Leaders of anti-terrorism panel sketch future goals

The former leaders of a commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of six years ago Tuesday said progress has been made in deterring terrorism but more political leadership and follow-through is needed, especially from Congress.

The passage of time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has made the United States "distracted and complacent," said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., who served as vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Tom Kean, who chaired the commission, said progress on homeland security has been made but has been "difficult" and "very slow."

Speaking at a press conference, Kean and Hamilton praised a new law to implement unfulfilled recommendations of their panel. Hamilton said "about 80 percent" of the commission's recommendations have now been adopted completely or in part.

Kean said Congress needs to provide funding for states to implement the so-called REAL ID Act, which requires them to begin issuing secure, standardized driver's licenses. Both Kean and Hamilton said the Bush administration also has not done enough to develop technology that would detect a nuclear bomb inside the United States.

"There is nothing that comes anywhere near close to this threat, and therefore it should be the absolute highest priority," Hamilton said.

Both leaders also agreed that Congress needs to further consolidate and improve its oversight of the Homeland Security Department and intelligence community. Hamilton added that the intelligence community needs to improve its human intelligence capabilities, which means recruiting and retaining spies.

"We're still hung up on technology, and we think technology is going to answer all our questions," he said.

Kean and Hamilton decried a lack of emphasis on privacy and civil liberties protections inside the Bush administration. Hamilton said that for the last six years, security measures have trumped privacy and civil rights protections within policy debates. He said Congress and the courts are now pushing back.

"Somebody has to be watching it and saying how does this proposal impact the civil liberties and the privacy of Americans, and they have to push hard on that question," he said.

Kean and Hamilton both expressed hope that the administration's privacy and civil liberties oversight board will become more forceful.

Kean noted that the threat of terrorism is expected to last for generations. "We cannot just let our civil liberties go for that period of time," he said. "We have to establish a framework."

The Bush administration, meanwhile, used the 9/11 anniversary to tout its anti-terrorism efforts of the past six years. A fact sheet released by the White House listed the creation of the Homeland Security Department and the position of National Intelligence Director as major achievements. The administration also noted the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act and last month's update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

But the White House urged lawmakers to make permanent the FISA changes they authorized this summer. The revised law make it easier for intelligence officials to authorize spying, but the White House said "meaningful liability protection" for telecommunications companies that assist such efforts is still needed.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.