Less and less inhibited by the boundaries of geographic distace and traditional defenses, international terrorist organizations pose a much greater threat to public safety, commerce, diplomacy, and democratic institutions than governments choose to acknowledge. At their current level of readiness and planning, the United States and its allies are all but inviting disaster, despite aggressive and creative work by some intelligence and law enforcement agencies. There simply are not enough highly trained and reliable antiterrorists deployed in critical with sufficient resources to do the job. Making matters much worse, there is no established multilateral crisis management machinery for coping with an international or domestic terrorist incident that goes wrong and leaves serious consequences in its aftermath. That is a reflection of a still much larger reality - the low level of priority placed on counterterrorism by policymakers.
At least part of the reason for the failure of national leaders to accurately perceive the dimensions of the terrorist threat is the simple fact that it has not yet manifested its full power and therefore seems not quite so problematic - merely episodic in its nature and, despite the inherent drama, not a major contendor for attention or resources. Underlying that is the assumption that past patterns will persist, that there will be no profound change.
If that is not correct, however, whole nations will be menaced. At the same time, some senior intelligence officers are afraid that the Bush administration will follow the lead of the Reagan administration and neither take seriously, nor be prepared to defend against, the range of terrorist attacks. CIA analysts believe America is currently helpless on the homefront to defend against any serious, organized terrorist campaign against the complex, interwoven infrastructure.
What that means is Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya, the Ayatollahs of Iran, Hafez al-Assad of Syria, the Abu Nidal gang, and other international terrorist groups have, to some degree, already secretly set up shop within America's borders, and if those elements receive orders to strike, the federal government probably won't be able to stop all of them before they hit their targets.
Terrorists are bound to indirectly endanger civil liberties as they post a direct threat to instutions of government, places of employment, transportation facilities, public utilities, schools, homes, and human life.
If senior government officials fail to take the appropriate steps quickly, they will find themselves forced to act under the guns of crisis. It will be under those panicked circumstances that there will be the greatest temptation to resort to extreme measures. Political over-reaction is what most terrorists work to achieve. It is a victory they can be denied only if political leaders take decisions that go well beyond the public-relations hype that has passed for counterterrorism for many years. There will have to be planning, allocation of resources, and a great deal of hard work, as well as some courage.
Add the Clintons' eight year vacation of ignoring the looming threat. The 1993 WTC attack, the would-be jihadists of Brooklyn, Khobar, USS Cole, the African embassy bombings - all ignored so no planning was done except in an ad-hoc nature to make the terrorism problem go away.
Lets look at September 11, 2001 attack in light what was written in 1988.
- Transportation - the airlines so that is a checkmark.
- Employment - both towers of the World Trade Center.
- Government - the Pentagon.
- Human Life - I would say killing almost 3,000 human beings at one go counts.
- Already in Place - Atta and others were in the US with legal papers though some were expired.
And now we have a new adminsitration who wants to turn the clock back to before that day. Be very concerned. For when reality smashes asunder these glib assumptions, we will all pay dearly in life blood.