The three broadcast networks all did segments this evening on the former 9/11 commission’s report card released today. Though all three focused on the negatives, only the "CBS Evening News” ignored the good grades given by the commission, while also failing to mention that a key problem highlighted in this report is already being addressed by legislation pending in Congress (video link to follow).
Bob Orr quickly gave a rundown of the “F’s” and the “D’s” given by former commission members for the government achieving a set of priorities they deemed necessary to avert another terrorist attack. However, as can be seen in the full report card, Orr chose not to mention any of the 12 “B’s” given by the commission, or the “A-” obtained for “Terrorist Financing.” Orr also reported:
“The botched response to hurricane Katrina recently revealed another glaring security hole. Despite $8 billion spent nationally to train and equip first responders, police and fire crews in New Orleans still could not talk to one another by radio. The same disconnect crippled crews at ground zero four years ago.”
Unlike his brethren at the other networks, Orr chose not to inform his viewers that this is being addressed by legislation pending in front of Congress.
Finally, what none of these news organizations chose to do was calculate an average score from this report card. Assuming that legislation addressed by this commission pending in front of Congress passes, a cumulative grade would be roughly a “C,” which is clearly better than all three networks depicted.
What follows is a full transcript of this report and a video link.
Bob Orr: Since the attack on America, taxpayers have spent tens of billions of dollars to secure airports, harbors and cities, and to better prepare firefighters and police. But in a scathing final report today, the former 9/11 commission warned the U.S. remains vulnerable to another terrorist attack.
Former commission member Tom Kean: Four years after 9/11 we are not as safe as we could be, and that's simply not acceptable.
Orr: In a report card peppered with abysmal grades, commissioners gave: An "F" for aviation security, noting passengers are still not screened against a master terror list; an "F" for pork-barrel spending that does not target security grants to areas of highest risk; and a "D" for efforts to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists.
Sen. Tim Roemer: And we know next it may be a dirty bomb, a chemical attack, maybe a nuclear weapon. When will our government wake up?
Orr: The botched response to hurricane Katrina recently revealed another glaring security hole. Despite $8 billion spent nationally to train and equip first responders, police and fire crews in New Orleans still could not talk to one another by radio. The same disconnect crippled crews at ground zero four years ago. Commission members say many of the homeland security dollars have been squandered. Columbus, Ohio, bought bulletproof vests for its fire department dogs. Newark, New Jersey, bought air-conditioned trash trucks. It's past time, commission members warned, to get serious.
Kean: We believe the terrorists will strike again.
Orr: But the Bush administration insists homeland defense is its top priority.
Fran Townsend, White House Homeland Security Advisor: We've gone three and a half years without another terrorist attack. That's because we work hard at this every single day.
Orr: There's no credible intelligence suggesting that any new terror strike is imminent. But one commission member soberly summed up the findings by suggesting that al Qaeda seems more dedicated to attacking us, than we are to defending ourselves. Bob Orr, CBS News, Washington.