NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The War So Far

September 11, 2002

In the days after Sept. 11 Americans began to focus on some urgent tasks:

  • We needed to find out who attacked us and then retaliate against them so they couldn't do it again -- and now the Taliban are out of power and al Qaeda's power is significantly diminished.
  • We needed to find out why the CIA and the FBI failed to learn of the long-planned attacks, and strengthen them so they could prevent future attacks -- but while the CIA and the FBI have more resources, decades of retreat from the practice of espionage limited their ability to uncover the Sept. 11 plot before it happened.
  • We needed to strengthen our military and protect our communications systems, and there has been 24 percent ($70 billion) increase in military spending since Bush took office, with more money for missile defense, to counter biological attacks and to increase surveillance for the assembly of weapons of mass destruction -- but little has been done to protect the technology that controls our communication, transportation and utility systems.
  • We needed to make sure to protect our open and free society as we fought this war -- and our democratic system continues to function with no erosion of citizens' civil liberties, no national ID card, no restrictions on movement or speech.

The best news is that President Bush is preparing us for the next phase of the war, defining the enemy and setting forth the doctrine of preemption: that America will not "await events while dangers gather." Preemption has been controversial, but as Vice President Dick Cheney said recently: "If we could have pre-empted 9/11, we would have." That is the right policy for a nation at risk from terrorists.

Source: Pete du Pont (policy chairman, National Center for Policy Analysis), "So Far, So Good," OpinionJournal, September 11, 2002.

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