It was 10 years ago that the 9/11 Commission issued its definitive report on the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and United Flight 93. The original report, formally entitled “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” was released on July 22, 2004.
Now, a decade to the day after the original 9/11 Commission report, the sequel has been released — and in many ways, this one is just as frightening as the original.
In the new document, titled “Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report,” the panel members warn that though Al Qaeda, the international terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks, has been badly weakened, new and offshoot groups continue to pose “grave” threats, and the U.S. Congress remains too disorganized to do anything about the danger.
Calling for “structural changes in oversight and appropriations for homeland security and intelligence,” the 9/11 commissioners recall the dizzying bureaucracy that confronted them a decade ago, when the original 9/11 Commission was forced to answer to 88 different Congressional committees and subcommittees.
“Incredibly,” says the new, 10th anniversary report, “Congress over the past 10 years has increased this plethora of oversight bodies to 92.”
“While Congress often complains about ‘waste, fraud and abuse,’ it seems to be complicit in squandering DHS resources here,” wrote the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Republican former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean and former Democratic Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton.
“DHS” refers to the Department of Homeland Security, the cabinet-level agency created after September 11, 200, and charged with guarding the United States against terrorist attacks.
But even 10 years later, Congress has still not yet passed a comprehensive bill detailing what DHS is supposed to do, and how it should be funded, Kean and Hamilton wrote.
“Congress’ treatment of the issue of terrorism before 9/11 was episodic and inadequate; its overall attention was low,” the 9/11 Commission co-chairs wrote. “We predicted that of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult. Unfortunately, we were right.”
The new report also warns of the growing threat from terrorism in the digital realm, calling the “cyber domain” the “battlefield of the future” and urging the U.S. government not to repeat its many pre-9/11 errors that led to the historic attacks, with regard to possible cyber-terrorism.
The new 9/11 Commission report also urges the government to make public all of the evidence gathered by the commission a decade ago, other than any that still could jeopardize national security, because huge amounts of that material remains needlessly classified.