The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Insiders: Feinstein and Rogers say the U.S. is less safe. Why isn’t anyone listening?

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In case you missed it, there was an important bipartisan declaration over the weekend. On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), and the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), said point blank that America is not as safe today as it was one or two years ago.  Specifically, they told us that “terror is up worldwide” and “there is huge malevolence out there” against the United States.

Feinstein and Rogers can both be counted among the adults in Washington; they do not say reckless things and neither goes off half-cocked. Both have reputations for being candid, measured and informed. Their bipartisan conclusion should be big news.

Does the White House share the view of Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers about our security situation? If so, what does the White House think should be done? And if they disagree, then they should say why the committee chairs are wrong.

Who should be held accountable for our deteriorating security? How is our security even measured? The bottom line is that nothing is more important than the safety of Americans, and when the senior officials tasked with ensuring our security say something is not working, our political leaders need to take action or at least explain what they are doing. It is an indictment of Washington that our security condition has been allowed to worsen rather than been improved. And why isn’t the media pursuing this more aggressively? ‎They should be criticized for not treating this as a bigger story.

Much of what preoccupies Washington and surfaces in the media can be characterized as either urgent, important or interesting. Things that are often considered urgent are not, in fact, important. And things that pass for interesting are often trivial.

What Rogers and Feinstein said raises some vital questions, and the answers to those questions should be treated as the perfect trifecta of urgent, important and interesting. We need to know why we are less secure today than we were two years ago. Is it because greater security is unachievable, or because our government isn’t performing as it should to protect us? It is unfortunate that national security issues don’t drive votes in our elections unless there is a crisis. If the worst happens and Americans are harmed on U.S. soil, we will all want to know why the system didn’t pay attention to and follow up on the warning by Feinstein and Rogers.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC