Gingrich Criticizes Defense Policies, Says Country Is on 'Edge of Catastrophe'

Government leaders are not adequately protecting America and are setting the country on a course toward catastrophe if national security policy is not dramatically changed, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday. 

In a speech full of dire scenarios and gloomy predictions, the former House speaker argued that no price is too high for the federal government to pay when it comes to shoring up national security. 

"We are living at the edge of catastrophe," Gingrich said while laying out the flaws of the current governmental approach to security as well as his own framework for policy change. 

Gingrich said the current defense budgetary approach in Washington is designed to meet an arbitrary budget goal and that over the years the government has failed to "translate the imagination (of potential attacks) into public policy." 

He said terrorist attacks such as those on Sept. 11 were not inconceivable but were inadequately prepared for by a timid federal bureaucracy. 

Gingrich's speech in front of several hundred people at the conservative Heritage Foundation is part of a ongoing program from the think tank called "America at Risk" advocating the government reverse budget cuts in national security programs. 

"Our goals are straightforward for the country -- safety, prosperity and freedom," Gingrich said, while observing that lawmakers of both parties often fail in pushing public policies achieving those goals. "I find it very disturbing that (seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks) nobody is demanding a fundamental altering of the war strategy." 

The dour speech went through scenarios in which the United States could be attacked by its enemies and how, in anticipation of these attacks, the country should aggressively pursue policies to mitigate the chances of a successful strike. 

Gingrich said that if the current policy structure holds for the next 20 years the country will be fundamentally incapable of quickly producing military assets needed to respond to an immediate threat. 

Among other programs, Gingrich advocated the creation of a real-time response system at the Pentagon to immediately begin counter-measures to address threats as they become known. He said quick bureaucratic reaction will be necessary in the coming years.