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  • VIDEO: Preserving the Tools We Need to Protect America

    During Protect America Month, it is important to remember the extraordinary success our counter-terrorism programs have had. Since 9/11, at least 30 terrorist plots against the United States have been thwarted, in large part because our counter-terrorism officials have had the tools they need to keep us safe. However, since taking office, President Obama has consistently scaled back or scheduled for elimination many of the very tools that have been so successful over the past decade. He has threatened to close down Guantanamo Bay, slackened support for the PATRIOT Act, and dismantled the CIA’s interrogation program.

    Our latest video goes through some of the thwarted attacks and highlights a handful of Heritage’s recommendations to the President and Congress, including:

    • Make key provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent. Immediately following September 11, 2001, efforts were made to bring intelligence capabilities in line with the new nature of the terrorist threat. Such efforts were embodied in the passage of the PATRIOT Act and in the subsequent amendment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enhanced the legal and investigatory tools available to law enforcement in national security and counterterrorism. The tools provided by these acts have been vital in thwarting many of the 30 plots discussed above. Nevertheless, key provisions of the PATRIOT Act expired in December 2009. Congress has since extended these provisions until the end of 2010; further steps must be taken to ensure their permanence.
    • Develop a detainment framework for terrorist detainees. Since his presidential campaign, President Obama has highlighted the issue of terrorist detention with calls to close Guantanamo Bay within one year of his taking office. However, issues of detainment go beyond debate centered solely on Gitmo. The Christmas Day bomber was another example of how the lack of a lawful detainment framework inhibits the collection of intelligence from captured suspects. The question is not only what will be done with those currently held at Guantanamo, but also what is to be done with future detainees. The Administration must develop a U.S. detention policy for detainees who cannot be tried safely in federal courts. This framework must be based on the principles of Article 5 of the Geneva Convention, which outlines protections for prisoners of war, as well as periodic review of detention. Such a policy would allow for a legal framework for detention and interrogation, as well as for the increased security of the United States and its allies, by preventing belligerents from returning to armed conflict.

    To read the full list of recommendations, check out Heritage’s latest Backgrounder, “30 Terrorist Plots Foiled: How the System Worked“.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to VIDEO: Preserving the Tools We Need to Protect America

    1. v. ann maguire, mt. says:

      Since coming into office, our Commander and Chief Obama had repeatedly sent

      the message that it is best to ignore and minimize the terror acts thwarted toward

      the U.S. Strangely enough, the safety of our nation is not his priority which

      begs to question his true loyalty to our America. Repeatedly, he defends the

      offender….and so we ask, what is his motive or method to keeping

      this wonderful country safe. Historically, chaos is permitted to allow the

      leaders of government to be the great savior…..could this be a strategy?

      Or perhaps, he is overwhelmed at the size of his responsibility. Either way,

      Americans desire solid American leadership and loyalty. We do not see this.

    2. ROBERT COLORADO says:

      While I respect the intellectual grasp of issues that characterizes the Heritage Society I was surprised at the inaccuracy of this video presentation.

      The author argues that counter terrorism strategies prevented the immolation of passengers exposed to the "underwear bombers" attempt to kill them. In fact, the passengers survived only because the bomb failed to detonate, that is, because the terrorists made a mistake in its construction. In every instance the counter terrorism forces in America abjectly failed.Their negligence, in fact, was unconscionable and gross. The bomber, on the "No Fly" list boarded the plain after paying cash. Payment of cash is a red flag as was his point of departure. Of course, we would not think of race profiling but he was of the race that is most responsible for terrorism in the world, and most particularly terrorist acts against Americans.

      The author's theme that counter terrorism worked because passengers made an effort to stop a terrorist who by then was actually smoking and on fire demonstrates the abject failure of Home Land security, and the poverty of the author's analysis.

      I have read accounts to the effect that air plane employees are now trained to act when confronted with a suspected terrorist. The airline steward in this case, when she saw smoke coming from the terrorist as he tried to detonate the bomb, cried emotionally, "What are you doing?" Her demand for an explanation when restraint would have been more appropriate gives the lie to the authors theme that the government is funcitioning efficiently to protect Americans. Really!


      • Brandon Stewart Brandon Stewart says:

        Thanks for the comment, Robert! What we said in the video was that most of the attacks we know of have been foiled by counter-terrorism officials, but definitely not all. In fact, if you read the paper, you'll see that of the 30 attempted attacks we listed, all but two were foiled by law enforcement.

        But your point about the lapses in this instance and in Detroit are well taken and definitely a cause for some concern.

    3. Billie says:

      It's obvious safety and protection to the citizens of America is not in the obama's administrations interests or concerns.

      Non, un, anti-Americans working in areas essential to the safety and protection of the citizens.

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