It might be easier to take seriously the latest report of the 9/11 commission if it weren't filled with politically correct nostrums that will do little to protect us from terrorism. The bipartisan commission, which ended its official status as a government organization in July 2004 after the release of its "final" report, reconstituted itself as a private, nonprofit group. The panel's chairman, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, says this is the group's last act -- but who knows. The members seem to relish their status as gadflies and love the limelight. But their criticisms and recommendations have not always hit the mark. This latest round is a case in point.
The commission gave failing or near-failing grades to the government in several areas that clearly need improvement, including airline passenger pre-screening, checked bag and cargo screening, and government information sharing. The government has been slow to implement needed changes in these areas, but it is unclear that the reforms the commission envisions would do the trick either. Neither the commission -- nor the administration for that matter -- would tolerate the kind of passenger profiling that might reduce needless screening and more effectively narrow the search to those most likely to commit terrorist acts. Sadly, both the commission and the Bush administration would sacrifice security to keep from insulting or inconveniencing any ethnic or religious group. But the real problem with the commission's latest round of criticisms is its straying into areas that have almost nothing to do with better security.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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