Kean And Hamilton On "Meet The Press"


MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Governor Kean, Congressman Hamilton, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

FMR. REP. LEE HAMILTON, (D-IN; Vice Chair, 9-11 Commission): Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me take you back in the middle of the presidential campaign, July 22, 2004, outside the White House. Here's President George Bush greeting and accepting your report. Let's watch.

(Videotape, July 22, 2004):

PRES. BUSH: These two men bring a commonsense approach to how to move forward.

And the report that they are about to present to me puts out some very constructive recommendations, and I look forward to studying their recommendations and look forward to working with responsible parties within my administration to move forward on those recommendations.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "To move forward on recommendations." In all honesty, Governor, what grade would you give the president for adopting and enacting your recommendations?

FMR. GOV. THOMAS KEAN, (R-N.J.; Chair, 9-11 Commission): We're going to grade everybody. We're not going to grade the president. But what we've said is that we've not moved forward to the extent we should. We've made some progress, very little progress in some areas. It's not a priority for the government right now. You don't see the Congress or the president talking about the public safety is number one, as we think it should be, and a lot of the things we need to do really to prevent another 9/11 just simply aren't being done by the president or by the Congress.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe that you were being, in effect, used by the president during the campaign with that photo op?

MR. KEAN: Oh, I don't think we were being used. He accepted our report. We were happy he did. What we're concerned about now is that these recommendations more than four years after 9/11 are still not being done. People are not paying attention to them. And if they're not put into place, we are very vulnerable as a people to another attack.

MR. RUSSERT: You both wrote an op-ed piece September 11, 2005, just two months ago, and this is what you pointed out. One, "Allocate `first responder' funding on the basis of risk, not politics." Two, "Complete critical risk assessments mandated by the Intelligence Reform Act." Three, "Provide reliable radio spectrum for emergency responders." Four, "Establish a unified Incident Command System."

Congressman Hamilton, has any of that been done?

MR. HAMILTON: Well, certainly not enough. On the question of setting aside part of the radio spectrum for the first responders, there's an important bill pending right now in the Congress. We hope it will be approved within the next few days. It really approaches scandal to think that four years after 9/11, the police and the fire cannot talk to one another at the scene of the disaster.

MR. RUSSERT: We should--tell our viewers about that. The District of Columbia police and fire could not speak to Arlington, Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, over at the Pentagon. During Katrina, local, state and federal officials could not communicate with each other because the bands on which they were trying to communicate were not compatible.

MR. HAMILTON: Absolutely. This is a no-brainer. From the standpoint of responding to a disaster, the key responders must be able to talk with one another. They could not do it on 9/11, and as a result of that, lives were lost. They could not do it at Katrina. They still cannot do it. And we think this is-- must be urgently considered and approved. Now, that's not the only problem.

MR. RUSSERT: Will it get fixed this week?

MR. HAMILTON: I don't know.


MR. HAMILTON: It's a close call.

MR. KEAN: No, it's not...

MR. HAMILTON: We don't know.

MR. KEAN: It's not going to be fixed this week because the best hope we have is a bill that fixes it by '09.

MR. HAMILTON: Oh, yes.

MR. KEAN: Now, '09 is not soon enough. Actually, the leader on this has been your previous guest, John McCain, who understands this issue, has been fighting for it, but the special interests have prevailed up to this point.

MR. RUSSERT: How about first responder funding on the basis of risk, not politics? People in--per capita spending in Wyoming, more than New York, and--which is higher risk for terrorists.

MR. HAMILTON: We've had some of this money spent to air condition garbage trucks. We've had some of the money spent for armor for dogs. This money is being distributed as if it's general revenue sharing. We want that money distributed according to the best information we have about the risks and the vulnerabilities. The money should flow to protect the lives of the American people. It is not now being done and should be done.

MR. RUSSERT: Who's accountable? Who's accountable?

MR. HAMILTON: Right now, the Congress is accountable. The president supports our recommendation. The Congress has this before it this week as well, and we think it's critically important it be adopted.

MR. RUSSERT: Complete critical risk assessments mandated by the Intelligence Reform Act. You ask that Homeland Security go out and look at nuclear power plants and chemical plants and make a risk assessment. Why hasn't that been done?

MR. KEAN: Well, they did something that's totally inadequate. It doesn't set the priorities out, it just sets basically vague guidelines what the priorities should be. And you can't allocate funds properly until you know what your risks are, and that's what we're trying to get people to do, and that's mandated by the law and they just have not done it. When you put these things together--right now, by the way, the bill we just talked about is a 5-5 vote in the Conference Committee in the Senate. If one more senator votes the right way, we can get risk assessment done. So we're very close to that one. It'll be decided this week.

MR. HAMILTON: See, the key problem here is making hard choices. What we do is continue to talk about hard choices. We don't make the hard choices, and the hard choices require us to do what Tom said, and that is make distinctions, the priorities: This needs to be protected, that we don't have sufficient funds to protect.

MR. RUSSERT: Washington, D.C., is a higher risk, New York City is a higher risk than perhaps a rural community in Utah or in Wyoming.

MR. KEAN: That's absolutely right.

MR. HAMILTON: We know what the terrorists want to do. They want to kill as many Americans as possible. That means you go after New York City, not rural southern Indiana. It means they want to strike the symbolic targets of America. They have said this. That means you protect the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol and not other places.

MR. RUSSERT: Establish a unified incident command system.

MR. KEAN: That is so important and we saw it. Katrina. I mean, there was such confusion at that point. It's at state, local, everybody else. Nobody knew who was in charge. Nobody knew by the way who was in charge on 9/11 when people responded to the World Trade Center. Police, fire, Port Authority--nobody knew who was in charge. The same thing happened in Katrina. We suggested every single state, every single locality, you've got to know who's in charge. We have Bloomberg doing that now in New York. Other leaders have got to do it. One person's got to be in charge.

MR. RUSSERT: It sounds like on these four areas, it's an F. Is that fair?

MR. KEAN: Well, we may be giving grades tomorrow and I'll tell you there are more F's, unfortunately than there are A's.

MR. HAMILTON: But if these two bills are passed...

MR. KEAN: Yeah. Yeah.

MR. HAMILTON: ...on radio spectrum and allocation of funds, the grades will quickly switch...

MR. KEAN: Yeah.

MR. HAMILTON: a B or an A. So some of these things can be corrected quickly. Others cannot.

MR. RUSSERT: The Transportation Security Administration has made a decision that they're going to allow scissors with a blade of four inches and tools of seven inches or more be allowed to take them on airplanes. Is that a good idea?

MR. KEAN: Personally, I don't think so. I don't think we have to go backward on here. They're talking about using more money for random checks. I don't think random checks are very good anyway. That's pulling out your grandmother because she came up on a computer. That's not what we should be doing. And to switch--and by the way, talking about TSA, four years after 9/11, there still isn't a unified watch list, in other words, of terrorists. Terrorists coming through the airport may still not be spotted 'cause the agencies still haven't gotten together. There's still not a unified watch list.

MR. HAMILTON: On the question of the scissors, I think that's a tough one. One of the things we said in the report is that you should make a judgment as to what the high risks are. I worry more about what's in the cargo container than the people on the airplane today. So we said that one of the really great risks are explosions taking place in the cargo hold. We have to get much, much better than we are today at being able to detect those explosions. Now, the TSA, the Transportation Security Agencies, they can't do it all. You have to allocate resources, so judgments have to be made. I'm a little skittish as I guess Tom is about a four-inch or three-inch scissors. Remember the hijackers were very sophisticated people.

MR. RUSSERT: Box cutters.

End Part I