How September 11, 2001 changed America
Thesis Statement: The 9/11 terrorist attack became the catalyst that strengthened the U.S. as a nation by focusing the goal of using technology to make America a safer place for its people.
In September 21, 2001, America was in shock when two airplanes struck Twin Towers in New York City and also attacked the Pentagon in Washington D.C. in the morning of that fateful day. The deadly blows that hit the Twin Tower caused the 110-storey buildings to collapse as people watched in horror how some of the people inside the buildings try to jump out of the windows. Every human being all over the world turned on their television to watch the news as the event was unfolding. It was considered the worst act of terrorism that occurred in American soil Willis 171). The most heartbreaking scene was to learn that there were 3,000 people who boarded that Flight 93 on that day, and the employees who reported to work to do their daily tasks, without any inkling that it will be the last day of their lives. It was the emotional baggage that made it difficult to accept that despite the devastation, life has to go on. The rest of the world mourned with America as they condemned the greatest act of terrorism that was ever staged in history.
After the tragedy, President Bush addressed his countrymen in a speech on that same day as he proclaimed that all security measures will be taken. He promised his countrymen that they will hunt down and punish the terrorist for the crimes they committed (Rhatican 505).
After the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, the U.S. enacted stricter counterterrorism policies and created agencies to expand the security measures to address terrorism. The 9/11 incident highlighted the need for the reorganization of the government and the creation of a new department which is specifically tasked to protect the American people from future terrorist attacks (Haulley 9). The new department was later called the Department of Homeland Security. The mission of the department is to prevent law offenders, immigrants, smugglers and terrorists from entering the country. Haulley stated that the Department of Homeland Security or otherwise known as “DHS” was established primarily to fulfill four purposes: First is to protect the country against terrorism by maintaining it’s the entry and exit points; Second is to reduce losses or damages and accomplish the prompt recovery of the country from the future attacks that may occur; Third is to be able to discover new anti-terrorism technologies that will protect and safeguard the country and its people; Finally, to make an intelligence review or conduct a testing on the anti-terrorist technologies that are about be enforced (9). The DHS was created in order to handle anti-terrorism activities and was established to act as a co-equal of vital cabinet offices within the country. The functions performed by the DHS serve to protect the nation from any potential threats that may compromise the public security and safety.
The 9/11 incident that occurred and rocked the country in 2001 during the term of then President Bush has taught America many lessons. The first thing to be done is to change the security system of the country to combat attack on national security (Mearsheimer and Walt, “An Unnecessary War”). It was during this time that President Bush has pointed to Saddam Hussein as the principal mastermind of the 9/11 killings. The incident can be considered as mass murder because 3,000 innocent lives were wasted as the terrorists were able to secure themselves with weapons of mass destruction to attack the security of the country (Mearsheimer and Walt, “An Unnecessary War”). President Bush declared an all-out war against Iraq by stating that it supported and funded several terrorist activities claiming that Iraq is a nation that breeds terrorism. In effect, the U.S. government created security policies to reinforce the defense mechanism of the country through the use of modern technology and communication systems that monitored the nation’s critical borders (Mearsheimer and Walt, “An Unnecessary War”). The country has created counterterrorism legislative measures against terrorist activities including the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, which was enacted in November 19, 2001, or two months after the 9/11 incident. The policy was intended to closely monitor commercial aviation and national security for the purpose of preventing future aircraft piracy and hijacks, data analysis and intelligence information gathering (Vacca 663). Any suspected terrorist will be prevented from boarding the aircraft from the point of entry in the U.S. The key features of this act included the federalization of airport security screeners and all baggage will be screened using explosive detection devices and allowed the pilots to carry firearms (Vacca 663). The passenger who is suspected to be carrying explosives will be thoroughly searched with the use of trace detection devices, giving the U.S. security personnel stationed at the airports to conduct a meticulous search on each passenger. The computer-generated technical devices included high powered surveillance cameras strategically placed in various parts of U.S. airports to search for any trace of explosive residue (Vacca 663).
After 9/11, governments worldwide called for the pervasive data gathering as a means to hunt down terrorists and prevent them from engaging in terrorist activities in the future (Maras 162). The intelligence that will be collected will be able to identify the leaders, its members, financial resources, weapons caches, facilities and allies. The new technology that will help in gathering these important data through the use of “IMINT (imagery intelligence), SIGINT (signal intelligence) and HUMINT (human intelligence)”(Maras 162). The purpose of “IMINT” is to serve as the early warning of threats and conflict by providing a visual image of the intended operation using photo imaging satellite of potential operation of terrorists (Maras 162). This was the same technology that was used search for Osama Bin Laden by capturing satellite images that located the residence compound of the most wanted terrorist. Another technology which is called “SIGINT” used transmissions coming from broadcast systems, radar, communications, and use of visual surveillance and wiretapping activities of potential terrorists (Maras 162). The “HUMINT” is a device that is not operated by technology but shall gather information as reported by informers and infiltration of terrorist organizations (Maras 162).
Another high-powered mechanism is called the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System or “PISCES” program, or has connection to the “terrorism interdiction system” which matches the passenger inbound for U.S. The “PISCES” program has the ability to run series of tests the will match the facial figures, fingerprints and biometrics of suspected bombers inside the airports (Maras 164). The new National Security Entry-Exit Registration System “NSEERS” established by the U.S. government has allowed the use of validly issued temporary visas to enter the country to safeguard country’s borders for possible terrorist attacks (Maras 163).
The aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack pushed the government in creating policies that promoted counterterrorism measures to ensure national security and public safety is commendable. The 9/11 terrorist attack became the catalyst that strengthened the U.S. as a nation by focusing the goal of using technology to make America a safer place for its people. The use of technology and computer-enabled devises has increased the protective shield of the people against terrorist activities. The trauma brought by the 9/11 terrorist attack has made a significant impact on the lives of American people. The installation of CCTV surveillance cameras in public places such as airports, commercial establishments and inside office buildings will safeguard the citizenry from potential risks brought about by terrorist activities. Modern devices using technology-generated CCTV cameras serve as watchdogs to monitor and stop the terrorist organizations from pursuing their evil motives. However, it is obligatory upon the government to strike a balance between civil liberties and national security by observing privacy rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Human rights can also abused by the law enforcement agencies that may have the tendency to abuse their power and disregard individual privacy. While it is true that the implementation of these policies will prevent terroristic attacks and ensure national safety and security, civil liberties will have to be respected. Therefore, the court must be able to continue its pursuit to fight terrorism without compromising individual rights.
Haulley, Fletcher. The Department of Homeland Security. New York : Rosen Publishing, 2006.
Maras, Marie-Helen. Counterterrorism. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2012. Print.
Mearsheimer, John J. and Stephen M. Walt. An Unnecessary War. Foreign Policy. April 1, 2013,
Rhatican, Bill. White House Under Fire. Indiana: Authorhouse, 2005. Print.
Vacca, J.R. (2009). Computer and Information Security Handbook. Burlington: Morgan Kaufman Publishers.
Willis, Jim. 100 Media Moments that Changed America. California: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print.