Passport Delays

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top federal official says she accepts "complete responsibility" for a passport mess that has more than inconvenienced travelers.

Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty has publicly acknowledged that many people who applied for a passport did not receive their document in time for their planned travel. The massive backlog destroyed summer vacations, ruined wedding and honeymoon plans and disrupted business meetings and education plans.

The government began requiring more Americans to have passports on January 23rd following a recommendation by the final report of the Nine-Eleven commission.

Harty attributes the miscalculation partly to poor government advertising.

There also was a huge, unanticipated surge in applications -- five and a-half (m) million in January, February and March.

Harty hopes to get wait times back to six weeks by September 30th. But others worry the foul-up will be repeated when land and sea travelers are added.

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