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Editor’s note: “Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts” is here! One of America’s most decorated soldiers, Col. David Hackworth, writes about the hopeless to hardcore transformation of the 4/39th Infantry Battalion and lays bare his most daring and legendary tour of duty. Autographed copies now available in WorldNetDaily’s online store!

Last week, Congress convened in New York City to pay tribute to the victims and heroes of the most devastating attack in our country’s history. As I watched these skilled performers – wearing their mourners’ masks, making solemn speeches – I could only wonder why none of our lawmakers ever took action on the findings of the Hart-Rudman Commission.

Slapped on their desks after almost a dozen attacks by Osama bin Laden against our soldiers, sailors, airmen and installations – 17 months before he clobbered us during his second terrible go at the twin towers – the report stated: “America’s safety from direct attack, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, by either states or terrorists” is of critical concern to our country, which “must focus anew on how to maintain a robust and powerful deterrent to all forms of attacks on its territory and its critical assets.”

Hart-Rudman’s prescient recommendation calling for a cabinet-level National Homeland Security Agency, which would recast “crippled” State and Defense departments so sorely in need of change, got the same treatment as the early warnings that the Japanese were going to do us at Pearl Harbor. Probably because in early 2000 the name of the game was – as always – protecting the pork: Congress and the president were ready to fling cruise missiles at the terrorist camps whenever they zapped a U.S. ship, embassy or base and were using these incidents to garner more gold-plated toys for our conventionally oriented military to mount another Cold War.

Bin Laden and his martyrs-in-the-making all but gave Congress, our multiple intelligence agencies, the Pentagon and the rest of our more-than-half-a-trillion-dollars-a-year national-security apparatus an engraved invitation to 9-11. But once again, only a few grunts at the bottom got the message, and, as usual, nobody at the top bothered to listen.

Our country never learns until it’s too late. From Japan’s surprise attack to the sinking of the USS Cole to 9-11, our well-funded watchdogs tend to snooze on duty.

Now some Americans are rationalizing 9-11 as a big wake-up. Except that after our Navy, Air Force and Special Forces heroes kicked the Taliban’s butt in Afghanistan, most of us spent a few months waving flags and checking our rearview mirrors – and then we pretty much lost interest.

Not a smart move, since this is no conventional fight that was all wrapped up when Kabul fell. We are engaged in a new kind of war – a conflict that has nothing to do with turf and everything to do with hit-and-run terrorist attacks – in which our current military’s Cold War structure and M.O. won’t hack it. A war we won’t win with wide-open borders that terrorists can still breach by the SUV-load, or seaports where they can easily ship in containers of WMD, or airports where little old ladies get a harder shake than men who could pass for twin-tower mastermind Mohamed Atta’s twin brother.

Ask yourself how many terrorist sleepers waiting for “execute” orders have been nailed in the past year. Or how many terrorist sympathizers still raising millions of bucks on our soil to fund their campaigns against us have been rolled up. Sure, there are dozens of ongoing investigations, but they are disjointed, disorganized and watching-grass-grow slow. And our intelligence agencies are still refusing to work together and fully share critical information.

One year after 9-11, our outfits fighting terrorism remain huge bureaucracies that are fat around the middle, slow on their feet, take forever to make a decision and seem more interested in their own survival than our country’s. And guess what, folks: Two and one-half years after the Hart-Rudman report hit Congress – after all the carnage – that long-winded body still doesn’t have the Homeland Security Agency up and running!

Unless Congress gets its head out of business-as-usual and starts leading from the front, we’ll do a lot more bleeding before our blubber-laden officialdom wakes up and understands the war at hand enough to get it right somewhere down the track.

If we had more veterans in Congress, for sure we’d shift gears faster. You tend to get your war-fighting priorities together and see defense matters a lot more clearly if you’ve spent hard time in a hot foxhole.

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