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We Dare Not Repeat the Mistakes of 9/11

The 9/11 Commission Report stated without equivocation: “The dispute over the [2000] election and the 36-day delay cut in half the normal transition period. Given that a presidential election in the United States brings wholesale change in personnel, this loss of time hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.”

The report found that “the new [George W. Bush] administration did not have its deputy cabinet officers in place until the spring of 2001, and the critical subcabinet officials were not confirmed until the summer — if then. In other words, the new administration — like others before it — did not have its team on the job until at least six months after it took office.”

While the 9/11 Commission’s proposal for reorganization of the intelligence community had the most lasting impact, it also warned about the need to address “as much as possible the disruption of national security policymaking during the change of administrations by accelerating the process for national security appointments.” Its recommendations for a seamless transition included allowing the possible successor even before the election to “submit the names of selected members of their prospective transition teams to the FBI so that, if necessary, those team members can obtain security clearances immediately after the election is over.” It also recommended that immediately after the election, the president-elect should be allowed to begin the process of obtaining security clearances for his national security picks “so that their background investigations can be complete before January 20.” (The commission also urged quick submission of national security nominees and approval by the Senate within 30 days of Jan. 20.)


In refusing to move ahead with the national security aspects of the transition process, President Trump and the General Services Administration’s chief Emily W. Murphy are flagrantly violating the spirit and terms of the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act, disregarding the advice of the 9/11 Commission and willfully putting the country at great risk. It is not enough for members of Congress to mumble requests for them to move along. Republicans in particular are playing Russian roulette with our national security as they indulge the president’s delusions. All members of the so-called Gang of Eight (the speaker and minority leader in the House, the Senate majority and minority leader, and the chairs and ranking minority members of each chamber’s intelligence committee), both in writing and in a live press conference, should demand that Murphy perform her duties and that Trump stop impeding the transition law meant to prevent a national security calamity.

Read entire article at Washington Post