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Moving Ideas/The Electronic Policy Institute

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 19, 2006
2:06 PM

CONTACT: Moving Ideas/The Electronic Policy Institute
202-465-3777

 
Implementing the 9/11 Recommendations
 

WASHINGTON - December 19 - Summary:

With the new Congress set to take control in a few short weeks, speculation is growing as to what initiatives the Democratic Party will take.  Democrats campgained heavily behind the"Six for '06" agenda as well as their plan of attack for the "First 100 Hours."  Enacting all of the 9/11 Recommendations is one agenda item slated to be voted on in the first few days of the new congress.  Like many political matters, Republicans and Democrats disagree on what needs to be done and what has been done.  This debate will continue among politicians, but a new vote is only a few weeks away.

The First 100 Hours

Now that the mid-term elections are settled, the buzz shifts towards what initiatives the Democratic Party will pursue now that they will be in control of Congress.  On the recent campaign trail, Democrats pointed to a “Six for ’06” list of agenda items they plan to pursue in the coming term.  They are as follows:   

  1. Real Security at Home and Overseas
  2. Better American Jobs – Better Pay
  3. College Access for All
  4. Energy Independence – Lower Gas Prices
  5. Affordable Health Care – Life Saving Sciences
  6. Retirement Security and Dignity.
More specifically, the Democratic Party established a list of initiatives they will vote on within the first hundred hours of the new Congress.  The Outlined plan is:
  • We will start by cleaning up Congress, breaking the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go, no new deficit spending.
  • We will make our nation safer and we will begin by implementing the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
  • We will make our economy fairer, and we will begin by raising the minimum wage. We will not pass a pay raise for Congress until there is an increase in the minimum wage.
  • We will make health care more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program,  putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. We will also promote stem cell research to offer real hope to the millions of American families who suffer from devastating diseases.
  • We will broaden college opportunity, and we will begin by cutting interest rates for student loans in half.
  • We will energize America by achieving energy independence, and we will begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.
  • We will guarantee a dignified retirement, and we will begin by fighting any attempt to privatize Social Security
Implementation of the 9/11 Recommendations

The Democrats’ plan to enact all recommendations established by the 9/11 Commission is causing quite a debate.  Following the tragic events of 9/11, the United States Congress and President George W. Bush created a bipartisan commission to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This detailed investigation included roughly 1,200 interviews and over 2.5 million pages of documents.  The Commission was also mandated to provide recommendations to protect against future attacks.  On July 22, 2004, the Commission released its final report.

The Report included 41 Recommendation made by the Commission.   These recommendations fell under various categories: Emergency Preparedness and Response, Transportation Security, Border Security, the Intelligence Community, Civil Liberties and Executive Power, Congressional and Administrative Reform, Nonproliferation, Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy. More specifically, the recommendations included such things as identifying and prioritizing actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries, making long-term commitments to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and openly confronting issues between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Initial Report Card

Roughly a year and a half after the initial report was released the commission members issued a report card of the progress towards meeting the goals of the recommendations set forth in the report. Overall the report included one A, 12 Bs, 9 Cs, 12 Ds, 3 Fs, 2 incompletes, and 2 issues that were conditional on whether or not a certain piece of legislation passes. Here are a few of the grades:
  • Terrorist financing -- A-
  • Economic policies -- B+
  • Risk-based allocation of homeland security funds -- F (A if pending legislation passes)
  • Unclassified top-line intelligence budget – F
  • Airline passenger pre-screening – F
Perspectives from Both Ends

Like many political matters, Republicans and Democrats disagree on what needs to be done and what has been done.  In a recent interview on Fox News Chris Wallace interviewed Rep. John Boehner.  Here is an excerpt:
    WALLACE: "You know, you talk about Nancy Pelosi and her extreme — I don't know if that's the word you used, but I'm sure it's one you would use — extreme agenda. They have put out what they call six for '06, which are, I think most people would say, fairly moderate ideas — raise the minimum wage, enact all the recommendations of the 9/1l Commission, make it easier for people to pay for college tuition. That doesn't sound so radical.
    BOEHNER: "Oh, it's not so radical, although they voted against many of the 9/11 Commission's — which one of them was creating the Department of Homeland Security. They voted against it. A number of others they voted against. So it's somewhat hypocritical to say they want to come out and enact all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations."
Following the attempt to bring liquid explosives on board an airliner in Britain, Senator Barack Obama criticized President Bush and the Republican controlled Congress or failing to implement and fund the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to protect our homeland from future terrorist attacks.  Obama stated on his Web site:
    "From improving security for our rail and transit systems and our chemical plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and ports,  the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been under funded, or worse, ignored. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission gave the Administration dismal marks - 5 F's and 12 D's - on the implementation of the Commission's recommendations for homeland security."
In a recent article posted on Govexec.com, the Chris Strohm wrote, “Privately, Democratic aides acknowledged that most of the recommendations have been addressed in some way by the Bush administration or Republican-controlled Congress. But they said those recommendations have not been fully implemented or have been done in name only, creating a need for new legislation to fix the shortfalls.” 

In January, this issue will be confronted head on when the new Democrat controlled Congress takes over.  So far, Democrats have kept mum on what exactly they plan to do in order to enact the recommendations.  How will all of this unfold?  It is difficult to say at this point with the conflicting perspectives and conflicting interests involved in the issue.  Ultimately, the only way to find out is by tuning in on January 3, 2007 when the first one hundred hours begins.

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