Bush approves 9/11 bill

President Bush signed into law the 9/11 Commission legislation that focuses on homeland security issues. The legislation includes provisions for increased interoperability, oversight and intelligence. It also includes grants for rail, transit and bus security, and for state and local governments.

“This legislation builds upon the considerable progress we have made in strengthening our defenses and protecting Americans since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” President Bush said in a statement today. “I thank members of both parties in Congress who worked on this legislation and I appreciate the willingness of members to strengthen provisions we believed would have weakened our security.”

Officially titled the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the bill was passed by both the House and the Senate last week. The legislation lets grants be awarded on a risk-based system, eases foreign travel through the Visa Waiver Program, and requires 100 percent screening of all aviation and maritime cargo within five years.

In a statement released last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said, “When [this bill] is law, homeland security grants will finally be allocated based on risk. Targeted communities will get the federal help they need. First responders will have interoperable communications. Privacy and civil liberties will be central in how we approach homeland security. Our rail, mass transit and aviation systems will be more secure.”

The bill was introduced in the House more than six months ago. It is based on recommendations by the independent 9/11 Commission. Congress and the White House already met some of the recommendations by the commission, such as establishing a director of national intelligence and increasing border security.

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