Countermeasures After 911
Without a doubt, September 11th changed a tremendous amount about how we live and about how safe (and unsafe) we feel. These attacks caused enormous changes and countermeasures regarding the way we travel and the way we interact with one another and the way in which we use technology. However, ever since the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 has come and gone, it begs to determine just how much we've changed in the way that we live, examining specific areas of technology, commerce and communication. Consider the following: "In spite of a doubling of the intelligence budget since 2001 to $80 billion, the creation or reorganizing of some 263 government organizations, and the formation of the $50 billion Department of Homeland Security, the government has largely fallen short, the new report notes. The report states that while some progress has been made, 'some major September 11 Commission recommendations remain unfulfilled, leaving the U.S. not as safe as we could or should be'" (Freedman, 2011). Lots of efforts have of course been made, but none of these efforts have created any significant advances, at least not in the arena of technology. Technology has demonstrated a certain amount of disappoint with regards to security in that no actual breakthrough technologies emerged despite of the tremendous government investments made in research and development (Freedman, 2011). As the director of the Center for Foreign Policy studies explains, the bulk of the technologies used were off-the-shelf-equipment; this director asserts that most of the effort has gone towards the counterterrorism investigation, something that is treated as more important than new technologies (Freedman, 2011).
TSA check: What is Allowed and not Allowed
Technology might also mean that congestion and the process of combing through passenger belongings might eventually become a thing of the past. Airports now have things like high-tech x-ray backscatter equipment which enables a form of intimate searching of each passenger without the need for the more traditional strip-search (Koprowski, 2011). Furthermore, experts say that removing one's footwear and overcoat, along with throwing away all beverages might eventually become archaic: new equipment and other technologies may even allow passengers to keep their shoes on, though frisking and other such processes might still be part of the security procedure. However, certain airports like LAX have engaged in new baggage screening processes which allow clients to drop off their luggage the minute they get to the airport: "Delta Airlines found that they went from processing 200 to over 500 bags an hour with this system,' Megan Zaroda, a spokeswoman for Siemens in New York City, told FoxNews.com. 'TSA said that it's removed congestion and minimized safety risks in airport lobbies'" (Koprowski, 2011). Strides like these really represent a lot of tremendous new possibilities for travelers and for airlines alike. It means that they can both have a higher level of peace of mind and have increased amounts of efficiency when going through basic security processes, something that makes everyone feel better. Processes like advanced screening is still other ways to ensure that security remains uncompromised (King, 2011).
Remote Controlled Aircraft
For instance, one form of technology which has been developed but which has not actually been put into use is remote control airliners. The reality is that regardless of the technology which is developed, terrorists and enemies are going to continue to try to attack airplanes, and they will just adapt their methods to the technological forms of defense which are available. Consider the following: as stated in a U.S. patent document, "Aviation giant Boeing has actually developed remote-control technology for flying an airliner, which -- at least in theory -- could have prevented the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people…Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder said in an e-mail that the aircraft maker isn't currently planning to produce the device" (Kiger, 2011). Overseas, European manufacturers like Airbus and Siemen are working on precisely that type of technology. Such aircraft could prove to be invaluable if commercial airliners were ever hijacked in the future and the nation needed to safely send up a form of aircraft to engage in combat with the hijacked plane or to otherwise...
"The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2002 included a requirement to strengthen the flight deck doors on airliners… Reinforced flight deck doors are now installed on virtually all passenger airliners in the U.S. And Canada and on many cargo aircraft. Additionally, enhanced flight deck door security procedures for flight deck and cabin crewmembers were developed and put in place to promote communication and ensure the most effective response to a security threat aboard the aircraft" (alpa.org, 2011). Another form of protection that was developed in the years following 9/11 were the development of a secondary barrier for the flight deck doors; this secondary barrier is often made of netting or strands of wire along with other lightweight materials helps to enhance security during times of the "door transition" and can help protect members of the flight crew if there is an attempted breach.
Also immediately after 9/11 there was the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act (APATA) which was part of the Homeland Security Act and which allowed pilots to graduate from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center as a means for training pilots on how to defend the flight decks of particular passenger airplanes (alpa.org, 2011). This is a program which has proven to be extremely successful as participation has grown steadily, though federal funding has not been consistent, so unfortunately, the program has not been able to take on more applicants (alpa.org, 2011). This is in part because arming pilots is not a perfect solution (Elias, 2009).
Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II)
One of the more controversial elements of the research and development that has occurred since 9/11 has been the emergence of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II). This system is one which engages in a strong level of passenger profiling as a means of determining what kind of risk each passenger poses to the safety of the flight. This process has received a tremendous amount of criticism and scrutiny as many people argue that the processes it relies on will not help in making passengers any safer or freer. The CAPPS system relies on the passenger reservation system being tweaked so that the airlines can collect information from every passenger and then pass along this information to the TSA: "name, address, phone number, and date of birth (DOB). With the sometimes exception of the passenger's full name, this information is not routinely collected. (The airlines may also pass along other information that is part of individuals' travel records, some of it potentially sensitive)" (aclu.org, 2003). Critics argue that this violates the individual's right to privacy and also put the individual in a precarious situation where he or she is being scrutinized by the TSA, opening the door to prejudice and bigotry. Armed with this sensitive information, the TSA can then check with data aggregators, firms which specialize in compiling extensive files on the lives of most Americans: these data services are then returned to the TSA with an authentication score of some level which can indicate an amount of confidence or lack of confidence in a passenger's identity (aclu.org, 2003). The TSA then goes through a process where it can compile a "risk assessment score" for each passenger based on a "risk assessment function" which involves processing passenger data through ha range of government databases which have access to secret or illicit top-secret information (aclu.org, 2003). This process is almost ominously secretive, as the TSA has not released any details on it and has no intention to: the process revolves around secret data and secret criteria for evaluating that data, which then formulate a score assessing the given "risk" of a particular passenger regarding aviation security (aclu.org, 2003). This means that at the airport, the passenger's risk score will be sent to security personnel as each passenger will have a score of either high, low or unknown. Security at the airport will respond to each passenger in a particular manner based solely on their score. Given how invasive this process is and how much it violates the individual's right to privacy, it's not a huge surprise that this process has come so wildly under attack. However, the TSA defends the process, arguing that these are the moves that have to be made in order to keep ordinary Americans safe. On the other hand, it's unclear just how effective these moves have been in helping the process of flying to be safer.
In conclusion, it would be inaccurate to say that the ten plus years since 9/11…
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