Six months ago, the National Commission on Terrorism began its Congressionally mandated evaluation of America's laws, policies, and practices for preventing and punishing terrorism directed at American citizens. After a thorough review, the Commission concluded that, although American strategies and policies are basically on the right track, significant aspects of implementation are seriously deficient. Thus, this report does not attempt to describe all American counterterrorism activities, but instead concentrates on problem areas and recommended changes. We wish to note, however, that in the course of our assessment we gained renewed confidence in the abilities and dedication of the Americans who stand on the front lines in the fight against terrorism.
Each of the 10 commissioners approached these issues from a different perspective. If any one commissioner had written the report on his or her own, it might not be identical to that which we are presenting today. However, through a process of careful deliberation, we reached the consensus reflected in this report.
Throughout our deliberations, we were mindful of several important points:
The imperative to find terrorists and prevent their attacks requires energetic use of all the legal authorities and instruments available.
Terrorist attacks against America threaten more than the tragic loss of individual lives. Some terrorists hope to provoke a response that undermines our Constitutional system of government. So U.S. leaders must find the appropriate balance by adopting counterterrorism policies which are effective but also respect the democratic traditions which are the bedrock of America's strength.
Combating terrorism should not be used as a pretext for discrimination against any segment of society. Terrorists often claim to acton behalf of ethnic groups, religions, or even entire nations.These claims are false. Terrorists represent only a minuscule faction of any such group....