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9/11 Commission Dismayed by Inaction

THE 9/11 COMMISSION—formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—disbanded in August 2004, but its ten commissioners didn’t simply move on. Instead, they created an organization, called the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, to foster public education on terrorism. They are also gauging the progress made on the commission’s 41 recommendations, which they note as being largely disappointing.

Assessing the status of 28 recommendations on emergency preparedness and response, transportation security, border security, the intelligence community, civil liberties, and reform, the committee identified five showing “unsatisfactory progress,” one showing “insufficient progress,” 13 showing “minimal progress,” and nine showing “some progress.” Faring worst were the progress on assessing national critical infrastructure risks, creating a national strategy for transportation security, improving airline passenger prescreening (see related item in this column, page 24), declassifying the intelligence budget, and collaborating with other countries on borders and document security.

“The U.S. is not moving to include fingerprints in passports and therefore is not taking a leadership role in passport security,” the report says. Other problems identified by the project include an insufficient radio system for first responders, slow adoption by first responders of the Incident Command System, and a homeland-security-grant process still largely dictated by politics rather than risk.

The best results were generally achieved in the border security arena. “Some progress” has been made in improving terrorist travel intelligence, creating and implementing a biometric entry-exit screening system (US-VISIT), and standardizing secure identifications (via the REAL ID Act, which established standards for state-issued IDs).