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Two Decades Later, the Enduring Legacy of 9/11

Americans watched in horror as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, left nearly 3,000 people dead in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Nearly 20 years later, they watched in sorrow as the nation’s military mission in Afghanistan – which began less than a month after 9/11 – came to a bloody and chaotic conclusion.

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Chart shows 9/11 a powerful memory for Americans – but only for adults old enough to remember

The enduring power of the Sept. 11 attacks is clear: An overwhelming share of Americans who are old enough to recall the day remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. Yet an ever-growing number of Americans have no personal memory of that day, either because they were too young or not yet born.

A review of U.S. public opinion in the two decades since 9/11 reveals how a badly shaken nation came together, briefly, in a spirit of sadness and patriotism; how the public initially rallied behind the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, though support waned over time; and how Americans viewed the threat of terrorism at home and the steps the government took to combat it.

As the country comes to grips with the tumultuous exit of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the departure has raised long-term questions about U.S. foreign policy and America’s place in the world. Yet the public’s initial judgments on that mission are clear: A majority endorses the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, even as it criticizes the Biden administration’s handling of the situation. And after a war that cost thousands of lives – including more than 2,000 American service members – and trillions of dollars in military spending, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that 69% of U.S. adults say the United States has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

This examination of how the United States changed in the two decades following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is based on an analysis of past public opinion survey data from Pew Research Center, news reports and other sources.

Current data is from a Pew Research Center survey of 10,348 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 23-29, 2021. Most of the interviewing was conducted before the Aug. 26 suicide bombing at Kabul airport, and all of it was conducted before the completion of the evacuation. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the  ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used  for the report, along with responses, and  its methodology .

A devastating emotional toll, a lasting historical legacy

Shock, sadness, fear, anger: The 9/11 attacks inflicted a devastating emotional toll on Americans. But as horrible as the events of that day were, a 63% majority of Americans said they couldn’t stop watching news coverage of the attacks.

Chart shows days after 9/11, nearly all Americans said they felt sad; most felt depressed

Our first survey following the attacks went into the field just days after 9/11, from Sept. 13-17, 2001. A sizable majority of adults (71%) said they felt depressed, nearly half (49%) had difficulty concentrating and a third said they had trouble sleeping.

It was an era in which television was still the public’s dominant news source – 90% said they got most of their news about the attacks from television, compared with just 5% who got news online – and the televised images of death and destruction had a powerful impact. Around nine-in-ten Americans (92%) agreed with the statement, “I feel sad when watching TV coverage of the terrorist attacks.” A sizable majority (77%) also found it frightening to watch – but most did so anyway.

Americans were enraged by the attacks, too. Three weeks after 9/11 , even as the psychological stress began to ease somewhat, 87% said they felt angry about the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Fear was widespread, not just in the days immediately after the attacks, but throughout the fall of 2001. Most Americans said they were very (28%) or somewhat (45%) worried about another attack . When asked a year later to describe how their lives changed in a major way, about half of adults said they felt more afraid, more careful, more distrustful or more vulnerable as a result of the attacks.

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Even after the immediate shock of 9/11 had subsided, concerns over terrorism remained at higher levels in major cities – especially New York and Washington – than in small towns and rural areas. The personal impact of the attacks also was felt more keenly in the cities directly targeted: Nearly a year after 9/11, about six-in-ten adults in the New York (61%) and Washington (63%) areas said the attacks had changed their lives at least a little, compared with 49% nationwide. This sentiment was shared by residents of other large cities. A quarter of people who lived in large cities nationwide said their lives had changed in a major way – twice the rate found in small towns and rural areas.

The impacts of the Sept. 11 attacks were deeply felt and slow to dissipate. By the following August, half of U.S. adults said the country “had changed in a major way” – a number that actually increased , to 61%, 10 years after the event .

A year after the attacks, in an open-ended question, most Americans – 80% – cited 9/11 as the most important event that had occurred in the country during the previous year. Strikingly, a larger share also volunteered it as the most important thing that happened to them personally in the prior year (38%) than mentioned other typical life events, such as births or deaths. Again, the personal impact was much greater in New York and Washington, where 51% and 44%, respectively, pointed to the attacks as the most significant personal event over the prior year.

Chart shows in 2016 – 15 years after 9/11 – the attacks continued to be seen as one of the public’s top historical events

Just as memories of 9/11 are firmly embedded in the minds of most Americans old enough to recall the attacks, their historical importance far surpasses other events in people’s lifetimes. In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in association with A+E Networks’ HISTORY in 2016 – 15 years after 9/11 – 76% of adults named the Sept. 11 attacks as one of the 10 historical events of their lifetime that had the greatest impact on the country. The election of Barack Obama as the first Black president was a distant second, at 40%.

The importance of 9/11 transcended age, gender, geographic and even political differences. The 2016 study noted that while partisans agreed on little else that election cycle, more than seven-in-ten Republicans and Democrats named the attacks as one of their top 10 historic events.

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9/11 transformed U.S. public opinion, but many of its impacts were short-lived

It is difficult to think of an event that so profoundly transformed U.S. public opinion across so many dimensions as the 9/11 attacks. While Americans had a shared sense of anguish after Sept. 11, the months that followed also were marked by rare spirit of public unity.

Chart shows trust in government spiked following Sept. 11 terror attack

Patriotic sentiment surged in the aftermath of 9/11. After the U.S. and its allies launched airstrikes against Taliban and al-Qaida forces in early October 2001, 79% of adults said they had displayed an American flag. A year later, a 62% majority said they had often felt patriotic as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Moreover, the public largely set aside political differences and rallied in support of the nation’s major institutions, as well as its political leadership. In October 2001, 60% of adults expressed trust in the federal government – a level not reached in the previous three decades, nor approached in the two decades since then.

George W. Bush, who had become president nine months earlier after a fiercely contested election, saw his job approval rise 35 percentage points in the space of three weeks. In late September 2001, 86% of adults – including nearly all Republicans (96%) and a sizable majority of Democrats (78%) – approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president.

Americans also turned to religion and faith in large numbers. In the days and weeks after 9/11, most Americans said they were praying more often. In November 2001, 78% said religion’s influence in American life was increasing, more than double the share who said that eight months earlier and – like public trust in the federal government – the highest level in four decades .

Public esteem rose even for some institutions that usually are not that popular with Americans. For example, in November 2001, news organizations received record-high ratings for professionalism. Around seven-in-ten adults (69%) said they “stand up for America,” while 60% said they protected democracy.

Yet in many ways, the “9/11 effect” on public opinion was short-lived. Public trust in government, as well as confidence in other institutions, declined throughout the 2000s. By 2005, following another major national tragedy – the government’s mishandling of the relief effort for victims of Hurricane Katrina – just 31% said they trusted the federal government, half the share who said so in the months after 9/11. Trust has remained relatively low for the past two decades: In April of this year, only 24% said they trusted the government just about always or most of the time.

Bush’s approval ratings, meanwhile, never again reached the lofty heights they did shortly after 9/11. By the end of his presidency, in December 2008, just 24% approved of his job performance.

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U.S. military response: Afghanistan and Iraq

With the U.S. now formally out of Afghanistan – and with the Taliban firmly in control of the country – most Americans (69%) say the U.S. failed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan.

Chart shows broad initial support for U.S. military action against 9/11 terrorists, even if it entailed thousands of U.S. casualties

But 20 years ago, in the days and weeks following 9/11, Americans overwhelmingly supported military action against those responsible for the attacks. In mid-September 2001, 77% favored U.S. military action, including the deployment of ground forces, “to retaliate against whoever is responsible for the terrorist attacks, even if that means U.S. armed forces might suffer thousands of casualties.”

Many Americans were impatient for the Bush administration to give the go-ahead for military action. In a late September 2001 survey, nearly half the public (49%) said their larger concern was that the Bush administration would not strike quickly enough against the terrorists; just 34% said they worried the administration would move too quickly.

Even in the early stages of the U.S. military response, few adults expected a military operation to produce quick results: 69% said it would take months or years to dismantle terrorist networks, including 38% who said it would take years and 31% who said it would take several months. Just 18% said it would take days or weeks.

The public’s support for military intervention was evident in other ways as well. Throughout the fall of 2001, more Americans said the best way to prevent future terrorism was to take military action abroad rather than build up defenses at home. In early October 2001, 45% prioritized military action to destroy terrorist networks around the world, while 36% said the priority should be to build terrorism defenses at home.

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Initially, the public was confident that the U.S. military effort to destroy terrorist networks would succeed. A sizable majority (76%) was confident in the success of this mission, with 39% saying they were very confident.

Support for the war in Afghanistan continued at a high level for several years to come. In a survey conducted in early 2002, a few months after the start of the war, 83% of Americans said they approved of the U.S.-led military campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. In 2006, several years after the United States began combat operations in Afghanistan, 69% of adults said the U.S. made the right decision in using military force in Afghanistan. Only two-in-ten said it was the wrong decision.

Chart shows public support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan increased after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011

But as the conflict dragged on, first through Bush’s presidency and then through Obama’s administration, support wavered and a growing share of Americans favored the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. In June 2009, during Obama’s first year in office, 38% of Americans said U.S. troops should be removed from Afghanistan as soon as possible. The share favoring a speedy troop withdrawal increased over the next few years. A turning point came in May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs launched a risky operation against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and killed the al-Qaida leader.

The public reacted to bin Laden’s death with more of a sense of relief than jubilation . A month later, for the first time , a majority of Americans (56%) said that U.S. forces should be brought home as soon as possible, while 39% favored U.S. forces in the country until the situation had stabilized.

Over the next decade, U.S. forces in Afghanistan were gradually drawn down, in fits and starts, over the administrations of three presidents – Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Meanwhile, public support for the decision to use force in Afghanistan, which had been widespread at the start of the conflict, declined . Today, after the tumultuous exit of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a slim majority of adults (54%) say the decision to withdraw troops from the country was the right decision; 42% say it was the wrong decision. 

There was a similar trajectory in public attitudes toward a much more expansive conflict that was part of what Bush termed the “war on terror”: the U.S. war in Iraq. Throughout the contentious, yearlong debate before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Americans widely supported the use of military force to end Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq.

Importantly, most Americans thought – erroneously, as it turned out – there was a direct connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. In October 2002, 66% said that Saddam helped the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In April 2003, during the first month of the Iraq War, 71% said the U.S. made the right decision to go to war in Iraq. On the 15th anniversary of the war in 2018, just 43% said it was the right decision. As with the case with U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, more Americans said that the U.S. had failed (53%) than succeeded (39%) in achieving its goals in Iraq.

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The ‘new normal’: The threat of terrorism after 9/11

There have been no terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 in two decades, but from the public’s perspective, the threat has never fully gone away. Defending the country from future terrorist attacks has been at or near the top of Pew Research Center’s annual survey on policy priorities since 2002.

Chart shows terrorism has consistently ranked high on Americans’ list of policy priorities

In January 2002, just months after the 2001 attacks, 83% of Americans said “defending the country from future terrorist attacks” was a top priority for the president and Congress, the highest for any issue. Since then, sizable majorities have continued to cite that as a top policy priority.

Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats have consistently ranked terrorism as a top priority over the past two decades, with some exceptions. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have remained more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say defending the country from future attacks should be a top priority. In recent years, the partisan gap has grown larger as Democrats began to rank the issue lower relative to other domestic concerns. The public’s concerns about another attack also remained fairly steady in the years after 9/11, through near-misses and the federal government’s numerous “Orange Alerts” – the second-most serious threat level on its color-coded terrorism warning system.

A 2010 analysis of the public’s terrorism concerns found that the share of Americans who said they were very concerned about another attack had ranged from about 15% to roughly 25% since 2002. The only time when concerns were elevated was in February 2003, shortly before the start of the U.S. war in Iraq.

In recent years, the share of Americans who point to terrorism as a major national problem has declined sharply as issues such as the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and racism have emerged as more pressing problems in the public’s eyes.

Chart shows in recent years, terrorism declined as a ‘very big’ national problem

In 2016, about half of the public (53%) said terrorism was a very big national problem in the country. This declined to about four-in-ten from 2017 to 2019. Last year, only a quarter of Americans said that terrorism was a very big problem.

This year, prior to the U.S. withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and the subsequent Taliban takeover of the country, a somewhat larger share of adults said domestic terrorism was a very big national problem (35%) than said the same about international terrorism . But much larger shares cited concerns such as the affordability of health care (56%) and the federal budget deficit (49%) as major problems than said that about either domestic or international terrorism.

Still, recent events in Afghanistan raise the possibility that opinion could be changing, at least in the short term. In a late August survey, 89% of Americans said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was a threat to the security of the U.S., including 46% who said it was a major threat.

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Addressing the threat of terrorism at home and abroad

Just as Americans largely endorsed the use of U.S. military force as a response to the 9/11 attacks, they were initially open to a variety of other far-reaching measures to combat terrorism at home and abroad. In the days following the attack, for example, majorities favored a requirement that all citizens carry national ID cards, allowing the CIA to contract with criminals in pursuing suspected terrorists and permitting the CIA to conduct assassinations overseas when pursuing suspected terrorists.

Chart shows following 9/11, more Americans saw the necessity to sacrifice civil liberties in order to curb terrorism

However, most people drew the line against allowing the government to monitor their own emails and phone calls (77% opposed this). And while 29% supported the establishment of internment camps for legal immigrants from unfriendly countries during times of tension or crisis – along the lines of those in which thousands of Japanese American citizens were confined during World War II – 57% opposed such a measure.

It was clear that from the public’s perspective, the balance between protecting civil liberties and protecting the country from terrorism had shifted. In September 2001 and January 2002, 55% majorities said that, in order to curb terrorism in the U.S., it was necessary for the average citizen to give up some civil liberties. In 1997, just 29% said this would be necessary while 62% said it would not.

For most of the next two decades, more Americans said their bigger concern was that the government had not gone far enough in protecting the country from terrorism than said it went too far in restricting civil liberties.

The public also did not rule out the use of torture to extract information from terrorist suspects. In a 2015 survey of 40 nations, the U.S. was one of only 12 where a majority of the public said the use of torture against terrorists could be justified to gain information about a possible attack.

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Views of Muslims, Islam grew more partisan in years after 9/11

Concerned about a possible backlash against Muslims in the U.S. in the days after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush gave a speech to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., in which he declared: “Islam is peace.” For a brief period, a large segment of Americans agreed. In November 2001, 59% of U.S. adults had a favorable view of Muslim Americans, up from 45% in March 2001, with comparable majorities of Democrats and Republicans expressing a favorable opinion.

Chart shows Republicans increasingly say Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence

This spirit of unity and comity was not to last. In a September 2001 survey, 28% of adults said they had grown more suspicious of people of Middle Eastern descent; that grew to 36% less than a year later.

Republicans, in particular, increasingly came to associate Muslims and Islam with violence. In 2002, just a quarter of Americans – including 32% of Republicans and 23% of Democrats – said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. About twice as many (51%) said it was not.

But within the next few years, most Republicans and GOP leaners said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence. Today, 72% of Republicans express this view, according to an August 2021 survey.

Democrats consistently have been far less likely than Republicans to associate Islam with violence. In the Center’s latest survey, 32% of Democrats say this. Still, Democrats are somewhat more likely to say this today than they have been in recent years: In 2019, 28% of Democrats said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers than other religions.

The partisan gap in views of Muslims and Islam in the U.S. is evident in other meaningful ways. For example, a 2017 survey found that half of U.S. adults said that “Islam is not part of mainstream American society” – a view held by nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (68%) but only 37% of Democrats. In a separate survey conducted in 2017, 56% of Republicans said there was a great deal or fair amount of extremism among U.S. Muslims, with fewer than half as many Democrats (22%) saying the same.

The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the aftermath of 9/11 has had a profound effect on the growing number of Muslims living in the United States. Surveys of U.S. Muslims from 2007-2017 found increasing shares saying they have personally experienced discrimination and received public expression of support.

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It has now been two decades since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 – where only the courage of passengers and crew possibly prevented an even deadlier terror attack.

For most who are old enough to remember, it is a day that is impossible to forget. In many ways, 9/11 reshaped how Americans think of war and peace, their own personal safety and their fellow citizens. And today, the violence and chaos in a country half a world away brings with it the opening of an uncertain new chapter in the post-9/11 era.

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed.

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Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report — long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners — the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character.

“The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,” the report asserts. “We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.”

This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored.

Rather than exemplify the nation’s highest values, the official response to 9/11 unleashed some of its worst qualities: deception, brutality, arrogance, ignorance, delusion, overreach and carelessness. This conclusion is laid bare in the sprawling literature to emerge from 9/11 over the past two decades — the works of investigation, memoir and narrative by journalists and former officials that have charted the path to that day, revealed the heroism and confusion of the early response, chronicled the battles in and about Afghanistan and Iraq, and uncovered the excesses of the war on terror. Reading or rereading a collection of such books today is like watching an old movie that feels more anguishing and frustrating than you remember. The anguish comes from knowing how the tale will unfold; the frustration from realizing that this was hardly the only possible outcome.

Whatever individual stories the 9/11 books tell, too many describe the repudiation of U.S. values, not by extremist outsiders but by our own hand. The betrayal of America’s professed principles was the friendly fire of the war on terror. In these works, indifference to the growing terrorist threat gives way to bloodlust and vengeance after the attacks. Official dissembling justifies wars, then prolongs them. In the name of counterterrorism, security is politicized, savagery legalized and patriotism weaponized.

It was an emergency, yes, that’s understood. But that state of exception became our new American exceptionalism.

It happened fast. By 2004, when the 9/11 Commission urged America to “engage the struggle of ideas,” it was already too late; the Justice Department’s initial torture memos were already signed, the Abu Ghraib images had already eviscerated U.S. claims to moral authority. And it has lasted long. The latest works on the legacy of 9/11 show how war-on-terror tactics were turned on religious groups, immigrants and protesters in the United States. The war on terror came home, and it walked in like it owned the place.

“It is for now far easier for a researcher to explain how and why September 11 happened than it is to explain the aftermath,” Steve Coll writes in “ Ghost Wars ,” his 2004 account of the CIA’s pre-9/11 involvement in Afghanistan. Throughout that aftermath, Washington fantasized about remaking the world in its image, only to reveal an ugly image of itself to the world.

The literature of 9/11 also considers Osama bin Laden’s varied aspirations for the attacks and his shifting visions of that aftermath. He originally imagined America as weak and easily panicked, retreating from the world — in particular from the Middle East — as soon as its troops began dying. But bin Laden also came to grasp, perhaps self-servingly, the benefits of luring Washington into imperial overreach, of “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,” as he put it in 2004, through endless military expansionism, thus beating back its global sway and undermining its internal unity. “We anticipate a black future for America,” bin Laden told ABC News more than three years before the 9/11 attacks. “Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America.”

Bin Laden did not win the war of ideas. But neither did we. To an unnerving degree, the United States moved toward the enemy’s fantasies of what it might become — a nation divided in its sense of itself, exposed in its moral and political compromises, conflicted over wars it did not want but would not end. When President George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, he asserted that America was attacked because it is “the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world, and no one will keep that light from shining.” Bush was correct; al-Qaeda could not dim the promise of America. Only we could do that to ourselves.

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“The most frightening aspect of this new threat . . . was the fact that almost no one took it seriously. It was too bizarre, too primitive and exotic.” That is how Lawrence Wright depicts the early impressions of bin Laden and his terrorist network among U.S. officials in “ The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 .” For a country still basking in its post-Cold War glow, it all seemed so far away, even as al-Qaeda’s strikes — on the World Trade Center in 1993, on U.S. Embassies in 1998, on the USS Cole in 2000 — grew bolder. This was American complacency, mixed with denial.

The books traveling that road to 9/11 have an inexorable, almost suffocating feel to them, as though every turn invariably leads to the first crush of steel and glass. Their starting points vary. Wright dwells on the influence of Egyptian thinker Sayyid Qutb, whose mid-20th-century sojourn in the United States animated his vision of a clash between Islam and modernity, and whose work would inspire future jihadists. In “Ghost Wars,” Coll laments America’s abandonment of Afghanistan once it ceased serving as a proxy battlefield against Moscow. In “ The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden ,” Peter Bergen stresses the moment bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996, when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed first pitched him on the planes plot. And the 9/11 Commission lingers on bin Laden’s declarations of war against the United States, particularly his 1998 fatwa calling it “the individual duty for every Muslim” to murder Americans “in any country in which it is possible.”

Yet these early works also make clear that the road to 9/11 featured plenty of billboards warning of the likely destination. A Presidential Daily Brief item on Aug. 6, 2001, titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US” became infamous in 9/11 lore, yet the commission report notes that it was the 36th PDB relating to bin Laden or al-Qaeda that year alone. (“All right. You’ve covered your ass now,” Bush reportedly sneered at the briefer.) Both the FBI and the CIA produced classified warnings on terrorist threats in the mid-1990s, Coll writes, including a particularly precise National Intelligence Estimate. “Several targets are especially at risk: national symbols such as the White House and the Capitol, and symbols of U.S. capitalism such as Wall Street,” it stated. “We assess that civil aviation will figure prominently among possible terrorist targets in the United States.” Some of the admonitions scattered throughout the 9/11 literature are too over-the-top even for a movie script: There’s the exasperated State Department official complaining about Defense Department inaction (“Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon to get their attention?”), and the earnest FBI supervisor in Minneapolis warning a skeptical agent in Washington about suspected terrorism activity, insisting that he was “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing it into the World Trade Center.”

In these books, everyone is warning everyone else. Bergen emphasizes that a young intelligence analyst in the State Department, Gina Bennett, wrote the first classified memo warning about bin Laden in 1993. Pockets within the FBI and the CIA obsess over bin Laden while regarding one another as rivals. On his way out, President Bill Clinton warns Bush. Outgoing national security adviser Sandy Berger warns his successor, Condoleezza Rice. And White House counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke, as he reminds incessantly in his 2004 memoir, “ Against All Enemies ,” warns anyone who will listen and many who will not.

With the system “blinking red,” as CIA Director George Tenet later told the 9/11 Commission, why were all these warnings not enough? Wright lingers on bureaucratic failings, emphasizing that intelligence collection on al-Qaeda was hampered by the “institutional warfare” between the CIA and the FBI, two agencies that by all accounts were not on speaking terms. Coll writes that Clinton regarded bin Laden as “an isolated fanatic, flailing dangerously but quixotically against the forces of global progress,” whereas the Bush team was fixated on great-power politics, missile defense and China.

Clarke’s conclusion is simple, and it highlights America’s we-know-better swagger, a national trait that often masquerades as courage or wisdom. “America, alas, seems only to respond well to disasters, to be undistracted by warnings,” he writes. “Our country seems unable to do all that must be done until there has been some awful calamity.”

The problem with responding only to calamity is that underestimation is usually replaced by overreaction. And we tell ourselves it is the right thing, maybe the only thing, to do.

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A last-minute flight change. A new job at the Pentagon. A retirement from the fire station. The final tilt of a plane’s wings before impact. If the books about the lead-up to 9/11 are packed with unbearable inevitability, the volumes on the day itself highlight how randomness separated survival from death. “The ferocity of the attacks meant that innocent people lived or died because they stepped back from a doorway, or hopped onto a closing elevator, or simply shifted their weight from one foot to another,” Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn write in “ 102 Minutes ,” their narrative of events inside the World Trade Center from the moment the first plane hit through the collapse of both towers. Their detailed reporting on the human saga — such as a police officer asking a fire chaplain to hear his confession as they both flee a collapsing building — is excruciating and riveting at once.

Yet, as much as the people inside, the structures and history of the World Trade Center are key actors, too. They are not just symbols and targets but fully formed and deeply flawed characters in the day’s drama.

[ 9/11 has become all about New York — with D.C. and the Pentagon nearly forgotten ]

Had the World Trade Center, built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, been erected according to the city building code in effect since 1938, Dwyer and Flynn explain, “it is likely that a very different world trade center would have been built.” Instead, it was constructed according to a new code that the real estate industry had avidly promoted, a code that made it cheaper and more lucrative to build and own skyscrapers. “It increased the floor space available for rent . . . by cutting back on the areas that had been devoted, under the earlier law, to evacuation and exit,” the authors write. The result: Getting everybody out on 9/11 was virtually impossible.

Under the new rules, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was able to rent three-quarters of each floor of the World Trade Center, Dwyer and Flynn report, a 21 percent increase over the yield of older skyscrapers. The cost was dear. Some 1,000 people inside the North Tower who initially survived the impact of American Airlines Flight 11 could not reach an open staircase. “Their fate was sealed nearly four decades earlier, when the stairways were clustered in the core of the building, and fire stairs were eliminated as a wasteful use of valuable space.” (The authors write that “building code reform hardly makes for gripping drama,” an aside as modest as it is inaccurate.) The towers embodied the power of American capitalism, but their design embodied the folly of American greed. On that day, both conditions proved fatal.

The assault on the Pentagon, long treated as an undercard to New York’s main event, could have yielded even greater devastation, and again the details of the building played a role. In his oral history of 9/11, “ The Only Plane in the Sky ,” Garrett Graff quotes Defense Department officials marveling at how American Airlines Flight 77 struck a part of the Pentagon that, because of new anti-terrorism standards, had recently been reinforced and renovated. This meant it was not only stronger but, on that morning, also relatively unoccupied. “It was truly a miracle,” Army branch chief Philip Smith said. “In any other wedge of the Pentagon, there would have been 5,000 people, and the plane would have flown right through the middle of the building.” Instead, fewer than 200 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon, including the passengers on the hijacked jet. Chance and preparedness came together.

The bravery of police and firefighters is the subject of countless 9/11 retrospectives, but these books also emphasize the selflessness of civilians who morphed into first responders. Port Authority workers Frank De Martini, Pablo Ortiz, Carlos da Costa and Peter Negron, for instance, saved at least 70 people in the World Trade Center’s North Tower by pulling apart elevator doors, busting walls and shining flashlights to find survivors, only to not make it out themselves. “With crowbar, flashlight, hardhat and big mouths, De Martini and Ortiz and their colleagues had pushed back the boundary line between life and death,” Dwyer and Flynn write. The authors also note how the double lines of people descending a World Trade Center staircase would automatically blend into single file when word came down that an injured person was behind them. And Graff cites a local assistant fire chief who recalls the “truly heroic” work of civilians and uniformed personnel at the Pentagon that day. “They were the ones who really got their comrades, got their workmates out,” he says.

The civilians aboard United Airlines Flight 93, whose resistance forced the plane to crash into a Pennsylvania field rather than the U.S. Capitol, were later lionized as emblems of swashbuckling Americana. But one offhand detail in the 9/11 Commission report underscores just how American their defiance was. The passengers had made phone calls when the hijacking began and had learned the fate of other aircraft that day. “According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane,” the commission report states. “They decided, and acted.”

They voted on it. They voted. Even in that moment of unfathomable fear and distress, the passengers took a moment to engage in the great American tradition of popular consultation before deciding to become this new war’s earliest soldiers. Was there ever any doubt as to the outcome of that ballot?

Such episodes, led by ordinary civilians, embodied values that the 9/11 Commission called on the nation to display. Except those values would soon be dismantled, in the name of security, by those entrusted to uphold them.

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Lawyering to death.

The phrase appears in multiple 9/11 volumes, usually uttered by top officials adamant that they were going to get things done , laws and rules be damned. Anti-terrorism efforts were always “lawyered to death” during the Clinton administration, Tenet complains in “ Bush at War ,” Bob Woodward’s 2002 book on the debates among the president and his national security team. In an interview with Woodward, Bush drops the phrase amid the machospeak — “dead or alive,” “bring ’em on” and the like — that became typical of his anti-terrorism rhetoric. “I had to show the American people the resolve of a commander in chief that was going to do whatever it took to win,” Bush explains. “No yielding. No equivocation. No, you know, lawyering this thing to death.” In “Against All Enemies,” Clarke recalls the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush snapped at an official who suggested that international law looked askance at military force as a tool of revenge. “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass,” the president retorted.

The message was unmistakable: The law is an obstacle to effective counterterrorism. Worrying about procedural niceties is passe in a 9/11 world, an annoying impediment to the essential work of ass-kicking.

Except, they did lawyer this thing to death. Instead of disregarding the law, the Bush administration enlisted it. “Beginning almost immediately after September 11, 2001, [Vice President Dick] Cheney saw to it that some of the sharpest and best-trained lawyers in the country, working in secret in the White House and the United States Department of Justice, came up with legal justifications for a vast expansion of the government’s power in waging war on terror,” Jane Mayer writes in “ The Dark Side ,” her relentless 2008 compilation of the arguments and machinations of government lawyers after the attacks. Through public declarations and secret memos, the administration sought to remove limits on the president’s conduct of warfare and to deny terrorism suspects the protections of the Geneva Conventions by redefining them as unlawful enemy combatants. Nothing, Mayer argues of the latter effort, “more directly cleared the way for torture than this.”

To comprehend what our government can justify in the name of national security, consider the torture memos themselves, authored by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 to green-light CIA interrogation methods for terrorism suspects. Tactics such as cramped confinement, sleep deprivation and waterboarding were rebranded as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” legally and linguistically contorted to avoid the label of torture. Though the techniques could be cruel and inhuman, the OLC acknowledged in an August 2002 memo, they would constitute torture only if they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or death, and if the individual inflicting such pain really really meant to do so: “Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent.” It’s quite the sleight of hand, with torture moving from the body of the interrogated to the mind of the interrogator.

After devoting dozens of pages to the metaphysics of specific intent, the true meaning of “prolonged” mental harm or “imminent” death, and the elasticity of the Convention Against Torture, the memo concludes that none of it actually matters. Even if a particular interrogation method would cross some legal line, the relevant statute would be considered unconstitutional because it “impermissibly encroached” on the commander in chief’s authority to conduct warfare. Almost nowhere in these memos does the Justice Department curtail the power of the CIA to do as it pleases.

In fact, the OLC lawyers rely on assurances from the CIA itself to endorse such powers. In a second memo from August 2002, the lawyers ruminate on the use of cramped confinement boxes. “We have no information from the medical experts you have consulted that the limited duration for which the individual is kept in the boxes causes any substantial physical pain,” the memo states. Waterboarding likewise gets a pass. “You have informed us that this procedure does not inflict actual physical harm,” the memo states. “Based on your research . . . you do not anticipate that any prolonged mental harm would result from the use of the waterboard.”

You have informed us. Experts you have consulted. Based on your research. You do not anticipate . Such hand-washing words appear throughout the memos. The Justice Department relies on information provided by the CIA to reach its conclusions; the CIA then has the cover of the Justice Department to proceed with its interrogations. It’s a perfect circle of trust.

Yet the logic is itself tortured. In a May 2005 memo, the lawyers conclude that because no single technique inflicts “severe” pain amounting to torture, their combined use “would not be expected” to reach that level, either. As though embarrassed at such illogic, the memo attaches a triple-negative footnote: “We are not suggesting that combinations or repetitions of acts that do not individually cause severe physical pain could not result in severe physical pain.” Well, then, what exactly are you suggesting? Even when the OLC in 2004 officially withdrew its August 2002 memo following a public outcry and declared torture “abhorrent,” the lawyers added a footnote to the new memo assuring that they had reviewed the prior opinions on the treatment of detainees and “do not believe that any of their conclusions would be different under the standards set forth in this memorandum.”

In these documents, lawyers enable lawlessness. Another May 2005 memo concludes that, because the Convention Against Torture applies only to actions occurring under U.S. jurisdiction, the CIA’s creation of detention sites in other countries renders the convention “inapplicable.” Similarly, because the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment is meant to protect people convicted of crimes, it should not apply to terrorism detainees — because they have not been officially convicted of anything. The lack of due process conveniently eliminates constitutional protections. In his introduction to “ The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable ,” David Cole describes the documents as “bad-faith lawyering,” which might be generous. It is another kind of lawyering to death, one in which the rule of law that the 9/11 Commission urged us to abide by becomes the victim.

Years later, the Senate Intelligence Committee would investigate the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program. Its massive report — the executive summary of which appeared as a 549-page book in 2014 — found that torture did not produce useful intelligence, that the interrogations were more brutal than the CIA let on, that the Justice Department did not independently verify the CIA’s information, and that the spy agency impeded oversight by Congress and the CIA inspector general. It explains that the CIA purported to oversee itself and, no surprise, that it deemed its interrogations effective and necessary, no matter the results. (If a detainee provided information, it meant the program worked; if he did not, it meant stricter applications of the techniques were needed; if still no information was forthcoming, the program had succeeded in proving he had none to give.)

“The CIA’s effectiveness representations were almost entirely inaccurate,” the Senate report concluded. It is one of the few lies of the war on terror unmasked by an official government investigation and public report, but just one of the many documented in the 9/11 literature.

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Officials in the war on terror didn’t deceive or dissemble just with lawmakers or the public. In the recurring tragedy of war, they lied just as often to themselves.

In “ To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq ,” Robert Draper considers the influence of the president’s top aides. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (long obsessed with ousting Saddam Hussein), Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld (eager to test his theories of military transformation) and Cheney (fixated on apocalyptic visions of America’s vulnerability) all had their reasons. But Draper identifies a single responsible party: “The decision to invade Iraq was one made, finally and exclusively, by the president of the United States, George W. Bush,” he writes.

A president initially concerned about defending and preserving the nation’s moral goodness against terrorism found himself driven by darker impulses. “I’m having difficulty controlling my bloodlust,” Bush confessed to religious leaders in the Oval Office on Sept. 20, 2001, Draper reports. It was not a one-off comment; in Woodward’s “Bush at War,” the president admitted that before 9/11, “I didn’t feel that sense of urgency [about al-Qaeda], and my blood was not nearly as boiling.”

Bloodlust, moral certainty and sudden vulnerability make a dangerous combination. The belief that you are defending good against evil can lead to the belief that whatever you do to that end is good, too. Draper distills Bush’s worldview: “The terrorists’ primary objective was to destroy America’s freedom. Saddam hated America. Therefore, he hated freedom. Therefore, Saddam was himself a terrorist, bent on destroying America and its freedom.”

Note the asymmetry. The president assumed the worst about what Hussein had done or might do, yet embraced best-case scenarios of how an American invasion would proceed. “Iraqis would rejoice at the sight of their Western liberators,” Draper recaps. “Their newly shared sense of national purpose would overcome any sectarian allegiances. Their native cleverness would make up for their inexperience with self-government. They would welcome the stewardship of Iraqi expatriates who had not set foot in Baghdad in decades. And their oil would pay for everything.”

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There are lies, and then there is self-delusion. The Americans did not have to anticipate the specifics of the civil war that would engulf the country after the invasion; they just had to realize that managing postwar Iraq would never be as simple as they imagined. It did not seem to occur to Bush and his advisers that Iraqis could simultaneously hate Hussein and resent the Americans — feelings that could have been discovered by speaking to Iraqis and hearing their concerns.

Anthony Shadid’s “ Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War ,” published in 2005, is among the few books on the war that gets deep inside Iraqis’ aversion to the Americans in their midst. “What gives them the right to change something that’s not theirs in the first place?” a woman in a middle-class Baghdad neighborhood asks him. “I don’t like your house, so I’m going to bomb it and you can rebuild it again the way I want it, with your money?” In Fallujah, where Shadid hears early talk of the Americans as “kuffar” (heathens), a 51-year-old former teacher complains that “we’ve exchanged a tyrant for an occupier.” The occupation did not dissuade such impressions when it turned the former dictator’s seat of government into its own luxurious Green Zone, or when it retrofitted the Abu Ghraib prison (“the worst of Saddam’s hellholes,” Shadid calls it) into its own chamber of horrors.

Shadid understood that governmental legitimacy — who gets to rule, and by what right — was a matter of overriding importance for Iraqis. “The Americans never understood the question,” he writes; “Iraqis never agreed on the answer.” It’s hard to find a better summation of the trials of Iraq in the aftermath of America’s invasion. When the United States so quickly shifted from liberation to occupation, it lost whatever legitimacy it enjoyed. “Bush handed that enemy precisely what it wanted and needed, proof that America was at war with Islam, that we were the new Crusaders come to occupy Muslim land,” Clarke writes. “It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting ‘invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.’ ”

[ The Pentagon's Obsession With Counterinsurgency ]

The foolishness and arrogance of the American occupation didn’t help. In “ Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone ,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran explains how, even as daily security was Iraqis’ overwhelming concern, viceroy L. Paul Bremer, Bush’s man in Baghdad, was determined to turn the country into a model free-market economy, complete with new investment laws, bankruptcy courts and a state-of-the-art stock exchange. In charge of the new exchange was a 24-year-old American with no academic background in economics or finance. The man tasked with remaking Iraq’s sprawling university system had no experience in the Middle East — but did have connections to the Rumsfeld and Cheney families. A new traffic law for Iraq was partially cut and pasted from Maryland’s motor vehicle code. An antismoking campaign was led by a U.S. official who was a closet smoker. And a U.S. Army general, when asked by local journalists why American helicopters must fly so low at night, thus scaring Iraqi children, replied that the kids were simply hearing “the sound of freedom.”

Message: Freedom sounds terrifying.

For some Americans, inflicting that terror became part of the job, one more tool in the arsenal. In “ The Forever War ” by Dexter Filkins, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel in Iraq assures the author that “with a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them.” (Filkins asked him if he really meant it about fear and violence; the officer insisted that he did.) Of course, not all officials were so deluded and so forthright; some knew better but lied to the public. Chandrasekaran recalls the response of a top communications official under Bremer, when reporters asked about waves of violence hitting Baghdad in the spring of 2004. “Off the record: Paris is burning,” the official told the journalists. “On the record: Security and stability are returning to Iraq.”

In “The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden,” Bergen sums up how the Iraq War, conjured in part on the false connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda, ended up helping the terrorist network: It pulled resources from the war in Afghanistan, gave space for bin Laden’s men to regroup and spurred a new generation of terrorists in the Middle East. “A bigger gift to bin Laden was hard to imagine,” Bergen writes.

If Iraq was the war born of lies, Afghanistan was the one nurtured by them. Afghanistan was where al-Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, had made its base — it was supposed to be the good war, the right war, the war of necessity and not choice, the war endorsed at home and abroad. “U.S. officials had no need to lie or spin to justify the war,” Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock writes in “ The Afghanistan Papers ,” a damning contrast of the war’s reality vs. its rhetoric. “Yet leaders at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department soon began to make false assurances and to paper over setbacks on the battlefield.” As the years passed, the deceit became entrenched, what Whitlock calls “an unspoken conspiracy” to hide the truth.

Drawing from a “Lessons Learned” project that interviewed hundreds of military and civilian officials involved with Afghanistan, as well as from oral histories, government cables and reports, Whitlock finds commanding generals privately admitting that they long fought the war “without a functional strategy.” That, two years into the conflict, Rumsfeld complained that he had “no visibility into who the bad guys are.” That Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, a former coordinator of Iraq and Afghanistan policy, acknowledged that “we didn’t have the foggiest idea of what we were undertaking.” That U.S. officials long wanted to withdraw American forces but feared — correctly so, it turns out — that the Afghan government might collapse. “Bin Laden had hoped for this exact scenario,” Whitlock observes. “To lure the U.S. superpower into an unwinnable guerrilla conflict that would deplete its national treasury and diminish its global influence.”

All along, top officials publicly contradicted these internal views, issuing favorable accounts of steady progress. Bad news was twisted into good: Rising suicide attacks in Kabul meant the Taliban was too weak for direct combat, for instance, while increased U.S. casualties meant America was taking the fight to the enemy. The skills and size of the Afghan security forces were frequently exaggerated; by the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, U.S. officials concluded that some 30,000 Afghan soldiers on the payroll didn’t actually exist; they were paper creations of local commanders who pocketed the fake soldiers’ salaries at U.S. taxpayer expense. American officials publicly lamented large-scale corruption in Afghanistan but enabled that corruption in practice, pouring massive contracts and projects into a country ill-equipped to absorb them. Such deceptions transpired across U.S. presidents, but the Obama administration, eager to show that its first-term troop surge was working, “took it to a new level, hyping figures that were misleading, spurious or downright false,” Whitlock writes. And then under President Donald Trump, he adds, the generals felt pressure to “speak more forcefully and boast that his war strategy was destined to succeed.”

Long before President Biden declared the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan this summer, the United States twice made similar pronouncements, proclaiming the conclusion of combat operations in 2003 and again in 2014 — yet still the war endured. It did so in part because “in public, almost no senior government officials had the courage to admit that the United States was slowly losing,” Whitlock writes. “With their complicit silence, military and political leaders avoided accountability and dodged reappraisals that could have changed the outcome or shortened the conflict.”

It’s not like nobody warned them. In “Bush at War,” Woodward reports that CIA Counterterrorism Center Director Cofer Black and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage traveled to Moscow shortly after 9/11 to give officials a heads up about the coming hostilities in Afghanistan. The Russians, recent visitors to the graveyard of empires, cautioned that Afghanistan was an “ambush heaven” and that, in the words of one of them, “you’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you.” Cofer responded confidently: “We’re going to kill them. . . . We’re going to rock their world.”

Now, with U.S. forces gone and the Taliban having reclaimed power in Afghanistan, Washington is wrestling with the legacy of the nation’s longest war. Why and how did America lose? Should we have stayed longer? Was it worth its price in blood and billions? How does the United States repay the courage of Afghans who worked alongside U.S. military and civilian authorities? What if Afghanistan again becomes a haven for terrorists attacking U.S. interests and allies, as the airport suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. service members last month may signal? Biden has asserted that “the war in Afghanistan is now over” but has also pledged to continue the fight against terrorists there — so what are the limits and the means of future U.S. military and intelligence action in the country?

These are essential debates, but a war should not be measured only by the timing and the competence of its end. We still face an equally consequential appraisal: How good was this good war if it could be sustained only by lies?

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In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has often attempted to reconsider its response. Take two documents from late 2006: the report from the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, which argued that Washington needed to radically rethink its diplomatic and political strategy for Iraq; and “ The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual ,” written by a team led by then-Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, which argued that U.S. officials needed to radically rethink military tactics for insurgency wars of the kind it faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are written as though intending to solve problems. But they can be read as proof that the problems have no realistic solution, or that the only solution is to never have created them.

“There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq,” the ISG report begins, yet its proposed fixes would have required plenty of fairy dust. The report calls for a “diplomatic offensive” to gain international support for Iraq, to persuade Iran and Syria to respect Iraq’s territory and sovereignty, and to commit to “a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts.” Simple! Iraq, meanwhile, needed to make progress on national reconciliation (in a country already awash in sectarian bloodletting), boost domestic security (even though the report deems the Iraqi army a mess and the Iraqi police worse) and deliver social services (even as the report concludes that the government was failing to adequately provide electricity, drinking water, sewage services and education).

The recommendations seem written in the knowledge that they will never happen. “Miracles cannot be expected,” the report states — twice. Absent divine intervention, the next step is obvious. If the Iraqi government can’t demonstrate “substantial progress” toward its goals, the report asserts, “the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support” for Iraq. Indeed, the report sets the bar for staying so high that an exit strategy appears to be its primary purpose.

The counterinsurgency manual is an extraordinary document. Implicitly repudiating notions such as “shock and awe” and “overwhelming force,” it argues that the key to battling an insurgency in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan is to provide security for the local population and to win its support through effective governance. It also attempts to grasp the nature of America’s foes. “Most enemies either do not try to defeat the United States with conventional operations or do not limit themselves to purely military means,” the manual states. “They know that they cannot compete with U.S. forces on those terms. Instead, they try to exhaust U.S. national will.” Exhausting America’s will is an objective that al-Qaeda understood well.

“Soldiers and Marines are expected to be nation builders as well as warriors,” the manual proclaims, but the arduous tasks involved — reestablishing government institutions, rebuilding infrastructure, strengthening local security forces, enforcing the rule of law — reveal the tension at the heart of the new doctrine. “Counterinsurgents should prepare for a long-term commitment,” the manual states. Yet, just a few pages later, it admits that “eventually all foreign armies are seen as interlopers or occupiers.” How to accomplish the former without descending into the latter? No wonder so many of the historical examples of counterinsurgency that the manual highlights, including accounts from the Vietnam War, are stories of failure.

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The manual seems aware of its importance. The 2007 edition contains a foreword, followed by an introduction, then another foreword, a preface, then some brief acknowledgments and finally one more introduction. (Just reaching Chapter 1 feels like defeating an insurgency.) But the throat-clearing is clarifying. In his foreword, Army Lt. Col. John Nagl writes that the document’s most lasting impact may be as a catalyst not for remaking Iraq or Afghanistan, but for transforming the Army and Marine Corps into “more effective learning organizations,” better able to adapt to changing warfare. And in her introduction, Sarah Sewall, then director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, concludes that its “ultimate value” may be in warning civilian officials to think hard before engaging in a counterinsurgency campaign.

At best, then, the manual helps us rethink future conflicts — how we fight and whether we should. It’s no coincidence that Biden, in his Aug. 16 remarks defending the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, specifically repudiated counterinsurgency as an objective of U.S. policy. “I’ve argued for many years that our mission should be narrowly focused on counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency or nation-building,” the president affirmed. Even the longest war was not long enough for a counterinsurgency effort to succeed.

In his 2009 book, “ The Good Soldiers ,” David Finkel chronicles the experiences of an Army battalion deployed in Iraq during the U.S. troop surge in 2007 and 2008, a period of the war ostensibly informed by the new counterinsurgency doctrine. In his 2013 sequel, “ Thank You for Your Service ,” the author witnesses these men when they come home and try to make sense of their military experience and adapt to their new lives. “The thing that got to everyone,” Finkel explains in the latter book, “was not having a defined front line. It was a war in 360 degrees, no front to advance toward, no enemy in uniform, no predictable patterns, no relief.” It’s a powerful summation of battling an insurgency.

Adam Schumann returns from war because of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, “the result of a mortar round that dropped without warning out of a blue sky,” Finkel explains. Schumann suffers from nightmares, headaches and guilt; he wishes he needed bandages or crutches, anything to visibly justify his absence from the front. His wife endures his treatments, his anger, his ambivalence toward life. “He’s still a good guy,” she decides. “He’s just a broken good guy.” Another returning soldier, Nic DeNinno, struggles to tell his wife about the time he and his fellow soldiers burst into an Iraqi home in search of a high-value target. He threw a man down the stairs and held another by the throat. After they left, the lieutenant told him it was the wrong house. “The wrong f---ing house,” Nic says to his wife. “One of the things I want to remember is how many times we hit the wrong house.”

Hitting the wrong house is what counterinsurgency doctrine is supposed to avoid. Even successfully capturing or killing a high-value target can be counterproductive if in the process you terrorize a community and create more enemies. In Iraq, the whole country was the wrong house. America’s leaders knew it was the wrong house. They hit it anyway.

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In the 11th chapter of the 9/11 Commission report, just before all the recommendations for reforms in domestic and foreign policy, the authors get philosophical, pondering how hindsight had affected their views of Sept. 11, 2001. “As time passes, more documents become available, and the bare facts of what happened become still clearer,” the report states. “Yet the picture of how those things happened becomes harder to reimagine, as that past world, with its preoccupations and uncertainty, recedes.” Before making definitive judgments, then, they ask themselves “whether the insights that seem apparent now would really have been meaningful at the time.”

It’s a commendable attitude, one that helps readers understand what the attacks felt like in real time and why authorities responded as they did. But that approach also keeps the day trapped in the past, safely distant. Two of the latest additions to the canon, “ Reign of Terror ” by Spencer Ackerman and “ Subtle Tools ” by Karen Greenberg, draw straight, stark lines between the earliest days of the war on terror and its mutations in our current time, between conflicts abroad and divisions at home. These works show how 9/11 remains with us, and how we are still living in the ruins.

When Trump declared that “we don’t have victories anymore” in his 2015 speech announcing his presidential candidacy, he was both belittling the legacy of 9/11 and harnessing it to his ends. “His great insight was that the jingoistic politics of the War on Terror did not have to be tied to the War on Terror itself,” Ackerman writes. “That enabled him to tell a tale of lost greatness.” And if greatness is lost, someone must have taken it. The backlash against Muslims, against immigrants crossing the southern border and against protesters rallying for racial justice was strengthened by the open-ended nature of the global war on terror. In Ackerman’s vivid telling — his prose can be hyperbolic, even if his arguments are not — the war is not just far away in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Yemen or Syria, but it’s happening here, with mass surveillance, militarized law enforcement and the rebranding of immigration as a threat to the nation’s security rather than a cornerstone of its identity. “Trump had learned the foremost lesson of 9/11,” Ackerman writes, “that the terrorists were whomever you said they were.”

Both Ackerman and Greenberg point to the Authorization for Use of Military Force , drafted by administration lawyers and approved by Congress just days after the attacks, as the moment when America’s response began to go awry. The brief joint resolution allowed the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against any nation, organization or person who committed the attacks, and to prevent any future ones. It was the “Ur document in the war on terror and its legacy,” Greenberg writes. “Riddled with imprecision, its terminology was geared to codify expansive powers.” Where the battlefield, the enemy and the definition of victory all remain vague, war becomes endlessly expansive, “with neither temporal nor geographical boundaries.”

This was the moment the war on terror was “conceptually doomed,” Ackerman concludes. This is how you get a forever war.

There were moments when an off-ramp was visible. The killing of bin Laden in 2011 was one such instance, Ackerman argues, but “Obama squandered the best chance anyone could ever have to end the 9/11 era.” The author assails Obama for making the war on terror more “sustainable” through a veneer of legality — banning torture yet failing to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay and relying on drone strikes that “perversely incentivized the military and the CIA to kill instead of capture.” There would always be more targets, more battlefields, regardless of president or party. Failures became the reason to double down, never wind down.

The longer the war went on, the more that what Ackerman calls its “grotesque subtext” of nativism and racism would move to the foreground of American politics. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine a presidential candidate decrying a sitting commander in chief as foreign, Muslim, illegitimate — and using that lie as a successful political platform. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine a travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries. Absent the war on terror, it is harder to imagine American protesters labeled terrorists, or a secretary of defense describing the nation’s urban streets as a “battle space” to be dominated. Trump was a disruptive force in American life, but there was much continuity there, too. “A vastly different America has taken root” in the two decades since 9/11, Greenberg writes. “In the name of retaliation, ‘justice,’ and prevention, fundamental values have been cast aside.”

In his latest book on bin Laden, Bergen argues that 9/11 was a major tactical success but a long-term strategic failure for the terrorist leader. Yes, he struck a vicious blow against “the head of the snake,” as he called the United States, but “rather than ending American influence in the Muslim world, the 9/11 attacks greatly amplified it,” with two lengthy, large-scale invasions and new bases established throughout the region.

Yet the legacy of the 9/11 era is found not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but also in an America that drew out and heightened some of its ugliest impulses — a nation that is deeply divided (like those “separated states” bin Laden imagined); that bypasses inconvenient facts and embraces conspiracy theories; that demonizes outsiders; and that, after failing to spread freedom and democracy around the world, seems less inclined to uphold them here. More Americans today are concerned about domestic extremism than foreign terrorism, and on Jan. 6, 2021, our own citizens assaulted the Capitol building that al-Qaeda hoped to strike on Sept. 11, 2001. Seventeen years after the 9/11 Commission called on the United States to offer moral leadership to the world and to be generous and caring to our neighbors, our moral leadership is in question, and we can barely be generous and caring to ourselves.

In “The Forever War,” Dexter Filkins describes a nation in which “something had broken fundamentally after so many years of war . . . there had been some kind of primal dislocation between cause and effect, a numbness wholly understandable, necessary even, given the pain.” He was writing of Afghanistan, but his words could double as an interpretation of the United States over the past two decades. Still reeling from an attack that dropped out of a blue sky, America is suffering from a sort of post-traumatic stress democracy. It remains in recovery, still a good country, even if a broken good country.

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10 Ways to Teach About 9/11 With The New York Times

Ideas for helping students think about how the Sept. 11 attacks have changed our nation and world.

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By Nicole Daniels and Michael Gonchar

Sept. 11, 2001 , is one of those rare days that, if you ask most adults what they remember, they can tell you exactly where they were, whom they were with and what they were thinking. It is a day seared in memory. But for students who were born in a post- 9/11 world and have grown up in the aftermath, it is complex history that needs to be remembered, taught and analyzed like any other historical event.

Twenty years ago, four commercial planes were hijacked by operatives from the radical Islamist group Al Qaeda. One plane was flown into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and two others were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa. Almost 3,000 people died that day, including more than 400 emergency workers.

In the wake of those attacks, the United States initiated a global “war on terror” to destroy Al Qaeda — a campaign that expanded into decades-long wars in Afghanistan, Iraq (even though Iraq was not responsible for Sept. 11 ) and elsewhere. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United States changed in other fundamental ways as well, from increased police surveillance to a rise in Islamophobia .

Below, we provide a range of activities that use resources from The New York Times, including archival front pages and photographs, first-person accounts, and analysis pieces published for the 20th anniversary . But we also suggest ideas borrowed from other education organizations like the Choices Program , RetroReport , the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Newseum .

On Sept. 30, we are hosting a free event, featuring Times journalists, for students that will look at how Sept. 11 has shaped a generation of young people who grew up in its aftermath. Teachers and students can register here , and students can submit their own videos with questions, many of which we hope to feature during the live event.

1. Reflect on What 9/11 Means to You

In the essay “ What Does It Mean to ‘Never Forget’? ,” Dan Barry writes:

Inevitably, someday there will be no one alive with a personal narrative of Sept. 11. Inevitably, the emotional impact of the day will fade a little bit, and then a little bit more, as time transforms a visceral lived experience into a dry history lesson. This transformation has already begun; ask any high school history teacher.

Or, ask any student. They are at the center of the transition that Mr. Barry describes.

Invite students to respond to one or more of the following questions, and share their responses with other students from around the world by responding to our related Student Opinion question :

What does Sept. 11 mean to you? Is it mostly a “dry history lesson” or does it resonate for you in deeper ways?

What do you know about the events that took place on Sept. 11? Where and how did you learn about them?

What questions do you have about that day and what happened next?

Have the events of Sept. 11 and its aftermath affected you personally in any way? If so, how? How do you think they may have shaped your generation as a whole?

Note: To ensure your class has a shared understanding of what happened on Sept. 11, you might want to have students watch this two-minute video or scroll through this interactive timeline , both created by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Alternatively, students can watch this five-minute video from the History Channel which is focused on the attacks at the World Trade Center.

2. Interview Someone Who Remembers

Although teenagers today are too young to have their own personal memories of Sept. 11, people they know and love do. The Choices Program at Brown University has created a lesson plan that walks students through the process of conducting an interview about Sept. 11 with someone they know while also considering the importance of oral history.

The accompanying student handout suggests questions that students may want to ask, such as: What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001? How did you find out about the attacks?

After conducting their interviews, students can share what they have learned in small groups and with the class. They might even create an oral history book or site that they can share with future classes.

For inspiration or as mentor texts, students can take a look at this “Revisiting the Families” collection of short follow-up interviews and articles that Times reporters did to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks. It offers small glimpses of those who lost family members, and of their lives since.

3. Revisit History’s First Draft

Newspapers have been described as “history’s first draft.” Reporters and editors from around the world who published on the morning of Sept. 12 had less than a day to figure out how to make sense of what happened for their readers.

Invite students to look closely at the New York Times front page (or the full paper ) from that day. They can click on the individual articles as well. What do they notice? What questions does the front page bring up for them? What do they learn about coverage on that first day?

Then they can investigate front pages from other newspapers from around the world and across the country. The Newseum (you’ll need to create a free account) provides images of front pages of over 100 newspapers from dozens of cities — from Anchorage and Richmond, Va., to Turku, Finland, and Osaka, Japan. Business Insider compiled some of the images from the Newseum’s archival, to show what the front pages of newspapers from around the world looked like on Sept. 12 .

Students can choose three or four front pages and take note of the similarities and differences that they see in coverage; what choices might they have made had they been editors that day; and what additional questions these front pages raise for them.

4. Look Closely at Archival Photos

Photographs can be a powerful and accessible way for students to learn more about what happened on and after Sept. 11. Students can study the New York Times photo collection “ The Towers’ Rise and Fall ,” which was originally published on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, to see what stories these 72 images tell about the World Trade Center, the terrorist attacks and the aftermath.

Students can closely investigate two or three images using our What’s Going On in This Picture? protocol from Visual Thinking Strategies :

What is going on in this picture?

What do you see that makes you say that?

What more can you find?

Or, you can invite students to take on the role of curator in a museum who is creating an exhibit about Sept. 11 in New York. They can choose only six to eight photographs to tell the story. Which images would they select and why?

5. Listen to and Read First-Person Stories

Students can watch one or more of the three-minute videos from the “ Portraits Redrawn ” series that was created by The Times for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. The six videos are all interviews with people who had a family member die in the attacks.

They can watch this 10-minute video from VICE in which a civilian mariner talks about assisting with the world’s largest boat lift that rescued half a million people from Lower Manhattan.

They can also watch this 12-minute RetroReport video that features interviews with emergency workers who survived the attacks at the World Trade Center and do all or part of this related lesson plan (and student activity ).

Or, students can read this article about a survivor navigating life with post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack on the World Trade Center.

After watching or reading, they can consider: What have you learned about Sept. 11 by hearing stories of survivors, families and people who died in the attacks? And, how do first-person stories change, or deepen, your understanding of what happened?

6. Consider the Importance of Memory

Op-docs: where the towers stood, the world trade center wreckage once smoldered here. now visitors come from around the world to learn, remember and grieve the loss of 9/11..

[somber music playing] [airplane engine] See it? Yeah. Am I just seeing things? Oh, jeez. Oh, they’re people. Oh. Oh, jeez, they’re people. They’re people. They’re people. [quiet music playing] I’m going to take us right here to this tree where there in shade and there is sun, so you could have which ever you prefer. So we don’t get in everyone’s way, if we can stay over here on the left hand side, we’ll be in good shape. The memorial is designed for you to make physical contact with it, to actually touch the names. So do not feel that the appropriate behavior that shows respect is to be standoffish. It is not. The only thing that we do ask — and I really doubt that any of you would have the impulse to do this anyhow — do not put things on the name. Coats, elbows, cups, bags, anything like that. The other thing I want to say to you is this was truly — you’re an international group of people — this was the World Trade Center. People from over 90 countries died here that morning. They were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists. Some made their way in the world washing dishes, others ran powerful companies, but almost every single one of them dies that morning because they do something that all of us do with most of our lives — they woke up and they went to work. [somber music playing] Excuse me. Hello. Hello, hello, hello. There’s no smoking in the plaza. No smoking in the plaza. That’s quite all right. Thank you. So I want to talk to you about the pools. Directly in front of you is the south pool. The south pool stands in the footprint of the South Tower, World Trade Center number two. So that’s exactly where World Trade Center number two stood. Can everyone see that line of trees that goes around the pool? That line of trees represents the outer wall of the building. So that means in a few minutes when we go up to see the falls and you go past those trees, you will be standing in what was once the lobby of World Trade Center number two. You’re going to see the falls. The falls come out in individual rivulets, one for each person killed on 9/11. Goes down about 20 feet or so into a huge pool. In the center of the pool, another opening goes on another 10 feet or so. No matter how hard you try, you can’t see the bottom of that opening because it’s a void, and the void is a symbol of the emptiness that we feel here over the loss of life. I’m sure all of you can see the water under the names. That water comes directly from the pool. What someone will do, visiting a loved one — and please feel free to do the very, very same — take their hand, put it in the water, rub their hand over a name. Water, of course, a symbol of life. And notice how the names are on the wall. They are not arranged in alphabetical order. For example, people who worked in the same office in this building, they’re together. Firefighters out on the same firehouse, together. Police officers out of the same police precinct, together. We call that meaningful adjacencies. People together in death just the way they were together in life. I have a stupid question. The names of the killers. Are they — Absolutely not. Not. Absolutely not. Yeah. The only place you’ll find them is if you should go into the museum, there’s a special part that deals with Al Qaeda. [somber music playing] [water cascading] [somber music playing]

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To learn more about the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, students can watch the above 18-minute video from our Film Club series. Then, they can respond to the questions below in writing or discussion.

What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?

Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?

What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?

What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

Then, students can read a 2019 article about the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Glade in Lower Manhattan — a memorial for people, largely rescue and recovery workers, whose illnesses and deaths came years after Sept. 11, 2001.

After watching the video and reading the article, students can reflect on the following questions in a class discussion:

Why do we memorialize people or events? What purpose should a memorial serve?

What purpose does memorializing Sept. 11 serve? How do you think Sept. 11 can be most effectively or meaningfully memorialized?

What concerns or challenges should societies or organizations be mindful of when they create memorials? Why?

If you’re interested in furthering the conversation about the memorial in your class, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum has a collection of resources for teachers and students.

7. Evaluate International Repercussions

How the u.s. military response to the 9/11 attacks led to decades of war., officials who drove the decades-long war in afghanistan look back on the strategic mistakes and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire..

Two decades after invading Afghanistan, the United States is withdrawing, leaving chaos in its wake and the country much as it found it 20 years ago. “The Taliban don’t just control Kabul, but the whole country.” How did a war that began in response to the 9/11 attacks become the longest in American history? “If somebody had told me in 2001 that we were going to be there for another 20 years, I would not have believed them.” And what lessons can be learned for the future? “We were doing the same thing year after year after year, expecting a different result.” “Nearly 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan.” “More than 43,000 Afghan civilians lost their lives.” “You can’t remake a country on the American image. You can’t win if you’re fighting people who are fighting for their own villages and their own territory. Those were lessons we thought we learned in Vietnam. And yet, 30, 40 years later, we end up in Afghanistan, repeating the same mistakes.” On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., when he received word of an attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. “We’re looking at a live picture of the, of the building right now. And, uh, what would you say? That would be about the 90th floor or so?” The president joined his staff in an empty classroom, where his C.I.A. intelligence briefer, Michael Morell, had been watching the attack unfold. “There was a TV there and the second plane hit.” “Oh my goodness.” “Oh God.” “There’s another one.” “Oh.” “Oh my goodness, there’s another one.” “God.” “And when that happened, I knew that this was an act of terrorism.” At the Capitol in Washington, Representative Barbara Lee’s meeting was interrupted. “I heard a lot of noise saying, ‘Evacuate. Leave. Get out of here. Run fast.’ So, I ran up Independence Avenue. As I turned around, I was able to see a heck of a lot of smoke.” “Another aircraft, unbelievably, has crashed into the Pentagon.” “What you have to understand is this is the largest attack ever in the entire history of the country.” At 9:59 a.m., the second World Trade Center tower to be struck collapsed. Twenty-nine minutes later, the other tower followed. “The president, he asked to see me in his office on Air Force One. The president looked me in the eye and he said, ‘Michael, who did this?’ I told the president that I would bet my children’s future that Al Qaeda was responsible for this attack.” Within hours, evidence surfaced that Al Qaeda, a multinational terrorist organization headed by the Islamic fundamentalist Osama Bin Laden, had committed the attacks. The group was being given safe haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. “The president’s inclination was to hit back and hit back hard.” “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people — ” “So the president decided to go to war.” “ — And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” “We had to go to Afghanistan. There’s no question in any of our minds, it’s a war of necessity. We had to go after Al Qaeda, we had to kill them, we had to get them out, and we had to pursue them to the ends of the earth.” “The word on the street was everyone’s got to be united with the president. You know, the country is in mourning.” Three days after the attacks, Lee was under pressure to vote yes on a resolution in Congress to authorize going to war against Al Qaeda and its allies when she heard a eulogy at a memorial service. “That as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.” “It was at that point I said, We need to think through our military response, our national security response and the possible impact on civilians.” “Mr. Speaker, members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart. One that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.” “Got back to the office and all hell was breaking loose.” “The only dissenting voice was Democrat Barbara Lee of California, voting no.” “Phone calls, threats. People were calling me a traitor. She’s got to go. But I knew then it was going to set the stage for perpetual war.” Within weeks of 9/11, the U.S. struck back in Afghanistan. “The United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime.” Soon after, U.S. ground troops arrived in the country. “The invasion was a success very quickly.” “At the gates of Kabul, news of a Taliban collapse had already reached these thousands.” “The Taliban retreat has turned into a rout.” “By the end of the year, the Taliban had been driven from power. A large number of Al Qaeda operatives had either been killed or captured.” And although Osama Bin Laden had managed to escape, the U.S. had accomplished its main goal. “Al Qaeda could not operate out of Afghanistan anymore.” President Bush knew there was a history of failed military campaigns in Afghanistan. “We know this from not only intelligence but from the history of military conflict in Afghanistan. It’s been one of initial success followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure. We’re not going to repeat that mistake.” [Applause] But after his initial success, Bush expanded the mission to nation-building. To prevent further Al Qaeda attacks, his administration said it wanted to transform the poor, war-torn country into a stable democracy, with a strong central government and U.S.-trained military. “The idea was it would be impossible for the Taliban to ever return to power and impossible for Afghanistan to ever be used as a safe haven again.” “There were girls starting to go to school, there were clinics and hospitals being set up, there were vaccinations, there were elections planned. Everything was kind of humming along and we all thought, OK, this is going to be fine.” But by the mid-2000s, after the Bush administration expanded the war on terror to Iraq, Richard Boucher realized that the U.S.-backed Afghan government was plagued by corruption and mismanagement. “I used to say to my guys on the Afghan desk, ‘If we’re winning, how come it don’t look like we’re winning?’” “The Taliban have staged a major comeback, seizing control of large swaths of the country.” “The people were not rejecting the Taliban. And that was, in the end, because the government couldn’t deliver much for the people. Everybody had this idea in their heads that government works the way it does in Washington. But Afghanistan hasn’t worked that way in the past. I think that was a moment we should’ve at least asked ourselves whether it wasn’t really time for us to leave and to say to the Afghans, ‘It’s your place, you run it as best you can.’” Instead, by 2011, President Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, had sent nearly 50,000 more troops to Afghanistan, hoping to reverse the Taliban’s gains. “I think one of the biggest mistakes we made strategically, after 9/11, was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.” One of those troops was Marine Captain Timothy Kudo. Part of his job was to shore up support for the government by digging wells and building schools. He soon lost faith in that mission after, he says, his company killed two Afghan teenagers they mistakenly believed were firing on them. “And their family saw this happen. The mothers, the grandmothers, they came out. It was the first time I’d ever seen an Afghan woman without wearing a burqa. They were sobbing and crying uncontrollably. I mean, how can you kill two innocent people and expect anything that you say to matter at that point?” “People here have little faith in U.S. forces anymore. More Afghans now blame the violence here on the U.S. than on the Taliban.” Weeks after Kudo returned home from Afghanistan, there was a monumental development. “I started getting all these texts, like, ‘You’ve got to check out the TV.’ My roommate calls me from the other room. ‘Turn on CNN.’” “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” “In that moment, people are celebrating in front of the White House. They’re celebrating by Ground Zero.” “This is where it happened. We’re back. It’s justice!” “And to my mind, there’s no more reason to go through this madness. And, of course, we then did it for another decade.” “I think the military and the national security apparatus thought they could win. And I think that they also wanted to believe that because they had invested so much. People had died and they didn’t want them to die in vain.” “2011, Bin Laden is now dead. Why was it so hard to de-escalate?” Jeffrey Eggers was on President Obama’s National Security Council. He says that the goal since 9/11, to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for terrorists, had become a recipe for endless war. “We will forever prevent the conditions that led to such an attack.” “Danger close!” [Gunfire] “And if you define it that way, when are you finished?” [Gunfire] “Go! Come on, come on, come on!” Though the surge failed to push back the Taliban, the U.S. drew down troop levels even as doubts were growing that Afghan forces would be able to defend the country. In 2021, President Biden, the fourth president to preside over the war, announced that he would withdraw U.S. troops, a plan set in motion by his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Nobody should have any doubts. We lost the war in Afghanistan.” “And we’re clear to cross?” “It wasn’t a peace agreement; it was a withdrawal agreement. The agreement was essentially, As we withdraw, don’t attack us.” As the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban is taking over again, having quickly overrun the Afghan Army, which the U.S. spent more than $80 billion to train and equip. “The Taliban are out in full force. And their Islamist rule is already coming back.” “They can use this as a recruiting tool. They are now the champions of the jihadi movement because they pushed out the United States.” And U.S. officials are reflecting on the beginning of the war, 20 years after 9/11. “More people should have thought about endless war, not just in Congress but in the State Department, in the Defense Department, C.I.A. and elsewhere, in the White House. That the recipe of using military means to go after terrorism was just going to get us into one fight after another after another. One can only hope that Americans of the new generation will think about this.”

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In an address to Congress and the nation on Sept. 20, 2001, President George W. Bush made it clear that the response to the terrorist attacks would not be confined to a single military strike on one group, network or country: “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Help students uncover the motivation behind the attacks and evaluate the international repercussions of the “war on terror” using the following resources:

The Terrorist Attack : Who was responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11? Why did they target the United States, and particularly civilians? Britannica and USA Today each offer brief summaries of the plot and the roles of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. To go more in depth, you might have students watch the three-part documentary series “ Road to 9/11 ” from the History Channel, which provides a 360-degree overview of events that led to the attack.

To help students understand why the World Trade Center, Pentagon and U.S. Capitol were targeted, see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum lesson plan, “ Targeting American Symbols .”

The U.S. Response and the Global “War on Terror”: On Oct. 7, 2001, just weeks after the attacks, Mr. Bush announced that America had started a bombing campaign against Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks, and the Taliban, the group that harbored them in Afghanistan.

So began the longest war in American history, which ended this year with the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. What did the war accomplish? Use our Lesson of the Day on “ The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended ” to have students evaluate the causes and consequences of the 20-year conflict. They can also watch the 10-minute RetroReport video (embedded above), which looks at the decisions that shaped the war. And, they can use our Lesson of the Day “ What Will Become of Afghanistan’s Post-9/11 Generation? ” about how the lives of young people in Afghanistan have suddenly changed with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Beyond The Times, see the five-part lesson plan “ The Costs of War ,” created by the Choices Program, which examines the human, economic, social and political costs of the “war on terror” through videos and class discussions.

Veterans of the War in Afghanistan: Listen to voices of veterans in The Argument podcast episode “ You Don’t Bring Democracy at the Point of a Gun ” or read about their experiences in the essay “ Serving in a Twenty Year War .” How do these firsthand accounts and perspectives change how students understand the realities of the so-called war on terror? What questions would they ask these veterans if they were New York Times reporters?

After exploring one or more of the pieces in this section, students might discuss the prompts below:

What is terrorism? Why do some individuals and groups target civilians for political purposes?

Was the United States justified in using military force in Afghanistan after Sept. 11? What is the legacy of the “war on terror”? Has it made us safer?

What lessons can we learn from the war? How do you think the United States and other countries should work toward preventing future terrorist attacks? If the United States, or another country, were hit by foreign terrorism again in the future, how should we respond? What principles, critical questions and experiences should help us form our response?

8. Examine Ripple Effects in the United States

In the two decades since Sept. 11, many aspects of American life have changed, from travel and art to education and immigration . Your conversation with students about post-9/11 America could take on any one or many of these topics. Below, we suggest two possible lenses, based on recent Times texts, through which to examine the ripple effects in the United States:

Muslims in America : Invite students to read “ Muslim Americans’ ‘Seismic Change’ ” by Elizabeth Dias and consider how the aftermath of Sept. 11 has brought both challenges, including a surge in Islamophobia, but also possibilities for the Muslim American community, such as the election of Muslim Americans to Congress and award-winning television featuring Muslim American actors and stories, that would have been unfathomable 20 years ago.

Civil Liberties and Surveillance: Two decades after the attacks, police departments across the United States, and particularly the N.Y.P.D., are using counterterrorism tools, like facial recognition software, to combat routine street crime. Although police officials say these methods have helped thwart would-be attacks, others say they subject everyday people to “near-constant surveillance — a burden that falls more heavily on people of color.” Invite students to read “ How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers ” and debate the benefits and drawbacks of these tactics.

After reading one or both of these articles, students might discuss the following questions:

In what important ways has Sept. 11 transformed American life?

Did anything described in the articles connect with anything you’ve experienced, read or witnessed? How have these changes affected your life, whether you knew it or not?

What does America’s response to Sept. 11 say about the United States today?

9. Explore Why Conspiracy Theories Sometimes Flourish

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Today’s students are often familiar with conspiracy theories and their popularity on social media. Here is how one student responded to our 2020 Student Opinion question: Do You Think Online Conspiracy Theories Can Be Dangerous? :

Conspiracy theories can either be malicious, dumb fun, or anything in between. Some conspiracy theories can be serious and about tragedies such as 9/11, but some conspiracy theories can be interesting, such as bots in a video game being alive. I enjoy a conspiracy theory every now or then, but I wouldn’t take them as an absolute truth, you always have to take them with a grain of salt.

In the article “ How a Viral Video Bent Reality ,” Kevin Roose writes about how the conspiracy film “Loose Change” energized the “9/11 truther” movement and also supplied the template for the current age of disinformation.

Students can read this article and consider some of the questions raised in the article:

Why do you think some people are drawn to conspiracy theories?

What role does technology play in the spread of conspiracy theories?

Respond to this quote from the article: “A more urgent lesson to take from ‘Loose Change’ is that conspiracy theories tend to flourish in low-trust environments, during periods of change and confusion.” Why do you think that is? How does that lesson apply to today’s world?

You can pair this article with the Student Opinion question mentioned above, inviting students to post their own comments in response to that question, or with our Lesson of the Day “How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation,” which includes strategies for countering misinformation.

10. Watch Our On-Demand Panel for Students: The Post-9/11 Generation

How did 9/11 shape the generation that grew up in its aftermath?

With New York Times journalists and student voices, we discuss this question in our special interactive panel. The panel features Yousur Al-Hlou and Biz Herman, who examined how Sept. 11 has been taught in classrooms around the world, and Kiana Hayeri, who photographed young Afghans as they experienced the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from their country. Invite students to register and view the on-demand panel .

Want more? For the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, in 2011, we published this roundup of hundreds of resources from The Learning Network and The New York Times for teaching about Sept. 11 and the aftermath, including ideas from educators across the country and links to the front pages of The Times for the 10 days after Sept. 11.

Nicole Daniels has been a staff editor with The Learning Network since 2019. More about Nicole Daniels

How 9/11 Changed the World

Photo of two people on bikes and other bystanders looking towards the twin towers as they burn. The air is filled with ash and the photo is very hazy.

The World Trade Center buildings in New York City collapsed on September 11, 2001, after two airplanes slammed into the twin towers in a terrorist attack. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

BU faculty reflect on how that day’s events have reshaped our lives over the last 20 years

Bu today staff.

Saturday, September 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the largest terrorist attack in history. On that Tuesday morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American commercial flights destined for the West Coast and intentionally crashed them. Two planes—American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175—departed from Boston and Flight 11 struck New York City’s World Trade Center North Tower at 8:46 am and Flight 175 the South Tower at 9:03 am, resulting in the collapse of both towers. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, leaving from Dulles International Airport in Virginia, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 am, and the final plane, United Airlines Flight 93, departing from Newark, N.J., crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa., at 10:03 am, after passengers stormed the cockpit and tried to subdue the hijackers.

In the space of less than 90 minutes on a late summer morning, the world changed. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day and the United States soon found itself mired in what would become the longest war in its history, a war that cost an estimated $8 trillion . The events of 9/11 not only reshaped the global response to terrorism, but raised new and troubling questions about security, privacy, and treatment of prisoners. It reshaped US immigration policies and led to a surge in discrimination, racial profiling, and hate crimes.

In observance of the anniversary, BU Today reached out to faculty across Boston University—experts in international relations, international security,  immigration law, global health, terrorism, and ethics—and asked each to address this question: “How has the world changed as a result of 9/11?”

Find a list of all those with ties to the BU community killed on 9/11 here.

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Comments & Discussion

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There are 39 comments on How 9/11 Changed the World

this is very scary to me.

Yes this is very scary

This was a very sad moment in time but we need to remember the people that sacrificed themselves to save us and the people that died during this event. It was sad but at least it brought us closer together. I wonder what the world would be like if 9/11 never happened?..

Yes that is a good thing to rember…

We will all remember 9/11, a very important moment in our life, and we honor the ones who sacrificed their lives to save others in there.

It changed the world forever, it is infact a painful memory to remember

I feel bad for all the families that had family and friends die.

i feel bad for all the people and their family and friends that died

9/11 is tragic and it will always be remembered though I have to say that saying 9/11 changed the word is quite an overstatement. More like how it changes America in certain ways and the ones responsible for it but saying something like what you said makes it sound like it was Armageddon or something.

The original BU 9/11 Memorial webpage is still up:

Reading through the remembrances from that day onward …

Omg scary .

I honor them all.

I wonder how much time people had to get out before the building collapsed

the south tower collapsed in 10 seconds.

Yes but it didnt colapse untill 56 minutes after it was hit

Shall all the people who risked their lives, never be forgotten.

am i blind or was there no mention of how it actually affected the world afterwards??

I know right?

My dad died in 9/11, He was a great pilot

Wow. I’m really sorry for your loss I hope you can still go far in life even without your dad. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and let them go.

i dont really think you understood that comment

i just read the story and im so sade for the dad that died . If i was there i wouls of creiyed and i saw someone in the chare that someone dad died and i felt so bad when i saw the comment but i dont know if that is real but if it is i feal bad for you if my dad died or my mom i woulld been so sade i would never get over it but this story changed my life when i read it.Also 1 thing i hoop not to any dads diead because i feel bad fo thos kids.

yo all the dads and moms died all of them will never get forgoten every single one of them

Never forget, always remember

everyone is talking about the twin towers but what about the pentagon.

I know, right?

it is super scary

Sorry for all the people who Lost their family

Thanks for helping me with this report, and yes so sorry for all yall who lost family

So, so sorry to all y’all who lost family

I am deeply sorry for anyone who lost family, friends, co workers, or anybody you once knew. This really was a tragedy to so many.

my dad almost died from the tower

very scary but needs too be remembered!

I have to say this is most definitely a U.S. American write up. Saying the word is an overstatement in many ways. It would be more better if you were to specifically point out you mean the US and those others involved with the attacks. Overall if we are going to be completely factual “people/individuals” are the ones who change things depending on whatever. The world changes every day since the start of time.

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Home » Blog » Sample Essay on 9/11 World Trade Center Attack

Sample Essay on 9/11 World Trade Center Attack

Posted on September 11, 2017

The morning of September 11, 2001 has become the tragedy for all Americans. There was a terrorist attack, as four airliners were hijacked by al-Qaeda members. Four suicide attacks were targeted at important objects in the USA. One of the four planes was targeted at Pentagon, another crashed in the field of Pennsylvania, while the two remaining airliners were aimed to attack Twin Towers in New York. After this event, the war broke down that brought changes to the whole society in the USA. If you are looking for a professional help with writing 9/11 essay, check out this sample or turn to our writers and editors. We will assign the best expert to assist you with your 9/11 essay or any other paper.

The World Trade Center Targeted

Being the workplace of thirty five thousand people, the Twin Towers were targeted by al-Qaeda members to carry out a terrorist attack. Each tower had one hundred and ten floors, and each weighed more than 250,000 tons. Twin Towers were located in the centerpiece of the World Trade Center. Taking into consideration the location and the daytime population, the towers became an obvious choice for an attack. Moreover, these towers were regarded as the embodiment of Americans’ power and influence. As a matter of fact, the World Trade Center had already been attacked in 1993. There was an explosion in a car parked beneath the Center.

The attack was made by the group of terrorists, the members of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is an Islam extremist terrorist system started by Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda aims to take control and force religiously-sanctioned social and political order in the places with Muslim representation. The attacks against Americans were made to reduce support in the USA for Middle-Eastern governments that do not follow al-Qaeda strong beliefs. Al-Qaeda believed that the USA support was a huge obstacle in promoting and building global order under Islam. What is more, a number of factors made al-Qaeda angry with the USA, such as America’s support of Israel, their part in the Persian Gulf War, and the US military forces that were present in Middle Eastern countries.

9/11 Events

On September 11, 2001, four planes were hijacked by the members of al-Qaeda. The planes were headed for California, therefore being fueled enough. There were nineteen terrorists who took over control and prepared their attacks. At 8:45 one of four planes crashed between the ninety third and ninety ninth floor in the North Tower. After the first attack hundreds of people were killed and hundred got trapped in the floors above. Evacuation began instantly, tragically though, eighteen minutes later another plane crashed into the South Tower between the seventy seventh and eighty fifth floors. After the second crash there was a huge explosion. The Twin Towers fell down and damaged five other buildings in the World Trade Center complex.

9/11 – Timeline of events

The two other planes that were not involved in the World Trade Center attack were targeted at the Pentagon and Washington DC. One of the two planes was headed for Los Angeles. After being hijacked, it crashed into the Western facade of the Pentagon. Another one was targeted at Washington DC. However, the passengers were able to change the target and steer the plane into a field of Pennsylvania, killing everyone on aboard.

The aftermath

The death toll was shattering and beyond catastrophic. Nearly three thousand people were killed, over twenty seven hundred killed in the World Trade Center attack, one hundred eighty four killed in the Pentagon attack, and forty people killed on Flight 93. In addition to that there was a number of deaths of firefighters, paramedics and police officers (three hundred and forty three firefighters and paramedics, twenty three police officers and thirty seven Port Authority police officers). That was a catastrophe for all Americans and the whole world.

On September 12, 2001, an emergency meeting of the United Nations was held. The terrorist attack was condemned as an attack on all humanity. It was the first time in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This article states that ‘an attack on one or more NATO countries is an attack against all NATO countries’ (The US and Int’l Response to 9/11) . After that the USA declared to be officially at war, as they invoked their right of self-defense during wartime.

The USA reaction

In October 2001, the United States passed the USA Patriot Act. This law was regarded as a bit controversial, as many were concerned that it would lead to the infringement of civil rights and liberties. For instance, the act allows law enforcement officials to monitor financial transactions, or eavesdrop on phone conversations, or search property without warrant.

In October 7, 2001, the USA started an operation to overthrow Taliban’s hold in Afghanistan. The operation was aimed to destroy Osama bin Laden’s base there. The USA succeeded in ousting Taliban from power, but continued the war to defeat a Taliban rebellion campaign over Pakistan.

In 2005, it was revealed that in 2002 the National Security Agency had the authorization given by George W. Bush to wiretap domestic emails and phone calls without warrants.

The USA also established the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the national security of the country. After the events of 9/11, the whole society changed, as from that time on they needed to act together to prevent possible terrorist attacks. ‘If You See Something Say Something’ campaign was launched aiming to appeal to civilians to report suspicious behavior and activity. The security at airports was heightened, screening international passengers entering and leaving the USA.

Life after 9/11

The war on terror.

To say that 9/11 attacks left an impact on the USA is to say nothing. The country went to war and the everyday life of Americans changed forever. After the attacks the USA sent troops to Afghanistan where the al-Qaeda had its base. In 2003, the USA troops were sent to Iraq that was an important weapon in the War on Terror (Green). In December 2011, Iraq was left in a state of volatile democracy and the American troops were pulled from it.

In 2014, President Obama made efforts to change the way America’s presence in Afghanistan was perceived. He aimed at it being perceived as a support mission, rather than a combat mission. In the history of the United States, the Afghanistan War has been the longest, lasting from 2001 to 2011. The war brought deaths to over six thousand troops, depression or post-traumatic disorder to more than 18% of returned servicemen, and traumatic brain injuries to 20% of returned officers.

Immigration and deportation

After the 9/11 attacks there was a huge impact on immigration and deportation policy. Deportation for criminals and law-breakers doubled in the USA. Between the years of 2009 and 2010, almost four hundred thousand people were deported annually, half convicted of a criminal offense and the other half of low-level offenses. Under the Secure Communities program imposed in 2008, people could be deported for even being convicted of minor offenses such as not using a turn signal while driving.

Airport Security

The Transportation Security Administration was created after the 9/11 attacks. The security was heightened, as the TSA started to use new and more effective security practices. Before, passengers could spend thirty minutes and get on the plane. Now, people spend hours in line, as everything is checked: people, bags and items of clothing. The TSA scans, screens scrutinizes everything and everyone to guarantee safety. They also use a watch list of individuals believed to possibly pose a threat to safety and security.

Moving Forward

The 9/11 attacks brought mourning, fear and depression to Americans and international citizens. The whole world felt that the attack made on the USA was the attack on freedom and liberties everywhere. That was an event that brought changes to the whole world. The effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks last until today. The 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero was opened ten years later after the tragedy to commemorate the events on September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993. Even though, Americans were left shattered and fearful, they had enough power to fight for their freedom and the United States has again proven that liberty will persevere no matter the circumstances.

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How 9/11 Changed People’s Lives in The USA

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essay about the 911

People look on as smoke from the burning World Trade Center towers fills up the downtown Manhattan skyline after both buildings were attacked by airplanes on September 11, 2001 in New York City.

Chalkbeat asked readers who were in school on September 11, 2001, to share what they remember about that day, 20 years ago.

Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis vis Getty Images

On 9/11, they were at school. Here’s what happened inside their classrooms.

Chalkbeat asked teachers and students what they remember about that day of terror 20 years later..

Gabrielle Birkner

It was the beginning of the school day at the beginning of the school year at the beginning of the millennium. Millions of American children were in classrooms on the morning of September 11, 2001, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Then-President George W. Bush was in the classroom , too — reading with young Florida students until his chief of staff whispered in his ear: “America is under attack.”

Across the country that morning, there were hushed conversations among teachers and attempts to explain to students what was happening — or shield them from it. Students remember pained looks on their teachers’ faces. Some said it was the reaction of the adults around them, rather than the images of burning buildings and pulverized steel, that conveyed the life-changing nature of the attacks. 

News back then moved slowly by today’s standards. The world was still largely without smartphones or social media. Teachers and students watched the news on boxy TVs strapped to rolling carts that moved between classrooms. Across the country that day, lesson plans were futile. Then, one by one, students were called out of class as parents arrived early to bring them home.

U.S. President George W. Bush (C) makes a telephone call as White House Director Of Communications Dan Bartlett points to video footage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center from Emma Booker Elementary School on September 11, 2001 in Sarasota, Florida.

U.S. President George W. Bush (center) makes a telephone call as White House Director of Communications Dan Bartlett points to video footage of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center from Emma Booker Elementary School on September 11, 2001 in Sarasota, Florida.

Eric Draper / The White House / Getty Images

In New York City, things were even more dramatic —  the day’s horrific events were playing out nearby. At P.S. 1, in Lower Manhattan, one teacher remembers another lowering the shades so kindergartners wouldn’t see the burning towers out the window. At P.S. 124, a few blocks away, another teacher watched as crowds covered in ash walked toward Brooklyn. New York City educators did their best to provide students a steady hand even as some feared for loved ones who worked in the towers, or struggled to get through to friends and family on jammed phone lines. There were harrowing evacuations,  long walks home, and eerily silent subway rides. 

As for the aftermath of 9/11, some teachers and students recalled with nostalgia how Americans came together, and they wondered if such shows of unity would be possible today. Others saw the attacks as having the opposite effect, citing the rise in Islamophobia, and long, costly, and polarizing wars that are only now ending.

With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, Chalkbeat asked those in school on that day to share what they remember and what they think K-12 students growing up today should know about the generation-defining terror attacks.

These are their words, edited for length and clarity. 

Paula McDonel was teaching a World Geography class at Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee, when a colleague, looking somber, entered her classroom.

She asked me where my husband, a FedEx pilot, was that morning. I said he was home. Only then did she tell me that a commercial plane had struck the World Trade Center. I asked my students if anyone had a parent that was flying on a plane that morning. Our community had many pilots and others who may have been flying. No one in my class did. We had finished our lesson, so I turned on CNN, thinking this would be part of the current events we covered in class that week. We didn’t understand how radically our day was changing.

McDonel is retired and lives in Rosharon, Texas.

A young woman works in a classroom, pointing as she grasps a piece of paper as students listen around her.

Debbie Castellani, seen here c. 2001, was teaching alongside her mentor in Cambridge, Massachusetts when the news broke.

Courtesy of Debbie Castellani

Debbie Castellani, then a student-teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was teaching a World History class alongside her mentor teacher.

Suddenly, another teacher burst into the room and yelled: “Oh my goodness, the World Trade Center was just bombed!” The students started to chatter, and we tried to calm them, frustrated that this teacher thought it appropriate to share this publicly in front of the students, but also concerned about this news. 

Between periods, my mentor teacher and I were able to slip into a workroom where a science teacher had a television. This was all pre-smartphone. The news featured the first World Trade tower with smoke billowing from the side, and the newscasters were sharing that a plane had crashed into the building. Then, suddenly, we saw the second plane flying into the south tower.

Castellani is now a high school history teacher in Highland Park, Illinois.

Yvette Ho taught kindergarten at P.S. 1 Alfred Smith School in Lower Manhattan. On the morning of 9/11, she remembers hearing a crash, followed by sirens.

I was a new teacher at the school and was so unaware of the events that were taking place just blocks away. I kept teaching. I even brought the class to their scheduled art class. When we arrived at the art room, the class of older children was buzzing with a nervous energy, and the teacher had a look of shock on her face as she lowered the window shades. The fifth-floor room had a direct view of the towers, and the students were witnessing people jumping out of windows.

Ho is an early childhood administrator in New York City.

A teenage girl smiles as she poses for a portrait, wearing a yellow jacket and shirt.

Katie Lootens, seen here c. 2001, was on the school bus when a classmate told her peers that something “bad” happened.

Courtesy of Katie Lootens

Katie Lootens, a seventh grader at Northview Middle School in Indianapolis, was on the school bus just before 9 a.m. Eastern that day.

The last girl to get on told us something “bad” had happened but didn’t know exactly what. When we got to school, half of the students were worried about the attacks, and the other half were worried about a rumor that a kid had brought a gun on the bus. Once we got to homeroom, my teacher had the news on, and we just watched.

The second plane hit during first period, French. Most kids didn’t fully understand what was going on or the gravity of the situation, but we were worried because we had never seen our teachers this worried. Later in the day, my English language arts teacher had us journal our feelings and then share. By social studies that afternoon, I remember my teacher pulling out the map and showing us where Afghanistan was. I remember my math teacher trying to teach us math, but nobody was paying attention, and eventually, he gave up and put the news back on. In band and PE, we had the option to participate in the normal day if we wanted some normalcy, or we could sit out if we wanted.  

Lootens now teaches English learners in Washington, D.C.

A man wearing glasses, a grey jacket, and light blue shirt smiles as he leans on a desk, a laptop sitting just in front of him.

Mike Brown was teaching sixth grade in Williamsburg, Virginia, and many of his students’ parents were members of the military.

Courtesy of Mike Brown

Mike Brown, a sixth grade teacher at Berkeley Middle School in Williamsburg, Virginia, was reviewing the day’s agenda with the students in his homeroom when he heard a commotion outside his classroom.

Middle school teachers very quickly are able to decipher kids running in the hallway. This was not that. I heard an “oh my God,” at which point I walked quickly to look out into the hallway. One of my teacher teammates was approaching the room as I was opening the door. She had a startled look on her face and asked if I was watching TV. When I turned it on, we were immediately heartbroken for the people that were on the plane as well as those in the building that was just hit. But we still thought it was a tragic accident. That only lasted for a minute as the news camera focused on the burning building caught a glimpse of a second plane hitting the second tower. Immediately we knew our country was under attack, and we were sitting in the middle of a military town. A number of my students’ parents were living in the neighborhood solely because they were enlisted in the military. 

Brown is the director of new school development at New Schools for Alabama. He lives in Memphis.

A military helicopter flies in front of the Pentagon on September 14, 2001 in Arlington, Virginia at the impact site where a hijacked airliner crashed into the building.

A military helicopter flies in front of the Pentagon on September 14, 2001 in Arlington, Virginia at the impact site where a hijacked airliner crashed into the building.

Stephen J. Boitano / Getty Images

Eric Nordstrom was a student at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, Colorado. When the news first broke, Nordstrom’s English teacher, Mr. Loetscher, took the class down to the cafeteria, where there were TVs with cable.

Prior to the second plane hitting, it seemed like there was confusion over what was happening. The second strike made it clear that it was an attack, which made things more terrifying and confusing, especially to a high school student. 

Now, looking back, I mostly think about all of the terrible things that have emanated from that terrible day. Whether it’s the lives lost, the money squandered that we could have done actual good with, the many stupid policies that came out of the aftermath that do nothing to keep us safe, or how it caused so many people to abandon their moral compasses and embrace hate. I think about the anti-Islam hate that spiked overnight.

Nordstrom lives in Vail, Colorado.

Alex Tronolone, a junior at Curtis High School in Staten Island, was the photographer for his school’s yearbook and newspaper. After the first plane crashed into the north tower, he was called out of class to snap some pictures. As he made his way up to the roof, where the janitors were looking out at the towers, Tronolone was imagining a small passenger plane.

When I finally got to the roof, you could tell it was more than that. While I was up there, the first tower fell. At first, it looked like water was being used to put out the fires, but as the smoke spread and cleared, it became obvious that the tower fell. After that, I returned to class, incredulous. I remember looking at my watch to note the date because I knew it would be something that would be remembered. 

Tronolone is an educator from Staten Island.

Rashid Johnson taught fourth grade at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The principal there began evacuating the school after a third plane hit the Pentagon. (A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field soon after.)

I was paralyzed, and my students were terrified and asking me if we were going to die. It felt like an alien invasion.

Johnson is a senior director of school support in New York City.

An older woman wearing a blue shirt and glasses smiles for a portrait.

Barbara Gottschalk continued to teach, as school leaders wanted students of Warren Consolidated Schools to find out from their parents.

Courtesy of Barbara Gottschalk

Barbara Gottschalk was a teacher at Flynn Middle School in Michigan’s Warren Consolidated Schools district. As events unfolded that morning, school leaders told teachers to turn off their TVs and keep teaching.

The message was to continue on and not let the students know. At the end of the school day, the principal came on the intercom to announce after-school activities had been canceled. One of my students said, “I wonder why they’re canceling everything.” That’s how protected we’d managed to keep our students. Our principal wanted the students to learn about this from their family members. To this day, I admire how my principal handled this.

Gottschalk is retired and lives in North Carolina.

Gloria Turner, a teacher at Southside Middle School in Florence, South Carolina, remembers the principal coming over the loudspeaker to say that we could not watch the news on TV or the computer.

We turned on the radio instead. I spent the day calming the fears of young teenagers while trying to control my own. All these years later, the unity of our nation is what comes to mind. We had prayer services in the park, and people from all walks of life attended. This is unusual in our town. We held hands and prayed and hugged. American flags were everywhere.

Turner teaches media arts and theatre in Florence, South Carolina.

Three girls sit on a bench with their legs identically crossed, posing for a portrait together.

Alyson Starks (center) watched the news unfold in her fifth grade classroom at Mt. Juliet Elementary School. She is seen here with classmates at their fifth grade graduation.

Courtesy of Alyson Starks

Alyson Starks was in her fifth grade math class at Mt. Juliet Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, when the science teacher, Ms. Jeffries, rushed into the room without knocking.

Ms. Jeffries told Mrs. Hahn something behind the piece of paper as if to tell her a secret. Mrs. Hahn rolled in the TV — those big ones, strapped to a rolling cart with the VHS that never worked — and turned on the news. Later that day, I remember getting off the bus and my parents being home. They were never home when my brother and I got home from school. The TV was on, and I’ll remember my mom’s face as she turned to notice us walk in for the rest of my life.

Starks is a senior graphic designer in Nashville.

Crowds swarm over the Manhattan Bridge to leave Manhattan on the morning of the 9/11 attack.

Crowds swarm over the Manhattan Bridge to leave Manhattan the morning of the 9/11 attack.

Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

Suzanne Werner was an educator at P.S. 124, which backs up to the Manhattan Bridge. That morning she was asked to cover for a fifth grade teacher whose husband worked at the World Trade Center.

At first, there was a steady stream of sirens, then silence and a steady stream of people covered in ash walking [toward Brooklyn]. By noon most of the children had been picked up, and the teachers were sent home. I stayed with a small group and the principal till 4 or 4:30 p.m., when the last child was collected. By then, the F train was running, and I was able to get back home to Brooklyn. The train was packed and completely silent. 

It was so hard to get back to teaching that fall. There were so many distractions. Chinatown was impacted in so many ways. Businesses closed. There was no phone service for many, many months. The stench of the cloud hung over the neighborhood. The number of boxes of letters and boxes of teddy bears from school kids all over the country was overwhelming.

Werner is retired and lives in New York City.

A woman wearing a black dress and gold earrings smiles for a portrait.

Latasha Fields-Frisco was the dean of students at Bronx School for Law, and her daughter had just started kindergarten before 9/11.

Courtesy of Latasha Fields-Frisco

Latasha Fields-Frisco, who on 9/11 was the dean of students at Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice. Her own daughter had just started kindergarten.

It was a regular morning that ended with a bomb threat to our school. We evacuated and ensured all of our students were safe. I lived in Harlem at the time and was unable to drive home. The bridges were closed off. I walked from the Bronx to 122nd Street in Harlem. It seemed like the longest walk ever. I was happy to reach home safely to see my family and just broke down in tears.

Fields-Frisco is an assistant principal in the Bronx.

Sonia Algarin was a school counselor at Health Opportunities High School in the Bronx when the NYPD ordered an evacuation of the school. The city had shut down mass transit temporarily.

How could we dismiss students who now had to walk home during a crisis situation? When would their parents get home if they had to walk from their jobs? Was it safer to keep them at the school? Our school was across the street from a highway, the Major Deegan. The police said we needed to seek shelter at Hostos Community College three blocks away. We had to walk all 500 students through the busy streets. Some were scared there could be another bombing or another airplane crashing into Yankee Stadium 10 blocks away. 

Algarin is a school counselor in the Bronx.

Smoke billows toward the harbor in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Smoke billows toward the harbor in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Jason Nevader / WireImage via Getty Images

Sunny Asra, a fifth grader at P.S. 220 Edward Mandel School in Queens, thinks about the repercussions of 9/11 for America’s South Asian community.

[On Sept. 13], schools had a two-hour delayed opening. Still having not processed the events, it started to hit us when the kids met each other and our parents hugged one another, and we kind of did the same. In the following weeks, major hate was thrown at the South Asian community due to a lack of knowledge about religion and race. Being that I had a turban, I was even more fearful. Many innocent South Asians were killed, stabbed, and beaten.

Asra is an operations manager for the New York City Department of Education. He lives on Long Island.

A boy smiles and gives a thumbs up toward the camera, standing at a dining room table next to a birthday cake.

Elvis Santana, seen here c. 2000, was at P.S. 66 in the Bronx during the attack, and classmates worried about the safety of their parents.

Courtesy of Elvis Santana

Elvis Santana, a student at P.S. 66 in the Bronx, remembers listening to the radio that morning from under his desk at school. Many of his classmates wondered aloud if their parents were OK and tried to call them.

It was and still is the most devastating storyline of my life. One moment you’re in class learning, and the next, you’re thinking about death, violence, religion, war, and safety all at once. As a Bronx native, by the age of 8, you have already previewed violence and discrimination. The incident of 9/11 broadened that violence and triggered something we weren’t prepared to deal with. To anyone born after 2001, it  was a testament to how America handled hatred and violence. In the end, we failed in achieving our objective, and today we see that in places like Afghanistan.

Santana is an education outreach director in the Bronx.

Dale Chu, a third grade teacher in East Palo Alto, California, heard about the terror attack from a local Spanish-language radio station on his drive to work. He had no idea of the scale of the disaster until he walked into the teachers lounge and saw the images on TV.

For the most part, we decided not to address it with our students at the time because of their age and because the feelings were all so visceral. I also vividly remember my brother in Los Angeles calling me that morning, and me stepping out of my classroom to take it. He told me that America was now at war. 

9/11 is one of those rare life-defining moments. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. The recent image of the Afghan boy falling from the U.S. Air Force jet over Kabul brought back for me — in stark relief —  this picture of a falling man from the World Trade Center . Most of all, I remember how I felt in the following weeks. The sense of national pride and unity, like when George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the World Series game in New York City. Given today’s raging culture wars and swirling currents of polarization, we could use a little bit of that now.

Chu is an education consultant in Parker, Colorado.

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Sample essay on 9/11 world trade center attacks.


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On the morning of September 11, 2001, four airliners were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda who aimed to carry out suicide attacks against important targets in the United States. Of the four planes, one struck the Pentagon, one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, and the two remaining planes were flown into the Twin Towers in New York City. Claiming almost three thousand lives, this event gave birth to a war and brought about everyday sociological changes for Americans. If you need help with writing or editing, consider working with a writer from Ultius. We have many advanced writer selection options to connect you with the expert you need.

Targeting the World Trade Center

The World Trade Center was a commercial complex in Manhattan spanning over sixteen acres and containing a large plaza, seven buildings, and an underground shopping mall connecting them. The plaza’s centerpiece was the Twin Towers. The towers each had one hundred and ten stories and, together, were the workplace of approximately thirty five thousand people and over four hundred companies (FAQ about 9/11). The daytime population, location, and sheer size of the towers (each weighed more than 250,000 tons (FAQ about 9/11)) made it an obvious choice for a terrorist attack. In addition, the towers were considered to embody Americans' influence and power (The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks). In fact, in 1993, there was an attack in which explosives were detonated in a car parked beneath the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring thousands.

The group targeting the World Trade Center (both in 1993 and in 2001) was al-Qaeda, an Islam extremist terrorist system started by Osama bin Laden. With franchise operations in at least sixteen other countries (McCormick), al-Qaeda seeks to overthrow Middle-Eastern governments or other places with strong Muslim representation that do not force religiously-sanctioned social and political order. The attacks on American soil were made in an attempt to reduce support in the United States for the ‘offending’ governments, which al-Qaeda saw as a huge obstacle in building a global order under Islam (FAQ about 9/11). In addition, they were angry over the American support of Israel, as well as their part in the Persian Gulf War and their strong military presence in Middle Eastern countries (9/11 Attacks).

What happened on 9/11

On September 11, 2001, four planes were headed for California when they were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda aboard the plane. Chosen because they would be adequately fueled for their journey, nineteen terrorists smuggled knives and box-cutters onto the planes and took over control shortly after departure (9/11 Attacks). The first was an American Airlines Boeing 767 leaving from Boston. The plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:45 in the morning, leaving a smoking, fiery hole between the ninety third and ninety ninth floors (Schmemann). The impact killed hundreds of people and trapped hundred more in the floors above. People trapped by the damage and flames leaped off the side of the building to their deaths, desperate to escape (Weinberg). Evacuation began immediately, but eighteen minutes later, another Boeing 747, this one an United Airlines flight, sliced through the south tower between the seventy seventh and eighty fifth floors (9/11 Attacks). This crash caused a huge explosion, fueled by the planes’ full gasoline tanks. Both buildings collapsed and severely damaged five other buildings in the World Trade Center complex. The pile of ruins stretched seventeen stories high, a monument to the desolation caused by the attacks (FAQ about 9/11).

The two other planes involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks had slightly different routes. The first, an American Airlines Boeing 757 left the airport in Washington D.C., headed for Los Angeles. Once hijacked, the attackers steered the plane towards the Pentagon where they slammed into the west side of the building, workplace to twenty four thousand people (Schmemann). After learning about the other attacks, passengers on the fourth plane, United Airlines Boeing 757, Flight 93, decided to take matter into their own hands. Fighting back, the passengers were able to steer the plane from its original target, Washington D.C., and crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone aboard (September 11th Fast Facts).

Additional Reading: Explore the possible link between terrorists' motivations and free media .

The aftermath

All in all, almost three thousand people were killed from a total of ninety three nations. Over twenty seven hundred people were killed in the Twin Towers attack, one hundred eighty four were killed during the attack on the Pentagon, and forty people were killed on Flight 93 (FAQ about 9/11). In addition to the civilians and hijackers, three hundred and forty three firefighters and paramedics were killed, along with twenty three police officers and thirty seven Port Authority police officers. Only six people who were in the World Trade Center towers at the time of the collapse survived and almost ten thousand others were treated for injuries (9/11 Attacks). The death toll was beyond catastrophic and devastating to a nation.

On September 12, 2001, the United Nations held an emergency meeting, in which they condemned the terrorist act, stating that “a terrorist attack on one country was an attack on all humanity” (The U.S. and Int’l Response to 9/11). For the first time in the history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO decided to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack against one or more NATO countries is an attack against all NATO countries (The U.S. and Int’l Response to 9/11). The United States invoked their right of self-defense during wartime, meaning that a nation that has been threatened or attacked has the right to defend itself. The country was officially at war.

America's reaction

In America, Congress was busy. In October 2001, United States Congress passed the USA Patriot Act , giving law enforcement officials the right to searching property without warrants, detain and deport, monitor financial transactions, and eavesdrop on phone conversations (Rowen). This was met with mixed reviews, as many feared that the law would lead to overzealous infringement on civil liberties. Under the Patriot Act, approximately twelve hundred people were detained for a month without access to their attorneys (Rowen).

October 7, 2001 marked the start of an American-led international effort to overthrow the Taliban’s hold in Afghanistan in order to destroy bin Laden’s terrorist base there. Before the operation was two months old, the United States had ousted the Taliban from power. However, the war carried on and American troops fought to defeat a Taliban insurgency campaign over Pakistan (9/11 Attacks). It was later revealed in 2005 that in 2002, President George W. Bush authorized the National Security Agency in secret to wiretap domestic emails and phone calls without warrants (Rowen). The negative sentiment towards the Middle-East still exists, even years after this essay purchased online was published.

The United States also enacted the Department of Homeland Security Act of 2002, an act that created the position of Secretary of Homeland Security and established the Department of Homeland Security, a cabinet-level agency. The purpose of this department was to ensure the national security of the country, in addition to providing information about terrorist threats and suggested security measures for the public, the government, and hubs like airports (Rowen). Accomplishments of the Department of Homeland Security include training law enforcement to analyze threats and react accordingly, the launching of the ‘If You See Something Say Something’ campaign that encourages civilians to report suspicious behavior and activity, more in-depth screening of international passengers entering or leaving the United States, and the improvement of the country’s cyber infrastructure (Rowen). Some believe that the implementation of these laws encouraged the breaching of the basic rights and liberties of citizens and non-citizens alike. ( Read more about civil liberties and the right to privacy.) 

Life after 9/11

The war on terror.

There have been a number of effects on the everyday lives of Americans made by the 9/11 attacks on the United States. First of all, United States troops invaded Afghanistan less than a month after the World Trade Center attacks to release al-Qaeda’s grip on the Middle East. In 2003, the United States troops invaded Iraq, which was not directly related to the attacks but was an important weapon in the War on Terror (Green). In December 2011, troops were pulled from Iraq and the United States left them in a state of volatile democracy.

In 2014, President Obama aimed for our presence in Afghanistan to cease to be considered a combat mission, but rather a support mission. The Afghanistan war has been the longest war in United States history (Green). Between the years of 2001 and 2011, nearly two million United States troops were deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, with six thousand troops having been killed and approximately forty four thousand wounded. More than 18% of returned servicemen suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder and 20% suffer from traumatic brain injuries (Green).

Immigration and deportation 

Another effect made by the 9/11 World Trade Center attack has been the United States’ stance on immigration and deportation. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security meant the merging of twenty two other government agencies, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Customs Service. The department has streamlined deportation for criminals and law-breakers, leading to the number of deportations from the United States doubling (Green). Between the years of 2009 and 2010, deportation rates reached almost four hundred thousand people annually, with only half being convicted of a criminal offense and the majority of those being low-level offences.With the implantation of the Secure Communities program, the law, established in 2008, allows local law enforcement to check on the immigration status of any person booked in a jail, despite whether or not they are convicted of the crime they are accused of. This law has led to the deportation of people who were simply stopped for something as minor as not using a turn signal while driving (Green).

Airport security

Finally, another drastic change brought on by the terrorist attacks on America is the change in procedure at national airports. The Transportation Security Administration was created after the attacks to use new and more effective security practices at every commercial airport in the country. Before, passengers could arrive thirty minutes before their flight and not worry about making it to their gate in time. Now, fliers should be prepared to spend hours in line as each person, bag, and item of clothing is scanned, screened, and scrutinized. ( Learn more about the effects of 9/11 on airport security.) The TSA also uses a watch list of individuals who they believe may pose a threat to safety and security (Green). No one is safe from suspicion and must pass rigorous security checks to get clearance to fly.

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Moving forward

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center left both Americans and international citizens alike shattered and fearful. Other countries felt that the attack on the United States had been an attack on freedom everywhere. On September 12, 2001, the headline of a French newspaper read, “Today, we are all Americans” (Reactions to 9/11). The Queen of England herself sang the American national anthem for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Rio de Janeiro hung billboards of the city’s Christ the Redeemer statue embracing the New York skyline, and billions was donated all around the world by means of money and goods to relief and rescue organizations. The rest of the world embraced America as we embarked on the greatest changes in our country’s recent history. The effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks still remain today, even with the resurrection of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, opened exactly ten years after the fateful morning. Though the terrorist attack on American soil shook the country to its core, and despite the fact that we remain entangled with the Middle East to this day, the United States of American has proven that liberty and freedom will continue to persevere, even in the most unlikely circumstances. 

If you enjoyed this essay, consider using our writing services for customized help with your next sample writing project with one of our writers.

Works Cited

“9/11 Attacks”. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“FAQ about 9/11”. 9/11 Memorial. National September 11 Memorial & Museum, 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Green, Matthew. “Three Lasting Impacts of 9/11”. The Lowdown. KQED News, 11 Sept. 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

McCormick, Ty. “Al Qaeda Core: A Short History”. Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy, 17 March 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

 “Reactions to 9/11”. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Schmemann, Serge. “Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers and Hit Pentagon”. The New York Times: On This Day. The New York Times, 12 Sept. 2001. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

“September 11th Fast Facts.” CNN. CNN Library, 8 Sept. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

 “The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks”. BBC History. BBC, 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

 “The U.S. and Int’l Response to 9/11.” The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation, 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Weinberg, Jonathan. “What did it feel like to be inside the World Trade Center at the time of the 9/11 attacks?”. Quora. 23 Sept. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

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Essays revisited: Reflecting on 9/11

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In the days and weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, the Times ran dozens of analysis and opinion pieces examining how the events of that day might change the United States and the world. We asked some of the writers who contributed their thoughts after the tragedy to look back at what they wrote then and reflect on it from the vantage point of today.

Richard Rodriguez works at New America Media. His book on the influence of the desert on the Abrahmic religions will be published next year.

On the Sunday after 9/11, Rodriguez wrote eloquently that “it was a week when words failed us. We sensed ourselves entering some terrible epoch, but we did not have sufficient nouns and verbs.” Ten years later, the words are clearer, as is the extent of what was lost.

I believe the time has come to put away the ceremonies of 9/11—the politicians’ speeches at Ground Zero, the parade of children holding the photos of their dead fathers and mothers, the bag-pipes, the tolling bell, the roll call of the dead.

Those of us who were alive that day will always dread the annual alignment of those two numbers — nine, eleven -- the blue September sky; our thoughts will return to the ashes. Let that be the way of it. There is no moratorium on grief.

The dreadful mnemonic date has formed a seal over our minds. Something is wrong. It will not be fixed.

In generations past, America used wounds to form armies. Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt bore witness to December 7, “a date which will live in infamy.”

In the decade since the attacks of September 11th, Americans have turned inward. We have become a nation obsessed with guarding our borders, particularly the Mexican border, even as ghostly TSA images of our naked bodies reach upward, as though under arrest.

We eschew the international, except for the deserts from which the terrorists came. Under the banner of 9/11, President George W. Bush sent Americans to war against Iraq. We were crazed. Osama bin Laden was the leering genie within the explosions. We toppled Saddam Hussein. We ended up fighting Taliban tribesmen in Kandahar.

When American special forces killed Osama bin Laden in May (we do not remember the date), there was no pervading sense in America that the era of 9/11 was finished. Some Americans danced in the street, waved flags, honked their horns. The fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan went on.

What is maddening us is that the wars of 9/11 can have no ending, because we have no clear purpose, because they have no clear adversary. We are not fighting nations; we are fighting peasants and mercenaries and religious ideologues and millionaires. In the war against terrorism, there will never be an “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”; it will always be 9/11.

But an America that only guards against a dangerous world diminishes its power in the world. In the last ten years, China has usurped the noun Americans thought we held the patent to—the “future.”

While we have deployed troops backward, into the Bible, China has built dams in Africa and made trade agreements with South America. The Chinese have welcomed young men and women from the Third World to Chinese universities. While U.S. troops are killed building roads between tribal villages in Afghanistan, the Chinese sign mineral contracts in Kabul.

The “Arab spring” that began in Tunisia and spread throughout the Middle East has toppled dictators with whom our government maintained “relationships.” We want to feel encouraged by the youthful rebellions. We want to conflate rebellion with American democracy in the designs of the crowd. All the while, we worry the stage is being set for a coming Islamist revival.

Some in our national media have advanced the hope that American technology is liberating the young of the Middle East. Are Apple, Facebook and Twitter democratizing the region? My suspicion is that Americans are confusing conveyance with content. We credit the iPhone with ideological apps that the rest of the world does not necessarily buy.

Hemmed in by an adversarial world, we turn on each other: President Bush was, in the eyes of his critics on the left, a fool wound up by big business. President Barack Obama, according to his critics on the right, is a socialist and a Muslim. Our Congress has become an international scandal. Conservatives versus progressives.

About the only thing that Washington and the nation can seem to manage these days are monuments—we are monument mad, anniversary obsessed. Which leads us to Ground Zero, the tenth anniversary.

This year, put your hand on your heart for all who were lost, for all we have lost, then turn from this place and look at it no more, and see what our nation has become.

Geraldine Brooks, former Mideast correspondent and author, most recently, of the novel Caleb’s Crossing.

In a December 2001 essay titled “ Iraqi people deserve to be liberated ,” Brooks wrote: “Iraq is a far richer country than Afghanistan, gifted with oil, water, good farmland, scenic beauty, rare antiquities. Were it were not for the bleak and terrible regime of Hussein, it could be the showplace of the region. Now is the time to make some belated amends for a tragic mistake. Some in the Bush Cabinet want to strike Iraq to safeguard the West from future terrorism. That is a reason. But there is an even better one. It should be done for the sake of the Iraqis.”

When I wrote those words, I thought I knew Iraq pretty much as well as any non-Iraqi at that time could know it. I’d traveled there many times, in war and peace, visited its cities under oppression and during their brief liberation, in 1980s prosperity and 1990s decline. I’d met with dissidents and torture victims in Europe, Australia and the Mideast. I had seen the effects of Saddam’s brutal terror, but I hadn’t understood that it also acted as a vise, holding that nation together.

It might be possible to plead that in the run up to the war none of us could foresee the depth of fecklessness of the Bush/Cheney administration, or know just how profoundly the plan for the peace had been neglected. So ideological blindness begat the grim fiesta of lawlessness and looting, squandered Iraqi trust, inspired and enabled insurgency.

But the truth and the lessons of Iraq are more compelling and far simpler. Augustine knew them when he set out the basis of just war theory in the fourth century: One should never resort to war unless the threat is existential and there is no other way to answer it; success should be likely and the suffering created less than the suffering averted. Neither of the first two criteria applied to the Iraq war, and the others remain debatable.

Iraqis have had to endure a decade of fear and continue to live with a ravaged infrastructure. The birth pains of their freedom have been unnecessarily agonizing and their future remains uncertain. For us, meanwhile, the costs of war are everywhere apparent: in the shattered bodies of soldiers, in a glinting prosperity dulled by crushing debt, and in a national psyche coarsened by a war whose unequal sacrifice has demanded so much from a few and little more than jingoistic platitudes from the rest.

Peter Tomsen, U.S. special envoy and ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992 and author of the just-published “The Wars of Afghanistan.”

In his October 2001 essay “ Past Provides Lessons for Afghanistan’s Future ,” Tomsen warned that: “If the U.S. military offensive is drawn out, and Washington lacks an overarching strategic vision for the region, Pakistan could unravel. Islamic militants would take to the streets, the already wobbly economy could fall and the army splinter into rival factions.” Today Tomsen is still worried.

We entered Afghanistan with the best of intentions, but 10 years later, it is clear that American policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan has not succeeded.

There are those who will say we should have pressed the war harder, that we should have committed more forces. That was not the problem. Even 500,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan could not bring peace as long as Pakistan’s army and military intelligence service, the ISI, continue to foster sanctuaries for international terrorist groups inside Pakistan.

Today, American and Afghan troops are under constant attack from a variety of Pakistan-supported organizations, including the Afghan Taliban, the Afghan Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar networks, and three ISI-created Pakistani religio-terrorist organizations. Since 9/11, numerous international terrorists, including Faizal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, have been trained in Pakistani sanctuaries for extremists.

It is clear that Pakistan’s generals have no more intention of dismantling these safe havens now than they had before 9/11. If Washington does not finally deal with Pakistan’s duplicity, our stabilization efforts in Afghanistan will fail and the country will slip into yet another cycle of warfare.

American policy-makers must realize that the risk of taking a tougher approach to Pakistan is less, in the long run, than the risk of continuing the status quo. Ten years of inaction have not paid off. More troops and money are not the answer; nor is continuing to hope that Islamabad’s episodic cooperation with the CIA in eliminating specific terrorists will blossom into a productive working relationship. The United States needs an overarching, long-term policy toward Pakistan that would focus geo-strategic and bilateral pressure on Pakistan’s military leaders to end the Afghan war and stop international terrorism emanating from Pakistan. America and the international community could then focus on helping Afghanistan to once again become a neutral crossroads for Eurasian commerce rather than a proxy battlefield for predatory neighbors.

Naomi Klein, author most recently of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”

In a September 2001 essay titled “ Game Over: The End of Warfare as Play ,” Klein noted that the United States had fought a series of wars in which it had experienced few casualties. “This is a country that has come to believe in the ultimate oxymoron: a safe war,” she wrote. The attacks of 9/11 would change that, she believed. “The illusion of war without casualties has been forever shattered.” Today, she’s not so sure.

I suppose it was wishful thinking. As I watched footage of New Yorkers fleeing from the attacks, their terrified faces covered in dust from the collapsing towers, I was overwhelmed by how different these images were from the people-free videogame wars that my friends and I had grown up watching on CNN. Now that we were finally getting an unsanitized look at what it meant to be attacked from the air, I was sure it would change our hearts forever.

But the Bush Administration was determined to tightly police what we saw of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, introducing “embedded” reporting, and banning photographs of returning caskets. They also let it be known that reporters who embedded themselves with local populations instead of with allied troops were acceptable military targets -- as attacks on Al Jazeera reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq made clear.

The wars being waged by our governments in our names are today more distant to us than ever before. . Some of the fighting is carried out by mercenaries, who die without so much as a mention in the papers. And drone attacks have ushered in something even more dangerous than the “safe war” -- the idea of “no touch” warfare. This sends a clear message to the civilians on the other side of our weapons that we consider our lives so much more valuable than theirs that we will no longer even bother showing up to kill them in person.

As we should have learned ten years ago, this is an extraordinarily dangerous message to send.

Doyle McManus, op-ed columnist

In March 2002, in a front page analysis piece titled “ U.S. Gets Back to Normal ,” McManus, then the paper’s Washington bureau chief, concluded that the news wasn’t how much the attacks had changed America, but how little.

“Six months after Sept. 11,” he wrote, “here’s what’s changed:

“The federal government, its budget and its public image. The focus of American foreign policy. Security measures at airports, seaports and border crossings. The nation’s sense of patriotism, cohesion and vulnerability. The lives of almost 1.4 million people in the armed services…. [and] the victims, their families and friends.

“Here’s what hasn’t changed much: Everything else.” Today, he says, that’s still mostly true.

Since Sept. 11, the federal government has continued to grow. Spending has mushroomed on war-fighting, intelligence-gathering and homeland security. Security measures at airports and seaports are even tighter than before – although the government promises we’ll be allowed to keep our shoes on some day.

But that hasn’t made us love the federal government more. In the frightened months after Sept. 11, polls found that Americans’ trust in the government’s ability to do the right thing soared; in the years since, that same measure has plummeted.

That’s largely because the issue that concerns Americans most is no longer terrorism, but economic stagnation – and the federal government hasn’t succeeded in overcoming that threat.

As for “the nation’s sense of patriotism [and] cohesion,” the patriotism is still there, but the cohesion we discovered in 2001 was evanescent. A divisive war in Iraq and a virtual civil war over fiscal policy quickly turned politics nasty again.

In 2002, I asked Harvard social scientist Robert D. Putnam if 9/11 could have a lasting positive effect on our sense of community, and he was skeptical – appropriately, as it turned out.

“After almost any crisis, calamity or natural disaster, there’s a sudden spike in community-mindedness, whether it’s an earthquake, a flood or a snowstorm in Buffalo,” he said. “But these spikes don’t last. Over time, the community feeling dissipates.”

The only exception, Putnam noted, was Pearl Harbor – because World War II called on every citizen to sacrifice. This time, only a few were called on; the rest of us were encouraged to go shopping.

The focus of American policy has shifted, too. Immediately after 9/11, it was stopping further terrorism; then it was managing the consequences of our Global War on Terror, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now the focus is broader – and, increasingly, economic. As the just-retired chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, often said, “The single biggest threat to our national security is our debt.”

The war on terror isn’t over, even though it’s no longer called by that name. There are still almost 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, almost 50,000 in Iraq. The real cost of those wars – more than 5000 killed in action, more than 45,000 injured – changed many lives irrevocably.

But for most Americans, the most striking fact remains not how much 9/11 changed, but how little.

Graham Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a former assistant secretary of Defense.

In November 2001, Allison wrote that “After Sept. 11, a nuclear terrorist attack can no longer be dismissed as an analyst’s fantasy. … As the international noose tightens around Al Qaeda’s neck, the group will become more desperate and audacious.” Ten years later, he says we have made some progress in keeping nuclear weapons out of terrorist groups’ hands.

On 9/11, 19 terrorists killed more Americans than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. If the terrorists had been in possession of a nuclear weapon, the attack might have killed 300,000.

Post 9/11, President Bush, and now President Obama, have declared nuclear terrorism the biggest threat to American national security.

The United States has taken the lead in investing more than $10 billion and countless hours in securing and eliminating nuclear weapons and material worldwide. President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 focused exclusively on the threat. As a result of these efforts, thousands of weapons and material that could have produced thousands more weapons are better secured today than they were a decade ago. In Russia, which has the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and material, hundreds of sensitive sites have been secured; 17 countries have eliminated their weapons-usable material stockpiles entirely.

But to prevent a nuclear 9/11, all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material everywhere must be secured to a “gold standard” — beyond the reach of terrorists or thieves.

On that agenda, much remains to be done. The ever-more fragile state of Pakistan has the world’s most rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal. North Korea today has enough material for about 10 nuclear bombs. And Iran now has enough low enriched uranium, if further processed, for four nuclear weapons. One of these weapons in the hands of terrorists could mean an “American Hiroshima”

The price of success in preventing a nuclear 9/11 remains eternal vigilance.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and an author.

In September 2001, Fallows wrote in his essay “ Step One: Station a Marshal Outside Every Cockpit Door ” that: “There may not be a next time, as everything involving air travel becomes more constrained. The tightening of security, while necessary, almost certainly will have aspects of fighting the last war. We may spend years refining passenger-screening processes, only to have the next terrorist explosive arrive by barge.

… Any system careful enough to eliminate sophisticated terrorists also would be cumbersome enough to negate the speed advantage of traveling by air.”

I wish my fears had had turned out to be wholly unfounded. And when it comes to the specific scenario of bombs aboard barges, I’m glad to say that they have been, at least so far.

Unfortunately, there was a much broader challenge that many people, including me, foresaw from the very beginning of the push toward a sweeping emphasis on “homeland security” and the “global war on terror.” This was the risk that, in the name of “protecting” ourselves against future threats, we might ultimately give up, distort or sacrifice the values that made a free society most worth defending. I am sorry to say that this fear has largely been realized.

We can’t be sure of much when it comes to future acts of terrorism, but one certainty is that there will never be “another 9/11.” That attack depended for its shocking success on people not imagining that airliners would be used as large-scale urban bombs. Everyone in the world now understands that possibility, which is why a “9/11-style” attack simply cannot be pulled off again. If the passengers and crew on a plane did not stop future hijackers from flying a fuel-laden plane into a city, the Air Force would.

We also know that our reflexive response to threats has given tremendous leverage to any handful of people who conceive of a new means of attack. Because of one foiled shoe-bombing attempt, hundreds of millions of air passengers worldwide continue removing their shoes before boarding planes. Osama bin Laden’s associates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their attacks. America’s chosen response has cost the nation trillions of dollars in direct military and security expenditures, not to mention the other costs.

The long-standing truth about terrorism is that the worst damage it inflicts is not through the initial attack but rather through the self-defeating and extreme response it often evokes. It is past time for America to consider a security response that does more damage to potential attackers and less to ourselves.

Shireen T. Hunter is a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service .

In her September 2001 OpEd (“ Wake-Up Call for the Islamic World ”), Hunter argued that Muslims themselves have been the ones most adversely affected by the extremist ideas and groups that have sprung up amid them, “giving credence to the worst perceptions of Islam as a rigid, aggressive, reactionary and xenophobic creed.” She recommended that Muslim nations “stop using Islam as an instrument of foreign policy” and to “abandon outdated utopian and expansionist schemes.”

Unfortunately, in the intervening years, Muslim nations have continued this behavior. Thus, in their bids to expand their regional influence, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan have stoked the fires of sectarianism in Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Saudi Arabia has even resorted to manipulating sectarian divisions in Lebanon and Syria in its attempt to eliminate the Iranian influence. Meanwhile, Iran has continued to support its Shiite co-religionists in Lebanon.

The upshot of this situation is that in the Muslim world today, sectarian divisions and hatreds are even deeper. This seriously hampers the establishment of peace and even a modicum of stability, and dims the prospect of consensual politics. Instead, the manipulation of sectarian divides and rivalries for power and influence, notably between Iran and Saudi Arabia, has led to new tragedies such as that in Bahrain where the Shiite majority is being brutally repressed by the Sunni rulership.

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda Inc. branches have sprung up in Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, and remain strong, despite the deaths of Osama bin Laden and other top leaders; the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan; and the ultra-conservative Salafists have developed strong footholds in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.

All this time, the needs and aspirations of the people have been ignored, leading them to revolt as we have seen during the “Arab spring.” Yet revolts and revolutions seldom lead to democracy. Generally they result in politics of revenge, chaos and eventually another form of dictatorship. Muslim countries have missed an opportunity.

Alexander Cockburn coedits the CounterPunch website and writes for the Nation and other publications.

“The lust for retaliation traditionally outstrips precision in identifying the actual assailant,” Cockburn wrote in September 2001 (“ The Next Casualty: Bill of Rights? ”). “The targets abroad will be all the usual suspects -- the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, who started off as creatures of U.S. intelligence. The target at home will be the Bill of Rights.”

It was maybe an hour after the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed that I heard the first of a thousand pundits that day saying that America might soon have to sacrifice “some of those freedoms we have taken for granted.” They said this with grave relish, as though the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution — was somehow responsible for the onslaught, and should join the rubble of the towers, carted off to New Jersey and exported to China for recycling into abutments for the Three Gorges Dam.

Of course it didn’t take 9/11 to give the Bill of Rights a battering. It is always under duress and erosion. Where there’s emergency, there’s opportunity for the enemies of freedom. The Patriot Act, passed in October 2001 and periodically renewed in most of its essentials in the Bush and Obama years, kicked new holes in at least six of our Bill of Rights protections.

The government can search and seize citizens’ papers and effects without probable cause, spy on their electronic communications, and has, amid ongoing court battles on the issue, eavesdropped on their conversations without a warrant. Goodbye to the right to a speedy public trial with assistance of counsel. Welcome indefinite incarceration without charges, denial of the assistance of legal counsel and of the right to confront witnesses or even have a trial. Until beaten back by the courts, the Patriot Act gave a sound whack at the 1st Amendment, too, since the government could now prosecute librarians or keepers of any records if they told anyone the government had subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.

Let’s not forget that a suspect may be in no position to do any confronting or waiting for trial since American citizens deemed a threat to their country can be extrajudicially and summarily executed by order of the president, with the reasons for the order shielded from the light of day as “state secrets”. That takes us back to the bills of attainder the Framers expressly banned in Article One of the U.S. Constitution, about as far from the Bill of Rights as you can get. We can thank the War on Terror, launched after 9/11, for it.

Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University.

In his September 13 Op Ed (“ Cries of “war” stumble over the law ”), Turley warned against the government seeking “greater flexibility” in responding to terrorists by treating criminal attacks “as a matter of war.” “Our system,” he wrote, “requires that legal means be used to achieve legal ends. We decide those means and ends within the general confines of the Constitution.” How has the founding document fared?

As the smoke was still rising from the Pentagon and World Trade Center, it became quickly evident that some of the greatest damage from the September 11th attacks would not come from without but from within our nation.

There was an almost immediate effort by Bush officials to change the definition of war. Rather than declare war on Afghanistan (where Bin Laden was sheltered), President George W. Bush wanted to declare war on terrorism. It was no rhetorical triviality. Bush decided to invoke the heightened constitutional powers of a wartime president by declaring war on what was a category of crime. Because there could never be a total, final defeat of terrorism, this “war” would become permanent – as would the heightened powers of the president.

Ten years later, the country remains “at war,” with President Barack Obama expanding many of the national security powers of his predecessor and, in the Libyan war, claiming his own re-definition of war: “a time-limited, scope-limited military action.”

Of course, the ominous signs in 2001 were realized in a myriad of other ways, from the establishment of the first American torture program to the widespread use of targeted assassinations, including operations killing American citizens. Ironically, I wrote then of the possibility of a new law that could govern the use of assassination, one that would deny a president unilateral authority to kill individuals and would reduce the need to invoke war powers. Instead, the Bush administration claimed full wartime authority as well as radically expanding the use of assassination as an unchecked presidential power. The claim of unilateral presidential authority to kill even United States citizens has been embraced by Obama.

What ultimately fell on that terrible day proved to be some of our most important constitutional structures. Tragically, it is a degree of damage that cannot be claimed by Al Qaeda alone.

Laila Al-Marayati, Los Angeles physician

In a January 2002 essay titled “ An Identity Reduced to a Burka ,” Al-Marayati wrote: “It should be obvious that the critical element Muslim women need is freedom, especially the freedom to make choices that enable them to be independent agents of positive change.”

After the tragic events of 9/11, there were some genuine attempts to improve understanding and awareness between peoples. But that good will has given way in recent years to increased anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. and around the world, prejudices that were reflected in a recent Gallup poll. Muslim women who choose to wear hijab take the brunt of the hostility. They are subject to verbal assault and to misdirected legal actions such as in the ban on the headscarf imposed in France. For centuries, Muslim women have been in the crosshairs of the supposed conflict between Islam and the West. Shortly before the invasion of Afghanistan, we saw images, almost daily, of burqa-clad women who had been suffering under the Taliban. But what most people forget is that they were suffering long before 9/11 and that they continue to experience hardship today in most parts of the country. In 2001, their plight was exploited for political expediency, to help drum up support among freedom-loving Americans for a war that has yet to make life better for the common Afghan woman. Over the past decade, Muslim women around the world have continued to demand their rights and claim their position alongside their Muslim brothers by advocating for changes in legal systems that discriminate against them, by educating their daughters, and by challenging harmful traditions that have no basis in Islam. Many of them are now engaged in the struggle of their lives to achieve the kind of freedom that Muslims living in the U.S. appreciate. It is too soon to predict the outcome, but we should have no doubt that women will be at the forefront of positive change. We should support their efforts, not for political expediency, but because it is the right thing to do.

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94 9/11 Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best 9/11 topic ideas & essay examples, 👍 good essay topics on 9/11, 📌 simple & easy 9/11 essay titles, ❓ research questions about 9/11, 💯 free 9/11 essay topic generator.

  • September 11: Terror Attack and Huge Casualties As the police and the emergency staff trying to help those at the World Trade Center, the South tower, collapsed and tumbled down killing hundreds of the police and emergency personnel.
  • September 11th 2001 Analysis That is from the rapid and complex growth of the Islam fundamentalism to the rise of the al-Qaeda and finally the failures of the intelligence services.
  • Tourism, Travel and 9/11 Despite the fact that the U.S.economy was slowing in the months prior to this incident, the consequences of the terrorist act tipped the economy further into depression.
  • Consequence Management After the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks On November 25, 2002, the United States Department of Homeland Security was formed with the aim of guarding the territory of the United States from terrorist attacks and take appropriate action in case there is […]
  • Law Enforcement after 9/11 The response of the US government in the wake of September 11 was important and has proved to be effective in averting terror acts.
  • Benefits of Post 9/11 Security Measures Fails to Outway Harm on Personal Freedom and Privacy War on terror and the countermeasures on terror threats such as security appraisals have pushed citizens to a point of critically analyzing the benefits and outweighing them against the compromised privacy and personal freedom.
  • Domestic Terrorism in the Post 9/11 Era However, according to the FBI news, no act of terrorism can be compared to the terrorism attacks of 9/11, which cost thousands of lives and a negative impact on the United States economy.
  • U.S. Border Security: 9/11 Aftermath In the immediate consequence of the 9/11 attacks, the US congress ruled to add the security agents deployed along the US-Canada border, and the US sent its National Guard troops to inspect, secure and patrol […]
  • What Attitudes, Beliefs, and Assumptions Correlate with Individual Support for Hate Crimes Directed at the Muslim Community Post September 11, 2001? Ample evidence shows that the increase in cases of hate crimes against Muslims has been due to negative stereotypes of Muslims in the media, especially among the communities of Muslims in the Middle East)..
  • Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 is aimed at examining at the origins of Al-Qaeda, the development of this terrorist organization, and the main events that preceded the September […]
  • Changes in Crisis Work Since 9/11 The attacks changed the style of appointment and training, and today they is excellent support of local emergency teams on roles that expounds on emergency management locally and at state levels.
  • Effects of the September 11th attack on the geopolitics of the US The budge in geopolitical relations that is mounting as the U.S.acts in response to the attacks on its people is already pressurizing oil trades and supplies relationships and also changing ways can be anticipated in […]
  • Pentagon 9/11, Actions and Durations The following are the objectives of my study: To find out the major loopholes that was exploited by the terrorists in the attack To find out the measures that can be put in place to […]
  • Facts about September 11 Attacks One of the most spread theories was that the jet provided the terrorists with the necessary observational data in order to carry out the attacks properly.
  • The Impact of 9/11 on Global Logistics Following the adverse effects of the September eleventh terrorist attack in the US, the security of citizens and businesses has become the main concern in both the public and the private sectors of the economy.
  • U.S. Government Response to the 9/11 Attacks There was a powerful set of shared assumptions we had in the wake of 9/11, and one of the most powerful was the assumption that we would never be forgiven if we failed to do […]
  • The History of the 9/11 Decade The U.S.economy, the military needs and strategies of the country, the oil crisis and the U.S.relations with other countries, China and the countries of the Middle East in particular, are the main themes which need […]
  • The Advancements of Airport Security since September 11, 2001 The 19 hijackers who terrorized the US in the twin attacks were able to go through the normal security checks and even shut the alarms of the metal detectors.
  • Post September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks Despite the fact that there were several Muslims in America who were victims of the attacks, Muslims in America are still being discriminated as a result of that incidence.
  • “9/11 and New York City Firefighters” Post Hoc Unit Support and Control Climates The independent variables of intensity of critical incident involvement were based on a measurement scale of 0 or 1 for affirmative to the 15 modes of involvement while for the four involving self injury a […]
  • Terrorism Before and After the September 11 Attacks In light of the change in our perception of terrorisms as a result of the events of September 11 and the raising impact of religious fanatics who are quoted many a times declaring death and […]
  • Lessons Learned From 9/11 It was suspected to have taken the form of Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in the sense that the Al-Qaeda group had not always been in good terms with the Americans.
  • “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright The second part of the book looks at the Al Qaeda’s activities in the rest of the world. The book covers some of the problems faced in the fight against terrorism, especially the lack of […]
  • The Biggest News; The 9/11 Attack Exposing the Plight The American media placed more emphasis on the emergency response and the plight of the people who were exposed to the tragedy; this was aimed at exposing to the world that America […]
  • The controversy behind the 9/11 tragedy In fact, sources reveal that most people believe the contrary that is the allegation that the US government initiated the attacks as a strategy of gaining control of oil in the Middle East.
  • American Foreign Policy after 9/11 The government is likely to incite members of the public to support its policies by claiming that the country’s values and ideas are in danger. President Wilson noticed that the world was in need of […]
  • The Concept of the Homeland Security After the September 11 Incident The experts repeatedly identified the lack of cooperation and poor coordination as the eminent concern amongst the several bodies linked to the Homeland Security.
  • Terrorism: Post-9/11 Maritime Security Initiatives in the USA The degree of fatality and devastation prompted the industry players and the state to look for new strategies of moderating the inherent risks in the whole maritime transport system.
  • Pearl Harbor and 9/11: Intelligence Failure Based on the findings of the bodies and the ongoing discussion among Americans concerning the similarities, the ensuing discourse compares the events of 7 December and 11 September.
  • The 9/11 Attacks and Its Consequences on the Health The mounting menace of global terrorism has facilitated the need for scholars to research on the impacts of such traumatic incidences on the health of the victims.
  • Global Universities’ Reforms After the 9/11 Attack The members of the team use the above competencies to support different students whenever there is an attack. An agreement is also “established in order to outline the commitment and participation of different response organizations”.
  • The 9/11 Tragedy: One of the Deadliest Disasters in the US History For instance, the government presented the right equipment and evacuation strategies to respond to the tragic event. The leaders and human service professionals provided the right resources, materials, and counseling in order to deal with […]
  • Risk Management in Organizations After 9/11 If a company is able to have a recent backup of all the information critical to its operation, it should be able to minimize losses and recovery time.
  • 9/11 in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Foer However, this approach is central to this novel because it is aimed at translating a potentially excessive amount of feeling, which may be too difficult to embody in the text.
  • “Feminist Geopolitics and September 11” by Jenifer Hyndman Feminist Geopolitics and September 11 is the article that presents the evaluation of the events on September 11 from the perspective inherent mostly to women; it is not about male criticism and their evident mistakes; […]
  • Dudley’s Subjectivity in “9/11 Attacks on America” Article According to Dudley, both of these attacks led to the loss of the lives of many Americans. This is due to the nature of subjectivity that the writer has developed in his theme of discussion.
  • Bill Clinton’s Impeachment from Post-9/11 Perspective Impeachment is the act of removing a public official from a public office due to misconduct in the office. His actions in the Watergate scandal clearly depicted the kind of person he was, something that […]
  • September 11 Attacks as a Political Impression As a matter of fact, the aftermath of these attacks led to various political motivations that enabled me to know more about the political side of terrorism.
  • Homeland Security Regarding the 9/11 Report The intelligent agencies struggled throughout the years prior to 9/11 on the collection of intelligence data and the analysis of the transformations of transnational terrorist activities.
  • Richard Drew’s Photography: Visualizing September 11 This would have ensured that I had accommodated the rights of media, clients, society, and other stakeholders while still adhering to media ethics.
  • US History Since 1877: “9/11 – Loose Change” The main argument of the documentary 9/11 – Loose Change is that the US secret services stood behind the perpetration of the worst terrorist act in the history of America the attacks of 9/11.
  • September 11 Attacks in the US News Media The nature of US news media coverage of the political responsibility for the September 11, 2001 terror attack is the point of concern that is highlighted in both articles.
  • David Foster Wallace on 9/11, as Seen from the Midwest It is important to mention that the revised version of the work had a few changes to protect the privacy of the involved.”The View from Mrs.
  • Terrorism and Security Dilemma After 9/11 This is especially a terror threat and the twentieth-century struggles, such as the’ Cold War.’ The authors note that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the global perception of terrorism has been enhanced.
  • Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 is one of the primary laws governing the provision of financial assistance to veterans of the US armed forces to pursue higher educational and vocational training.
  • Post-9/11 Era and the Attitudes Toward Muslim Americans According to Flanagin’s account of the relationships between Muslim Americans and the rest of the U.S.population, the victimization of Muslim Americans is comparable to that one of German Americans after WWI, although it may not […]
  • Terrorism: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories While on the one hand, it signified the failure of a number of government agencies, lack of a coordinated approach amongst the world community in dealing with the menace of terrorism, but it showed to […]
  • The Tragic Effects of 9/11 The attacks on the world trade center and pentagon on September 11 2001 were tragic and devastating not only for the victims and the people of the United States of America; they came as a […]
  • Conspiracy Theories of 9/11 Another layer of theories states that the events of September 2001 were initiated by the US military and the government which tried to gain the confidence of the American people and inspires racial envy and […]
  • Effects of the September 11, 2001 Terror Attacks on Sino-American Relations Thesis: In the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, China and the USA have come together on a common platform to combat terrorism reshaping Sino-American relations and redefining Asia Pacific security concerns.
  • Israel-Palestine after 9/11: Relations and Policies Of concern is that the discussion comes out with facts that Israel has developed policies that favor them with the backing of the US.
  • The Psychological Effect of 9/11 on Young Adults Many a people are being wrongly suspected of being terrorists, this has been one of the biggest changes in the psychology of the adults which has taken place since the 9/11 incident.”The majority of participants […]
  • Islamophobia: Bias to Muslims and War After the 9-11 Incident In view of the 9/11 incident it became a scope of the authorities and the media to defend the position of government in the context of security as it was formulated that a constant threat […]
  • Rebuttal Assignment: The Untold Facts and Stories of 9-11 The investigations that were published by the National Institute of standards and Technology dismissed these allegations and the community engineers supported the move by stating that the building was brought down by the impact of […]
  • The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright The book of Lawrence Wright impressed the readers with an innovative, unusual approach to the narration of the story that occupied the minds of all people around the world for several years, being the only […]
  • Comparing World War II to September 11th Both attacks were condemned on a global scale, and a huge fraction of the rest of the world rallied behind the US. Over 16 million soldiers were deployed to settle the score with the Japanese, […]
  • Rudy Giuliani’s Leadership During 9/11 Crisis He was able to recognize the urgency of addressing the crisis to salvage the city. Giuliani was able to raise the bar in order to confront new Yorkers to respond to the crisis.
  • “13 Days”, “The Hunt for Red October”, and “Fahrenheit 9-11”: Analysis The political team with President Kennedy in the forefront composes a plan to solve the problem without violent involvement since the U.S.military attacks could cause military strikes on the part of the Soviet Union despite […]
  • The Key 9-11 Conspiracy Theory The adherents of the 9/11 Truth movement believe in a conspiracy theory that the building of the World Trade Center began blowing up even before the impact of the airplane, which points to the possibility […]
  • The Cold War and the Events of September 11 The anxieties arising from the issue of European immigrants echo the sentiments of securitization and Islamophobia following the events of September 11.
  • Securing Airports in the Aftermath of 9-11 This will enable the Federal government to link and associate different information and this system can easily find the connection between suspected terrorists and suspicious activities. This type of technology must be installed in every […]
  • 9/11 Unmasked: Investigation of Attacks Graeme MacQueen, who presents concrete evidence on the anthrax deception by the administration have attributed the administration as a conspiracy that has lied to its citizens.
  • 9/11 Reminder That History Is Always Incomplete Thus, history cannot be regarded in one common way as all events are interpreted by people individually on the basis of their knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics.
  • Post-9,11 Veterans in Business The objective of the study is to explore how the adoption of a military mindset might influence the company culture and identify the competitive advantages of the post-9/11 veterans in the business setting.
  • Why Is 9/11 an Important Day to Remember?
  • How Did Travel and Airport Security Change After 9/11?
  • What Effect Did 9/11 Have on the Economy?
  • How Did the World React to 9/11?
  • What Are the Conspiracy Theories Around 9/11?
  • How to Control Irrational Fears After 9/11?
  • How Many Died on September 11th?
  • What Was the Intention Behind the 9/11 Attacks?
  • What Reorganization of the Government Took Place After 9/11?
  • Who Survived 9/11 From the Highest Floor?
  • What Islamic Reform Took Place After 9/11?
  • How Many Firefighters Died on 9/11?
  • How Many People Lost Their Jobs on 9/11?
  • Who Was the Last Person Found on 9/11?
  • Have There Been Any Personal Changes With You Since 9/11?
  • What Is the Impact of President Bush´s Speech After 9/11?
  • How Much Money Did 9/11 Survivors Receive?
  • Are There Still People Missing From 9/11?
  • How Did the Criminal Justice System Change After 9/11?
  • How the Day of 9/11 Changed America Forever?
  • What Are the Political, Social, and Economic Changes Following 9/11?
  • What Are the Consequences of the Tragedy of 9/11?
  • Was the U.S. Government Involved With 9/11?
  • Why Was America Targeted on 9/11?
  • Why Discrimination Against Arab-Americans Happened After 9/11?
  • What Is the Essence of the 4th Amendment After 9/11?
  • What Was the Reason Given for 9/11?
  • Who Was in Charge of 9/11?
  • How Long Did It Take To Find Out Who Was Responsible for 9/11?
  • What Did the 9/11 Commission Find?
  • Chicago (N-B)
  • Chicago (A-D)

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    Essay on 9/11 View Writing Issues File Edit Tools Settings Filter Results 9/11 Essay On September 11, 2001, an act of terrorism took place in New York City on the World Trade Center. As a result of this, many lives were lost and many people were injured. This is completely at fault of the US government.

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    9/11 Essay Examples 🗨️ More than 30000 essays Find the foremost September 11 essay introduction, topic, thesis to get results! ... It is undeniable that the September 11 (9-11) attacks were an extremely significant event. Specifically, 9-11 refers to the attacks on September 11 where al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them ...

  18. 9/11 Attacks Essay Sample

    This essay aims at analyzing the occurrence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and various stakeholders that were affected by the terrorist attack illustrating that the United States authorities need to exercise utmost caution in order to curb insecurity across the nation. Need custom written paper?

  19. 9/11 Research Paper

    9/11 Research Paper Decent Essays 1034 Words 5 Pages Open Document September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever be remembered by all Americans; it was the day in which 2,823 people were killed due to the terrorist attacks performed by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

  20. The 9 11 Attack : The Attacks Of 9 / 11

    September 11, 2001 (herein referred to as 9/11) was a day in American history, which will be remembered as the most horrific attack on American soil. This attack, carried out by nineteen Islamic extremists, was associated with al-Qaeda, and involved the hijacking of four airplanes. Two of those airplanes were hijacked and flown directly into ...

  21. Essay About 9/11

    9/11 Research Paper On September 11, 2001 at 8:45 am. a horrific event occurred. Four jets had been hijacked by an Islamic terrorist group called Al-Qaeda. They were on a suicide mission to attack the most symbolic and important united states landmarks. 765 Words 4 Pages Decent Essays Read More Essay on The 9/11 Conspiracy

  22. Descriptive Essay On 9-11 Attack

    Descriptive Essay On 9-11 Attack. 481 Words2 Pages. 9-11 Attack " On October 4, 1998, at 10:00 in New York City at the Twin Towers, as I was walking through the subway station. I heard a big crash-like sound," I said drastically. Christina had just gotten of a plane because they said that hackers hacked their plane.

  23. 94 9/11 Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    It was suspected to have taken the form of Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in the sense that the Al-Qaeda group had not always been in good terms with the Americans. "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright. The second part of the book looks at the Al Qaeda's activities in the rest of the world.

  24. PDF 9/11 Student Essay Contest

    The winning essay will receive a visit from Tunnel to Towers' Foundation 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit in the spring of 2024. For more information please visit the Tunnel to Towers website. Contact Information For more information please contact the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education at (609) 376-3778 or