Ten Years Later
by Lamar Smith on September 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Ten years ago a foreign enemy attacked us on our own soil. On that fateful day in September, thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives.
As we reflect on the ten year anniversary, we can recall what it felt like to watch the horrific events of that day unfold.
As I drove to work on September 11, 2001, I remember that the sky was clear that morning and the windows in my car were rolled down because the air conditioning system was broken.
When I passed the Pentagon on my right, I heard a muffled noise that caused me to turn and look. I saw black smoke rising up and I remember thinking to myself that the smoke appeared to be very close to the Pentagon. I was also concerned because the smoke was black. When paper or wood is being burned the smoke is lighter, but this smoke was thick, black and looked like a chemical fire.
About five minutes later I pulled into the Rayburn House Office Building where my office is located, and a Capitol Police Officer told me that the Pentagon had just been hit.
I realized then that I had witnessed one of the attacks on our homeland.
Later that year, I was personally involved in our efforts to prevent future attacks on America. I was a member of the Judiciary Committee, which I now chair, when it approved the PATRIOT Act.
Ten years later, the terrorist threat facing America has changed but has not diminished.
This important act has helped keep us safe from terrorist attacks. The PATRIOT Act continues to play a vital role in America’s counter-terrorism efforts, not only to prevent another large-scale attack, but also to combat an increasing number of smaller terrorist plots.
America is fortunate not to have suffered another attack of such magnitude and devastation in the past decade.
But it is not because terrorists haven’t tried. There have been numerous attempts by terrorists to kill innocent Americans. We must beware the folly of complacency.
We cannot afford to leave our intelligence community without the reliable resources it needs to dismantle terrorist organizations, identify threats from both groups and individuals, and interrupt terrorist plots of all sizes.
Today as we honor those who died on September 11th and stand with their families, we continue working to ensure that this never happens again.
September 11 may have shattered our sense of safety, but it has also strengthened our resolve, national pride and preparedness.