The devasting attacks on 9/11 were an unfortunate wake-up call for our nation that proved how truly defenseless we were at the time. It wasn’t surprising that many thought we were protected from risks such as terrorist threats due to our country’s immense military budget and geographical location. However, our most advanced security policies and procedures fell to a simple box cutter. Since the attacks, we have done what America is known for, learning from our mistakes and rising from the ashes, paving the way for the current high-level state of security that the U.S. currently has implemented.
Before 9/11, we, as a country, were not deporting the magnitude of people we do today, had no idea of the reach of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, and didn’t even have to take our shoes off when going through airport security. Today, practically every aspect of surveillance, border, travel, and Internet security has been drastically increased, revised, and reinforced to usher in a new era of national defense.
9/11 was a direct result of improper security procedures at our airports; due to this, this sector has had the most changes since the attacks. Currently, we introduce full-body scans, pat-downs, and increased restrictions on items such as liquids. Before the attacks, security policies were, for the most part, handled by private companies, offering minimal industry-standard guidelines for airports to follow. As we all know, when security policies differ from organization to organization, security gaps run rampant. Thankfully, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now oversees and enforces the security at airports in all U.S. airports and restricts access to individuals who are on watch lists or pose flight safety risks. In addition to increased security, our border and travel policies have altered as well, limiting access to the U.S. from individuals from certain countries or if they are suspected or associated with anything relating to terrorist or violent acts, groups, or methodologies.
After 9/11, the U.S. intelligence program exploded in funding, sophistication, and usage. The Patriot Act was one of the most notable programs launched, increasing the government’s ability to use the wide-range of technology-based detection and recording systems. By removing much of the ‘yellow tape’ that surrounded our most controversial surveillance systems, we were allowed to turn our attention from break-fixes to preventing future terrorist attacks, thus revolutionizing our security tactics from reactive to preventive.
In class this week, a fellow veteran asked, “Do you think that the Patriot Act may have overstepped and infringed a bit on an individual’s right to privacy in its overarching pursuit of stronger security measures?
While I am a strong supporter and advocate for human rights and privacy, both on and off the Internet, I honestly don’t mind relinquishing some of my privacy if it means that our government and law enforcement agencies can have greater tools to hunt and stop human traffickers and terrorists. I must say, I am definitely one to agree with some of the rather humorous conspiracy theories out in regards to what the government and large corporations do with our data, however, I personally feel that I can somewhat ‘take one for the team’ if it means another child doesn’t go missing or have a Christmas where their father is fighting in a war thousands of miles away.
Sensenbrenner, J. F. (2001, October 26). H.R.3162 – 107th Congress (2001-2002): Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. Retrieved December 2, 2019, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-bill/3162.