Like many Americans, I served an attempt that was meant to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks on the United States. While I’d like to say that attempt was robust, I must admit that the command and intelligence personnel I encountered while with the Marine Corps Detachment of the Naval War College in 1998 openly complained that officials in Washington were unwilling to authorize the security improvements and special operations they felt were necessary to prevent attacks and break up the extremist groups of greatest concern.

During one briefing I recall the officer responsible for the selection and training of future Marine and Navy officers express concern that political leaders had forgotten extremist leaders, bolstered by their victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan, began this effort with the stated intention of drawing the United States to war so America might experience the kind of economic and social hardships that tore the Soviet Union apart.

As the anniversary of those attacks, that led the U.S. to spend $7 trillion on a war effort that has touched 80 nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East over 19 years approaches, I have to admit this nation has been hurt. To deny that is to embrace the mentality that led political leaders to ignore experts who preferred a measured response to the ambitious plans of the Bush administration.

If this nation is to recover, people must come together. I don’t see that happening unless people again learn to put more stock in fact than opinion.

Jamie Beaulieu, Farmington

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