In monetary terms, the price of the war in Iraq could top $100 billion. There is also concern that an additional cost could be an increase in terrorist threats on U.S. soil. Virtually everyone agrees the terrorism threat won't disappear with Saddam Hussein -- and that preparedness among first responders is a necessity.

Yet our ability to respond to terror at home is not up to par by most accounts, and attempts to improve it are devolving into political and territorial firefights. In New York, Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are sparring over how to allocate precious federal dollars the state eventually will get for homeland defense.

"We're going to find out where we're vulnerable," Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., recently told The Associated Press. "There has not been enough focus and not enough appropriations to deal with homeland security."

Though lack of federal funding is causing the most friction, it is by no means the only impediment to shoring up what some officials see as a vulnerable homeland. Experts cite a lack of guidance by federal authorities, and a lack of private-public partnerships that share innovative ideas and technologies as key stumbling blocks.

"What we've done on homeland security is woefully inadequate in several ways," said Mich

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor