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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Failing this report card could turn out deadly

A report card issued by the 9/11 Commission should send a shiver up the spines of Americans who expect that terrorists will try to replicate the horror of Sept. 11, 2001.

Some have argued the federal government knew enough about al-Qaida tactics before the terrorist attacks in 2001 — including the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 — that it should have been prepared. It is doubtful that any rational person would argue our government can now claim ignorance of the threat of another attack.

According to the final report of the Commission, released Monday, the government is lapsing into the counter-terrorism lethargy that existed before 2,819 people died at the hands of suicidal Islamic militants.

Presented in report-card format, the 9/11 Commission's report is damning. First responders still lack the ability to communicate with each other by radio. Washington has yet to prioritize likely terrorist targets, so Homeland Security grants are distributed through the age-old pork barrel system.

The Commission's recommended development of pre-screening for airline passengers remains tied up in red tape. The intelligence budget remains classified, a practice that theoretically protects information from terrorists but, in practice, merely eliminates meaningful congressional oversight.

Not all of the report card is negative, but much is.

The chairman was direct in his assessment of federal efforts to prevent another attack.

"We shouldn't need another wake-up call. We believe that the terrorists will strike again, so does every responsible expert that we have talked to. And if they do, and these reforms that might have prevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuse be?"

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