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Terrorism Introduces New Reality

Author: Stephen E. Flynn
September 13, 2001
Dallas Morning News


There are things we could have been doing, and still can do, to reduce the risk of the kinds of attacks that have made Sept. 11, 2001, a new “day of infamy”.

First, we need to stop talking about reforming our intelligence community. It is broken and we need to fix it. There need to be more human agents on the ground and stepped-up efforts at intelligence sharing that will allow the good guys on the planet to do a better job at tracking the bad guys. Satellites are fine for monitoring military arsenals, but they aren’t much help against detecting the kinds of terrorists who were able to hijack U.S.airliners and level the World Trade Center towers.

Next, before we order out the troops to guard our borders and cities, we should recognize the fact that the agencies most capable of detecting and intercepting a terrorist operation never will be the National Guard, Department of Defense, or the CIA. It may come as news to most national security experts, but our primary line of defense always has been the front-line inspectors and agents working for the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs Bureau, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Agriculture Department, and the Coast Guard.

Those inspectors and officers were unable to protect us from Tuesday’s attacks. But the blame for that lies in no small part with Washington’s reluctant to fund these agencies’ requests for adequate staffing and resources to do the job. While the work of these people appears mundane when compared to high profile national defense initiatives, it now is abundantly clear that it would be prudent to invest in it.

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