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National security measures in question post-9/11

Though Sept. 11, 2001, happened 12 years ago Wednesday, some effects of the terrorist attacks on United States national security are still felt by Americans today, as some Ohio State students have experienced.

“Security has changed, not just the airport, but businesses and sporting events. It is not as high as before, but everyone is still aware of 9/11,” said Wade Kesterson, a third-year in accounting.

Terrorists attacked the United States Sept. 11, 2001, when two airplanes hijacked by members of the Islamic extremist group al-Qaida struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Another attack was prevented by aircraft passengers, who brought down a plane in Pennsylvania that was overtaken by terrorists, killing everyone on board. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in the aircraft strikes.

The U.S. responded by declaring war against terrorism, including all nations, organizations or people involved in the 9/11 attacks, on Sept. 18, 2011.

The Transportation Security Administration was created in November 2001 to “strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation systems and ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce,” according to the TSA website. That presence is often felt in the nation’s airports, where the TSA screens passengers and baggage for content and banned items.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was later created in November 2002 to “coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts,” according to its website.

According to its budget briefs, Homeland Security has a budget of nearly $60 billion in total budget authority for fiscal year 2014, up $23.8 billion from the $36.2 billion total in 2004, the earliest year for which the budget brief was available on the Homeland Security website.

John Mueller, a senior research scientist at OSU’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies, said he thinks much of the spending hasn’t been looked at closely enough to be justified, but even those that have been looked at don’t have promising effects.

“Most of those examined don’t come out looking very good, but they haven’t really been evaluated,” Mueller said. “Most of it (the money) seems to have been poorly spent or it certainly seems to have been spent with inadequate (knowledge).”

Mueller, who co-authored a book called “Terrorism, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security,” said much of the money was spent immediately after 9/11 to help increase the feeling of security.

“After 9/11, a huge amount of money and effort was thrown at the problem,” Mueller said. “That’s obviously understandable, but if you do that in your private life or in your business life, eventually you have to go back and reevaluate that at some point.”

Mueller also said polls show the public doesn’t feel much more safe despite the spending.

“In terms of public opinions, they haven’t changed much at all,” Mueller said. “It’s still about the same as it was at the end of 2001.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, a Washington Post poll found 87 percent of Americans were either a great deal or somewhat concerned about the possibility there will be more major terrorist attacks in the U.S. In April 2013, Washington Post found 69 percent of Americans were concerned.

Some OSU students said they don’t feel security has changed much since the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

“The security has stayed the same level because security has become the norm,” said Carol Rieth, a second-year in biochemistry.

Others said their own experiences lead them to believe the security is unnecessarily strong.

“When I came into the country, I had a few missing papers and then was treated horrible. I don’t blame them for the security, but they could do it in a gentle way,” said Ahmed Alkaabi, a graduate student in psychology and English from the United Arab Emirates.

Mueller said the issue of overspending is still waiting to be resolved.

“The key problem is basically that this money has been spent but common sense suggests that some of it was sent foolishly because it was spent in a panic,” Mueller said. “(We’re) waiting for someone to reevaluate … We’re still waiting for that to happen more than a decade after 9/11.”

Melissa Prax contributed to this article.


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