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Democrats Focus on National Security, Science Support

August 2, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 31

Last week, the Democrats approved a platform focusing on national security, energy independence, and support for biomedical research. The Republicans will approve their platform at their convention beginning on Aug. 30.

In the arena of national security, the Democrat platform includes efforts to fight the global war against terrorism and halt the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. It calls for special military forces to find, secure, and destroy weapons of mass destruction and their production facilities.

At the top of the to-do list is reform of the intelligence community, beginning with the creation of a director of national intelligence with control over personnel and budgets, a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

In the area of homeland security, the platform singles out the chemical industry as particularly vulnerable to attack and says Democrats will require "more guards, more fencing, and the use of less dangerous chemicals, when possible."

Responsibility for responding to a biological attack would be consolidated in an appointed individual who would set strategic priorities and control all bioterrorism programs and budgets. The platform promises support for research to increase drug and vaccine development.

Renewable energy sources receive big play in the platform. And to promote energy independence, the document pledges increased investments to develop and implement cleaner coal technology.

The platform also promises to invest in nanotechnology and biomedicine, and to make permanent the R&D tax credit. Under biomedical research, the platform pledges to vigorously pursue embryonic stem cell research, but under strict ethical guidelines.


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