Seven years ago, I spent the night at my job which was data entry in Air Cargo. I caught up on some paperwork when one of our drivers came in and announced that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. I called the people that meant the most in my life to assure myself where they were and that they were safe. I went back to my job and then they shut the airlines down. The world stopped for us, and we were faced with many days of working around the industry we so depended on. Living near the airport, the silence was so palatable, like a tomb. The highways were quiet, the plants were shut down (because they depend so much on the just-in-time deliveries that air cargo offers). Everyone seemed to be camped out in front of their televisions.
The thing today is to think about what happened this day 7 years ago. Many things changed. I know I probably would still have a good job if it hadn't happened. TWA might still be around. Our airport experience might be a little more pleasant. We wouldn't have to remove our shoes to have them x-rayed before we get on a plane. We wouldn't live in fear. We certainly would not be in Iraq or Afghanistan for sure. Our military would not be bogged down in a war that doesn't look like its going to end any time soon. There would be at least 7000 more happy families who haven't lost loved ones in the United States. Saddam Hussein might still be in power or overthrown in a coup.
There are many things that didn't change. One thing is that Air Cargo still is not screened in the US, even though it has in Europe for many years even before 9-11. The only things needed to ship air cargo in the US is a "trusted shipper" declaration which is established from previous business that the carrier has done with his customer. Basically a system based on trust that the customer or shipper is not a terrorist. No air cargo is inspected that goes on airliners in the US. This, in spite of the fact that we are not allowed to carry more than 3 ounces of liquids on our carry on luggage. This is a system that is ripe for abuse and is the largest hole in aviation security.
Our ports are wide open. There are hundreds of thousands of cargo containers that go uninspected entering the United States every day. If one can get a bale of marijuana or a brick of cocaine into the US, then certainly a terrorist or device can get past the our borders as well.
The is much to worry about and we will never really be secure in this land unless we want to take steps that turn this land of the free into a prison. We are already taking such sad steps and over the seven years since that event, our civil liberties have eroded. We are told that such things are a relic of the past. So the next 7 years may bring even more drastic changes in our society. We can't know what those changes are, but there will be change. We, as a society have to understand those changes and make the changes we need to secure our society, yet preserve our freedoms. Let us hope that wisdom in our leaders prevail and that we as a society make the correct decisions.
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