This year will be the twelfth since America was attacked on September 11th. Bestselling author Frederick Forsyth in his latest book, The Kill List, wrote "Then came 9/11 and the West woke-up at last." After the attack in 2001 many were accused of ignoring the earlier warnings of the terrorist threat, including the attack of the USS Cole and the Marine base in Lebanon. American Thinker asked a few who have fought to keep U.S. citizens safe to reflect on this very solemn day.
Chris Hagerman, a former Navy SEAL who now writes for NavySeals.com and SOFREP.com , believes that there are some Americans who have become complacent. He was a friend of Glen Doherty, who died defending American soil in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. "I am upset at the lack of reaction. Listening to all the initial reports I knew at that moment that it was not a protest as the press and some in the Obama Administration reported, but was a terrorist attack that once again targeted Americans. What I cannot understand is the lack of outrage on the part of my fellow citizens."
He compares the reaction on the days shortly after 9/11 in 2001 to the current attitude. "After 9/11 it was great to see the American people unified for a while. There was a great display of patriotism with American flags everywhere. Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of that today."
This becomes evident when looking at the mainstream media press reports and the statements made by those in the Obama Administration. They hardly ever utter the words "war on terror," or "Islamist extremist." In fact, many times it appears that the roles are reversed, with the terrorist seen as the victim. For example, the LA Times headline about Abu Zubaydah in 2012 read 'Abu Zubaydah, The Man Justice Has Forgotten.' Hagerman believes that although many Americans support the war on terror, they have become the silent majority. He points to the number of instances soldiers are being prosecuted without any large outcry. "Take the example of the SEALs who were tried for supposedly slapping a high-value terrorist target. Three of America's best men were taken off the fighting force because they hassled a terrorist. My mind was blown."
This undue sympathy for the terrorists is not reflected in America's soldiers. Book after book written by veterans refer to the Islamist extremists as savages. They are angered by the current rules of engagement, which tie their hands. The late Chris Kyle in American Sniper: The Memorial Edition, to be published next month, wrote, "The enemies we are fighting are savages... Do you want us to conquer our enemy? Annihilate them? Or are we going to serve them tea and cookies?" Delta Ranger Joe Kapacziewsk in his book, Back in the Fight, also referred to the terrorists as savages. He told American Thinker, "9/11 changed my life. I believe our soldiers are still fighting for those people killed and we need to remember why we are at war. My buddies and I feel we are put on this earth to get the terrorist. We will find them and they will pay for what they have done."
Yet today, many Americans want to limit the strategies once used to fight the war on terror. Have people forgotten that there are those out there who still want to inflict great harm? Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden feels those organizations are in a lose-lose situation. "The curse of American intelligence officers is that we are criticized for not doing enough when the nation feels endangered and are criticized for doing too much when everybody feels safe again. Free people who want to remain free must care for their own security in a world that is still dangerous. This is an intelligence-based war where we must continue to aggressively collect intelligence to keep us safe. Regarding the NSA, there is not a balance to the criticism. What about giving a vote of confidence to the NSA and CIA workforce that has tried very hard to keep us safe? It appears that people are not focused on issues of security anymore. Some things need to be legitimately secret. I understand there is government overreach with regard to healthcare, religious liberty, and investigations. That worries me also and can lead to a distrust of government. Yet, not everything can be widely public. Being less powerful will have consequences and will make a difference."
Retired Command Sergeant Major Mike Hall, who served with the Joint Special Operations Command, agrees with Hayden and feels that Afghanistan could once again become an Al Qaeda stronghold as in the days before 9/11. He feels that there is currently no coherent strategy. Regarding Afghanistan and the intelligence strategies, he is hoping Americans will understand, "the threat has not gone away and needs constant vigilance with a lot of resourcing. We need strength and a consistency of strategy. If not, just as before 9/11 when there were so many rules and regulations, the intelligence community hands will be tied. That should be a warning not to go too far today."
Every 9/11, Americans should remember all the lives that were lost on that day and since. The lesson learned is that Americans need to protect their interests and people. People need to understand that the soldiers as well as the intelligence community at the CIA and NSA are not immune to criticism. They are honorable people who have dedicated their lives to keeping Americans safe.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles