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Real and Ongoing Threats


It is early, very early in the process of unraveling the events that happened in Boston on Monday. The preliminary information is that these young men, believed to be responsible for the bombing have ties to radical jihadist ideology. They come from a new area of interest – not Pakistan, not the Arabian Peninsula, or Northern Africa. We’ve always known this was a potential breeding ground for radical beliefs,  but it now appears that it may prove to be a definitive area of concern as a region where threats to the homeland might come from.

It is another indication that regardless of how successful the U.S. and others have been at taking out the leadership of radical jihadist groups, the areas where these groups can organize, plan, train, and recruit from continues to expand. Their grassroots are strong. The distinction between individuals who travel here to attack us and those who are “homegrown” continues to diminish. The threat is real and ongoing. It continues to evolve. Each iteration is harder to detect and stop than the previous. This movement is a threat abroad and here in the homeland.

This threat will be hard to contain and defeat. For those who harshly criticized former President Bush and his efforts to combat the emerging threat, it is time to reconsider your harsh assessments. For those who want to hold this president accountable for Monday restrain yourselves. Yes, I have disagreed with many of this president’s counterterrorism policies just as some disagreed with those of President Bush. The bottom line is that this is a very difficult problem, and even if you designed the perfect counterterrorism program, in a free society we will always be vulnerable. We shouldn’t come together as a nation only in the immediate aftermath of tragic events. Let’s work through this hard problem and treat each other with dignity and respect even as we may disagree on tactics. We all want the same end, a safe and secure America.

So today, let’s honor the brave men and women of our national-security apparatus, and our national, state, and local law-enforcement officers for the outstanding job that they perform day in and day out. They are good, but against this target they cannot be expected to be perfect.

— Pete Hoekstra is a former U.S. congressman from Michigan. 


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