Five-Years After 911

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					Five Years After 9/11 The Hon. Lee H. Hamilton Pace University September 7, 2006 Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be with you at this great University in the heart of this great city. We are here today to mark the upcoming fifth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Anniversaries play a critical role in the life of our nation. Here at Pace, you can look back with pride at a century of education, and marvel that what began in 1906 with ten students studying business with Homer and Charles Pace has grown into this thriving institution. Every July 4th, the nation pauses to consider the great gift of our Founders – a nation born of democratic principles, and the belief in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every December 7th, Americans reflect upon the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the huge sacrifices that followed. In so many ways, the memory of 9/11 opens a fresher wound. It was only five years ago that the collapse of the Twin Towers shrouded lower Manhattan. And we, as a nation, are still dealing with the consequences and challenges posed by that tragedy. There can be no doubt that 9/11 will forever be marked as one of the most significant days in American history. But the purpose of marking an anniversary remains the same: to commemorate; to reflect on what has changed – and what hasn’t; and to consider what remains to be done. Today, I would like to consider what has changed since 9/11, and what we can do to make our nation safer so that future 9/11s are less likely to occur. What Has Not Changed Commentators like to refer to a “post-9/11 world.” The phrase suggests a new era. That – to cite another oft-used phrase – “everything changed” on 9/11. I have used these words myself. What is often overlooked is how similar the post-9/11 world is to the pre-9/11 world. U.S. Power: First, the United States remains the world’s preeminent military, economic, technological, and cultural power. 1

Yet despite our power and more aggressive posture since 9/1, our ability to accomplish things around the globe remains limited. And despite the world’s misgivings about American power, no bloc of nations has coalesced to challenge it. Indeed, the world still looks to the United States for leadership on practically every issue. So the fundamental calculus remains the same as it was before 9/11: to tackle global challenges, the world needs America’s leadership, and America needs the cooperation of friends and allies. U.S. Alliances: Second, our alliances remain more or less the same as they were before 9/11. We have drawn closer to Pakistan, and have sought alliances with the new governments of Afghanistan and Iraq. But our traditional partnerships remain intact: -- The United Kingdom and the United States continue to have a “special relationship;” -- Despite tensions, Europe continues to be essential to U.S. diplomacy – whether it is brokering a cease-fire in Lebanon, or negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program; -- Japan remains our closest partner in Asia; -- Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are strategic allies; -- and the U.S.- Israeli friendship is strong. Great Powers: Third, the shifting alignment of the great powers continues on the same trajectory that it was following before 9/11. For most of my life, international relations were organized around the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. The change unleashed by the end of the Cold War produced trends that have been unchanged by 9/11: -- China and India are on the rise economically, and as players on the world stage; -- the European Union is enlarged; -- Russia is struggling to reassert itself as a great power, lurching between democracy and authoritarianism; -- And countries like Canada, Brazil and Indonesia are poised to play a larger role in global affairs.


World Tensions: Fourth, the world is plagued by the same intractable conflicts: -- Kashmir, where India and Pakistan remain locked in a dangerous standoff; -- the Middle East, where the Arab-Israeli conflict drags on; -- the Korean peninsula, where North Korea continues its isolation and nuclear development; -- and Sudan, where violence only seems to beget more violence and more suffering. Globalization: And fifth, globalization continues at the same breathtaking pace. 9/11 has not slowed the growing inter-connectedness among people, technology, telecommunications, transportation, capital flows, education, goods and services. Terrorism itself is part of the globalization story. First, because the rise of radical Islam is – in part – a response to Western support for globalization. Second, because the very technologies that feed globalization – the ability to travel, communicate, and network across borders – enable terrorist operations and recruitment. Despite this darker side of globalization, America continues to support the spread of trade, development, and democracy. In short, the fundamentals of American foreign policy and the world that it confronts have not been radically reoriented since 9/11. 9/11 has not had the same reverberations as the onset of World Wars I and II, or even the end of the Cold War. The global balance of power has not changed. The great global trends of the day have continued. Neither a clash of civilizations or a World War has ensued. America has not reshaped the world; the world has not reshaped America. What Has Changed So while keeping that perspective, let me now briefly go over what has changed: -- The United States is a target – for al Qaeda, and for like-minded groups who carry the banner of jihad; -- Despite its consistency, American foreign policy now views the world through the prism of terrorism – this is our top priority in most bilateral relationships and multilateral forums; -- The U.S. government has been dramatically reformed, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and restructuring of our intelligence agencies;


-- We have undertaken regime change and nation building in two countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – where the outcome of our efforts is very much in doubt; -- Anti-Americanism is on the rise – approaching an unprecedented level – as America and its policies are widely opposed; -- Political Islam is on the rise, with Islamist parties winning elections in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories; a new, hard-line president in Iran; the leader of Hizbollah acclaimed throughout the Muslim world; and the radicalization of young Muslims from the streets of Indonesia to the streets of London; -- American resources are stretched thin – our military is fighting wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and against terrorism, and our budgets have been busted by new military, homeland security and counter-terrorism spending; -- The balance between civil liberties and security has been altered– with new powers of surveillance and detention for government, and a tilt in the separation of powers, with a President with an expansive view of executive authority; -- America has not been attacked at home, but Americans feel far more insecure than they did on September 10, 2001. Most believe another attack is coming. And through all of this, we cannot miss a swelling turmoil in the world – turmoil that has been building for some time. This turmoil has its roots in poverty, inequality, disease, hunger, environmental degradation, political repression, conflict and violence. People are mad because they lack opportunity in their own lives; they are mad because technology allows them to see how good the rest of the world has it; and some are mad because they flat out dislike American policies – the war in Iraq, U.S. support for Israel, or American alliances with repressive Arab regimes. So the world is both similar and different than it was before 9/11. It is certainly more dangerous. The challenge for America is managing and mitigating this turmoil, while taking steps to keep the American people safe. Keeping America Safe It was the unanimous view of the 9/11 Commission that the United States would face more terrorist attacks. That was the view of nearly every expert and official that we spoke with – I cannot remember a single dissenter. In an open society and dangerous world, you cannot protect everything. But in looking back at 9/11, we also found failures of government at all levels – failures of imagination; failures of capability; failures of policy; and failures of management.


To correct those failures – and to better protect the American people – we issued 41 recommendations. In December 2004, many of our recommendations became law, including the most substantial reorganization of the intelligence community in 50 years. By no means did this legislation finish the job. No law is self-executing. Implementation is often the harder – and more critical – task. And several of our recommendations remained unaddressed. Last December, we issued a report card on the government’s efforts to implement our recommendations. The record was decidedly mixed. There was one A, ten C’s, twelve D’s, and four F’s. Across the board, what frustrated us was a lack of urgency to deal with the terrorist threat. In some cases, government was moving in the right direction, but moving too slowly. In other cases, action was missing. Why is this? Policymakers face competing priorities. The war in Iraq demands extraordinary resources. Domestic problems demand attention. But our plea was simple: no priority should rate higher than the protection of the American people. If there are steps that can reasonably be taken to meet that priority, there is no excuse for failing to act. Five years after 9/11, there are still clear, common sense things that the United States could be doing to counter-terrorism that we are not doing. Much has been done – to put al Qaeda on the run; to overthrow the Taliban; to reorganize government; to bolster our capabilities. But we must do more. We are safer than we were on 9/11, but we are not safe. What are the most important recommendations to act upon? Homeland Security: First, several of our homeland security recommendations remain unaddressed. We recommended allocating homeland security dollars on the basis of risk – not politics. These funds have been spread around like revenue-sharing programs. Unless Congress passes a law to fund homeland security on the basis of risk and vulnerability, scarce dollars will be squandered and lives unnecessarily lost. Just look at the current system: It makes no sense that high value targets like New York City and Washington are not receiving more of these funds. We recommended that states and localities have plans in place for emergency response. There is no substitute for careful preparation. If Americans did not learn this lesson on 9/11, they surely learned it when their fellow citizens waited for help for days on rooftops in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. All first responders need to know who is in charge and what their role will be from the moment a disaster strikes.


We recommended that a portion of the broadcast spectrum be set aside for public safety. On 9/11, lives were lost because police and firefighters did not have radios that could communicate. More lives were lost for the same reason during Hurricane Katrina. The solution is simple – taking a slice of the spectrum currently held by TV broadcasters and providing it to first responders. Congress is considering a law to do this… but not until 2009. Why should the safety of the American people wait? We recommended that all airline passengers be checked against the government’s comprehensive watch-list of suspected terrorists. Today, that watch-list is not shared with the airlines, so the airlines check passengers against an incomplete list. Again, there is a common sense solution: the government checks all passengers against the complete watch-list. Intelligence Reform: Second, work remains to be done on our recommendations for reforming U.S. intelligence. The law passed in December 2004 created a director of national intelligence – or DNI – to oversee all of our intelligence agencies. But the success of this office is still open to question. It is a work in progress, and everything depends on robust implementation by the DNI, fully supported by the President. The DNI must have real control over the budgets and personnel of the intelligence community to succeed in setting priorities and achieving results. Efforts to enhance information sharing have also moved too slowly. On the 9/11 Commission, we found that information about al Qaeda and the 9/11 plot was scattered across the government. But nobody pulled all of this information together. The federal government is doing a better job, but there are still turf wars between agencies, gaps in sharing, and a resistance to provide information to state and local authorities on the front lines. We need to do better. And as the lead domestic counter-terrorism agency, the FBI must do better. It is going through an historic shift in its mission – from law enforcement to a focus on domestic intelligence. The Bureau still has shortfalls in intelligence analysis, management, information technology, and training. The FBI has tried to reform itself to account for pre-9/11 failures, but it has much further to go, and it does not have an infinite amount of time to get there. Oversight: Third, oversight is lacking. Within the executive branch, we recommended the creation of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.


To counter terrorism, government has not only increased in size, scope and resources, but it has become more intrusive into the lives of Americans. Much of this intrusiveness has been accepted by Americans. But these powers must be reviewed and – if need be – checked by an independent authority. The Board is up and running. It must now prove to be a strong voice that offers a second opinion. There is no reason why we should not safeguard our liberties as vigorously as our security. Within Congress, we recommended strengthening the committees that oversee intelligence and homeland security. Congress has largely failed to act. Turf battles have kept these committees weak. They lack powers over budgets, and sole jurisdiction over agencies. Without budget powers, they will be by-passed by the intelligence community. The American people will not be as safe as they could be – and their freedoms will not be protected – unless Congress does the hard and unglamorous work of overseeing the executive branch. Our Founders intended for Congress to be a co-equal branch of government to the Executive. It’s time for Congress to start acting like one. Foreign Policy: Fourth, our foreign policy recommendations must be given higher priority. In combating the terrorist threat, we must do more than root out terrorists and their sponsors. We must engage the broader Islamic world – the hundreds of millions of Muslims who may not agree with Osama bin Ladin’s methods, but who sympathize with his cause – and offer them hope. Frankly, we are not getting this right. What we see today is a radicalization of the Islamic world – from Morocco to Indonesia, too many young Muslims are turning away from the United States – indeed, from modernity – and finding an outlet for their frustrations in anti-Americanism and radical Islam. In the struggle against extremism, the United States must do a better job of engaging in the battle of hearts and minds. We must engage in vigorous public diplomacy. That means explaining our message and our policies to the world’s Muslims. But it also means listening and being sensitive to their concerns, and demonstrating an appreciation for the consequences of our own actions. We must offer moral leadership to the world. That includes treating all people with respect for the rule of law and human decency – including those whom we detain. We must cultivate the kinds of educational and cultural exchanges with the Islamic world that served us so well throughout the Cold War. America must continue to be seen as a source of hope – and a beacon of opportunity – to the world’s best and brightest.


We must put forward an “agenda of opportunity” to the Islamic world. That includes support for pragmatic political reform. But it also includes support for education, civil society, and economic empowerment. We cannot solve all of their problems – we are not rich enough or smart enough to do that. But we can let them know that we are on their side as they fight against repression, and for a better life. And we must build and maintain strong international coalitions to counter terrorism. The United States cannot by itself defeat an enemy that operates in eighty countries, and an ideology that straddles the globe. Nuclear Weapons: Finally, the protection of the American people against the threat posed by nuclear weapons must be our paramount national security concern. 9/11 did not radically reorient the world. A terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon is not the most likely attack, but it would be the most consequential: potentially killing tens of thousands, stunning the global economy, and prompting a rollback of open society. We need to put more resources into securing loose nuclear materials abroad. We need to step up our efforts to detect and interdict these materials in transit. And we need to rebuild the global non-proliferation regime that has gradually eroded over the years. Conclusion Let me make one more recommendation – one that was not addressed in our final Report or our report card. In traveling around the country, I have been impressed by the number of people who have told me that the most important thing about the 9/11 Commission was not our telling of the 9/11 story or even our recommendations – it was our ability to come together, as five Republicans and five Democrats at a time of intense partisanship. The United States is – politically – an extremely polarized nation. No doubt, it will stay that way through the elections this November. Disagreement – even vigorous disagreement – is essential within a democracy. But in highlighting our differences, we overlook what we have in common; in stoking conflict, we are making it less possible to forge the consensus that is vital to any democracy. President Kennedy’s plea to the world has a new relevance at home: “United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do -for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.” As we approach the fifth anniversary, we can draw on the example set by New York City in the wake of 9/11 – an example of courage, resilience, determination, and of unity.


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