Incompetence reigns supreme

Administration missing dozens of security deadlines
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships, and railways from terrorists.

How could this be? The Bush White House performing poorly? Or is it the fault of the Republicans who control the House and Senate? Take yer pick....

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of antiterrorism training for federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago.

''The incompetence that we recently saw with FEMA's leadership appears to exist throughout the Homeland Security Department,“ said Mississippi Representative Bennie G. Thompson, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. ''Our nation is still vulnerable.”

...Lawmakers piled on deadline after deadline for reports, plans, and regulations while the department, created after the 2001 attacks, had to integrate 22 agencies with 170,000 workers and cope with terrorist threats and hurricanes.

Those deadlines, sometimes for minor projects, distract the department from putting the most important security measures in place, specialists say. The Transportation Security Administration, for example, scrambled to try to meet a Feb. 15 deadline to ban butane lighters from airplanes, a precaution that does little to protect airliners, they said.

''You have no ability to prioritize against something like that, and it's going to take up all your time,“ said Dan Prieto, a homeland security specialist with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. ''The urgent becomes the enemy of the important.”

Thompson said the government has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to protect roads, bridges, tunnels, power plants, pipelines, and dams. He said a broad plan to protect levies and dams might have helped prevent the New Orleans levies from being breached.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on October 31, 2005 11:04 PM.

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