Saddam Hussein, Janet Napolitano, Michael Morrell discussed on Weekend Edition Saturday
Coverage from weekend edition and NPR news. I'm Scott Simon. Just after the 9 11 attacks, President George W. Bush tried to reassure a shocked and terrified nation the resolve of our great nation. Is being tested. But Magno mistake We will show the world that we will pass this test. So Now, 20 years later did the U. S. Passed that test. NPR National Security correspondent Greg Murray has the story as President Bush flew back to Washington on Air Force One following those remarks on September 11th. He was accompanied by Michael Morrell, the CIA officer who briefed the president daily. Morel was in touch with CIA headquarters, which had given him heart stopping intelligence that he had to urgently relate to the president. The message was that what happened that morning? Was the first of two waves of attacks against the United States. In the end, there was no second wave and in the past 20 years, the only deadly attack carried out in the U. S with a direct link to Al Qaeda was a 2019 shooting by a Saudi Arabian aviation student that killed three people at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. So is the US safer today than 20. Years ago, we asked several former officials who served in senior positions over the past two decades. Their collective answer could be summarized as yes. But we are safer. We have done a lot to prevent another major catastrophic attack. Jane Harman was a Democratic congresswoman from California, a leading member of the House Intelligence Committee. She was walking to the Capitol Dome when the 9 11 news broke. Don't where I was headed was the intended target of the fourth plane, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania. So you know this is kind of personal. She's quick to add that the U. S response. Since 9 11 has included many damaging mistakes. And considers herself among those responsible. What we did wrong going forward was we exceeded the mission. The mission was to degrade the ability of Al Qaeda to attack us again. We did that very quickly, but I mean, we stayed There was mission creep we over militarized response that was in Afghanistan. The other huge misstep, she says, was invading Iraq on the false premise that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction. I supported the resolution on Iraq because I believe that intelligence so that was a mistake, probably Primo, number one. Doug Lute, known as the Wars are for Iraq and Afghanistan was on President Obama's National Security Council. The retired Army lieutenant general says the U. S is now safer because of advances in military firepower. We literally have the ability to strike Anywhere in the world almost overnight. We can do it from the air. We can do it from systems launched at sea. We can do it with people on the ground. But he says the U. S has inflicted considerable harm on itself for failing to live up to its values At home and abroad. You see a slippage and democratic values here in the United States. Which hard to refute after witnessing the example of January 6th but also overseas. I mean, this notion of extreme interrogation measures euphemism for torture. Certainly that's not in accordance with American values. Janet Napolitano, who end the Department of Homeland Security, says the country needs to think more broadly about the definition of national security. Her list now includes order security. Ransomware attack endemic mass shooting, natural disasters, misinformation, disinformation in her 2019 book. How safe are we? She defends homeland security against critics who consider it and unwieldy bureaucracy trying to do too many different things. She says the department's many different agencies are needed to deal with threats that keep changing the risk environment evolves, it would be virtually impossible for Hijackers to take over commercial airliners and weaponize them. On the other hand, risks due to cyber attacks have only continued to increase. Michael Moral has now retired from the CIA. But he has a podcast called intelligence matters, and he says he's still tries to get inside the head of old adversaries. He wonders what Osama bin Laden would think. If he were alive today. I think he would be pretty happy he would look at the number of extremists in the world today, and he would see a number much larger than existed on September 10th 2000 and one He would also believed that he had weakened America. As a result of the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, not only militarily. But politically yes, Morale says We are safer. We passed the test, but we suffered some real damage along the way. Greg Murray NPR news After September. 11th grief quickly turned to fear from Muslims in America who worried they would be associated with the 19 hijackers. What followed were two decades of policies that civil rights advocates say add up to abuses of power and the religious profiling of Muslims in the US under a broad banner of national security. NPR's Leila Fadel reports. Al Malik is 37 years old. He's got two little boys late and Binyamin, Where's your other Suck? Yeah, we were having a car. I did You bring your shoes. The September 11th attacks happened well before their lives began, so they don't know how it changed so much for this country. They also don't know how it changed their dad. He was 17, a popular high school football player. When he got the news, my eldest brother, he woke up. He came into my room, and he's like Get up. Get up. Uh, some terrorists hit the World Trade Center. In the weeks that followed over 1000 people, mostly Muslims were rounded up some for months without charge. Many eventually deported on minor immigration violations. And Malik was getting questions from friends about his faith. Another asking me and I'm like crap. Are we terrorists like does the crown say this? And to deal with it. I used alcohol. To be honest, I'm just going to party. I'm going to have a good time. I'm going to hang out with my friends and I'm not going to deal with it. Then he met the religious leader or imam at the Islamic Center of Irvine in Orange County, California It was the imam and the community at the Islamic Center, Irvine. That really Turned the page for me and maybe realise no, We do have an articulate voice. No, This isn't our tradition. I stopped partying and I started studying. I got my life together. He enrolled in U. C. Irvine was active on campus. He started to travel to learn and to share his knowledge. One of the trips was to Yemen to study at a respected seminary for about six weeks. And in Irvine. He was at the mosque every chance he got. It was a happening place. You know, youth were involved. We finally had, you know, a mosque that we could go to that was like super fun. Just feel like we're part of the safe community. But all that changed in 2000 and six when a man named Craig Monty came into the mosque and converted in front of the congregation. Monti took the name Farouq Al Aziz. The community welcomed him, inviting him into their homes, helping him with questions all while Mont as it turned out, was secretly gathering information and recruiting informants for the FBI. Once a pretty quickly started to ask Malik some frightening questions about violent jihad. Malik chalked it up stuff he might have heard on TV. I was like, you know, jihad is a as a as a fight against your own ego to fight against yourself. The desires that That might guide you to being a bad person. You need to fight against those carnal appetites. And you think Well, what about the fighting Jihad, which he man would around here would be more supportive of that and then talk about it, and I was like, none. I've never met any. Malik continued to try to help him in his new faith. He gave Monta commonly used book on basic Islamic practices. Later, Monty said they needed to talk again. He just jumped straight to jihad. And he knew all the pages from the book that mentioned jihad. Really trying to get me to say something about it like Okay, Okay. I was lying the whole time. You We do believe in jihad. We're going to you know, we have a plan. You know, we're going to do something bad Are you in? I was like, Like, no, like.