Examining The Twin Towers Case In New York Criminology
When the hijacked airplanes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, life in the United States came to a standstill. People couldn't believe what happened: the United States was under attack. We thought we were safe, but guess what? We were wrong. The US government thought that it was all powerful and everyone liked what it was doing. As a result of what happened on that horrible day, the U.S. government put in place new rules and programs in an effort to keep its citizens and the country safe. But some of these programs have so many holes in them that a terrorist could easily get through and the country wouldn't be safe. The Transportation Security Administration, the TSA, is one of these programs that was put into place. The US government focus on airports to stop terrorism may not be the right way to protect our country. Are these programs keeping us safe or are they attempts to make the citizens of the United States think that the government is doing something to protect us and actually cares for us?
Key to the US fight against terrorism is the formation of the Transportation Safety Administration, the TSA. In charge of all airport security, the TSA developed many plans to keep airports and planes safer. One of the programs TSA put into place involves stationing covert behavior officers in airports and parking areas. In addition to the airport screening that passengers see, such as X-ray equipment and bomb sniffing dogs, these officers quietly watch people's behavior. They look for people who seem out of the ordinary: very nervous or out of place of everyone else. The officers don't look at skin color; they only look at behavior of people (Kaye, Ken. "Covert TSA officers keep watch at airports".). These officers are a secondary line of defense in case something or someone has gotten through baggage and document check points. But these officers cannot arrest, they only can turn suspects over to the police for more questioning and if they needed to be arrested (Kaye, Ken. Covert TSA officers keep watch at airports.). The TSA also employs air marshals: air marshals act in the same way as the covert behavior officers except the marshals are on the plane itself. Air marshals carry guns and can arrest the people if needed. Both covert behavior officers and air marshals serve as back up if someone makes a mistake at a security checkpoint and doesn't check someone completely. The TSA recognizes that mistakes can be made and has put into place extra people to prevent terrorists from getting on planes. The TSA have this and another programs to make sure that they have many ways to catch terrorists.
In order for the TSA to make sure that their security systems are working properly, they have another type of covert officers who look like everyday people and try to go through security with fake bombs (Meserve, Jeanne, and Ahlers, Mike M. TSA tester slips mock bomb past airport security). These people are called Red Teams and they test the effectiveness of security at individual airports. The members of Red Teams go through the document, X-ray and metal detectors check points. Red Teams are secret to everyone at the airports, passengers and screeners. The only people who know that they are going through are the other members of their Red Team (Meserve, Jeanne, and Ahlers, Mike M. TSA tester slips mock bomb past airport security). Red Team members want to be successful but the same time they want to fail to know that the TSA workers are doing their jobs correctly (Meserve, Jeanne, and Ahlers, Mike M. TSA tester slips mock bomb past airport security). In one such test, a Red Team member managed to get through security by putting a fake bomb into a false back brace by claiming he had back problems and couldn't take off the back brace (Meserve, Jeanne, and Ahlers, Mike M. TSA tester slips mock bomb past airport security). The fake bomb was not discovered by metal detectors and made it into the airport without anyone noticing. This is an example of a weakness in TSA. Even though high tech, expensive equipment was used, technology and screeners don't always catch the bad guy. What would have happened if that was a terrorist?
After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a plane with a bomb on Christmas Day 2009, the United States was afraid that a new September 11th might happen. The US thought that someone or a group was coming after us again. So TSA put some new rules into place to tighten security so that terrorists couldn't get through. The TSA made airlines impose stricter rules on airline travelers. Passengers were required to stay in their seats for the last hour of flights coming into the US (Maynard, Micheline, and Robbins, Liz. New rules keep plane passengers in seats). Passengers also no longer had access to their carry-on luggage and they couldn't have anything on their laps during that last hour (Maynard, Micheline, and Robbins, Liz. New rules keep plane passengers in seats). In addition, the US is required travelers coming from foreign airports to be patted down before getting on planes (Maynard, Micheline, and Robbins, Liz. New rules keep plane passengers in seats). These requirements by the TSA are an attempt by the US government to appear they care so that passengers will feel safer. But does all of this really help?
However, the TSA made a big mistake in 2009 it accidentally uploaded an important operations manual onto their website (Hsu, Spencer S., and Carrie Johnson. Airport security data accidentally revealed). This mistake caused them to expose many secret techniques and loop holes in themselve. Now possible terrorists could read and then get around security. The terrorist could use this to plan their next attack and they could spread it among themselves (Hsu, Spencer S., and Carrie Johnson. Airport Security Data Accidentally Revealed). The public saw that the TSA makes mistakes that could jeopardize their safety and not be able to do what they were out to do. People were losing the little trust they had in them. Steward Baker, a former employee of the Department of Homeland Security, said that "it increases the risk that terrorists will find a way through the defenses" (Hsu, Spencer S., and Carrie Johnson. Airport Security Data Accidentally Revealed). He also said. "the problem is there are so many different holes, that while (TSA) can fix any one of them by changing procedures â€¦ they can't change everything about the way they operate" (Hsu, Spencer S., and Carrie Johnson. Airport security data accidentally revealed). This mistake did nothing to help people feel safer.
The TSA chooses when to strictly enforce the rules and when not to. This random strictness makes it harder for passengers and terrorists to know how thoroughly the TSA will screen people and their luggage. The TSA wants us to keep guessing so that no one can predict what they will be doing next. Travelers have become confused about what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot bring on airplanes. This frustrates passengers but is an effort by the TSA to frustrate terrorists so that they won't do anything to the planes and the passengers. For example, in one airport a woman was able to get through security carrying jars of peanut butter. However, when she went through that same airport later, she wasn't able to get through with the jars of the peanut butter (Elliott, Christopher. Airline security has travelers flying blind). This randomness keeps everyone going through security guessing on what the TSA might or might not do, which can deter terrorists and not have them try to blow up the planes and not hurt anyone.
The United States government should look at what other countries are doing to learn more ways to make us feel secure. The US government needs to understand that their ways aren't always going to be the right way to do things. They should look to Canada and see what they are doing. Canada's system takes into account that it is impossible to cover every threat and Canada understands this much better than US (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). Canada's approach to airport security is like the US's: for instance, both, the US and Canada use body scanners, metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, air marshals, and pat downs by officials but these efforts and equipment are not 100% guarantees of air safety (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). People and things still can slip through all the screeners and scanners. But Canada has built a very strong air marshal system that acts as the last line of defense. The US needs to look at that part of Canada's program and see what they are doing so well and use it in our airports. Canada also has followed Israel's idea of carefully watching passengers in addition to watching people's baggage. Israel's different approach is to look at people, not what they are carrying (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). "We should focus on bad people rather than banned objects" (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). Israeli security looks at people's behavior: are they nervous, agitated, won't look questioners in the eye? Security at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv begins questioning passengers when they pull their cars into parking lot (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). Canada is starting to do this but is concerned about making mistakes, falsely questioning or accusing, misreading people's body language, or misreading cultural differences (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). But the US hasn't even thought about doing all of this. The US needs to open its mind about different ways of doing security and keeping its citizens safe instead of making itself looking better. However the Canadians feel that if they falsely accuse someone, then they can apologize for that instead of having to say sorry to the family members and friends if something bad happens. Canada and Israel understand that airport security isn't going to catch everyone who could be a threat, that equipment and people make mistakes (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). However, looking at airline passengers and how they are acting may be more effective than all the expensive equipment used by other countries (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.).
The US government has focused a lot of its more visible security measures on our airports. It appears that the terrorists like to target airplanes. There could be a bad result of all this airport security: if airport security gets strong enough that terrorists can't be successful in their missions, then terrorist could move on to easier targets such as shipping ports, sporting events, or train stations (Gulli, Cathy. The Scary Truth About Airport Security.). But what happens if they bomb some other place in our country? Now we face important questions. How much security is enough when we know security can't be 100% effective? If the US government tightens security in one transportation area, will terrorists changes venues to other gathering places for Americans? How will the US government make us feel safe? Can we truly feel safe? All of these questions are important but has the US government ever thought about all of these questions? We might never know.
This past summer, I went on a student exchange to our sister school, Stuartholme, in Australia. My flights went from Seattle to LAX, then LAX to Auckland, New Zealand; from there I flew to Brisbane, Australia. This required me to go through four airports each way. I only had to go through customs in LA and Brisbane but I experienced security in every airport. The odd thing is that I felt more comfortable in the Auckland and Brisbane airports than I did in LAX or Seattle. It seemed to me that the US security is tighter than security in NZ and Australia. For instance, I had to take shoes off in the two US airports but not in Auckland. While I was in LAX, I felt like people were watching my every move. Maybe I was a little paranoid about being a teenage girl traveling alone in LA, but I felt like someone was always looking over my shoulder. In the US I felt pressured to make sure my every move was correct or I would face problems. US security asked for my passport at every checkpoint. The New Zealand and Australian airport personnel only asked for it when I checked in and boarded the planes.
Maybe the US should relax a little bit and stop assuming that everyone is a terrorist. Maybe we should give people a little more slack so the airport experience wouldn't be so painful and people wouldn't dread going to the airport. The New Zealand and Australia security personnel didn't seem to assume that everyone was a terrorist so the whole airport had a different feel, it was not so threatening. The airports and the travelers seemed to be calmer and more comfortable not so hectic with people trying to get around each other and pushing through the crowds. I felt safer at the Auckland and Brisbane airports because I wasn't under the constant scrutiny of the US airports.
The TSA program of covert behavior officers is a good one and means well but I feel they might not be doing all the right things. They only have four days of training, which is not enough; officers should have more training on the job (Kaye, Ken. "Covert TSA officers keep watch at airports."). There are too many variations in people's behavior. Five days of training is not enough to understand all those differences. What would happen to a teenager who is nervous about flying alone? Officers might think that they are planning to do something to the plane because the person appears agitated. I do agree with the TSA to keep the behavior standards for airports secret. The bad guys won't easily memorize the list. It would be nice to know what the standards are but in the interest of keeping people safe, I would not release this information either.
With all the programs and the rules that the TSA is putting into place, they should be working better. But they are failing miserably. They should be keeping us safer but they are not. The rules that the TSA put into place after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up the airplane from Amsterdam on Christmas day should not have been put into place. I think the TSA and the government are going a little too far with trying to keep the airports safer. If they want to keep us safer, they need to stop being to overly protective. I can understand why they are doing what they are doing. I mean if something bad happened to one of my friends or family members, I would start trying to keep them safer. But you cannot do that all the time. You can only go so far with trying to keep someone or a group of people safe. There is only so much you can do. There are going to be things you cannot control and if you cannot understand that then it's going to be harder to keep people safe.
If the TSA really wants to keep us safer, then they need to look at what the Red Teams have been able to do. In my opinion, the TSA needs to look at the missions that the Red Teams have successful. The TSA needs to look at those individuals things and focus on getting better at them instead of trying to get the countries flying into the United States to become stricter with their rules. But the TSA does not think that they are the problem. They need to understand that if they want the airports to be safer, they need to change themselves first and get everyone working for them on the same page to get anything done and be successful. The only reason that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab did not have the chance to do anything to the plane after his bomb did not go off was because the other passengers on the plane got to him. Wow that does say some something about the people who are supposed to be keeping us safe. The passengers on planes are doing a better job than the people who have the jobs to keep the United States safe.
The citizens of the US should put more trust in the other passengers to keep them safe than the TSA and the other organizations. If TSA was doing their job correctly, people would actually feel safer and trust them more. Since the people the TSA is trying to keep from doing any damage are still getting through, TSA needs to change what they are doing. I just wonder how many things the TSA is keeping from us. How much are they covering up? The TSA should take suggestions on what the need to improve on. If they open that up to the American public, then they will be able to see what the people think they should do and what they need to look at and what they should not.
If the US tries what Canada and Israel are doing, our security might improve. We need to look at the people more than the items that the people are carrying on and putting in their luggage. The US government needs to stop thinking that putting more rules in place and tightening the rules that are already in place is helping. They need to stop spending money on new, expensive technology that is supposed to catch everything the terrorists are trying to get through. It isn't going to help the safety of the country if we keep spending money and tightening rules. Stricter isn't always better because people tend to be more rebellious and go against the rules if the rules are being enforced more and if they are stricter. The stricter rules might make people talk back to the TSA workers and make their jobs harder for them to do. People will just get angrier at the fact that all of the rules and the technology aren't helping. The US needs to look to the other countries, like Canada and Israel, to understand what we need to improve on and change. When is the US government going to see and understand that more security isn't the answer?
With all that the US has done to make the country safer, people still think that TSA and the US government haven't done a very good job at keeping the country safe. Of the strategies have been released to the public, the country can only see what has gone wrong in TSA's techniques. We don't know if TSA has stopped any terrorists from getting on planes or any bombs getting through. TSA and the US government have one idea of airports security and it is not working out the way they want it to. But the US traveling public is struggling to understand what TSA and the government are trying to do with these failing safety strategies. The travelers can see that these rules and strategies aren't working but yet TSA is still using them. When will the TSA understand that what they are doing needs to be changed?
Article name: Examining The Twin Towers Case In New York Criminology essay, research paper, dissertation