It's no matter of hyperbole to suggest that security supersedes all other concerns in the American conscience. But the actual safety of America's citizens is still in question.
Although there were terrorist acts before Sept. 11, 2001, like the first World Trade Center attack and the Oklahoma City bombing, Sept. 11 shattered American complacency and proved that our nation is indeed vulnerable to those who would so maliciously attack us.
But four years and billions of dollars later, most American citizens feel no more secure than in the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At this point, the government has not instilled the confidence needed by the American people to make them feel safe. And for good reason.
Even though the American people are told that they are safer because of the Patriot Act or the conglomeration of vertically integrated intelligence agencies under a new director of national intelligence, residents remain vulnerable to security threats that stem from the most benign of origins.
Last week a report from ABC News revealed that the active nuclear reactor in the UA's Engineering building apparently lacked sufficient security measures and could be used to make a radioactive "dirty bomb." Yesterday federal officials closed two major Baltimore highway tunnels because of "a potential threat of undetermined credibility."
Such events inevitably foment fear, reducing Americans' confidence in their government's actions. In the face of such elusive threats, the security of the nation will not be changed by the removal of shoes at the airport, or knowing that today's terror color code is orange instead of yellow - both of which have come to represent the public face of the government's anti-terrorism initiatives.
Essentially, the government is failing the American people by neglecting to secure our borders, our ports and our airways while leaving the agencies that could be doing such work to languish in bureaucratic limbo.
This is neither a matter of money nor will - Congress can surely find funding for security measures if they truly wish to pass a $200 billion estate tax repeal and national security consistently tops public opinion polls as the most pressing issue facing our nation. This is a matter of political mettle, one in which the Bush administration has conspicuously failed.
Substantive changes - like those recommended by the Sept. 11 Commission - must be implemented, no matter the amount of political sacrifice they might entail. Until then, America stands waiting, vulnerable and afraid.
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield and Tim Runestad.