9/11 Families: terrorists are adapting for the future, but Congress is stuck in the past

Dear families and friends,

I was asked by the 9/11 Commission to pass along this very important information regarding Congressional oversight. I feel it is critical to the security of our country. Please reach out to your Senators and Congress folks to act now to reform the DHS.

I added a couple of sites below for further reading on the subject.

Thanks and God bless all and our Country.

Lee Ielpi, President, September 11th Families’ Association

Intelligence Oversight: Is Congress the Problem? | PBS NewsHour

Reforming Congressional Oversight of DHS Still Priority One, 9/11 …

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9/11 Families:  Terrorists are Adapting for the Future, But Congress is Stuck in the Past — Reforming Congressional Oversight

With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), we have witnessed a new kind of “open-source” terrorism.  Extremists are digitally inspiring, recruiting, and training new operatives over the internet.

The result is a wave of terror across the world, putting America and its allies in the most serious threat environment since 9/11.

While our terrorist enemies are adapting quickly, in many ways we are not.

Lawmakers in Washington have failed to make crucial reforms needed to keep Americans safe, including fixing the legislative branch’s dysfunctional approach to homeland security.

One of the 9/11 Commission’s top recommendations was to “create a single, principal point of oversight and review for home land security” in Congress—in other words, a designated committee in the House and Senate focused exclusively on those issues.

But the reality today is far from what the 9/11 Commission envisioned. Although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) brought together roughly two-dozen different agencies, Congress never followed suit by streamlining the oversight of those agencies.

In fact, nearly 100 Congressional committees and subcommittees now oversee DHS, far more than any other department or agency.

In the House, for instance, there is a Homeland Security Committee.  But it only has the authority—or “jurisdiction”—to oversee a mere fraction of DHS and its counterterrorism activities.

The rest of the oversight power is spread across an array of different House committees with different perspectives and, in some cases, staff who are unfamiliar with DHS issues.

This confusing arrangement magnifies political infighting, creates needless overlap, and—worst of all—stalls critical legislation for protecting our country.

Every year important security and counterterrorism bills get stuck inside the Congressional bureaucracy because of competing committee jurisdiction.

Now more than ever we need to clean up this mess.

As friends and family members of those who lost their lives on 9/11, we call on our elected leaders to stop fighting turf wars and do more to fight the terrorists that are trying to attack our country.

It’s not a matter of time or resources.  It’s a matter of political will.

Op-Ed – Reforming Congressional Oversight

House and Senate leaders must decide that enough is enough and streamline Congressional oversight.

Failure to fix the problem not only weakens our ability to combat terrorism, it hampers our efforts to keep criminals out of the country, protect our networks against cyber threats, and more.

Many Americans will be surprised to learn that a number of federal agencies within DHS—including those responsible for stopping cyber intrusions and for screening new immigrants—have not been properly “authorized” in law and operate largely beyond Congressional authority.

That’s because the jurisdiction for these homeland security issues is spread across multiple committees who struggle to work together to conduct proper oversight.

All of this political wrangling comes at a price, and it leaves Congress unable to keep important federal agencies in check or bring them into the modern age.

Secretaries of Homeland Security from Democratic and Republican administrations have slammed the current arrangement, explaining that DHS is forced to report to a dizzying array of Congressional masters instead of focusing on its core mission.

As a result, the Department received contradictory policy guidance from these committees about how it should operate, which can slow down or stall much-needed reforms.

To be fair, as a country we have made considerable progress in the fifteen years since our nation was attacked.  We have broken down barriers to intelligence information-sharing and have managed to get law enforcement agencies at all levels of government work together to combat terrorism.

But with every attack it becomes clearer that we are fighting a 21st century terror threat with 20th century tools and a 19th century bureaucracy.

We urge Congressional leaders to stop passing the buck and reform the legislative process All of this political wrangling comes at a price, and it leaves Congress unable to keep important federal agencies in check or bring them

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USS Somerset arrives in Singapore

The USS Somerset arrived in Singapore for a scheduled port visit on November 13, 2016 while on her maiden voyage. This will be the first port visit for the ship’s crew.

During their stay, Sailors and Marines aboard USS Somerset plan to meet and befriend the local community via service projects and will also conduct professional exchanges with the Navy of the Republic of Singapore, writes Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob L. Allison from the ship.

USS Somerset is on a mission in the U.S. 7th Fleet, an area covering more than 48 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean, as a member of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group. The ship was named to honor the 40 passengers and crewmembers of United Flight 93, which was hijacked by terrorists in the 9/11 attacks.

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Memorial plaques unveiled in Paris on first anniversary of terrorist attacks

Plaques have been unveiled at the Paris sites of the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks — the Bataclan concert hall, Le Carillon bar, Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, and  the Stade de France, to honor the 130 victims killed by Islamic State gunmen, reports Angelique Chrisafis in the Guardian.

Survivors of the attacks and families of victims gathered afterward.

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