America—Still Unprepared, Still in Danger

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Yet, only a year after 9/11, there are signs that Americans are already lapsing back into complacency. This comprehensive report seeks to make the nation aware of the dangers it still faces by highlighting the nation’s vulnerabilities and outlining a number of homeland security priorities that should be pursued with urgency and national purpose.

Stephen E. Flynn
Stephen E. Flynn

Founding director of Northeastern University's Global Resilience Institute and former CFR fellow

The Bush administration deserves credit for the security initiatives it has already implemented in the wake of September 11, 2001. According to this report, however, significant risks still confront the United States. For example, local and state police continue to operate without access to terrorism watch lists produced by the State Department; an attack by a weapon of mass destruction on an unexamined container aboard a ship or truck might lead to a shutdown of America’s global transportation system, with attendant disastrous effects on the world economy; and first responders remain unprepared to handle a chemical or biological attack, which could lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths. 

More on:

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Homeland Security

United States


Made up of two former senators, two former secretaries of state, two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other homeland security experts, the independent Task Force recommends several key steps the administration can take in order to improve the nation’s security. They include fostering better links between local and federal law enforcement officials via the establishment of a twenty-four-hour operations center in each state that can provide access to terrorist watch-list information; recalibrating the agenda for transportation security by allocating more funds to protect land and sea networks, which are more vulnerable than commercial aviation; and funding, equipping, and training National Guard units around the country to ensure they can support the new state homeland security plans under development by each governor.   

More on:

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

Homeland Security

United States


Task Force Members

Task Force Members:

CHARLES G. BOYD, chief executive officer and president, Business Executives for National Security; former deputy commander in chief, U.S. European Command

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, senior partner at O'Melveny and Myers; former secretary of state

WILLIAM J. CROWE, senior adviser, Global Options; former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

STEPHEN E. FLYNN, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies, Council on Foreign Relations; former commander, United States Coast Guard

STEPHEN FRIEDMAN, senior principal, Marsh and McLennan Capital; former chairman, Goldman, Sachs and Company

GARY HART, of counsel, Coudert Brothers; former senator (D-Colo.)

JAMES K. KALLSTROM, 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

JOSHUA LEDERBERG, president emeritus and Sackler Foundation Scholar, Rockefeller University; Nobel laureate

DONALD B. MARRON, chairman, UBS America; managing general partner of Lightyear Capital; former chairman and chief executive officer, Paine Webber Group Inc.

PHILIP A. ODEEN, chairman, TRW Inc.; former president of BDM International, Inc.

WARREN B. RUDMAN, partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison; former senator (R-N.H.)

GEORGE P. SHULTZ, 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

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, 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

HAROLD E. VARMUS, president and chief executive officer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Former Director, National Institutes of Health; Nobel laureate

JOHN W. VESSEY, chairman, Center for Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations; former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

WILLIAM H. WEBSTER, partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy; former director, Central Intelligence; former director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

STEVEN WEINBERG, director of the Theory Group, University of Texas; Nobel laureate

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