The thing I most remember about 9/11 was how confused and unprepared everyone was — government officials and ordinary citizens alike. Cellphone service was gone very quickly, and very few officials, even at the senior levels, had Blackberries at the time. The streets of D.C. were filled with people who were wandering home, with very little information and high levels of anxiety. Rumors about a car bombing at the State Department and an attack on the White House heightened the tension.
In the decade since, the U.S. government has spent enormous sums of money aimed at making sure nothing like 9/11 ever happens again, and I am confident that we won't see the same type of attack again. But our enemies are both evil and resourceful, and we must remain vigilant and nimble to prevent other types of attacks. What we learned on 9/11 is that we were not ready for that kind of attack, and we have acted to address that vulnerability. Unfortunately, there are other modes of attack, and the confusion I saw that day makes me wonder if we can ever be fully ready.