Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG)—a follow on to the original 9/11 Commission—reported that, 10 years after 9/11, nine of the 41 recommendations made by the commission remain unfulfilled. With scores like that, this report card certainly isn’t going to make it on anyone’s fridge.
The NSPG’s findings point to several key recommendations of the commission that have not been met. For one, some seven years after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created, congressional oversight remains abysmal. DHS remains subject to oversight by a total of 108 different congressional committees and subcommittees. This is in stark contrast to the Department of Defense, which, with a budget 10 times greater than DHS’s and millions more employees, is subject to oversight from only 36 committees and subcommittees.
These reports looking at the progress in meeting the 9/11 recommendations are nothing new. Roughly every year since 9/11, DHS has issued its own reports on implementing the commission’s recommendations. Each year however, these reports seem only to “epitomize everything that is wrong with the current state of homeland security: too much triumphalism and not enough recognition of the pressing challenges in building the homeland security enterprise that the nation needs…. [These reports] contain little discussion of whether these recommendations are still relevant or whether they are the right answer in the first place.”
The fact of the matter is that the 9/11 Commission findings focused on the problems of 10 years ago as they were understood then. A look at the experience of the past 10 years suggests different answers.
Reviewing the lessons learned from the past 10 years is certainly important; however, Congress and the Administration should remember that we aren’t fighting the same war we were 10 years ago. Winning the global war against terrorists and ensuring that the nation never relives the tragedy of 9/11 requires that we look toward the next iteration of homeland security.