The seamless cooperation between local, state, and federal counterterrorism officials that led to an arrest just 48 hours after the failed Times Square attack clearly demonstrates a coordinated effort to deploy all available resources to protect the American people from further attacks.
The investigation is still ongoing and counterterrorism officials must use the most effective means of interrogation to obtain information from the suspect—lawful interrogation by counterterrorism professionals led by the FBI.
The swift capture and arrest of the Times Square bombing suspect shows that effective intelligence and law enforcement work, an effective component of counterterrorism efforts for decades and sometimes derided by conservatives, is a crucial part of an integrated strategy to keep Americans safe.
The Bush administration’s experiment with military detention for suspects captured in the United States ended without obtaining any useful intelligence information from either of the two suspects. That poor record stands in stark contrast with the extensive record of the criminal justice system to produce actionable and reliable intelligence.
The Obama administration’s approach of combining quick steps to protect the homeland with aggressive action to go after terrorist networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan is producing results in those countries. This is making Americans safer.
In stark contrast to the previous administration—which under-resourced the effort in Afghanistan and ignored threats coming from Pakistan—the Obama administration has put militant groups in the crosshairs, sending more troops to Afghanistan and eliminating three times more suspected militants in Pakistan in its first 15 months in office compared to the Bush administration’s last five years.
It’s too soon to tell, but this attempted bombing in Times Square may be a desperate reaction to the increased pressure the United States is putting on these militant groups. Americans should remain vigilant for more attempted attacks.
This episode clearly demonstrates that if we respond in the right way—acting without overreacting—our country can move forward effectively and keep Americans safe without compromising on the ideals and principles that make our country strong.
Ken Gude is the Director of the International Justice and Security Program at American Progress. Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at American Progress, where his work focuses on U.S. national security policy in the Middle East and South Asia. Michael Werz is a Senior Fellow and his work focuses on climate migration and security as well as transatlantic foreign policy including Turkey – he is available for interviews in Spanish.
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