Illustration by Bob Aul "The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, served notice that a cruel and relentless set of enemies desires to do damage to the United States. It should also be noted that they represented a massive failure by the government agencies sworn to protect us and a defeat (one may hope only temporary) for the free American way of life. Since those attacks, no government-agency leader has been fired. Failure was rewarded with larger budgets. And instead of undertaking a pinpoint yet relentless counterattack on those who actually planned the attack, the government has frittered away resources and credibility in a war against a country that was not involved in the attack. That war bids fair to continue for years, diverting precious attention and resources from the stateless terrorists who may well be planning the next attack even now. Those are sobering thoughts, but three years on, Americans should be ready—must be ready—for a dose of realism. Realism is essential in the task of remaking intelligence-gathering, its leadership and its execution, essential to understanding the uneasy relationship between liberty and security and the public policies that mediate the two. It was not an abstraction called 'terrorism' that attacked America, but a specific group of terrorists. Instead of engaging in a vague crusade to reshape the world, why not renew America's resolve to inflict damage on those who inflicted damage on us?"
—From the Sept. 10 lead editorial ofThe Orange County Register