Obama signed many landmark bills into law during his first two years in office. The main reforms that were passed include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as the "Affordable Care Act" or "Obamacare"), although without a public health insurance option, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimulus amidst the Great Recession. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, he signed the Budget Control and the American Taxpayer Relief Acts. In foreign policy, he increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the United States–Russia New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya, contributing to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. He also ordered the military operations that resulted in the deaths of Osama bin Laden and suspected Yemeni Al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki.
One of the first memorials was the Tribute in Light, an installation of 88 searchlights at the footprints of the World Trade Center towers. In New York City, the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition was held to design an appropriate memorial on the site. The winning design, Reflecting Absence, was selected in August 2006, and consists of a pair of reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers, surrounded by a list of the victims' names in an underground memorial space. The memorial was completed on September 11, 2011; a museum also opened on site on May 21, 2014.More Info
On October 7, 2001, the War in Afghanistan began when U.S. and British forces initiated aerial bombing campaigns targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda camps, then later invaded Afghanistan with ground troops of the Special Forces. This eventually led to the overthrow of the Taliban rule of Afghanistan with the Fall of Kandahar on December 7, 2001, by U.S.-led coalition forces. Conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban insurgency and the Afghan forces backed by NATO Resolute Support Mission is ongoing. The Philippines and Indonesia, among other nations with their own internal conflicts with Islamic terrorism, also increased their military readiness.More Info
The attacks were denounced by mass media and governments worldwide. Across the globe, nations offered pro-American support and solidarity. Leaders in most Middle Eastern countries, and Afghanistan, condemned the attacks. Iraq was a notable exception, with an immediate official statement that, "the American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity". The government of Saudi Arabia officially condemned the attacks, but privately many Saudis favored bin Laden's cause. Although Palestinian Authority (PA) president Yasser Arafat also condemned the attacks, there were reports of celebrations of disputed size in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Footage by CNN and other news outlets were suggested to be from 1991, which was later proven to be a false accusation, resulting in a statement being issued by CNN. As in the United States, the aftermath of the attacks saw tensions increase in other countries between Muslims and non-Muslims.More Info
By midday, the U.S. National Security Agency and German intelligence agencies had intercepted communications pointing to Osama bin Laden. Two of the hijackers were known to have travelled with a bin Laden associate to Malaysia in 2000 and hijacker Mohammed Atta had previously gone to Afghanistan. He and others were part of a terrorist cell in Hamburg. One of the members of the Hamburg cell was discovered to have been in communication with Khalid Sheik Mohammed who was identified as a member of al-Qaeda.More Info
The director of the original investigation stated that "the towers really did amazingly well. The terrorist aircraft didn't bring the buildings down; it was the fire which followed. It was proven that you could take out two-thirds of the columns in a tower and the building would still stand." The fires weakened the trusses supporting the floors, making the floors sag. The sagging floors pulled on the exterior steel columns causing the exterior columns to bow inward. With the damage to the core columns, the buckling exterior columns could no longer support the buildings, causing them to collapse. Additionally, the report found the towers' stairwells were not adequately reinforced to provide adequate emergency escape for people above the impact zones. NIST concluded that uncontrolled fires in 7 WTC caused floor beams and girders to heat and subsequently "caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down".More Info
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