Is airline travel safer in terms of terrorism today than before 9/11? Why or why not?
Airline travel is safer now in terms of terrorism than it was before the events of 9/11. This is because prior to the attack, there had been intelligence reports that Osama bin Laden would carry out attacks on an airline which were not acted upon (Flynn & Kosatka, 2006).
These assumptions led to serious repercussions after the 9/11 attacks since most agencies assumed that only shoulder fired missiles and bombs hidden in planes were the most convenient terrorist attacks. However, this all changed after the attacks in which case new protocols capable of thwarting any eventualities towards terrorist threats were implemented. Some of the measures included restricting escorts into sterile areas and allowed for closer screening of only the ticketed passengers within these areas. A thorough screening of passengers ensured that no explosives or dangerous weapons were brought on board and all luggages were screened with EDS.
Suggestions such as jammers as a countermeasure to surface to air missiles were brought up and plans were made to develop such devices (Flynn and Kosatka, 2006). However, the most important safety measure was the public. An informed public is always the best defence measure against such threats since they are capable of alerting the relevant authorities on any such issues.
Do the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have the necessary authorities and resources to make mandatory or necessary security changes quickly?
The Federal Aviation Administration and the transport security administration have been mandated to institute security measures as stipulated in the Aviation And Transport Security Act Established in the year 2001 (Schertzing, 2012). In view of this, the TSA and the FAA have been empowered to ensure that no breaches in aviation and other transport facilities are experienced. The changes made by the FAA after the 9/11 attacks were drastic in that they were able to institute high alerts at any time and were able to avoid the processes involved in the aviation industry as far as security measures were concerned. The two institutions work hand in hand with backing from the Aviation And Transport Security Act of 2001 which ensures that all the stipulated measures to secure the aviation industry are instituted within the legal premises provided there in.
How much personal information should individuals have to provide to TSA for purposes of comparing their profiles with those of potential terrorists?
The question of the content of personal information as it regards the TSA may be subject to the ATSA of 2001 which clearly defines the level of information requirements. However, the identity of an individual must be revealed despite other restrictions such as the religion among others.
U.S. ports are generally operated by local and state authorities. In order to protect this component of the critical infrastructure, should the Federal government have a larger role in port security?
The federal government should be encouraged to integrate its roles in port security. This is because as much as the ports are operated by local and state authorities, most of the ships within the ports are owned by foreigners (Bentzel, 2006). It is inherent to note that the United States of America depends on the maritime system for transport of its military equipment hence posing a serious security threat in the event of a major incursion on the equipment.
According to Bentzel (2006), this may be hard to secure due to the fact that private owners have control over their own private terminals. However, the overall mandate to control the commercial activities between states lies with the federal government in which case it is said not to have fully exploited this opportunity exposing the country to various security threats. Coordination is important as stipulated in the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003).
Should the Federal government license/certify workers beyond the current programs (i.e. security checks on transporters of hazardous chemicals) in the transportation industry?
The federal government should take it upon themselves to have all these programs working to avoid repercussions in the future. The workers should be licensed to ensure that Hazardous materials are not sneaked in the country. Cargo operators should also be monitored for proper conduct. This is because such operators have been left unmanned due to the nature of the ports where firearms have been unrestricted which may be interpreted to mean that any other activity is unrestricted. There should be coordination between the local government agencies and the federal state government agencies for proper surveillance on transporters of hazardous material.
Do you believe that the current security processes of the transportation industry would interdict a WMD hidden in a cargo container?
I do not believe that these security measures in the maritime industry would easily detect and interdict a WMD in a cargo container. There are several reasons for this as illustrated here in. First, up until 2003, the coast guard had not received the area plans of over three thousand facilities and almost ten thousand vessels. This means that the plans may have harboured or may harbour a WMD to be used on the US soil. Other issues include the lack of credentialing of the maritime employees which means that the level of trust within the maritime sector remains in doubt on whether the security systems can detect a WMD.
The lack of credentialing means that no background checks are carried out on employees hence exposing the ports to infiltration by criminal gangs who might conceal the true identity of a cargo container. Finally as Bentzel (2006) illustrates, the lack of proper channels for flow of maritime intelligence means that very little intelligence is collected and is also compounded by lack of cooperation from the different intelligence agencies. Bentzel also indicates that such methods of screening as X-rays and gamma imaging systems are not sufficient enough when handling suspect containers.
Bentzel, C. (2006). Port and Maritime security. In Karmien, D. G. Ed. The McGraw-Hill Homeland security handbook. USA: McGraw-Hill.
Flynn, C. And Kosatka, A. (2006). Civil aviation in the United States. In Karmien, D. G. Ed. The McGraw-Hill Homeland security handbook. USA: McGraw-Hill.
Schertzing, P. (2012). Lesson 3. Introduction to critical infrastructure and key resources (CI/KR) sectors (Part 1). Seminar in homeland security. 1-4.
The national strategy for The Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (2003).