A Publication of WTVP

This month, we commemorate the third anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The single worst terrorist attack in history has brought a profound change to our country and to the world.

In the wake of 9/11, the entire intelligence gathering system in our government has come under tremendous scrutiny, and there have been a wide chorus of voices who've offered opinions on what should be done to enhance our security through intelligence.

Our intelligence community has come a long way in just three years. There's a new culture of thought throughout the CIA, Defense Intelligence, and the FBI, and it's based on what I call the "three c's": communication, coordination, and cooperation.

As became painfully clear in the wake of 9/11, our intelligence gathering and law enforcement agencies weren't well versed in the three c's. What we've seen in the past three years, though, is that these agencies have gone to great lengths to work together to protect the citizens of this country. A new attitude, with the help of new tools such as the Patriot Act, has brought great cooperation.

That cooperation, in turn, has led to better communication among agencies and coordination with all levels of government when it comes to intelligence and homeland security. Throughout the country, Joint Terrorism Task Forces have been convened to coordinate activities-from the CIA and FBI down to the local police force. State police, sheriff's departments, U.S. Attorneys, and local prosecutors are all working together in ways that weren't imagined just a few short years ago. The directors of the FBI and the CIA speak every day, and agents from the two organizations are now embedded in the other agency to assist with cooperation.

The recent arrest of a Pakistani national who allegedly had been "casing" financial buildings in the south came about through a cop on the beat paying attention and forwarding that information to federal officials. That kind of cooperation is because of changes that have been implemented since 9/11.

With so much focus being put on the recent 9/11 Commission's report, it would be easy to overlook all that's been accomplished since 9/11. The greatest accomplishment, I believe, is the fact that the United States hasn't been attacked since that day, and President Bush deserves much of the credit for that fact. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent to combat terrorism at home and abroad. The Department of Homeland Security has been established, our airports are now some of the safest places in the world, and thousands of new CIA and FBI agents have been hired. In short, your tax dollars are being spent to create a revamped, state-of-the-art system to oversee intelligence and homeland security.

In this election season, many things might be said to make it sound like we haven't done anything to combat terrorism. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I believe nothing could be further from the truth. This president and this Congress are committed to enhancing and strengthening our intelligence and homeland security, and that's what we've been working towards for the past three years. Due to this work, we've seen the three c's take center stage when it comes to these issues. IBI