Commission’s follow-up report is appalling

The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., Dec. 14, 2005:

Members of the Sept. 11 Commission took an extraordinary and responsible step by conducting a privately financed follow-up to their historic 2004 report. The results were frightening: The federal government earned F grades in implementing a number of the commission’s recommendations.

It is incomprehensible that four years after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, the government still fails to check the names of airline passengers against lists of suspected terrorists. Congress and the Bush administration have deplorably awarded homeland security grants as pork-barrel rewards instead of systematically placing the most money in the most vulnerable areas. In all, the follow-up report gave the government 17 F’s or D’s as opposed to a single A-.

The history of federal government commissions issuing findings that result in true reform is sad. Too often, the reports meet the fate of the Ark of the Covenant in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” — boxed away and put into storage. The work of the Sept. 11 Commission is far too important to meet that fate. The safety of the nation is literally at stake.

Congress and the Bush administration need to wake up to the reality of the panel’s follow-up report: The nation cannot afford an F in homeland security for long.

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