Remember, Never Forget

Remember, Never Forget

I’m old enough to remember where I was on certain dates in my lifetime. I clearly remember the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  I’ll always remember, and never forget where I was when the Twin Towers were struck by terrorists’ cowardly actions.

Sept. 11, or 9/11 is enough to invoke memory, and how it changed security in the United States.

Today brings back all the memories and feelings of 9/11. I don’t know anyone in the New York area that was directly affected by this cowardice, but as an American, it does give pause to today’s activities while I reflect on lives and innocence lost, 16 years ago.

It makes me wonder how the security industry has changed. Perhaps the most dramatic and often cited is security at airports. It is obvious what changes has been made, and over the past 16 years, how much more competent the Transportation Security Administration has become.

Today, you have to be a ticketed passenger to get past security, aside from helping an elderly parent, or a child. If you don’t have business inside the secure area, you likely aren’t getting inside. That may be changing as a pilot program is in the works for non-ticketed passenger to accompany a ticketed passenger to the departure gate. Today, there are cameras, intensified software capabilities and analytics that protect the secured area.

Air Travel

Perhaps the most immediate and obvious changes after the attacks took place in U.S. airports. Two months after the attacks, Congress federalized airport security by passing the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which created the Transportation Security Administration. Prior to 9/11, security had been handled by each airport, which outsourced to private security companies.

Airplanes themselves also underwent major overhauls: Fortified cockpit doors were introduced, and first-class cabin curtains were dropped by some airlines. Pilots can now apply to become a federal flight deck officer, allowing them to carry a loaded gun and act as a federal officer aboard the plane.

In order to offset the added security costs, a “Sept. 11 fee” was tacked onto passengers’ tickets, with the TSA collecting billions of dollars in the past 16 years. Airlines also had to give some of their luggage screening budget to help offset costs as well. Air carrier fee collections amounted to $2.9 billion between 2002 and 2010.

Government

While the Patriot Act may be the most recognizable piece of legislation relating to Sept. 11, more than 130 pieces of 9/11-related legislation were introduced in the 107th Congress in the year after the attacks, with 48 bills and resolutions approved or signed into law. Along with the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, they included the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, which required the State Department and Immigration to share visa and immigrant data with each other. Subsequent years brought the release of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which gave educational funding to soldiers, and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, providing $4.2 billion for the health of people who worked at Ground Zero during and after the attacks.

Government agencies created after 9/11 include the Department of Homeland Security, which consolidated other agencies, including the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. According to The Washington Post, more than 263 government organizations were either created or reorganized following the attacks. The newspaper found that more than 1,200 government organizations and 1,900 private companies do work related to counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence. Budgets for defense-related agencies also rose. The Coast Guard, TSA and Border Patrol budgets have all more than doubled since 2001.

Immigration, Tourism and Deportations

The country with the most notable drop in visa issuance after 9/11 was Pakistan. In 2002, the number of tourist visas given to Pakistani citizens fell almost 70 percent and immigrant visas dropped more than 40 percent compared to 2001. It wasn’t until 2008 that Pakistani immigrant and tourist visas to reach pre-9/11 levels. Egypt and Morocco also saw sharp drops in visas issued in 2002, though both have rebounded since.

International tourism to America fell for three years after 2001. Starting in 2004, it began to increase again, surpassing pre-2001 numbers in 2007. In 2010, a record 60 million foreign tourists visited. The number of Americans who traveled internationally also declined after 9/11, the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reports.

Deportations as a whole rose by 104 percent from 2001 to 2010, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. The region with the highest deportation percentage was Central America, with a 430 percent increase, going from 14,452 deportees to 76,603. Asia saw a 34 percent rise in deportations, while Europe rose by 46 percent. Deportations for persons from Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan spiked in 2003, with Egypt showing the highest increase — 205 percent.

Chemical Attack

A week after the attacks, America was again caught flat-footed, when envelopes with deadly anthrax were sent to some media outlets and two U.S. Senate offices, ultimately killing five people and hospitalizing 17. Gov. Tom Ridge, (Pennsylvania governor), was recruited to become the White House homeland-security adviser, and convened his first meeting about anthrax in the Roosevelt Room, across from the Oval Office, he was stunned by the cluelessness of those assembled at the table. There was no playbook. No list of medical experts to call. No emergency supply of antidotes and no plan to produce one.

Border Patrol

The number of border patrol agents doubled, almost overnight, and the air marshals program was reconstituted shortly thereafter. Federal money flowed generously to nervous cities, used to plug insecure gaps. Grants continue to day, though at a reduced rate.

Do I think about 9/11 everyday? Well, yes, I think about security every day and it is inexplicably tied to my Sept. 11 experiences. Are we safer today? Yes. Are we still vulnerable today? Yes.

It would be a good idea to always remember, and never forget that day, 16 years ago.

Posted by Ralph C. Jensen on Sep 11, 2017


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