After 9-11 reflections

By Renee Tomcanin
March 21, 2002

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the topic of terrorism and how our world has changed has often been discussed. On March 16, the Prelaw Club and the Alumni Association sponsored a forum on this subject from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Widener Center Lecture Hall.

Five speakers, including faculty of Cabrini and alumni, discussed many different topics on international and domestic terrorism to a large crowd. Change was a common thread among the speakers. Topics covered ranged from bioterrorism to American foreign policy to the workings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The first to speak was Dr. James Hedtke, professor and chair of the history and political science department. Hedtke described Sept. 11 as a pivotal event in American history because “many things stayed the same but many things changed.” A few of the aspects of life that have stayed consistent are the existence of terrorism and the profile of a terrorist. Perception of the United States as a target for terrorism and hatred towards Americans are some of the changes that have occurred since Sept. 11.

The next speaker was 1984 graduate Lizann Dinoto-Kelley. Dinoto-Kelley works as assistant general counsel of the National Security Law Unit for the FBI. She described what her basic job functions were and how the FBI may be changing after the attacks. According to Dinoto-Kelley, the 9/11 investigation is “the largest, most significant in history.” Her unit’s job is to give advice on national security functions and detect and prevent problems in that department. Some of the changes that the FBI is considering undergoing are focusing more on terrorism and national security and improving the sharing of information between departments. The FBI is working on preventing future attacks and is pushing to hire more specialists and agents in order to accomplish this and many other goals.

Dr. Sherry Fuller-Espie, assistant professor and chair of the biology department, spoke third on the topic of bioterrorism. Fuller-Espie spoke on many aspects of the subject. She defined some of the agents used in attacks, such as anthrax, small pox and plague. She also mentioned some of the important topics in preventing a bioterrorist attack.

These included better electronic communication, stockpiles of vaccines and training medical and public health officials in order to be part of an early warning system. In order to contain and combat bioterrorism, awareness, preparedness, training of public health professionals and collaborations of governments on all levels will be key.

On the topic of terrorism and American foreign policy, Dr. Jolyon Girard, professor of history and political science, presented. Girard said that three things define American foreign policy: a free enterprise, capitalist economy, democracy and a secular/humanist stance. The question after Sept. 11, according to Girard, is “Do we need to assess whether we need to change?”

The final speaker was 1995 alumnus Carmen Pino, a special agent for the U.S. Custom Service. Before Sept. 11, the Customs Service looked south, to the borders of Mexico and South American countries, because of drug trafficking. Now, they are looking north to Canada because a person can declare refugee status once they arrive and that frees them from any surveillance for one year. Pino also mentioned the new operations that Customs has taken on since Sept. 11. Like the FBI, changes have been made to focus on terrorism. This includes Operation Shield America, which is designed to protect Americans from terrorist attacks by means of weapons of mass destruction. While Customs is still run out of the department of the Treasury, it may move to Homeland Security. Customs is also investigating ways to stop monies from other organizations from aiding terrorist groups, like heroin sales profiting Al Qaeda.

After the speakers an open forum for questions was held, and a lunch for all attendees and presenters followed. The PreLaw Club and Alumni Association sponsored the event. Lisa Esposito is president of the PreLaw Club, and Professor of history Jamie Prince is president of the Alumni Association.

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Renee Tomcanin

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