Defending America against terrorists has become the keystone of President Bush's reelection campaign, yet in Mother Jones magazine's September/October cover story former Wall Street Journal reporter Matthew Brzezinski reports that the administration's obsession with Iraq has left the Department of Homeland Security underfunded, beholden to special interests, and ignored by the White House.

The agency's $40 billion budget sounds impressive, but Brzezinski points out that about a third of the money doesn't even go to the DHS and that most of the remaining $27 billion simply lumps together the budgets of the 22 federal agencies that make up the department. Created in November 2002, the agency is still housed in temporary quarters in an obscure Washington Naval District complex. The agency's lack of prestige in the administration makes it nearly impossible to attract top-flight Washington personnel, and homeland security funding-for everything from firefighters and emergency medical personnel to port and train security-regularly falls short of what is needed.

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