Thursday, September 10, 2009

Post 9/11/2001 Survey: How secure are we?

09/09/09 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

September 11, 2001.

At the end of that horrific day, President George W. Bush wrote in his journal, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today… we think it’s Osama bin Laden.”

On that tragic day, the Al-Qaeda terrorists, who hijacked airplanes that slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, not only killed and injured thousands of innocent people but also destroyed our way of life.

Eight years ago those scumbags essentially killed something else that Americans cherished — peace of mind and a sense of security. In response to the attacks our government put into place new security measures and went to war to stop the perpetrators. All these years later, uncertainty still reigns and homeland security seems an oxymoron.

So I chose a widely diverse group of people (who ranged in age from 18 years old to 70-plus) and posed this email question: In the aftermath of 9/11 … do you feel/think our country is: A. More secure? B. Less secure? C. Just the same? (Note: I promised anonymity for cooperation!)

Larry reminded me that ‘feeling’ is different than ‘thinking.’ “Beware of feeling,” he said, “there’s too much of it going around. Emotional responses are scary. In light of pertinent facts, I can only surmise that security has been tightened in our seaports, borders, obviously in the air, water and (cities). That’s not to say that some idiot (still) can’t do damage.”

Louise echoed the majority of votes. “I don’t think our country is any more of less secure than it was before 9/11. There were clues that were missed and yet other plots have been foiled. I think people pay more attention to things than they used to. But where there is a determination to do damage and take lives, it will somehow find a way. I recently talked to a TSA employee and … some of the things she said made me feel less safe about flying.”

Roy had a similar take on this. “In spite of all the security measures in place, I feel it (security) is about the same. I don’t think the terrorists are stupid enough to try the same methods twice so we are concentrating on air security when they most likely would try something totally unrelated. Perhaps we are a little more alert to things that don’t look quite ‘right,’ but we still seem to be a nation of ‘don’t want to be involved’ people.

Several people directly addressed the military and political component of security in their answers.

Norman had this to say. “We never learn, do we? As long as this country uses the armed forces to reconcile our differences with other factions of the world, we are in constant danger. Until we use diplomacy to the fullest, make friends instead of enemies of divergent faiths and stop trying to tell the rest of the world how to live, we will never have ‘peace on earth.’ Just a few years ago we settled many of our differences with the old Soviet Union with diplomacy not war.”

Jason said “There seems to be a pervasive ‘us and them’ perception of the world. At least that was so in the former administration. I believe that an ‘us and them’ attitude is a dangerous and negative way to approach life. I prefer a ‘we’ approach. I think that since 9/11, focus has been more on our differences and has served to increase paranoia and fear … I refuse to live a paranoid and fearful life.”

Courtney begged to differ. “This current president is way too soft on the safety of this country. He has taken the view that there is no War on Terror although it continues. This administration wants to make interrogations of detainees a police matter giving them all the rights of USA citizens including Miranda and lawyers. This war is not a police action but war: a war against people that want to destroy us (and others). The enemy has no feeling for another’s life or suffering; just power for their religion over the rest of the world.”

Shaun had this to say: “I just don’t know. This country gives its people such mixed signals with hardly any mention of Osama: ‘Let’s get Saddam!’ ‘Let’s go to Afghanistan again!’ ‘Let’s torch the terrorists!’ Others say ‘No, we can’t.’ All I know is that too many young men and women are getting killed and for what? If we’re going to carry a big stick then let’s have (carry) a really big one and not fool around!”

Trina said, “I truly believe that our nation is less secure for a variety of reasons. It seems that everyone hates us and is envious of our way of life and freedoms. Our borders are like a sieve. Anyone can enter without really trying. Terrorists are nuts! They will do anything their dark little hearts want to do. …Our government is not fully doing its job. Fighting the Taliban will not make us safer. It is time to put America first and bring the troops home! I am truly surprised that our nation has not been the victim of another 9/11 attack. It will happen!”

Today’s trials and travails of travel are certainly not appreciated. One couple didn’t think that borders and port security had changed appreciably. They said, “We don’t feel safer, only extremely frustrated when we travel.”

Another individual said “There are hoops you jump through to be safe but I think if someone really wanted to smuggle something through they could. Who really notices a suitcase left at the airport? You always assume they’re in the bathroom.”

And finally, the youngest member to weigh in had this to say. “I think our country was most secure after the initial attack when we really ramped up security but now has lulled (quieted) down. I feel that we are more secure because everyone carries in the back of their mind the idea that the world doesn’t necessarily love America and may even be willing to attack our nation.”

So? What do you think? If you’d like to weigh in on this discussion drop me a line and we’ll keep the dialog going!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.