How To Make Sure 9/11 Is Not Repeated

Every administration likes to maximize its accomplishments, and minimize or cover up its shortcomings. The Bush administration is no different.

Preliminary report by the panel investigating how those 9/11 hijackers (search) managed to get into the country and carry out their evil deeds without detection finds that the government fumbled repeated opportunities to stop many of them. According to the panel, these opportunities included fraudulent passports and the violation of immigration laws by at least six of the hijackers. These infractions were missed or ignored by our dysfunctional immigration and naturalization service.

The findings are in stark contrast to the claims of many senior government officials. They have claimed for more than two years that the 19 hijackers were law-abiding travelers who did little to attract government attention or suspicion and who, in nearly all cases, entered or lived in the country legally. Five of the hijackers did arouse enough suspicion that they were interrogated by customs or immigration inspectors. They were eventually allowed to enter the United States anyway. None of the hijackers filled out his visa application correctly. According to the report, three of them lied on the forms.

Apparently there were many opportunities to stop these guys. The so-called "20th hijacker," (search) who was turned away, was rejected because he "gave me the creeps," said Jose Melendez-Perez, who interviewed the applicant. Melendez-Perez is now with the Department of Homeland Security. Thankfully he has a nose for what smells and looks like a terrorist or even more Americans might be dead.

There's plenty more in this report, detailed in last Tuesday's "Washington Post." You should read it for yourself. Even more, Congress should read it and do what needs to be done to make sure 9/11 is never repeated.

And that's Column One for this week.

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