I am deeply disappointed to learn that George W. Bush has compromised our Nation's security by proposing to cut the number of air marshals at the very time that his Administration is highlighting a new threat from al-Qaida to use commercial aircraft in suicide bombings. That is illogical, irresponsible, and an ill-conceived notion of how to protect the American people.
Protecting the American people requires leadership that goes beyond tax cuts and photo ops; it requires concrete action that recognizes we live in a different world post 9-11. Former Republican Senator Warren Rudman has recently issued a report pointing to an almost $100 billion homeland security gap. That's less than one-third of the recent tax cut for the wealthy. George W. Bush's latest action is just one more example of this administration's priorities, priorities that put small-minded penny-pinching and tax cuts for his campaign supporters ahead of making the tough choices and necessary investments in securing our homeland.
Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of President Bush's indifference to the needs of protecting our homeland. He initially opposed the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, embracing the idea only when he could use it for political gain. He has under-funded the DHS, forcing cash-strapped states and localities to pick up the tab. And he has shortchanged first responders, the very men and women we will rely on to protect us in the unfortunate event of another attack.
George W. Bush should exercise some leadership here and immediately order his appointees to restore the air marshals to the flights which need them most. More importantly, he should exercise some leadership by realizing that tax cuts for the wealthy take money away from the protection of the American people.