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Old politicians never die...

...they just stand around yelling, "Hey, look at me!!!!" until someone pays attention to them.

Imagine you called up Ariel Sharon and said, "Hamas is going to blow up a bus in the future, unless we increase security and resolve this whole Middle East mess." Now imagine that Hamas did blow up a bus, and Israelis wanted to know why the Israeli government didn't prevent it. Would you expect that your deep insight would make you the star witness in an investigation of that question? Or would you realize that your vague contribution wasn't really very helpful?

Well, if you're former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, the answer to that question would be the former. It seems that Hart chaired a commission a couple of years ago -- the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, aka the Hart-Rudman Commission (famous mostly, or only, for coining the term "Homeland Security"), and he's itching for people to notice he's still around:

Now that the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States -- the so-called 9/11 commission -- is moving toward completion of its deliberations and preparation of its final report, I am increasingly asked what information our earlier commission, the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, has provided the 9/11 commission and why that information has not been made public. When told that the 9/11 commission has not asked for any public testimony from us, most people are incredulous. If the 9/11 commission is really trying to find out what was known and when it was known, they ask, why would your national security commission's warnings and recommendations not be of direct relevance and urgent interest? Didn't you publicly and privately warn the new Bush administration of your concerns about terrorism? Didn't you specifically recommend a new national homeland security agency? Why wouldn't all this be of central importance to the work of the 9/11 commission? The simple answer to all these questions is: I don't know why we have not been asked to testify.

Since the U.S. Commission on National Security officially ceased to exist as of the summer of 2001, I cannot speak for the other 13 commissioners. But I have been waiting for many months to hear from the 9/11 commission, fully expecting a request for public testimony from members of our earlier commission, and have heard nothing.

That does sound like a reasonable question... at least until you read the Hart-Rudman commission's report, which can be located, in several parts, here. Shorter version, for those of you too lazy to read it: the future is challenging, terrorism will be one threat among several, we should work with other countries, and if we just reorganize the government bureaucracy which runs the intelligence community to make it work better, we can solve all the problems we'll face.

If you're wondering whether there's some earthshattering revelation I'm omitting, just read Hart's own words from his Salon article:

Though we had no ability to forecast specific times, places and methods for such attacks, we were united in our certainty that they were bound to occur. In our first report we said: "America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland [and] Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." In our final report we urged the new Bush administration to create a national homeland security agency to prevent terrorist attacks.
So unless there's something I'm missing -- a classified version of his commission's report containing specific intelligence, for instance -- I can't begin to see why anybody would care what Hart had to say. Unless one is thrilled by phrases like "creating an interagency task force" and one loves helpful advice such as "It is likely that the legislation that is finally passed by Congress will differ somewhat from the Administration's proposals. If the differences are significant and apt to be deleterious, then it may be appropriate to advise the President to veto it." (Yes, this is what passes for wisdom inside the beltway.)


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