Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack (known as 9/11) on the United States, the U.S. government named its number one mission as protecting the homeland from future terrorist actions. Prior to 9/11 there was no comprehensive plan for such a mission; immediately after the terrorist attacks the government began developing a plan and the practical steps needed to achieve it.
President George W. Bush (1945–; served 2001–) declared a "War on Terrorism." The American people, industry, and government leaders and agencies focused and cooperated to a degree not seen since World War II (1939–45). Congress passed the USA Patriot Act on October 25, 2001, to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute terrorists and those who gave them support.
An unprecedented coordinated effort between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and private industry to share information improved protection for the nation's infrastructure. This infrastructure includes both physical and virtual or electronic networks. Physical networks include airline transportation, energy production facilities, seaports, highways, pipelines, railroads, and private industry and government buildings. Virtual networks include complex computer systems and the cyberspace of the Internet.
Many infrastructures function nationwide across the borders of every state and in many cases worldwide. In doing so they operate in multiple law enforcement jurisdictions (areas in which specific agencies have legal authority to make arrests) overseen by many different agencies.
Since the United States operates under a federal system, state governments share power with the federal government. In turn, state governments share power with local governments. The country has more than 87,000 different law enforcement jurisdictions at all levels. Examples of local and state law enforcement agencies are city, county, and state police, and district attorney (government lawyers) offices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal law enforcement agency. Intelligence agencies include the Central Intelligence (CIA), FBI Counterintelligence Division, National Security Agency (NSA), and intelligence departments of the army, navy, air force, and marines.
President Bush created the Office of Homeland Security within the White House in October 2001. The office grew into the cabinet level Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which became fully functional in early 2003. The mission of DHS is to connect, streamline, and unify homeland protection efforts among law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Protection of the homeland also relies by necessity on a global effort against terrorists. After 9/11 a global antiterrorism coalition was created to fight terrorism. This coalition involves countries in every corner of the world. As the first international action in the War on Terrorism, the U.S. military and coalition forces went to Afghanistan and forced out the oppressive Taliban government. The Taliban had been in close collaboration with Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for 9/11.
The first excerpt in this chapter, "Speech by Louis J. Freeh, Director of the FBI" provides insight into U.S. worries about national security in the late 1990s before 9/11. The director of the FBI interestingly describes national security matters as on the "back burner," not law enforcement's number one priority. Freeh states the American people do not feel "imminently threatened with the collapse of infrastructures" and are "not seeing intrusions (attacks) that would alarm them."
Freeh's speech focuses on potential terrorist crimes against computer systems and warns of the potential for future terrorist actions. His heightened concern over criminals carrying out terrorist activities became apparent to all Americans on 9/11.
The next two excerpts, both post-9/11, illustrate how and why U.S. national priorities shifted dramatically by late 2001. "Patterns of Global Terrorism" is the 2002 U.S. State Department report on terrorism. "Patterns of Global Terrorism," the department's annual world terrorism assessment report, describes U.S. policy toward terrorism post-9/11. The third excerpt, "The Al Qaeda Training Manual," provides in chilling detail procedures on how to be a successful al Qaeda terrorist.
- Terrorism - Defining Terrorism, Terrorism And Law, Explaining Terrorism, The Future Of Terrorism, Bibliography
- Terrorism - Nationalistic Terrorism, Religious Terrorism, State-sponsored Terrorism, Political-social Terrorism, Environmental Terrorism - Terrorist tools
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