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August 7, 2001, while Bush & Co. were on vacation ignoring the terrorism threats against the US, John Edwards said: "I've become convinced that terrorism is the most important national security challenge our country will face over the next decade."

As a member of the Senate Intelligence committee, I've become convinced that terrorism is the most important national security challenge our country will face over the next decade. That is why I am working on new ways to address the threat of terrorism.

The spread of chemical and biological weapons combined with the growth of hostile terrorist groups is a recipe for disaster. The reality is that we face terrorism not only abroad, but also right here at home.

Protecting our nation's seaports from terrorist attack presents a real challenge. Seaports are the center of our global trading network. They are also ground zero in the fight against illegal drugs, bribery and theft, illegal immigration, and a potential target for terrorists. We must do a better job safeguarding our seaports. A terrorist incident at a major U.S. seaport could cripple commerce, destroy infrastructure, and endanger lives.

We need to install new technologies at our ports to detect chemical, biological and nuclear weapons before they cross our borders. Sophisticated technology like "smart containers" that use global positioning systems can help us track cargo. New computer programs can help us speed up the movement of legitimate cargo through our ports, allowing port authorities to focus on screening suspicious and potentially dangerous cargo.

We also need to modernize and strengthen the Coast Guard to help interdict threatening cargo before it reaches our shores. I also believe we can do a better job of coordinating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies' efforts to combat terrorism. We can help fight terrorism abroad by sharing new port protection techniques with our allies and trading partners.

Computers and technology are important weapons in the fight against terrorism, but they also make us vulnerable to a new kind of terrorist. We become more reliant on technology every day. From communications, to banking, to law enforcement, to the systems that deliver power and water to our homes, computer systems are instrumental in our daily lives.

All of this makes us susceptible to so-called cyber attacks. Imagine a terrorist group hacks into the computer system for the local power company. They disrupt the power supply, creating chaos in our homes, schools, and places of work. This may sound like something from a Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, but it could happen here at home.

The good news is that we can stop this hi-tech brand of terrorism before it starts. The FBI is already working through the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) to help the technology industry partner with law enforcement to identify potential national security threats to our infrastructure, but we need to do more.

If we can predict where, when and how attacks will occur, we can stop them before they happen. We need the technology in place to track cyber attacks and to predict them. In case a cyber attack on our infrastructure ever does occur, we need an effective Crisis Management System in place to restore critical services like power and water as rapidly as possible.

We need to find ways for government agencies to recruit and retain computer security experts, such as offering scholarships to computer-savvy students who are interested in using their skills to protect our nation's computer systems. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers this type of program. In fact, UNC-Charlotte has done such a good job that they have been named a model for other schools by the National Security Agency. We can keep government computer experts on the cutting edge of technology through continuing education opportunities.

Our world is more interconnected than ever before, thanks to technology and trade. These connections strengthen our bonds with other nations. They also challenge us to find ways to protect our national security in the global marketplace. By addressing the potential threat of terrorism now, we can promote a peaceful, prosperous future both at home and abroad.

Originally posted to Doppy on Sun Sep 26, 2004 at 02:23 PM PDT.

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  •  Diary recommended (strongly!) (none)
    Geez, if only they could be made aware of the first sentence during Edwards' debate prep.  It would be great if he could "quote himself".

    Excellent find.

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