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Napolitano, Clapper write "We're safer post-9/11"
The following Op-Ed by Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano
and Director of National Intelligence Clapper, was published
on the website of USA Today on Thursday, September 8, 2011
All of us who are old enough remember exactly where we were
on September 11, 2001, at the moment we first learned that terrorists
had taken control of commercial jetliners and crashed them into
the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field
in Shanksville, Pa.
On that day, our lives, our country, and our
world fundamentally changed.
Today, a decade later, we remember the loss of the nearly 3,000
innocent victims of the attacks, honor the firefighters, police,
and many other first responders, who showed such courage and
conviction on that tragic day, and take stock of the fundamental
changes that have reshaped our country and improved security
for all Americans. While there are no guarantees — and
there never will be — we have accomplished much to minimize
the risk that a successful terror attack like 9/11 will ever
occur on American soil.
Ten years ago, our intelligence and law enforcement communities
were aware of potential threats to the homeland from terrorist
organizations such as al-Qaeda, but we lacked the focus necessary
to anticipate and prevent the attack. Sharing essential information
to confront this threat was impeded by long-standing cultural,
legal and institutional barriers, stove-piped government organizations,
and a lack of coordination and cooperation.
In the decade since 9/11, an unprecedented international partnership
has emerged. Together, the United States and our allies have
captured or killed most of those responsible for the events of
9/11; we continue to pursue those who remain at large; and the
organization that orchestrated these attacks, while still a serious
threat, has been significantly weakened.
Today, we are working
together as never before to share information, tactics, and
training to fight terrorists and prevent them from
putting their plans into practice, while affirming our support
for security, prosperity and universal rights around the globe.
We owe a great debt to our men and women in uniform who are
working tirelessly and effectively in many places around the
protect us from harm.
At home, we have made equally important strides to build the
capacity to protect our country and the American people in an
age of rapidly evolving threats, and we have made critical enhancements
to our nation's counterterrorism capabilities.
New federal agencies like the Director of National Intelligence
and the National Counterterrorism Center, and a robust information-sharing
environment, have strengthened analysis, improved terrorist watch
lists and databases, and created a "need to share" culture,
leading to enhanced coordination, tools, and capabilities. Indeed,
the entire Intelligence Community is producing better intelligence
than at any time in history.
In 2009 and 2010, as a result of investigations by the Department
of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more defendants
were charged in federal court with the most serious terrorism
violations than in any two-year period in our history. And the
Department of Homeland Security, created in 2003 as part of the
largest reorganization of the federal government since the start
of the Cold War, is working daily with its federal, state, local,
tribal, and private sector partners to enhance the security of
communities across the country. One recent study found that between
1999 and 2009, 86 terrorist plots against Americans have been
Our nation has continued to strengthen and expand information
sharing, intelligence, and public awareness efforts since 9/11.
We have supported the creation of 72 state and local fusion centers,
where information about threats can be gathered, analyzed, and
shared among federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and
private sector partners. We have expanded the number of Joint
Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) around the country from 35 to 104
and increased the number of JTTF personnel from roughly 1,000
to nearly 4,500. In addition, the Justice Department has implemented
a series of far-reaching legal, structural and cultural changes
over the past decade, including the creation of the Department's
National Security Division and the FBI's National Security Branch,
to more effectively combat national security threats through
We have established a new Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting
Initiative, which trains law enforcement across our country to
recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism-related
crime. It also standardizes how those observations are documented,
analyzed and shared.
We have worked to engage the broadest possible set of partners
in security by expanding the "If You See Something, Say
Something™" campaign, a nationwide effort originally
implemented by New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority,
to increase public awareness and the reporting of suspicious
activity to the authorities.
In short, we have created a much stronger framework for managing
threats to our nation. The capabilities that we have today are
far greater than what existed 10 years ago, and they have helped
us thwart numerous terrorist plots, from the attempt to bomb
New York City subways to the foiled attacks against air cargo,
Times Square, and a parade in Seattle. And these capabilities
continue to contribute to the security of the American people
Make no mistake: Our nation is stronger and more secure than
it was on 9/11, better prepared to confront the challenges we
face, and more resilient than ever before. But despite these
improvements, we do not have the luxury to rest on our laurels.
There are still terrorist groups around the world who wish us
ill, and are plotting attacks against us.
Our success in confronting these threats in the future will
depend on those who work on the frontlines, day and night, at
home and abroad, to keep us safe. As important, it will depend
on the American people and our collective determination to stand
firm against threats, united in our resolve, free from fear,
and resilient should we be attacked again.
Eric Holder is the U.S. Attorney General. Janet Napolitano is
the Secretary of Homeland Security. James Clapper is the Director
of National Intelligence.
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