The Innovations We Now See Due to 9/11
Prof. Michael Kane
University of St. Thomas
9/11 had a huge impact on America. Many laws and policies such as the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, were either altered or added after the 9/11 tragedy. The terrorist attack on the United States strike prompted America to immediately act in order to not only prove its world-wide power and authority, but also to unite the American people against this new threat to our country. America’s response was strong and swift for America wanted to make sure that there was no question that America took terrorism very seriously after 9/11. The policies and laws, like the TSA program, that were put into place not only helped to make the American citizens feel safer, but it also strengthened our borders and our country’s military prowess.
The Innovations We Now See Due to 9/11
September 11, 2001, commonly called 9/11, had a serious impact on the United States of America. The policies and laws that were implemented due to fear of terrorist attacks from this event caused there to be changes in our country to the point where some could say that this country is now unrecognizable compared to pre-9/11. There were many consequences that occurred as a result of the attack on 9/11, some of the most prominent changes and those that greatly affected the United Stated of America as a whole would be the effects on immigration, air travel, government policies and laws, continuous actions of wars, and government surveillance on its own citizens. These five major changes that were implemented are still in effect today and have brought about many changes in our country and how it is run. Even though many of the younger people in America cannot remember the devastation of 9/11, due to the fact that these policies and changes are still being used today, means that indirectly 9/11 has, in fact, affected not only pre-9/11 America, but also the years after. Understanding these changes and the reasons as to why they were implemented will not only help us to better understand our country but will also help those that were not around during 9/11 to better grasp as a whole America, and the liberties that we at this very moment are able to enjoy.
Immigration Status in America
The status of the immigrants as well as how they are viewed and treated in the United States has drastically changed following 9/11. Originally, there was not so much scrutiny on the immigrant not even the illegal one. Deportation was not enacted as frequently as it is today. Before 9/11, immigrants, whether legal or not, did not have to fear how their life might be here in the United States. The laws and policies affecting the immigrant were limited. All that changed after 9/11, several policies and laws concerning immigration status and tourists from other countries were enacted immediately following the attack. The American view became much stricter on who they allowed into this country as well as whether they should even be allowed to stay if already here. The first policy that the Bush administration enacted in 2002 created the Department of Homeland Security. This department was formerly a cabinet level office, but due to it combining with twenty-two other agencies, it grew in size exponentially. Another department that was formed was the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This department was the combination of the departments of Immigration and Naturalization Services along with the department of U.S. Customs Service. Since their enactment, ICE has overseen a vast amount of deportations and have nearly doubled in size since 9/11.
Presently, we can get a pretty good picture of how deportation has changed since 9/11 simply by looking at the yearbook of Immigration Statistics. Roughly, 200,000 deportations occurred a year between the years of 1999-2001. However, if we look between the years of 2009-2010, deportations doubled, becoming nearly 400,000 deportations in each year. In fact, this post-9/11 organization of ICE was able to find more illegal immigrants through the secure communities program, a program enacted in 2008 which allowed ICE to review the immigration status of every person that was booked in a county local jail. This program was eventually shut down by Obama for he thought that it violated the American citizens’ constitutional rights. It is alarming to think, though, that before Obama shut this program down, it had grown to such an extent that it had affiliations with every single law enforcement jurisdiction.
The policies on tourism and those that could visit America also changed due to these newly enacted regulations. After 9/11, the number of visas that were offered to those wishing to come to America dropped drastically. The tourist visas dropped more than 40 percent after 2001. The drop of international tourists lasted for three years after 9/11 before they started to rise again.
Sadly, it was not just those who wished to visit or those who were here illegally that suffered. Even legal immigrants suffered during the time following the attack. Certain religions and races were specifically targeted. One of those groups was the Muslims. According to the FBI, there were 28 hate crimes against Muslims in 2000, increasing dramatically in 2001 to 481. Although, the number of hate crimes has dropped in recent year it has still stayed to around 100 hate crimes every year, triple that of pre-9/11.
Travel by plane is has drastically changed following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The days of leisurely arriving at the airport shortly before your plane is about to board, or walking all the way to the gate to say goodbye are over. Airport security is by far much more stringent and rigid now a days. Before the events of 9/11, passengers were able to board a plane and bring with them items that would be unheard of today. For example, pre-9/11 people were able to bring box cutters, any knife as long as it was up to but no more than 4 inches long, even cigarette lighters. However, these pre-9/11 freedoms that we were able to enjoy, definitely changed. The security measures that were put in place following the 9/11 attack are in effect, permanently.
Many new policies were put in place post-9/11 under the government’s word that these new laws and policies would help keep America safe. And yet, many of these new rules and regulations put in place happen to infringe on some of our rights as American citizens. However, after the attack, the government stated and restated that measures were being done not only for the protection of our country but for every single citizen who resides in it.
One of the most prominent changes, as well as the most obvious was the airports’ security measures. The goal of these new security measures was to catch anyone who might be trying to commit a terrorist attack on our country and its people. Within two months of 9/11, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (TSA). An act that had a heavy impact on the US. This act made it to so every airport was monitored by this same organization. Before the events of 9/11, each airport was in charge of its own security measures. But with this act being passed, it would make it to where every rule that the government wanted done would be done correctly and more exactly with the help of the TSA. This new group immediately began implementing changes to help make the country’s security against terrorism better. They implemented guidelines and placed rules on passengers, putting all the security measures that we know and use today into effect. Among the changes are: 1.They made it so that only people with actual tickets for the flight are able to go past security. 2. A photo ID is required to be shown at various intervals in order to confirm who is flying and so that this information is kept on record. 3. Getting scanned through a metal detector to make sure that no one is bringing either into or out of the country weapons 4. Using wands that further scan you after walking through the metal detector 5. The taking off of your shoes, belt, placing carry-on luggage and/or bags as well as emptying your pockets onto a conveyor belt in order to scan the items for potential harms. 6. The restriction of certain food items, like liquids in containers bigger than 3.4 ounces if not checked in with your luggage, and more. Lists of prohibited items and practices are provided online for the convenience of the passenger.
On top of these added security measures before boarding the plane were changes implemented to the practices inside of the plane. Two new rules that were fortified cockpit doors and the possibility for pilots to be able to apply to become a federal flight deck officer. If the pilot was accepted, then he or she would be able to carry a loaded weapon and allowed to act as a federal officer onboard the plane.
Because of all these added security measures and the costs attached to keeping them up and running, the government added a security cost to a passenger’s ticket, which has made it to where it became more expensive to fly post-9/11. Though, some people still do complain that some of these acts go against our constitutional rights as American citizens, many will argue that this has made flying safer, even though it has increased overall travel time.
Government Policies and Actions Taken after 9/11
The government created and enacted various new policies and laws following the events of 9/11 in order to try to instill a sense of order and security in the US. Many of these laws were in direct association to the actions that the government took immediately after the attack on September 11, 2001. Their plans were to bring stability and control back to the American people. The fear of terrorism was rising drastically after the attack on the twin towers. This fear made the American people nervous, and living in constant fear, fueled their belief that they might be attacked by a terrorist at any moment. The people were looking for a possible solution, for someone to guide them in the right direction and make them feel safe in their home and in the United States, again. The President of the United States, Congress, and other people in political power knew that this would be the mindset of the American people which is why their decision was to act quickly and strongly in order to show America’s power and their status to the rest of the world. They also knew that if certain actions were not implemented and pushed through immediately, America might have a very hard time making the public feel safe and have faith in their leaders if actions to console their fears were not taken. But the concern was not only within the country but also without. The Government knew other countries might see this as an opportunity to strike since America might appear weak and vulnerable. The Government feared this. And so they tried to immediately take steps to prevent this possibility and to assure the American people that America was as strong and as willing as ever to fight for our country, whether it be against another country or terrorist groups, we would never submit. In light of this possible fear of terrorism, the Government took stops to change certain government defenses they believed were lacking. And due to these changes, a major fight against terrorism began that has continued to this very day.
Legislation was passed with some being much more known than others by the American people. One of the most commonly known pieces of legislation that passed after 9/11 was the Patriot Act. However, a lot of people are unaware that there were actually more than 130 pieces of legislation introduced to Congress after 9/11, and that there were 48 bills and resolutions that Congress approved and signed off into law. One of these acts I already mentioned above, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, but there was also the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act, that made it to where the state department and the immigration department had to share all of their data. Sometime after 9/11, another bill was enacted titled the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. This bill helped to provide funding for all soldiers currently in the service of the United States of America. With yet one more bill that came about after the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill called the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This bill offered 4.2 billion dollars to the health care of soldiers that were at ground zero either before or after the attack.
However, not all new legislation led to positive outcomes for America and its citizens. A former CIA agent, Edward Snowden, revealed some very disturbing secret to the American people. In an attempt to counter terrorism, our Government was not only monitoring the possibility of terrorism outside of our country, but it was also monitoring within. After the events of 9/11, the Government felt that they should better prepared for whatever might happen and able to act on a moment’s notice. With this in mind, American intelligence decided to monitor people’s internet and phones. This use of this surveillance, however, infringed upon the rights of the American citizens because the surveillance was not done only for the purposes of potential terrorism. As we learned from Snowden’s information, there are about 16 spy agencies and around 107,000 employees that now make up the United States Intelligence Community. This act, alone, shows the post 9/11 mindset of fear left on our government and just how far America has gone not only in monitoring against terrorism, but also against making sure that its own people are not a threat since it appears that the Government feels a threat can come from anywhere.
Wars Because of 9/11:
A direct result following the events of 9/11 was war. Less than a month after the events of 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan. The reason for the invasion was that we were trying to stop the terrorist group known as Al-Qaeda for they had claimed responsibility for the terrorism attack of 9/11 against the United States. Our goal was to stop them and get rid of the Taliban Government, who at that time, was harboring Al-Qaeda. Then, only two years after 9/11, in 2003, we invaded Iraq, in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Why? Because even though he was not directly involved in the terrorist attack on the United States, we suspected him of making weapons of mass destruction, like an atomic bomb and/or even a hydrogen bomb. Even though no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq, this was still one of the events marking the beginning of America’s war against terrorism. Our war in Afghanistan is the longest running war in the history of the Unites States of America. Even though we have pulled our troops out of Iraq, we still continue conducting air strikes and other military matters, which are classified, within the country.
In the last 15 years, there have been millions of American soldiers sent overseas. Between the years of 2001 to 2011, 3.1 million Americans have joined the military, and out of that number, almost 2 million of them were sent to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq. Even now we are still at war, our troops may not be completely in the field like they were in Afghanistan, but we are still having battles in other countries as we continue our fight against terrorism.
The attack on September 11, 2001, changed America forever. Whether the changes implemented were made to truly make our country safer or not, the intention was good. The American people rose to the challenge and fought against those intended on breaking us, showing the world that we would not break, but instead, stand together strong and united.
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