Group’s new report focuses Islamists, Congressional dysfunction and public apathy
It has been ten years since the original 9/11 Commission released it’s report. The Commission has stayed together informally, but today released a anniversary report entitled “Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report.”
— Erin Hennessy (@ErinAHennessy) July 22, 2014
The panel members warn that though al-Qaeda has been severely weakened since 2001, new and offshoot groups — like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) continue to pose serious threats to the United States national security.
The authors also describe the threat of a cyberattack as a significant concern, likening it to the threat of terrorism before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They describe the “cyber domain as the battlefield of the future” and say the country needs to take further steps to prevent the cyber equivalent of 9/11.
“We must not repeat that mistake in the cyber realm,” wrote the authors, including Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, who together chaired the 9/11 Commission.
The new report is critical of Congress and urges lawmakers to make “structural changes in oversight and appropriations for homeland security and intelligence.”
The former commission members note that in 2004 the Department of Homeland Security, which was created after 9/11, answered to 88 committees and subcommittees of Congress. Today, that number has increased to 92.
Kean also told The Wall St. Journal that he is very alarmed about the threat level to the United States.
“The sense of alarm surprised me,” said Tom Kean, the former Republican New Jersey governor who headed the Sept. 11 commission. “I have not heard this much concern since 9/11.”
The emerging threat from the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State—now competing with al Qaeda—also raises questions about the adequacy of legal authorities for the U.S. to respond to new threats not directly related to al Qaeda.
Congress and the president need to decide whether the 2001 act called the Authorization to Use Military Force provides adequate authority to take on the group, or if new powers are needed, the report says.
From the new report itself:
A senior national security official told us that the forces of Islamist extremism in the Middle East are stronger than in the last decade. Partly, this is a consequence of the Arab Spring and the power vacuums and ungoverned spaces that have sprung up in its wake. Partly, it is the result of America’s inability or reluctance to exert power and influence in a number of places. Officials are also deeply concerned at the region’s seemingly endless supply of disaffected young people vulnerable to being recruited as suicide bombers. We explained in our report that the “United States finds itself caught up in a clash within a civilization,” which “arises from particular conditions in the Muslim world.” This clash has only intensified since then.
In short, the terrorist threat is evolving, not defeated. While al Qaeda’s various affiliates are enmeshed in their own local conflicts, hatred of the United States remains a common thread. While some of these groups are not currently fixated on or capable of striking the U.S. homeland, they may seek to attack outposts of the U.S. presence overseas, including diplomatic posts, military bases, or softer targets such as American businesses in foreign countries.
In addition to Congressional dysfunction, the report blames public apathy and complacency for the lack of attention to oversees terror threats.
Threaded throughout the report is the commissioners’ warning that the American public’s understanding and concern about threats from terrorist groups and cyberattacks lags far behind those of security professionals.
“The terrorist threat has evolved, but it is still very real and very dangerous,” the report concludes. “Complacency is setting in. There is a danger that this waning sense of urgency will divert attention and needed resources from counterterrorism efforts.”
The full report: “Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report” can be read here.
The original 9/11 Commission Report was released on July 22, 2004 and can be read in its entirety at this link.DONATE
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