As we approach the busiest travel day of the year in the US, we’ve been bombarded (OK, not a good idea to use that word when talking about air travel) with news of the latest technology and security procedures employed at airports and the uproar they’ve caused passengers and flight crews. Having these clips interspersed with stories about the larger meaning of the Ghailani trial outcome for the rest of the GTMO detainees left little room for other “hard” news last week.

Pondering the juxtaposition of these news items, I stumbled across this piece in Salon from the week before. While it’s written in the context of security measures for air travel alone, I think it highlights a larger reflection that’s worth noting. What about 9/11 so fundamentally changed the US’s response to terrorist acts and our principles? Was it the fact that it was committed on US soil? The Murrah building bombing in my hometown of Oklahoma City didn’t cause us to doubt the ability of our civilian federal courts to prosecute McVeigh and Nichols. Was it the mass murder of fellow Americans by foreign citizens? We saw that before over Lockerbie, but those events didn’t manifest themselves in a wholesale change in our form of justice or visions of right and wrong.

Are there limits to what we’re willing to sacrifice in the name of an elusive sense of safety? Food for thought during this week of Thanksgiving.

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