Free Conclusions Literature Review Example
Communication gaps in Law Enforcement Post 9/11
The September 11, 2001 series of bombings is perhaps the most violent act of terrorism that the United States and the world have ever witnessed since the start of the twenty first century . This happened at a time when the United States was still considered as the only remaining superpower in the planet after the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago. Of all the places in the planet, a lot of people including people working in the national security and law enforcement agencies that America, at that time, was one of the most secure, if not the most secure of places in the planet against acts of terrorism and other anti-freedom demonstrations.
Evidently, they were all proven wrong as at least three separate commercial planes got hijacked by terrorists who allegedly were from the large international Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The main objective of this paper is not to discuss, one by one, the significant events that happened during that terrible day but rather to discuss the communication gaps that still appear to exist in the justice and law enforcement industry even after being taught a very important lesson the hard way in that otherwise normal day of September 11, 2001.
In order to understand the implications, both negative and positive (if any) of the events that happened and the outcomes of the 9/11 series of bombings, we have to set the record straight on what really happened during that time. It is important to note that at the time; a lot of people did not know what was happening. A lot of information about what was really happening was circulating both within the organizations that were supposed to stop acts like that—acts of terrorism, from occurring, and individuals from media centers.
There was a lot of confusion as to what was really happening . One local TV station anchor who was reporting about the crashing of the first plane, United Airlines Flight 11 on the north face of the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York, U.S.A., reported that what was happening was just a rare accident. That same actor who was basically misinforming the people about what was really happening still held on to his assumption that it was just a rare accident even after catching the second commercial plane that was hijacked, United Airlines Flight 175 crash speedily on to the southern portion of the South Tower live on camera and with his own eyes .
The two organizations which were supposed to have prevented the series of bombings to be consummated or at least mitigated the damages namely the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) apparently were not exempted from the confusion. The United Airlines Flight 11 was the first one that was hijacked. Minutes after it was hijacked, one of the passengers from the plane allegedly reported to the FAA that he thinks that their plane just got hijacked after two flight attendants allegedly got stabbed by a group of armed men inside the plane. Instead of notifying other concerned organizations such as the NORAD about the high-risk incident, the FAA apparently focused more on tracking the whereabouts of the plane, which was a lost cause because the Flight 11 hijackers turned off all means of communication with the authorities. The FAA, however, was able to detect the FAA’s whereabouts.
A few minutes after that, however, the plane already got into New York, and the hijackers already managed to crash the plane in the north face of the WTC’s North Tower. According to news reports, it was only at that point that the NORAD got formally informed about the presence of such developments by the FAA . To sum it up, the FAA did not coordinate with the NORAD immediately after learning that a plane hijacking operation was underway, which should have been the standard operating procedure; they only did it after the first of the three planes that crashed that day successfully hit its target. There are of course other organizations that have been victims of the confusion and shock that hit a lot of Americans and American government organizations at that time.
The events that happened and the steps that these organizations took after learning that there was indeed a plane that crashed into one of the WTC’s towers can prove to be stronger signs that the government organizations who should have managed to totally stop a high-casualty incident (which was an act of terrorism) like that from happening were not prepared to prevent and much less face such adversities and situations. For example, instead of being able to know what really happened on a time on target basis (that is, at the time the organization received the reports of a plane crash in one of WTC’s towers), it seemed that the NORAD would have been completely unaware of the incident had they not received a report from the FAA. The NORAD proceeded by tracking the whereabouts and knowing the status of the other planes that were also reportedly missing.
Their report gathering procedure gave them a list of two planes that were missing: UA Flight 175 and Flight 77. Another fact that the fact-finding committees was able to extract was that the already hijacked commercial plane flight 175 which was the plane that crashed into the WTC’s South Tower got to travel for more than thirty minutes without the Airlines authorities, the FAA, and the NORAD knowing its whereabouts. When the NORAD was finally able to track the whereabouts and know the status of the remaining hijacked planes, it was already too late as the Flight 175, for example, already crashed into the WTC’s South Tower . These are just some of the examples of the evidences that show how unprepared U.S. agencies and organizations, including the ones that were tasked to conduct the rescue operations after the plane crashes and the organizations that should have kept the U.S. citizens safe from any acts of terrorism, were to face such circumstances.
According to a report published online by the 9/11 Commission years after the 9/11 series of bombings, “plagued by miscommunication and confusion, the U.S. aviation and military officials were entirely unprepared for the September 11 attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania“.
However, those events and shortcomings are now clearly events of the past. It can be said that the United States government, the policy makers, and even the American people was able to learn, albeit the hard way, the value of and how to actually value safety and security. One evidence of this, focusing on the U.S. government, was the establishment of new organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, which was given the mandate to provide accurate intelligence about both internal and external terrorism forces that are threatening the United States and more importantly, to ultimately prevent the occurrence of events such as the ones that happened during the 9/11 series of bombings.
Other mandates of the DHS include but may not be limited to making the United States more secure from internal and external threats, enforcing customs, border, and immigration enforcement and security; and coordinating with other U.S. Federal Government organizations’ efforts whenever responding to emergencies such as natural and manmade disasters, acts of terrorism, and cyber security attacks . The law enforcement organizations in the U.S. have finally learned that “terrorists will continue to refine their tactics and improve their operational capabilities so we’re not going to have much of that luck left to rely upon” .
According to law enforcement and security experts in the United States, the apparent counterterrorism success of the country in the past decade after the 9/11 series of attacks, as evidenced by the fact that the United States have not been attacked or that all terrorism-related threats to the country have been successfully neutralized by defense and law enforcement authorities before they even caused major problems, are based upon two basic ingredients. The first ingredient is the important anti-terrorism work being done by the United States’ military forces overseas or what is more famously known as the War on Terror.
Mainly as a response to the 9/11 series of attacks which was allegedly perpetuated by Al-Qaeda, then U.S. president George Bush launched a military campaign headed by the U.S. and supported by its co-NATO members against terrorism overseas . The idea behind the war on terror was to attack the suspected terrorist groups and their members, prioritizing terrorist group leaders, one of the most prominent of which was the then leader of Al-Qaeda Osama Bin Laden, outside the U.S. territory noting that the U.S. government could not wait for such terrorist groups to conduct more terror activities in U.S. soil in the future . It is important to note that the War on Terror was did not just target a single terrorism group but rather all terror groups that the authorities have suspected to have links to the Al-Qaeda; examples were the terrorist groups working for or with Hezbollah .
The second ingredient to the U.S. law enforcement’s success against terrorism after the 9/11 series of attacks is the justice and law enforcement agencies’ “outstanding infiltration, investigation, interdiction, and prevention of terrorists’ plots – from the infiltration into the Newburg Four in New York to the investigation and interdiction of the Pioneer Square plot in Oregon” . Contrary to what the public or the American citizens think, the 9/11 series of attacks was not the last and only attempt of terrorist organizations to spread chaos in the American homeland.
There were a lot of terrorism plots that followed after that . The only reason why most American citizens are not aware of it is the fact that the law enforcement entities, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation for example, which works closely with the DHS and other anti-terrorism organizations, were finally able to get ahead of the terrorists . The reason why the U.S. law enforcement agencies are always ahead is the significant improvement in their communication and organization. It has been admitted by a myriad of federal agencies that prior to the 9/11 series of attacks, there were no mechanisms against terrorist attacks that were put in place and so when the enemies attacked, the law enforcement agencies were basically left clueless, not knowing what to do to respond.
The mindset of the members of the U.S. law enforcement agencies at that time were also not focused on fighting terrorism. One evidence of this was the fact that the NORAD considered the simultaneous plane crashes on two of the WTC’s towers as a rare accident instead of being speculative about the nature of the crashes which were not really caused by a rare accident but by the terrorist hijackers that intentionally crashed the plane into one of the most densely population buildings in the country.
Despite these improvements, however, there still remains to be some communication gaps in the law enforcement industry when it comes to their effort to combat terrorism. One great example would be the inability of the general public to participate in the anti-terrorism efforts of the government or in real-world cases, to issue warning signs about suspicious individuals and activities to the law enforcement authorities . If only the public can be given a more crucial role in combating terrorist activities and plots in the United States homeland, the government law enforcement authorities can work more effectively because in every corner of the country, there are people—people who want to protect the country and the security and safety of every individual American; people who are willing to contribute to the anti-terrorism efforts.
According to a statistical information published in Governing.com, “more than 8-% of foiled terrorist plots across the country were discovered via initial clues provided from law enforcement or the general public, according to a recent Institute for Homeland Security Solutions Study of terrorist attacks against the U.S. from 1999 to 2009” . This means that since the past the general public, despite the restrictions and barriers that are still present even today, were already able to contribute to the process of preventing a myriad of terrorist plots of getting consummated. If only the current administration can further strengthen and broaden the roles of the general public in doing so, then theoretically, at least for now, the government can expect a lower rate of terrorism.
Another communication gap that may be addressed soon would be the communication gap between the FBI (which is the major law enforcement agency in the U.S.) and the state and local level law enforcement agencies. For years, even before the 9/11 series of attacks happened, there already existed a communication gap between these entities and unfortunately, even after the 9/11 series of attacks, they still exist as if they were fighting for a different cause or aiming to reach a different set of objectives—this is still the case even today .
One solution that the government is trying to do is the implementation of a program that would improve the relations of the FBI with other members of the law enforcement community. This has been one of the high priority programs after the 9/11 series of attacks as evidenced by the absence of any successful terrorist attacks in the past years.
All in all, compared to the pre-9/11 era, communication gaps between the law enforcement agencies in the U.S. now have been fairly minimized, especially if we are talking about anti-terrorism efforts. The government has now put in place new mechanisms that are specially designed to empower the law enforcement agencies to react and more importantly prevent the consummation of any terrorist attack or even plots against the U.S.A.; it has even established new organizations dedicated to play such roles (e.g. the DHS). However, there are still several areas that the government can improve on such as the presence of limitations and barriers to public participation when it comes to combating terrorism and preventing the consummation of plots and attacks and the still far from perfect relationship status between the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the country.
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