9/11 Commission9/11 Commission: Administrations homeland security shortcomings

Published 8 December 2005

Administration receives failing grade, but lesson too costly to be repeated

The bipartisan 9/11 Commission (it now has a new name: The 9/11 Public Discourse Project) earlier this week released a damning report card on the progress the Bush administration has made — or, rather, failed to make — in making the nation more secure against terrorist attacks. The commission graded the administration and Congress on forty-one individual items and issues. The administration received only one A — on its efforts to combat financing of terrorist organizations. All the other forty grades were lower, with a stunning sixteen (16) F’s and D’s. “There are far too many C’s, D’s and F’s in the report card …. Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed have not been. Our leadership is distracted,” the Commission said.

The administration made no progress on airline security and on providing a dedicated radio spectrum to first responders, according to the commission. The most glaring failure is the administration’s neglect of critical infrastructure and IT security. Critical infrastructure protection initiatives received a D: No risk and vulnerability assessments have been made; no national priorities have been established; and no recommendations have been made on allocation of scarce resources, according to the report. “All key decisions are at least a year away. It is time that we stop talking about setting priorities, and actually set some,” the commissioners wrote. The shortcomings are “shocking” and “scandalous,” according to the five Republicans and five Democrats who make up the Commission.

We’re frustrated, all of us — frustrated at the lack of urgency in addressing these various problems,” said Thomas Kean, former commission co-chairman and former Republican New Jersey governor. The other co-chairman, former Representative Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana), agreed: “We believe that another attack will occur. It’s not a question of if ….We are not as well-prepared as we should be.”