Remember, you’re a Senator, too

A lot of noise is being made over the recently-released 9/11 Report, which slid off the presses just in time for Congress to depart for its annual August recess. Critics – including the families of 9/11 victims – are questioning the lack of immediate response from both parties. At the outset, Republicans and Democrats alike seemed to indicate that the commission’s report would need to be digested and considered before action could be taken.

Neither party handled the issue well at first; once the backlash began, however, so did the jockeying for position. Much to the dismay of House Democrats, Republican leadership beat them to the punch by announcing a series of Homeland Security Committee hearings starting August 16. Not to be outdone, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the Democrats would be caucusing six days earlier, in order to get a jumpstart on saving the nation from future terrorist attacks.

In stump speeches today, John Kerry jumped on the bandwagon, criticizing President Bush for failing to act on the report immediately after its release. Slate’s Mickey Kaus quotes Kerry saying that, as President, he “would have immediately said to the commission, yes, we’re going to implement those recommendations.” While I’m not doubting that he might have, he might be forgetting something.

While it’s clear that some of the Commission’s recommendations can be carried out within the regulatory power of the Administration, some of the most talked about recommendations – including the creation of a unifying umbrella for the intelligence community under cabinet-level National Intelligence Director – require Congressional action. As a United States Senator, Kerry could act on this directly.

While he’s clearly busy with his nominating convention this week, perhaps he’ll whip up his Senate staff to write that bill over the weekend.

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