"We cannot claim success today," Christopher Kojm, the former deputy director of the 9/11 commission, said earlier this afternoon. "Failure looms. Failure is a possibility--because we are not addressing the threat."
His comments came during a special lunchtime forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an influential think tank. He was joined at the talk by Michael Hurley, a former CIA agent and National Security Council adviser who served as a senior counsel for the commission.
Like Kojm, Hurley was critical of U.S. foreign policy priorities, saying that "we are in trouble in Afghanistan" and that, since fall 2006, the "Taliban leadership has operated openly in Pakistan border cities."
Their criticisms reflect a continued feeling of dissatisfaction among the members and staffers of the 9/11 commission, who have repeatedly criticized the federal government for ignoring their recommendations.
On Wednesday, harking back to the commission's original 41 recommendations from July 2004, both men noted that some progress had been made toward implementing domestic reforms, such as the creation, in 2004, of the director of national intelligence.
But their assessment of progress on foreign policy prerogatives was decidedly negative, particularly on the subject of safeguarding weapons of mass destruction. At one point, Hurley said, "The risk of nuclear weapons being used today [by al Qaeda] is growing, not receding."
Kojm and Hurley are not alone in their criticisms, either. In an op-ed piece that ran on Sunday in the Washington Post, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton--the former chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 commission--expressed similar frustration with the response of the government in the past two years:
Four years ago,then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld famously asked his advisers: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrasahs and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" The answer is no.
By Kent Garber