WASHINGTON – Good morning. This is Congressman Sherrod Brown, Ohio candidate for the United States Senate.
On Monday, our country marks a tragic day — the five year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
Five years have passed, but the pain has not. All of us still bear memories of that terrible day and the lives that were lost.
But those painful memories also harbor images of hope and determination. In the wake of that day's tragic events, we saw the best that America had to offer. Neighbor helped neighbor to pick up and recover. City helped city to rebuild. And leaders in Washington worked together, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans willing to do whatever it took to prevent another attack.
Five years later, we need to see that commitment again. The truth is — five years after the 9/11 attacks — America is not nearly as safe as we can be and we must be.
My home state of Ohio has three cities listed as "high risk" for a terrorist attack — Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati — yet those cities do not have the homeland security funds that they need.
We ask our grandmothers to take their shoes off at airports, yet only 6 percent of the cargo entering our ports is inspected. Our borders remain open. Our chemical and nuclear plants remain vulnerable. Our courageous first responders lack the right equipment and sufficient resources, and not enough has been done to protect our rails, and our roads, and our metro systems.
These are serious matters of national security, and they demand a serious response. Unfortunately, at the White House and in Congress, all we see is inaction and delay.
The most glaring example is what's happened to the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. Two years ago, this commission — with equal numbers of respected Republicans and respected Democrats — announced a number of common-sense steps the government could take to protect Americans from another attack. Some were haphazardly implemented by Republicans in Congress. Many others were completely ignored.
It's unacceptable that this Republican government hasn't done at all it can to protect Americans in the five years since the September 11th attacks. That's why Democrats are pushing for a new direction. We have a plan to give Americans the real security they deserve. And it starts by charting a new course in Iraq.
While Iraq was not part of the war on terror before we invaded, it's now a training ground for terrorists and a recruiting tool for the leaders of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Our military readiness has plummeted to levels not seen since Vietnam — diverted resources from the war on terror — and made America less safe.
This anniversary of 9/11, we must refocus our efforts on the War on Terror by ending our open-ended commitment in Iraq and by redirecting our efforts to destroy Al Qaeda.
Democrats will fight for this goal even as the president and as congressional republicans stubbornly insist on staying a failed course.
It's time for a new direction.
Families in Ohio want the same thing as families across the nation — to trust that our government is doing all it must to keep our loved ones safe.
Five years after 9/11, the Democrats' top priority is to implement tough and smart strategies to keep Americans safe. Nothing — nothing — is more important than protecting our country.
I'm Sherrod Brown. Thank you for listening.