Six Years On, More Progress Needed to Strengthen Homeland Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, released the following statement on progress towards strengthening our homeland security six years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

“Tomorrow we will commemorate the sixth anniversary of the most devastating attack on our country since Pearl Harbor. It will be a solemn day, and an occasion to remember the men and women who perished on that clear Tuesday morning six years ago. When they took off from Boston and headed for the World Trade Center towers, the planes carried 142 passengers and crew members, so the catastrophe almost 200 miles south in Manhattan also had a direct, profound and lasting effect on victims’ families and communities in Massachusetts.

“Our country owes a debt of gratitude to family members of victims who pushed for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, so our nation could uncover the mistakes and missed opportunities that led to the devastating attack. Without their persistence, the 9/11 Commission never would have been established.

“When the new Democratic Congress convened in January, legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was the top priority, and the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations were the first bill to pass the House of Representatives this year. Now that the bill has been signed into law, we need determination and persistence to ensure that the law is implemented effectively and in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress. This is particularly important when it comes to the law’s requirement to screen, within three years, all the cargo carried on passenger planes to a level of security commensurate with the level of security applied to passengers’ checked bags. The Bush Administration already is signaling that it plans to permit shippers to screen their own cargo. This is unacceptable, and I will vigorously oppose this plan because it would not meet the security standard for air cargo created in the law.

“Just last week a new assessment by the independent Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Homeland Security is struggling to meet many fundamental security mandates, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General recently identified multiple major security problems with TSA’s current air cargo policies. From air cargo, to nuclear and chemical plant security, to the safety of rail and sea shipments, we face security challenges on a number of fronts. In many areas, the Bush administration has relied on a faith-based homeland security policy: It prays that Al Qaeda won’t take advantage of the glaring vulnerabilities created by the administration’s failure to spend the money and close the loopholes that persist six years after 9/11 world.

“We must never forget the heroism of the Americans affected by the September 11th attacks. The painful legacy of 9/11 should not be further compounded by failure in government to make America safer. Tomorrow’s anniversary is a time for reflection. It also should be a call to action to move forward with urgently needed security upgrades.”


September 10, 2007

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836