CNN Inside Politics - Transcript

By:  Pete King
Date: July 26, 2005
Location: Unknown

CNN Inside Politics - Transcript
Tuesday, July 26, 2005


DOBBS: The nation's deadly heat wave gripping the East Coast tonight. Temperatures in the low to mid 90s being reported as far north as Boston. New York City today hitting 95 degrees.

The southeastern part of the country, including Raleigh, North Carolina, 100-degree heat. In Washington, D.C., today, temperatures rose to 97 degrees. High humidity factored in. It felt, we're told, more like 106 degrees.

I've never quite understood how people calculated what it felt like.

Electricity demand in the nation's capital is expected to break an all-time record by this evening. And the scorching heat wave continues in the Midwest and Southwestern part of the country. Phoenix, Arizona, once again posting triple-digit temperatures.

More than 40 people across the country have died in this heat wave so far. Heat-related deaths being reported as far east as New Jersey.

Turning now to homeland security after this month's deadly London bombings. A House subcommittee today asked a critically important question: are we in this country prepared for a terrorist attack on our mass transit systems?

Joining me now from Capitol Hill, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Congressman Pete King of New York.

Congressman, are we ready? REP. PETE KING (D), NEW YORK: Lou, we're better than we were on September 11, but we still have a good ways to go. And one thing the hearings showed today is there is no magic answer, there's no silver bullet, but there has to be more research and there has to be better coordination by the federal government.

DOBBS: I suppose a lot of people, Congressman, would be curious why this would even be an issue almost four years after September 11. Yes, the London bombings were recent, but the experience of the city in which we're broadcasting from seemed like it would have been more than an ample reason for the country to awaken to the dangers and the vulnerabilities.

KING: Well, a lot has been done, especially in New York, for instance. The federal government has given about $190 million alone to the MTA, as far as hardening the tunnels, coming up with different sensor devices. So progress has been made, but it's a lot more difficult than aviation. And also, quite frankly, when the money is made available to cities and municipalities, they seem to prefer to put it into other aspects, like the police and fire, rather than mass transit.

So, I agree with you, the country should have been more awake. It was somewhat awake, but the attacks in London really woke up the country and I think we should take advantage of that momentum now to try to get going.

One of the things we learned today is that there is so much technology out there. Some of it good, some of it bad and yet the federal government has no clearinghouse.

There's no one -- for instance, if the MTA in New York, if someone comes to them with expensive piece of technology, they have no way of checking that with anyone to find out if it's any good. They would have to look into it themselves. They would have to test it out, which takes up valuable time and money. So, that's just one example of how the federal government should be doing more.

DOBBS: Well, another example, Congressman, if I may, the Department of Homeland Security supposed to have submitted a report to Congress titled the National Strategy for Transportation Security. That was supposed to have been delivered on the first of April.

We contacted the Department to find out just where that report stands, when you could expect, among others, to receive it and this is what they told us over at Homeland Security: "The report is under final review with the Department of Homeland Security. We expect to provide a report to Congress within the coming weeks." How critical is this report? How important is it to the prevention and response to a terrorist attack and why in the world wouldn't the Department of Homeland Security be meeting a deadline?

KING: We believe it's very important. In fact, virtually every member of the subcommittee today raised that point. We hammered it home and while Democrats and Republicans have made it clear as of today to Secretary Chertoff that the report has to be done as soon as possible.

The only reason that I give -- and I'll say this in defense of Mike Chertoff. He didn't really take office until sometime in March and he was doing a total review of the department. So, I'm willing to give him somewhat of the benefit of the doubt on this, as to why it's not done.

But is -- it has to be done and really, there's no more excuse from here on in for any missed deadlines. Again, the fact is Tom Ridge was out. It took several months for Mike Chertoff to come in and then he was doing a -- an exhaustive review, because a lot has to be changed in that department.

DOBBS: Pete King, as always, we thank you for being here.

KING: Lou, thank you.

DOBBS: Congressman Peter King.


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