Nearly seven years after September 11, 2001, the United States and the world face a global terrorist threat that is as resilient and, in many ways, even more complex and dangerous than it was prior to the 9/11 attacks. According to our nation’S.16 intelligence agencies, al Qaeda has fully reconstituted its core operational capacity, reopened terrorist training camps, and is actively plotting attacks against the United States and our interests around the world from a safe haven in the tribal region of Pakistan. National security experts and military and intelligence officials have assessed that al Qaeda terrorists represent the gravest threat to U.S. national security and warn that it is only a matter of time before another attack is carried out on American soil.
In addition to rebuilding its organization and enhancing its capacity to attack the United States homeland, as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell reported in the 2008 Annual Threat Assessment, al Qaeda also has significantly expanded its worldwide operational and ideological reach over the past few years. New terrorist organizations have emerged and many existing networks have gained renewed strength, from al Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Southeast Asia to “homegrown” extremists operating in many parts of Europe and even in the United States. While these organizations often draw resources and inspiration from al Qaeda, they primarily operate independently, making them more difficult to identify and defeat.
The resurgence of al Qaeda’s central leadership, the dynamic growth of its organization, and the dramatic spread of the global terrorist threat in recent years was not inevitable. For much of 2001 and 2002, the United States was winning the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. With unprecedented international support, we had dealt a serious blow to the terrorists’ leadership, organization and ideology. That has changed in the past several years, largely due to the short-sighted policies and strategic failures of the Bush Administration: its war of choice in Iraq, its inadequate commitment to defeating the Taliban and securing and stabilizing Afghanistan, and its failure to adopt an effective strategy for combating al Qaeda and other global terrorist networks.
It is past time that the Bush Administration and its Republican allies in Congress change course to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, and focus on defeating our enemies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and around the world – a course that Senate Democrats have consistently advocated for the past several years and a new direction that will truly make us safer.
The Bush Administration and its Republican Allies in Congress Are Failing on All of the Key Measures of Victory in the War on Terrorism