The now-concluded Sept. 11 Commission gave dismal grades today to the federal government's efforts to shore up national security and prevent another terror attack on the United States.
Meeting for the last time since being appointed by Congress in 2002, commission members gave the government "more Fs than As" among the 41 grades measuring progress on security recommendations they issued last year.
"We shouldn't need another wake-up call," said former commission chairman Thomas Kean, a Republican and former New Jersey governor. "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?"
Should we be surprised?
The Bush Administration is blaming Congress - spokesman Dan Bartlett was very visible on this morning's talk shows - in another display of the buck stops anywhere but at the White House.
Bush has had the rare fortune of having Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. A majority of Americans didn't blame his administration for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and until very recently, that same majority felt that he and his fellow Republicans would be better able to defend the homeland than the Democrats.
And what has that faith gotten them? A president who was against the formation of the 9/11 commission, and who (along with the vice president) wouldn't testify under oath to that commission. A president who was against creating a Department of Homeland Security. A president who stood on the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days after the attack and implied he would bring Al Qaeda to justice, and then launched a war against Iraq - which the 9/11 Commission concluded had no role in the terrorist attacks. A president who has not captured Osama Bin Laden, nor dismantled or even slowed Al Qaeda, and turned Iraq into the terrorist haven that he and his administration falsely suggested it was when trying to convince the American people of the urgent need to go to war. A president who silently approved the Republican leadership in Congress rejecting Democratic proposals to spend Homeland Security dollars to protect chemical and nuclear plants, and airports, sea ports and train stations.
But the administration is good at pointing fingers.
According to an Oct. 30 Associated Press report, the administration far too often has failed to meet Homeland Security deadlines. And rather than admit this shortcoming, the administration instead has offered excuses.