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9/11 Commission leaders push for changes in US terrorism fight (+video)

The top two officials on the 9/11 Commission note that the threat of terrorism has changed, especially during the past three years. US policy must evolve too, they say.

By Anna MulrineStaff writer / September 11, 2013

9/11 Commission members Lee Hamilton (l.) and Thomas Kean answer questions at a press conference in 2004. They released a new analysis Thursday of the terrorist threat facing America.

Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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Washington

Two of the top officials on the 9/11 Commission are calling for a review of current US counterterrorism policy 12 years after the attacks on the Pentagon and Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

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Bloomberg News takes you to the south lawn of the White House as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and their wives, join together to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks 12 years ago today.

Today, the good news is that the chances of “a large-scale, catastrophic attack by Al Qaeda occurring in the United States are small,” argue Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, the former chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission.

That, they say, is the result of US counterterrorism operations over the past three years in particular.

At the same time, however, there are more Al Qaeda-allied groups who have put down more roots in more places.

“The threat we currently face is dramatically different from twelve years ago,” they write in a letter released Wednesday. “We need to review our current strategies to ensure that we have the smartest counterterrorism policies in place so tragedies, like the one we are remembering today, do not happen again.”

They point to an extensive range of  recommendations outlined in a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center – where Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean are co-chairs of the Homeland Security Project.

Among these recommendations is putting the CIA drone program “on a more sound legal footing” and creating an independent investigative body – similar to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – to investigate terrorist threats in the United States.

The report lays out a number of possibilities for a more transparent and legally palatable drone campaign, including transferring the program to the military, setting up a court to rule on targeting decisions, or creating an independent committee to review strikes.

The report also calls for the government to incorporate lessons learned from the Boston bombings into the its current emergency-response plan “to ensure a more measured reaction to tragic but small-scale terrorist attacks.” 

The Boston bombings were “an undeniably tragic but comparatively modest terrorist incident” that closed down not only the Boston suburb where the Tsarnaev brothers fled, “but the entire Boston metropolitan area” as well as Logan International Airport.

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