Friday, September 12
I watched a couple of programs chronicling 9/11 last night. Two things struck me (and they were in diametrical opposition): one, that after the 1993 truck bombing, it was a given in the security community that the Twin Towers would definitely be hit again – and two, that Americans, when confronted with what now seems undeniable (that it was a terrorist attack), found that concept hard to accept (initially at least). We were all shocked – shocked to the core. There is no criticism meant here – real or implied. It’s just the way things were back then. Remember? I do. When the first plane hit, all I could think was ‘how on earth could that pilot not have seen such a huge building?’ Terrorism never entered my mind; not at first, anyway.
It wasn’t that I’d forgotten the ’93 attack, exactly – nor the one on the Cole, nor Oklahoma (not exactly). But those attacks weren’t on anyone’s mind back then – not leading up to 9/11 anyway. If you remember, the whole nation was fixated on the disappearance of a Congressional intern (Chandra Levy). The press hammered it. It was a chance to go after another Democrat (the murder of Joe Scarborough’s secretary Lori Klausutis happened at the exact same time and was completely ignored). Levy opened the door for constant mentions of Clinton and Lewinski (as if we’d all forgotten). But then lot’s of things were ignored back then: Bush’s nearly seven month vacation (golf, his ranch, more golf), Al Qaeda’s co-option of the most reviled terrorist group label. Even Enron and its devastating economic aftermath had been shunted aside in favor of the Levy addiction. The visual media had found another Laci Peterson – and it was entranced.
So the media definitely played its part – but I lay the bulk of the blame on our government. Any sense of malaise we might have felt is their fault. How so? Let’s start locally: Giuliani (in an attempt to prove he’d ‘fixed’ the problem) convinced people they had nothing to worry about. Everything was fine here now, how are you? Hell - he moved his emergency command post right into the Towers themselves – so of course it was safe! As for the feds – well…..Congress had spent all it's time trying to impeach Clinton. He might have been gone – but they were dedicated to making sure he was not forgotten (and not in a positive way). Just like today, they had no real interest in National security - it was politics all the way.
I know this is why Pelosi has categorically said no impeachment (she doesn’t want the country diverted in a time of war) - but she’s wrong. As wrong as the Republican Congress that focused all its attention on Clinton - and for the same specious reasons: politics. Pelosi thought the voting public would get pissed off (as they did with the whole Clinton fiasco). So she put power (and the holding of it) ahead of what was good for America - kinda like her predecessor.
So now we come to the security community. They knew. Civilian security experts knew we’d get hit again. Wanna know why so few people died in those Towers? Because civilian security experts drilled the people working in them exactly what to do should an attack occur. The people not only knew they had to leave – they had been drilled in evacuation protocol: what to do and where to go if primary evacuation routes were blocked. And those experts stayed behind, making sure everyone got out. In Meryl Lynch alone – out of 2700 on site employees – only six were killed. That’s phenomenal – and very different from the situation at the Pentagon.
So where are we today? Our idiot President is practicing revisionist history (and still playing golf, his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding). New York and Washington are still not safe (none of us are). Seven years wasted – shot down the drain. Almost a trillion dollars gone; lining the pockets of faux security ‘experts’ who’d all hide under a desk playing ‘duck and cover’ if a bomb exploded three states over from their lush headquarters. I don’t know why New Yorkers didn’t take to the streets in anger yesterday – why we all didn’t. We are just as vulnerable today as seven years ago; more so, when you take into consideration how reviled Bush has made us in the eyes of the world. Seven years ago almost every country on earth leapt to our defense. Today – that coalition ‘of the willing’ consists of those countries led by right-wing fascists who’ve modeled their own governments after our current administration.
Well we’d better get it right this November – ‘cause I don’t think America’s social structure can survive another attack. Things have already broken down – and I’m not talking infrastructure here. We collectively abandoned a city after it’s destruction by natural causes. New Orleans (what’s left of it) is a shadow of its former self. Three years after Katrina and it still hasn’t been re-built. This tells me we would similarly abandon any city destroyed though un-natural causes – say if a terrorist exploded a few bombs. We’d walk away from the rubble, convincing ourselves it was all for the good. Maybe we’d pretend we were collectively playing ‘Survivor’ - I don’t know – I can only go on what I’ve seen so far…..and so far we’ve allowed political strip miners free access to every part of America.
God bloody help us if 9/11 ever happens again.