Posted: Saturday, September 8th 2012 at 8:11am
Terror takes back seat; Americans safer now
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — As Americans debate whether they are better off now than they were four years ago, there is another question with a somewhat easier answer: Are you safer now than you were when President Barack Obama took office?
More than a decade after terrorists slammed planes into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, Americans have stopped fretting daily about a possible attack or stockpiling duct tape and water, and the slogs through airport security have become a routine irritation, not a grim foreboding.
While the threat of a terror attack has not disappeared, the combined military, intelligence, diplomatic and financial efforts to hobble al-Qaida and its affiliates have escalated over the past four years and have paid off. Top terror leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are dead and their networks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia disrupted.
In some cases, the Obama White House simply continued or escalated programs and policies begun by the Republican administration of George W. Bush. But Obama implemented a more aggressive drone campaign to target top terror leaders, broadening efforts to help at-risk nations beef up their own defenses, and implemented plans to end the war in Iraq and bring troops out of Afghanistan.
As a result, terrorism worries have taken a back seat to the nation's economic woes.
Unlike previous elections, national security is not a big campaign issue this year. Mitt Romney made no mention of terrorism or war during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last week. Although public opposition to the war in Afghanistan has grown, it's not a top dinner table topic for most Americans.
"I would have said four years ago that the al-Qaida movement was emerging as a bigger problem, especially with the emergence of affiliates in places like Yemen and with the spike in homegrown attacks," said Phil Mudd, a senior counterterrorism official at the CIA and FBI during the Bush and Obama administrations. "But I would say today that al-Qaidaism is on the decline. By any balance, the number of places where people want to come after us has declined in the past four years."
Mudd, now a senior research fellow at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, said that while militants in other countries may still be causing problems in their own areas, they are less likely to "be sitting there saying how do we get to Los Angeles, and that's a big change."
Associated Categories: National News
© Copyright 2013 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.