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FEDERAL AGENCIES NEED TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER

One critical breakdown exposed by the Sept. 11 attacks was the failure among agencies charged with national security to share information. Twenty months later, that weakness still exists, according to two new studies. . . .

These findings are maddening for a nation that was assured by its leaders after 9/1 1 that the problem would be addressed. Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has the challenge of ending the turf battles among competing federal bureaucracies. He has made some progress.

But Congress' investigative arm, the General Accounting Office, says agencies still are failing to share vital information. They either lack clear guidelines for working together, or use different computer systems that make communicating difficult. . . .

Congress should use the reports to demand changes in the bureaucratic culture. Watch lists, computers and response plans are meaningless if the CIA and the FBI don't share intelligence on terrorist threats, or if local and state law enforcement officials are kept in the dark. . . .

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