It’s been 9 years since the 9/11 attacks. America is still being attacked—the Times Square and Christmas Day plots are the most recent examples. Congress, however, continues to act like it is still September 10, 2001. For instance:
- It continues to ignore key 9/11 Commission recommendations—the Commission emphasized that Congress needed to reform its oversight process for homeland security. Instead of doing so, the problem just got worse. Now 108 committees, subcommittees and commissions have oversight over the Department of Homeland Security—creating a big headache for homeland security and a major impediment to security policy.
- Internal politics have prevented it from enacting a much-needed DHS authorization bill that would lay out Department structure and set priorities for homeland security. The lack of an authorization bill decreases morale and DHS success—acting as a roadblock to creating a homeland security enterprise capable of responding adequately to security threats.
- Money continues to rule disaster response. $30 billion in taxpayer dollars have been spent on grant funding that hasn’t produced much in terms of security. While at the same time, federal disaster declarations increase as states and localities are increasingly less in charge of their own disaster response—a problem that will undoubtedly put lives and property in jeopardy during the next catastrophic disaster.
- The White House continues to play politics with terrorist detention policies—while letting the Supreme Court make policy where none exists. Efforts to shut down Gitmo and treat terrorists like common criminals have failed to spark much effort in Congress to give necessary guidance on terrorist detention—decreasing the amount of valuable intelligence information and putting American lives in jeopardy.
- Finally, Congress has watched as the Administration has demonized Arizona’s attempts to enforce immigration laws, decreased federal enforcement of the law, and pressed for amnesty for the 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. There are solutions to fix America’s immigration problems without going down the costly and irrational path of amnesty—yet nothing has surfaced on the legislative agenda.
Dumb legislative initiatives that do not make Americans safer, waste taxpayer dollars and erode the rule of law should not form the homeland security agenda of Congress. This failure of leadership is inexcusable. Americans deserve better and the lack of a sensible security agenda puts all Americans at risk. When will Congress finally wake up? The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks should be a sounding alarm.