9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean Worries About Obama Being Too Distracted, But Backs Him v. Cheney Criticisms

By Lindsey Ellerson

Sep 11, 2009 6:03pm

In honor of the commemoration of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, we were joined on the ABC News Political Punch Podcast today by former New Jersey Governor and 9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or by clicking HERE.  The podcast is produced by Huma Khan.

Kean said the U.S. is safer today from the terrorist threat than it was eight years ago but still not safe.

“Every year we make some progress, but let’s fill some gaps,” he said, “we’re not safe yet and we’ve got to keep alert and keep on working and make sure that we do everything possible to make sure this kind of thing could never happen again.”

Kean said of President Obama and officials from his administration are “working very hard on health care and budget and green jobs and all of that but they cannot take their eye off this other threat. If they do, then we’ll get in danger. “

Are they taking their eye off this?

“No,” Kean said, “but I worry about it. Again, not that they’re not sincere, not that they don’t have good people, they do, but that they’re just so distracted and the American people have a short attention span and if we take our eyes off this problem then we put ourselves in danger.”

We asked Kean what he thought about criticisms of President Obama from former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has said the current administration – in banning harsh interrogation techniques including torture, and trying to close the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay – is making the U.S. less safe.

“I support President Obama on a number of steps he’s taken,” Kean said. “I think the shutting of Guantanamo is important because Guantanamo has become the worst black eye — together with Abu Ghraib – that the United States has had in a generation and in the eyes of the rest of the world. One of the thoughts in our report that’s been ignored … is you’ve got to change hearts and minds and you’ve got to have a different kind of an outlook and a kind of a different face in the world, particularly in the Arab world. To me, closing Guantanamo is an important part of that. “

Kean also talked about how there continues to be insufficient oversight of intelligence agencies, how too many congressional committees oversee the Department of Homeland Security, what he thinks of the 9/11 “Truther” movement, and where he was eight years ago today.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or by clicking HERE. 


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