The Legacy of 9/11

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On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated attacks were carried out at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, leaving approximately 3,000 dead in the immediate aftermath. The attacks were carried out by 19 hijackers who took control of four commercial airliners--two struck the World Trade Center, one struck the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The terrorist organization al Qaeda fell under immediate suspicion in the days following the attacks. Although al Qaeda initially denied involvement, their founder Osama Bin Laden, claimed responsibility for the attacks in 2004 citing US support of Israel, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and US foreign policy towards the Arab world as motives for the attacks. The legal effects of the attacks have been far-reaching during the past decade. In an international military response, President George W. Bush launched the War on Terror, and the ongoing use of military force has been the source of deep controversy in the international community. The US also undertook a series of domestic legal actions intended to expand the ability of US intelligence and law enforcement authorities to prevent future attacks. The most notable of these efforts was the passage of the Patriot Act and the expansion of federal surveillance authority. These legislative and executive actions have been both touted as necessary for domestic safety and decried as resulting in severe civil rights abuses.

 

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