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U.S. State Department

What Happened Next . . .

The United States continued to stabilize Afghanistan and disrupt remaining al Qaeda cells hiding in the rugged mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As of June 2004, however, Osama bin Laden had not been captured. The U.S. government continued to strengthen counterterrorism programs both at home and in cooperation with other nations. Weaknesses in U.S. infrastructure continued to be remedied. For example, the federal government took over the screening of all passengers boarding commercial airliners.

Internationally, the United States continued to help nations working to defeat terrorism by assisting their law enforcement and security agencies, in finding and freezing money for terrorist support, and in emergency response improvement.

On March 1, 2003, the cabinet level Department of Homeland Security (DHS) became operational. DHS has the tremendous responsibility of ensuring the protection of the country's critical infrastructure and to have coordinated and effective response policies in place. Over one hundred different government agencies have various responsibilities for homeland security; all report to the DHS, which must coordinate and evaluate their responses.

The United States pursued its War on Terrorism by attacking the nation of Iraq and ousting its tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein. Hussein was later captured in December 2003. President Bush listed Iraq's support of international terrorists, including ties to al Qaeda, and the potential use of its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—biological, chemical, and possibly nuclear—as primary reasons for going to war with Iraq.

Prior to the March invasion, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence before the United Nations of the existence of these weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless many of the world's nations including France, Germany, and Russia did not believe war was the answer. The strong international cooperative spirit following 9/11 was damaged by disagreement about Iraq.

As of June 2004 no WMDs had been found and the official U.S. 9/11 Commission examining the entire 9/11 tragedy announced they found no connection between the attack by al Qaeda and Iraq. As the United States handed over all governing responsibilities to Iraq in late June, terrorist activities continued on a daily basis in the country, killing Iraqi citizens and U.S. soldiers.

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