Former Sens. Gary Hart (D-CO), and Warren Rudman, (R-NH), co-chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, chartered by the Defense Department, which issued a report in January that got serious attention from Congress before the Bush Administration shot it down, promising to start from scratch with its own own commission-on Oct. 1.
While Bush focused intently on his tax cut and militarizing space, the hard work done by this commission over 2 ½ years was simply ignored. Had it been taken seriously, and acted on quickly, it just might have prevented the horrible slaughter of innocents we've witnessed this week. The bipartisan commission of 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans unanimously approved 50 recommendations. According to Salon's Jake Tapper, "Many of them addressed the point that, in the words of the commission's executive summary, 'the combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack.'"
Furthermore, Tapper wrote, "Before the White House decided to go in its own direction, Congress seemed to be taking the commission's suggestions seriously, according to Hart and Rudman. 'Frankly, the White House shut it down,' Hart says. 'The president said "Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president. We believe FEMA is competent to coordinate this effort." And so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts and the issue of the day.'
"'We predicted it,' Hart says of Tuesday's horrific events. 'We said Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers -- that's a quote (from the commission's Phase One Report) from the fall of 1999.'
"On Tuesday, Hart says, as he sat watching TV coverage of the attacks, he experienced not just feelings of shock and horror, but also frustration. 'I sat tearing my hair out,' says the former two-term senator. 'And still am.'"
The report specifically said that the threat of terrorism needed far more attention than FEMA alone could provide.