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Remembering 9/11

Posted Friday, September 9, 2011, at 3:48 PM

Just as most Americans can recall where they were at that moment, I clearly remember working in my office in the Capitol when terrorists attacked on 9/11. In a moment, the nation was shocked by tragedy -- mourning loved ones who were lost, wondering how this could ever happen on American soil, and facing the critical challenge of protecting our country from a seemingly unknown and ruthless enemy.

In the spirit that makes this nation great, unity and bipartisanship quickly swept across Washington and America as a whole. Together, we faced the loss and devastation that was fueled by hatred and terrorism. Together, we stood up and resolved to rebuild.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our intelligence community and to the men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifices to keep us safe from another terrorist attack over the last decade. Those intelligence efforts -- initiated under President Bush and continued by President Obama -- have produced important results in keeping us safer than we otherwise would have been.

Over the last 10 years, there have been a number of vigorous national security policy debates in Washington, but there's no doubt that we've made progress by working together. In the years since the attacks, Congress has taken a number of reforms to make the country safer. I was proud to lead an effort with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the bipartisan FISA reform bill in 2008, which successfully updated our surveillance tools for our nation's intelligence professionals. Ultimately, the Special Forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden earlier this year was a long-fought victory for America's military and intelligence community. While his death does not mean the end of our fight against global terrorism and the ideologies behind it, it served as a major blow to al-Qaeda and the terrorist organizations that he financed.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I continue to stay closely engaged in these issues today. I believe our intelligence community is better coordinated than it was on September 10, 2001 -- although I believe there are ways we can continue to improve. And while I may not agree with the Obama Administration's policies on all issues of national security, I was encouraged by the President's decision to tap experienced professionals like retired General David Petraeus as Director of the CIA and Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense. Under their leadership, I'm hopeful we will continue to make progress in streamlining our intelligence operations and protecting the country from those who wish us harm.

Ten years after 9/11, there's no doubt that we still face real enemies, which is why it's critical that we remain vigilant and engaged in a dangerous world. Yet as we witnessed 10 years ago, Americans can come together with tremendous resolve and determination in the face of crisis.

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U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) serves as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations as well as the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
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