Originally, this was going to be at the end of my 9/11 memory post. I split it in order to shorten the post and provide some Monday morning reading material for my audience (Hi, Mom, and you intrepid 30 RSS readers, plus Facebook and Twitter folks).
I want to believe that we were attacked, plain and simple. I want to believe that “they hate us for our freedoms” and all the other party lines we Americans are supposed to say and believe. I don’t buy it. That’s not enough. I don’t buy that “our freedoms” have anything to do with it. No group of people is going to start a war over their target’s propensity for debauchery or violation of archaic religious laws. Those pronouncements are reserved for religious courts, not some silly attempted gesture of genocide.
There’s a reason for it. There are lots of reasons for it. Oil could be one. Our interventionist foreign policy and a tendency to arm both sides of a conflict in an effort to win the hearts of the victor could be another. The loser would just stew and turn against us, having not actually been vanquished.
One might argue that the goal of the terrorist attack was to damage one of our primary financial centers. This succeeded, physically. Sure, our economy sucked for a year or two, but economies can recover. We can rebuild buildings, even iconic ones.
I think a wiser one would argue that the terrorists successfully achieved another goal, intentional or not. Our Congress’s reaction was knee-jerk. The PATRIOT act was passed within two weeks of the attack. This far-reaching legislation was aimed at domestic terrorists. I don’t blame Congress for this. It was the first time we’d been attacked in such a violent manner, and they didn’t know what to do, so they decided that we as a country should roll up like an armadillo and think everyone is against us, even those loyal to us and without reason to be against us. We reacted poorly and rashly; we blindly rallied behind this instead of recognizing the erosion of our rights.
The terrorists pulled down our pants when they noticed our belt wasn’t buckled. We armed ourselves in the sandbox and terrorized other kids in order to find the perpetrators and retaliate. We never did actually buckle our belt after pulling our pants back up. We’ve just pulled them up farther in hopes that our armpits will keep them up.
I also want to believe that it was a setup; that it was an inside job someone in power felt necessary for them to attain more power. There’s evidence out there, but it’s obviously not officially recognized. A day or two before the attacks, Sec. Def. Rumsfeld reported $2.3 trillion untrackable transactions (search the page for “trillion”). Is this related? I don’t know. I can speculate, but doing so is an exercise in futility. Nonetheless, I want the truth to be known. The real truth. I don’t know if it ever will be known, if it’s not already. I’m not even sure it matters. What happened, happened. We can’t go back in time. We can only fix our laws to respect our rights, equally enforce the laws already in place, and recognize that doing so may be a risk we Americans aren’t all willing to take. We can only elect the legislators we feel will represent our views and make the laws how we would if we were in the position.
I digress into areas I’m neither prepared or willing to discuss at length. I’m no conspiracy theorist, nor am I devout debunker.
Only recently has 9/11 directly affected me in a directly observable manner. I fly a lot now for work. I did the scanner once, and after sufficient research I decided that I’d rather not subject myself to its convenience. The price is too complex to calculate. The alternative is both less and more desirable.
I’m about to board a plane. Before I get on that plane, I’ll be searched in a manner formerly preserved only for audiences with drug lords and crime bosses, criminals under arrest, and hernia checks at the doctor’s office. I won’t feel any safer. In fact, I will feel less safe. I’ve never felt less safe than when I fly now, and it’s not because of threat of terrorists. It’s because of the threat that my rights can be abrogated with little recourse, unless I’m willing to miss my flight and engage the authorities in a battle of wits heavily stacked against me.
I could just take a train, I know. However, it’s not much cheaper and it’s travel time is clearly much, much longer.
Either way, I’d have to greatly inconvenience myself in order to assert my right to be secure in my person. It’s tremendously frustrating. I just want to exercise my right to travel freely among the several states, secure in my person and free of unwarranted search and seizure unless I am officially detained as a suspect of a crime or intended crime. Clearly, I’ll do neither, so just let me on my plane without inconveniencing me.
I offer my suggestions, as prayers for change are uplifted only by those who cannot conceive of a solution to their problems.
Give pilots and flight crews, if not licensed individuals as well, the tools they need to protect the plane and its passengers from would-be terrorists. It’s the Wild West up there, so those folks can only protect themselves. There’s no law in the air; the law exists only on the ground. There is still good. There is still a right and a wrong. There are good, honest people hamstrung by a suspension of their rights because they might not be honest and good. There must be here a balance, and we have to find that balance in order to address this one aspect of safety.
Adapt the security model to those widely adopted outside of the US. I reference a security model which replaces invasive personal inspection with close behavioral monitoring. There still is a metal detector. There still is X-ray screening of baggage and the occasional private screening when absolutely necessary. Given the choice of a “freedom grope” or heavily armed, highly training guards patrolling the airport, I’ll happily take the latter. Neither should be necessary. What a terrorist has on their person between the outside world and the security checkpoint is nothing compared to what they can acquire and use between the security checkpoint and the gates. Any person with a modicum of security knowledge can understand this.
Openly allow public video and audio recording of security checkpoints. Accountability is the only way to ensure that those in the first line of defense are respecting the rights of travelers. Documenting transgressions and establishing a public way of filing these recording is important, but it must be done in a way so as not to subject the perpetrator of the crime to the court of public opinion before a real trial is held. Security checkpoint cameras are unreliable and poorly placed.
I might have some others rattling around in my head, so I urge you to comment, to engage me in discussion. I won’t hold back, but please engage me with citations.
White blood cells destroy disease, but they can also destroy healthy cells. I want us to be safe from terrorists, but I also want us to be safe from our guardians.