9/11 panel to offer progress report on recommendations

Former members assessing status of U.S. implementation

August 23, 2007|By Siobhan Gorman | Siobhan Gorman,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- The leaders of the 9/11 commission are preparing a progress report on their recommendations for improving the nation's anti-terror defenses, with plans to release it around the sixth anniversary of the 2001 attacks.

Former commission Chairman Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton have been working with aides in recent weeks to assess the status of the recommendations made in the initial report three years ago.

"We're coming up on another anniversary, and people said to both of us, `What do you think now?'" Kean said. He said he expects the progress report to be released within weeks.

The former Republican governor of New Jersey said members of Congress and the public had been urging the former commission members to take another look at how well their recommendations had been implemented.

"We haven't drawn any conclusions yet," Kean said. "Some are going to require some heavy thought."

Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, said now is a good time to evaluate progress. "A number of steps have been taken at both the executive and the legislative levels since we last issued a report," he said.

The report will arrive on the heels of a measure that Congress passed last month to implement a number of the commission's recommendations. In 2005, the commissioners concluded that fewer than half of their recommendations had been adopted.

One proposal that had lagged was the call for a realignment of congressional committees to enable more direct oversight of intelligence agencies and their budgets. In January, the House of Representatives took a step toward that goal by creating a subcommittee to advise the panel that oversees spending on national defense and intelligence agencies.

Families of Sept. 11 victims applauded the Kean-Hamilton follow-up plan.

"These continued efforts would ensure that Congress and the administration remain focused on full implementation of what I feel are vital reforms," said Mary Fetchet, whose son died in the World Trade Center.

The lack of a large staff and security clearances could limit the former 9/11 commissioners' ability to draw conclusions, Kean said.

When the panel issued its report in 2004, Kean and Hamilton vowed that they would not to allow it to be set aside.

Three years ago, Congress adopted an intelligence overhaul that dealt with some of the panel's key proposals, including the establishment of the post of director of national intelligence.

After the commission was disbanded, former members set up the 9/11 Public Discourse Project to advocate for their original recommendations.

That project's December 2005 report card caused a stir after it gave the government grades of "C" or lower on half of the 41 items in the initial 9/11 commission report, including about a dozen grades of "D" or "F."

Kean, a former president of Drew University, said he and Hamilton had not decided whether they would issue grades this time around. But he said they will "if we think we have the information to do it fairly."

siobhan.gorman@baltsun.com

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