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Some Ways Our World Has Changed Since 9/11

With the recent death of Osama bin Laden, it is time to reflect on how our society has changed in the decade since 3000 Americans died in the Twin Towers act of terrorism.

With the by President Barack Obama that the Navy SEALs took out Osama bin Laden in a daring raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, it is proper time to reflect on how we have changed in our society since the al-Qaeda terrorists took down the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in  New York City on that crystal clear blue-skied morning of September 11, 2001.

The security is much tighter in airports than it was in 2001. No longer will box cutters (or nail files or scissors or any sharp objects) be allowed on airplanes. Of course now we also are subject to getting groped in the groin or breasts during body searches by TSA agents and standing in long lines to get on the flights we take all over the world.  Only recently has it become possible to arrive as close to 45 minutes before a flight and actually get on the airliner, and that is only when you have checked in on-line, printed out your boarding pass, and are not bringing any extra luggage.

Security and police agencies now communicate intelligence a whole lot better and faster than they did before 9/11. We still have difficulties in sharing information sometimes, but the frequencies on portable radios for all the fire, police and sheriff's deputies and federal officials are more stratified and able to be communicated in real time. 

The cooperation of official agencies and the lightning fast communication to people via social media was very well illustrated by the recent accident at the Oconee Connector and the manner that other agencies assisted Oconee County Sheriff's deputies with their traffic duties at area schools.

Information is so readily available to everyone that I (not presuming anything for anyone else) do not need to see photos of the bullet-ridden corpse of Osama bin Laden to prove that he is dead. When even the al-Qaeda terrorist network is posting on Jihadist bulletin board websites that the leader has perished, it should be enough to silence the lunatic fringe, but, alas it is not. I did see some of the very graphic photos published by Reuters News Agency of the other bloody carcases remaining as well as the here-to-fore unknown and top secret stealth copter technology.  I am so grateful that our forces came home unscathed and delivered on their orders with professional precision in a very dangerous situation.

Secrets will not remain secrets as long or as securely anymore.  I was quite pleasantly surprised that we were able to keep the raid as clandestine as we did for as long as we did. Imagine the surprise of the Twitter account holder in Abbotabad when he figured out he was live tweeting the raid without even realizing it at the time.

We came together as a country on 9/11 and briefly Monday morning of last week in a patriotic rush not seen since World War II. Sadly our fervent nationalism and joy gave way to the typical bitter partisan rhetoric in only a matter of moments. Now everyone wants to know when their gas prices are coming down.

We began to figure out the connection between fossil fuel addiction and supporting terrorism in the Middle East, but we only have made the slightest impact with the purchase of the all-electric Chevy Volt and other hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius. Our fuel mileage standards should continue to be raised until we are all driving vehicles that get at least 40 miles per gallon.

Several startling and hilarious visions of what our current path could be leading to might be witnessed in the films "Brazil" (1985) or the more recent "Idiocracy" (2006). Both of these films portray a satirical view of the dumbing down of the future generations. Hopefully neither of these dystopian views will come true, but both present prescient portrayals of what could come in the not too distant future unless we are a bit more vigilant in supporting intellectualism and not caving in to the least common denominator. I do not know if you can find them at the Oconee County Library, Vision Video or Blockbuster, but I did download the more recent Mike Judge directed film with Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph last night off of instant video from Amazon.com. Neither of these have all that much to do with al-Qaeda, but "Brazil" presents a dark vision of near future of getting so accustomed to random terror attacks as to not miss a moment of a lunch after an attack in a restaurant.

Our political civility as a nation has certainly gone in the crapper since 9/11. Now we seem to deem each other the worst names and brands imaginable and question each other's intelligence and patriotism, among other topics.

Immediately after 9/11 you could not leave a box or bag alone for a minute without the bomb squad getting involved. Now that has tempered a bit, but we still will not leave luggage alone when traveling at all.

I would like to end this rambling discussion with my own patriotic fervor. I think President Obama did a fine job in taking care of Public Enemy #1 and deserves our thanks and gratitude for making us safer this week than last, even if you are not a Democratic party member.  

I would also like to thank the members of the CIA who have been monitoring the Al-Qaeda network and the Navy SEALs and their dogs who rappelled out of helicopters to take out Osama bin Laden. I am obviously very biased as the chair of the local Democratic party, but I think President Obama deserves re-election because of this marvelous military victory and many other tasks he has accomplished in several short years.

God bless our troops and may they all come home safe and sound as soon as their tours of duties are complete. I am afraid that the War on Terror will never end. Many Americans prematurely postulated that once we cut the head off the snake the war would be over, but this is a multi-headed hydra we will be fighting for many generations to come. 

We remain safe in our neighborhoods and subdivisions in Oconee County. I know it will continue, but do not let your guard down for a second to any unusual activity or suspicious behavior where it would not seem normal or logical for it to be. However, always be sure to tolerate free political speech, dissension and differences between us as a sign of strength, not weakness. Democratic voters love Oconee County and America just as much as Republican voters.

We already have learned that al-Qaeda was contemplating attacks on our railroad infrastructure across America for the decade anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Towers. We must remain ready for whatever the terrorists toss our way next, no matter what the unimaginable horror they might harness. Underwear bombers may seem tame compared to the next attempt at igniting Armageddon in America, but I trust our forces to find a way to defeat this enemy with the treasure trove of intelligence gleaned from the hard drives and cell phones found in Pakistan recently.

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