By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
While Republicans call the president's latest announcement on combating terrorism an updated strategy, Democrats say it is nothing more than an attempt to repackage the same failed policies.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and his Democratic challenger, Mary Beth Harrell, clashed on comments made by President George W. Bush on Tuesday afternoon during an address in Washington to the Military Officers Association of America.
In his speech, Bush outlined the need for the world to adapt to terrorists, who he said were utilizing the Internet to train new followers to carry out their plans.
Harrell, who didn't watch the address but read a transcript, said Bush's solutions to the evolving threat were nothing new and the administration was simply "rehashing" old plans.
"They're not going to be any more effective," she said.
Carter agreed with the president, however, saying that since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago, Congress has worked tirelessly to secure the nation.
"We must adapt our strategy to most effectively defend innocent American lives against a vicious enemy that hides in the shadows," Carter said.
Long-term success in the war on terror will require diligence, Carter said, and that is required as freedom and democracy are sought in a post-Sept. 11 world.
While Carter said it will take diligence, Harrell prefers another approach. She would implement policies outlined by the 9/11 Commission, something she says Congress hasn't done.
She said the failed policies in Iraq have created more terrorists, and an international peacekeeping coalition is needed in Iraq.
"The world has to come together," she said.
The world is a much more dangerous place than when troops invaded Iraq three years ago, Harrell said, and Bush's and Carter's comments are a "different rhetoric of fear."
The Bush administration's fear isn't terrorists or losing the war, Harrell insisted; it's losing the election.
Carter maintained that the scale of attacks "confronting free societies" requires the kind of plan Bush updated in his National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, released Tuesday. The congressman said a comprehensive approach is needed for success, which includes law enforcement, intensive intelligence and military activity.
Local law enforcement agencies responded to the threat on national security five years ago by adapting response policies and protocol. Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith said the department got more training on responding to weapons of mass destruction after the attacks. Officers also dealt with calls regarding toxic substances like anthrax.
Since then, the department has made risk assessments in the county and evaluated its ability to respond to and deal with potential threats.
Smith didn't watch the president's speech and said he didn't see any new policies being handed down as a result of the adapted strategy. He doesn't see that as a problem because the county is "pretty secure," not being in a high-target area.
However, Fort Hood has always been a prime target area, the sheriff said, but that hasn't changed, whether in the Cold War era or modern era.
"It's all based on common sense," he said.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org