Safety first? Hardly

President Bush has seen the light, apparently.

For nearly three years since 9/11, he resisted efforts to analyze the events leading up to the worst attacks on America in history. It was as if he believed only he and his minions understood what had happened and anybody else’s effort to understand would only confuse the issue and distract from the war on terrorism. This is a guy who believes he makes no mistakes, after all.

Now that the 9/11 Commission’s report is out, however, the president is calling for implementation of its recommendations as swiftly as possible. Which leads us to wonder: What has he been doing all this time?

The answer, of course, is waging war on Iraq, a nation that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, as the report states in no uncertain terms.

Meanwhile, as Stephen Flynn points out in his book America the Vulnerable, we remain exposed to terrorism in many areas that are critical to our way of life: seaports and cargo containers; chemical and nuclear-power plants and refineries; food and water supplies; tunnels, trains and bridges; and the cybersystem that connects us informationally. Our borders are porous, and the enhanced security measures at airports only camouflage their weaknesses, such as the lack of inspection of air freight going into commercial airliners.

Much of the problem is that, while the federal government has been fighting terrorism by waging a horrendously costly and unnecessary war overseas in Iraq, it has left homeland security up to budget-strapped states, cities, counties, port authorities and other local agencies. There are more than 15,000 chemical plants in the United States, for example, many of them producing toxins that, if dispersed, could kill thousands or even millions of people, and yet plant security is laughable.

We can’t help but think the president’s sudden conversion has more to do with politics than any real desire to make the country safer. If safety were his goal, he would have done much more before now.