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A Year after 9/11, America Still Unprepared for a Terrorist Attack, Warns New Hart-Rudman Task Force on Homeland Security

October 24, 2002
Council on Foreign Relations


Full text and executive summary:
"America— Still Unprepared, Still in Danger,"
An Independent Task Force
Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations

Click here to view
the original Hart-Rudman Report

Senate Testimony of Stephen Flynn

October 25, 2002 – A year after 9/11, America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil, concludes a blue-ribbon panel led by former Senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart—co-chairs of the now famous Commission on National Security that warned of such a terrorist attack three years ago.

The Independent Task Force, which came to this sober conclusion and which makes recommendations for emergency action, included two former secretaries of state, three Nobel laureates, two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former director of the CIA and FBI, and some of the nation’s most distinguished financial, legal, and medical experts. One of the country’s leading authorities on homeland security, Council Senior Fellow Stephen Flynn, directed the Task Force.

If the nation does not respond more urgently to address its vulnerabilities, the Task Force warns, the next attack could result in even greater casualties and widespread disruption to our lives and economy.

The critical need to make specific preparatory acts is made even more imperative by the prospect that the United States might go to war with Iraq and that Saddam Hussein might threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction in America.

The Task Force credits the Bush administration, Congress, governors and mayors for taking important measures since 9/11 to respond to the risk of catastrophic terrorism, and does not seek to apportion blame about what has not been done or not done quickly enough. The report is aimed, rather, at closing the gap between our intelligence estimates and analysis—which acknowledge immediate danger on the one hand—and our capacity to prevent, mitigate and respond to these attacks on the other.

Among the risks that still confront the United States:

  • 650,000 local and state police officials continue to operate in a virtual intelligence vacuum including having no access to terrorist watch lists provided by the U.S. Department of State to immigration and consular officials.
  • While 50,000 federal screeners are being hired at the nation’s airports to check passengers, only the tiniest percentage of containers, ships, trucks, and trains that enter the United States each day are subject to examination—and a weapon of mass destruction could well be hidden among this cargo.
  • First responders—police, fire, emergency medical personnel—are not ready to respond to a chemical or biological attack. Their radios can’t talk with one another and they lack the training and protective gear to protect themselves and the public in an emergency. The consequence of this could be the unnecessary loss of thousands of American lives.
  • An adversary intent on disrupting America’s reliance on energy need not target oilfields in the Middle East. The homeland infrastructure for refining and distributing energy to support our daily lives remains largely unprotected to sabotage.
  • Our own ill-prepared response has the capacity to hurt us to a much greater extent than any single attack by a terrorist. America is a powerful and resilient nation and terrorists are not supermen. But the risk of self-inflicted harm to our liberties and way of life is greatest during and immediately following a national trauma.

To deal with these and other weaknesses, the Task Force makes a number of recommendations for emergency action, including the following:

  • Make first responders ready to respond by immediately providing federal funds to clear the backlog of requests for protective gear, training, and communications equipment. State and local budgets cannot bankroll these necessities in the near term.
  • Recalibrate the agenda for transportation security; the vulnerabilities are greater and the stakes are higher in the sea and land modes than in commercial aviation.
  • Strengthen the capacity of local, state, and federal public heath and agricultural agencies to detect and conduct disease outbreak investigations. The key to mitigating casualties associated with a biological attack against people or the food supply is to identify the source of infection as early as possible.
  • Empower front line agents to intercept terrorists by establishing 24-hour operations centers in each state that can provide access to terrorist watch list information via real time intergovernmental links between local and federal law enforcement
  • Fund, equip, and train National Guard units around the country to ensure they can support the new state homeland security plans under development by each Governor. Also, triple the number of National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Support Teams from 22 to 66.


Chief Executive Officer and President,
Business Executives for National Security
Former Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command

Senior Partner at O’Melveny & Myers
Former Secretary of State

Senior Adviser, Global Options
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security
Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Former Commander, United States Coast Guard

Senior Principal, Marsh & McLennan Capital
Former Chairman, Goldman, Sachs & Company

Of Counsel, Coudert Brothers
Former Senator (D-CO)

Senior Executive Vice President, MBNA Bank
Former Director, Office of Public Security for the State of New York.
Assistant Director in Charge, New York Federal Bureau
Investigation Division

President-Emeritus and Sackler Foundation Scholar,
Rockefeller University
Nobel Laureate

Chairman, UBS America
Managing General Partner of Lightyear Capital
Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Paine Webber Group Inc.

Chairman, TRW Inc.
Former President of BDM International, Inc.

Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison
Former Senator (R-NH)

Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Former Secretary of State
Former Secretary of the Treasury
Former Secretary of Labor
Former Director, Office of Management and Budget

Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Former J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International,
Foreign and Comparative Law, Harvard Law School

President and Chief Executive Officer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Former Director, National Institutes of Health
Nobel Laureate

Chairman, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
Former Director, Central Intelligence
Former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Director of the Theory Group, University of Texas
Nobel Laureate

Contact: Lisa Shields, Director of Communications, 212-434-9888