Report: “Ordinary Measures, Extraordinary Results: An Assessment of Foiled Plots Since 9/11”

Germain Difo has prepared a report for the American Security Project entitled “Ordinary Measures, Extraordinary Results: An Assessment of Foiled Plots Since 9/11”. Here’s the executive summary:

A series of recent reports has identified several terrorist plots that have been “foiled” since 9/11. The reports highlight these cases as evidence that post- 9/11 counterterrorism measures have been instrumental in protecting the United States against the threat of terrorism. These measures include using the recently renewed USA PATRIOT Act and amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), pursuing the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and detaining terror suspects in the U.S. military facility at Guantánamo Bay. Commentators have also suggested that waterboarding and other torture methods used against terrorism suspects in U.S. custody are necessary and effective counterterrorism tools that have been critical in thwarting attacks and keeping Americans safe. These individuals recommend thatseveral of these measures and methods be institutionalized and expanded to protect American national security.

This report analyzes 32 attacks that were thwarted since 9/11 to determine which factors led to the plots’ successful disruption. The report finds that in the majority of cases, traditional law enforcement techniques and methods developed prior to 9/11, direct and indirect action by concerned citizens, and international law enforcement cooperation contributed significantly to identifying terrorists and preventing attacks. It also finds that post-9/11 legislation and methods were instrumental in disrupting terror plots in only a relatively small number of cases.

Drawing on these findings, the report concludes that continuing to protect America against terrorist attacks requires that we:
1) Recognize the importance of developing multi-layered strategies and resist overemphasizing individual counterterrorism methods or policies;
2) Continue to support local law enforcement in their efforts to develop community-derived intelligence and informants;
3) Establish a bipartisan Congressional panel to reassess the extent to which post-9/11 counterterrorism measures and policies have in fact been successful; and
4) Maintain vigilance at all levels of society and government without succumbing to fear.


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