Remember the massacres of 9/11 2001? Remember how it was decided that Afghanistan was the place where the terrorists trained and where Osama bin Laden was hiding? Remember that this was the reason why the United States attacked Afghanistan when Taliban refused to hand bin Laden over? Remember that bin Laden is still a free man?
Now fast-forward to the present time. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warns us of another possible attack this summer:
I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk," Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board in an unusually blunt assessment of America's terrorist threat level.
"Summertime seems to be appealing to them," he said of Al Qaeda. "We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities."
Chertoff said there were not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the threat levels nationwide. He indicated that his remarks were based on "a gut feeling" formed by previous patterns of terrorist attacks, recent Al Qaeda statements and intelligence he did not disclose.
There is an assessment "not of a specific threat but of increased vulnerability," he said.
There have been reports that suggest intelligence warnings are at a similar level to the summer before Sept. 11, 2001, and that Al Qaeda may be mobilizing.
In recent days, ABC News said a secret law enforcement report warned that Al Qaeda was preparing a "spectacular" summer attack.
On Tuesday, ABC News said "new intelligence suggests a small Al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here."
When I read that bit about "intelligence warnings being at a similar level to the summer before Sept. 11, 2001" I realized that something else is back to a very similar level: Al Qaeda's training fields still exist, most likely in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border, and that is where bin Laden and his aides are suspected of hiding, too:
Other U.S. counterterrorism officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared Chertoff's concern and said that al-Qaida and like-minded groups have been able to plot and train more freely in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border in recent months. Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding in the rugged region.
So in a sense, nothing has changed in the risk factors which existed before the fall of 2001. What is it, then, that has been accomplished in the "war against terrorism"? And why are we killing people in Iraq while letting Al Qaeda train in peace?