2021年9月10日 星期五

The Daily: The Overlooked Costs of Counterterrorism

On policing, jobs and the climate.

By Lauren Jackson

The consequences of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the decades of war that followed can in some ways be quantified: nearly a million lives lost, 38 million people displaced as a result of conflict, an estimated $8 trillion in expenditures and 85 countries affected to varying degrees by American counterterrorism operations.

It is harder to capture the vast and often unseen effects rippling out from that day two decades ago. This week, the Daily team tried to shed light on some: We examined how the attacks fundamentally changed the nature of conspiracy, fear and information sharing in America. We heard the sounds of gunfire from Afghanistan, situating the Taliban takeover within a long history of uncertainty, intervention and familiar disappointment for the country. And we spoke with Terry Albury, a former F.B.I. agent, who witnessed the disproportionate impact of the domestic war on terror on marginalized communities.

In that spirit, we highlight some of the lesser-known impacts of Sept. 11.


The overlooked costs of counterterrorism

The names of the dead at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan. Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Terry Albury staked his career, and the course of his life, on a belief: If the public only knew the true nature of the U.S. government's counterterrorism efforts, change would follow. So, following the precedent of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, he reached out to journalists at The Intercept in 2016 and spoke with them about the F.B.I.'s intelligence-gathering practices on immigrant and Muslim communities. Then he waited.

"The world just kind of moved on," said Janet Reitman, a writer for The Times Magazine who interviewed Terry. "I think one reason has to do with who this impacted," she said. "For the most part, it's been disempowered groups of people," including innocent Muslim Americans targeted by investigations, interrogations and privacy infringements.


Our team knew about the disproportionate attention on Muslim Americans in intelligence gathering. But in listening to the 20 interviews Janet recorded with Terry, "we felt the weight of the policies and their impact," Asthaa Chaturvedi, a Daily producer, said, adding that the practices were now used on a wider population.

But the import of the programs he spoke about remains unclear. Specifically, the government has shared limited information about the scope and scale of threats to domestic security that have been thwarted by counterterrorism efforts.

"We don't have this kind of information that would allow us to have a good, solid public policy discussion about the cost risks and benefits of the policies, the choices that we've made," Neta C. Crawford, a co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown University, said, adding: "We need transparency. We need information."

So we asked Neta what she saw as the other prices paid of America's war on terror — an effort so "comprehensive domestically and internationally that little about American life has been unaffected," in her words.


Intensification of policing: The amount of military equipment transferred to law enforcement agencies has increased by nearly 6,000 percent since Sept. 11, Neta said, adding that "there has been an increase in the number of people in police forces — local, state and county police forces — who are veterans or who are active-duty or reserves."

Michael O'Hanlon, a director of research at the Brookings Institution, noted by email that while "there have been consequences" to the militarization of local police forces, this was "secondary" to what he described as problems with racial disparities in policing that predated the 2001 attacks.

Still, Neta questioned whether it wasn't just military equipment that had transformed domestic police forces "but a way of seeing and a way of behaving towards people that sees them less as people, potentially more as potential combatants." This is the subject of her ongoing research.

Climate: According to Neta, the Defense Department is the "world's largest institutional user of petroleum and, correspondingly, the single largest institutional producer of greenhouse gases in the world." In 2017, the Pentagon's emissions were greater than those of entire countries, such as Sweden, Denmark and Portugal.

Jobs and infrastructure: Neta believes the United States was at a tipping point in 2001 "when it chose to go to war essentially in a week," she said. The country had a budget surplus, powerful standing in the world and a vision for a new, expansionist American century. "We then on a dime decided to use American military power and our political resources in a way that I believe accelerated the decline of American power," she said — an argument echoed this week in The Washington Post and The Economist.

Now, as Congress considers a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, an effort complicated by high unemployment, Neta noted the opportunity costs of the last two decades. "Defense spending creates about nine jobs per million dollars," she said. "But if we had used that money almost any other way, it would have been in some cases twice as productive" in terms of job creation.

Neta believes we had "a moment when the United States could have worked to fix the problems with infrastructure and inequality." Instead, she said, "what we've done is we've accelerated our domestic decline, sadly, and our status in the world."

Three narrated articles to remember Sept. 11

Last month, Dorothy Morgan became the 1,646th World Trade Center victim to be identified through DNA testing. She worked for an insurance company on the 94th floor of the North Tower.Anna Watts for The New York Times

By Mahima Chablani

With the 20th anniversary on Saturday, our colleagues across the newsroom have been reflecting on ways in which their lives — and all of ours — have been altered since the attacks. One reporter wrote about a stranger's unforgettable act of kindness that helped her walk home nearly 10 miles in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The reporter of The Times's lead article about the hijackers remembered the poems he received from teenagers in Wenatchee, Wash., responding to his work. Two journalists talked to students around the world about what they have been taught about Sept. 11 in schools, and what has been left out.

As we head into the weekend, we invite you to listen to three narrated articles that explore the echoes of the tragedy:

  • What Does It Mean to 'Never Forget'?: One woman will never forget that she was shopping for eggs, planning to make her husband chocolate chip cookies, when she heard the news that would leave her widowed. A former police chief will never forget the now-closed landfill on Staten Island where 1.8 million tons of debris were sifted for human remains. In this article, Dan Barry, a longtime Times reporter and columnist, reflects on what we hold on to 20 years later and what we choose to let go.
  • When 9/11 Remains are Identified, 20 Years Later: Last month, Nykiah Morgan of Long Island learned that the remains of her mother, Dorothy Morgan, who had disappeared into the rubble of the collapsed towers, had been identified through DNA testing. For 20 years, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office has been conducting the largest missing-persons investigation ever undertaken in U.S. history, testing the 22,000 body parts that were recovered from the wreckage for a genetic connection to the 1,106 victims whose remains have not been found. "You suddenly have to decide what to do with a loved one who died 20 years ago," Nykiah told the Metro reporter Corey Kilgannon for this article. "It's almost like reopening old wounds."
  • How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers: "The security apparatus born from the Sept. 11 attack on the city has fundamentally changed the way the country's largest police department operates," Ali Watkins, a Metro reporter, writes. Counterterrorism tools such as facial recognition software, license plate readers and drones are now a ubiquitous part of criminal cases — including investigations of low-level crime — but critics say they are ensnaring everyday New Yorkers and fueling a crisis of public trust.

On The Daily this week

Tuesday: Now that the U.S. has withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Taliban are turning to building a government. What kind of rulers will they be?

Wednesday: Why did this become the summer of Delta in the United States?

Thursday: The story of Terry Albury.

Friday: How a conspiracy film popularized the "9/11 truther" movement and supplied the template for the current age of disinformation.

And join Kara Swisher for a live event: Next Tuesday, Kara, the host of the Opinion podcast "Sway," will host a live discussion with the Times reporter Maggie Haberman and Representative Cori Bush of Missouri. They'll dissect the shifting dynamics of politics, power and what lies ahead. What will fall in the United States bring? What are the stories that will matter the most in politics, media and tech? Where is power changing, and how do we make sense of it? RSVP here.

That's it for the Daily newsletter. See you next week.

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