The nation's second-in-commands were advised Thursday to insist local and state authorities as well as federal law officers in their state share information to reduce the threat of a terrorist attack.
“People are still hoarding information,” David Cid, executive director of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Tourism, said to about 25 lieutenant governors attending a national conference in downtown Oklahoma City. “They're not sharing properly and bad things are happening.”
Cid said lieutenant governors also should back up their law officers as long as legal methods were used to gather information on possible terrorist plots and “they were trying to do the right thing.”
“Counterterrorism is an uncertain business,” he said. “Intelligence is more art than science. It's often wrong, but it's our only really best chance to preventing terrorism.”
Cid, a former FBI agent, said the core al-Qaida group may become more desperate to launch a major terrorist attack in the United States because of its lack of success since Sept. 11, 2001.
“They must have a win soon or they will become irrelevant,” Cid said. “They'll try to hit us again.
“You can always count on al-Qaida to do the worst things. That's one of their characteristics.”
Splinter groups of al-Qaida or independent terrorists, such as those who set off two pressure-cooker bombs at this year's Boston Marathon, pose a significant threat in the U.S., he said.
“There are groups all over the world that have adopted the al-Qaida ideology and those groups are actually growing in strength,” he said.
Other threats are from extremists in the United States on both sides of the political spectrum, such as militias and environmental and animal rights groups, Cid said. Most of the members aren't violent, but that could change when an agitated person with violent tendencies is placed in a leadership position.
“The challenge is separating the dangerous from the merely silly to the merely angry,” he said.
“Terrorism prevention is difficult,” Cid said. “A constitutional democracy is the ideal operational environment for terrorists. ... This gives the adversary an advantage.”
Americans have always chosen liberty over terrorism “so we accept that there is a certain degree of risk in our everyday life,” he said.
“The best hope we have to prevent terrorism is through the use of intelligence,” he said.
Cid spoke to those attending the National Lieutenant Governors Association meeting after they had toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which was established after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building.