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Homeland Security

SLUG: 2-304874 U-S Terrorism (L-O)









INTRO: A group of national security experts says that United States is not spending enough money to prepare police, fire, and medical rescue personal to handle another major terrorist attack. V-O-A's Paula Wolfson reports these experts say America's "first responders" are dangerously under-funded.

TEXT: For months, the group has been studying the needs of "first responders." The panel's final report says the men and women who make up the nation's emergency teams need far more money for equipment and training.

Former Senator Warren Rudman took a leading role in the study.

/// RUDMAN ACT ///

This is a national crisis. This is a question of homeland defense. This is a question of protecting the American people from unspeakable horror.

/// END ACT ///

The New Hampshire Republican told N-B-C television's "Meet the Press" that this is an issue without political overtones. He said everyone realizes the "first responders" need support.

/// RUDMAN ACT ///

We are not criticizing anybody. We are not taking shots (lashing out rhetorically) at anybody. We are simply saying this has to be become a higher priority than it has been. And that is all we can do. It is up to elected officials to either take it seriously or not.

/// END ACT ///

The study will be formally released Monday by the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent public

research group. Jamie Metzl directed the project. He told "Meet the Press" that the panel of experts talked directly to firefighters, policemen, medical personnel and local rescue officials around the country.

/// METZl ACT ///

And uniformly, we were told that they did not feel that they had the equipment they needed to do what the public expect of them.

/// END ACT ///

The new Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies plan to spend about 27-billion dollars during the next five years to fund first responders. The Council of Foreign Relations report says that figure is dangerously low, and nationwide spending on emergency preparedness should increase five-fold during that period.

A Homeland Security spokesman downplayed the report, saying the calling the Council's proposed level of funding "grossly inflated." He said the study included little new information, and that many of the Council's other recommendations are already being implemented. (SIGNED)


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