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Plurality: U.S. less safe than before 9/11

It has been 15 years since nearly 3,000 people were killed in the deadliest U.S. terrorist attacks on record, and a plurality of RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll respondents say they feel less safe than before the attacks.

The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda against the United States, in addition to killing thousands, took a significant immediate toll on the U.S. economy, especially in the financial district in Lower Manhattan and the nation’s export sector.

Furthermore, the 9/11 attacks were followed by the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and increased homeland security spending—which alone has cost an estimated $1 trillion.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they feel less safe now than they did before the 2001 attacks, compared with 35 percent who feel more safe, and 19 percent who see no difference.

More readers say the events and aftermath of 9/11 have had a lasting impact on their lives personally compared with lasting impacts on their companies. Nearly two-thirds said 9/11 has affected them personally. Conversely, a similar percentage said it has not had a long-term impact on their firms.

More than 550 respondents participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Sept. 12 and 13.

Compared with before 9/11, do you think the United States today is safer from terrorism or less safe?
Less safe: 46%
More safe: 35%
No difference: 19%

Have the events and aftermath of 9/11 had a lasting impact on your company?
Yes: 37%
No: 63%

Have the events and aftermath of 9/11 changed your life personally?
Yes: 64%
No: 36%

In 2001 I was living in Manhattan three miles from the World Trade Center. Being surrounded by the terrible impact on millions of people from this horrific tragedy has made me realize even more how your life can change dramatically in an instant, and it will never ever be the same. There are organizations in this world that remain committed to destroying our way of life. They must be stopped by force, but we also must pursue a path of open discourse to peace-based solutions to end the growing circle of violence that threatens to consume us all. And left unchecked, it will.
 —Robert B. Salmon, Penfield

We have many more enemies now than before, and have diverted tremendous resources from much more productive avenues to defense and security yet still have constant security threats, so I don’t see how we could say we are safer.
—Jeff Schuetz

It has long been my opinion when the administrations did not take “charge” on the many attacks previously (first attack on the Twin Towers; the USS Cole incident; the embassy bombing, etc.), we gave these idiots carte blanche to attack the U.S.! Outside of Japan, Pearl Harbor, nobody dared to attack the U.S. And with these blatant attacks, everything including commerce, and our very personal lives have changed dramatically! For example, flying used to be “fun”—no longer is that the case!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

There is a growing level of terrorism worldwide, which has increased people’s awareness of it. As a result, people have become better prepared to defend themselves against it (i.e., airport security, etc.) and to react to it (i.e., security response) when it occurs. As for if we are “safer,” that is difficult to say because it has become a much different world for both the terrorist and the general populace. The new growth frontier in terrorism is in cyberspace, which can infiltrate and/or bring down systems related to finance, health care, government and more, creating much greater levels of terror than someone who is armed or detonates an explosive.
—Bill Wyatt

I’m certain that security in the United States is better than pre-9/11. I’m also certain that the porous southern border, stupid immigration policies (lack of enforcement), releasing the bad guys held at Gitmo, and many other poor decisions made by this president and his administration have offset any security improvements. So in the end, we are worse off. I never go anywhere in public unprepared, and find myself watching what goes on much closer than I ever did. I refuse to travel abroad. The terrorists have succeeded in unnerving me, and many others, I’m sure.
—George Thomas, Ogden

I think 9/11 and aftermath galvanized what I’ll term the gun nuts—those who succumbed to any feeling of paranoia and decided they had to defend themselves against the whole rest of the world. And look where we are—mass shootings (terrorism in its own right) galore. The arms manufacturers must be so pleased, rolling in dough and profits.
—Margie Campaigne, Margie’s Green Home Consulting

In response to: have the events and aftermath of 9/11 had a lasting impact on your company: The increased governmental reporting requirements have increased exponentially in order to simply operate. In response to: have the events and aftermath of 9/11 changed your life personally: The loss of personal freedoms in the form of the vast expansion of government surveillance programs of all Americans is disheartening, along with the seeming lack of any respect by various groups for all of the positives the country has to offer, specifically over the past eight years.
—Scott Rivard

Safer? Ask France and San Bernardino what they think. One day, through the use of big data, as a society we are going to have to make the choice: Do we want safety or privacy? Terrorist cells—even the so-called lone wolves—do not operate alone.
—Jay Birnbaum

The financial toll on the economies of the U.S. and the world is staggering.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

9/11 and the resulting deep recession affected most of Rochester’s businesses negatively. Many didn’t survive; my company barely did. The chilling effect that the deep cut in business of an entire country mourning at once was profound. The way it changed my life, however, was resolving to stop watching any television news. I have not since October 2011. And I never will again. The 24-hour news cycle and its culture of division and despair, the way it feeds off our fears and creates tension and paranoia is very much to blame for the current state of the United States. Media does nothing to address real issues any more, it just careens from heart-wrenching disaster to made-up scandal, sowing hate and dissenion along the way.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed Inc.

Just look how much fun it is to travel today. Anybody I know will tell you travel is more difficult and expensive and we don’t feel one bit safer, and that is just the effect on travel.
—Ken Pamatat

The procedures for cargo and passengers for air travel should have been put in place long before 9/11. Instead of being reactive, let us be proactive.
—Donalee Farrell

Post 9/11: We are all having to pay for terrorist insurance now in our company insurance policies. I would hope this money collected by all of us business owners is being put to good use keeping us safer. Vetting incoming people should be a top priority. Maybe the money gathered could be used for this purpose.
—Ruth Ditch, Delta Square Inc.

The facts show that we are not safer. First, there have been numerous terrorist attacks since Obama has been president. Second, Obama insists on bringing in unvetted Muslim aliens, many of whom are terrorists posing as refugees. Third, Obama has gutted the military when we need it most and withdrawn it where it is needed most. Fourth, Obama has freed terrorist leaders from Gitmo who should still be locked up (or executed). Fifth, Obama refuses to even identify the problem for what it is: Islamic Extremist Terrorism. Obama’s vision is for a permanently weakened United States. If Hillary wins, his dream will be fulfilled.
—Jim Cronin

I went to high school at St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, in the shadow of downtown Manhattan. I was greatly moved by all the events of 9/11. I was greatly inspired, too, by President Bush’s statement, “We will bring them to justice or we will bring justice to them.” Under President Bush, we had no terrorist attacks on our mainland. We were winning the “War on Terror.” It was only a matter of time before an apologist president with a Muslim background to all but invite attacks on our mainland, even in Rochester and Buffalo. Safer now? No way.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC

Safety in the U.S. is nothing more than illusion. With more guns in the hands of citizens than the size of the population of the country, how can we be safe? Everyone has a weapon: everyone has become pathological due to the scurrilous internet; drugs and alcohol—illegal and legal—running rampant; unhinged religion and white supremacy; total loss of personal responsibility; and the abandonment of any civility in our society. And all this pathology is currently fueled by a repugnant, sexist, racist, xenophobic pathological liar candidate making a joke of the office of the president of the United States. He wants to use nuclear bombs. No, we are not safe. We are close to ultimate disaster.
—Eve Elzenga

9/16/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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