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Report: Homeland security grossly underfunded

Former Sen. Warren Rudman, shown in this 2001 file photo, claims the United States is not spending enough on homeland security.
Former Sen. Warren Rudman, shown in this 2001 file photo, claims the United States is not spending enough on homeland security.

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A new report says the U.S. is not prepared to handle another terror attack because first responders are underequipped and underfunded. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports (June 30)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States isn't spending nearly enough money for local emergency responders, and funding may have to be tripled. That's the conclusion of a new report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, led by former Sen. Warren Rudman.

Rudman's report, written with assistance from former White House terrorism cyber-security chief Richard Clarke, says: "The United States is drastically underfunding local emergency responders and remains dangerously unprepared to handle a catastrophic attack on American soil."

But Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, defended the billions of dollars spent on first response units and promised more to come.

"We have been committed for some time to make sure they have the equipment and training they need for this to be a better prepared country," Johndroe said. "We are far more prepared than we were 20 months ago on 9/11, and we continue to get better every day."

The report, which will be officially released Monday morning, says that in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks the country is especially vulnerable to "chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-impact conventional weapons.

"If the country does not take immediate steps to better identify and address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next terrorist incident could be even more devastating than 9/11," the report warns.

According to a summary of the report, Rudman's task force met with emergency responder organizations and asked them how much money they would need to adequately respond to a terrorist attacks.

An additional $98.4 billion is needed over the next five years, the report says. Nearly $37 billion is needed to beef up fire services and about $30 billion is needed to upgrade hospital preparedness, it says.

start quoteIf you talk to mayors, to governors, to police chiefs, they are just not ready, and we had better get readyend quote
-- Former Sen. Warren Rudman

"Police departments in cities across the country do not have the protective gear to safely secure a site following an attack using weapons of mass destruction," the report says.

"If you talk to mayors, to governors, to police chiefs, they are just not ready, and we had better get ready," Rudman said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Rudman, a Republican, represented New Hampshire in the Senate.

"The budget the report suggests seems to be grossly inflated," said Johndroe of the Department of Homeland Security.

The report says the federal budget is now earmarking $27 billion over five years for emergency responders.

"While we have put forth the best estimates so far on emergency responder needs, the nation must urgently develop a better framework and procedures to generate guidelines on national preparedness," Rudman said.


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