Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Missourian has posted a package of stories from The Associated Press covering a range of related topics, from medical concerns in ground zero workers to global definitions of terrorism. Here is a guide to some of the most significant stories in the package.
The legacy of the 9/11 attacks defined one presidency and underlies another. Sept. 11 provided the thread linking these two eras together, spurring a chain of events in its wake that further solidified the nation’s direction, including the economic crisis, two wars, the war on terrorism and the redefinition of powers of state. Yet the biggest legacy the Obama administration inherited from the previous is intangible — a national mindset radically different from the pre-9/11 era. Americans now have an underlying expectation that attack can come from anywhere at anytime — an expectation that has become so ingrained that the fear this realization once caused has dissipated. The threat of terrorism is now a given, and the country has grown accustomed to being in a constant state of war — the effects of which will likely continue to challenge policy-makers for years to come.
President Barack Obama warns particularly of the legacy 9/11 has had in arming what he calls a “lone wolf terrorist,” driven by a vengeful ideology and with nothing to lose. Americans had seen this kind of terrorism even before the Sept. 11 attacks, as seen in Oklahoma City’s response to the anniversary of 9/11, which for them brought back painful images. As the nation nears the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Oklahoma City remains a city haunted by the memories of two acts of terrorism in less than two decades. Many survivors of the 1995 bombing of the federal building continue to live with the fear that anyone can be vulnerable to attack, a feeling reiterated by the Sept. 11 terrorist acts.
The first tally of anti-terror arrests and convictions reveals a number eight times greater than in the decade pre-9/11, drawing criticism that some countries have used the anti-terror laws to curb political dissent and maintain authoritarian control. The investigation also shows a vast difference in the way countries define, prosecute and convict those they consider terrorists. Countries like Turkey, which has the highest number of convictions for terrorism, use the anti-terror laws to convict citizens engaged in political protest. Others, like Brazil and Norway, avoid acknowledging potential terrorist connections in an effort to preserve a reputation for being free of terrorism. In addition, the tendency for an increase in anti-terror arrests to lead to an increase in attacks causes some uncertainty as to whether anti-terror laws are more harmful than beneficial. Nevertheless, nearly everyone agrees that the inevitable cost for pursuing the global war on terror is the loss of some human rights.
Concerns about 9/11 secondary school curricula arise from the realization that many of today’s youth are unaware of the attacks and the war on terrorism. It’s been a decade after the infamous morning that changed America, yet few states have implemented a set curriculum for teaching about Sept. 11, leaving it up to the individual teachers to teach, or not to teach. The results may mean that as some teachers avoid the subject altogether, more and more children are growing up unaware of this historic occurrence.
9/11 health concerns
Stories of firefighters, volunteers and others who spent time around ground zero and now suffer from a variety of ailments — from cancer to lung infections — fear their health problems are the result of inhaled dust from the disaster site. Yet the science remains inconclusive. Many scientists believe it is too early to draw conclusions, citing results that are statistically insignificant, but advocates for ground zero workers say the ailing workers should be entitled to the health benefits they need now, instead of waiting 20 years for more conclusive research.