It has been ten years since the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. In the decade since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. has been entrenched in two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Homeland Security was founded, and Osama bin Laden, the alleged perpetrator of the attacks, has been killed. The Patriot Act and other legislation increased surveillance while decreasing our civil liberties. Here's a look at how the attacks and America's reaction to them still affect American lives today.
The Practical Impact
The most obvious changes Americans faced after September 11 were at the airport. Travelers had to check in at least two hours before their flight took off. There were restrictions on what travelers could bring. Liquids and toiletries had to be a certain size and placed in clear, sealed bags. No food or bottled water was allowed through security. Passengers were selected at random for more intense screenings. Over the decade, airport security tried different types of searches and screenings, introducing new equipment. The extra security protocol meant longer lines. Ten years later, the lines move a little faster, mostly because everyone has become accustomed to the post 9/11 restrictions. We've become so accustomed to the new procedures that seeing a pre-2001 movie where someone waits for a loved one at an airport gate seems dated, even strange. Non-passengers are no longer allowed beyond security.
Airplanes were also made more secure after 9/11. Every large U.S. passenger aircraft has been equipped with hardened cockpit doors. Thousands of federal air marshals were assigned to flights to guard against terrorist acts. The No Fly List existed before 9/11, but the list has grown substantially since the attacks. We now have thousands; some say millions, of names on the list. For almost nine years after September 11, a color-coded threat system alerted travelers how safe it was to fly. In April 2011, that color-coded advisory system was replaced by a new National Terror Advisory System that focuses on specific threats in geographical areas.
Even with the beefed up security, the U.S. has still had some incidents over the last decade. For example, on December 25, 2009, a Nigerian man on an international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit attempted to ignite an explosive device hidden in his underwear. The explosive device, a mixture of powder and liquid, got through airport security. The alleged bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told officials later that he was directed by the terrorist group Al Qaeda. Even on domestic flights there have been security breaches. After investigating the case of Delvonte Tisdale, a teenage boy whose body was found in Milton, Mass., in December 2010, investigators concluded that Tisdale sneaked into the wheel well of an U.S. Airways Boeing 737 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The flight was bound for Logan airport in Boston. Officials believe that Tisdale...