On September 11, 2001 America woke up expecting a normal day. What America did not expect was that this day was going to change history forever. On that day Islamic extremist high-jacked four U.S. airplanes with the intent of crashing them into the twin towers, the Pentagon and the White House. Two of the planes did indeed crash into the twin towers in New York City and another was used to hit the pentagon. The passengers on the last plane however, fought back, and it was landed before it could be used to hit the white house. “A decade later, what happened on Sept. 11 still resonates for much of the country. Even more Americans now say the horror of that day changed their lives.”1 These were the first attacks ever directed toward U.S. civilian population. These organized attacks lead to the need for an immediate change in the way the United States approached defending itself.
One of the major changes that were caused by the attack of 9/11 was the introduction to the Patriot Act. “The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. The title of the act is a ten-letter acronym (USA PATRIOT) that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001The Patriot Act gives the U.S. power to deter and punish terrorist acts in the U.S. and around the world.”2 This law was passed just forty-six days after the attacks on the twin towers and the pentagon occurred. The patriot act dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone, e-mails, medical, financial, and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States. Basically there was nothing off limits to government agencies such as the F.B.I., they were able to obtain any documents they felt necessary to fight terrorism.
“It also expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting anyone they thought to be a threat/ terrorist.”3 To some people this kind of immediate reaction was something that was desperately needed to show some kind of action on the behalf of America—to show that the United States was committed to ensuring that an attack like this does not happen again on American soil. The U.S. government has thrived on ensuring safety to its citizens and the 9/11 attack showed otherwise. So the United States government countered, showing its citizens it would do whatever it takes to make sure it does not happen again. To others this was an act that was passed in too quickly, and without enough thought behind it.
This act was one of the most controversial acts passed in the United States in a long time. There are people who see the Patriot act as the cure to terrorist acts against the United States, while others seen this act as anti-constitutional. The people who supported the Patriot Act based their opinion on the fact that it allowed the government to do their job with fewer interruptions. There are speculations that 9/11 could have been avoided had intelligence agencies been interacting with each other. The patriot act lifts bands that once made it difficult/illegal for these agencies to share information between each other. It also allows government agencies to obtain “roving wiretaps”.
A roving wiretap allows them to tap a suspects PC, cell-phone etc. all at once, instead of having to get individual court authorization for each specific item. This eliminates the waiting time, which in the case of a terrorist act is very crucial; also there is now a smaller chance of these terrorists somehow being tipped off. They also got the right to use the “sneak and peek” tactic that has been used for drug dealers and other criminals; this tactic lowers the chance of jeopardizing the investigation. These are all positive attributes of the Patriot Act; it is all based on the fact that government intelligence agencies need the ability to act swiftly on any threat to America.
With that being said there are negatives to the Patriot Act. While it may help stop Terrorist attacks it still infringes on the rights of Americans. In the case of agency information sharing, people fear that files may be created on innocent citizens who are not suspects of any terrorist investigation. While the purpose of information sharing was to make it easier to identify someone suspected of terrorism, a lot of other random American citizens will be thrown into mix causing conflict. The negative aspect of the “roving wiretaps” is anyone who somehow comes into contact with these suspects, will be put down on a list as a possible conspirator. In today’s world where everything is done digitally it is too easy to accidentally become in contact with a suspect.
So this brings about the question is the roving technique really effective, or is it just a tool to tap anyone a select agency chooses. Critics against the Patriot Act main concern is the secrecy of the foreign intelligence probes. It is almost impossible to control the use of this liberty, because it is done in private. Many people fear that government agencies will abuse this right. Summing up the basic concerns of those who oppose the Patriot Act, they fear that there are not enough checks and balances to protect the innocent citizens of America.
While the Patriot Act is one of the most controversial effects of 9-11 it was not the only change, one of the most visible changes would be the tightened security in the airports around America. It was a wide known fact that before 9-11 airport security was relatively slacking. Airports security was hired from private firms, after 9-11 America was introduced to TSA. They were established in November of 2001; their job was protection of American transportation, especially in the airports. They were put it charge of bag checking and individual personal scanning. TSA being a government-controlled agency instilled a sense of safety in the airport; it assured people that TSA workers are train professionals. “Airport security procedures were shaken awake, slapped round the face and forced to undergo a rigorous transformation in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
And the authorities have been playing catch-up ever since, updating and tweaking security screening measures to address subsequent attempted attacks on aircraft using shoes, liquids, printer cartridges and even underwear.”4 Another change was in immigration policies. “Bilateral migration talks were derailed by the events of 9/11. The terrorist attacks were carried out by individuals who came to the United States with student visitor visas, and the immigration processes and border controls immediately became a central topic of concern in the aftermath.”5 Since 9/11 U.S. has become more involved in the monitoring of immigrants. Before the attacks, foreigners were allowed six month visiting periods, now they are given exactly 30 days. Even foreigners attending college or university are monitored more. The final major change in America was the awareness of conflict religions. It is no secret that the terrorists responsible for the attacks of 9-11 were Islamic extremist. The following days after the attacks there was extreme caution and resentment towards people of the Islamic faith. However, as time passed the religious ignorance began to fade, as people began to be taught the difference between extremist and Islamic. This religious awareness even lead to the thought of putting a mosque in the new towers.
These are the changes that came about as an effect of 9-11, there were political change, a change in American defense, a change in immigration and change in American thinking. Some people may have thought that 9-11 may have weakened American, but if you look at the overall outcome it only made us stronger.