University of Pittsburgh
August 23, 2011

MEDIA ADVISORY: Pitt Faculty Experts Available to Comment on 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States approaches, the University of Pittsburgh offers the following faculty experts for stories related to 9/11 and its aftermath:

Tony Gaskew: Tense Relationship Between Police, Muslim Americans Among Most Significant Post-9/11 Domestic Issues

The checkered relationship between Muslim American communities and authorities at the state and local levels remains one of the most pressing domestic issues in the aftermath of 9/11, says Tony Gaskew, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. A former police detective, Gaskew is the author of Policing Muslim American Communities (Edwin Mellen, 2009), which examines the relationship between law enforcement and Muslim Americans since the passing of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act. According to Gaskew, local and state police are in the best position to interact with Muslim Americans on a daily basis. But, he says, the self-sustaining nature of many Muslim American communities—and an enduring distrust of law enforcement after the sudden and negative attention many Muslim Americans received after 9/11—means that police cannot simply impose their presence.

“These are not people the police can just scare or manipulate into cooperating,” he said. “Law enforcement officers have to build long-term relationships with these communities that are based on trust and genuine respect. It’s still unknown whether law enforcement is up to the task.”

As an officer, Gaskew was assigned to the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). He is a member of the Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies (CERIS) and also is a research member for Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (Human DHS), a consortium studying the role of dignity in society and world affairs. He can be reached at 321-795-9892 (cell) or 814-362-7636 (office), or through Karen Hoffmann at 412-916-4509 (cell) or hoffkar@pitt.edu.

Dennis Gormley: A decade later, security mandate has kept United States safe

International Security expert Dennis Gormley, a senior lecturer in Pitt¹s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a senior research fellow at the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies, is available to talk about the extent to which the U.S. Intelligence Community has lived up to the expectations of the 9/11 Commission's mandate for improvements to guard against future terrorist attacks.

Gormley served for 10 years in the U.S. intelligence community; 20 years as a senior officer of a consulting company focusing on international security, arms control, and weapons proliferation; and 10 years as a senior fellow with U.S. and internationally prominent think tanks. He is also a member of the Consensus for American Security, a group of senior military and national security leaders who support a reduced role for nuclear weapons. He has served on numerous government advisory committees, testified before Congress many times, and consulted for the Rand Corporation, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Brookings Institution, among many others. He is a widely published author of books, journal articles, and op-eds on international security issues.

Gormley can be reached at 412-648-7625 (office) or dgormley@pitt.edu or through Audrey Marks at 412-624-4238 (office), 832-296-7276 (cell), or marksa@pitt.edu.

Kent Harries: 9/11 Pushed Resolution of Skyscrapers’ Longstanding Structural, Security Weaknesses

The 9/11 attacks gave immediacy to longstanding structural and security problems regarding skyscrapers, said structural engineer Kent Harries, an expert on structural collapses and a professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

“September 11 eliminated years of wavering on the weaknesses of high-rise buildings and a lot has come out of it in terms of how fire and extreme-load resistance are considered in these building designs,” Harries said.

Since 9/11, stairwells are required to be designed as fire-resistant cells that can be isolated to contain or thwart a fire and protect occupants as the building is evacuated. Also, the roofs of high-rise structures in such cities as New York must now be accessible by helicopter to rescue people trapped in upper floors.

“In truth, structures like the Twin Towers probably will not be built in this country anymore,” Harries concluded.

Harries has consulted on and helped investigate a number of structural failures of bridges and buildings in the United States and abroad. Both before and after 9/11, he was involved in projects to “force harden” structures, or make them more resilient to both natural and man-made extreme hazards. Harries can be reached at 412-327-5183 (cell) or 412-624-9873 (office), or through Karen Hoffmann at 412-624-4238 (office), 412-916-4509 (cell), or hoffkar@pitt.edu.

David Harris: Law Professor Available to Comment on Several Topics

A leading national authority on racial profiling who studies, writes, and teaches about police behavior and regulation as well as law enforcement, Professor of Law David Harris comments on 9/11’s effect on racial profiling, intrusive surveillance, and the prosecution of terrorism cases.

On Racial Profiling Since 9/11:

The public’s mind on racial profiling has changed. Before 9/11, the vast majority of Americans wanted this practice stopped. Since 9/11, many consider it acceptable, even advisable, as long as it is targeted at terrorism and singles out people who look Middle Eastern or Muslim. Unfortunately, racial profiling works just as poorly against terrorism as it does against any other kind of wrongdoing, so this swing towards accepting anti- terrorism profiling actually makes us less safe, not more safe.”

On Intrusive Surveillance:

“The public’s willingness to accept intrusive surveillance as the price of security   has greatly increased. We see this in everything from the widespread support for the Patriot Act, to the willingness of people to allow the government to intrude upon their personal data, communications, and even bodies.”

On Prosecution of Terrorism Cases:

“The public is willing to believe many hard-to-prove charges regarding support for terrorism in ways that they would not have before the attacks. The government regularly charges persons with conspiracy-type crimes and crimes in which informants seem to play the lead role in enticing the targets to say the wrong things, even when the targets take almost no actions. Juries regularly convict in these cases, and the government therefore often proceeds on very scant evidence.”

The author of Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (The New Press, 2005) and Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (The New Press, 2002), Harris does professional training for law enforcement officers, judges, and attorneys throughout the country and the world and presents his work regularly to government bodies. He also works with public officials and citizens’ groups both locally and nationally to improve police services and public safety. He may be reached at 419-215-8162 (cell), 412-648-9530 (office), or daharris@pitt.edu or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or laer@Pitt.edu.

Louis Picard: Making health care, education a priority will help stabilize Middle East

Louis Picard, a professor at the Ford Institute for Human Security in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, says proactive measures in health and education can help lead to stability in volatile countries in the Middle East.

“Factors like the availability of prenatal and postnatal care and a focus on health and education directly relate to solutions down the road,” Picard said. “All of these things build upon movement to creating a more stable environment.”

Picard is available to talk about human security and economic and social issues in the Middle East as they relate to poverty, education, and health. He can be reached at 412-648-7659 (office) or picard@pitt.edu or through Audrey Marks at 412-624-4238 (office), 832-296-7276 (cell), or marksa@pitt.edu.

Gerald R. Shuster: Presidential Rhetoric After 9/11

“In modern history, other than the bombing of Pearl Harbor, few events dominated and impacted the activities and rhetoric of two presidents the way the attacks and subsequent events of 9/11 have for George Bush and Barack Obama,” said Gerald R. Shuster, an expert in presidential rhetoric and political communication in Pitt’s Department of Communication. “The residuals of that day affected every aspect of the nation in a way no other event has in terms of the continuing impact on the nation's economy, politics, travel, and, most of all, defense. As Congress and the president decide on the manner of dealing with the budget, the expense of two wars caused by 9/11—fought nearly simultaneously over 10 years—controls the rhetoric of both the president and Congress. The public rhetoric is far different than the private for both, and the success of both—so far as the electorate is concerned—hinges on turning the rhetoric into reality as the attempt to resolve differences generates meaningful solutions.”

Shuster’s primary interest in the political arena is from a communications perspective, evaluating communication theories and concepts in campaigns via the strategies candidates and political parties use. Shuster’s expertise includes the modern presidency from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama in terms of the presidents’ rhetorical styles and strategies. He analyzes their public comments and speeches and the impact of both on Congress and other audiences. Shuster is available at 724-664-3258 (cell), 412-624-5199 (office), 724-543-2246 (home), or ges3@pitt.edu or through Trish White at 412-624-9101 (office), 412-215-9932 (cell), or laer@pitt.edu.

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