Aftermath

Immediate response

Three high-level politicians and a General, all displaying grim facial expressions, flank the main speaker.
Eight hours after the attacks, Donald Rumsfeld, then U.S. Secretary of Defense, declares "The Pentagon is functioning."

At 8:32 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials were notified Flight 11 had been hijacked and they in turn notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts and they were airborne by 8:53 a.m. Because of slow and confused communication from FAA officials, NORAD had 9 minutes' notice that Flight 11 had been hijacked, and no notice about any of the other flights before they crashed. After both of the Twin Towers had already been hit, more fighters were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia at 9:30 a.m. At 10:20 a.m. Vice President Dick Cheney issued orders to shoot down any commercial aircraft that could be positively identified as being hijacked. However, these instructions were not relayed in time for the fighters to take action.  Some fighters took to the air without live ammunition, knowing that to prevent the hijackers from striking their intended targets, the pilots might have to intercept and crash their fighters into the hijacked planes, possibly ejecting at the last moment.

For the first time in history SCATANA was invoked, establishing an ATC Zero condition, closing all airspace and immediately grounding all non-emergency civilian aircraft in the United States, Canada, and several other countries, and so stranding tens of thousands of passengers across the world. The Federal Aviation Administration closed American airspace to all international flights, causing about five hundred flights to be turned back or redirected to other countries. Canada received 226 of the diverted flights and launched Operation Yellow Ribbon to deal with the large numbers of grounded planes and stranded passengers.

The 9/11 attacks had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the American people. Police and rescue workers from around the country took leaves of absence, traveling to New York City to help recover bodies from the twisted remnants of the Twin Towers. Blood donations across the U.S. surged in the weeks after 9/11.

The deaths of adults who were killed in the attacks or died in rescue operations resulted in over 3000 children losing a parent. Subsequent studies documented children's reactions to these actual losses and to feared losses of life, the protective environment in the aftermath of the attacks, and effects on surviving caregivers.

Military operations following the attacks

At 2:40 p.m. in the afternoon of September 11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement. According to notes taken by senior policy official Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld asked for, "Best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." (Saddam Hussein) "at same time. Not only UBL" (Osama bin Laden). Cambone's notes quoted Rumsfeld as saying, "Need to move swiftly – Near term target needs – go massive – sweep it all up. Things related and not."

The NATO council declared the attacks on the United States were an attack on all NATO nations which satisfied Article 5 of the NATO charter. This marked the first invocation of Article 5, which had been written during the Cold War with an attack by the Soviet Union in mind. Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article IV of the ANZUS treaty. The Bush administration announced a War on Terror, with the stated goals of bringing bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. These goals would be accomplished by imposing economic and military sanctions against states perceived as harboring terrorists, and increasing global surveillance and intelligence sharing.

On September 14, 2001 a joint resolution was passed by the United States Congress authorizing US Presidents to fight terrorists and the nations that harbor them called the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.

On October 7, 2001, the War in Afghanistan began when U.S. and British forces initiated aerial bombing campaigns targeting Taliban and Al-Qaeda camps, then later invaded Afghanistan with ground troops of the Special Forces. The overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led coalition was the second-biggest operation of the U.S. Global War on Terrorism outside of the United States, and the largest directly connected to terrorism. Conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban insurgency and the ISAF is ongoing. The Philippines and Indonesia, among other nations with their own internal conflicts with Islamic terrorism, also increased their military readiness.

Domestic response

President Bush delivering a speech in front of the American flag
President Bush addresses a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001

Following the attacks, President Bush's approval rating soared to 90%. On September 20, 2001 he addressed the nation and a joint session of the United States Congress regarding the events of September 11 and the subsequent nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and described his intended response to the attacks. New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's highly visible role won him high praise in New York and nationally.

Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks, with the task of providing financial assistance to the survivors of the attacks and to the families of victims. By the deadline for victim's compensation on September 11, 2003, 2,833 applications had been received from the families of those who were killed.

George W. Bush's address to the people of the United States, September 11, 2001, 8:30 p.m. EDT.

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Contingency plans for the continuity of government and the evacuation of leaders were also implemented almost immediately after the attacks. However, Congress was not told that the United States had been under a continuity of government status until February 2002.

In the largest restructuring of the U.S. government in contemporary history, the United States enacted the Homeland Security Act of 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security. Congress also passed the USA PATRIOT Act, saying it would help detect and prosecute terrorism and other crimes. Civil liberties groups have criticized the PATRIOT Act, saying it allows law enforcement to invade the privacy of citizens and that it eliminates judicial oversight of law enforcement and domestic intelligence. In an effort to effectively combat future acts of terrorism, the National Security Agency (NSA) was given broad powers. NSA commenced warrantless surveillance of telecommunications which was sometimes criticized since it permitted the agency "to eavesdrop on telephone and e-mail communications between the United States and people overseas without a warrant".

Hate crimes

Numerous incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Muslims and South Asians were reported in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Sikhs were also targeted because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims. There were reports of verbal abuse, attacks on mosques and other religious buildings (including the firebombing of a Hindu temple), and assaults on people, including one murder: Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh mistaken for a Muslim, was fatally shot on September 15, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona.

According to an academic study, people perceived to be Middle Eastern were as likely to be victims of hate crimes as followers of Islam during this time. The study also found a similar increase in hate crimes against people who may have been perceived as Muslims, Arabs and others thought to be of Middle Eastern origin. A report by the South Asian American advocacy group known as South Asian Americans Leading Together, documented media coverage of 645 bias incidents against Americans of South Asian or Middle Eastern descent between September 11 and September 17. Various crimes such as vandalism, arson, assault, shootings, harassment, and threats in numerous places were documented.

Muslim American reaction

Muslim organizations in the United States were swift to condemn the attacks and called, "upon Muslim Americans to come forward with their skills and resources to help alleviate the sufferings of the affected people and their families". These organizations included the Islamic Society of North America, American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, and the Shari'a Scholars Association of North America. Along with monetary donations, many Islamic organizations launched blood drives and provided medical assistance, food, and shelter for victims.

International response

Vladimir Putin and his wife attending a commemoration service for the victims of the September 11 attacks, 16 November 2001

The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that, "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". While the government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks, privately many Saudis favored bin Laden's cause. As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368 condemned the attacks, and expressed readiness to take all necessary steps to respond and combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with their Charter. Numerous countries introduced anti-terrorism legislation and froze bank accounts they suspected of al-Qaeda ties. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in a number of countries arrested alleged terrorists.

Tens of thousands of people attempted to flee Afghanistan following the attacks, fearing a response by the United States. Pakistan, already home to many refugees from previous conflicts, closed its border with Afghanistan on September 17, 2001. Approximately one month after the attacks, the United States led a broad coalition of international forces to overthrow the Taliban regime from Afghanistan for their harboring of al-Qaeda. Though Pakistani authorities were initially reluctant to align themselves with the United States against the Taliban, they permitted the coalition access to their military bases, and arrested and handed over to the U.S. over 600 suspected al-Qaeda members.

The U.S. set up the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to hold inmates they defined as "illegal enemy combatants". The legitimacy of these detentions has been questioned by the European Union and human rights organizations.

Long-term effects

Economic aftermath

The 9/11 attacks had a major effect on the economy of New York City

The attacks had a significant economic impact on United States and world markets. The stock exchanges did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. Reopening, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 684 points, or 7.1%, to 8921, a record-setting one-day point decline. By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1,369.7 points (14.3%), at the time its largest one-week point drop in history. In 2001 dollars, U.S. stocks lost $1.4 trillion in valuation for the week.

In New York City, about 430,000 job-months and $2.8 billion dollars in wages were lost in the three months after the attacks. The economic effects were mainly on the economy's export sectors. The city's GDP was estimated to have declined by $27.3 billion for the last three months of 2001 and all of 2002. The U.S. government provided $11.2 billion in immediate assistance to the Government of New York City in September 2001, and $10.5 billion in early 2002 for economic development and infrastructure needs.

U.S. deficit and debt increases 2001-2008.

Also hurt were small businesses in Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center, 18,000 of which were destroyed or displaced, resulting in lost jobs and their consequent wages. Assistance was provided by Small Business Administration loans, federal government Community Development Block Grants, and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Some 31,900,000 square feet (2,960,000 m2) of Lower Manhattan office space was damaged or destroyed. Many wondered whether these jobs would return, and if the damaged tax base would recover. Studies of the economic effects of 9/11 show the Manhattan office real-estate market and office employment were less affected than first feared, because of the financial services industry's need for face-to-face interaction.

North American air space was closed for several days after the attacks and air travel decreased upon its reopening, leading to a nearly 20% cutback in air travel capacity, and exacerbating financial problems in the struggling U.S. airline industry.

The September 11 attacks also led indirectly to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as additional homeland security spending, totaling at least $5 trillion.

Health effects

Survivors were covered in dust after the collapse of the towers

The thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of the Twin Towers contained more than 2,500 contaminants, including known carcinogens. Subsequent debilitating illnesses among rescue and recovery workers are said to be linked to exposure to these carcinogens. The Bush administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue reassuring statements regarding air quality in the aftermath of the attacks, citing national security; however, the EPA did not determine that air quality had returned to pre-September 11 levels until June 2002.

Health effects also extended to residents, students, and office workers of Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. Several deaths have been linked to the toxic dust, and the victims' names will be included in the World Trade Center memorial. Approximately 18,000 people have been estimated to have developed illnesses as a result of the toxic dust. There is also scientific speculation that exposure to various toxic products in the air may have negative effects on fetal development. A notable children's environmental health center is currently analyzing the children whose mothers were pregnant during the WTC collapse, and were living or working nearby. A study of rescue workers released in April 2010 found that all those studied had impaired lung functions, and that 30–40% were reporting little or no improvement in persistent symptoms that started within the first year of the attack.

Years after the attacks, legal disputes over the costs of illnesses related to the attacks were still in the court system. On October 17, 2006, a federal judge rejected New York City's refusal to pay for health costs for rescue workers, allowing for the possibility of numerous suits against the city. Government officials have been faulted for urging the public to return to lower Manhattan in the weeks shortly after the attacks. Christine Todd Whitman, administrator of the EPA in the aftermath of the attacks, was heavily criticized by a U.S. District Judge for incorrectly saying that the area was environmentally safe. Mayor Giuliani was criticized for urging financial industry personnel to return quickly to the greater Wall Street area.

Government policies toward terrorism

As a result of the attacks, many governments across the world passed legislation to combat terrorism. In Germany, where several of the 9/11 terrorists had resided and taken advantage of that country's liberal asylum policies, two major anti-terrorism packages were enacted. The first removed legal loopholes that permitted terrorists to live and raise money in Germany. The second addressed the effectiveness and communication of intelligence and law enforcement. Canada passed the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act, that nation's first anti-terrorism law. The United Kingdom passed the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Similarly, New Zealand enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security was created to coordinate domestic anti-terrorism efforts. The USA Patriot Act gave the federal government greater powers, including the authority to detain foreign terror suspects for a week without charge, to monitor telephone communications, e-mail, and Internet use by terror suspects, and to prosecute suspected terrorists without time restrictions. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered that airplane cockpits be reinforced to prevent terrorists gaining control of planes, and assigned sky marshals to flights. Further, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act made the federal government, rather than airports, responsible for airport security. The law created a federal security force to inspect passengers and luggage, causing long delays and concern over passenger privacy.

Cultural impact

The impact of 9/11 extends beyond the political arena into society and culture in general. Immediate responses to 9/11 included greater focus on home life and time spent with family, higher church attendance, and increased expressions of patriotism such as the flying of flags. The radio industry responded by removing certain songs from playlists, and the attacks have subsequently been used as background, narrative or thematic elements in film, television, music and literature. Already-running television shows as well as programs developed after 9/11 have reflected post-9/11 cultural concerns.9/11 conspiracy theories have become social phenomena, despite negligible support for such views from expert scientists, engineers, and historians.

Investigations

FBI investigation

 A head shot of a man in his thirties looking expressionless toward the camera
Mohamed Atta, an Egyptian national, was the ringleader of the hijackers.

Immediately after the attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started PENTTBOM, the largest criminal inquiry in the history of the United States. At its height, more than half of the FBI's agents worked on the investigation and followed a half-million leads. The FBI concluded that there was "clear and irrefutable" evidence linking al-Qaeda and bin Laden to the attacks. The FBI was able to quickly identify the hijackers, including leader Mohamed Atta, when his luggage was discovered at Boston's Logan Airport. Due to a mix-up, the luggage failed to make it aboard American Airlines Flight 11 as planned. The luggage contained the hijackers' names, assignments and al-Qaeda connections. "It had all these Arab-language (sic) papers that amounted to the Rosetta stone of the investigation", said one FBI agent.

Within hours of the attacks, the FBI released the names and in many cases the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers. By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden. On September 27, 2001, the FBI released photos of the 19 hijackers, along with information about possible nationalities and aliases. Fifteen of the men were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one (Atta) from Egypt, and one from Lebanon.

9/11 Commission

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), chaired by former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, was formed in late 2002 to prepare a thorough account of the circumstances surrounding the attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. On July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission issued the 9/11 Commission Report. The report detailed the events of 9/11, found the attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda, and examined how security and intelligence agencies were inadequately coordinated to prevent the attacks. Formed from an independent bipartisan group of mostly former Senators, Representatives, and Governors, the commissioners explained, "We believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management". The commission made numerous recommendations on how to prevent future attacks, and in 2011 was dismayed that several of its recommendations had yet to be implemented.

Collapse of the World Trade Center

The north tower continues to burn after the collapse of the south tower
The exterior support columns from the lower level of the south tower remained standing after the building collapsed

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology investigated the collapses of the Twin Towers and 7 WTC. The investigations examined why the buildings collapsed, what fire protection measures were in place and evaluated how fire protection systems might be improved in future construction. The investigation into the collapse of 1 WTC and 2 WTC was concluded in October 2005 but that of 7 WTC wasn't finalized until August 2008.

The NIST found that the fireproofing on the Twin Towers' steel infrastructures was blown off by the initial impact of the planes and that, had this not occurred, the towers would likely have remained standing. A study published by researchers of Purdue University confirmed that, if the thermal insulation on the core columns were scoured off and column temperatures were elevated to approximately 700 °C (1,292 °F), the fire would have been sufficient to initiate collapse.

The director of the original investigation stated that, "the towers really did amazingly well. The terrorist aircraft didn’t bring the buildings down; it was the fire which followed. It was proven that you could take out two thirds of the columns in a tower and the building would still stand."  The fires weakened the trusses supporting the floors, making the floors sag. The sagging floors pulled on the exterior steel columns causing the exterior columns to bow inward. With the damage to the core columns, the buckling exterior columns could no longer support the buildings, causing them to collapse. Additionally, the report found the towers' stairwells were not adequately reinforced to provide adequate emergency escape for people above the impact zones. NIST concluded that uncontrolled fires in 7 WTC caused floor beams and girders to heat and subsequently "caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down".

Internal review of the CIA

The Inspector General of the CIA conducted an internal review of the CIA's pre-9/11 performance and was harshly critical of senior CIA officials for not doing everything possible to confront terrorism. He criticized their failure to stop two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, as they entered the United States and their failure to share information on the two men with the FBI. In May 2007, senators from both major U.S. political parties drafted legislation to make the review public. One of the backers, Senator Ron Wyden said, "The American people have a right to know what the Central Intelligence Agency was doing in those critical months before 9/11."[ In the President's Daily Brief, dated August 6, 2001, a CIA memo mentions uncorroborated reporting from a foreign intelligence service suggesting that Bin Laden was "Determined To Strike in US" and may want to hijack an airplane to secure the release of Islamic extremist prisoners.

Rebuilding

One World Trade Center under construction in January 2012

On the day of the attacks, New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani proclaimed, "We will rebuild. We're going to come out of this stronger than before, politically stronger, economically stronger. The skyline will be made whole again."

The damaged section of the Pentagon was rebuilt and occupied within a year of the attacks. The temporary World Trade Center PATH station opened in late 2003 and construction of the new 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006. Work on rebuilding the main World Trade Center site was delayed until late 2006 when leaseholder Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed on financing. One World Trade Center is currently under construction at the site and at 1,776 ft (541 m) upon completion in 2013, will become the tallest building in North America.

On the World Trade Center site, three more office towers are expected to be built one block east of where the original towers stood. Though initial construction has commenced on all three of these towers, they are expected to be completed after the completion of One World Trade Center.

Memorials

The Tribute in Light on September 11, 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, seen from New Jersey. The building lit up in red, white, and blue is the new One World Trade Center under construction.

In the days immediately following the attacks, many memorials and vigils were held around the world. In addition, people posted photographs of the dead and missing all around Ground Zero. A witness described being unable to "get away from faces of innocent victims who were killed. Their pictures are everywhere, on phone booths, street lights, walls of subway stations. Everything reminded me of a huge funeral, people quiet and sad, but also very nice. Before, New York gave me a cold feeling; now people were reaching out to help each other.”

One of the first memorials was the Tribute in Light, an installation of 88 searchlights at the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. In New York, the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was held to design an appropriate memorial on the site. The winning design, Reflecting Absence, was selected in August 2006, and consists of a pair of reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a list of the victims' names in an underground memorial space. Plans for a museum on the site have been put on hold, following the abandonment of the International Freedom Center in reaction to complaints from the families of many victims.

The Pentagon Memorial was completed and opened to the public on the seventh anniversary of the attacks in 2008. It consists of a landscaped park with 184 benches facing the Pentagon. When the Pentagon was repaired in 2001–2002, a private chapel and indoor memorial were included, located at the spot where Flight 77 crashed into the building.

In Shanksville, a permanent Flight 93 National Memorial is planned to include a sculpted grove of trees forming a circle around the crash site, bisected by the plane's path, while wind chimes will bear the names of the victims. A temporary memorial is located 500 yards (457 m) from the crash site. New York City firefighters donated a cross made of steel from the World Trade Center and mounted on top of a platform shaped like the Pentagon. It was installed outside the firehouse on August 25, 2008.

Many other permanent memorials are being constructed elsewhere, and scholarships and charities have been established by the victims' families, along with many other organizations and private figures.

On every anniversary, in New York City, the names of the victims who died there are read out against a background of somber music. The President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon, and also asks Americans to observe a moment of silence in observance of Patriot Day. Smaller services are held in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which are usually attended by the President's spouse.


  









  







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