A September 10th mentality

Over three thousand Americans died on September 11th, 2001. People expressed outrage, anger, and disbelief, asking, how could this happen?  Yet, here we are thirteen years later and if feels like September 11th never took place, that Americans are living in the bubble of September 10th, 2001.  Recently two citizens have been beheaded, and counterterrorism experts consider the new terrorist group, ISIS, to be a national security threat. American Thinker interviewed former Vice-President Cheney, former CIA director Michael Hayden, and Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) for their opinions.

It appears that history does repeat itself. In the 1990s, a supposedly little-known terrorist group, Al Qaeda, declared war on the U.S. In 1995, five Americans were killed in Saudi Arabia, in 1996 the Khobar Tower Apartment complex was bombed, in 1998 there was the attack on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and in 2000 the U.S.S. Cole was attacked. Yet, nothing much was done to stop Al Qaeda until after September 11th. 

Fast-forward to the current day and Americans hear numerous times from President Obama that “We’ve got choices about war and peace, I ended the war in Iraq, as I promised. We are transitioning out of Afghanistan. We have gone after the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and decimated al Qaeda.” This was after the Underwear bomber tried to bring down a Northwest flight over Michigan in 2009, the attack on the Benghazi consulate in 2012, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Former Vice President Cheney told American Thinker, “Previous to 9/11, terrorism was looked upon as a law enforcement problem. They called in the FBI to investigate, find the bad guys, and put them in jail.  For me, 9/11 was an act of war and the Bush Administration dealt with it as such regarding the scope of the problem and how we responded.  We would have been foolish to treat it as a law enforcement problem. Yet, even today there are some people, and I would put President Obama in this category, that never bought into this fundamental change and still see everything as a law enforcement problem. This distinction is important because it reflects on how you defend yourself and how you go after the enemy.”

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden believes that now, thirteen years later, the Obama Administration should be able to look back in hindsight to understand that “the potential threat of ISIS rivals Al Qaeda of September 10th, 2001. They have aspirations for global terrorism and should not be ignored in any way, even though at this time they have not proved they have the capability. Remember we have a history of underestimating terrorist groups. 9/11 was a failure of imagination for us. We should have learned not to be lulled to sleep.”

Currently experts on terrorism have argued that ISIS is the greatest national security threat since 9/11. They are professional, well trained and motivated, and have equipment supposedly including drones.  But President Obama has referred to this group as JV, as in junior varsity. He was warned by the intelligence community of this growing threat, that controls a multitude of territory, makes $3 million per day selling oil on the black market, are threatening to starve or slaughter at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, and is stepping up its recruitment of Westerners.

Vice-President Cheney noted, “This terrorist group has created a new country and taken over parts of two others. They are armed and well financed. They threaten to take down our ally Israel and to come after the United States. Looking at all that, you cannot call it a law-enforcement problem, which is why I think Barack Obama’s mindset of how the world works is just plain flawed.  This leaves him with considerable difficulty about how and whether to go after ISIS. He is the President and Commander-In-Chief and the one to set the policy.”

Americans need to wake up, because this administration is drifting into a September 10th mentality with their passiveness, as evidenced by the president’s own statement at the news conference in August, "I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet." He calls for setting up a coalition before any action is taken.  If the two beheadings show anything it is that ISIS is not intimidated by the U.S., and what is needed is a strong and swift response to decimate them and not just back and forth rhetoric, such as the president’s “red-line” statement in September 2013.

Vice-President Cheney sees the problem as one of leadership, “If people are expected to participate in a particular course of action, they want to know what is the strategy, objective, how are we going to get there. I don’t think they see that from this administration. For the President to stand up and say we don’t have a strategy is mind-blowing.  He acts like he sort of checked out.”

Many of the military and intelligence officials have the attitude of General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who warns that any strategy must include defeating, and not managing or punishing ISIS. Hayden noted, “An ISIS attack in the homeland is an inevitability because they are in a global competition with other terrorist groups who also claim to be the ‘premier Jihadist organization.’ The best way they can demonstrate they are number one is to conduct an attack on the homeland.  This means we must take the wood to ISIS. Degrade them so they are less capable locally, regionally, and globally. This includes bombing Syria, considering the Kurds our good friends, and using all means possible. The President has consistently pointed out the dangers of American intervention, but now we are seeing the dangers from the lack of American participation.”

Congressman Devin Nunes, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told American Thinker that unequivocally President Obama’s narrative is fictional, as he once again tries to blame the intelligence community. “Either the President is not telling the truth or his advisors are not giving him the information. Those on the intelligence committees were told if we leave Iraq without air superiority the terrorists would fill the vacuum, as they have. As 9/11 is approaching, the American people need to understand that wars do not end until one side is obliterated or gives up. Just as we fought Al Qaeda, we must reign in ISIS since it has built off of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s radical Islamist theory. Make no mistake -- there is a danger to the homeland with many of these fighters having Western passports.  The ones we know about are a big problem, but a bigger problem is the ones we do not know about.”

Having had the traumatic experience of September 11th, Americans should wonder how did terrorism once again get to this dangerous point?  People should not be influenced by this administration’s rhetoric and should instead look at its actions, or more appropriately inaction. Michael Hayden in 2007 commented that it is “beginning to feel like September 10th.” Yet, today he believes “people have forgotten the real dangers under which we are living.  Now it really feels like September 10th.” 

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.

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