A war that has tragically already cost us 1,400 American lives will now take many hundreds more. A war that has already drained the treasury of $370 billion will drive us further into debt and stall our economic recovery. And a war that has undermined our national security goals will continue to make us less safe.
As we approach the hectic holiday season and beyond, millions of Americans are preparing to embark upon journeys to return from work, reunite with loved ones and to celebrate some of our most cherished holidays.
When the administration announced its plans to try Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees in federal civilian court instead of a military tribunal, the American public was assured by Attorney General Eric Holder that "failure is not an option." He was proven wrong last week when a jury in New York City acquitted Ahmed Ghailani of all but one of 285 counts in connection with the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. His sole conviction was for "conspiracy to destroy American property" in the 1998 Embassy bombings.
International cooperation is key in fighting international terrorism – this has been a theme of U.S. government counterterrorism statements and talking for decades.
This concept was underscored by the thwarting two weeks ago of a terrorist plot to ship two bomb-laden packages to the United States, with the apparent intention of blowing them up over an American city or upon delivery to Jewish institutions in Chicago. The plot prompted the US government today to impose a ban on cargo shipments from Yemen.
Have you ever imagined smuggling a bomb into a federal building? Congress’ investigative arm, the Governmental Accountability Office has. Government investigators not only smuggled bomb components past private security guards and into ten high security federal buildings, they also assembled and transported the bombs throughout the buildings and exited undisturbed. These stunning failures spotlight the continuing vulnerability of even the highest security federal buildings in the nation. It is very possibly the largest hole in our nation' homeland security safety net.
The recently foiled terror plot that uncovered two bombs aboard airplanes headed for Chicago underscores al-Qaeda’s ongoing determination to strike at American targets. How the plot was discovered reflects an equally important reality: Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of Washington’s most important allies in the war on terror, a vital player in the worldwide fight against Islamic extremists.
Saudi Arabia provided the key intelligence that unraveled the plot – from the intent of the bombers to the tracking numbers on the packages. Were it not for that vital Saudi tip, Americans may have experienced the most devastating terrorist attack on its soil since the 9/11 tragedy.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, we have expected extremists to come from “over there.” But recently, the number of incidents involving home-grown Islamic extremists has spiked. While we might instinctively look to the federal government to protect us from enemies, whether foreign or domestic, the solution to this challenge does not lie simply in better policy, better intelligence, or more police officers. The solution for containing domestic radicalization lies in the hands of the American people and the society we create.