It is utterly horrifying that bin Laden still, after all this time, has the ability to strike terror in our hearts with his threat to strike our nation's heartland.
Additionally, we are incredibly disturbed to learn that even with the use of his illegal domestic NSA spying program, President Bush first learned of the bin Laden audiotape, along with American citizens, as it was being aired on national television.
We have over the course of the last three years continuously, respectfully and stridently disagreed with President Bush's sentiment on the importance of capturing Usama bin Laden. The President's unsettling statement regarding Bin Laden on March 13, 2002, "I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him ... I truly am not that concerned about him." seems to illustrate that this Administration did not understand our enemy nor the threat that they posed.
In the name of national security and under the guise of being the "Commander-in-Chief during a time of war", President Bush has sanctioned the torture of individuals, breached constitutional safeguards regarding the privacy rights of U.S. citizens and started an illegal war in Iraq - a war that is costing us billions of dollars and leaving us woefully vulnerable at home.
President Bush has justified his illegal actions by arguing that they are vital tools in fighting the ongoing war on terrorism. President Bush further argues that such illegal actions are necessary to prevent "another 9/11." Such sweeping authorities assumed by President Bush will mean one thing on the day of the next attack: no more excuses exist for our nation's inability to prevent such attacks and/or mitigate damages from those attacks.
Four years and four months post the 9/11 attacks, the purported murderer of our husbands is still free and able to terrorize our nation with threats of attacks. As we continue to be a nation at risk, we draw attention to the areas of serious vulnerability pointed out by the 9/11 Commission and the many other reports and commissions on terrorism before them.
With this latest event, it is our fervent hope that this Administration will perhaps now focus their attention on better safeguarding our homeland:
1. Homeland Security Funding based on risk. President Bush's inattention to this area causes police officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel to be ill equipped in emergencies. This will cost lives on the day of the next attack.
2. Intelligence Community Oversight. Without proper oversight, there exists no one joint, bicameral intelligence panel with power to both authorize and appropriate funding for intelligence activities. Without such funding we are unable to capitalize on all intelligence community resources and abilities to thwart potential terrorist attacks. This will cost lives on the day of the next attack.
3. Transportation Security. There has been no concerted effort to harden mass transportation security. Our planes, buses, subways, and railways remain under-protected and highly vulnerable. These are all identifiable soft targets of potential terrorist attack. The terror attacks in Spain and London attest to this fact. Because our transportation systems remain more vulnerable than necessary, many lives may be lost on the day of the next attack.
4. Information Sharing among Intelligence Agencies. Information sharing among intelligence agencies has not improved since 9/11. The attacks on 9/11 would have been prevented had information been shared among intelligence agencies. On the day of the next attack, many lives will be lost because of our intelligence agencies refusal to work together. President Bush should demand that they work together. Lives will be lost as a result of this failure to share information. 9/11 proves that.
5. Loose Nukes. President Bush has not made a concerted effort to secure the thousands of loose nukes scattered around the world - particularly in the former Soviet Union. If the next attack involves any kind of "loose nuke" component as a result of al Qaeda securing such loose nukes, many lives will be unnecessarily lost.
6. Security at Chemical Plants, Nuclear Plants, Ports. There has been no concerted effort to harden such soft targets. If Bin Laden attacks such targets, many lives will be unnecessarily lost. We have done nothing as a nation to secure these known, identifiable, and fixable soft targets of terrorism.
September 11th Advocates
Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg