Posted by: philipfontana | June 1, 2013

Sept 11/12 Years Later

September 11

Twelve Years Later:

Reflections

 

(Note of interest: This was written three weeks prior to the April 15 Boston Marathon attack, held & revised to include this latest development.)

 

     Dedicated to the many loved ones who lost their lives & those injured on September 11, 2001, as well as the First Responders who died attempting to assist, at the World Trade Center, New York City, at the Pentagon, VA, & in the field of Shanksville, PA. This is also dedicated to those who escaped on that horrifying day & those who assisted others along the path of their escape. And now we add to this dedication those who lost their lives & those injured at the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013, & the brave who assisted them.

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     One World Trade Center, New York City’s Freedom Tower, as it appeared April 2013. Now complete with its spire, it reaches 1,766 feet high at a cost of $3.8  It is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the third-tallest building in the world.

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    This so-called political cartoon is from the Daily Record, a Morris County, New Jersey, newspaper, from the Thursday, March 14, 2013, edition. If you can’t read it all, the bottom reads, “Ground Zero.” Then in the smoldering air above the horrifying wreckage of the World Trade Center, Towers 1 & 2, float the words, “Air Travel Security & Delay, Torture, Wars, Drone Killings. Constitutional Questions, Disabled & Troubled Veterans, Debt.”

 

     Excuse us for living, but those of us who grew up in the 1950’s don’t remember the year 1953 – – 12 years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941 – – being anything like today! We were born during or after World War II. And the 1950’s were a joy of financial stability, life unfolding with a plethora of family pleasures, and all the prospects that social mobility held in store for us. World War II was to us like one of the many good old war movies about 1941-1945 with a beginning and an end.  For us, life was moving along just fine. The one great exception was the Korean War, 1950-1953, with some 37,000 American military forces sacrificing their lives. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower made certain that the “Korean Conflict” was contained and brought to a quick armistice (which we still live under and is only now coming back to haunt us 60 some years later.)

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     The all too familiar World Trade Center, Towers 1 & 2, September 11, 2001, as they smoldered following the two terrorist attacks by airplanes just prior to collapse.

     Our last 12 years since September 11, 2001 have been quite different, to put it mildly. On September 14, 2001, Congress passed legislation called “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists,” authorizing President George W. Bush to take whatever actions were required to protect our country. The saga of those twelve years which followed are known too well to all of us older folks and, sadly, to the children who have had to grow up under this long shadow. The purpose here is not to relate the events of these past 12 years, nor all the issues arising thereof, but to reflect, to comment on what strikes me in need of saying, and give you an opportunity to do the same and speak out under “Comments” at the end here.

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     The third airplane’s destructive hit to the Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia.

     What hits me in the face is how New York City and Washington, D.C. have been The Targets of those who wish to inflict harm upon America. And at this time with heavy hearts we must add Boston to the list. Perhaps our elders had it right in the 1950’s. Some of us grew up as school children living in proximity to New York City and remember conducting air aid/nuclear attack drills by hiding under our classroom desks or sitting on the hallway floor along the wall. These cities seem to be a microcosm of our American affluence/prosperity/power in the minds of terrorists, thus the targets of their hatred. My impression is that the focus of terrorists on these metropolitan areas has not lessened but increased during these past 12 years. The irony is that many of us realize the potential havoc an attack on a shopping mall in the suburbs, for example, would have across America. I hope the latest terrorist explosions at the Boston Marathon were not such an attempt and do not have that affect.

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     The crash site of the fourth aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, near Shanksville, PA, where the passenger heroes downed the aircraft & possibly prevented greater tragedy to the Capitol building or the White House.

     Next, I think of all the efforts and money that have been put forth and spent in the name of “Homeland Security.” I vividly remember when our country struggled awkwardly to use the word “Homeland” itself at first. It reminded people of the German word, “Heimatland,” referring to “home” as in a place or nation that is home, “the Fatherland,” if you will. As Americans our sentiments are tied more to our democratic ideals than our geographic land mass. “American Security” just did not seem enough at the time, so “Homeland Security” it was and will probably remain with us.

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          And now the terrorist explosions on April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon will most likely go down as the next chapter as we confront terrorism.

In any case, we moved forward with Homeland Security measures. At first there was quite a bit of administrative reshuffling of agencies. And, perhaps, the measures were a bit “hit and miss,” especially in the area of air traffic security. But by and large, until the April 15 explosions at the Boston Marathon, Homeland Security efforts have worked effectively to circumvent and prevent terrorist attacks and keep us safe as a nation. The challenge now after Boston is to reexamine our security precautions in “the public squares” across America. When the Homeland Security program began, money was thrown at States and municipalities which struggled to spend on ordinary items in some instances, even fire trucks. But we have learned to appreciate and depend on our local first responders who are there for us well before the Federal government. Now I would like to see more defensive measures intensified at municipal levels, and at ports, for railroads, at chemical plants, electric and nuclear plants, and the like.

The United States’ prompt actions in Afghanistan, October 7, 2001, were overwhelmingly justified and smartly executed to destroy Al-Qaeda headquarters and training camps along with the Taliban government harboring them. After our initial success and elimination of the imminent danger to the U.S., I can’t help but wonder if the precedents of every president from Eisenhower to Clinton, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam, would have been a better approach. If you look back at those administrations, you see a pattern of limited military actions executed with surgical precision and dependence on military force deployed by air, be it bombing or no fly zones. And if necessary, the U.S. could have moved “in and out” again on the ground to eliminate any further threats. We did so May 2, 2011 to eliminate Osama bin Laden in Pakistan next door. Such an approach would have reduced the 2,200 U.S. soldiers killed and 17,674 wounded and over $600 billion expended thus far. The loss of Afghan lives is estimated at 132,000 and counting.

Regarding the Iraq War, I ponder the many, many alternatives the United States could have used to remove Saddam Hussein from power instead of a preemptive invasion. – – Think CIA, air power, etc. Likewise, the search for WMD could have been accomplished surreptitiously rather than, “We’re here and the WMD are not!” Instead, 4,486 U.S. soldiers killed and 32,021  wounded and over $800 billion expended. The toll of Iraqi lives is estimated at somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000…….and the killing there still goes on.

Then there are the plethora of legal, Constitutional matters that have arisen since September 11 over these past 12 years: violations of people’s Constitutional rights as a result of the Patriot Act and its successor Act, acts of torture condoned at the highest levels of our government, existence and operation of the prison facility at Guantanamo, the rights of prisoners and tribunals vs. trial by our criminal justice system, the use of “blank sites” in foreign counties to hold prisoners indefinitely, atrocities such as Abu Graib, the use of drones, etc. While I have grave concerns regarding all the above, I am reassured by our American past. I have faith that we will work toward justice and getting it right in the end. I am referring to our American Civil War and the conduct and actions of President Lincoln as Commander in Chief to preserve the Union. His suspension of the writ of habeas corpus (the protection against arbitrary arrest and detention indefinitely without going to trial) and the use of military tribunals instead of the civil and criminal justice system were his most egregious acts. Just as we survived that dark chapter in our nation’s history, we will muddle through the legal questions thrust upon us by our fight against terrorism and right our wrongs and admit our faults in the end.

Excuse us for living, struggling through these past 12 years. My last reflection is that of the terrible loss of the lives of the men and women serving in the military, those left maimed in the extreme to lesser injuries, and the vast commitment of resources and treasure expended. As mercenary as it sounds, all three are bound together in a recent estimate of 6 trillion dollars spent on the wars and that will be spent when all is said and done throughout the lives of the disabled Veterans until the end of their days on this earth. That is my most disconcerting reflection, the losses to our country in lives and resources that, but for the acts and threats of terrorism, could have been put to the productive purposes of our country. In these difficult economic times, after these 12 years, I reflect on what we had to do to fight terrorism, what we could have done better, and what we did not have to do at all. After 12 years we are overcoming terrorism. It is in that last point – – when we overreact – – that I regret to say when we do so, the terrorists become the victors.

Comments: What are your reflections after these 12 years? What do YOU want to say?

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Responses

  1. I believe that our entry into the Muslim world has been a disaster. Our leaders used a 19th century military approach to the problem. Of course this began with Bush H and continued with Bush W. The world will not be safe from societies that believe and practice 13th century religious tribal societies.

    This is evident in their treatment and general attitudes of women. No society can ever progress while trying to control and hold down half of it’s society.

    300 years from now if the human race has managed to survive and not destroyed the planet. People read of this time in history and realize another religious war was waged on the world.

  2. Trusch, You always speak the truth despite what the right thinks. We should have kept out of the Muslim world as you say. …And for all the reasons you state including Muslim treatment/attitudes toward women. This religious war against the world calls for a more organized alliance of nations including Muslim nations to fight terrorism. Thanks! Phil

  3. In this fabricated war more soldiers die each day from suicide than combat. 53% of our troops suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet another fallout from 9/11. President Obama is hiring thousand of counselors through the VA to help this terrible situation. My daughter will be interning as a counselor for the VA beginning in August,

    • Joy, Yes, the suicide really bothers me…I think one a day! I’m so serious about this I want Joe Biden to go the Afghanistan & tell the troops, “You stop this. Just stop this. Things get bad but this is NO ANSWER! I’ll make you a deal! Sure I’m busy. I’m the VP! But if you’re going to do this, don’t, & CALL ME ON THIS SPECIAL NUMBER! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!” And PTSD & having to prove it drives me nuts! Believe the Vets even for a headache & treat them! If they are wrong, the doctors will find out. Great to hear of the big push for thousands of counselors. I read on FB that Jillian got an internship with the VA & wondered if it was general counseling or hearing related. Thanks for the comment & following “Ex Us…”!!!!!!!!! Phil

  4. Thank you for the article. Your clarity and kindness helps.

    • Bernadette, Thank you for your generous words as always. I had never tried this before, i.e., I reposted this on Facebook & Twitter yesterday, originally appearing on “Excuse Us…” June 1, 2012. My thinking was that on this September 11 twelfth anniversary there would be too much being said so get a jump on it. But while it was heavy yesterday on emotion, there was little re reflection. Thus, I reposted it! Thanks again. Phil

  5. This was very interesting to read. Such a disaster, I remember like it happened yesterday.
    Lots of love and hugz
    Patty

    • Patty, Much thanks. This was a hard one to write because I didn’t know where my conclusion would land. In the end my message was not to overreact to terrorism. Phil

      • And a great message that is!
        Hugz ♥

  6. Patty, Thanks so much for reading my serious posts. I have another history post written for January & then I am due for something light, humor or another pasta recipe. For December people are so busy, I just decided to say “Merry Christmas” my way with family & hold a serious piece for January. Thanks again for the interest & attention. Phil

  7. oh I knew that.. every time I write Santa he writes back, but if you want cookies.. you have to write to Mrs Claus …..just sayin’!

    • John, You must have an “in” with Mrs. Claus because she baked those almond tarts for you! I wrote to Doris Kearns Goodwin & she wrote back…but no cookies!!! Thanks! Phil

  8. Hi Dear, are you truly visiting this site daily, if so afterward you will definitely obtain good
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  9. Well written Phil – and very interesting to read the angel on this important part of international history. As europeans we have been following america and the war on terror the last 12 years. Thank you so much, we appreciate the opportunity to read your thoughts on subject…

  10. jeppe&katja, So nice of you to take a look & comment. Denmark, the EU, the USA, we are all facing terrorism together. I hope Denmark has been isolated fro such acts! Sometime I must tell you of my love for Denmark going back to my college years of travel there!!! Phil

  11. Philip: (Thanks for pointing the way to this post from jeppe&kaatja post this week.) Your wonderful reflections/conclusions piece strikes home with a numerous points, but as you implied, there are so many compelling thoughts and conclusions to consider, and ponder as time passes. I rarely argue for or against controversial view points, because the controversy itself is telling of the emotions and feelings expressed amongst all of us. BUT, (at the moment) I feel we would not have been sheltered to large scale terrorist activity in the past 12 years, if our government had not (clandestinely) sanctioned NSA surveillance. (Boston may be the solitary exception!)
    Acting with imprudence on such similar “chatter” in the weeks prior to 9/11 likely allowed it to happen, with all the terrible consequences and repercussions mentioned in your excellent post.
    On a softer note, you might find a photo post I did of interest – just after the Boston incident. I believe it can be seen at Mvschulze.wordpress.com in the previous posts on the right: “And yet again, Boston” M 🙂

    • MV, I can sympathize with your avoiding controversial viewpoints or the issues themselves. The the emotions you refer to merely divides any readership out there. I’ll address the big historic ones like 9/11 & JFK: 50 Years, but avoid the latest political hotbeds of discussion. And I totally agree that our country blew it in the weeks prior to Sept.11 re the level of “chatter’ as you call it, not to mention FBI neglect down in Florida with student pilots wanting to learn how to fly an airplane with no interest in how to land! Thanks! I’ll check out your post of Boston photos. Phil

      • “no interest in how to land” … Incredible! That would not happen today, and again I personally believe the aggressiveness of the NSA just adds a significant, necessary layer to our diligence. M.

  12. MV, I totally agree with you re the NSA!!! And those that ponder amnesty for Snowden should be put on security patrol at airports, borders, or at the Soshi Olympic Games & they will change their minds quickly!!! Thanks! Phil

  13. One of my followers has a extremely right-wing conspiracy Tea Party blog. According to her (yes, her!), all of those events were staged……….Oh the laughter.

  14. Russel, I have little to no tolerance for conspiracy theorists. On the JFK assassination, I will listen. But on September 11, I refuse to listen just as with the moon landing idiots! Phil


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