The likelihood of another 9/11 is almost nonexistent, according to a former acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Kevin K. McAleenan’s assessment was shared Wednesday evening during a fireside chat with Anderson University President John S. Pistole. Those threats, he said, may be individual or may be to our democracy as some try to prevent free and fair elections.
“What is more likely to happen is domestic violence from across the ideological spectrum,” he told about 60 students and members of the public.
McAleenan is one of several current and former federal dignitaries — including Robert Mueller, James Comey and John Brennan — who have been brought to AU’s campus by Pistole over the past six years. Pistole is former deputy director of the FBI and former administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.
As with most of these visits to AU’s campus, McAleenan met earlier in the day in the Situation Room with students majoring in political science, national security and cybersecurity. He addressed questions about issues ranging from border security to foreign relations.
An appointee of then-President Donald Trump, McAleenan said he has left public service to start his own business, in part, because of the overpoliticization of DHS’ mission over the past several years.
“I tried to create a bubble of protection against the political pressure from above and below.”
Effective homeland security relies on prioritizing cybersecurity, counterintelligence and counterterrorism, he said.
“We are not safe from a cyberattack,” he said. “We have massive efforts to steal our knowledge.”
Though the U.S. remains safe militarily and projects power internationally, China is the nation that poses the greatest military and economic threat to the United States, McAleenan said. However, he also expressed concern that after 30 years of war, Afghanistan will return to its previous governmental structure as the Taliban regains power after the withdrawal of the U.S. military.
“I think China wants their philosophy of government to succeed. I don’t want to suggest we can’t become strategic partners again.”
McAleenan stressed the importance of strong mentors, including Pistole, in his rise in government.
“I taught him about all my mistakes because often mistakes are great teachers,” Pistole said.
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