Vol. 45, No. 3

In this Edition

September 11, 2001 was a day without adjective. Even a decade later, it is hard to properly describe the grief, anger, horror and pain we all felt watching the attacks unfold. 

Intell’s Top Cop – Q&A with Mike Rogers

With the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks upon us, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee discusses the effort he is leading to keep America secure.

Preventing a Cyber 9/11

The Maine Senator and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Susan Collins, discusses her plan to protect America’s cyber networks from attack.

Intelligence Comeback: Fact or Fiction?

The former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, looks at the improvements that have been made in the intelligence community over the past decade.

Is it Time to Consider a New Approach to Airline Security?

Are Americans getting their money’s worth on airline security? This aviation security expert says they are, but that it’s also time to move beyond pat downs and body scans.

Leaving Afghanistan

As the U.S. enters the tenth year of the war in Afghanistan, the Tennessee Congressman John Duncan writes it’s not just time to end the conflict, but it’s something Eisenhower would do.

Expeditionary Economics and Countering Violent Extremism

Foreign assistance will not defeat terrorists. But it would be a terrible mistake to discount the vital role that economic growth must play in fostering global stability.

How 9/11 Shaped the Millennial Generation …and the Lessons for Republicans Today

The author and Fox News commentator discusses 9/11’s impact on young Americans and how it has shaped not only their lives, but their view of American politics today.

Amid the Battle Over Spending, The Fight Over Health Care Continues

“At a time when businesses large and small are struggling to survive in a weakened economy, this added burden is completely misguided and unacceptable.”

In the Wake of Fukushima

“In the wake of the nuclear incident at Fukushima, Japan, the world held its breath wondering if the facilities would be capable of recovering from one of the most significant natural disasters in recorded history,”

Minority Rules: A snapshot on redistricting heading into next year

“For decades past, targeted and passionate activity at all levels has improved the political empowerment of the African-American community. The 2010 census indicates that similar activities may now be needed for other emerging minority communities.”

Ripon Profile of Nan Hayworth

Up close and personal with NY Rep. Nan Hayworth in our latest Ripon Profile.

Intell’s Top Cop – Q&A with Mike Rogers


Shortly after Mike Rogers was selected by Speaker John Boehner to be the new Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a story appeared in the Los Angeles Times describing the quiet but influential role he has played in intelligence matters over the years.

One anecdote in the story in particular stood out. The anecdote related how Rogers had convinced then-President George W. Bush to increase the intensity of drone strikes against militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Rogers made this recommendation after traveling to the region and seeing first-hand the nature of the threat.

Bush took his advice and, the Rogers Doctrine, if you want to call it that, went on to become one of the principal means by which the Obama Administration has taken the fight to the enemy in that part of the world. The story illustrates not just Rogers’ grasp of intelligence issues, but his “boots on the ground” approach to solving the challenges we face in that area. It is an approach honed while serving as an officer in the U.S. Army, and then later as an FBI Agent investigating corruption in Chicago.

With the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon us, the Forum recently asked Rogers about his role as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the effort he is leading to prevent another 9/11 from occurring.


1. Is our country safer today than it was on September 12, 2001? If so, why? 

Yes, I believe we are safer than we were on September 12, 2001, for several reasons.

First, we learned the hard way that the drastic cuts to the defense and intelligence budgets in the 1990s were unwise and led to America being faced with undue risks to our national security. In the years since 9/11, we corrected that problem, and for the last 10 years, we have invested the resources necessary to make sure America remains the dominant force in the world.

We have also learned a great deal about how to conduct military and intelligence operations around the world. And, of course, we now have the most combat-hardened military since World War II – and the skill and knowledge that this generation will bring to future threats is simply immeasurable.

Second, we also learned after 9/11 that our national security bureaucracy simply wasn’t designed to confront 21st century threats. In the intervening years, we passed laws – including the Patriot Act, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the FISA Amendments Act – that addressed those problems and were designed to integrate intelligence, break down walls, and encourage better coordination and communication among agencies.

While I believe this is still a work in progress, the intelligence community has made significant transformations in the last few years, and I believe that progress will only continue as long as we ensure that even in this time of fiscal constraint, we don’t inappropriately cut our intelligence and defense budgets.

2. Congress passed a number of reforms after 9/11 that reorganized the Nation’s intelligence community. Do you believe those reforms helped lead to the killing of Osama bin Laden earlier this year? 

The bin Laden raid highlights the remarkable patience and skill of our intelligence and military professionals – we should first credit the expertise and bravery of those individuals. Without them, the U.S. couldn’t plan such missions in the first instance.

The bin Laden raid highlights the remarkable patience and skill of our intelligence and military professionals … But I also believe that the structural reforms to our intelligence community that began after 9/11 were indeed helpful to the success of the mission.

But I also believe that the structural reforms to our intelligence community that began after 9/11 – including the Patriot Act, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the FISA Amendments Act – were indeed helpful to the success of the mission. The structural reforms helped push along key cultural changes in the community – allowing for greater communication and integration among agencies, and an ability to bring together all intelligence and military assets to achieve missions success.

The creation of Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for example, not only encouraged that integration, but it also freed up the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to focus exclusively on the operational mission of the Agency. And as we know, Director Panetta’s focus and energy were also a key element of the successful mission.

3. General David Petraeus is known as something of a turnaround expert – he turned around operations in Iraq and made them a success, then went to Afghanistan and was achieving similar results before he was appointed Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Does his appointment reflect the fact that the CIA needs “turned around” as well, or is it more a reflection of the growing synergy between military and intelligence operations as America confronts a future of asymmetric war? 

General David Petraeus has achieved remarkable success in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, he has succeeded at every position he’s held throughout his esteemed career, and I have no doubt he will succeed at the Agency. I do not believe, however, that his appointment reflects a problem at the CIA or suggests that the CIA needs to be “turned around.”

Rather, I think his appointment is a testament to the leadership he has displayed and the trust he has developed throughout the intelligence community and with the American people. As the bin Laden raid showed, there is indeed a growing synergy between military and intelligence operations. And as commander of U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, General Petraeus has been a high-level consumer of intelligence and a partner with the intelligence community in our efforts overseas.

Given that reality, his perspective and experiences will serve him well as the next Director.

4. As President Obama pulls our troops out of Afghanistan and increases the use of drones to hunt down and kill members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are you at all concerned that the U.S. approach to fighting terrorism might revert back to what it was under President Clinton – essentially a law enforcement exercise conducted primarily by cruise missile and unmanned aerial strikes? 

I am already concerned that the Administration relies too heavily on law enforcement methods when combating our enemies. For example, the Administration’s recent decision to try Ahmed Warsame, a terrorist picked up off the coast of Somalia, in criminal court in New York highlights not only an over-reliance on criminal prosecution, but also an apparent lack of a comprehensive detention system that would allow us to better incapacitate and interrogate terrorists captured abroad.

I think most people realize that we cannot return to a law-enforcement-only method of dealing with terrorism. We learned those lessons in the 1990s, when we ignored threats, failed to respond quickly and militarily when we were targeted, and focused almost exclusively on bringing terrorists to trial. That approach did not work, it did not keep America safe, and it invited only more risk in the future. Our committee will be watching carefully to make sure we don’t return to that model.

I am already concerned that the Administration relies too heavily on law enforcement methods when combating our enemies.

As to Afghanistan specifically, I do believe that General Petraeus’ approach in Afghanistan is the right one and we should stick with it. Precision operations are of course part of our counter-insurgency strategy – it brings together military special operations and intelligence professionals to kill or capture our enemies with the goal of destroying their network and eventually forcing their surrender.

I have real concerns about the President’s announced troop drawdown and the pace of our departure. The gains in Afghanistan have been hard-fought, and I believe we must continue to build on that success as we try to give the Afghans a chance to fill the gap when we do finally leave. And, in general, we should not pull troops out of theater before the conditions on the ground warrant their departure. To do so sends the wrong message to both our friends and our enemies that the United States will not stay till the end. We cannot let Afghanistan be turned over, once again, to extremists and terrorist groups.

5. What are your top legislative priorities moving forward as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee? 

When I took over as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in January of this year, one of my top priorities was to reassert the Committee as the force for serious bipartisan oversight, and to restore the critical function of the committee, which is to pass meaningful, annual intelligence authorization bills. The annual intelligence authorization bill is one of the most important bills that the House passes each year. It provides and allocates resources to critical national security programs, including those that detect, prevent, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks against the American people.

The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2011 has already become law, which was a solid first step for Congress and the Intelligence Committees in reasserting their proper role overseeing the intelligence community. And we are well on our way to a 2012 bill – it has already passed through the Committee, and we expect it to be on the House Floor soon. I will work to continue this success throughout my tenure.

6. How much did your background as an FBI agent help prepare you for this role? 

Serving as a Special Agent with the FBI was an invaluable experience. I had the good fortune to work organized crime and public corruption in Chicago. That was the best education you can get for just about anything let alone the House Intelligence Committee. As chairman, I work regularly with the Intelligence Community leadership, line officers and analysts as well.

My early experience in field work gives me a better understanding of the perspective of field officers when it comes to the challenges and difficulties they face on the front lines. It has helped develop a mutual respect between me and the men and women who dedicate their lives to keeping America safe. I can speak from experience and speak their language. That makes for better, and more accurate, oversight from the committee’s perspective.

7. Finally, what threat more than any other keeps you up at night? 

As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I learn in detail about the many threats facing our country. It makes little sense to rank these threats – as we must remain vigilant and focused on each. But I think one threat of most concern remains the risk of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in the hands of a terrorist or terrorist group that reaches America’s shores.

One threat of most concern remains the risk of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in the hands of a terrorist or terrorist group that reaches America’s shores.

If such an event were to occur, the death toll could be huge, and the damage to America’s economy and general social cohesion would be devastating. And it is incumbent upon the country’s leaders to do all they can to keep this threat from becoming a reality. In fact, this threat explains much of the intelligence community’s efforts around the world for the past ten years. We’ve worked to keep those weapons out of the hands of militants and keep those extremists out of America. We must continue to build on our success in Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure that no country becomes a terrorist safe haven. We must confront the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korean and work to stop nuclear proliferation in general.

We must continue the fight against Al Qaeda and affiliated forces, while not becoming myopically focused on only the threat posed by Al Qaeda. In general, we must remain involved in the affairs of the world; for turning our backs on the world only invites more risk and more costs down the road.