9/11 panel faults government on cybersecurity

Progress lacking in protection of critical infrastructure and providing radio spectrum to first responders, panel says.

Joris Evers Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Joris Evers covers security.
Joris Evers
2 min read
The federal government is not making enough progress in protecting critical infrastructures such as communications networks and the Internet, said former members of the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Progress also is lacking in airline security and providing radio spectrum to first responders, according to the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which is made up of the 10 individuals--five Republicans and five Democrats--who served on the Sept. 11 commission.

The 9/11 Public Discourse Project on Monday issued a report card with an A- for battling terrorist financing, but all 40 of the other grades (see PDF) were lower.

"There are far too many C's, D's and F's in the report card we will issue today. Many obvious steps that the American people assume have been completed have not been. Our leadership is distracted," the project leaders said in a statement.

Critical infrastructure protection initiatives received a D: No risk and vulnerability assessments have been made; no national priorities have been established; and no recommendations have been made on allocation of scarce resources, according to the report.

"All key decisions are at least a year away. It is time that we stop talking about setting priorities, and actually set some," the former commissioners wrote.

The shortcomings are "shocking" and "scandalous," according to the 9/11 Public Discourse Project.

The government also was faulted for a lack of agency information-sharing that's needed to strengthen intelligence, members said.

The former commissioners also critiqued the work on new, more secure ID cards according to the Real ID Act. New standards for issuing birth certificates continue to be delayed until at least early 2006. "Without movement on the birth certificate issue, state-issued IDs are still not secure," according to the report. In addition, Congress has failed to take a leading role in passport security, the report said.

The system to check foreign visitors is not working as it should, according to the 9/11 Public Discourse Project. The US-Visit (U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) screening system is running, but not yet at all borders and the exit component has not been widely deployed, the commissioners wrote.

The 9/11 Public Discourse Project has now been disbanded. The commissioners have called on the public and government to act on the recommendations.