Townhall.com Exclusive: a chapter from Never Again, the newly released book by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The United States will suffer more terrorist attacks during this war with al Qaeda. They are fanatical, relentless, and patient. Their leadership is scattered, killed, or captured; their safe haven in Afghanistan is destroyed; their command and control structure has disintegrated. We are now at war with a diffuse, loosely organized network, united and motivated by a hatred for our nation and our core values. They are fed spiritually by bin Laden, and thrive in our society on the basic liberties they loath. The advance of civilization has dispersed technology, information, and destructive capacity so thoroughly that their network easily exploits these advances for their cause. This network will hit us again when they can.
I fear most the al Qaeda network’s access to weapons of mass destruction, because if they have them, they will use them. But we must concede that if al Qaeda shifted its focus in the United States from spectacular attacks against national symbols to “soft targets” such as schools, subways, and shopping centers, they would be more difficult to stop. Their affiliated networks have launched successful attacks on “soft targets” in other countries such as Spain, Great Britain, and Russia since 9/11. They have planned such attacks in the United States, but so far, they have failed. We can expect them to try again.
One simple but difficult principle provides the opportunity for the United States to achieve “never again.” That is: The will to win. The will to do whatever is necessary within the Constitution to protect America separates us from more death and destruction within our shores. It is the will to sacrifice, to persevere in the face of adversity and criticism just as generations of Americans did before us. It is no guarantee, but if we falter, grow complacent, or fail to do what we can, we give the terrorist network opportunities that, with time and patience, they will exploit to kill more innocent Americans.
John Ashcroft's role as Attorney General was transformed into the greatest leadership challenge of our time after September 11th. In his new and provocative book, NEVER AGAIN, readers will meet the man behind the title and hear his take on the dangers to and within America from outside forces, and what he did to repair the serious breaches in our country's security.
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