Preserve existing counterterrorism tools, including the PATRIOT Act. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the conventional wisdom was that the next terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland was a matter of “when,” not “if.” Yet that hasn’t happened. Why? A great deal of credit goes to effective counter-terrorism measures such as the Patriot Act, which has played a large role in foiling the 40 plots mentioned above.
You can bet our enemies have at least another 40 plots in the works. National security investigators need the authorities provided by the PATRIOT Act to track leads and derail attacks before the public is put in danger.
Fears that the Act would be misused have proven overblown. Besides, Congress has extensively modified it over the years to incorporate significant new safeguards, including substantial court oversight. Congress should not let the provisions expire and instead make the authorities permanent.
Privatize airport security. Almost no one likes the way the Transportation Safety Administration handles its mission of providing airport security. Treating every person and package as an equal risk is absurd -- and a waste of resources. Congress needs to change TSA’s mission to making aviation security policy, and shift its screening responsibility to the airport level under the supervision of a federal security director.
The TSA, then, could develop a modern international passenger and cargo security system -- one that relies on “focused security” by targeting the most resources against those who pose the greatest risks.
We’re safer today -- not by luck, but because of concrete steps we took to improve our security. We can’t afford to let the job remain unfinished.
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