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These priorities underscore a shift in emphasis from stopping another 9/11 to preventing something much worse. Certainly, DHS still puts an enormous amount of resources into inspecting airport passengers and luggage and monitoring foreign nationals inside the United States. Yet the unspoken reasoning behind increased spending on border protection is to stop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from ever getting into the country."

Biological and nuclear weapons could change the nation overnight," says McIntyre. "I'm pleased that DHS has shifted resources to those areas." Carafano agrees, and supports funding for interdiction. "The best way to fight terror is to prevent it," he explains, "That means shifting resources to border patrols, port security, Coast Guard and intelligence."

DHS has been moving in that direction. The FY 2006 budget established the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to detect attempts to import, assemble or transport nuclear or dirty bombs. It will receive $536 million in the FY 2007 budget, up from $315 million in FY 2006. It plans to spend $178 million to deploy radiation monitors at strategic U.S. ports and points of entry.

Most first-generation detectors only work at close range. More sensitive detectors that work at greater distances are among DHS's top research priorities, says Kei Koizumi, who monitors the federal government's R&D budget for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Under the FY 2007 budget, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office will spend $100 million on better sensors to detect and identify the origins of nuclear materials.

The Chertoff reorganization also established a Chief Medical Officer to coordinate the DHS response to biological attacks with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health. In FY 2005, DHS spent $2.5 billion on Project Bioshield to purchase new WMD vaccines and speed the nation's ability to develop countermeasures.

 

Treasure Chest | Priorities | WMDs | Borders | Preparedness | Critics

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