The Homeland Security agendas of both John McCain and Barack Obama call for better cyber security, border security and interoperability improvements to emergency communications systems for first responders.
McCain and Obama also want improved intelligence gathering, more cooperation between federal and local authorities and between the U.S. and other governments to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and trafficking in materials that could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction.
CBP Air & Marine photo
But some homeland security experts are concerned that too much emphasis is being placed on nuclear weapons of mass destruction – which the Bush administration identifies as the gravest threat to the U.S. -- at the expense of other threats.
“For years we have called bio-weapons the poor man’s nuke,” says Randall Larsen, a longtime homeland security and biological warfare expert with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity. “I don’t worry about Osama bin Laden building a nuclear weapon but he can build a bioweapon from scratch.”
Obama’s plan calls for controlling nuke proliferation, screening to prevent a dirty bomb or suitcase nuke from getting into the country and keeping a better eye on the nuclear materials – military and civilian – that the U.S. has within its own borders.
McCain’s homeland security policy is more specific on border security, calling for border fencing, more border patrol agents, ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance. McCain also sees the screening of individuals and cargo entering the U.S. as an important component of border security.
So don’t expect a significant cut in Homeland Security spending by either the Republican or the Democrat, says securities analyst Brian Ruttenbur.
The chief homeland security analyst at Memphis, Tenn.-based Morgan Keegan & Co., Ruttenbur says an increase isn’t very likely either although he told Aerospace Daily & Defense Report (subscription required) last week that he thought there is a better chance of increased spending in home security “if Obama gets elected” -- especially in port security.