Example research essay topic: Terrorism And Other Homeland Security Threats – 1,596 words

Its a little after 9 A.M., at Ronald Reagan
National Airport, and a middle aged man of
indeterminate nationality has his hand in my
pants. Hes not very far down into them, barely
over the belt line, but a little of this sort of
thing goes a long way (Goldberg 29). This sort of
thing, airline security, has reached a new level
resulting from the 9/11 tragedy. The quiet
solitude stemming from an early morning layover in
LaGuardia International Airport is all but
interrupted by the feeling of Big Brother
watching, glaring at ones every flinch. One does
not make any sudden motions to his bag or allow
anyone to see him pull his letter opener out to
open yesterdays mail because these actions might
pose the threat of death or even greater
terrorism. The simple pleasures and relaxation of
travel have all been taken away like a thief in
the night coming to steel the very freedom this
Nation was founded upon.

In recent history,
terrorism was a word only used to describe the
malicious acts of pre-democratic societies, but
now, the word has become a common term used in the
media as many times as the basic articles a, an,
and the. The United States has changed even if the
countrys attitude is still the same. These changes
have all been implemented for protection, but just
how much do these so called safety precautions
really protect this country. Jonah Goldberg
describes, Washington, D.C., the nations most
protected airport, is full of exasperated people
telling stories about confiscated nail clippers,
impounded emery boards, seized tie clips, and
similar outrages (29). A United States congressman
John Dingell was forced by security to drop his
pants at Reagan Airport in Washington saying the
security felt me up and down like a prize steer
(Donnelly 24). People are beginning to get tired
of this charade by the government to evade

Some of the people affected the most
are the pilots who are often searched several
times in a single day (24). The pilots are forced
to deal with these time consuming delays without
complaint or else the airlines will discipline
them. It is important to understand that airport
security before 9/11 was definitely lax, and
something needed to be done: In 1999, undercover
federal agents made it through secure doors 46
times at four major airports. The agents managed
to walk around the tarmac and even board planes
without being questioned by security officials
(Goldberg 30). With the new onset of security some
of the immediate results have been beneficial. For
example, 69 workers have been indicted and another
200 terminated at Salt Lake City International
airport for using illegal documentation to obtain
jobs, and at San Francisco International Airport,
29 employees had their security badges revoked
when background checks revealed they were felons

Some aspects of the solution to airport
security seem to be working, but this must only be
temporary. Donnelly shows, The best illustration
of this principle is the scattered reports of
National Guardsmen protecting airports and other
vulnerable installations, but without ammunition.
As long as people dont know the guardsmen do not
have bullets, there is a real benefit; once it
becomes public knowledge, it is almost worse than
no guardsmen at all (30). The post-terror system
has become an M-16 without bullets, sure one could
use it to bat down one or two terrorists, but when
the crowds come the weapon is useless. The crowds
have been coming for months now, crowds composed
of people from all ethnic backgrounds. The
question then arises: Is it fair to pull out the
M-16 on someone because their Arab descent gives
them the heir of a terrorist? Thousands who havent
seen the inability of the system to combat
terrorism have seen its ability to discriminate on
the basis of race, religion, and ethnic
background, and are speaking out. According to
Lowry, In late September, M.

Ahsan Baig was kept
off United Flight 288 from San Francisco to
Philadelphia because the pilot didnt like the way
he seemed to be furtively talking to another
passenger in the waiting area (32). Lowry goes
further saying, more than half the people on the
FBIs Most Wanted terrorist list are named
Mohammed, Ahmed, or both. These activists go so
far as to say, the erosion of [the United States]
constitutional rights was exactly what [the
terrorists] wanted (Rabinowitz). This would have a
been a picturesque sight, to see Mohamed Atta and
his crew sitting in their fly specked motels
dreaming of the joyful day the Americans would
suffer intrusions on Lawyer-client privilege,
government wire-taps, and other civil liberties
infringed (Rabinowitz). However, everyone knows
that this just is not true, murdering as many
Americans as possible was the terrorists motive.
Thus, would they have been stopped if profiling
were in place at the time? As Lowry points out,
profiling of a sort has been an official practice
of the nations airlines for years. In 1994,
Northwest began to develop a computer passenger
pre-screening system (CAPPS) to single out
high-threat passengers.

After the TWA Flight 800
disaster in July 1996, the Clinton administration
convened an Al Gore-led commission to study
aviation security. This commission recommended
that the Northwest system be adopted by the
airline industry generally(32). This system
however used profiling as one of its key elements.
Thus, after much pressure from different civil
liberties groups the CAPPS system was altered and
no longer used this discrimination. Two hijackers
on September 11 were flagged by this system,
although they were never questioned nor detained.
With racial profiling, no one is certain whether
the terrorists would have been flagged, but would
the US even risk detaining them if they were?
CAPPS obviously failed profiling or not, and the
current system is not doing any better. The threat
of terrorism will never falter, so some say the
only way to combat its mighty grip is by following
Israels lead. Israel has the most intense and
elaborate security system of any country in the

According to Nelson Schwartz, the
government owns the main airline in the country,
El Al, and its first hijacking, in 1968, was also
its last (99). However, this security comes at a
price: The airline is estimated to spend $100
million a year on security, with the Israeli
government covering roughly two-thirds of the
bill…Overall, the airlines share of security
spending equals roughly 2% of revenues, while U.S.
carriers earmark on-tenth of one percent (99). The
precautions Israel takes are unthinkable compared
to the US measly system. Israel passes out gas
masks to all employees, interviews all passengers,
and all employees face regular tests on top of all
the American standards including racial profiling.
Israel actually divides the passengers into 3
categories Israelis and foreign Jews, non-Jewish
foreigners, and anyone with an Arab last name
(Lowry 34). Israels system is very different than
the United States system, yet in a country that
arguably receives the most terrorism Israels
airport security has proved almost blameless. The
facts cannot be denied.

If the United States were
to adopt this program, it would cost the country a
significant amount more than the current system;
however, this cost would not even compare to the
cost of September 11, both physically and
emotionally. Some might argue that if the
government were to take ownership of the industry,
then this monopoly would hurt the economy because
of the lack of competition. This could be true and
the answer to this is that the FAA needs to adopt
Israels plan as laws that private airlines must
abide by as well as create a reward system, which
would stimulate these airlines to spend money on
security. This would greatly affect the private
airline industry, which would then affect the
consumer, but the price of an airline ticket
should not be a tradeoff to safety. Then comes the
issue of racial discrimination. With the world in
its current state, there is no way to avoid racial

Arabs in Israel give no complaint to
being questioned more thoroughly because they
value their lives just as much as another man. The
same attitude should be embraced in this country
where whether society chooses to accept it or not
race plays an important role in every action.
People chose to lock car doors when poorly dressed
African Americans or Hispanics pass their car in
traffic, and people choose not to draw attention
to themselves when driving through a neighborhood
that is of predominantly another race. People
naturally discriminate, and it is only fair to the
rest of society, to be racially biased if a
certain race is associated with terror. Some
people continue to argue that no matter how
security changes terrorism will not be evaded, and
some people feel that the United States new
airport security system has defeated the threat of
danger. Both of these extreme opinions have been
eliminated through facts, and if a change does not
occur, then the country is once again a time bomb
on the verge of ignition. Americans must face
reality and see that thwarting terrorism will not
be friendly to their pocket books nor their
schedules, but they can adapt.

This country must
follow Israel’s lead, and lead which has proven to
be effective for 34 years. The threat of violence
can never be eliminated, but heightened security
will increase violences erosion. Works Cited
Donnelly, Sally B. Airline Security Got You Down?
Talk to the Pilots. Time January 21, 2002: 24.
Goldberg, Jonah. Me and My Nail Clippers.

Review December 31, 2001: 39-32. Lowry, Richard.
Profiles in Cowardice. National Review January 28,
2002: 32- 35. Rabinowitz, Dorothy. Hijacking
History. Wall Street Journal December 7, 2001:

Schwartz, Nelson D. Learning From Israel.
Fortune January 21, 2002: 94-99..

Research essay sample on Terrorism And Other Homeland Security Threats