It's Evident


Terrorism: Technology and Policy Ten Years Later Tracking Down Terrorists
Angela Lack, Esquire of Angela J. Lack, P.L.L.C.

On September 11, 2001, thousands of Americans watched as hijackers took control of four commercial airplanes, intentionally crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City. In less than two hours, the Twin Towers collapsed and the hijackers crashed the additional two airplanes into the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after the passengers on that airplane attempted to regain control of the airplane. Approximately 3,000 people died that day as a result of the terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda. Since that day, the United States heightened it security levels, enhanced its strategies and policies relating to the prevention of terrorism, and has never forgotten the events that took place on September 11, 2001.

Policies to Prevent Terrorism
Post-September 11, 2001, the United States enhanced its strategies and policies related to the prevention and detection of terrorism in the United States and developed alliances with other countries to combat counterterrorism.1 The United States has “enhanced its approach to preventing acts of terror by pursuing an integrated set of security policies that seeks to build political will and concerted cooperation among partner countries in order to deprive terrorists of the conditions conducive to the perpetration of violent actions and the spread of their perverse ideology.”2 In order to accomplish the foregoing, the United States and other countries must resolve legitimate grievances peacefully; foster good governance; reduce poverty and corruption; improve education, health and basic services; and address local factors that terrorist organizations use to recruit vulnerable individuals down a path of violence.3

Ten years after September 11, 2011, the United States continues to focus its counterterrorism efforts on “issues including building public private partnerships; protecting critical energy infrastructure and cyber security, securing travel documents, and enhancing the capacities of prosecutors and judges, and the wider criminal justice system.”4

Increased Security in Airports and Ports
Immediately following the events of September 11, 2001, passengers traveling throughout the United States experienced drastic increases in security at airports. Airport security implemented strict limitations on carry-on baggage, liquids, gels, cosmetics, and others items. Security personal required passengers to remove shoes, belts, sweaters, and other articles of clothing.

Ten years later, airport security continues to advance; however, passengers are still required to remove their shoes, are limited to 3 oz. bottles of liquids, and are prohibited from taking bottled water through airport security. In order to alleviate these restrictions, airports may soon begin to use X-ray backscatter equipment, which will enable intimate searching of a passenger without the need to remove clothing or be searched by a security officer.5 The implementation of the X-ray backscatter equipment will further allow passengers to keep their shoes on and bring bottled water through security checkpoints.6 Other technologies, such as new baggage screening systems currently being used in Los Angeles, will allow passengers to drop off luggage as soon as they reach the airport to eliminate possible bomb threats by baggage left at the curb.7 Finally, airports are beginning to install new video surveillance technology, which allows security to detect “abnormal” behavior of a person in a crowd.8 The implementation of newer technologies will allow ‘“passengers that submit to advanced background checks and pre-screening more leeway when it comes to security scans”’ while others ‘“will have to pass more rigorous, on-premises checks.’”9

Ten years later, funding for port security increased by almost 700 percent to port authorities in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans.10 The funding allowed for increases in security screening for cargo through the use of new technologies including "non-computed tomography transmission X-rays," explosive trace-detection devices, large-scale gamma ray machines, and even hand-held radiation detection devices.11 In addition to cargo screening, police and border patrols use enhanced technology to share data more rapidly then prior to September 11, which now allows data to be shared despite disparate databases used between agencies.12

Other Terrorism Prevention Technology In addition to enhanced airport and port security post-September 11, the United States has developed other mechanisms to combat terrorism through the use of advanced technology. For example, the Department of Homeland Security developed the Cyber Security R&D Center to develop security technology for protection of the U.S. cyber infrastructure.13 Furthermore, advancements in technology available to the armed forces rapidly increased after the terrorist attacks of September 11.14

Since September 11, 2001, the “U.S. Congress has approved nearly $1.3 trillion for military spending in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle, a program to improve security at military bases.”15 “About $2 billion has been spent on military construction as well as the research, development, testing and evaluation of new and improved technology to provide U.S. troops with better weapons, logistical capabilities and defenses against persistent threats such as roadside bombs.”16 Technological advancements in the military are evidenced by the development of (1) lasers that attack enemy targets and disrupt missile guidance systems; (2) "active denial systems" that emit 95 GHz millimeter-wave directed energy as a form of crowd control; (3) high-energy, solid-state laser defenses for use at sea; (4) active denial systems that emit “a focused beam of millimeter wave energy that travels at the speed of light, heating the water in a person's outer layers of skin and producing an intense burning sensation designed to stop crowds or combatants in their tracks without killing them”; (5) hydraulic-powered exoskeletons that soldiers will be able to wear to ease heavy loads while increasing strength and endurance; and (6) communications jammer aircrafts, such as the Boeing $67 million EA-18G Growler first used by the U.S. Navy in 2009.17

Americans will never forget the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2011. On the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, September 11, 2011, President Obama and former President Bush spoke at the unveiling of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum located on the World Trade Center site to remember the victims who lost their lives in the terrorist attack. The National Memorial consists of two voids on the sites of the Twin Towers' footprints and are surrounded by a forest of trees and lawn, each void features rings of cascading water falling into illuminated reflecting pools.18 In addition to the National Memorial, it is anticipated that One World Trade Center, which will stand 1,776 feet, will be completed in 2013. One World Trade Center will stand adjacent to the National Memorial. Ten years after the terrorist attack, the United States must continue to increase its efforts to combat terrorism and we must never forget the events of September 11, 2001.

1 Witkowsky, Anne, “Preventing Terrorism: Strategies and Policies To Prevent and Combat Transnational Threats.” October 14, 2010, last accessed October 17, 2011.
2 Id.
3 Id.
4 Id.
5 Koprowski, Gene J., “After 9/11: Ten Years of Tech Made Airports Safer, Experts Say.” September 8, 2011, last accessed October 17, 2011.
6 Id.
7 Id.
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 Id.
11 Id.
12 Id.
13 For more information, see
14 Greenemeier, Larry. “Post-9/11 Technology Brings Exoskeletons, Laser Cannons to 21st-Century U.S. Military [Slide Show].” Scientific American. September 6, 2011, last accessed October 17, 2011.
15 Id.
16 Id.
17 Id.
18 National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. Last accessed on October 17, 2011.