It has only taken three years, but at last, the recommendations of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection are finally being taken seriously. In his new role as chief of the new Office of Homeland Security, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge should take full advantage of the blueprint for national security drawn up during the Clinton administration.
Retired Air Force Gen. Thomas Marsh, who headed the commission, said, "We should have a totally integrated plan by now, and it ought to be an aggressive plan to protect ourselves against a terrorist attack." Obviously, we do not.
As federal and state agencies rush to secure water systems, oil and gas delivery systems, electricity generation and transmission operations, transportation systems and information technology, the lack of coordination has become dangerously evident.
Uncompleted plans: The national anti-terrorism plan from the public and private sectors the commission called for was never completed. The recommended centers for sharing information about terrorist threats are not operating in the critical areas of water supply, transportation and law enforcement. A council made up of industry leaders and government officials to plan for terrorist attacks never got off the ground.
Now, the United States is in the unenviable position of playing catch-up. No only that, but as various government agencies and private companies rush around to ensure that the potential for security breaches cannot be realized, there remains the likelihood that a duplication of effort resulting from the frenzy may spread resources so thin that significant concerns may be inadvertently overlooked.