Are we really safer?

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Samuel Northrup, Staff Writer

Fox News reporter Judith Miller argued that the United States is safer after the 15- year anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Miller cited NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, John Miller, who said that despite “individual strikes,” such as the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando four months ago, there has not been a large-scale terrorist attack since 9/11.

Harold T. Clark Jr. Professor Emeritus of Human Rights Scholarship and Advocacy at Utica College Theodore Orlin echoed a similar belief on the possibility of another mass attack on the U.S.

“I think that we are more able to protect ourselves from outside terrorist attacks,” Orlin said.

To Orlin, the greatest immediate threat to American safety are reoccurring incidents of gun violence.

“The presence of so many weapons and guns certainly does not make us safer,” Orlin said. “From my perspective, what is of primary importance is the access to weapons and assault weapons. Weapons that are meant for military use are being used, whether discriminately or indiscriminately, to kill innocent people.”

Orlin’s concern is a valid one, as Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit corporation that provides information on gun-related violence, has found that 40,351 gun-related incidents, resulting in 10,361 deaths alone, have occurred so far in 2016.

Government and Politics Professor Nathaniel Richmond feels that the U.S. is safer because of the government’s improved ability to identify and stop terrorist plots from happening.

“I think we are safer 15 years after 9/11,” Richmond said. “For the most part, the government, I think, has gotten much better at putting the pieces of puzzles together to foil different plots. I think they have probably stopped a lot of plots that we may or may not have heard of. However, there are probably more people out there, or even amongst us, who wish to harm us after 15 years of war in the Middle East region.”

Students on campus have mixed feelings about the safety of the U.S.

Freshman Courtney Kennedy believes that while U.S. airports are safer, the presence of technology poses safety problems, such as cyber hacks, which were not nearly as prevalent 15 years ago.

“I’m actually not sure if we’re safer because of new, advancing technology, especially with what we saw with North Korea and Sony,” Kennedy said. “I think airports are definitely safer, but I don’t know if we are as a country.”

Freshman Antonio Scala shares Kennedy’s feeling that airports are safer, but thinks there is always a chance of something happening.

“I feel like we’re doing a better job in airports and keeping them safe, but it can still happen within the United States,” Scala said. “I think we are a little safer with the technology we have, but there’s still a chance something can happen again.”

Technology, while providing convenience, does pose a significant threat to security. While computers are an efficient solution for data organization, that same data is vulnerable to cyber hackers.

Dr. Richmond, while viewing cyber terrorism as a safety concern, pointed out that it is not a direct threat to life.

“I actually teach a class on international relations and cyberspace, and as one author put it, ‘no one ever died from cyber terrorism,’ directly anyway,” Richmond said. “Maybe people were radicalized who carried out attacks, but cyber terrorism, cyber war, these kind of things are part of the new Cold War we have going on with the U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, the big players in it. It’s here to stay. It’s a fact of life.”

While there may be different opinions on the degree of safety the United States has from terrorism, it is hard to deny the priority the U.S. government has put on national security since that morning in September, 15 years ago.

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