WASHINGTON â€” Despite the outlay of hundreds of billions of dollars and a vast reorganization of federal agencies since the Sept. 11 attacks, major gaps remain in the governmentâ€™s ability to prevent and respond to a terrorist strike, according to an assessment by the former heads of the 9/11 Commission.
The report, which will be released Wednesday, warns that the nationâ€™s ability to detect explosives hidden on passengers boarding airplanes â€œlacks reliability.â€ It describes emergency communications used by first responders in urban areas as â€œinadequate.â€ And it calls efforts to coordinate rescues â€œa long way from being fully implemented.â€
The panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was created by Congress in late 2002 as an independent, bipartisan group to investigate the hijackings of four jetliners by al-Qaida operatives. Its final report included numerous recommendations for reforms in the intelligence, law enforcement and domestic security communities.
The new assessment comes from the panelâ€™s onetime chairs, former Republican New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, D-Ind..
The committee also faults the Department of Homeland Security and Congress for failing to create a way to track when people leave the country and for not implementing tougher security requirements for identity cards.
â€œA decade after 9/11, the nation is not yet prepared for a truly catastrophic disaster,â€ says the report, titled â€œTenth Anniversary Report Card: The Status of 9/11 Commission Recommendations.â€
â€œUntil some of these things are done, we arenâ€™t going to be as safe as we should be,â€ Kean said in an interview.
Kean said it was â€œoutrageousâ€ that Congress had not passed a law to allocate new radio spectrum to first responders.