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Two decades later, it’s time for a new approach to protecting national security grounded in the lessons we’ve learned and the changes in the world around us.

Prevent­ing another 9/11 has domin­ated U.S. national secur­ity policy for the past 20 years. During this time, the world has changed dramat­ic­ally, and so have the threats and chal­lenges that our coun­try faces. Moreover, after two decades, we can see which of our national secur­ity strategies have worked, which haven’t, and which have actu­ally caused harm — to inno­cent popu­la­tions over­seas and to our own plur­al­istic soci­ety. Yet our govern­ment has been slow to adapt to these changes and lessons.

This series of essays, by experts from a vari­ety of back­grounds and perspect­ives, offers a 30,000-foot critique of where we went wrong after 9/11 and a vision for how we should be approach­ing national secur­ity today. They address a range of issues, from racial profil­ing to secret wars to mass surveil­lance to the future of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity. The authors include past and present members of Congress, former senior exec­ut­ive branch offi­cials, legal schol­ars, and Bren­nan Center experts. 

We can protect our national secur­ity while respect­ing demo­cratic values and core consti­tu­tional freedoms. These essays offer a blue­print for doing just that.

Image: Stephen Simpson/©fito­pardo/filo/Supawat Kaydee­sud/EyeEm