Friday, September 9, 2011

Threat remains, but America is stronger

Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican, is Idaho's junior U.S. senator.


Ten years ago, a group of evil but extremely committed religious extremists hijacked four airliners and turned them into weapons. It is difficult to relive those moments when we watched in horror and disbelief as the towers fell, the Pentagon smoldered and a crater in Pennsylvania burned. 

That day, the world we lived in changed. Every day, the calamity of 9/11 influences my work on the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence and shapes every national security decision that our country makes. While the workings of the committee are classified, I can report that our country is safer than it was 10 years ago, but only vigilance and dedication will keep it that way.

In the months and years after 9/11, measures and programs were put in place that prevented another attack of that magnitude from happening again. Our overseas intelligence gathering has increased in scope and magnitude, partnerships have been formed where they previously did not exist and barriers that prevented information sharing between agencies have been broken down.

We have also killed or captured many of those who were either responsible for the attacks or complicit in them. Earlier this year, a group composed of elite members of the U.S. military and intelligence community delivered a special kind of justice to Osama bin Laden. But just because bin Laden is dead does not mean the threat from radical Islamist terrorists is over. I can attest that for every bin Laden raid and other success we hear about in the news, there are many others we do not. Those who stand guard do not seek fame or recognition. They do their jobs because they are patriots and love this country. 

The enemy we face is a dedicated and amorphous organization whose ideology is present on every continent. Our future success against this enemy will rely less and less on large-scale counterinsurgency campaigns with conventional military forces. They will instead be more focused on building partnerships with host nations, denying terror groups the space and funding to train and plot attacks, and when prudent, striking them. 

My message to U.S. service members and those in the intelligence community on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is to stay aggressive and continue to take the fight to the enemy. You have our support and we thank you for the sacrifices you and your families make. We truly are a stronger nation because of you.

To the American people, let us reflect and honor those we lost on 9/11 and in its wake. While we will never forget what occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, we must always remember the lessons we so painfully learned and never lose sight of what needs to be done to prevent another attack on our soil.

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