NY Times failed to connect Democratic "not new" security proposals to past GOP obstruction

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

A New York Times article about congressional Democrats' newly released national security agenda reported that "[m]ost of the proposals are not new," and included a response from Republican Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, who was quoted as saying: "It's taken them all this time to figure out what we've been doing for a long time." The article made no mention that congressional Republicans -- including Bond -- have blocked the Democrats' "not new" security proposals for years.

In a March 29 New York Times article on congressional Democrats' unveiling of "Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World," a series of policy papers on homeland security, Times reporter Steven R. Weisman reported that "[m]ost of the proposals are not new," and included a response from Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO), who was quoted as saying: "It's taken them all this time to figure out what we've been doing for a long time." Weisman also reported that Bond "said that while Democrats sought to showcase their support of national security, they had tried to block renewal of the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and the [Bush] administration's program of wiretapping without warrants." Weisman, however, failed to note that congressional Republicans -- including Bond -- have blocked the Democrats' "not new" security proposals for years.

According to the Democratic policy papers:

To protect the American people, we will immediately implement the recommendations of the independent bipartisan 9/11 Commission and finally protect our ports and airports, our borders, mass transit systems, our chemical and nuclear power plants, and our food and water supplies from terrorist attack.

Weisman wrote in his March 29 article:

Democrats also want to give greater powers to the office of the national intelligence director and to investigate accusations of abuse and torture of detainees. They say they want increased financing for screening containers at ports and securing nuclear and chemical plants and training emergency health workers.

Most of the proposals are not new. Many echo arguments put forward by Democrats and by their 2004 presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, including a demand for more military equipment and body armor for troops and improved veterans' benefits.

[...]

But Republicans, anticipating the Democratic attack, were already circulating their own counteroffensive on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, said he had just obtained a copy of the Democrats' plan and added, "It's taken them all this time to figure out what we've been doing for a long time."

Mr. Bond said that while Democrats sought to showcase their support of national security, they had tried to block renewal of the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act and the administration's program of wiretapping without warrants.

However, Bond and his fellow Senate Republicans have blocked or voted against numerous Democratic attempts to implement these security proposals. Weisman did not mention this, despite the fact that it undermines Bond's criticism that the Democrats have just now "figure[d] out" what the GOP has "been doing for a long time."

  • March 17, 2005: Bond and 36 other Senate Republicans voted against an amendment proposed by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) to the 2006 budget bill to restore $565 million in cuts to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first-responder programs, provide $150 million in port security grants, and provide $140 million for hiring 1,000 more border patrol agents.

  • Congressional Quarterly reported on September 14, 2004: "During a week and a day of debate, Democrats were turned away on more than a dozen amendments that would have added $20 billion to" the 2005 Homeland Security appropriations bill. CQ specifically noted: "An amendment by Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., to add $350 million for rail security was struck down on a point of order, 43-51." The vote can be viewed here.

  • September 8, 2004: Forty-five Senate Republicans, including Bond, voted to remove an amendment proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to the 2005 Homeland Security appropriations bill adding an additional $150 million for port security research and development grants.

  • July 24, 2003: Fifty of 51 Senate Republicans voted* (along with former Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA)) to defeat an amendment to the 2004 Homeland Security bill, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) that "would have allocated $292 million to local fire departments and to efforts to improve security measures at chemical plants and ports." [National Journal, 7/25/04]

  • A November 14, 2002 Newsday article on the congressional approval to create DHS reported: "On port security, Senate Democrats had tried to add a charge on imports to raise approximately $600 million a year for added security, but they were blocked by House Republicans and the maritime industry."

*Correction: The original text of this item incorrectly stated that "Republicans in the Senate voted unanimously (along with former Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA)) to defeat an amendment to the 2004 Homeland Security bill, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) that 'would have allocated $292 million to local fire departments and to efforts to improve security measures at chemical plants and ports.' " In fact, while 50 of the 51 Republicans in the Senate at the time voted against the amendment, Olympia Snowe of Maine voted for it.

Correction: 

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Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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