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Is America Safer Now Than Before 9/11
Our country has suffered from multiple, devastating events. One of the most catastrophic events includes the September 11 attacks that were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. When this first happened, most people were scared for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. The United States and the whole world’s viewpoint changed after the attack of September 11, as all nations stood up against one common enemy, terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, U.S heightened its security at home and applied military forces overseas. The attacks affected our policies, economy, society, and collective psychology. Most Americans experienced the long terms effects of 9/11 at home through new agencies such as Transportation Security Administration and Homeland Security. The author “Charles C. Mann” of the article “Smoke Screening” talks about the high-ranking officials who think that the excess expenditure of money on homeland security makes no sense. The article is rhetorically successful, and the arguments of the article are effective as the author discusses some good logical points.
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The author talks about his meeting with Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and security technologist, at Regan International Airport. He discusses 9/11 attack and that the U.S government has spent more than 1.1 trillion dollars on homeland security after the attack. The problem he identifies is that to a large number of security analysts, this expenditure makes no sense. He thinks these actions accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like that it is on the job. Schneier said that Al-Qaeda has used its luck because the passengers on first three flights did not resist their captors and as a result, the plane crashed into the building, while the passengers on the fourth plane attacked their hijackers. Thus, the plane crashed into the field as he debates that in the future passengers will fight back. He refutes his argument as he said that he passed the airport security with a fake boarding pass that he has downloaded from the internet and laser printed yesterday. Finally, he concludes by making the point that we spend a lot on screening but we have not been able to reduce the threat, and gives us the examples of “shoe bomber” and “underwear bomber”.
This article’s logos is successful, it implements causal, analogy, and authority. People can use fake boarding passes and credentials to pass the airport security and to board on flights. For example, the author boarded a flight at Reagan International Airport by using fake boarding pass which he had laser printed from the Delta website and photoshopped it (711). This example explains the author point of view as we have seen mass shootings and terrorist attacks in recent years in which people have used fake boarding cards and I.Ds. This argument implements causal. U.S has spent over trillion of dollars on homeland security after the attacks of 9/11 and it did not has changed so much. “People think of it as unconstitutional infringements of privacy and civil liberties in the name of national security” (709). To a large number of security analysts, these expenses make no sense, and it seems like that it accomplishes nothing. This argument implements analogy. There are still some undercover people carrying explosives and ammunition, and they still get managed to board on a flight. They have been able to do so because they have been aware of the security measures taken at the airports. The “shoe bomber” in 2001 and the “underwear bomber” in 2009 are the examples given by the Transport Security Administration (T.S.A) technologist, Bruce Schneier (710). T.S.A also does not open shrink wrapped packages which may contain explosives in them. This argument implements authority.
This article’s ethos is very effective as the author has credibility and shares his experience of meeting with T.S.A technologist and cryptographer, Bruce Scheneir. The author talks in the opposition of the money used for homeland security and for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The passengers on the first three planes did not attack the hijackers and the plane crashed into the world trade center, while the passengers on the fourth plane attacked the hijackers. Consequently, they lost the control of the plane and the plane crashed into the field (710). This shows the courage and commitment of the people to fight against terror. For example, when 9/11 occurred, my father was at his friend’s house listening to the news, and suddenly a layer of fear crosses through the mind of them. The United States asked for the help of my homeland, Pakistan, to fight in Afghanistan against radical extremists.
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Despite the article is successful, I think that the author is biased and some of his arguments in the article are ineffective. U.S government has been able to prevent many terrorist attacks after 9/11 with the help of the security measures taken by them. It is very rare to pass the airport security while carrying explosives or fake boarding passes as security agencies have taken very strict security measures. He talks in the opposition of the money spending on homeland security but does not talks about its positive side. He only talked about the examples Schneier gave him during their meeting and what he has told the author about the security measures, but did not give much of his viewpoints. He talked against the security measures taken by all transport agencies which he thinks has reduced the threat of terrorist attacks. “With the help of these security measures, U.S security agencies have been able to foil eighty-six terrorist attacks” (710).
The author discusses some valid points and provides support to his claims in the article. The author uses the persuasive language to make people believe in some of the arguments he presented in the article. To some people, spending so much on national security has taken away our privacy and freedom. We have upgraded our security systems but sometimes people pass these security checkpoints carrying explosive materials because they are aware the security measures. The threat has been exaggerated and we spend too much on screening but are not able to reduce the overall threat. “In fact, spending so much money on security may have made United States less safe” (710). One of the factors involved is that we did not understand Islamic teachings and Arab Culture and therefore, we cannot tell the difference between Liberal Muslims and Radical Muslims. After 9/11 there is no other major attack on the U.S soil which means that the terrorist groups roots got weakened over time.
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