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Checkpoint Washington
Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 08/31/2011

A report card on post-Sept. 11 reforms

The 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is inspiring countless assessments of all that has happened in the intervening years.

There’s an investigation into charities established to serve families of the fallen. There’s a series of intelligence hearings on Capitol Hill. There’s even a national report card on states’ plans to protect children in the event of disaster.

Among the most noteworthy is a “report card” released Wednesday by the Bipartisan Policy Center documenting the status of the recommendations issued in 2004 by the 9/11 Commission.

Of the 41 recommendations, nine have been inadequately implemented, or not implemented at all, according to the authors of the report, who include former members of the 9/11 Commission. Among their concerns is that the Transportation Security Administration still lacks reliable explosives detection technology and capacity to detect concealed weapons; that the director of national intelligence still has not been provided with enough authority; and that not all states have met federal benchmarks aimed at establishing standardized secure IDs.

“A decade after 9/11 the nation is not yet prepared for a truly catastrophic disaster,” the authors say.

None of that means the government’s post-Sept. 11 changes have been a failure. The report cites significant progress in improving homeland security, notably in the case of intelligence sharing and in the overall screening of airline passengers. Entire agencies have been established, and the nation’s intelligence and security infrastructure has been reconfigured.

The assessment also reads like a significant improvement over a report card issued a year after the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations. That report card, also compiled by former members of the 9/11 Commission, assigned the government a series of failing letter grades — five F’s, 12 D’s and two “incompletes.”

The newest report, which forgoes letter grades, delivers an unmistakable message, nonetheless: More must be done, particularly as the threat the nation faces evolves, with greater concerns being placed on the capabilities of al-Qaeda’s affiliates and of homegrown terrorists.

“Our agencies and their dedicated workforces enacted much change and we commend their achievements in protecting the American people,” write the authors, including Thomas Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 commission, and his former vice chairman, Lee Hamilton. “But there is a tendency toward inertia in all bureaucracies. Vigorous congressional oversight is imperative to ensure sustained vigilance and continued reforms.”

The full report can be found here.

By  |  05:30 AM ET, 08/31/2011

 
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