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Report: Congress Could Make America Safer

Homeland Security Task Force at Sunnylands Retreat
Task Force members: Back Row, L-to-R: Howard Berman, Thomas H. Kean, Arif Alikhan, Caryn A. Wagner, Thad Allen, Juliette Kayyem, Lee H. Hamilton, Geoffrey Cowan (president of the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands); Front Row, L-to-R: Kenneth L. Wainstein, Bob Graham, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Michael Chertoff, Kathleen Hall Jamieson (retreat organizer), David Dreier, Meryl Justin Chertoff (retreat organizer), John Tanner


Task Force Calls for Congress to Strengthen Oversight of Homeland Security

On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a bipartisan task force of homeland-security experts, government officials and former members of the 9/11 Commission has released a report outlining the need for stronger and clearer Congressional oversight of national security.

The Sunnylands-Aspen Task Force found that the current system of Congressional oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is diffuse and redundant, and has prevented DHS from focusing on national security threats ranging from cyber-terrorism and biological hazards to the potential dangers from small aircraft and boats that do not fall under federal homeland-security regulations.

The recommendation to streamline oversight of DHS was one of the 41 recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Yet nearly a decade after that commission released its report that recommendation has not been acted upon. The need to consolidate Congressional oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is, in the words of Commission co-chair Thomas H. Kean, “maybe the toughest recommendation” because Congress does not usually reform itself.

In April 2013, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and the Aspen Institute Justice & Society Program, in partnership with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, convened a task force of current and former members of Congress, executive branch and DHS officials, and other homeland security experts to review this recommendation and recommend a strategy going forward.

Links to their report can be found below.

Download the press release

Download the full Task Force report

Download just the report’s Executive Summary

Download just the Task Force members’ bios

Read the New York Times Op-Ed