The White House terror prevention plan: Trust us

The military is making plans to respond to terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. What is the White House doing to prevent such attacks? And why won't it tell the former 9/11 commissioners?

By Tim Grieve
August 8, 2005 10:25PM (UTC)
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Four years after the attacks of 9/11, the Pentagon is developing plans to mobilize its forces within the United States in the event that terrorists attack here again. As the Washington Post reports today, the military has drafted plans that envision the need to respond to terrorist attacks in several U.S. cities at once.

It's "a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement," the Post says. There's plenty of room for concern about the plans, especially where civil liberties are involved, but the more pressing question is this: What is the Bush administration doing to prevent future attacks before they happen? The London bombings pretty much prove that "taking the fight to the enemy" doesn't necessarily mean that the enemy won't bring the fight right back to you. So aside from going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, what is the Bush administration doing to prevent another 9/11?


You'd like to know, wouldn't you? So would the former members of the 9/11 Commission. The commission itself closed up shop after it issued its final report last August. But the commissioners have reconstituted themselves into something called the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, and they've been collecting information and holding hearings in order to see whether -- and how -- their recommendations are being implemented.

The catch? The Bush administration won't tell them. As Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and 9/11 Committee co-chair, tells the New York Times, the administration has simply ignored the former commissioners' requests for information. The former commissioners have requested updates from the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, the FBI and several other federal agencies. They have asked to schedule interviews with Donald H. Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Porter Goss, Robert Mueller and Andy Card. There has been no response to any of it, Kean tells the Times.

"It's very disappointing," Kean says. "All we're trying to do is make the public safer."


Of course, the White House says it has the same goal -- and that the evidence of all of its good work toward reaching it would be obvious if the commissioners were only paying attention. "We welcome their interest in seeing their recommendations implemented," a White House spokeswoman tells the Times. "There is ample public information available for them to review about all of the actions we continue to take to better protect the American people."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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