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Democrat senator: Fighting terrorism will be 'part of our national purpose' for next millennium

Recommending the Senate Intelligence Committee hold hearings on the Afghanistan withdrawal, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said, "We can learn a lot about what went wrong the last two decades."

Updated: September 13, 2021 - 10:22pm

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Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey says the United States is going to be fighting terrorism for the "next millennium" as "part of our national purpose."

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the terrorist group Al Qaeda, which was responsible for carrying out the 9/11 attacks, might be able to regenerate in Afghanistan. General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that a terror attack from Afghanistan could occur within two years. Casey was asked if he agreed with Austin and Milley.

"Whenever you have someone in authority who has access to a lot of intelligence and has the benefit of experience, whenever they say there could be another attack by Al Qaeda or any other group, we have to make sure that we're vigilant and take every step necessary to prevent it," Casey said following the Flight 93 Memorial ceremony in Shanksville, Pa, marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. "We can debate about the origin or the foundation of that attack, but we're never going to be a nation that's not fighting terrorism. It's going to be part of our national purpose, not just for the next three years, but for the next millennium."

Casey, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was asked for his reaction to recent comments made by former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 commission, about the continued need for better intelligence sharing to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Casey said intelligence sharing between government agencies is much improved from 20 years ago but he's "sure there are gaps that remain."

"It warrants the attention, not just of the intel committee, but so many other offices and agencies within our government," he said.

Casey said he supported the Biden administration's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in August but said there are questions that need to be answered.

"I think it was the right thing to do," he said. "There are questions we can ask and should ask and get answers to about the last 20 days or a couple of weeks, but also about the last 20 years; lots of mistakes, lots of issues to be examined.

He was also asked if the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold hearings on the Afghanistan withdrawal.

"I think we should," he said. "I don't know the extent of it, but I think we can learn. We can learn a lot about what went wrong the last two decades."

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