Tim Roemer: We Cannot Afford to Wait Any Longer
"Good morning. My name is Tim Roemer, I'm from Indiana and I served as a member of the 9/11 Commission.
"Last week, two terrorist attacks were launched against one of our strongest allies, Great Britain. As Americans celebrate this Independence Day weekend, many are asking whether the next attack will come here.
"For good reason: almost six years after 9/11 we're still not as safe as we need to be, and we're not as safe as we should be. Al Qaeda is gaining strength, and our policies are not keeping pace.
"Nearly six years ago, 3,000 citizens died in the collapsed skyscrapers of New York City, on a field in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon along the banks of the Potomac River.
"And rising out of this grief, American citizens -- led by the 9/11 Families -- pressured Congress to act. Together, we created the bipartisan 9/11 Commission and gave it a mission to understand what happened and how to make sure it never happened again.
"Together, we asked the tough questions and turned the lessons of 9/11 into a strategy with 41 recommendations to make America safer.
"Today, six years after al Qaeda's assault, three years after the Commission's report, our government still has not done enough to make America safe. Only half of these bipartisan recommendations have been passed. The White House's execution and funding of them has received failing grades.
"As the foot-dragging goes on in Washington, al Qaeda is on the move. Osama bin Laden escaped the mountains of Afghanistan and continues to broadcast his message of hate across the globe. The terrorist training camps that we shut down in Afghanistan are reopening under new management in Pakistan. The war in Iraq trains new terrorists every day and radicalizes even more, creating a new generation of jihadists. America, the beacon of hope and opportunity around the world for decades, is finding fewer friends and more enemies daily.
"And as this threat evolves, our vulnerability multiplies. The 9/11 Commission said one of our greatest priorities should be to protect our borders and critical infrastructure. The 9/11 terrorists were able to slip into America virtually unnoticed and virtually undetected. Six years later, we still do not have the ability to know fully who and what is crossing our borders and sailing into our ports. We've left the door open to attacks.
"Today, we have a new opportunity to secure America. The House and Senate, led by Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, have put the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations into a bipartisan proposal that awaits final passage.
"This bill would make the American people safer. It closes loopholes and reduces vulnerabilities by encouraging greater information sharing, improving first responder communications, and better targeting homeland security resources to where they are needed most.
"The 9/11 bill also attacks the threats of tomorrow today. It prevents the rise of new terrorists by restoring America's image abroad and expanding educational opportunity in the Middle East. For those who still seek to do us harm, the bill helps keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the terrorists' hands by stepping up efforts to secure loose nuclear material.
"But we need to fix the logjam in Washington. This legislation has passed the House and Senate, but Congress needs to finish the job and get this bill to the President's desk. And to secure the American people, the President must support and sign, this bill, not threaten to veto it.
"For the past three years, 9/11 families have worked tirelessly to get Congress to pass these reforms. They have turned their own tragedy into a cause to protect their fellow citizens. They are true American heroes. It's time Congress honored them on this Independence Day weekend by making their vision of a more secure America a reality.
"Six years ago this September, the terrorists aboard Flight 93 were headed towards Washington, D.C. They intended to crash that plane into the U.S. Capitol. It was ordinary Americans aboard that flight who rose up and protected Congress from a terrorist attack. It's time Congress returned the favor.
"We cannot afford to wait any longer. We need to move forward with a unity of purpose and unity of effort. We need to pass this bill into law.
"This is Tim Roemer. Thank you, and have a great Fourth of July weekend."