9/11 Commission: Administrations homeland security shortcomings

-see the Commission’s report card (.pdf)


We have noted several times the unacceptable situation in which the chemical industry, one of the most dangerous elements of the U.S. critical infrastructure (indeed, the most dangerous if we consider the likely number of civilians killed or injured), operates its 15,000 facilities without mandatory safety regulations. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Congressional Research Service (CRS), some 300 of these plants are located close enough to population centers so that an accidental or terrorist-induced release of deadly chemicals from any one of them would result in at least 50,000 casualties.

Richard Falkenrath, formerly President Bush’s national security advisor and currently a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, was interviewed on CNN the day the 9/11 Commission report was released. We note that he, too, considers the vulnerability of chemical plants as the Number 1 risk to the welfare of the American people:

CNN’s DARIN KAGAN: What if I put you up there on that podium today, and you had a chance to talk about what worries you most now more than four years after 9/11? What would you say?

FALKENRATH: Well, there’s a very long list of things to worry [about]. And I think they hit many of the important ones. Not all of them. There’s a particular vulnerability with our critical infrastructure. Our chemical facilities have not yet been secured adequately. That’s a mass casualty vulnerability.

-see complete interview at CNN Web site