September 11, 2001 brought American’s to a complete stand still. The secure nation that Americans were used to no longer existed. There have been several changes that have occurred in law enforcement since the 9/11 attacks. The main focus has been on security. There have been measures to monitor the internet, airports and borders to make sure that future attacks are limited or excluded completely. The freedom that American’s were used to in the past is no longer given to American’s. American’s have to be more aware of their surroundings; more aware of world issues and more aware of what could happen in the future if the attacks of 9/11 are ever forgotten. In response to 9/11, local law enforcement agencies and state agencies undertook a number of steps: increasing the number of personnel engaged in emergency response planning; updating response plans for chemical, biological, or radiological attacks and, to a lesser extent, mutual aid agreements; and reallocating internal resources or increasing departmental spending to focus on terrorism preparedness. All of this due to the 9/11 attacks.
The Patriot Act
The most prevalent area of criminal justice that the 9/11 attacks had on our society was the amount of security that increased in all aspects of our lives. Congress passed the USA Patriot Act “which enabled law enforcement to search more deeply to try to get information on terrorist and possible future attacks”.(Davis, 2004) Many citizens and government officials were concerned that the Act would give too much power to government snooping.
An area that had large changes due to 9/11 was that of cyberspace. The cyber revolution has permeated virtually every facet of our lives. By 2003, our economy and national security became fully dependent upon information technology and the information infrastructure. Computers operate all sectors of our economy – ‘energy (electric power, oil and gas), transportation (rail, air, merchant marine), finance and banking, information and telecommunications, public health, emergency services, water, chemical, defense industrial base, food, agriculture, and postal and shipping. (Miller, 2003) They also control physical objects such as electrical transformers, trains, pipeline pumps, chemical vats, and radars.
Americans are at risk from this increasing dependence on computers as these technologies also provide new opportunities for criminals. As millions of people around the globe have incorporated the Internet and advanced information technology into their daily lives, so have criminals, terrorists, and adversarial foreign nations. “Cyber crime presents the most fundamental challenge for law enforcement in the 21st Century.” (Cohen, 2002) Although we trust computers, they are vulnerable to the effects of poor design and insufficient quality control and to deliberate attack. The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun and todays terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb. For a real-world terrorist to blow up a dam, he would need tons of explosives, a delivery system, and a means of evading armed security guards. Over the past several years we have seen a range of computer crimes ranging from defacement of websites by juveniles to sophisticated intrusions that we suspect may be sponsored by foreign powers, and everything in between. “The theft of national security information from a government agency or the interruption of electrical power to a major metropolitan area would have greater consequences for national security, public safety, and the economy than the defacement of a web-site.” (Miller, 2003)
Law Enforcement’s Role
Prior to 9/11, few local law enforcement agencies had experience with terrorist-related incidents; after 9/11, most state agencies and about half of local agencies were involved in responding to terrorist-related hoaxes or incidents. The response burden was relatively high, especially for local agencies in large counties (counties with a population of one million or more) and state agencies. This was an area of crime that agencies were not fully prepared to handle.
The 9/11 attacks also served as a catalyst for increased assessment activities, especially at the local level. For example, prior to 9/11, “only a quarter of local agencies within smaller counties had conducted a risk assessment; during the year after the attacks, nearly three-quarters had done so.” (Davis, 2004)
There have been many changes that have taken place since the attacks of 9/11. One of the largest changes has taken place in the way in which we view cyberspace. Where we were once able to surf the web with no fears, we now have to wonder who else is watching us. Not only can the government now track our computer usage in order to keep a “big brother” eye on society, but terrorist could access our systems and cause major damage to several areas of our society. The attacks of 9/11 were tragic and the pain we feel will never be forgotten.
Cohen, Patricia (2002, September 7). The Freedom of Information Center. Retrieved September 15, 2006, from 9/11 Law Means More Snooping? Or Maybe Less? Web site: http://foi.missouri.edu/terrorandcivillib/911lawmeans.html
Miller, William (2003). GSU Law. Retrieved September 16, 2006, from Cyber Security After 9/11 Web site: http://gsulaw.gsu.edu/lawand/papers/fa03/miller/
Davis, Lois (2004). RAND. Retrieved September 18, 2006, from How Prepared Are State and Local Law Enforcement for Terrorism? Web site: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9093/index1.html