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Co-Chairmen of 9/11 Commission: U.S. Needs to Improve Oversight of Homeland Security

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton
New York Times Op-Ed
 
No single event in the last half-century has had a greater effect on American national security policy than the terrorist attacks that occurred 12 years ago today. When we co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, which was set up in 2002 and issued its report on the attacks in 2004, we investigated the failures that left our country vulnerable and recommended 41 actions to correct them and strengthen our national security.

Nine years after the 9/11 Commission made its case, our country is still not as safe as it could and should be. Though the vast majority of our recommendations have been followed, at least in part, Congress has not acted on one of our major proposals: to streamline the way it oversees homeland security.

In a cumbersome legacy of the pre-9/11 era, Congress oversees the Department of Homeland Security with a welter of overlapping committees and competing legislative proposals. The department was created in 2002 out of 22 agencies and departments. More than 100 congressional committees and subcommittees currently claim jurisdiction over it. This patchwork system of supervision results in near-paralysis and a lack of real accountability.

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