WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has missed at least a half-dozen deadlines to shore up national security programs as required in intelligence reforms approved six months ago, according to two top Senate Homeland Security Committee (search) members.
Among the reports and actions the senators said should have been taken by now are creating national strategy for transportation security, funding a civil liberties panel to oversee counterterror investigations, adding aviation security staff and funding plans, and boosting port protections.
"There are many challenges in simultaneously implementing these anti-terrorism initiatives, but the consequences of failure are unthinkable," Sens. Susan Collins (search), R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman (search), D-Conn., wrote in a June 14 letter to White House chief of staff Andrew Card. "And as we saw with 9/11, in the war on terrorism delay can be a form of failure. Initial stumbles in implementing new programs can be corrected, but problems often snowball if neglected."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the administration is working to fulfill all the requirements of the intelligence reform bill President Bush signed in December. "The administration has made great progress in improving security to protect the American people," Perino said.
But the White House noted that many of the law's most important elements — creating a director of national intelligence, improving information-sharing processes and establishing a domestic nuclear detection office — are either completed or under way.
Bush last week named members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (search), picking Texas lawyer Carol Dinkins as its chair.
Earlier this month, members of the Sept. 11 Commission — which investigated government missteps leading to the 2001 attacks — called Congress' failure to adopt reforms "the most glaring failure of our recommendations."