Report Card on the 9/11 Commission's Recommendations
by PETER GADIEL, PATRICK DUNLEAVY
September 11, 2012
9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation in conjunction with Family Security Matters has issued a report card on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. As family victims and friends of those murdered on 9/11 by Muslim terrorists, we have taken it upon ourselves to grade what progress we know has or has not been accomplished on the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
REPORT CARD ON THE 9/11 COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS OVERALL GRADE: D+
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), was an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. It was chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for, and the immediate response to, the attacks. The Commission was also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks. Published in 2004, the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission Report outlined practical policy recommendations to protect Americans from future terror attacks. Today – seven years later – not all of these common sense steps have been implemented.
The terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans did not use any secret weapons, clandestine codes, or any special access.The terrorists exploited obvious – and very well known – weaknesses in American policies and procedures. Credible NGO’s (non government agencies) and individual experts identified these weaknesses – before and after the attacks – but ten years later, the American public remembers only the “9/11 Commission”.
The 9/11 Commission was made up of seasoned political insiders, chosen from both major political parties. Commission members – by their temperaments and their backgrounds – were all predisposed to avoid direct finger-pointing. Commission members were all comfortable working within large bureaucracies. This shaped their recommendations, i.e., large, slow, cumbersome agency responses vs. radical “bottom up” transformations or the use of small rapid response teams.
Their “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorists Attacks Upon the United States” devotes ELEVEN chapters to what happened, and just TWO chapters to prevention. 9/11 Commission recommendations were – at best – limited, mild bureaucratic steps and they focused far too much on Intelligence reform.
In 2009, five years after release of the 9/11 Report, former Co-Chair Tom Kean said:
“I’m worried that 20 percent [of the recommendations] haven’t been addressed. I’m also worried that among the 80 percent, things aren’t fully done.”
Among the failings he cited:
Failure to enforce national standards for state driver’s licenses and other IDs which the 9/11 Commission said are as important to terrorists as weapons;
• Lack of an Entry-Exit system to determine if visitors leave our country after they have entered it;
• Failure to secure our borders, thus enabling terrorists to enter our country and commit future terrorist acts;
• Lack of the ability of police, firefighters and others to communicate in emergencies;
• No reform of a system that places oversight of DHS into the hands of 80 congressional committees and subcommittees, sapping the department’s time and energies.
Despite many acts of violence committed against Americans throughout the 1980′s and ’90′s, Presidents (Republican and Democrat) failed to respond with effective, obvious measures that would have prevented the 9/11 terrorists from gaining entry to our country; prevented them from hiding in plain sight while they planned, rehearsed, financed and carried out their attacks; failed to enact measures that would have denied them the authentic American driver’s licenses that were critical to the success of their plot.
Commission member Jamie Gorelick, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States during the Clinton administration, has been acknowledged to be one of the major promoters of strengthening “the Wall” that kept the CIA from communicating with the FBI, and FBI counter intelligence from communicating with the FBI criminal division. That wall is one of the reasons the “dots” were not connected and the 9/11 plot could succeed as well as it did. Instead of being in the dock as a witness who was in part responsible for 9/11, Gorelick was made a member of the investigative team.
9/11 family members heard Commission members and even FBI Director Robert Mueller say “we are not here to point fingers.” So in the end, not surprisingly, the Commission concluded that no one in the American government was really at fault, it was all just “a failure of imagination.”
Consequently, although the ex-Commissioners have themselves recently issued a report card on the implementation of their recommendations, as family victims and friends of those murdered on 9/11 by Muslim terrorists, we have taken it upon ourselves to grade what progress we know has or has not been accomplished on the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Our report card below, addressing 26 of the 41 recommendations, is the result.
THE AUTHORS OF THIS REPORT ARE:
Prior to his retirement in 2005, Patrick Dunleavy was in law enforcement with the New York State Criminal Justice System for over 26 years as a part of an elite team of investigators. During his career, he worked undercover infiltrating criminal enterprises and contract murder conspiracies. He also worked as a hostage negotiator, and was key in the design and implementation of a data system used to gather intelligence on criminal activity involving drug trafficking, money laundering, fugitive apprehension and terrorism.
Following September 11, 2001, Dunleavy was appointed the Deputy Inspector General of the Criminal Intelligence Unit. At the request of various agencies Mr. Dunleavy was a speaker to, and worked for many ensuing years, with organizations such as the FBI, CIA, Scotland Yard and Canadian Intelligence Services on the topic of terrorist recruitment. He was a key figure in Operation Hades, an investigation that probed the radical Islamic recruitment movement for jihad from both inside and outside prison walls. As such, Dunleavy maintains contact with active members of the intelligence and counterterrorism field and congressional oversight committees which has enabled him to research just how much of the recommendations have actually taken place and, if not, why. Dunleavy is a contributing editor to FamilySecurityMatters.org.
Peter Gadiel has a J.D. from Case Western Reserve Law School. Until 9/11 he was in private business. His twenty-three year old son, James, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center North Tower, 103rd floor, and was murdered along with thousands of other innocents on September 11, 2001.
Since 2002, Gadiel has worked to end illegal immigration, to enforce immigration law and to secure America’s borders. His testimony (entitled “The Role of Non-enforcement of Immigration Law in Permitting the Terrorist Acts of September 11″) is part of the official record of the 9/11 Independent Commission. It can be found online here (pdf document):
He has spoken at rallies in almost twenty states; testified at numerous Congressional and State legislative hearings; he has also been interviewed on most of the cable and broadcast networks. His commentary has appeared in USA Today, CNN.com and other publications, including online web sites and blogs.
REPORT CARD ON THE 9/11 COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS
Note: The 9/11 Commission did not actually apply numbers to their recommendations. The following are their recommendations verbatim, in the same order as they appear in the Report, Chapters 12 and 13, pages 365 through 428.
If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the United States should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan. Sustaining the current scale of aid to Pakistan, the United States should support Pakistan’s government in its struggle against extremists with a comprehensive effort that extends from military aid to support for better education, so long as Pakistan’s leaders remain willing to make difficult choices of their own.
Grade: C –
Since the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation on this, the United States taxpayer has provided billions of dollars to the Pakistani government, with the bulk of the money going to the military and intelligence. Little if any effort has been put forth to reduce the number of extremist-linked madrassas by re-education. The benefits of this vast monetary investment have been few.
While an effort was made to stop the freedom of movement of both Taliban and foreign Mujahideen across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency) has made select exemptions to certain high profile groups like the Hagganis and Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as to individuals. In cities like Lahore, Peshawar, and the mountainous border region of Waziristan, they have also not been able to prevent American terrorist recruits from traveling there to meet with Islamic terrorist organizations to receive training and funding. Three examples are Bryant Neal Vinas, Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi.
In May of this year, Osama bin Ladin was killed by US Special Forces in Abbottabad. Subsequent investigation reveals he had been living in that city for over 5 years, his house a stone’s throw away from the prestigious Pakistani Military academy also known as PMA or Kakul. This is a glaring example that the financial support given by the US has not eradicated pockets of Taliban sympathizers within the Pakistani Intelligence Services.
Further evidence of continued ISI support of the Taliban was the arrest of CIA operative Raymond Davis by Pakistani authorities at the behest of the ISI for killing two suspected terrorists in the city of Lahore.
The problems in the U.S.-Saudi relationship must be confronted, openly. The United States and Saudi Arabia must determine if they can build a relationship that political leaders on both sides are prepared to defend publicly – a relationship about more than oil. It should include a shared commitment to political and economic reform, as Saudis make common cause with the outside world. It should include a shared interest in greater tolerance and cultural respect, translating into a commitment to fight the violent extremists who foment hatred.
In suggesting that Saudi Arabia would “share a commitment to political and economic reform” the Commissioners were naive. To the contrary, since 9/11, the Saudis have remained committed to Islamic beliefs which are diametrically opposed to Western Civilization’s ideals of individual liberty and equality; such as their absolute bans on practice of other religions, subjugation of women and other minorities, and total suppression of free speech.
The Saudis have continued their richly-funded campaign of undermining Western values in an attempt to inflict their concepts of government on the West and to deceive Westerners about the nature of Saudi rule. Part of this campaign includes purchasing influence in American academia, and this has increased since 2001.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gave $20 million each to Harvard and Georgetown to establish centers named after him. Director of the Georgetown Alaweed Center is John Esposito, a propagandist who denies the violence endemic in Islam and nations dominated by Islam. Saudis funded similar institutes at: Berkeley, Harvard’s School of Middle Eastern Studies, and the University of Arkansas, among others.
The alleged purpose of these centers is the promotion of “Muslim-Christian understanding.” Since the practice of Christianity is strictly forbidden and harshly punished in Saudi Arabia, manifestly the “understanding” promoted by these Centers is solely for the purpose of gaining acceptance for Islam in the West. “Tolerance” that is not mutual is not tolerance but surrender.
Martin Kramer of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says of Saudi influence in American academia: “This is great for Saudi Arabia. It’s not at all great for the American public, which seeks objective assessments of the Saudi kingdom.”
Saudis fund other U.S.-based propaganda organizations. Example: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), linked – according to the FBI – to Hamas, has received large donations from Prince Alaweed bin Talal, from Prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad, from the Saudi-basedInternational Islamic Relief Organization and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Saudis frequently offer employment (with generous salaries in Saudi-funded think tanks) to former U.S officials such as members of Congress and State Department officials (including former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia). Thus U.S. officials are made aware of how they may profit after retirement by using their current positions to benefit the Saudi government. In addition, former Presidents Carter, both Bushes, and Clinton have all accepted large speaking fees from Saudis.
9/11 FSA and Family Security Matters recommend that as a condition for holding elected, appointed or civil service positions in the U.S. government, that individuals be prohibited for a period of ten years after their government employment ends from accepting any employment, fees, gifts or any other benefit from any foreign government or entity, whether directly or through a U.S.- based entity which is funded in part by foreign governments or non-U.S. citizens.
The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for. We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. America and Muslim friends can agree on respect for human dignity and opportunity. To Muslim parents, terrorists like Bin Ladin have nothing to offer their children but visions of violence and death. America and its friends have a crucial advantage—we can offer these parents a vision that might give their children a better future. If we heed the views of thoughtful leaders in the Arab and Muslim world, a moderate consensus can be found. That vision of the future should stress life over death: individual educational and economic opportunity. This vision includes widespread political participation and contempt for indiscriminate violence. It includes respect for the rule of law, openness in discussing differences, and tolerance for opposing points of view.
“Offering moral leadership” is possible only where different parties share similar concepts of what constitutes “morality.” To Americans it means individual liberty, equal rights for men and women, religious freedom, free speech, etc. But these are contrary to the moral code of Islam, the wellspring of the 9/11 mass murders. What is seen in the U.S. as moral leadership will be viewed in the Muslim world as immorality and weakness.
We have seen that, to many Muslim parents, visions of violence and death are indeed the “better future” since it means a future in Paradise after death. Against such beliefs, American visions of a better life may offer no promise or attraction.
A perfect example of this conundrum is that the U.S. has provided excessively gentle treatment to admitted terrorists at Guantanamo. Thus we give a grade of “A” for America’s attempt at exercising moral leadership, as that idea is understood in the West. At the same time we give the U.S. a grade of “F” for these same policies that, to the world’s Islamic radicals, are signs of moral decay and weakness which thus encourage violent acts against us by our enemies.
The Commission was clear in regard to defining the global strategy. It stated; “the enemy is not just terrorism. It is …specifically Islamist terrorism.” The commission went to great lengths to clarify by saying that the enemy was not just Al Qaeda or the Taliban but what it represents; a radical ideology in a specific religion.
The Obama Administration has intentionally obfuscated that important message by refusing to use phrases such as “war against terror,” and to substitute “man-caused disaster” for “terrorism.” Most recently the White House has taken this absurd policy even further by instructing officials to minimize references to al Qaeda during 9/11 tenth anniversary events.
In August of this year, DHS penned a document entitled: The Department of Homeland Security’s Approach to Countering Violent Extremism” in which they focused their main goal on targeting “individual terrorist thought leaders,” a somewhat confusing Orwellian concept. A week later the White House issued “Empowering Local Partners To Prevent Violent Extremism In The United States” which informed us that these “terrorist thought leaders” include Paul Hill, a Presbyterian minister convicted of murdering an abortion provider in Florida. Also included were neo-Nazis, who, although thoroughly repulsive, currently do not appear to be engaged in terrorist actions.
Where Muslim governments, even those who are friends, do not respect these principles, the United States must stand for a better future. One of the lessons of the long Cold War was that short-term gains in cooperating with the most repressive and brutal governments were too often outweighed by long-term setbacks for America’s stature and interests.
To speak of any government in the Middle East except Israel as a “friend” of the United States is naive and misunderstands the concept of “friendship,” which is a relationship based on at least some degree of shared moral and political ideals. By that standard no Muslim nation is a friend of the U.S. They may be temporary allies, based on shared hopes for stability in the region and stability within their borders, but they are not friends.
Recent events in Egypt are illustrative. At the time the 9/11 Recommendations were issued, Egypt was a “friend,” according to the Commission’s notions of that concept. But Egypt’s friendship was based solely on its desire to maintain control within its borders. Egypt, that is to say, the Mubarek government, facilitated that by supporting the United States’ goal of reducing hostilities against Israel.
Throughout his Administration Mr. Obama has made clear his intent to undermine this Commission recommendation by subverting the Egyptian leadership which maintained that accommodation with the U.S. and Israel. The result is revolutionary chaos in Egypt and increasing violence against Israel originating in Egypt.
Thus the U.S. dilemma in the Muslim world is whether to support moderately brutal regimes which will support U.S. strategic goals, or instead to withdraw that support and allow the rise of more brutal regimes, such as the Iranian mullahs, who will wage war against us and our allies.
Just as we did in the Cold War, we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values. The United States defended, and still defends, Muslims against tyrants and criminals in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. If the United States does not act aggressively to define itself in the Islamic world, the extremists will gladly do the job for us.
Countries already lost to the violent 1300 year-long march of Islam should be recognized as being beyond our ability to strongly influence in the near term. Iran proves the point.
Perhaps the best opportunities the U.S. has to defend its values are when it actively supports indigenous democratic opposition movements, the best example being Poland in the 1980′s. Yet when such a movement arose in Iran in 2011 the Obama Administration chose not to support it. That amounted to a refusal to defend democratic ideals.
The Obama Administration has undermined America’s standing in world opinion by characterizing the holding of admitted terrorists at Guantanamo as being a violation of humane standards and international law. The Administration has denounced trial of these admitted terrorists in anything other than U.S. civilian courts as a denial of due process. Naturally the remarks of Messrs. Obama and Holder to this effect are used by Muslim propagandists as an admission that the U.S. is unjust in dealing with Muslims in general.
Integral to the defense of our values and ideals is the Voice of America, yet VOA in many cases appears to be unequal to the job. For example in 2009, Jennifer Janin, head of the Urdu service of VOA ordered employees of the South Asia Division to discontinue use of the term “Islamic terrorists” and replace it with “terrorists.” Also to be “avoided” were “Islamic Fundamentalism, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamist and Muslim extremists.”
VOA cannot possibly defend American values and ideals against a violent enemy when it refuses even to acknowledge that the violent enemy exists.
The U.S. government should offer to join with other nations in generously supporting a new International Youth Opportunity Fund. Funds will be spent directly for building and operating primary and secondary schools in those Muslim states that commit to sensibly investing their own money in public education.
Grade: None. This recommendation is not worthy of being graded.
Many of the leaders of Saudi Arabia have received their education in the United States (among them Prince Alaweed bin Talal, B.A.,Menlo College, M.A. Syracuse Univ.; Prince Turki, Lawrenceville School, Georgetown Univ.; Ahmed Zaki Yamani, LL.M.,NYU Law School, LL.M. Harvard Law School).
Consequently, there is no evidence that educating Saudis in the U.S. has made those students good friends of the United States, or Saudi Arabia a modern democratic republic. There is no reason to expect that building schools inside the Muslim world will be produce more satisfactory results.
Instead, the knowledge of American society gained by such individuals has been turned against our Nation. Familiarity with our culture, democracy, and institutions has enabled the Saudis, among many others, to infiltrate our political system and to propagandize more effectively against us.
Muslims have been particularly adept at pressuring curriculum writers to inundate American schools with textbooks which bowdlerize the true nature and history of Islam. We believe that funds proposed for schools in Muslim countries be retained in our own country to oppose Muslim infiltration of the U.S. education system.
A comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter terrorism should include economic policies that encourage development, more open societies, and opportunities for people to improve the lives of their families and to enhance prospects for their children’s future.
Grade: None. We dismiss this recommendation as nonsense.
Development and wealth have not made Communist China or Saudi Arabia more open societies. The terms “development,” ” open societies,” “education,” and “opportunity” have for decades been held before the American people as magic words which will end oppression, and bring happiness, freedom, wisdom and democracy to the downtrodden of the globe. It has been used to justify foreign aid programs that waste America’s wealth and allow intrusion into nations where we don’t belong.
The United States should engage other nations in developing a comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism. There are several multilateral institutions in which such issues should be addressed. But the most important policies should be discussed and coordinated in a flexible contact group of leading coalition governments. This is a good place, for example, to develop joint strategies for targeting terrorist travel, or for hammering out a common strategy for the places where terrorists may be finding sanctuary.
On May 2, 2006, the National Counter Terrorism Center issued a forty-seven page document entitled “National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel.” There is also a classified version that was submitted to the Congressional oversight committees. The document outlines the initiatives currently being utilized to address the problems posed by travel. The document also proposes specific actions necessary to combat the problems. Among the areas covered are International Cooperation in the area of Overseas Travel, Traveler Screening and Intelligence sharing, Watch Lists, Border Security and TSA responsibilities. The strategy is a good starting point, but recent events demonstrate the continued need to enhance effectiveness with additional innovative measures.
Case in point: the breaching of airport security measures set up by TSA where an individual in Newark airport was able to enter the boarding gate area through a passenger exit point.
A second example is a Nigerian man who was able to board planes in LAX & JFK with invalid boarding passes. Former TSA Security Director Joseph Morris stated, “We can have the best technology, you can have the best processes and plans, but again it comes down to the human factor and human error.” Clearly, a better system of checks & counterchecks needs to be implemented.
In regard to Watch Lists being used to impede terrorist travel, there are still too many separate lists and we do not collate or disseminate the necessary information in a timely fashion. There is the TIDE list maintained by the National Counter Terrorism Center; then there is the TSDB list maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center; and there are also two sub-lists, The Selectee and The No Fly Lists.
On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, boarded an international flight bound for Detroit. He was on the TIDE list but not the TSDB list and therefore not on the sub-lists either. Subsequently he was found to have a bomb hidden in his underwear which he attempted to ignite as the plane was approaching the Detroit airport.
In addition, according to testimony, over 1000 individuals on the Terrorist Screening Center databases were issued visas to enter the United States.
The United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are generally accepted throughout the world as customary international law.
Grade: D –
The U.S. has sought to transfer custody of militants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq to the nationalist government in those respective countries. The U.S. has also provided trainers specializing in corrections to the Iraqis and Afghans. The result has been a failure.
On January 28th of this year Jan, a Taliban commander and follower of Jalauddin Haqqani who leads a network of Taliban fighters believed to be operating out of Waziristan in the mountainous region of Pakistan, was incarcerated in the maximum security facility Pul-e-Charkhi in Kabul. From there he was able to direct terrorist operations including suicide bombings. His involvement included the selection of targets for attacks. In addition, according to authorities he had the ability to communicate specific instructions to the would-be suicide bombers. One of these attacks took place in a grocery store in Kabul resulting in the death of 14 people.
General Mohammad Ibrahim Rahamani, an official at the Kabul prison, said it did not surprise him that an inmate could conduct terrorist operations from his cell. This after receiving both training and funding from the United States.
In this country the policy of what to do with captured Islamic terrorists continues to be vague and tentative; the prime example is the ongoing debate regarding civil versus military tribunals for the Guantanamo inmates.
With regard to US prisons and incarcerated terrorists, officials have found a systemic influx of radical Islamic influences as witnessed by the recent House Committee for Homeland Security hearing on the subject in June of this year. To this date, amazingly, there has been no national standard set for the vetting of Islamic clergy to work in corrections institutions as recommended by the 2004 Inspector General’s report.
We would have given an F grade except for the fact that there have been no escapes yet from Guantanamo.
Targeting travel is at least as powerful a weapon against terrorists as targeting their money. The United States should combine terrorist travel intelligence, operations, and law enforcement in a strategy to intercept terrorists, find terrorist travel facilitators, and constrain terrorist mobility.
Every “undocumented” (illegal) alien is a person whose true identity is unknown. Therefore any illegal alien may be a terrorist or a violent felon, and many are. Despite this, after 9/11, the Bush and Obama administrations continued the Clinton policy, abetted by Congress, of failing to secure America’s borders. This has allowed millions of “undocumented,” illegal aliens to enter the United States, any of whom could be terrorists.
In 2005, Admiral James Loy, then-Deputy Sec. of Homeland Security, testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “…entrenched human smuggling networks and corruption in areas beyond our borders can be exploited by terrorist organizations. Recent information…strongly suggests that al Qaeda has considered using the Southwest Border to infiltrate the United States. Several al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way in the country through Mexico and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operational security reasons.”
Despite Loy’s testimony the U.S. border remains wide open.
In 2006, for example, the Refuge Manager of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge testified before the House Subcommittee on Interior that an estimated 235,000 people entered the United States illegally across the land of this single refuge in 2005. The Tucson Citizen reported in late 2010 that the problem continues. Yet in August 2010, the Fish and Wildlife Service authorized groups supporting illegal immigration to place multiple watering stations for illegals along roads in the park to aid illegals on their way into the U.S.
The 9/11 Commission Report on Terrorist Travel documented that three State Department officials were responsible for visa issuance policies that granted U.S. visas to young Saudi males in violation of U.S. law. These officials were Maura Harty, Mary Ryan and Thomas Furey. In 2002, all three were promoted by Sec. of State Colin Powell, and all were awarded performance bonuses for their work in 2001. This was done despite a formal finding by the Department’s Inspector General that State had failed in its mission in 2001.
Furthermore, with the creation of DHS, Congress mandated that DHS security officials be assigned to sensitive embassies to look over the shoulder of visa officials. State exerted all its effort to successfully delay or block these assignments.
So long as government officials can act with extreme negligence or arrogance – such as these cases above – without any fear of dismissal, the American people can never expect to see greater competence in their public officials or greater safety for themselves and their families.
Intelligence sharing between U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies has a poor record, historically. The best way to prevent terrorists from legally entering America is to scrutinize everyone prior to giving them authorization to enter; be it on a tourist visa, student visa, worker visa, whatever. Visa applications, especially from Middle Eastern countries and any country with terrorist ties, should be handled only by security-cleared U.S. State Department Officials and not nationals of the country in question. Thorough background checks in the native country should be conducted and if not satisfactory in any way, the visa should be denied outright. This process can identify terrorists before they initiate travel by denying them a visa to the United States.
FamilySecurityMatters.org and 9/11 FSA recommend that, among other reforms, visa issuing authority be removed from the State Department and placed under the sole control of DHS.
The U.S. border security system should be integrated into a larger network of screening points that includes our transportation system and access to vital facilities, such as nuclear reactors. The President should direct the Department of Homeland Security to lead the effort to design a comprehensive screening system, addressing common problems and setting common standards with system wide goals in mind. Extending those standards among other governments could dramatically strengthen America and the world’s collective ability to intercept individuals who pose catastrophic threats.
Grade: F –
Ten years after 9/11, border security continues to be a myth as evidenced by the murder of Arizona Rancher Rob Krentz by a suspected drug smuggler and the killing of BORTAC Agent Brian Terry by an illegal alien eight miles north of the border. The flow of drugs has not stopped or been reduced by any measure. We can deduce that if drug smugglers are successful in their efforts, that other contraband is also entering our homeland which could include lethal weapons whose sole purpose is to kill Americans.
Guns sent into Mexico by the preposterous ATF “Fast and Furious” program are turning up at crime scenes a hundred miles north of the border. They are bloody reminders of poor border security and idiotic government programs.
Border Patrol agents and supervisors are reporting they are being told to not apprehend groups of illegal aliens but instead to TBS, or Turn Back South, which allows the illegals to enter our country without inspection. Who these illegal aliens are and what their criminal or terrorist history is, isn’t known to anyone.
Interception at Ports of Entry is important. But the world-wide awareness of our porous borders makes it far more likely that terrorists will use known and successful smuggling cartels to enter our country. And, the Obama Administration’s announcement on August 18th that effectively reduces interior enforcement makes it easier for terrorists to hide in plain sight while they plot and plan to kill Americans.
The Department of Homeland Security, properly supported by the Congress, should complete, as quickly as possible, a biometric entry-exit screening system, including a single system for speeding qualified travelers. It should be integrated with the system that provides benefits to foreigners seeking to stay in the United States. Linking biometric passports to good data systems and decision making is a fundamental goal. No one can hide his or her debt by acquiring a credit card with a slightly different name. Yet today, a terrorist can defeat the link to electronic records by tossing away an old passport and slightly altering the name in the new one.
Grade: C –
Biometric screening, in the form of a 10-print fingerprint scan, is done for permanent resident aliens and for those entering with visas. There is no biometric exit screening system. Visitors are required to turn in their I-94 when they leave, but this falls short of the absolute verification that biometric exit screening would provide. Basically, once aliens enter the country, the government has no knowledge of their whereabouts or when or if they ever leave the country.
Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists.
The Staff Report 9/11 and Terrorist Travel reported that the 19 hijackers had an astounding 364 aliases. The terrorists also had between 40 and 60 authentic American driver’s licenses and ID cards issued by various States. Americans don’t want a national I.D card. F or all intents and purposes the state DMV-issued Driver’s License or I.D. card is used for most identification purposes. Standardization is essential if these identity documents are to be secure. They are not.
In 2005 Congress passed the Real I.D. Act, declaring that state driver’s licenses and ID cards could be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes,” only if certain minimal standards were met.
In 2008, all 50 states either applied for extensions of the original May 11, 2008 compliance deadline or received extensions. As of 2009 [update], 25 states approved either resolutions or legislation indicating they would not participate in the program.
REAL ID remains unimplemented, and the result is that identity documents used in the U.S. are as unsecure today as they were prior to 9/11.
The federal government should tie law enforcement funds, highway funding and other federal money flowing to the state to compliance with REAL ID. If the states fail to comply, the federal government should withhold funds.
These minimum requirements include: Applicants for state-issued identity documents should be required to prove citizenship or legal immigration status in our country. Four identifiers should be used: Name, date of birth, social security number and place of birth. DMVs should have access to the DHS E-Verify system and be required to verify a correct match of the identification information offered by the applicant.
A temporary visitor to our country, having proved legal immigration status, should be issued a driver’s license with the same expiration date as his or her visa.
Recommendations 22, 23, 24
22. As the President determines the guidelines for information sharing among government agencies and by those agencies with the private sector, he should safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared.
23. The burden of proof for retaining a particular governmental power should be on the executive, to explain (a) that the power actually materially enhances security and (b) that there is adequate supervision of the executive’s use of the powers to ensure protection of civil liberties. If the power is granted, there must be adequate guidelines and oversight to properly confine its use.
24. At this time of increased and consolidated government authority, there should be a board within the executive branch to oversee adherence to the guidelines we recommend and the commitment the government makes to defend our civil liberties.
The recommended Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board exists in theory only (or on paper). There are no active nominees. The result is that no official has responsibility for balancing security needs with civil liberties.
The controversial debate regarding enhancements to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to include “lone wolf” as a legitimate target of electronic surveillance or the reauthorization of the Patriot Act continues to ignite the public fear that government is overstepping its bounds.
The clear voice of reason must be articulated by both the Executive branch and Congress as it relates to charges of government intrusion on the lives of ordinary citizens.
Case in point. The arrest of four men in New York City in 2009 for plotting to bomb synagogues and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger missiles was immediately followed by cries of entrapment. The same allegations were made in 2010 with the Portland arrest of an individual charged with plotting to blow up a van during the city’s Christmas Tree lighting event. It happened again in the case of Antonio Martinez, a Muslim convert, who was arrested for planning a terrorist act against a military recruitment center in Maryland.
When groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council or CAIR criticize counterterrorism policies such as the use of confidential informants, monitoring of e-mail and Internet sites or sting operations, they reveal that their intent is to conceal the criminal acts committed by fellow Muslims.
In particular, they refuse to see how the process of self-radicalization works and the need for law enforcement’s intervention.
The government use of private data collection sources such as LexisNexis, Accurint, or Choice Point in ongoing investigations must be monitored to prevent the creation of “files” on ordinary citizens. A new approach to this concern for balance must be taken.
Congress should support pending legislation which provides for the expedited and increased assignment of radio spectrum for public safety purposes. Furthermore, high-risk urban areas such as New York City and Washington, D.C., should establish signal corps units to ensure communications connectivity between and among civilian authorities, local first responders, and the National Guard. Federal funding of such units should be given high priority by Congress.
Grade: D –
In April of this year, New York State Representative Greg Ball held a hearing titled; “To Consider Opportunities to Improve New York State’s Homeland Security Operations and How Far We’ve Come Since September 11th 2001.”
During the hearing Robert Morris, Vice President, Port Authority PBA, spoke of serious communication and inoperability problems currently faced by some New York Police Officers.
“The officer carries a radio on his belt but he might as well be wearing a brick,” said Morris to describe the current situation, where some communication devices work so poorly at various locations that officers are using their personal cell phones to communicate with each other. He went on, “We have front line, rank and file troops unable to communicate. Forget about interoperability…we are talking about complete inoperability. This is nearly a decade after 9-11 and the same ‘bugs’ in our communications systems that cost lives still exist.”
In February of this year, Janet Napolitano DHS Secretary came out in favor of the reallocation of the necessary radio spectrum to public safety/first responders. This was also welcomed by the House Committee for Homeland Security. Yet the overall application/final approval of this rests with the FCC. And as such it has not yet been implemented.
In August of 2011, Worcester Polytechnic Institute reported on technology for tracking devices that would be used to locate first responders by field commanders. The device would be carried much like a radio by fire, police, or emergency medical responders and would track their every movement once inside a structure. Because of this one development, we raised the grade from F to D –.
We recommend the establishment of a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) built on the foundation of the existing Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC). Breaking the older mold of national government organization, this NCTC should be a center for joint operation planning and join intelligence, staffed by personnel from the various agencies. The head of the NCTC should have authority to evaluate the performance to the people assigned to the Center.
Grade: B —
The creation of the National Counterterrorism Center in 2003 grew out of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center which operated out of the CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. Its first Director, John Brennan, went on to become President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor. Since its inception, it has had 4 different directors including Brennan, John Scott Redd, Michael Leiter, and Matthew Olsen.
The short shelf life of the Agency’s directorship, oftentimes the target of harsh criticism in the media, needs to be addressed. Legislation should be passed to make the post akin to the FBI directorship for a specific period of time not subject to administration changes or political influences.
On the plus side, the Center has been most successful as a segue to federal, state, and local intelligence storage and information-sharing through its participation with regional Fusion Centers.
The 9-11 Committee recommended that it not be a policy making body but follow the policy direction of the President’s National Security Council and report directly to the Director of National Intelligence. It was also to have influence over the CIA, FBI, DHS, and DOD in the area of counterterrorism.
As mentioned in our evaluation of the current role of the Director of National Intelligence, we believe the current Director’s sphere of influence is limited and does not fulfill the goal of the Committee’s recommendation and may impede the effective operation of the NCTC.
The current position of Director of Central Intelligence should be replaced by a National Intelligence Director with two main areas of responsibility: (1) to oversee national intelligence centers on specific subjects of interest across the U.S. government and (2) to manage the national intelligence program and oversee the agencies that contribute to it.
Grade: C –
The Commission called for the establishment of a new Agency to oversee national intelligence centers and to oversee all agencies that contribute to the intelligence program. They foresaw the head of this new agency as part of the Executive Office of the President. The flow chart created by the Commission saw the chain of command as giving the Director greater authority and influence than the Directors of the CIA, Defense Intelligence, Homeland Security, NSA, FBI, etc.
We did create the Office and so, in that respect, we do not assign a grade of F. However, anyone who has witnessed the events taking place in the last year would clearly understand that we have not fulfilled the mandate. Instead we were given James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence.
His background and resume in the intelligence world is impeccable, yet watching him operate or speak on current security issues, one perceives that Mr. Clapper is a follower, not a leader of other Agency heads.
Examples: in December 2010, Clapper, along with John Brennan, the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor and Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, were interviewed by ABC’s Diane Sawyer on the overall topic of current terror threats facing the US. Not only was Mr. Clapper caught unaware of a recent arrest of 12 suspected terrorists in the UK, but following that, we watched as Brennan and Napolitano took the lead and Clapper followed meekly on the subject.
Two months later in February 2011, Clapper testified before the House Intelligence Committee on the movement taking place in Egypt. In that testimony, the Director referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a “secular” organization. Had he looked at the State Department’s notes on the organization he would have read that it was “a potent political and religious force.” The DNI could not differentiate and apparently did not know the difference between a secular and an Islamist organization. With respect to who has the President’s ear when it comes to authoritative intelligence briefings, consider these two names – Leon Panetta, former CIA Director, now Defense Secretary and General David Petraeus, former Commander of Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, now Director of the CIA. Do we really believe that either Panetta or Petraeus is subordinate to Clapper?
The CIA Director should emphasize (a) rebuilding the CIA’s analytic capabilities; (b) transforming the clandestine service by building its human intelligence capabilities; (c) developing a stronger language program, with high standards and sufficient financial incentives; (d) renewing emphasis on recruiting diversity among operations officers so they can blend more easily in foreign cities;(e) ensuring a seamless relationship between human source collection and signals collection at the operational level; and (f) stressing a better balance between unilateral and liaison operations.
The Agency under the Director’s leadership has branched out into new missions in the war on Islamic terrorism by enhancing its paramilitary operations in conjunction with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). It has taken the lead on the use of drone aircraft not only to gather intelligence but also to successfully hunt down Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries of interest with al Qaeda associates like Al Shabab in Somalia.
One shortfall has been the failure to heed fully the Commission’s recommendation to “concentrate on strengthening the collection capabilities of its clandestine service and the talents of its analysts, building pride in its core expertise.” Specifically, to strengthen the ability of analysts and in-country operations officers and their recruited assets to effectively assess not only the political climate of a country but cultural issues as well.
Consequently, the civil unrest of the “Arab Spring” such as the events Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya appear to have taken the United States unaware and unable to take a proactive stance to events in those countries.
Recommendations 33, 36, 37
33. Finally, to combat the secrecy and complexity we have described, the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret. Congress should pass a separate appropriations act for intelligence, defending the broad allocation of how these tens of billions of dollars have been assigned among the varieties of intelligence work.
36. Congressional oversight for intelligence—and counterterrorism—is now dysfunctional. Congress should address this problem. We have considered various alternatives: A joint committee on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy is one. A single committee in each house of Congress, combining authorizing and appropriating authorities, is another.
37. Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security. Congressional leaders are best able to judge what committee should have jurisdiction over this department and its duties. But we believe that Congress does have the obligation to choose one in the House and one in the Senate, and that this committee should be a permanent standing committee with a nonpartisan staff.
In the House of Representatives, the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel established on January 9, 2007 should be given exclusive jurisdiction over intelligence oversight.
Currently that Panel has no ability to issue subpoenas or require testimony of witnesses. Its primary function is to review and study budget requests for intelligence activities, and make recommendations. Given the nature of intelligence funding, which is often classified, accountability in oversight is lacking, although this is perhaps intentional.
Information procedures should provide incentives for sharing, to restore a better balance between security and shared knowledge.
The formation of the National Counter Terrorism Center in general and “Fusion Centers” specifically has enhanced the ability to share information across federal state, and local law enforcement and intelligence lines. However, there still seems to be a resistance to fully cooperate in the sharing between agencies that have long held each other at arm’s length and sometimes with disdain, specifically the CIA with the FBI and the FBI with the NYPD.
Several recent terrorism cases spotlight those deficiencies: the case of Najibullah Zazi, arrested with others in a plot to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009, and the case of the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
In both instances charges and countercharges of withholding information or illegally disclosing information have now resulted in a Federal Grand Jury investigation by the Justice Department.
In addition, many front line officers complain that in order to actually receive specific information in an ongoing investigation, they must go through a bureaucratic maze and then only “view” the data at the other agency’s secure location.
This has created a climate of fear and intimidation when it comes to interagency cooperation in the area of information sharing.
Since a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice, we should minimize as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations by accelerating the process for national security appointments. We think the process could be improved significantly so transitions can work more effectively and allow new officials to assume their new responsibilities as quickly as possible.
Grade: C –
The Committee’s recommendation was based in part by the need to have incoming administration appointees vetted in a timely fashion to avoid a break in the continuity of National Security briefings while waiting for individuals to obtain clearance.
However, in a larger context the Committee recognized the need for standardization of clearance within the various agencies that make up the Intelligence/Counterterrorism community. In December 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) became Public Law 108-458 and specifically outlined the areas to address in security clearance including, responsibility, reciprocity, and timeliness.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was given responsibility for security clearance process oversight, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was given responsibility for conducting investigations. However, 21 other federal agencies are currently authorized to conduct their own security clearance investigations. Thus, when an individual holding active clearance status in one agency transfers or applies to another within the group, the process of applying for and granting clearance starts all over again, resulting in delays.
The Department of Homeland Security and its oversight committees should regularly assess the types of threats the country faces to determine (a) the adequacy of the government’s plans—and the progress against those plans—to protect America’s critical infrastructure and (b) the readiness of the government to respond to the threats that the United States might face.
In accordance with the 9-11 Committee’s recommendation, the House formed a Homeland Security Committee. The Senate reorganized and renamed the Committee for Governmental Affairs to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It then outlined the jurisdiction as relating to all matters of Homeland Security except matters relating to:
(A) the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center or the Secret Service;
(B) (i) the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service; or (ii) the immigration functions of the United States Customs and Border Protection or the United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement or the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security;
The exemptions are discouraging and impede effective oversight.
The House Committee for Homeland Security was established in 2002 to provide Congressional oversight for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and better protect the American people against future terrorist attacks. In 2005, the House of Representatives granted the Committee on Homeland Security permanent status. The Committee was chartered to hold hearings and craft legislation for issues specific to homeland security.
The breakdown in operation is where the rubber meets the road.
Case in point. In 2011, the House Committee scheduled to hold a 3-part hearing on the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism, specifically as it related to radicalization in the Muslim community, where the 9/11 Commission stated the threat was most significant. The result was that some committee members sought to divert attention from radical Islamic ideology and instead focus on other subjects, such as prison overcrowding, or gangs.
Failure to stay focused or united, by incompetence or design, on what constitutes a legitimate threat to the security of the United States again discourages and impedes the Committee from achieving its goal.
END OF REPORT