Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The tragedy, which killed nearly 3,000 people, was carried out by radical anti-American Islamic extremists working for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In response, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan to dismantle the terrorist sect, though Osama bin Laden was only killed by a crew of Navy SEALS in Pakistan this spring. In 2003, the Bush administration also began a war in Iraq, though there were no ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. The Arab Spring suggests that a new tide of democracy-embracing young people are gaining a voice in the Middle East, perhaps diminishing the influence of violent Islamic fundamentalists. Additionally, 9/11 inspired the United States to set up the Department of Homeland Security and pass the controversial PATRIOT Act to prevent another attack on American soil. [See photos of the 10th anniversary of 9/11]
So far, the government has been successful in thwarting terrorism at home. That's not to say there haven't been a few close calls, from the foiled shoe bomber in 2001 to 2010's attempted car bomb in New York's Times Square. Yet many are unconvinced that the government has done enough to protect Americans. Glenn Sulmasy, who teaches law at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, urges that "policy makers must not return to the 9/10 mentality." Kelly Moore, who served on the staff of the 9/11 Commission, argues, "Congress has not reorganized itself to provide better oversight of counterterrorism policy as the Commission recommended." Both Alvin Felzenberg and Susan Milligan took the chaotic response to the recent earthquake in Washington, D.C. as proof that the nation's capital still has not learned its lesson from 9/11 when it comes to disaster preparedness. Friday morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden each acknowledged a "specific, credible but unconfirmed report" of an al Qaeda-planned attack timed to the anniversary. Ten years, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars spent on rooting out terror abroad as well as preventing terror at home, and the country still worries about a tragic repeat of 9/11.
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