08/31/2011 09:26 am ET Updated Oct 31, 2011

9/11 Commission Sees Airport Security Gaps

Despite the outlay of hundreds of billions of dollars and a vast reorganization of federal agencies since the Sept. 11 attacks, major gaps remain in the government's ability to prevent and respond to a terrorist strike, according to an assessment by the former heads of the 9/11 Commission.

The report, which will be released Wednesday, warns that the nation's ability to detect explosives hidden on passengers boarding airplanes "lacks reliability." It describes emergency communications used by first responders in urban areas as "inadequate." And it calls efforts to coordinate rescues "a long way from being fully implemented."

The panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was created by Congress in late 2002 as an independent, bipartisan group to investigate the hijackings of four jetliners by Al Qaeda operatives. Its final report included numerous recommendations for reforms in the intelligence, law enforcement and domestic security communities.