In March 2003, when the world’s attention was focused on U.S. soldiers heading to Baghdad, twelve senior officials in the Bush administration gathered around a long oak conference table in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex. They were meeting to put the final touches on a proposed legislative package that would address what was perhaps the most dangerous vulnerability the country faced after 9/11: unprotected chemical plants close to densely populated areas.
The Washington Monthly article continues:
The package was the product of nearly a year’s worth of work led by Tom Ridge, head of the Department of Homeland Security (previously head of the White House Office of Homeland Security), and Christine Todd Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Both had been governors of northeastern states (Ridge of Pennsylvania and Whitman of New Jersey) with a large number of chemical plants, and this only increased their concern about leaving such facilities unprotected. EPA staff felt such fears even more acutely: agency data showed that at least 700 sites across the country could potentially kill or injure 100,000 or more people if attacked.
Then, guess who entered the room? Read on.