On New Year’s Eve, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) sent a letter to President Barack Obama reading in part:
I understand that there were failures across the government and the international community that quite frankly, eight years after the attacks on 9-11, should not have happened.
Failures, to include proper information sharing across all agencies, continue to challenge our ability to identify potential extremists poised to strike. Given the technologies available and the high quality personnel serving in our government, there is no excuse for the left hand not to know what the right hand is doing. Policy directives regarding our VISA programs and travel screenings procedures must be reviewed and updated. We must continue to develop and utilize state-of-the-art technology to enhance our security measures. Above all we must take a hard look at the watchlist and screening procedures developed under the last administration.
I realize the task of finding and foiling these plots is difficult. One might call it looking for a specific needle within a stack of needles. I commend the outstanding men and women who serve every day performing critical law enforcement, intelligence, and military functions. It is certainly because of their efforts that we have succeeded in thwarting attacks on our homeland in recent years. However, more needs to be done.
Skelton’s concerns and recommendations largely mirror what our own security team has been saying since Christmas Day. They conclude:
None of these steps are silver bullets. None of them will gain the White House great accolades from politicians or pundits. All, however, would make material contributions to thwarting terrorist travel. All of them would make more effective use of the resources at America’s disposal. None of them would require spending billions of dollars on more airport security. None of them would impinge on the freedoms or liberties of the average traveler. All of them would make the skies safer.
If the White House needs some problems to “fix,” these would make a good start. The Administration should get started.