Sixteen years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States continues to grapple with how to defeat the terrorist threat. The fight against terrorism dominated the national security agenda of the past two U.S. administrations. It will almost certainly remain among the major challenges confronting the current president.
This new Bipartisan Policy Center project springs from the conviction that it is time to assess U.S. progress in this struggle. Much as the 9/11 Commission examined how the horrendous attacks of that day occurred, it is appropriate and necessary, more than a decade and a half later, to take stock of both the state of the terrorist threat and the record of U.S. counterterrorism policies in combating that threat.
This new BPC project springs from the conviction that it is time to assess U.S. progress in the struggle to defeat the terrorist threat.
What have the significant investments the United States has made in its intelligence, military, law enforcement, and public diplomacy capabilities achieved? Has the terrorist threat diminished? Is the United States safer today than it was 16 years ago? Is the U.S. approach to counterterrorism working? Or is something different needed?
This paper provides an assessment of U.S. counterterrorism policy to date, its achievements and shortcomings, and compares them against the scale and scope of the current terrorist threat.
This paper aims to answer these questions. It provides an assessment of U.S. counterterrorism policy to date, its achievements and shortcomings, and compares them against the scale and scope of the current terrorist threat. A future study will develop recommendations for a more effective, comprehensive, and long-term counterterrorism strategy.