Former 9/11 Commissioner: 'We're Less Safe'

Dec. 4, 2005 — -- The 9/11 Public Discourse Project will release a "report card" Monday on how well the government has implemented the 41 recommendations made by the federal 9/11 commission in July 2004 -- and it's not going to be a good one, says former 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick.

"No parent would be pleased with this report card," she said.

"I think that we're less safe than we were 18 months ago," she added. "We have a tremendous agenda and we have just not been about doing what we need to make us safe."

The 9/11 commission disbanded after issuing recommendations to improve the nation's security in 2004.

Using private funds, the members have reconvened as the 9/11 Public Discourse Project to examine how well their directives have been followed -- and found several of their recommendations have not been followed at all.

For example, first responders still can't talk to each other across radio spectrums, Gorelick said. She also offered two other examples.

"We are still giving out federal money based on a revenue-sharing formula rather than risk," she said. "We have loose nuclear weapons that have not been addressed as quickly as they need to be."

Right now, the revenue-sharing issue is up for a vote in Congress. Currently, each state gets a share of the money for homeland security, regardless of how much risk it faces.

"Half of the senators want to keep the revenue-sharing monies going on a formula; the other half want want to do it on the basis of risk," Gorelick said. "If one member would switch, you would have a risk-based approach to this. The same is true with appropriations for radio spectrums and other issues where money is going to other purposes, not to making us safer the way we need to be."

The FBI has started to reform, Gorelick said, which was another aspect of the 2004 report. But, especially in the area of information sharing, "it's not where it needs to be," she said.

"We've taken down the legal walls," she said, "but the culture is still prohibiting the kind of information sharing we need to have."

When the 9/11 commission released its report, it was met with "tremendous interest," Gorelick said. Yet there was no follow through.

"You know, we have short memories," Gorelick said. "The interest has faded. We've gone on to other issues.

"When American citizens don't pressure their government, frankly, the government isn't as responsive as it needs to be," she added. "You could see that in the aftermath of Katrina. We assumed that our government would be able to do what it needed to do, and it didn't do it."