September 11, 2001
The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.):
"On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States, it’s important that we not only remember those innocent people who lost their lives and honor the thousands of firefighters, soldiers, and ordinary Americans who sacrificed, but that we also look to the future.
We successfully drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, thereby robbing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda of a safe harbor. I’m proud of our men and women in uniform and their families, and we all owe them thanks for their sacrifices. I believe we’ve made our nation safer through improved security without trampling on people’s civil liberties. We’re in the midst of a major government reorganization effort that will improve coordination between agencies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, FBI, and CIA.
We still face steep challenges, however, both in terms of eradicating Al Qaeda and in preventing future terrorist attacks. Osama bin Laden is still at large, and we need to eliminate him and other top Al Qaeda lieutenants. We must not allow bin Laden’s evil intentions and evil actions fade in our memory. These Islamic extremists want to destroy America, our interests overseas, and our way of life. Our top foreign policy priority must remain elimination of Al Qaeda.
Let us never forget that this fight is about values. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda want a world in which women have no rights, poverty and depravation is normal, and human life is expendable. We fight for a world with freedom, dignity, and liberty, and we need to continue that fight until Al Qaeda has been soundly defeated.
The challenges that remain internationally are still enormous. Since September 11, 2001, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated, as have concerns over Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The world has grown messier and more confusing in the last year, not less.
America cannot afford to retreat and isolate itself. We must work with our allies and adversaries alike to meet two goals - one, to root out Al Qaeda wherever they may be in order to further our national security. Working with other countries has been instrumental to our success thus far, and we must continue to work with other countries in the fight against terrorism. Furthermore, we need to promote and, when possible, assist moderate Islamic movements so that the people of the Arab world have an alternative to the fanaticism of bin Laden and other terrorist organizations.
We should all care more about foreign policy. As the lone superpower, America will always affect the rest of the world. It is up to us whether or not we affect the world in positive or negative ways. I believe we can have a foreign policy that promotes economic growth, bringing more people into the middle class and out of poverty; freedom and human rights; and, perhaps most importantly, a better understanding and respect of other nations’ culture and values.
The horrific events of September 11, 2001 should always remind us that our freedom must never be taken for granted. For a year, Americans have pulled together for the heroes of September 11 and for the men and women in uniform overseas. Today, on September 11, 2002, we should challenge ourselves to fight for our values of freedom and liberty both at home and abroad. We are a nation of limitless potential and resolve. Pulling together, we will succeed."