September 15, 2006 | Commentary on National Security and Defense
Pop Quiz: Name five accomplishments in the last five years as a result of our War on Terror.
Bet you can't come up with more than one off the top of your head.
Why? Because the liberal news media isn't reporting the tremendous strides we've made in making America a safer place to live.
Hopefully, you were able to name the one major accomplishment: the fact that we've gone five-plus years without suffering another attack -- which even the biggest optimist wouldn't have predicted in those uneasy days after 9/11. We've remained safe because our great president took the fight to the enemy. Now the terrorists must use their finite resources to fight the world's best-trained troops on their soil.
And although the hunt for Osama bin Laden continues, does anyone know we've captured some of al Qaeda's most evil masterminds, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the chief architect of 9/11), Hambali (Southeast Asian commander) and Abu Musab al Zarqawi (a feared and powerful al Qaeda leader in Iraq)?
Oh, and can you say, "SADDAM HUSSEIN"? Or guess which mad terrorist leader isn't torturing and terrorizing his own people or threatening and scheming against the United States anymore?
As Heritage Foundation analyst James Carafano points out, freedom is also on the move in the Middle East because of the resolve of our president, whose support of democracy has allowed Iraqis to become part of the governing process for the first time in fifty years: "In Iraq, despite efforts to disrupt the political process, two free and fair national elections have been held and a sovereign government was established. And despite great efforts to inflame sectarian violence, even the most outrageous atrocities have not sparked a civil war."And let's not forget the amazing fact that we have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Haven't heard much about that, have you?
We've gotten a lot smarter at home, too -- improving airport screening, strengthening port security, passing the Patriot Act, monitoring the communications and financial transactions of terrorists. But you won't hear about our improved security from the many journalists in the "mainstream" media. As a new report from the Media Research Center shows, "network reporters are presuming the worst about the government's anti-terror efforts, and permitting their coverage to be driven by the agenda of leftist groups such as the ACLU."
Take the Patriot Act. About two out of every three stories about the Act emphasize claims that the legislation infringes on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans and threatens privacy. Some reports make it sound as if we live in a police state. Yet critics are vague on specifics. "I have never had a single [verified] abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on the Senate floor in 2003. "My staff e-mailed the ACLU and asked them for instances of actual abuses. They e-mailed back and said they had none." In reality, the Patriot Act has been instrumental in keeping our country safe. (To better sort fact from fiction, check out The Heritage Foundation's " Patriot Act Reader.")
Now, no one's arguing that the war effort has been perfectly executed, and some improvements can be made. Perhaps most important, as Carafano wrote in a recent paper, is for our elected officials not to make things worse. "At least three pieces of legislation -- port security, chemical security, and FEMA reorganization -- will be at the top of the list of measures considered" in the days ahead, he writes. "In their zeal to act, legislators must avoid compromises that will make America less safe, free and prosperous."
Because of the brave resolve and effort of our president, and committed men and women at various levels of our government, we have uncovered and stopped numerous planned attacks since 9/11, five of them within the last year alone.
President Bush often soberly reminds us that in order to remain safe and thwart attacks, we have to be right 100 percent of the time - yet the terrorists only have to be right one time in order to nail us. Yet, we have come a very long way, and have reason to be optimistic about our future, as the president also reminded us in a recent radio address:
"The war on terror will be long and difficult, and more tough days lie ahead. Yet we can have confidence in the final outcome, because we know what America can achieve when our nation acts with resolve and clear purpose. With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom, and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren."
Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of The Heritage Foundation and the author of Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad.
First appeared on World Net Daily