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Highlights

Five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, GAO is taking stock of key efforts by the President, Congress, federal agencies, and the 9/11 Commission to strengthen or enhance critical layers of defense in aviation and border security that were directly exploited by the 19 terrorist hijackers. Specifically, the report discusses how: (1) commercial aviation security has been enhanced; (2) visa-related policies and programs have evolved to help screen out potential terrorists; (3) federal border security initiatives have evolved to reduce the likelihood of terrorists entering the country through legal checkpoints; and (4) the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies are addressing several major post-9/11 strategic challenges. The report reflects conclusions and recommendations from a body of work issued before and after 9/11 by GAO, the Inspectors General of DHS, State, and Justice, the 9/11 Commission, and others. It is not a comprehensive assessment of all federal initiatives taken or planned in response to 9/11. GAO is not making any new recommendations at this time since over 75 prior recommendations on aviation security, the Visa Waiver Program, and U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT), among others, are in the process of being implemented. Continued monitoring by GAO will determine whether further recommendations are warranted.

Full Report