Gov Richardson Calls for Comprehensive Federal Investigation into Homeland Security Agency & U.S. Vulnerability

SANTA FE, NM -- Governor Bill Richardson today called on Congress to launch a thorough investigation of the US Department of Homeland Security and perform an aggressive audit of the vulnerability of security procedures nationwide. The Governor's comments follow the disclosure of a serious lapse in security procedures for obtaining a federal license to purchase radioactive materials. Federal undercover officers were able to easily obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) permits to purchase materials that could be used to make a so-called "dirty bomb".

"The ease with which the undercover investigators fraudulently obtained a valid license to purchase radioactive material is astonishing and should horrify every American," said Governor Richardson. "The revelation that terrorists could go through our own government to buy this material should trigger alarms across government and I call on Congress to launch a top to bottom investigation of DHS. We should examine every aspect of our security- ports, airports, trains, highways- everything. If it was this easy to get a license to buy radioactive materials, what other breaches are possible? We must find out where other weak spots are before they are discovered by those who want to hurt us."

"Earlier this week Secretary Cherthoff irresponsibly stated he has a 'gut feeling' that terrorists are planning to strike the US this summer. No details, no specific plans to counter this supposed threat, just a 'feeling'. Federal border security improvement efforts are inadequate and behind schedule. On top of that now we're sending border patrol agents to Iraq to help the President's failed policy there. New reports reveal that al Qaeda is back to its pre-9/11 strength. Now this. America is not safer than it was on 9/11 -- we are more at risk than ever. Enough is enough."

"I believe DHS Secretary Cherthoff should explain to the American people how this could happen. There must be accountability for this devastating breach of national security, starting with those in charge of the NRC and those responsible for this mistake. We must send a message that this kind of lapse will not be tolerated. Even one mistake can result in another devastating terrorist attack."