and development is crucial to thwarting future attacks, and there is bipartisan agreement that Homeland Security has fallen short.

"They clearly have been given lots of resources that they haven't been using," Sabo said. (. . .)

The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.

The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.

The British plot to blow up as many as 10 American airlines on trans-Atlantic flights would have involved liquid explosives. (. . .)

The administration's most recent budget request also mystified lawmakers. It asked to take $6 million from the Sciences & Technology Directorate's 2006 budget that was supposed to be used to develop explosives detection technology and divert it to cover a budget shortfall in the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings.

The reaction of DHS? To lie, of course. It's always about perception, not results.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in a news conference Friday, said the department was trying to stay ahead of terrorists.

“We’ve spent about three-quarters of a billion dollars in research on emerging types of technologies in explosives,” Mr. Chertoff said. “And we are constantly monitoring the world for developments that occur in the field of improvised explosive devices, precisely so we can start to work on countermeasures.”