The past decade was defined by acts of terrorism starting with the Sept 11 attacks in 2001 that led to two wars and big changes in the way Americans travel and live.
What could the next decade hold?
To find out, USA TODAY reporters sat down with some of the nation’s top officials who deal with terrorism and intelligence issues day-to-day, including the White House national security adviser, the Homeland Security secretary and the FBI’s top intelligence adviser. Others interviewed: the New York City police commissioner, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman and the only person who has led both the top-secret National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency.
The interviews took place this month, in the aftermath of the foiled bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day that focused the nation’s attention once again on the terror threat.
The officials offer different perspectives: The “nightmare scenario” of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. The rise of the “lone wolf” terrorist, acting alone and using a new breed of hard-to-detect explosives. The radicalization of some people in the Caribbean, close to U.S. shores. The Internet as a weapon.
And the prospect that the battle against terror is being won.
Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
White House national security adviser Gen. James Jones talks about the biggest nightmare scenario for the U.S. the acquisition of a weapon of mass destruction by a terrorist organization.