30 March 2011 VOA News The former leaders of the bi-partisan 9-11 Commission say the United States has not done enough to protect itself from the ever evolving terrorist threat.
Commission Chairman Thomas Kean (the former Republican governor of the eastern state of New Jersey) and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton (a former Democratic congressman) testified before a Senate committee in the first of a series of hearings to review the U.S. response almost 10 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Kean told lawmakers, while the United States is better prepared to prevent attacks like those on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there are significant gaps that require urgent attention.
He said the terrorist threat has become more complex and diverse, making small attacks from groups like al-Qaida more likely. He also warned there is a growing threat from would-be terrorists in the United States who are not affiliated with any group.
Hamilton said he is concerned the country has not done enough to streamline communication between its intelligence agencies, and it is still not clear which federal agency or official is in charge.
Kean and Hamilton also raised concerns about the emergency command structure for cities and towns across the country, saying many communities have yet to decide who is in charge, if and when there is an attack.
Lawmakers at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing agreed that more needs to be done.
Committee Chairman, Senator Joe Lieberman (from the eastern state of Connecticut) said the United States has sometimes avoided disaster thanks to an inept bomb maker or a faulty fuse.
The committee's ranking Republican member, Senator Susan Collins (from the eastern state of Maine) criticized President Barack Obama for what she says is the lack of a clear chain of command for U.S. intelligence operations.