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Panel: U.S. Government Failing in Sept. 11 Response

The U.S. government is failing in its efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks like those of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a report by former members of the Sept. 11 Commission. The panel assigned grades to the efforts of the White House and Congress to fight terrorism -- and most of them are D's and F's.

Blaming both Congress and the White House, panel members said the urgency of dealing with the terrorist threat seems to have diminished over the past four years.

"We believe that the terrorists will strike again, so does every responsible expert that we have talked to," said Tom Kean, the commission's former chairman. "If they do, and these reforms that might have prevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuses be?"

The follow-up report comes more than a year after the panel issued its recommendations to prevent more attacks, and members say the results have been disappointing.

As they did on Sept. 11, police and fire crews still have problems communicating with each other when they're at the site of an emergency because their radio equipment is often incompatible, the panel noted.

The sole bright spot on the report is an A-, earned by a "vigorous effort against terrorist financing."

The panel members gave out failing grades for the U.S. response to its urgings to "improve airline passenger prescreening" and to "declassify overall intelligence budget." They issued a grade of "F" for a failure to create "standards for terrorist detention" -- saying the U.S. strategy "makes it harder to build the necessary alliances" to work against global terror networks.

The commission members did give a "B" to efforts to reorganize the nation's intelligence agencies, although some panel members said progress was slow.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.