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Schumer says parts of N.Y. lack security

(The following article by Erin Kelly was posted on the Press & Sun-Bulletin website on September 7.)

WASHINGTON -- Five years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the federal government deserves only a C-minus in its efforts to make upstate New York and the rest of the nation safer, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.

The New York Democrat issued a report card evaluating federal efforts on everything from northern border safety to chemical plant security. The senator gave the Bush administration relatively high marks for improving security at airports and at the northern border but said the nation remains woefully behind in protecting trains, ports and chemical plants.

"Have we improved on some aspects of security? For sure," he said. "Are we as safe as we should be? Unfortunately, no."

The senator called on the Bush administration to increase funding for homeland security and to step up protection of ports, rail systems and airports. "Efforts have been hampered by rampant under-funding and budget cuts, poor management of political programs, bureaucratic tangles and political deal-making," he said.

As the Sept. 11 anniversary approaches, President Bush has been on the offensive about what he says is his administration's strong response to terrorism and protecting Americans at home.

But Schumer said much more must be done to prevent another attack. Here's how he rated specific homeland security efforts:

* Rail and mass transit security, Grade: F. No advanced technology is yet in place to immediately detect the presence of a nuclear, chemical or biological threat, Schumer said.

* Chemical plant security, Grade: D. There are more than 175 active chemical plants in upstate New York. Schumer said they remain vulnerable because the Department of Homeland Security has not issued final security regulations and standards.

* Northern border security, Grade: B. The number of border agents has doubled, improving security dramatically. But deployment of new truck and container screening technology has been slow and ineffective, Schumer said.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

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