Experts deliberate on America’s safety, 10 years after 9/11

Amanda Rogers

Since 9/11, the United States’ ability to address terrorism has benefited from 10 years of lessons learned, according to a panel of experts from various fields.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs hosted the panel two days before the anniversary of 9/11. The group discussed the 9/11 attacks and put the events in the perspective of America’s past, present and future.

Dan Bartlett, one of the panelists and a former counselor to George W. Bush, said he was with the President on Air Force One immediately following the attacks.

“We thought it could have been an accident at first, but then the second plane hit, and we were entering a time of war,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said Americans could only watch helplessly as the second plane hit on live television, and chaos ensued across the nation.

“The most searing image I remember from that day is flying into D.C. and seeing our nation’s capitol with not one person in the streets,” Bartlett said.

He said at that moment the people on Air Force One realized the gravity of the country’s situation.

UT alumnus Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, former director of the National Security Agency and former deputy director of the CIA, spoke at the panel and focused on how 9/11 is still affecting America.

“The challenge is not to look back but to see what is happening now,” Inman said.

Inman said the “fog of war” blurred the distinction between what was true and what was false information following the attacks. He said this “fog of war” became extremely prominent in the aftermath of 9/11 and shifted the dynamics of U.S. intelligence sharing within and outside the country.

“We have made very sustainable progress [in information sharing], now sharing at levels we were not willing to share earlier,” Inman said.

The panelists said America and the rest of the world will inevitably face terrorism in the future, but America has the experience to deal with it.

“International terrorism is going to be with us as far as I can see,” Inman said. “[Terrorist attacks] can’t be predicted, but we can work on prevention and dealing with the aftermath.”

Although terrorism continues to be an international dilemma, some citizens claim to feel just as safe now as they did before the attacks in New York.

Lauren Menasco-Davis, a public affairs graduate student who attended the panel, said the nationwide changes made after 9/11 make her more confident about America’s ability to react to terrorism.

“A lot of [America’s] agencies, like airport security, have sharpened and everyone has banded together,” she said. “I felt safe before [9/11], and I still feel safe now.”

Printed on September 12, 2011 as: Panel discusses US safeguards against terror 10 years later