Bush's, GOP's Policies Weakening America: Coast Guard Edition
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Dec 07, 2006 at 09:45:51 PM EST
If the reports released by the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Groups were not enough to convince you that the policies of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress are weakening America and diminishing our national security, yet another story, this time from The Washington Post's Renae Merle and Spencer S. Hsu, detailing the lengths to which the unique blend of corruption, cronyism and lack off sufficient oversight that has been fostered under GOP domination of Washington might help you change your mind.
A multibillion-dollar effort to modernize the Coast Guard's fleet has suffered delays, cost increases, design flaws and, most recently, the idling of eight 123-foot patrol boats that were found to be not seaworthy after an $88 million refurbishment.
More broadly, congressional critics warn that early mistakes in the 25-year modernization program, called Deepwater -- the Coast Guard's largest contract ever -- are hobbling the service's transformation into a front-line homeland security force.
With the failure of the retrofitting program, eight of 49 boats in the service's workhorse fleet of Island-class patrol boats are out of action. Coast Guard leaders reported last year that only 25 percent of the aging cutters were fully "mission capable," because of maintenance problems and deployment of some boats to Iraq. In reports submitted to Congress, the Coast Guard projected that the fleet would be able to log about 80 percent of its targeted 98,200 operational hours a year.
Reading through the Merle/Hsu article, which is featured on the front page of Friday's Post, a familiar story line emerges: Republicans in Congress dump a large amount of money into a program that is intended to bolster America's national security apparatus, but as a result of poor planning and an almost complete dearth of oversight, the program moves off track costing countless dollars without actually delivering on the promise to better protect America.
While most in the establishment media are still reluctant to admit it, Republicans just aren't that good at national security. Sure, they're good at posturing and ginning up the fears of the American people, playing on long ago memories of supposedly soft-on-terrorism liberals. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of making a more secure America, Republicans just aren't that interested. The President and the GOP Congress got us stuck in Iraq. They did not pass many of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. They have yet to do enough to improve rail or port security. They have failed to put in place sufficient protections of chemical and power plants. Now we see that they have effectively gutted the Coast Guard through their actions.
Luckily for Americans, Republicans will soon no longer be in control over Congress. Luckily for the Democratic Party, Democrats will soon have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the Republican Congress, both by enacting much-needed legislation and by providing real oversight, which has been so thoroughly missed in Washington in recent years. The Democrats can change the terms of the debate and finally put to rest the notion that Republicans have the permanent upper hand on the issue of national security.