As Americans mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation, we should ask ourselves -?are we safer now? Well, yes and no.
A strictly nonpartisan evaluation of national security makes it clear we are safer in some ways - but face new perils and have failed to deal with some old ones.
As President Obama stresses, the al-Qaida terrorist network has suffered setbacks, including the death of Osama bin Laden, during the past couple of years.
But in the Middle East and Africa, al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups appear quite strong, as evidenced by periodic attacks. In Afghanistan, the Taliban who once provided a safe haven for bin Laden, are staging a comeback. In part because Obama has declared U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan no later than 2014, the Taliban know they need only survive until then in order to be poised for a new offensive to regain control of the country.
Other concerns include safety at U.S. seaports, where only a fraction of imported cargoes are inspected.
Finally, some U.S. allies in the war against terrorism - specifically Pakistan - are not as steadfast as Americans had hoped.
The very failure of terrorists to mount major attacks in the United States since 9/11 is proof of progress. Again, however, much remains to be done to ensure Americans remain secure against those who would destroy us.