The House will vote today on H.R. 1—legislation that seeks to further implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for making Americans safer—while the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee begins its hearings on ensuring the full implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow P.J. Crowley argues in his new report released yesterday, “Time to Act: 14 Steps in 2007 to Further Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations,” that almost three years after the recommendations were made, the United States still has not adequately adapted to the new post-9/11 security environment, aggressively mobilized its defenses at home, or closed known vulnerabilities.
America is not as safe as it should be. The 14 recommendations outlined by Crowley in “Time to Act” and the proposed legislation currently on the House floor are important steps toward bridging America’s security gap. Legislation to further implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations will likely create:
- Better prepared communities. New legislation could increase federal homeland security grants distributed based on risk, smoothing the funding rollercoaster ride that has handicapped cities like New York, Washington, and Las Vegas. More attention will be given to interoperable communications so that first responders can better coordinate during a crisis, fixing what went wrong not only on 9/11 but after Hurricane Katrina as well.
- Better protected transportation systems. While much has been done to screen passengers who travel on commercial airplanes, new legislation could plug lingering vulnerabilities regarding checked baggage and air cargo. The bill sets an ambitious goal to scan all shipping containers that flow through U.S. ports, which will help protect local and regional commercial interests.
- Better informed local officials. Many cities and states, frustrated with their relationship with the federal government, have set up their own local and regional fusion centers to connect dots that did not exist on 9/11. The bill strengthens homeland security information sharing programs and federal representation at these fusion centers, particularly in border states.
- More secure nuclear materials in places where they actually exist. We did not find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but we know that nuclear materials remain insecure in other places. The new Congress strengthens the so-called Nunn-Lugar threat reduction program and other initiatives to reduce the potential for nuclear materials to be smuggled through international black markets to rogue states or terrorist groups.
- Restoration of United States’ damaged standing in the world. It is impossible to speak of “victory” if the United States remains isolated in the world and hated in the Middle East. The bill gives great emphasis and increased funding to enhance educational opportunities across the Islamic world; promote civil society, independent media, and responsible government institutions; expand exchange programs; and support reform in key countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
For more information: