September 11, 2001 was perhaps the most important incident of first term of President George W. Bush and led to what he has called the Global War on Terrorism, or war against terrorism. The accuracy of describing it as a "war" and the political motivations and consequences are the topic of strenuous debate. The U.S. government increased military operations, economic measures and political pressure on groups it accused of being terrorists, as well as on governments and countries accused of sheltering them. October 2001 saw the first military action initiated by the U.S. Under this policy, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in order to remove the oppressive Taliban regime (which harbored al-Qaeda) and to capture Al-Qaeda forces. The invasion was supported by a large number of countries. Prior to the invasion, the Taliban had refused to hand over bin Laden without being shown evidence of his connection to the attacks. While the primary objective of capturing bin Laden has failed so far, the invasion did succeed in uprooting the extremely oppressive Taliban from power, enabling the implementation of a government more cooperative and supportive in the search for bin Laden and the general "War on Terrorism". The invasion removed a safe haven and base of operations for al-Qaeda. The war, however, is ongoing and has not been won. is ongoing, however. Critics point out that the Afghan conflict has contributed to the destabilization of neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan itself is far from at peace - Lord Ashdown, British diplomat and former international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, has gone as far as to describe the country as "a failed state". The U.S. government has also asserted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq is connected to 9/11.
Because the attacks on the United States were judged to be within the parameters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO declared section 5 of the military alliance to be met, making the US war on terror the first time since its inception that NATO would actually participate in a "hot" war.
The September 11 attacks also precipitated a focus on domestic security issues and the creation of a new cabinet-level federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 was passed soon after the attacks, giving law enforcement agencies sweeping search and surveillance powers over U.S citizens. This led to the creation in 2002 of the Information Awareness Office (IAO), led by John Poindexter. The IAO has initiated a program called Total Information Awareness, amended in May 2003 to Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA), with the aim of developing technology that would enable it to collect and process massive amounts of information about every individual in the United States,and trace patterns of behavior that could help predict terrorist activities. The information the IAO would gather includes Internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and other available data. Critics of the IAO believe it goes too far in the sacrifice of civil liberties and privacy, putting in place an Orwellian infrastructure prone to abuse. Many major events the United States has hosted since September 11, 2001 have been designated National Special Security Events (NSSE), because of concerns of terrorism. Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia Chief Charles Ramsey made the point clear before the state funeral of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan: "In a post 9/11 world we have to be very concerned about that and aware of the potential for something to happen."
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the United States and other countries around the world were placed on a high state of alert against potential follow-up attacks. Civilian air travel across the U.S. and Canada was — for the first time ever — almost completely suspended for three days with numerous locations and events affected by closures, postponements, cancellations, and evacuations. Other countries imposed similar security restrictions. In the United Kingdom, for instance, civilian aircraft were forbidden to fly over London for several days after the attack.
International reaction Edit
Main article: Reactions to the September 11 attacks
A museum exhibit displaying part of the North Tower's antenna mast, behind it a panel of September 12th front pages from around the worldThe attacks had major world-wide political effects. Many other countries introduced tough anti-terrorism legislation and took action to cut off terrorist finances, including the freezing of bank accounts suspected of being used to fund terrorism. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies stepped up cooperation to arrest terrorist suspects and break up suspected terrorist cells around the world.
The attack prompted numerous memorials and services all over the world. In Berlin, 200,000 Germans marched to show their solidarity with America. The French newspaper of record, Le Monde, ran a front-page headline reading "Nous sommes tous Américains", or "We are all Americans". A national day of mourning was held in Ireland on Friday, September 14, the only country other than the U.S.A. to do so. In London, the U.S. national anthem was played at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. (To mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee, New York City lit the Empire State Building in purple and gold, to say "thank you" for this action.) In the immediate aftermath, support for the United States' right to defend itself was expressed across the world, and by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368.
Reaction to the attacks in the Muslim world was mixed. The great majority of Muslim political and religious leaders condemned the attacks — virtually the only significant exception was Saddam Hussein, then president of Iraq. Also, shortly after the attack, the media picked up on a number of celebrations of the attacks in the Middle East with images of these celebrations being broadcast on television and published in print. Less publicized were public displays of sympathy, including candlelight vigils in countries like Iran.
Public response in the United States Edit
September 13, 2001: A New York City firefighter looks up at what remains of the South Tower.Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, George W. Bush's job approval rating soared to 86% . On September 20, 2001, the president spoke before the nation and a joint-session of Congress, regarding the events of that day, the intervening nine days of rescue and recovery efforts, and his intent in response to those events. In the speech, he characterized the speech itself as being akin to the President's customary State of the Union address.
The attacks also had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the United States population. People began rallying around the popularized phrase, "United We Stand," in hopes of being resilient and keeping the American spirit alive in the face of a devastating attack. Many people joined together to help the victims. Gratitude toward uniformed public-safety workers, and especially toward firefighters, was widely expressed in light of both the drama of the risks taken on the scene and the high death toll among the workers. Many people paid tribute to the police officers and fire fighters by wearing NYPD and FDNY hats. The number of casualties among the emergency service personnel was unprecedented. The highly visible role played by Rudy Giuliani, the Mayor of New York City, won him high praise nationally and in New York City.  He was named Person of the Year by Time magazine for 2001, and at times had a higher profile in the U.S. than President George W. Bush.
Blood donations saw a surge in the weeks after 9/11. According to a report by the Journal of the American Medical Association, "...the number of blood donations in the weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks was markedly greater than in the corresponding weeks of 2000 (2.5 times greater in the first week after the attacks; 1.3–1.4 times greater in the second to fourth weeks after the attack)."
Two major public reactions to the attacks were a surge of public expressions of patriotism not seen since World War II, marked most often by displays of the American flag; and an unprecedented level of respect, sympathy, and admiration for New York City and New Yorkers as a group by Americans in other parts of the United States. Some criticized this particular reaction, noting that not everyone who died was from New York (for example, some of the passengers on the planes), and that the Arlington, Virginia community also suffered in the attacks. At the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show that took place in New York in February 2002, a touching tribute was paid to the search and rescue dogs who not only assisted in locating survivors and bodies from the rubble, but were also inside the World Trade Center buildings before they collapsed.
Backlash and hate crimes Edit
In the weeks following the attacks, there was a surge in incidents of harassment and hate crimes against Middle Easterners and others thought to be "Middle Eastern-looking" people — particularly Sikhs, because Sikh males usually wear turbans, which are stereotypically associated with Muslims by many Americans. In many cities there were reports of vandalism against mosques and other Islamic institutions, including some cases of arson.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man, was one of the first victims of this backlash; he was shot dead on September 15 at the gas station he owned in Mesa, Arizona. A total of nine people were murdered within the United States as part of the backlash.
Economic aftermath Edit
The attacks had significant economic repercussions for the United States and world markets. The New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ did not open on September 11 and remained closed until September 17. New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) facilities and remote data processing sites were not damaged by the attack, but member firms, customers and markets were unable to communicate due to major damage to the telephone exchange facility near the World Trade Center. When the stock markets reopened on September 17, 2001, after the longest closure since the Great Depression in 1933, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (“DJIA”) stock market index fell 684 points, or 7.1%, to 8920, its biggest-ever one-day point decline. By the end of the week, the DJIA had fallen 1369.7 points (14.3%), its largest one-week point drop in history. U.S. stocks lost $1.2 trillion in value for the week.
Health effects Edit
The pulverized concrete which filled the streets with voluminous dust has led through time to serious lung and cardiovascular disorders. These are covered in a recent article, Tracing Lung Ailments That Rose With 9/11 Dust, May 13, 2006. Although at the time of the tower collapses the EPA advised that there was no danger from air contamination, it has subsequently come to light that toxic fumes were very much in evidence. In February 2006, under pressure from New York's congressional delegation, the Bush administration appointed Dr. John Howard (not to be confused with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard), the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to coordinate the screening and treatment of the rescue personnel who were exposed to toxic fumes at Ground Zero. 
Insurance claims and claims against the airlines Edit
The attack on the World Trade Center led to huge insurance claims, with many insurance companies throughout the world having to disclose the impact of the attack in their financial statements. In April 2004, a jury of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected claims by World Trade Center leaseholder, Larry Silverstein, that two planes hitting the Twin Towers should, within the terms of his insurance policies, be considered two separate incidents, which would have entitled him to $7 billion in insurance reimbursements. The insurers, Swiss Reinsurance Co. and others, initially argued successfully that the attacks in New York were one incident and that Silverstein was only entitled to $3.5 billion. In December 2004, a federal jury decided that the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center was, for insurance purposes, two occurrences, which means that Silverstein stands to collect up to $4.6 billion. 
In 2003, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed to hear a consolidated master case against three airlines, ICTS International NV and Pinkerton's airport security firms, the World Trade Center owners, and Boeing Co., the aircraft manufacturer. The case was brought by people injured in the attacks, representatives of those who died, and entities that suffered property damage. In September 2004, just before the three-year statute of limitations expired, the insurers for the World Trade Center filed suit against American Airlines, United Airlines, and Pinkerton's airport security firm, alleging their negligence allowed the planes to be hijacked. Because the Air Transportation Act, which was passed after September 11, limits the liability of airlines aircraft manufacturers, and airports to the amount of their insurance coverage, this case will likely be combined with the consolidated master case filed in 2003.
Market Activity Investigations Edit
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the "9/11 Commission") investigated these rumors and found that although some unusual (and initially seemingly suspicious) trading activity did occur in the days prior to September 11, it was all coincidentally innocuous and not the result of insider trading by parties with foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks:
Highly publicized allegations of insider trading in advance of 9/11 generally rest on reports of unusual pre-9/11 trading activity in companies whose stock plummeted after the attacks. Some unusual trading did in fact occur, but each such trade proved to have an innocuous explanation. For example, the volume of put options — instruments that pay off only when a stock drops in price — surged in the parent companies of United Airlines on September 6 and American Airlines on September 10 — highly suspicious trading on its face. Yet, further investigation has revealed that the trading had no connection with 9/11. A single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda purchased 95 percent of the UAL puts on September 6 as part of a trading strategy that also included buying 115,000 shares of American on September 10. Similarly, much of the seemingly suspicious trading in American on September 10 was traced to a specific U.S.-based options trading newsletter, faxed to its subscribers on Sunday, September 9, which recommended these trades. The SEC and FBI, aided by other agencies and the securities industry, devoted enormous resources to investigating this issue, including securing the cooperation of many foreign governments. These investigators have found that the apparently suspicious consistently proved innocuous.
—9/11 Commission Report
Rescue and recovery Edit
Rescue and recovery efforts took months to complete. It took weeks simply to put out the fires burning in the rubble of the WTC, and the clean-up was not completed until May 2002. Many relief funds were immediately set up to assist victims of the attacks. The task of providing financial assistance to the survivors and the families of victims is still ongoing. LiveLeak.com posted a video online which showed there was a large military prescense in New York City shortly after the attacks, and that U.S. troops took part in the clean-up operations.
A small number of survivors and surprisingly few intact victims' remains were found in the rubble of the WTC. The forces unleashed by the towers' disintegration were so great that many of those trapped in the buildings were pulverized in the collapse. Some victims had to be identified by a few scraps of flesh or individual teeth. Most bodies were never found, presumably because the heat of the fires incinerated them. On January 18, 2002, the last hospitalized survivor of the World Trade Center attack was released from the hospital. As late as April 2006, small fragments of human remains were still being found on adjacent buildings in New York.
Fires burned amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center for weeks after the attack.Over 1.5 million tons of debris produced by the collapse of the WTC posed unique problems for the cleanup effort. A fully occupied skyscraper had never collapsed before, and the environmental and health consequences of such an event were unknown. About 100 tons of asbestos used in the construction of the WTC had not yet been fully removed. The attacks released dense clouds of dust containing pulverized cement, glass fibers, asbestos, and other airborne contaminants.
By 2004, nearly half of more than 1,000 screened rescue-and-recovery workers and volunteers reported new and persistent respiratory problems, and more than half reported persistent psychological symptoms. Because of the long latency period between exposure and development of asbestos-related diseases, exposed Manhattan residents, especially rescue-and-recovery workers, may suffer future adverse health effects. The January 6, 2006 death of NYPD James Zadroga was ruled by a New Jersey coroner as directly due to clean-up at the WTC site. This ruling was unequivocally rejected in October 2007 by the New York City Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch, and Medical Examiner Michele Slone.
Six months after the attack, the 1.5 million tons of debris had been removed from the WTC site, and work continued below ground level, despite concerns that the slurry wall encompassing the site foundation — known as the Bathtub — might collapse. Ceremonies marking the completion of debris removal took place at the end of May 2002.
Effects on children Edit
The attacks were regarded by some as particularly disturbing to children, in part because of the frequency with which the images were replayed on television. Many schools closed early, especially those with children whose parents worked in Washington, D.C. and NYC.
Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida became a part of history because of the presence of President George W. Bush at the time of the attacks.In Sarasota, Florida, Emma E. Booker Elementary School became a part of history because President George W. Bush was reading to a classroom of children when the attacks happened.
When asked for her thoughts on the attacks, the first lady, Laura Bush, a former school librarian, gave a very strong warning to parents: don't let your children see the pictures over and over, especially with young children, but even elementary school-aged children shouldn't be watching it all the time. She felt it was too frightening for them and warned parents to turn off the televisions so that children don't see the replays over and over. She gave the warning based on how children reacted to the bombing in Oklahoma City. She also composed open letters to children, which she distributed through state education officials. A "Dear Students" letter went to middle and high school students , while elementary school students received one beginning "Dear Children."