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Former US Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff discusses counterterrorism

For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is America safer since 9/11?

Former top US official regrets Iraq becoming 'magnet' for terrorism

If Michael Chertoff has one regret from his tenure as US secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009), it's Iraq. He says the US-led war there not only distracted from Afghanistan, but the unclear mission and lack of post-war planning ultimately turned Iraq into "a magnet for all kinds of attacks on Americans, that absorbed more resources, more attention, and more patients." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on this episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

With US out, will Afghanistan become a greater terrorist threat?

While the US has gotten a lot better at counter-terrorism since 9/11, many bad guys are still out there — and the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has given them a huge morale boost. "They will see this as they did, indeed, the ISIS victories in Syria and Iraq, as a sign that they're on their way back," says former UK diplomat Rory Stewart. "Whatever we think about Afghanistan, nobody should be concluding that there are no terrorist threats." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on this episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

Is America safer since 9/11?

20 years have passed since 9/11, but is the US any safer? As the Taliban regains control in Afghanistan, was the War on Terror a failure or has it kept America safe from harm? And how did US allies feel as the last American planes left Kabul? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks to two people who have had a hand in crafting global policy since the towers fell: Michael Chertoff, who served as Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under President George Bush; and Rory Stewart, who worked extensively in Afghanistan in his role as UK Secretary of State for International Development and beyond.

Hard Numbers: 9/11's enduring toll

25 billion: Both the public and private sectors have invested around $25 billion to reconstruct New York City's Ground Zero, including the 9/11 memorial, transforming the area into a popular tourist destination. Two remaining projects could put the bill over $30 billion.

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20 years since 9/11 attacks

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. It's the 20th anniversary of 9/11 coming up real soon, and I thought I'd give you a few thoughts about it. I was here in New York, like so many of us, when the planes flew into the towers. It was shocking. I was in our offices in Midtown at the time. At first, of course, everyone thought it was an accident. And then suddenly it became quite apparent it was not. And it was a gut punch. It was a feeling that the world had changed inextricably even if you didn't know exactly how.

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9/11 in America

The great Spalding Gray once wrote that he had fled his native New England for Manhattan because he wanted to live on an "island off the coast of America," where human nature was king, and everyone exuded character and had big attitude." I've now lived in New York City for 35 years, and I know what he meant. Manhattanites are Americans, without doubt, but they're suspicious of patriotic displays, and they like to keep the rest of their country at arm's length.

But 9/11 was different. All of us in the city on September 11, 2001, remember that day's clear blue sky, the time it took to understand and absorb the shock of what was happening at the World Trade Center that morning, and then the horror unfolding around us. But the response of ordinary New Yorkers was unlike anything seen in this city since the end of World War II.

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Political transformation 20 years after 9/11

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Two decades later, in what ways has 9/11 shaped US politics?

Well, I think if you can go back in time from today to late 2001 and early 2002, people then would be surprised to learn three things. The first is that the Taliban were back in charge of Afghanistan. The second is that Iraq can transition to a relatively stable democracy. And the third is that after 9/11, there were no future foreign-planned major terrorist attacks against the United States. This last piece of information will particularly surprise people, and they'd also be surprised to learn that the major threats facing the US were largely domestic political instability and a rising geopolitical conflict with China, which had just become an open trading partner of the US just before the 9/11 attacks happened.

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