S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

9/11 Commission hands it back to us

The 9/11 Commission has gone out of business. I will miss them. The next moves are up to us in the public realm. They have done absolutely magnificent work, this group of five Republicans and five Democrats. But what they have been able to do to influence change has had limits. These dedicated commission members now believe that only public pressure on lawmakers and the current administration can force changes that will assure minimal public safety. Pointing to the 9/11 family organizations as models for action, members pledged to remain involved as individual citizens.
In a blistering "report card" on actions taken to date, members of the Public Discourse Project, the former 9/11 Commission, blasted the lack of progress by Congress and the Bush administration (7 page PDF copy of report title-linked above). The release of the report was televised on C-Span on 12/05/05. (Look for a video on "9/11 PDP . . . ") Quoting Yahoo! News:
Wrapping up more than three years of investigations and hearings, the former commission issued what members said was their final assessment of the government's counterterror performance as a report card. It gave failing grades in five areas, and issued only one "A" — actually an A-minus — for the Bush administration's efforts to curb terrorist financing.
The five "F"s were for:
_Failing to provide a radio system to allow first responders from
different agencies communicate with each other during emergencies.
_Distributing federal homeland security funding to states on a
"pork-barrel" basis instead of risk.
_Failing to consolidate names of suspicious airline travelers on a single terror watch screening list.
_Hindering congressional oversight by retaining intelligence budget
information as classified materials.
_Failing to engage in an alliance to develop international standards for the treatment and prosecution of detained terror suspects.
The panel, which has operated as a nonprofit group since disbanding last year, also gave the government 12 "D"s and "B"s, nine "C"s and
two incomplete grades.

All but one of the members (former Senator Bob Kerry, present only for the previous night's meeting) of the former 9/11 Commission were present to finalize their work as a group. Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton summarized the "Report Card" findings. Other members spoke about the final report, giving their individual "takes" on the results of their work together. Each member praised the work the their co-chairmen in facilitating consensus, and honored their fellow members and staff for their friendship, bipartisanship and dedicated work. They gave credit to the 9/11 families for making the commission happen in the first place, and for their unflagging help and support for the Commission's work. Then the PDP members said that they were disbanding as a formal group, but would remain committed to progress and speaking out as individuals. To a person, members encouraged the public to take up the torch, to put pressure on Congress and the administration to implement more of the Commission's recommendations. Characterizing the recommendations as hard, but not impossible, Commission members each gave examples of issues that were of particular importance to them.

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