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Question of the Day: Do you think we are more or less protected against terrorism in 2011?

This is a hard question. Some of the world’s greatest experts on defense and terrorism disagree about the answer, so I’m not sure I feel qualified to blog about it. But I’ll give my opinion anyway, with a disclaimer: this opinion is of a lowly journalist, not an expert on defense.

I firmly believe we are more aware and conscious of tracking terrorism after 9/11. The counter-terrorism intelligence budget has sky rocketed. Terrorism is a constant topic in the media and in politics. There is no doubt airport security has tightened. I can’t make it through security with a bottle of water or without taking off my shoes.

But I’m not entirely sure all of the money, counter-terrorism teams, awareness and new rules have made us more secure.

By 2005, for example, TSA admitted to a 70 percent failure rate for detecting guns and knifes making it through security.

http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/12/70-detection-failure-rate-being.html

While a new study like this has not been released recently, I do know they are still missing the mark at least part of the time. A good friend of mine always has a pocketknife in his camera bag. He was traveling and forgot to take it out of the bag; he made it from DFW to Washington Dulles and from Dulles to Fort Lauderdale with said 4-inch pocketknife. He boarded two planes and went through security twice (he left the terminal in Dulles to get food) with a weapon. That was in late 2011.

Additionally, many experts agree that labeling counter-terrorism efforts as a “war on terror” was a mistake, as it gave terrorists more credibility and encouraged new recruits to sign up. Since George W. Bush made that famous statement, “war on terror,” more and more fundamentalists view terrorism as a legitimate entity — like a nation with rights and sovereignty. Before 9/11, we only went to war with nations or rebel groups fighting to take control over a nation, but always the welfare of a “nation” was at stake. Now, internationally illegal terrorists groups believe they have the same standing and effectiveness as a nation, if the United States thinks they are dangerous and important enough to go to “war” with.

For more on this concept, the former British spy chief, Director General of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller, really explains this better. You can read an article and one of her speeches here: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/09/was-declaring-war-on-terror-a-mistake/244667/

There was more fallout from 9/11 that I can’t even begin to address in one a little blog: racism against Arabs, a fear of one of the world’s largest religions and a political divide in our nation that seems insurmountable.

If you would like to share your thoughts, meet me at Simply Delicious at 11 a.m. today. This seems like good coffee conversation.