The final report by the 9/11 Public Discourse Project (PDP), whose key members headed the September 11 Commission, was released today. It’s a shocking report card on the federal government’s actions — that is, lack of actions — on actual homeland security, in terms of how closely it followed the Commission recommendations.
To summarize, the nominal appointment of a central director of intelligence was just about the only substantial achievement. Five initiatives, encompassing “adequate radio spectrum for” police and firemen, “homeland security” funds allocation, “pre-screening” at airports, and “the overall intelligence budget,” were given failing grades. The only A given, not including potential ones upon passage in Congress, went to our fight against “terrorism financing,” though the report notes that “the State Department and Treasury Department are engaged in unhelpful turf battles, and the overall effort lacks leadership.”
The PDP report caps several months of “recommendations” papers: ‘Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and Response’ (Part I), ‘Reforming the Institutions of Government’ (Part II), and ‘Foreign Policy, Public Diplomacy, and Nonproliferation’ (Part III).
Whether what went wrong can be placed with “bureaucratic molasses” (George Will’s term) or the PDP’s “turf battles,” or the sort of ‘pork politics’ that directly underlied the failure to fund state anti-terrorism efforts based on “risk and vulnerability,” is not as important as figuring out why we have failed so dramatically and how to remedy it. All the while, our soldiers continue to be ordered to fight a war that does nothing to help our security, and has in fact greatly undermined it. These failures of our government, in what amounts to a colossal dereliction of duty to protect the American people, constitute impeachable offenses. Or, at the very least, a nation-wide referendum in lieu of a Congressional no-confidence vote.
Objections to this idea would center on the charge of politicizing September 11. This is ridiculous. My very point is that no real substantive actions are being taken at the federal level to protect us at the least, much less prevent another attack, while in the name of the atrocities we have been responsible for a host of new ones, with our troops made into worms for Pentagon fishermen. So who is doing the exploiting? It is too late to clear our name; talk is cheap. The best thing for all of us now is as definite a close to the White House’s war as possible in the fastest possible time. That is not immediate withdrawal, as such an option is out of the question because we’ve already fucked up so much. But I’m sick of this talk about “indefinite” deployment, and “enduring” bases. Our soldiers are sick, they’re dying, they’re maimed and brutalized. They want to come home; they deserve the honor our government has denied them.
Our failure has no one point of blame. But one man does preside over the government, and a lot of the responsibility ultimately rests with him. And if that is politicization, or some unfair cheap shot, then the words “democracy” or “republic” might as well be stripped out of public consciousness, burned and forgotten, for it would have meaning no longer.