National Security Experts Urge Reform in Congressional Oversight of Homeland Security

    More than 60 leaders in national defense urged Congress today to reform the way it oversees homeland security, saying that the current system jeopardizes national security and leaves the nation vulnerable to cyber-attacks, bioterrorism, and other threats.

    In a full-page ad in the May 21 editions of The Wall Street Journal, the bipartisan group reflected the overwhelming consensus that the system is dysfunctional and said: “The nation is not as safe as it could and should be.”

    The 61 signatories include the three past Secretaries of Homeland Security; all the members of the 9/11 Commission; former heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; former members of Congress, and former homeland security advisors to Presidents. To see the ad and signatories visit: www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/dhs/.

    The group said more than 100 Congressional committees, subcommittees and other groups claim jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security. The result of this “tangle of overlapping committees” is political paralysis, so key security issues are not being properly overseen by Congress.

    Among the vulnerabilities that are not being addressed are:

    • Unregulated small boats and planes. Passengers and luggage are not screened at many private airports, and federal authorities do not know what is in the cargo holds of small vessels.
    • Cybersecurity. Legislation to address cybersecurity has been caught between competing Congressional committees.
    • Biological threats. The federal government’s list of 75 biological threats has not been prioritized to give the most dangerous ones greater scrutiny.

    To read the complete release, click here.

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