The 9/11 Commission's Final Report Card On The Federal GovernmentPrintable Version
By Harry Smith, CBS News' The Early Show
December 6, 2005
HARRY SMITH, co-host: Fourteen months ago, the 9-11 Commission made several proposals to improve our security and prevent future terror attacks. On Monday, commission members put out a stinging report card, saying many of their recommendations have been ignored by the government. Former Congressman Tim Roemer was a member of the panel. And Mary Fetchet, whose son Brad, died in the World Trade Center, is director of the advocacy group Voices of September 11th. Good morning to you both.
Former Representative TIM ROEMER (Former 9-11 Commission Member): Good morning.
Ms. MARY FETCHET (Lost Son On 9/11; Director, Voices of September 11): Good morning.
SMITH: Tim, let me start with you. Five F's that were given out--of those five that were given out, does one stand out to you as being the most dangerous to the American public?
Mr. ROEMER: Actually, two, Harry. We--if our children in our country were receiving five F's and 12 D's, they would be repeating grades. We can't have our government, that's supposed to be protecting us, getting this kind of scandalous report card. Congress, first of all, is spending money on air-conditioned garbage trucks and body armor for dogs. Those aren't the kind of values and priorities to better defend our country from jihadist terror attacks. And two, Katrina showed us that months and years after 9/11, our first responders that get on the scene first to protect our American citizens if terrorists come and hit us again in this country still can't talk four years after 9/11 to one another on the right radio waves. Congress is talking about providing that in 2009, eight years after 9/11. That's not good enough.
SMITH: John Lehman, one of your fellow members, said, `None of this is rocket science.' Why, to your mind, i--are these things not being done?
Mr. ROEMER: Our political leadership is distracted, Harry. They're not focused on the right kind of issues for our country. This is not a partisan issue. A Republican White House shouldn't be blaming a Republican Congress. Democrats shouldn't be Rep--blaming Republicans for this. This is American security values, and we've got some answers here. If Congress doesn't like those answers, if the White House doesn't like those, come up with your own, but do something to better protect this country.
Mr. ROEMER: We know al-Qaida's coming at us again.
SMITH: Mary, let me ask you this question. You were at the news conference yesterday as this was all being laid out yet one more time. As you listened to this assessment, what went through your mind?
Ms. FETCHET: Well, I guess, first of all, I appreciated the work that the commission has done. They've gone far beyond any other commission with devoting another year to really oversight and not just the--legislating the reforms, but also overseeing the reforms. You know, I was sad and frustrated, truthfully, that almost five years later, our country is not much safer. I appreciate that some reforms have been actually implemented, but we have so far to go. And how can we afford really not to make this a priority? So I really agree with what Tim has said...
Ms. FETCHET: ...that we ha--it has to be the leadership, from the president on down, and Congress has the responsibility to really oversee and implement these reforms.
SMITH: Do you feel any safer now than before 9/11?
Ms. FETCHET: Well, I don't. And after losing a son, I have two other children, and this problem is not going to go away. It has to be a priority, the safety of our families and our country. And we're depending upon, as I said, the executive branch, Congress and these government agencies to move these im--these reforms forward.
SMITH: Congressman, let me ask you this. The White House trying to sort of refute this report card yesterday by saying, `Look, there's been no terrorist attack since 9/11. Doesn't that show that we're doing something right?'
Mr. ROEMER: No, it doesn't, Harry. First of all, the terrorists, when they attacked New York City in 1993, the Trade towers, came with a van and injured 1,000 people. They waited seven years. They wanted to be even more spectacular. They used planes and killed 3,000 people, Mary's son included. So it doesn't necessarily mean we're doing things better. We know al-Qaida wants to get dirty bombs, chemical/biological bombs. It's a religious obligation from Osama bin Laden to try to get these things. So the next attack could be even more spectacular.
Mr. ROEMER: Let's try to do what we can...
Mr. ROEMER: ...to make our country safer and let's work together in Congress to get those values passed.
SMITH: And very quickly, Scott McClellan said yesterday, `By taking the fight to the enemy abroad and by doing so, it's keeping them from plotting and planning to attack us inside America. ' Does that ring true to you at all, Tim, in the 20 seconds I have left?
Mr. ROEMER: Well, they say fight them in Baghdad so you don't have to fight them in Boston. If you're getting all caught up in one place in Iraq, but the terrorists are starting to spread out to Amman, Jordan, Madrid, London, Bali, you're not being as effective...
Mr. ROEMER: ...in the global war against jihadism.
SMITH: Congressman, thank you so much. Mary...
Mr. ROEMER: Thanks, Harry.
SMITH: ...do appreciate it.
Ms. FETCHET: Thank you.