THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Obama plan to fight terror leans on existing efforts

Critics assail lack of details

By Eileen Sullivan
Associated Press / August 4, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The Obama administration’s new strategy to fight the threat of Al Qaeda and other violent radicals in the United States gives local communities the lead role in protecting the country against such threats and pledges federal support and guidance toward that effort.

Lawmakers who have asked the government for years to develop a plan to address the home-grown terror threat said the administration’s plan is short on details and fails to name a single point of coordination for the various initiatives at the federal and local levels.

After more than two years of high-level meetings, the White House released an eight-page document yesterday that broadly describes a strategy, mostly of initiatives already underway, to prevent violent ideologically inspired attacks like the deadly 2009 shootings at an Arkansas military recruiting center and at the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C.

Existing local police efforts, after-school programs, and community outreach around the country are at the top of the Obama administration’s continue-to-do list.

The plan says the nation’s counter-gang program, in which communities work together to prevent gang activity, can be a model for efforts to prevent people from falling for any ideology that would inspire them to kill innocent people.

“I’m delighted that they are starting down this road,’’ said Representative Sue Myrick, a North Carolina Republican. But the strategy “raises more questions to me than it answers.’’

“Our belief that putting communities in the front here is just recognition, frankly, the fact of life . . . that it’s going to be communities that recognize abnormal behavior,’’ said Denis McDonough, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser.