Two decades after the first-ever attacks from foreign terrorists on American soil, we come to the realization that September 11th changed the world forever. The change came after one of the greatest tragedies in America’s history. From then on, tensions went up worldwide. People were on edge over ethnic and religious profiling. The media had a field day with ratings generated from fear. Going on a family vacation would never be the same again with all the heightened security procedures at airports displaying a show of presence and force, a constant reminder of the threat at stake.
“Before 9/11, security was almost invisible, and it was really designed to be that way,” Price says, who was assistant security director at Denver International Airport on Sept. 11, 2001, and is now an aviation security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “It was designed to be something in the background that really wasn’t that noticeable and definitely did not interfere with aircraft or airport operations.” “You could walk up to the gate at the very last minute. You did not have to have a boarding pass,” Price says. “All you had to do was go through the security checkpoint — no questions asked, no ID needed.”
✈️ Here's a look at how airport security has evolved over the past 20 years.https://t.co/aUfZA6aBLa
— NPR (@NPR) September 10, 2021
The events became an international issue after discovering the large number of foreign citizens who were working in the World Trade Center on that very tragic day. Also, the events on 9/11 were followed up by Al Qaeda with attacks in Madrid and London in 2005. By 2006, they nearly succeeded in conducting an attack to bring down 10 to 15 airliners over the Atlantic. This all fueled the already existing fear and chaos from 9/11. It was a reminder to other nations that we are all together in this war against an extremist terrorist threat.
People began profiling their neighbors. It got the U.S. and fellow nations locked into a twenty year long war in Afghanistan and was used as an argument to convince the U.S. Congress to go into Iraq. Several changes in law and policy after 9/11 have facilitated profiling on the basis of constitutionally protected characteristics. The attorney general’s guidelines for FBI investigations, for instance, were dramatically loosened in 2002 and again in 2008. Under this approach, adhering to the Muslim faith can be a sufficient basis for suspicion because it is shared by groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Issues of personal privacy and government surveillance on its own citizens came out of 9/11. The Patriot Act, which swatted away long standing rules preventing the state from monitoring US citizens without “probable cause”, was passed in a lightning-fast 45 days. The legislation became law with minimal debate or opposition in Congress, granting domestic law enforcement agencies sweeping new powers.
It allowed the government to track the online behavior of Americans while making it much easier to acquire a warrant. It gave the green light for the FBI and CIA to carry out “roving wiretaps” where agents could follow communications trails between phones and computers. It eviscerated the firewall that had been in place since the 1970s shielding US citizens from foreign surveillance, and it greatly boosted the power of the FBI to obtain personal customer records of Americans from phone companies, banks, and Internet providers without court approval through so-called National Security Letters. While this has become a controversial issue for many, it has become a part of everyday life for virtually all.
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September 11th though also serves as a reminder of American resilience and pride. Each year around this time, despite all the other distractions in the media from social unrest, the country takes a break to remember what it went through, who and what it lost, and generates a strong sense of unity and resilient pride. People come together and embrace one another despite different beliefs and backgrounds since so many of different backgrounds were lost on that fateful day in a country with so much diversity.
We're about to mark 20 years since the attacks – we're remembering those killed and honoring the first responders who came to help. Then and now, hope, resilience, and unity can lift us up as a nation. Together, we will #NeverForget911. https://t.co/5Kd7DwooXB pic.twitter.com/1RR1NF28uV
— 9/11 Memorial & Museum (@Sept11Memorial) September 5, 2021
Today, President Biden visited all three sites of the 9/11 attacks. He started in New York City at the 9/11 memorial where he met with his wife, the current First Lady Jill Biden, and former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. Then he flew to Shanksville Pennsylvania where he met with former President George W. Bush and current Vice President Kamala Harris for the flight 93 memorial. Lastly, he went to visit the Pentagon. The President participated in wreath laying ceremonies at both locations.
We can expect a repetition of these ceremonies over the years – possibly as long as the human memory of the tragedy lasts, and certainly as long as our world remains divided.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: 9/11 Memorial. Featured Photo Credit: Jesse Mills