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Commission leaders call for emergency communications network

Former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, left, and former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean

Former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, left, and former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean // AP file photo

The former heads of the commission that investigated the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, pointed on Tuesday to unfinished plans for a nationwide emergency communications system.

The attacks revealed the problems posed by a patchwork of emergency radio networks and devices that often do not work with each other.

"Eleven years after the event, some important 9/11 Commission recommendations have still not been implemented and require immediate attention," former 9/11 Commission Chair and Vice Chair Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton said in a statement. "We call on the government to build out an interoperable, broadband network for first responders."

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, signed into law in February, includes $7 billion to fund such a network. But the process has been bogged down by the search for necessary additional funds and the allocation of spectrum to support the network. The government authority charged with building the network named a board of directors in August, and is slated to hold its first meeting later this month.

Kean and Hamilton also called on officials to "put teeth" into the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to prevent security measures from undermining privacy.

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