As a new Justice Department official, I spent much of the day in a jam-packed command center at FBI headquarters. There was a swirl of activity and emotion — concern for loved ones, anger toward those who attacked us, uncertainty about what might be next. But I will never forget the incredible sense of solidarity in that room. We were united in our resolve to find those responsible and determined to prevent another attack.
Now, two decades later, the threats have evolved, but the hard-earned lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, still provide the playbook for confronting today’s challenges.
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- Stopping the next attack remains the priority. But those who wish us harm continue to think of new ways to use technology against us. To guard against these ever-changing challenges, the intelligence and law enforcement communities have to innovate and think creatively. As we learned after 9/11, collaboration is essential. Increasingly, that means law enforcement partnering with private citizens and companies. Interrupting fast-moving threats such as lone actors requires individuals to share information with the authorities when something seems amiss. Countering sophisticated cyberattacks requires companies to work with the FBI and not go it alone. Developing such relationships necessitates a joint commitment to building trust and improving communication.
- Today’s realities demand recognition that we’re all in this together. The men and women of law enforcement are being asked to do more now than ever — at a time when their jobs are becoming increasingly dangerous. They need our support. To develop the next generation of those willing to run toward danger to protect others, we must rekindle the spirit of unity on display after 9/11.
- As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, we mourn the people we have lost, extend our sympathy to their families and loved ones, and express gratitude for those who sacrificed — both at home and abroad — to keep us safe. We owe it to them to recommit to the lessons learned through blood, sweat and tears in the aftermath of 9/11.