Oct 12 2001

A NEW ERA IN AMERICA
SEN. SHELBY'S REPORTS TO ALABAMA

Life in the United States was fundamentally changed on September 11, 2001. As the unimaginable nature of that tragic day's events have become more clear, we as Americans have had to face the harsh reality that our country's borders do not keep us safe from those bent on terrorism, destruction and death. The nation was caught off guard, the victim of extremists whose imagination and lust for evil brought into reality atrocities that were previously confined to our darkest nightmares. In the past month, we as a nation have begun the long process of recovering, and with the leadership of President Bush we have moved forward with a deliberate plan of action. I have been working with other members of Congress to do everything in our power to ensure that this country is prepared to meet the many challenges facing us as we fight the war on terrorism.

After the attacks, many on Capitol Hill and around the country have speculated on what could have been done to prevent the attacks of September 11th. While it is difficult work to envision such a deviant act of terror, it is clear that a massive failure occurred within the government's intelligence community. For too many years we have neglected the human element in our nation's intelligence network. We need to have more skilled people working on the front lines in the areas where terrorism is planned and nurtured. While these individuals may not be people you would bring home for Thanksgiving dinner, they are our most effective weapon in learning about and heading off terrorist plots. We also need to take a hard look at our intelligence agencies and transform them to suit the post-Cold War world. The calcified bureaucracies of our national security institutions have remained static for too long. We need new thinking and new people to transform these agencies into aggressive organizations capable of dealing with the terrorist threat.

The Bush administration has worked hard to put together an extensive coalition of more than forty countries supporting the war on terrorism. Some of the nations included in this coalition are countries that we have historically counted as allies, others we have had more tenuous relationships with at times. It is my hope that by working with this coalition in fighting terrorism, we will be able to forge and define new relationships with these countries, and open their cultures and markets to the freedom and prosperity that capitalism brings.

A month after the terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, Americans have gone through a remarkable transformation. Initial shock and grief gave rise to anger, and the anger has given rise to a hardened resolution to eradicate the roots and causes that allowed such a tragedy to occur. These feelings have manifested themselves in many ways, with a renewed patriotism and faith in American ideals everywhere that you look. The United States is fully committed to winning the war on terrorism, and the people of this great nation are united behind this noble endeavor.