Col. Randall Larsen, retired US Air Force, is CBS News's homeland security expert, and also the CEO of Homeland Security Associates. Tuesday, Col. Larsen joined News 3's Steve Fullhart to discuss the state of national defense. The following is the second part of the interview. The first part can be found by clicking on the link at the end of this transcript.
Steve Fullhart: The border is a big issue for a lot of Texans. What is our border security like today compared to pre-9/11?
Randall Larsen: Well, I'm not sure that border security is where we should be spending our money. I know it's a big issue, being a border state here. A number of years ago, the French thought that they would provide all the security they needed by a Maginot Line along their border to keep out the Germans, and the Germans just drove around it. We have 7,000 miles of border in this country. Now, I recently heard a member of Congress -- not from Texas, I'm happy to say -- who said he wanted to build a wall from Brownsville, Texas, to Imperial Beach, California. Can you imagine the cost of that? And then you still have 1,700 miles of border with Canada that wouldn't be protected. And then there are the 95,000 miles of shoreline in this country.
SF: Pre-9/11 homeland security compared to now, the age that we live in, what is the most improved aspect of our security, and what is the aspect that needs the most improving?
RL: I think the reorganization that has gone on with the US Congress has certainly helped us, and some of the reorganization within the executive branch, the Department of Homeland Security. They have a ways to go. But we're trying to reorganize government to make it more effective, and I think education programs that we have are going to understand these new challenges. Information technologies could help to make us more secure. But believe me, we've got a long way to go, and I don't think, right now, we're properly focused on those things that can most hurt us, which are nuclear weapons -- which the terrorists can have access to -- and biological weapons. We don't have enough emphasis on that right now. That's probably our biggest weakness.
SF: Michael Chertoff, was he a good choice for homeland security director?
RL: If you take him with his deputy. I thought we should get someone from the business community with a lot of management experience. This is 22 different agencies crammed together. It's a real management challenge. The good news is, they brought in Michael Jackson, the former deputy secretary of transportation. He's a highly skilled manager of complex organizations. So with Chertoff's counterterrorism experience from the legal aspect, and then the management experience of Michael Jackson, that is a good team, and that was a good move for them.
Col. Larsen's book, "Our Own Worst Enemy: Why Our Misguided Reactions to 9-11 Might be America's Greatest Threat," will be released this July.
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