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In Wake of Sandy, NBC Reporter Blames Defense Spending for Lack of Infrastructure

Reporting for Thursday's NBC Rock Center, chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel ranted over the lack of infrastructure spending to protect against Hurricane Sandy and tried to blame it on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: "...the thing we've spent the most money on, a trillion-plus dollars, the most American lives on, and that has been bringing democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, with very questionable results." [Listen to the audio]

Rather than be in Lybia covering the growing scandal over the Obama administration's botched response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Engel sat in the NBC News New York studio and proclaimed: "People I've spoken to, experts in this field, say we would be a lot safer, not just richer, if we had spent a lot of that money on improving infrastructure."

Engel urged: "I think it's really important to start thinking about infrastructure as essential national security." He lamented that "For the last ten years plus, the United States has had a main national security priority" of fighting terrorists and insurgents in the Middle East.

Wrapping up his commentary, Engel acknowledged: "That is not to say that counterterrorism isn't important. It certainly is. But they're related because the stronger your society is, the more protected you are, also, from a terrorist attack."

Here is a transcript of Engel's November 1 remarks:

10:47PM ET

(...)

BRIAN WILLIAMS: So this has everything. It's got politics, environment, national security. In endorsing Obama today, Mayor Bloomberg mentioned climate change. And as I said to the Governor, it's already New Amsterdam. Could the city be the new New Amsterdam?

RICHARD ENGEL: I think it's really important to start thinking about infrastructure as essential national security. For the last ten years plus, the United States has had a main national security priority, the thing we've spent the most money on, a trillion-plus dollars, the most American lives on, and that has been bringing democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, with very questionable results. People I've spoken to, experts in this field, say we would be a lot safer, not just richer, if we had spent a lot of that money on improving infrastructure. That is not to say that counterterrorism isn't important. It certainly is. But they're related because the stronger your society is, the more protected you are, also, from a terrorist attack.

WILLIAMS: We may have to keep you around to cover this for a while. Richard Engel, thanks, good to see you.