Lobbyists resist homeland security measures recommended by 9/11 Commission

Published 15 September 2006

Farmers fight off ammonium nitrate controls; television station opposes handing over frequency for emergency services; retailers stick to their guns on radiological screening of containers

Congressmen may come and go (well, not so much in these gerrymandering days), but lobbyists are like the cockroaches of American politics: for millions of years they have hardly evolved. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is the working motto of natural selection, and of industry too. “Americans continue to suffer from a notoriously short attention span. They get mad as hell with reasonable frequency, but quickly return to their families and sitcoms. Meanwhile, the corporate lobbies stay right where they are, outlasting all the populist hysteria,” says critic Eric Alterman. Homeland security is just the latest area where corporate interests are poised to overcome the national interest. Farmers, retailers, and television station owners are all working feverishly these days to stop the implemention of some of the most fundamental recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission.

It’s really, frankly, a damning testimony about the system and the influence of special interests here in Washington,” said Senator John McCain, whose ire is directed at broadcasters resisting a plan to immediately reserve a portion of television broadcast frequency for use by emergency first responders. The broadcasters want to stick to a previously planned date of 2009. Farm lobbysits, for their part, are busy fighting a federal law requiring background checks and registration of anyone buying ammonium nitrate, a chemical fertilizer used by Timothy McVeigh in his attack on the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building. Retailers, too, are in the thick of it, energetically trying to ward off a bill requiring that 100 percent of shipping containers be inspected for radiological material. In all three cases, the industries’ main concern is cost, cost that they say will be passed on to the consumer.

-read more in Brian Ross’s and Rhonda Schwartz’s ABC report