WASHINGTON, D.C. -- This past week marked the second commemoration of the worst terrorist attacks in American history, and was characterized by both painful and poignant moments. At Ground Zero, children solemnly read the 2,792 names of those who were murdered. In Washington, President George W. Bush presided over a silent memorial service on the South Lawn, while Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld went to Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to the 184 military and civilian employees killed at the Pentagon. In Pennsylvania, 44 crew and passengers of Flight 93 were remembered as heroes for bringing down their plane and saving the lives of potentially thousands of other Americans.
As memorials were observed at home, overseas U.S. troops continued to "carry the fight to the enemy," as President Bush said in his address to the nation. The president reiterated what he told Congress and the country just nine days after those horrific attacks -- that the war against terrorism will be fought over a long period of time on many fronts. Winning it will require many resources so Americans don't return to a "false comfort in a dangerous world." But some members of Congress seem to have different ideas.
"Congress is not an ATM," snapped West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in response to the president's request for $87 billion to fight the war on terrorism. Byrd, the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the King of Pork, has never met a tax dollar he didn't want to spend -- especially if it was for a road or building bearing his name in West Virginia. Yet Byrd, who has used public money to put his name on more buildings than Ronald McDonald, says that when it comes to protecting our national security, he refuses to "simply rubber stamp" the president's request. But Byrd would undoubtedly have no problem "rubber stamping" pork for West Virginia.
One might think that partisan selfishness is an isolated incident at a time like this, but Byrd is not alone. Sen. John Breaux, a moderate Democrat, was even more blunt about his desire to spend money on what will help him get re-elected. "I got things that need to be built in Louisiana," he demanded. Teddy Kennedy suggested that instead of spending the money to root out terrorists who want to kill Americans, it should be used to train teachers who can't teach and for a universal health care system that's already been rejected by the American people. Rep. Rahm Emanuel is demanding that for every dollar spent on efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, an equal amount be spent on domestic projects.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.