Joe Lieberman: 9/11 Legacy Is Vigilance
After 9/11 serurity for riders on Metro-North trains was heightened. Fences and video cameras helped protect the stations and the rail line. (Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant)
An army of rescue teams, law enforcement officers and investigators from local, state, out-of-state and federal agencies rushed to the plant in a well-coordinated response. The fire quickly was brought under control, victims taken to hospitals and an initial determination was made that the explosion was an accident and not a terrorist attack.
Since 2002, Connecticut state and local governments have received more than $340 million in federal homeland security grants for everything from better communications among first responders to increased rail security.
By 2010, the state had met 90 percent of the goals in its 2005 Statewide Homeland Security Strategy and was considered a "leader in regional planning" by theFederal Emergency Management Agency.
Some important Connecticut security enhancements and investments since 9/11 include:
•Created five intra-state regions to ensure coordination and planning among cities and towns, with each region creating emergency teams to determine local needs, spending and response plans.
•Used federal grants to set aside medications in case of terrorist attack, natural disaster or epidemic. The state also developed a patient tracking system so officials know where medical evacuees are sheltered.
•Started spreading the Department of Homeland Security's "see something, say something" campaign to remind residents that they are the first line of defense in detecting suspicious activities that can lead to the arrest of terrorists.
•Secured Connecticut's three major seaports from terrorists by using federal funds to purchase patrol and all-hazard fire boats and improving inspection of entering vessels.
•Installed six advanced imaging machines to detect explosives at Bradley International Airport.
•Secured Metro-North rail yards with fencing, guards and closed circuit television and installed fiber optic cable along the New Haven line for high definition video equipment at stations and throughout the system.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it's important to remember the four failures the 9/11 commission said allowed those attacks to be successful — the failures of imagination, policy, capabilities and management
The Bush and Obama administrations have worked hard with Congress to fix these four failures, and we have made great progress toward making our nation much safer than it was on 9/11. Most important, there has been no successful 9/11-type attack on America since 9/11.
Congress has adopted the following important legislation.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002, which reorganized more than 20 domestic security agencies into one strong Department of Homeland Security; the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, which requires coordination among all government intelligence agencies to "connect the dots;" the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006, which improved government's preparation for and response to disasters; the SAFE Port Act of 2006, which prevents terrorists from smuggling weapons of mass destruction through ports; and the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, which put into law additional ideas from the 9/11 Commission, such as restricting terrorist travel, better protecting civil liberties and enhancing security grants to state and local governments.
Unfortunately, federal grant money has declined and likely will be harder to get as we face tighter federal budgets.
The Islamist extremists who declared war against us during the 1990s and brutally attacked us on 9/11 continue to try to attack us and our allies, including our allies in the Muslim world.
So, on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, we can be grateful for all that has been done to prevent another attack on America, but we must not forget that, for our enemies, the war goes on. We must keep our guard up. Everything we have done to prepare for a terrorist attack also helped us during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Irene, or accidents, such as the Kleen Energy explosion. The catastrophe of 9/11 has forced us to be a more realistic and ready nation.
Joe Lieberman of Stamford is a U.S. senator who won election as an independent.