Government official talks at Coffman Unionabout pre- and post-Sept. 11, 2001, security

by Mohamad Elmasry

University students gathered Tuesday to listen to a high-ranking government official speak about what the United States is doing to combat terrorism.

Keynote speaker Michael Hurley, current senior director of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, discussed the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, United States efforts to combat terrorism and the root causes of terrorism.

The event took place at Coffman Union. Approximately 50 people attended.

Hurley said that Americans were living with a “false sense of security” before Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. government underestimated the terrorist threat, he said.

“The terrorists exploited deep institutional failings,” Hurley said.

He said it’s time for the United States to move beyond the failings of the past to prevent future failings, however.

He also encouraged the audience to pursue careers in government.

“The government needs your talents,” he said.

During a question-and-answer session, undergraduate student Samuel B. Ero-Phillips asked Hurley about terrorist acts the United States commits.

Hurley responded by saying he didn’t agree with all of the United States’ actions. But, he said, there is no moral equivalence between things done by the United States and things done to the United States by terrorists.

Undergraduate student Andy Larson said he didn’t “see (Hurley’s) presentation as allowing for a truly critical picture of American actions.”

He said the speech “seemed like a good marketing job on the official truth.”

Political science student Kelly Farley said she enjoyed Hurley’s presentation. The call to the youth of the United States to get involved was great, she said.

Hurley said the 9/11 Commission report “should be mandatory reading for every adult American.”

University student Mohamed Sabur said Hurley’s speech was a summary of the commission’s report and didn’t go in depth with more information.

The event was put on by the University chapter of Americans for Informed Democracy. The nonpartisan organization aims to increase the United States’ understanding of different nations, cultures and political systems, chapter coordinator and University student Luke Robinson said.

Last semester, the group held two events about U.S. and Islamic relations and international health care.

Robinson said the group doesn’t take a particular stance on any issue.

“(We) want to talk about the issues and understand different perspectives,” Robinson said.