The Daily Parker

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Security at the 9/11 memorial

Slate's Mark Vanhoenacker wonders whether the lock-down at lower Manhattan's World Trade Center memorial is a monument to something other than intended:

Advance tickets are required to enter this public, outdoor memorial. To book them, you’re obliged to provide your home address, email address, and phone number, and the full names of everyone in your party. It is “strongly recommended” that you print your tickets at home, which is where you must leave explosives, large bags, hand soap, glass bottles, rope, and bubbles. Also, “personal wheeled vehicles” not limited to bicycles, skateboards, and scooters, and anything else deemed inappropriate. Anyone age 13 or older must carry photo ID, to be displayed “when required and/or requested.”

Once at the memorial you must go through a metal detector and your belongings must be X-rayed. Officers will inspect your ticket—that invulnerable document you nearly left on your printer—at least five times. One will draw a blue line on it; 40 yards (and around a dozen security cameras) later, another officer will shout at you if your ticket and its blue line are not visible. Eventually you’ll reach the memorial itself, where there are more officers and no bathrooms. You’re allowed to take photographs anywhere outside the security screening area—in theory if not always in practice.

Security expert Bruce Schneier wryly (and, given the math, correctly) explains how one could remain safe visiting the memorial even if it didn't have any of these security measures in place: "On the drive to New York, or in your taxi downtown, buckle up, he warned. It’s dangerous out there."

I keep hoping (as does Schneier) that we will someday get past our obsession with fighting the last war. It seems to me that if we have massive security around a memorial site, the terrorists win. What are we protecting? Eleven years ago a psychotic religious criminal gang attacked us, and we went crazy. Even knowing that a goal of the attack was, in the words of the nutjob who planned it, to cause us to over-react, we did exactly what he wanted. Isn't it time we went back to normal—if for no other reason than to prove the terrorists wrong?

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