Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 10, 2008

Congress Judges Progress on 9-11 Reforms

Filed under: Congress and HLS,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on September 10, 2008

On the seventh anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Homeland Security released last night a report of the findings made by the majority staffs overseeing progress made in implementing the requirements of HR1 – the first law passed by the Democratic Congress in 2007 that placed into law the remaining recommendations of the 9-11 Commission.

This new report focuses on statutory requirements in the following areas:
(1) aviation security;
(2) rail and public transportation security;
(3) port security;
(4) border security;
(5) information sharing;
(6) privacy and civil liberties;
(7) emergency response;
(8) biosurveillance;
(9) private sector preparedness; and
(10) national security.


It would seem from this report’s treatment that the judgment is being passed on the political leadership, not the system as a whole. The report argues that many of the missed opportunities are due to political ideology, not the competence of the 180,000 employees of the DHS enterprise.

So how will the Dems do better if they take charge in January? Look for future posts here that focus on the change anticipated from the Democrats. And since the McCain campaign is now also running on a change platform, I hope to blog about how McCain plans to do things differently, too.

In the meantime, take a look at the work of these two professional staffs and let me know what you think.

UPDATE — DHS leadership is not going to take this laying down, of course. You can read the press released they issued today right here.

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Trackback by Conspirama

September 10, 2008 @ 8:15 am

Congress Judges Progress on 9-11 Reforms…

On the seventh anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Homeland Security released last night a report of the findings made by the majority staffs overseeing progress made in ……

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2008 @ 9:59 am

Of course any report out of Congress is of some utility. The title alone is indicative of a childish and non-professional approach that detracts from the seriousness of the subject. Yet, I do find some items of interest in the report and the footnotes are revealing of the basis, if there is one, of the reports conclusions. On emergency response, the subject I know the most about, only two items are addressed, (1) interoperability; and (2) credentialing. The other items listed under emergency response such as biosurveillance are really preparedness (the capability to prevent, plan, provide logistics, verify personnel and equipment and status of training) and I would argue not technically response. Okay, on interoperability will no one say the King has no clothes. Congress has denied DHS and the FCC the regulatory clout to mandate interoperabiilty although a fine post-9/11 effort by the FCC may bear fruit. This is a crucial issue. Even DOD has done amazing things so that post-Katrina its civil response units can talk to local first responders. Note however DOD has money to burn on the issue while DHS does not. I would argue that long ago National Guard units should have been fully interoperable with local responders. Second, credentialing. NFPA 1600 has accomplished wonders and is pretty well accepted as the standard for training federal, state, and local responders. I would argue DHS could have done more but remember Congress has specifically denied standard setting and rulemaking authority on many issues (almost across the board) and so guess where the blame lies? DHS must comply fully with OMB Circular A-119.
Where does this leave us? Well the 9/11 Commission really hit the nail on the head in some arenas! Neither the Executive Branch or Congress has decided YET whether FEMA is to be staffed and funded as the cooperative, collaborative, assisting agency first comptemplated by President Carter in Reorg. Plan No. 3 of 1978, or is to be a safety net highly operational organization picking up the pieces whene the other Executive Branch organizations can’t or won’t do the job. With the current crisis in normal budgeting of the civil agencies it is even less likely that other organizations can make a really good contribution in a crisis when that contribution is somewhat inconsistent with the organization’s day jobs. Even DOD cannot make up its mind on the scope of the civil support role, but it is certainly foreshadowed in the leviathan vis a vis SysAdmin role documented in Thomas P.N. Barnett’s “The Pentagon’s New Map” and ” Blueprint for Action.” The totality is that there is too much posturing politically and too little brain power being applied to Homeland Security issues. Too little light be shed on major issues. Okay I give this report some credit for shedding some light but you have to be really knowledgeable to dig out the nuggets of gold in this one. And while glad to see staff writing reports, seven years later it would interesting to see what Congress believes is it big achievements on HS. The report would have been of more interest if it had documented where legislation or administrative action was required or both and why that judgement is made. Congress is free to self-initiate afterall.

Trackback by ultram

October 13, 2008 @ 2:29 am

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Comment by Duane Fearen

August 6, 2010 @ 12:15 am

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