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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: The U.S. vs. al Qaeda

America the Vulnerable

Courtesy Reuters

THE UNGUARDED HOMELAND

It is painful to recall that, prior to September 11, Washington's singular preoccupation when it came to protecting the U.S. homeland was national missile defense. That urgency about guarding the United States from a potential missile attack now stands in stark contrast to the government's complacency about policing America's transportation networks and land and sea borders. On September 10, just over 300 U.S. Border Patrol agents supported by a single analyst were assigned the job of detecting and intercepting illegal border crossings along the entire vast 4,000-mile land and water border with Canada. Meanwhile, after a decade of budgetary neglect, the U.S. Coast Guard, tasked with maintaining port security and patrolling 95,000 miles of shoreline, was forced to reduce its ranks to the lowest level since 1964 and to cannibalize its decades-old cutters and aircraft for spare parts to keep others operational. While debates over the merits of new

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