Following the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, the government launched a robust, and oft-criticized, electronic surveillance program, but other IT-related security projects designed to thwart terrorism have seen little advance.
Better cybersecurity leadership, more scanning of cargo going on airplanes and ships, and interoperable communications networks for emergency response agencies have all developed slowly. In some cases, fights in Congress have slowed progress, or the federal government has focused on other priorities. In other cases, the cost of IT projects has been an issue.
The fifth anniversary of the attacks will focus attention as much on what has not been accomplished to protect the U.S. from future attacks as on what has been, chiefly the surveillance system. In recent months, civil liberties groups have protested the shadowy electronic surveillance program run by the National Security Agency (NSA), with alleged cooperation from large telecommunications carriers. President George W. Bush has defended the program as necessary and legal, even as critics point out that the NSA is spying on U.S. citizens and residents without court orders.