Everyone Has Come Across The Term
Everyone has come across the term “9/11” at least once in their life. Some people believe that the only thing being done after 9/11 is building a new One World Trade Center, commonly known as the Freedom Tower, but this is not the case. Most people do not have knowledge of the actual implications that the attacks of 9/11 had on the United States, and in particular on its national security. Many other things have changed along with national security, but all other changes such as immigration are subcategories of the national security. The 9/11 attacks have changed the United States’ security for the better. The government took a tragic event such as this one, learned from it, and improved the security for future generations. Although it is sad that a tragic event like these terror attacks had to occur to realize that changes had to be implemented, the US made the best of a horrible situation. The major changes that were made will be discussed in this essay are concerned with travel restrictions, rules applied and laws passed after 9/11, and the task force and law enforcement groups that were formed and staffed.
One major change that has had a lasting effect on the travel and immigration in general is the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS, along with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), was created in response to 9/11. The government predicted that through the creation of the DHS many terrorist attacks could be prevented before they even happened. Before TSA, airport security measures were controlled by each airport individually and varied from airport to airport. “A bill to establish DHS was introduced by two senators, with Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman (D) taking the lead, and the president reluctantly concurred” (Perrow, 2006). By standardizing security in all airports under the TSA, all airports would have the same rules and regulations for travelers. Likewise, TSA was put in place to further prevent people from bringing dangerous items that could harm other passengers or airline employees.
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the government has granted the DHS and the Pentagon billions of dollars in an effort to eliminate terror cells abroad, as well as terror attacks from occurring in the United States completely. From 2001 to 2017 $4.79 trillion have been spent on homeland security. The war on terror and response to terrorism from 2001 to 2016 totaled $548 billion. Below are two charts that compare the DHS and Pentagon budgets from 2001, 2011, 2017, and a proposal for 2018. The Pentagon leads the war on terror with the military budget, and the DHS tries to prevent terrorist attacks from happening any time in the near future. The money that is being spent by the Pentagon and the DHS is making the United States a lot safe because of what exactly is being done with the money. There was a slight spike in the budget for the DHS in 2011. This is due to the conclusion of the search for Osama bin Laden, the leader and founder of Al-Qaeda, in 2011. The DHS placed great emphasis on watching for suspected terrorists after his death, because they believed that other Al-Qaeda members would revolt against the actions taken by our military. There is no data that is applicable for the DHS in 2001, because the DHS was not created until 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks. The Pentagon’s budget has also almost doubled since the attacks in 2001. This shows the efforts that have been made in the Middle East to stop the attacks there before they even come close to the United States.
A vital change that was implemented after 9/11 was how day to day air travel transformed. Changes were made to the airplanes to prevent further terrorist attacks. The terrorists that carried out the 9/11 attacks entered the cockpit and took over control of the plane, airplane companies would have to prevent this from happening again. The airline companies implemented fortified or locked cockpit doors. Pilots were given a new ability to become federal flight deck officers. “Since 2003, TSA authorized federal flight deck officers are trained to use force to guard against individuals attempting to gain control of the flight deck of an aircraft” (TSA.gov). This allows them to carry a loaded gun while they are aboard the plane, as well as to act as a federal officer on the plane. Along with this, a special “September 11 fee” was added to each passenger’s ticket. This fee has made TSA a $15 billion profit over the past 9 years.
Along with the changes to the airplanes, changes were made to the government. Many new laws and acts were passed by Congress. The Patriot Act was a major change that was made because it benefitted many United States citizens that had suffered due to the attacks, along with preventing attacks in the future.
The USA PATRIOT Act, passed overwhelmingly, updated electronic surveillance rules to allow warrants to intercept individuals even when they frequently changed phones, and to grant access to Internet communications on the same basic terms as applicable to traditional telephone communications” (Chertoff, 2011).
These rules are what later allowed the Information Awareness Office to be formed. Under the Patriot Act, there was another act called the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. This act states that the State Departments (e.g. USCIS) have to share visa and immigrant data with one another. Because immigration became a large issue after the 9/11 attacks, strict restrictions were placed on immigration. “The State Department’s zealous denial and revocation of visas after 9/11 was understandable, given the origins of 9/11 in the government’s failure to scrutinize visa applications carefully or otherwise bar entry to terrorism suspects” (Nafziger, 2009). Carefully looking through visas now and not just letting everyone fly past immigration has helped the USA fight terror attacks on a daily basis. Customs and Border Protection Agency have to make sure that people who come into the Unites States want nothing bad for the country.
Another act that was implemented was the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This act has granted $4.2 billion for the health care and compensation to people who worked at Ground Zero, regardless of their employment there during and after attacks. Another program that was associated with the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 was the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). This was passed because airway obstructions were reported as the most common issue amongst the FDNY post 9/11 clean up. “The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders at the WTC and related sites in New York City, Pentagon, and Shanksville, PA, and survivors who were in the New York City disaster area” (CDC.gov). Under Zadroga there are also teams that were put into place to respond to Personal Identifying Information (PII) breaches. The PII breach response team is trained to respond to Personal Information breaches within an hour of the suspected breach, to minimize the amount of secret information that gets into the hands of the wrong people.
The Homeland Security Act (HSA) was put in place for the United States as soon as it possibly could have been after the attacks. In 2002, the act was finally passed. The Homeland Security Act was now there to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorist attacks, and most importantly to minimize the damage that was caused by a terrorist attack. The HSA also assists in recovery post-attack. “The provisions of the HSA introduced the most dramatic potential shift in the direction of federal personnel management since the Civil Rights Reform Act” (King, 2007). Along with the HSA, the Information Awareness Office (IOA) was put into effect by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002. This office allowed the government to view any person’s personal information at any time on any given date. This included personal e-mails, text messages, phone conversations, and credit card records. The IOA was defunded and terminated by congress in 2003. The project was terminated because there was a lot of controversy behind what the government would do with the information that they gathered, and whether they were actually using it for a good cause. Although the IOA was defunded, some projects through DARPA were carried on through private funding. The IOA was the basis for what the NSA uses today to tap into conversations and personal information if they think that anything about a certain person is suspicious. The NSA now has permission to tap into phone conversations and text messages, as well as emails of any person that is suspected to cause harm to the United States in the future. They are capable of doing this under the Patriot Act.
Before the attacks of 9/11 passengers that did not have a ticket to fly on an airplane were allowed to pass through security with no issues. This rapidly changed after 9/11. Now, only ticketed passengers who show a form of identification with a name that matches their ticket are allowed to pass through security. TSA also has many new screening procedures that help to protect all travelers. They have new X-Ray machines, as well as new machines that can scan the travelers for any objects that may be hidden on their person. Along with this new technology, the travelers now have to remove their shoes during the pre-flight screening process. A limit was also placed on how much liquid you are allowed to bring through the security checkpoint onto the airplane. The limit consists of 3-ounce bottles and the amount may not exceed what can fit into a small travel bag. “That rule was imposed after terrorists in Britain tried to sneak liquid explosives in planes in August 2006” (Sharkey, 2007).
Lastly, another change that was made post 9/11 was the Joint Task forces that were established. The first task force that was established was between the NYPD and the FBI. There were 35 task forces before 9/11 and today there are a whopping 71 Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). “When it comes to investigating terrorism, they do it all: chase down leads, gather evidence, make arrests, provide security for special events, conduct training, collect and share intelligence, and respond to threats and incidents at a moment’s notice” (FBI.gov). The JTTFs are a group of specially trained individuals who try to prevent attacks and if there is an attack they are there to respond within minutes. This reduces the number of casualties if they can get there quickly enough to stop the attack. JTTFs also share information amongst one another, in 50 different states. They do this in case one state becomes aware of an incident that might occur in another state, so that everyone can have teams ready to respond.
Even today, 16 years after the attacks, the United States Department of Defense along with the Department of Homeland Security and JTTFs, there are still terrorist attacks that occur. Citizens are still scared of attacks on a daily basis. We cannot help but ask, are we safe? Many historians answer that we are not entirely safe, but that we are a lot safer than we were 10 years ago. TSA standardizing airport security, as well as the DHS carefully inspecting proposed visas has helped to prevent many attacks before they occur. New York City also built the One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower in place of the previous World Trade Centers. The Freedom Tower was constructed after the attacks to show the world that even though we were attacked and devastated by the losses of such a great amount of people, that we will come back better and stronger, and will not let such events define us as a nation. There was also a memorial that was built in front of the new Freedom Tower, in memory of the victims and their families of the 9/11 attacks.
In conclusion, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have changed how the United States functions on a day to day basis. An entire new department within the executive branch was added with the Department of Homeland Security, and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces have expanded the range of the FBI a lot further than anyone before 2001 would have imagined. The communication amongst members of the FBI, NSA, and government branches combined has been improved a great deal in response to the 9/11 attacks. The major changes that were made are concerned with travel restrictions, rules and laws passed after 9/11, and the task force and law enforcement groups. In general, the United States government has learned from the 9/11 attacks, and because so many positive changes have been made, the amount of terrorist attacks that come from outside of the United States have been greatly reduced.