Thursday, July 29, 2004

The president should immediately support all of the 9/11 commission's recommendations

Why you're right:

1. Cherry-picking allows the administration to avoid difficult but critical reforms. The administration has already hinted it will reject some reforms recommended unanimously by the bi-partisan commission. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has "signaled administration opposition to the idea of a new intelligence chief" – a key recommendation of the commission. If the administration selects a subset of the recommendation it will enable officials "defend their turf" by lobbying against changes that would reduce their influence. This is the same mentality that contributed to the intelligence failures leading to 9/11. The cherry-picking could result in the administration "choosing harmless changes that involve little more than moving boxes on an organization chart." (USA Today, Washington Post)

2. Any delay endangers our national security. The recommendations are designed to correct flaws in the nation's security apparatus that failed to prevent 9/11 – an event that occurred almost three years ago. Many of the proposals are not new. Every day we delay implementing the full slate of the 9/11 commission's reforms makes it more likely that terrorists will be able to successfully strike American again. (Sen. Bob Graham)

3. The recommendations are already narrowed down. The commission's recommendations were not designed to be smorgasbord of options from which the administration could choose. Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton said "We have made a limited number of recommendations, focusing on the areas we believe most critical." (9/11 Commission News Conference, 6/22/04)

Why they're wrong:

The president recently claimed “we have already put into action many of the steps now recommended by the commission.” But that is not the unanimous position of the bipartisan commission. Chapter 13 of the report begins, "As presently configured, the national security institutions of the U.S. government are still the institutions constructed to win the Cold War.” (Presidential Radio Address, 9/11 Report)