Rescuing the American economy seems to have crowded out all other issues, including safeguarding the homeland from terrorist attacks.
Lawmakers need to step back and consider that the nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill actually offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve physical as well as economic security.
When House and Senate lawmakers come together in conference in the coming week, they should consider directly targeted but temporary tax credits to promote greater security investments in a wide range of privately-owned infrastructures. These credits would improve public safety while boosting private-sector employment.
Take the chemical industry. Since September 11, there has been widespread recognition that the weaponization of toxic chemicals at industrial facilities poses one of the most significant homeland-security risks, behind only biological and nuclear attacks in terms of potential deaths. For years, Bush administration officials acknowledged that officials argued that voluntary private-sector security efforts alone might not be sufficient, they were loath to regulate the private sector. Those concerns were magnified starting in 2006, when terrorist operatives in Iraq repeatedly sought to weaponize chemical tanker trucks. Congress mandated the Department of Homeland Security to regulate chemical-facility security in 2006. But that provision was temporary, and it fails to address transporting dangerous chemicals. It also overestimates the skills and resources at DHS to enforce regulations. Candidate Barack Obama argued that the "inability to secure these [hazardous chemical] sites is one of our greatest security failures since the September 11th attacks."