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  • Morning Bell: Remembering 9/11 in a Volatile World

    The 9/11 Memorial can be seen from the 90th story of One World Trade Center in New York, which was built to replace the destroyed Twin Towers. (Photo: AFP)

    Eleven years ago today, terrorists shattered America’s sense of safety. Generations who did not remember Pearl Harbor suddenly knew the shock of an attack on U.S. soil.

    Brothers, fathers, cousins, wives, and daughters were lost. And more sisters, mothers, husbands and sons would give their lives in the years that followed as they fearlessly joined the fight against terrorism around the world.

    Because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform—and the hours put in scanning intelligence documents and patrolling the streets by our servants here at home—America has thus far avoided another 9/11. Since that day, at least 51 terrorist plots against the country (that we know of) have been foiled. Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has been eliminated.

    But as the U.S. withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan, the world is not becoming a safer place.

    Pakistan continues to serve as a safe haven for terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network, threatening to jeopardize everything the U.S. has fought for in Afghanistan since 9/11.

    In a new Issue Brief taking stock of the war on terrorism, Heritage security experts Michaela Bendikova, Lisa Curtis, and Jessica Zuckerman warn:

    [T]he U.S. counterterrorism strategy remains flawed. The U.S. needs to name its enemies, maintain the nation’s commitments abroad, fully fund the military, reach out to allies, and truly defend the home front.

    The campaign has certainly seen its share of successes in addition to the bin Laden mission. Drone strikes have helped to disrupt al-Qaeda operations and planning. But the U.S. must concentrate simultaneously on “uprooting extremist ideologies that support terrorism, collecting information from captured terrorists, and convincing the Pakistanis to conduct joint operations that deal with the threat,” the authors write. Continued terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan’s borders remain a threat.

    At home, we cannot combat terrorism under “a law enforcement paradigm that focuses on reactive policies and prosecuting terrorists rather than proactive efforts to enhance intelligence tools and thwart terrorist attempts long before the public is in danger,” they write. This strategy fails to recognize the true nature of the threat posed by terrorist groups (such as al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab) and state-sponsored terrorism, while thwarting terrorist travel and financing remain the most effective ways to protect the homeland.

    Unfortunately, the reality is that terrorism—without the face of a particular nation—is not the only threat America faces. Iran and North Korea continue to invest in capabilities designed to kill Americans and our allies. Syria is wracked by civil war and has the potential to destabilize the entire Middle East.

    If we are to meet this volatile world with a determination to protect U.S. citizens, our priorities must shift. The defense budget has already absorbed about half of all spending cuts even though it represents less than a fifth of the federal budget. If U.S. forces are weakened further, the country will be unable to maintain its superpower status.

    Today, we remember those we have lost. Tomorrow, we must honor their memory by strengthening our defenses for those who do not yet know the horror of an attack at home—so that they never will.

    Quick Hits:

    • A high-level al-Qaeda leader is believed dead after an attack by Yemeni troops, according to reports.
    • President Obama does not attend his daily presidential intelligence briefings more than half the time, according to a new report.
    • “Major defense contractors have confirmed they’ll send tens of thousands of employee layoff warnings shortly before Election Day” because of looming sequestration budget cuts, reports Politico.
    • The Associated Press has obtained new intelligence showing that Iran continues to move forward with its nuclear program.
    • As the Chicago Teachers Union strike enters its second day, Heritage’s James Sherk explains how this shows that collective bargaining has no place in government.
    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Morning Bell: Remembering 9/11 in a Volatile World

    1. Jaime Calva says:

      The threat we face from Middle East terrorist groups will never cease until the source of their funding is openly identified and stopped. Had the CIA and the FBI been less concerned with political correctness and had they investigated the warning given by a Minnesota stationed FBI agent, 9-11 may have been averted.

    2. Cecilia Ruhnke says:

      Cecilia Ruhnke says that those of us who can not be spies should pray very hard for God's protection.

    3. Jeanne Stotler says:

      There are dates many of us will always remember, Pearl Harbor, Kennedeys assasination, D Day and now 9/11, it was so unbelievable that it took even th best seasoned newsmen a few minutes to realize what had really happened. We must strenghen our borders and carfully screen those who overstay visas and those from suspect nations, never again will we be as safe as we were in the past. Modern technology has increased the chance of furthur attacks from our enemies and it is up to us as a Nation to be alet to dangers and t prevnt noter attack on OUR COUNTRY. God Bless the USA and keep her safe.

    4. Christopher G. Scott says:

      God bless all of the souls that were lost eleven years ago today.And to our military and there families and also to the men and women behind the scenes keeping this great country safe. THANK YOU !

    5. will says:

      George Washington December 3, 1793
      "There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."
      Interesting that Washington, at the birth of the Nation, sees so clearly the connection of peace to rising prosperity, and to securing that peace, to it being known we are at all times ready for war. Without either the peace or the prosperity to create opportunities for all Americans… let's make sure "friend and foe alike" know we are ready for war.

    6. auhunter says:

      I totally agree with this article. Ever since Viet Nam and maybe back to Korea our government has had a reactionary, knee jerk policy with regard to terrorist/rogue nations threats. I know we have the intel capability to thwart almost any attack, if the leadership will pay attention to those that have been hired to collect that intel and act upon it. From all I have been reading lately about 9/11 we should have had armed fighters in the air, patrolling the coast and those aircraft should never have reached their targets, especially the one that hit the Pentagon. That aircraft was in controlled air space, it should never have been there, what if it had hit the Capital buildings. Our whole government would have been wiped out in the blink of an eye. Total chaos, and months before the government could have been reestablished. We need to get our military back up to Cold War strength and fully funded, with the best technology we can give them and be proactive in our defense, here and abroad, not reactionary.

    7. Patty says:

      Thank you Amy Payne for your gift of expression to the subscribers of the Heritage Foundation. I'm sure I speak for many who do not write in when I say that you are a talented communicator, and we appreciate your posts!

    8. Steve says:

      A number of spokesman used 'religious war' instead of war on terror for the first time in years. This article mentions 'naming the enemy'. My question is, 'If there wasn;t an Islam religion, would we be at war in the
      Middle East?' Until we stop teaching about what some people say what their God wants, we won't stop
      having religious wars as long as there is certainty not based on fact.

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