Amidst all the chirping and griping regarding the country's preparedness for terrorist attacks that the 9-11 Commission has essentially exacerbated, there is a distinct lack of political context. Here are some under-reported factors.
In early 2001, Tom Daschle and the Democrats in the 50-50 Senate decided to engage in a power play to obtain more influence than the usual amount that a minority party (VP Cheney made it a 51-50 Republican Senate) had traditionally wielded. Daschle really attempted to be the ultimate power broker in Washington. His attempt failed because the public tends to gravitate toward the President, not a random Senator, and because Daschle has minimal charisma.
In early 2001, the political atmosphere was still thick with the partisan fog that arose from the Florida recount battle, and that sniping continued until 9-11 even though an independent newspaper investigation showed that, under the Gore campaign's recount standard, President Bush's margin of victory in Florida would have trebled.
In early 2001, the Bush appointments for numerous security posts had not been confirmed or placed until March or April that year.
The country was not on a war-footing, except for domestic politicking.