NEW YORK (Talon News) — In a report released earlier this week, the White House said that since September 11, 2001, the United States has “dismantled the repressive Taliban, denied al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan, and defeated Saddam Hussein’s regime.”
The document was released on Wednesday, the day before the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The report, titled “Progress Report on the Global War on Terrorism,” extensively illustrates the work of the U.S. government in fighting terror domestically and worldwide, as well as details measures being taken to secure the country from further attacks.
“America and all free nations are fighting an enemy that wishes to strike with indiscriminate terror to weaken our resolve, and exploit the way of life that makes our nation both strong and inherently vulnerable,” the report stated.
In the focus on attacking terrorist networks at home and abroad, the White House reported that nearly two-thirds of the senior al Qaeda leaders and operational managers have been captured or killed.
“These efforts against senior al Qaeda leaders … have left gaping holes that the organization has yet to fill,” the report noted. “Just as significant, with the help of allied nations, we have been able to disrupt terrorism facilitators … who have acted as the glue binding the global al Qaeda network together.”
The report lists several international operations around the world in which the United States, in conjunction with many nations, has been able to disrupt and destroy many terrorist cells and agents.
Pakistan arrested more than 500 extremists, including al Qaeda and Taliban members, among them U.S.S. Cole plotter Khallad Ba’ Attash. Saudi Arabia has also strengthened counterterror measures in the wake of the May attacks in Riyadh, according to the report.
Domestically, the U.S. government has disrupted terrorist cells in Buffalo, Seattle, Detroit, and North Carolina.
In the course of ongoing terror investigations, the Department of Justice has charged over 260 individuals, and convicted or secured guilty pleas from over 140.
“Using authorities provided by the USA PATRIOT Act, the Department of Justice, working with other departments and agencies, has conducted its largest investigation in history, thwarting potential terrorist activity throughout the United States,” the report stated.”
The Patriot Act was just one tool the progress report mentioned that had been created to secure the homeland from further terrorist attacks.
The Homeland Security Act, which President Bush signed on November 25, 2002, established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The new department absorbed 22 existing federal agencies and sparked the most extensive reorganization of the federal government in 50 years.
Elements of this reorganization include the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which was created at President Bush’s direction to integrate intelligence and information between the CIA, the FBI, the Defense and Homeland Security Departments, along with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State.
“The CIA doubled the size of its Counterterrorist Center and quadrupled the number of counterterrorism analysts in the wake of September 11,” the report stated.
“The FBI is being transformed into an agency dedicated to the prevention of terrorism,” the progress report added. The Bureau has deployed approximately 700 agents overseas to investigate terrorist attacks against the U.S. and allied interests.
Agreements with Canada and Mexico outlined in the report have worked to create safe and secure borders while allowing for the continued flow of commerce.
“Since September 11, the Coast Guard has made the largest commitment to port security since World War II, including over 124,000 port security patrols and 13,300 air patrols,” the progress report notes.
The White House progress report describes the efforts of an array of new agencies that were created in the months after September 11. These branches of DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, and other established agencies focus on cyberterrorism, immigration control, airline safety, and security, commerce, and agriculture and food security.
The report points out that the federal government provided state and local responders, health agencies, and emergency managers $7.9 billion in grants in 2002 and 2003 to help them prepare for terrorist attacks. The President’s 2004 budget requests an additional $5.2 billion for this effort.
The White House Progress Report on the War on Terror also details the international actions the U.S. has taken in fighting terrorism.
“Success in the global war against terrorism depends on the actions of a powerful coalition of nations maintaining a united front against terror,” the report states.
Through agreements with the G-8, President Bush secured actions designed to bolster transport security, share intelligence on suspected terror cells, eradicate sources of terrorist financing, and stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Recent operations in Afghanistan — Warrior Sweep in July 2003 and Mountain Viper in August and September — captured or killed upwards of 300 Taliban and terrorist fighters, driving them out of the remote mountains and capturing explosives and weapons.
The progress report notes that Operation Enduring Freedom, which included a coalition of 70 countries and denied al Qaeda safe haven in Afghanistan, defeated the Taliban and allowed for international efforts to help rebuild the country.
“Many terrorist organizations exploit to their advantage conditions of poverty, social disenfranchisement, unresolved political and regional disputes, and weak state structures,” the report said.
Diminishing these underlying conditions that attract terrorist exploitation is another key element the White House progress report points out.
Noting that Iraq is now the “central front for the war on terror,” the report details the establishment of judicial systems, newly trained Iraqi police forces, and the reopening of schools and universities. There is also a proliferation of uncensored radio, television, and print media.
“The United States and its coalition partners defeated Saddam Hussein’s regime, effectively eliminating a state sponsor of terrorism and a regime that possessed and had used weapons of mass destruction,” the report states.
Noting the engagement of coalition forces with remnants of the old regime and foreign terrorists trying to reclaim Iraq for tyranny, the report illustrates U.S. actions and initiatives against these forces.
“We will remain on the offensive,” the progress report states, regarding the global war on terrorism. “Victory against terrorism will occur through the sustained effort of a global coalition dedicated to ridding the world of those who seek to destroy our freedom and way of life.”