9/11 Lessons Resonate in San Diego

Key security players assess progress, further challenges

By Gene Cubbison
|  Friday, Sep 11, 2009  |  Updated 6:36 PM PDT
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Photos: America Remembers 9/11

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Smoke pours from the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.

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9/11 Lessons Resonate in San Diego

Here in San Diego, we interviewed three key players in the local antiterrorism infrastructure about what they have learned and how situation in the air, on the seas and on the ground has changed.
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They may be eight years removed from the horror of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but to those assigned to protect American lives, communities and institutions, the memories of that day and their solemn meaning going forward are never far from their thoughts.

Here in San Diego, we interviewed three key players in the local antiterrorism infrastructure about what they have learned and how situation in the air, on the seas and on the ground has changed.

Keith Slotter, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the bureau's San Diego field office:

"Throught the entire intelligence community, the sharing that occurs, the coordination that occurs, is literally on a regular daily, hourly basis -- versus something less than that previously."

"Al Qaeda is one -- one -- of many, many organizations around this world that would seek to do the United States harm and would do so in very short order if they had the capability and wherewithal to do it -- and we need to be mindful of that."

"We are not immune to anything, and we have to beware of the complacency issue that can sometimes lure us to this sense that we don't need to worry so much, we've gone eight years without an attack -- so everything must be OK."

Cmdr. Daniel LeBlanc, U.S. Coast Guard deputy commander, San Diego sector:

"The Coast Guard has limited resources -- personnel, that is -- out on the water at any particular time, and we depend the the individual that happens to be boating, the recreational boater, the fisherman, to call in suspicious activities to the Coast Guard."

Michael Aguilar, Transportation Security Agency Federal Security Director for San Diego/Imperial Counties airports:

"We continually change our processes and prototcols in direct response to the changes in the threat. And the public gets that. They understand that these change are not only to keep us on our toes but keep those who wold do us harm off-balance."

"Intelligence so frequently begins with just a little bit of information. Then, as you peel back the layers of the onion, you can start to tie dots -- connect dots -- so eventually you have bits and peices of information that really evolve into actionable intelligence."

"We continue to be successful. And we measure that success not in the fact that we haven't had a recurrence of 9/11, but that in spite of all those inconveniences we have to go through -- especially in travel -- we've had yet to sacrifice or forfeit any of our freedoms, our rights or liberties."

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