In its final report wrapping up over three years of work, the panel gave the government “more F’s than A’s” in an assessment of 41 security recommendations it issued in July 2004. The government received an “F” on homeland security spending for cities most at risk, on improving radio communication for emergency agencies and on airline passenger prescreening. The report called overall progress “disappointing.”
“We’re frustrated, all of us — frustrated at the lack of urgency in addressing these various problems,” said Thomas H. Kean, the panel’s chairman. “We believe that the terrorists will strike again, so does every responsible expert that we have talked to. And if they do, and these reforms that might have prevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuse be?”
Members of the commission sharply criticized the government for failing to improve intelligence sharing between federal agencies and emergency responders. It also criticized the lack of progress in curtailing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the failure to establish a uniform standard for treating detainees and the distribution of Department of Homeland Security money based on politics rather than on potential risk.
The report awarded only one A-minus for the administration’s efforts to curb terrorist financing.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the progress report showed that the Bush administration and Congress were “dangerously neglecting the defensive war on terror we should be fighting here at home.”
White House counselor Dan Bartlett said the Bush administration has acted on around 70 of the commission’s recommendations, including the creation of a national intelligence director. Bartlett said that others were awaiting congressional action.
The Sept. 11 Commission was set up in 2002 as a 10-member bipartisan panel charged with investigating government shortcomings that led to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The panel disbanded after issuing its recommendations in 2004.