Ever since four coordinated bands of terrorists hijacked passenger airliners in 2001 and killed 3,000 people, America's preoccupation with domestic security has been paramount.
Maintaining that security has created issues no one anticipated in the days before 9/11. Today the National Security Agency collects phone records on millions of Americans. The Pentagon uses drones -- remote-controlled unmanned aircraft -- to annihilate suspected enemies in faraway countries. And Steeler fans at Heinz Field endure new security rules that require nearly all bags brought into the stadium to be see-through.
Feel safer now? How you answer the question depends on the price -- in dollars, inconvenience and loss of liberty -- you are willing to pay.
A dozen years after America's history-changing terrorist attack, it is fair to ask, "How safe are we?" That will be the question before a distinguished panel presented by PNC Financial Services at a Post-Gazette town meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the August Wilson Center.
Moderated by Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman, the panel will include: Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania governor and former U.S. secretary of homeland security; Mara Rudman, former deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs; Kiron Skinner, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for International Relations and Politics; and Dan Simpson, associate editor of the Post-Gazette and a former U.S. ambassador.
Admission is free, but attendees should register at post-gazette.com/townmeeting or 412-263-3850.
Nowadays the question of "How safe are we?" can be closely followed by others that are equally troubling. How these experts answer them will shape the thinking of Pittsburghers.