Biden Says America Not Safer, Al-Qaeda Planning Attacks

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) said Thursday that the United States is no safer than it was before 9/11 and that he believes al Qaeda is planning another attack on U.S. soil.

"Thankfully, there have been no attacks on our soil since 9/11," Biden said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "But we should not take false comfort from that fact. Our enemies are patient."

"I believe they're planning something as large and complex as 9/11," Biden said of the al Qaeda terrorist network. "They're patient. Remember the first try on the towers, how long it took for the second. These folks are in for the long haul."

Biden said the Bush administration has failed to make America safer and explained his plan to secure the nation if given the opportunity. Biden is considered a likely contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

The Delaware Democrat unveiled a four-point plan he said would make America safer and more respected in the international community, including "implementing the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission," securing "loose weapons around the world," building and promoting international organizations to deal with world problems and "developing democratic institutions in the Middle East and beyond."

The estimated cost of Biden's plan to build domestic security would be $50 billion over the next five years to hire 1,000 new FBI agents and 50,000 more police officers and to improve communications between agencies.

Biden said the program would be funded by raising taxes on people who make more than $1 million per year.

"Wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor and middle class Americans," he said, but "nobody's asked anything of them."

Biden did not say whether he had considered reducing government spending in other areas to offset the costs of his proposal.

Biden reiterated a proposal he announced in April to divide Iraq into separate regions united by a central government in Baghdad. In his speech Thursday, Biden said such a plan "would keep Iraq together by providing each group breathing room in their [sic] own regions."

The proposal to divide Iraq has been criticized by some of Biden's Democratic colleagues, including Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who said it "could lead to other challenges."

Biden acknowledged those criticisms and encouraged his colleagues to formulate their own plans for Iraq that can be discussed.

Josh Holmes, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said it is "clear from our perspective that al Qaeda is always planning to threaten the country, which is why we're fighting the greater war on terror and why we're trying to eliminate al Qaeda in Iraq."

Holmes said Biden "apparently has either forgotten or is ignoring the world we live in today."

"Unfortunately, today's foreign policy must not only include acknowledging threats, it must include eliminating threats before they strike," Holmes told Cybercast News Service. "America is safer today because President Bush and Republican leaders understand that."
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