Pentagon Rewarded; Flying Public Harassed
In the wake of the largest failure of the U.S. military to defend the civilian population in the country's history, there were no repercussions for people responsible for air defense. There was no serious investigation of the inexplicable failure to follow standard operating procedure and scramble interceptors promptly once each of the four jetliners started going off course. To the contrary, the people in charge of defending us were rewarded. General Myers, who was Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11th, was quickly confirmed as Chairman just two days later. General Ralph Eberhart, Commander in Chief of NORAD at the time of the attack, was promoted to head the new "Northern Command" a year after the attack. 1 2 George W. Bush enjoyed an immediate boost in popularity and virtually unanimous support in Congress for his agenda. The Department of Defense was awarded a huge increase in its budget.
The flying public was not so fortunate. New security measures went into effect when airports opened three days after the attack. People were made to wait in long lines to be searched for implements which could be used to take over aircraft: knives, knitting needles, toenail clippers, even eyelash curlers. More effective anti-terrorist measures, such as positive checked baggage to passenger matching, were not implemented.
The attack has also been used as a pretext for harassing air travelers from foreign nations, particularly from nations which refused to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. On December 24, 2003, three Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles were cancelled at the behest of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, citing "intercepted hints of an imminent terrorist attack." Around the same time a program called US-VISIT was announced. Scheduled to start on January 5 at all 115 U.S. airports that handle international flights, the program would subject all foreign travelers entering the U.S. to fingerprinting and photographing.
Harassment of domestic air travelers has included strip searches, also called "private screenings." 3
2. AIR FORCE GENERAL RALPH EBERHART, Online NewsHour, 9/27/02 [cached]
3. I-Team: Illegal Strip Searches at Reagan National?, 11/24/04 [cached]