It turns out, when assessing the global state of terrorism, there exists only a razor thin line between a realist and an alarmist.
In the most recent installation of the 9/11 Report, a bipartisan effort on evaluating terrorism in the modern world, former NJ Gov Tom Kean and Department of Homeland Security advisor Lee Hamilton, paint a worrisome portrait of adapting, and also expanding, international terror cells.
Below, we’ve outlined a few of the key points in their latest harbinger of doom and gloom.
Two Steps Forward is Three Steps Back
The decade following 9/11 has successfully diminished the core Al Qaeda operatives who were responsible and/or affiliated with the terror attacks on September 11. Most notably through special operations units like Seal Team Six, who were utilized in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.
Since the genesis of Western efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda terror cells, there has been a dissemination of extremists to at least 16 countries throughout the surrounding map. The potential pitfall of these terrorist “sanctuaries,” as outlined in the original 9/11 Report, is a safe-haven for indoctrination, training, and even the hatching of attacks similar to those which the report was spawned from.
These terror hotspots coupled with the expansion of increasingly dangerous and influential factions like ISIS could make for a deadly combination in regard to U.S. national security.
The Emerging Cyber Threat
As evidenced by a recent mass security breach perpetrated by less than a dozen Russian cyber-criminals, (which resulted in the compromise of over one billion username and passwords) the possibility of cyber-terrorism is as imminent threat as any.
The most recent 9/11 Report urges national security officials to bolster defense against cyber terrorism, which also according to the report, may currently be operating at pre 9/11 levels of preparedness. As evidence it cites instances of cyber crime confirmed by the U.S. government ranging from cyber attacks by Iran, to Chinese hackers stealing U.S. weapon technology.
In the report, this fortification of cyber terrorism defense calls for not only more advanced security measures, but also the proliferation of controversial intelligence gathering methods like those used by the NSA.
“Data collection and analysis are vital tools for preventing terrorist attacks” the report states, “We believe these programs are worth preserving, albeit with additional oversight.”
Battling the Bureaucracy
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reports to 92 different congressional committees and subcommittees–which has actually increased in the past decade from 88.
The report argues that this oversight is in fact counterproductive to the goals of the DHS since, “More than 90 different committees and subcommittees cannot develop expertise about the department as a whole.”
Additionally, since the DHS’s inception, there is still no official DHS bill setting policy or spending priorities. The report highlights what they feel is undue emphasis on bureaucracy which hinders their most important priority–protecting against terrorism.
Below are the most noteworthy findings and key points of the report.
. “The struggle against terrorism is far from over—rather, it has entered a new and dangerous phase.”
. “The U.S. government has confirmed that Chinese-government-backed hackers gained access to more than two dozen of America’s most advanced weapons systems, including missiles, fighter jets, and advanced ships.”
. “According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), in 2013 there were 153 instances when nuclear and radiological material were lost, stolen, or out of regulatory control.”
. “Congress has proved resistant to needed reforms.”
. “Counterterrorism fatigue and a waning sense of urgency among the public threaten U.S. security.”