The world is a better place now that the tyrant from Tikrit has been hoisted out of his fetid little hole. Our president, intelligence officers, and brave men and women in uniform deserve the highest praise and prayers for a job well done.
But the euphoria over Saddam Hussein's capture abroad must be tempered by the lingering reality of national security deficiencies here at home. Yes, we are safer now that Hussein is in custody. But we could and should be a lot safer still.
A little-noticed report released this week by the federal homeland security commission cautioned that anti-terrorism "momentum appears to have waned" and efforts are often hampered by "the lack of a clear, articulated vision from the federal level." Chaired by former GOP Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, the nonpartisan panel warned of the nation's vulnerability to agroterrorism, among other weaknesses, and outlined continuing problems with intelligence and information-sharing between the feds and local and state law enforcement agencies.
Indeed, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's promise to expand immigration-related data being given to state and local police agencies (including data on felons, foreigners in the country who have registered through the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, immigration-law violators and aliens with outstanding criminal warrants) is proceeding at a "snail's pace," according to Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, John Cornyn of Texas and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, and Democrat Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia.
More than two years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the federal government is only now getting around to comprehensively assessing its biodefense spending priorities. According to The Washington Post, a classified report cataloguing gaps in the nation's safeguards against biological attack is "nearly finished" and that "first steps" toward reducing the bioterror threat are finally being taken. The 2001 anthrax attacks remain unsolved.