More than four years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the now-disbanded 9/11 Commission has released a report “grading” the U.S. government on its response to its more than 40 recommendations issued about a year ago. Unfortunately the Bush administration just hasn’t measured up.
The highest grade the 10 former commissioners gave the government was an A-minus, for its efforts in disrupting terrorist funding. But the group also issued 18 F’s, many for failing to spend the money available on the areas found to be at greatest risk for terrorist attack or exploitation.
Essentially, the commission determined the government is spending money in all the wrong places and, in effect, leaving many of the country’s glaring weaknesses unattended. Truly, reports of using homeland security money to buy air-conditioned garbage trucks rather than better police communication tools is certainly a misuse of these funds allocated for a specific purpose: keeping Americans safe.
Much of this can be attributed to so-called “pork-barrel spending,” or playing politics to determine where the homeland security funds go. This might explain why some cities have chosen to buy body armor for fire department dogs with the money. And while a worthy cause, it is unfortunate local politicians use these decisions as political leverage when limited resources are available. It only makes sense to allocate funds to the areas where they are needed most desperately, and formulas exist to determine where those areas lie.
The Bush administration argues that the United States has remained safe since the 2001 attacks and focuses instead on fighting the war on terror overseas to prevent an attack at home. But terrorists exist everywhere, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lawmakers must still focus on the areas within the United States that still are vulnerable. Clearly these efforts could be improved. The citizens of this country should demand a more commonsense approach to solving this problem.