Events such as 9/11 change the world in an instant. They force dramatic change within governments and have huge implications for politics in the attacked country. On the 11th of September 2001 The United States of America was attacked, it change the world over night, for many days they were in a state of shock. As a result America made drastic revisions to their laws and policies regarding security and completely reversed their perspective towards foreign policies, they went from focusing on preventing overseas attacks and moved to a still ongoing war on terror.
On the 11th of September 2001 the United States of America was attacked on their own soil for the first time in over 70 years. 19 islamic extremists hijacked 4 planes and the actions that followed killed nearly 3000 people. At 8.45am the first plane, an American Airlines Boeing 767 that was loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel was flown into 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre instantly killing hundreds and trapping hundreds more on higher floors. Immediately an evacuation of the two towers began, however, 18 minutes later a second hijacked plane this one a United Airlines Boeing 767 crashed into the 60th floor of the South Tower.
It only took 15 minutes after this for the South tower which was built to withstand winds more than 200 miles an hour and fire collapsed killing all those inside. The North Tower withstood until 10.30 at which point it collapsed. The collapse of the towers killed all but 6 of the people within at the time of their collapse. Meanwhile, as all of America and the world was hyper focused on the events occurring in New York at 9.45am the third plane, American Airlines flight 77, was circling downtown Washington DC before turning sharply and crashing into the west side of the Pentagon creating a huge jet fuel inferno that caused extensive damage to the concrete headquarters of the US Department of Defence.
The fourth and final plane, Flight 93, after a delayed take off allowing the passengers to be notified of the events in New York was hijacked, the passengers rebelled and supposedly fought back against the hijackers with fire extinguishers. The plane then flipped and hurtled towards the ground at more than 500 miles an hour before crashing into a field near Shanksville Pennsylvania at 10.10 am.
As the passengers fought back it has never been discovered what the actual target of Flight 93 was however it is theorised it was one of national importance such as the White House, the US capitol or one of the nuclear plants along the eastern seaboard. All in all, 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack 2,763 of those were killed in the Twin Towers including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 police officers and 37 port authority officers who were attempting to evacuate office workers trapped in the collapsing building. 189 people were killed at the Pentagon and all 44 people onboard Flight 93 where killed o.
In the days after 9/11 the US banded together like never before, the nationalism felt throughout the country was palpable. In reaction to this monumental event George Bush the current president gave a speech in which he portrayed the US as a victim upon which terrorists had commited a crime of war and vowed that he would focus upon protecting the nation against terrorism. The treatment of ‘enemy combatants’ worsened as they were held without being charged or being awarded the right of a prisoner of war. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the security in airports was increased to never before seen levels. The amount of planes entering and exiting the country reduced dramatically and those that did enter or exit were put through rigorous security checks. Less then a month later the US began an aggressive attack against afghanistan in an attempt to dismantle Al-Qaeda and to prevent radicals from forming a safe base of operations in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
In the aftermath of 9/11 many laws were introduced, some of them were reasonable in the fight against terrorism however there were some that were not. In 2001 soon after the terrorist attack the USA Patriot Act of 2001 was bought in. Two of the most notable changes that were included in this act was the authorisation of ‘sneak and peek’ searches which allowed the government to search properties without notifying the owner until a much later date. Although national security was quoted as the reasoning for this change the abilit has been abused for other issues mainly in drug cases with less then 1% of ‘sneak and peek’ searched being conducted for terrorism related reasons o.
The other notable change was to the FBI’s authority to issue national security letters (NSL). These letters compel banks internet providers and any other third parties to reveal your private information without notifying you o. In order to do this the FBI must only state the reasoning as being reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity. In 2004 the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was brought in, this act authorised homeland security to reavaluate the security measures in place in airports. As a result of this the metal detectors and full body scanners that we know of today were brought in.
Despite an uprising of disapproval the use of these scanners was ruled as an acceptable method of security in an appeal case in 2011 o. Along with these changes to security the US Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security Policy was updated to allow airport officials the ability to search any and all documents and electronics that any american citizen entering the country had in their possession without any suspicion of wrongdoing. This was a dramatic change from the previous version of the policy o. In 2006 the military commissions act was introduced allowing the use of ‘trial by military commissions’ for enemy combatants which disallowed them the basic rights of a civilian trial o.
After a brief discontinuation of this procedure under the Obama Administration congress reinstated this process for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Along with these primitive prosecution techniques after 9/11 the Bush administration pushed heavily for the use of torture in interrigation to be allowed o. Despite president obama disapproving of these techniques he has not allowed the Bush administration’s use of turtour to be publicly criticised as it is believed that it was intrinsic to the capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden o. During 2008 as the end of president bushs administration approached america brought in more laws as a direct result of 9/11. The FISA Amendments act allowed the tapping of american phones and electronics on the condition that one of the communicating parties was outside the USA.
This amendment enraged many civil rights activists o however it was passed. The Attorney General Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations were also updated to allow more extreme methods of questioning and surveillance, regardless of the investigation being warranted. Along with the changes to interrogation there were laws passed that effectively legalised ethnic profiling by allowing the FBI to conduct mapping of concentrated ethnic communities. One of the most recent changes caused directly by 9/11 was the update to the USA Patriot Act in which it criminalised the ‘material support’ of terrorist to also include ‘expert advice or assistance’ as a form of prohibited ‘support’o. It is through these laws and amendments that the effect of 9/11 on the US can be most easily seen.
Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack the US and the Bush Administration’s foreign policy had been loosely focused on preventing missile attacks from iran and england o, however, immediately after 9/11 this changed with the US having a clear foreign policy focus for the first time since it resolved the Cold War with the USSR o The US entered Afghanistan on the 7th of October 2001, beginning the war on terror, and was involved in a costly war against the taliban for many years. Despite the fact that many muslim and middle eastern countries had great sympathy for america in the aftermath of 9/11 the us obliterated this when it entred Afghanistan.
During this war on terror the US looked towards its many allies including Australia to support their efforts. Along with the efforts in the war on terror under the ‘Bush Doctrine’ the US also placed greater emphasis on the development of preventative warfare over reactive warfare, especially in relation to Saddam Hussein’s ruling over iraq o. Also under the banner of the ‘Bush Doctrine’ was the unilateralist tendencies that were adopted by the US which caused it to anger many countries that had sympathised in the aftermath of 9/11.
This is particularly in Bush’s speech on the 20th of september in which he states that ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists’o. President Bush further alienated the US from sympathising nations with his continued use of overtly religious and nationalistic vocabulary o in which he portrayed america as entirely good and the middle eastern countries in which the war on terror occurred as the axis’s of evilo. It is this dramatic change of foreign policy that makes the effect of 9/11 as an event that changed the world forever even more prevalent.