what deserves to be said about U.S. government's failure to implement
the public safety improvements recommended by the 9/11 Commission
- it's just unacceptable.
4 years after the attacks and more than a year after the commission's
exhaustive 567-page report, 9/11 commission members said yesterday
that the U.S. government deserves an overall failing grade for
implementing its 41 specific recommendations.
not a priority for the government right now ... a lot of the things
we need to do really to prevent another 9/11 just simply aren't
being done by the president or by the Congress," said the
commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor
of New Jersey, on "Meet
The Press." The bipartisan commission cannot make it
any clearer: out of their recommendations, they gave 5 Fs, 12
Ds, and only one A-.
the Commission gave an "F" for the effort to allocate
Homeland Security funds based on risk instead of the conventional
congressional pork barrel formulas that direct more money per
capita to Wyoming than New York City. The Senate is currently
debating whether to adopt funding changes in committee - among
the votes holding up progress are those of Senators DeWine, Rockefeller,
Roberts, Leahy, and Hatch. All represent largely rural states,
but it is time for them to step up and allow sensible provisions
already passed by the House to get a fair vote in the Senate.
It is particularly absurd that the chairman and vice chairman
of the Intelligence Committee - Senators Roberts of Kansas and
Rockefeller of West Virginia - should be among those holding this
common-sense reform hostage.
gave the government an additional F for the failure to establish
a single radio spectrum for emergency responders. Adequate technology
now exists, but broadcasting industry lobbyists are blocking the
adoption of a national frequency because it might cut into their
potential profits. Congress is poised to vote on this measure
in the coming weeks - but with a 2009 implementation date. Some
action is better than none, and a "yes" vote would not
only help improve future disaster response but help remind lobbyists
that the airwaves are owned by the public, not their industry.
of disheartening deadlocks goes on. A consolidated terrorist watch
list has not been compiled to improve airline passenger prescreening.
A National Infrastructure Protection Plan was submitted this past
month with "no risk and vulnerability assessments actually
... made; no national priorities established, no recommendations
made on allocations of scarce resources." Non-proliferation
efforts to secure nuclear sites have been given a luxurious 14-year
timetable for completion. Information sharing between government
agencies remains stubbornly resisted on a bureaucratic level.
There has been no action taken to responsibly declassify the overall
intelligence budget in an effort to gauge its effectiveness and
apply accountability. Recommendations to "support reform
in Saudi Arabia" and "support secular education in Muslim
countries" received an anemic "D" rating. And the
Commission's sole "A-minus" grade - for efforts against
terrorist financing - was given with the cold splash of water
caveat that "the State Department and the Treasury Department
are engaged in unhelpful turf battles, and the overall effort
most high-profile success to date, the establishment of a director
of national intelligence, was adopted over initial administration
reluctance during an election year.
Part of the
problem has been the lack of consistent focus on homeland security
action items in a time of competing priorities, such as tax cuts
and the war in Iraq. But there seems to be a deeper resistance
to adopting these unanimously recommended bipartisan reforms because
of the paranoiac political atmosphere in today's hyper-partisan
Washington. There is an instinctive allergy to outside recommendations,
a sense that exterior voices are hostile and partisan - suggestions
are seen as oppositional instead of supplemental to the administration's
overall efforts in the war on terror.
crow over the commission's findings in an effort to score partisan
points, they just deepen the problem. This is about national responsibilities,
not partisan politics. And the reality is that none of the 9/11
commission's recommendations can be characterized as simply Democrat
or Republican. There is no Democrat or Republican way to protect
the nation - just responsible actions and inaction.
the prospect of another terrorist attack is a matter of not "if"
but "when" and "what magnitude," there will
be blood on the hands of the administrators and legislators who
have failed to follow through on behalf of the American people.
There is no excuse for having no sense of urgency. We should not
need another wakeup call.
This is on
the verge of being a national scandal with a real body count.
The American people have every reason to be outraged. The people
who died in the attacks of September 11th - including Rescue 1
Captain Terry Hatton - deserve far better. Those of us who are
still alive have every right to expect more, so that further attacks
do not occur without us knowing that we did everything in our
power to stop them. After all, those who do not learn from the
past are doomed to repeat it.