July 27-July 30, 2011. Aspen, Colorado.
The Aspen Security Forum brings together top-level government officials, industry leaders, and leading thinkers for in-depth discussions and to answer critical questions about America's preparedness for terrorism.
Certainly, America's killing of Osama bin Laden is a huge victory in the war against Al Qaeda. That he was brought to justice before the iconic tenth anniversary of 9/11, and amid an "Arab Spring" that is revolutionizing the Mideast through peaceful, secular, and democratic means, make the moment all the sweeter.
But, in the words of no less an authority than CIA Director Leon Panetta, "bin Laden is dead, but Al Qaeda is not." Al Qaeda, the organization and its affiliates around the world, remains, and, more importantly, bin Ladenism, the idea that he sparked, is very much alive. If anything, the threat of attacks on our homeland is likely to rise, at least in the short-term, as bin Laden's followers feel obliged to avenge his killing and to prove their continued potency and relevance.
In the wake of bin Laden's death, policymakers and average citizens alike are rightly asking fundamental questions like:
- Is this simply a huge tactical victory against Al Qaeda, or is it also a strategic one? In other words, will it mark merely a pause in this now decade-long war, or is it, instead, a turning point leading to the day when terrorism is again a third-order concern like crime, rather than a mortal - maybe even existential - threat to the nation?
- If Al Qaeda's headquarters and most of its leaders are now in Pakistan, why do we have 100,000 troops next door in Afghanistan and isn't it time for them to come home?
- Is Pakistan friend or foe?
- Who will succeed bin Laden as the head of "Al Qaeda Central," and are its affiliates - especially the one in Yemen, "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," which has been linked to plot after plot in recent months - the greater danger now?
- Ten years after 9/11, is America better prepared to detect, defend against, and recover from terror attacks?
- What accounts for the recent rise in incidents of "homegrown" terrorism; what can be done to counter this threat; and is it an even greater threat nowadays than that from foreign terrorists?
- What is the optimal balance between security and liberty, and between hysteria and complacency?
- Is countering terrorism solely the job of government, or does each of us have at least some role to play?
To answer these and other critical questions as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Program, in partnership with The New York Times, presents the second annual Aspen Security Forum, July 27-30, 2011. The Forum brings together top-level government officials, industry leaders, and leading thinkers for three days of in-depth discussions at our Aspen Meadows campus in Aspen, Colorado on the state of: aviation security; maritime security; border security; mass transit security; intelligence; critical infrastructure protection; cybersecurity; counterterrorism strategy; terrorism finance; and much more.