Published January 24, 2003
WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a blistering critique of the Bush administration's domestic anti-terror efforts in a draft of a speech to be delivered Friday, saying the White House has fostered a "myth" of domestic security.
"Time has passed and our vigilance has faded," Clinton said in a draft of the prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press. The speech was to be delivered Friday afternoon at John Jay College 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," Clinton said.
Clinton's challenge to President Bush's domestic security efforts comes four days before he is to deliver the State of the Union address.
"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," 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," Clinton said. "Somewhere along the line, we lost our edge. We let our guard down."
She also used the address to promote her Provide for the Common Defense Act, which she argues will force the federal government to give much-needed assistance to states and cities to protect citizens from terror threats.
Her legislation calls for more spending to develop anti-terror technologies, create a task force to set minimum security standards and add more federal security personnel in areas with large populations, including New York City.
"We expect people and cities and towns to react to oranges, reds, and yellows, but we do not give them the green light they need to do their jobs," Clinton said. "It is too bad that the people who issue the warnings to our cities aren't the same people who write the checks to cover their costs."
Her speech also attempts to tie security concerns to criticism of Bush's $674 billion economic stimulus proposal that will eliminate taxes on dividends.
"Will ending the dividend tax make air travel safer?" Clinton said. "Will it keep a dirty bomb out of New York harbor? Will ending the dividends save one police officer or firefighter his or her job? In short, will it make America safer, more secure? Of course, the answer is no."