Wednesday, July 11, 2007
sponsored by Graue Inc. & Illini Bank

Homeland Security secretary warns, 'We could easily be attacked,' cites summer risks, gut feeling          Send a link to a friend

[July 11, 2007]  From

Verbatim partial transcript:
Secretary Chertoff remarks delivered
July 10, 2007, Chicago, IL

We could easily be attacked. The intent to attack us remains as strong as it was on September 10, 2001. We've done a lot to degrade the enemy's capability but the enemy has also done a lot to retool its capability. You look at their activities around the world-bombings in North Africa from Al Qaeda, conflict in Somalia with radical Islamist groups contending for control over Somalia, training activity taking place in South Asia, the Taliban continuing to try to regain control of parts of Afghanistan.

I think if you look at that picture you see an enemy that is improving itself just as we're improving ourselves. They can't afford to remain static just as we can't afford to remain static. Our edge is technology and the vigilance of the ordinary citizen. The foundation of all we do is our determination to continue to pay attention to this issue and be willing to tolerate a reasonable amount, not an excessive amount, but a reasonable amount of inconvenience and cost in order to maintain homeland security.

If we get into a road where everybody's attitude is, 'I'm interested in homeland security but not if it's going to cost me anything, not if it's going to inconvenience me, not if it's going to be in my backyard,' then we get complacency and I guarantee we will lose the race with the terrorists. The one thing they have in abundance is fanatic devotion to their cause. They continue to harbor grievances over events that happened six or seven hundred years ago, and if we go into the attitude of 'let's get over it, it's time to move onto something else,' then we will lose this competition about our ability to secure ourselves from those terrorist attacks.

Official resistance

We've got a host of measures in place, but we're starting to get some resistance. The 9/11 Commission said that in the hands of a terrorist, a phony document is a weapon. Yesterday someone brought into my audience four North Carolina driver's licenses that had been picked up. Each of them looked valid to anybody except someone who had a lot of sophisticated tools. They all had the same picture of the same person and they had four different names. As long as we allow driver's licenses to be at a level of security where you can basically get one made on any college campus in the country, we are throwing the door open for people who want to pretend to be somebody else.

[to top of second column]

Summer risk

I believe we're entering a period this summer of increased risk. We've seen a lot more public statements from Al Qaeda. There are a lot of reasons to speculate about that but one reason that occurs to me is that they're feeling more comfortable and raising expectations. In the last August, and in prior summers, we've had attacks against the West, which suggests that summer seems to be appealing to them. I think we do see increased activity in South Asia, so we do worry about whether they are rebuilding their capabilities. We've struck at them and degraded them, but they rebuild. All these things have given me kind of a gut feeling that we are in a period of increased vulnerability.

Radicals and Iraq

People who were going to become radicalized and who were going to becoming suicide bombers did not need the war in Iraq to do that. It may be a good rhetorical device now, but in the absence of that, they would have been radicalized over Afghanistan, or as Bin Laden was, they would have been radicalized over Armenia and Saudi Arabia, or over the existence of the state of Israel.

There are many excuses for radicalization. That's not to say they're an explanation, but I don't think that our going into Iraq created, suddenly, a rationale that didn't exist before. I do think that obviously we're mindful that obviously there is Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are operatives who are becoming battle-hardened and getting more experience. We do worry, particularly if we were to take the pressure off there, that they would begin to look elsewhere for a fight. Whatever your views about the war, in the situation where we currently find ourselves, it would be Pollyannaish to believe that our departure from Iraq is going to settle all those people down and they're going to say, now we can get back to picnicking. They're just going to carry the fight elsewhere.

[Text copied from release]

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor