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America safer after 9/11 but not fully secure

Members of the U.S. Capitol Police stand guard on the west front steps of the building March 7, 2006, in Washington.
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WASHINGTON - A sobering new report on America's security 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks says that, after spending hundreds of billions of dollars, the nation is safer than it was back then but not nearly as secure as we need to be, CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reports.

The new report concludes that there will be more attempted terrorist attacks on the United States and that this is no time to let down our guard.

Read the report (PDF)

Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the report says there are still major gaps in the government's ability to thwart and respond to a terrorist attack.

The former chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, who oversaw the report, say it's outrageous that Congress still hasn't passed their recommendation to allocate radio spectrum to first responders, a deficiency that, they say, cost lives on 9/11.

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"First responders ought to be able to talk with one another at the site of the disaster," said commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton. "I mean, that is so obvious."

The report also says, "We are still highly vulnerable to aviation security threats."

Citing the case of the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the report says that despite advances in airport screening "explosives detection technology lacks reliability."

Special Section: The Christmas Day Terror Attack

On the positive side, the report says:

  • "Our country is undoubtedly safer and more secure than it was a decade ago."
  • Communication among government agencies has considerably improved since 9/11.

Some security analysts have recently suggested that after 10 years and a trillion dollars it's time to stop spending so much on homeland security. After all, they say, there have been no major attacks since 9/11.

But former White House Homeland Security Adviser Frank Cilluffo said now it's time to ramp up the fight, not back off.

"Most people are not aware since 9/11 there have been 53 homegrown jihadi cases in the United States, and the majority of those have occurred in the last two years," he said.

Only two of those plots succeeded, the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas and at an Army recruiting office in Arkansas, both in 2009.

Special Section: Tragedy at Fort Hood

But Cilluffo said some of the plots, such as the attempted Times Square bombing in 2010, were foiled only by luck and the plot by Najibullah Zazi to attack the New York City subway system in 2009 could have been devastating.

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The Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden found evidence in his compound that he was advocating attacks on the United States around the 9/11 10th anniversary.

Special Section: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden

Intelligence sources tell CBS News that so far they are not hearing any rumblings of anything major in the works but they also add that certainly security will be intensified both in the United States and around the world leading up to the anniversary.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.