September 11, 2001

Even from the time I went to sleep on September 10th, I knew September 11, 2001, was going to be a big and important day. Why? Because it was the day the cable company was scheduled to come by (between 9 and noon), to install cable where I lived. This turned out to be something of a mixed blessing.

My roommate woke me up at around 7am by knocking on the door and telling me to turn on my TV. I did, and was immediately astonished at what I was seeing. I seem to remember that I tuned in not too long before the first tower collapsed. It was a sight both great and terrible and I had no idea what to make of it. Then the reports came in about the crash at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

We didn’t have cable, but we did have the internet, so I hoped on and began trying to find out what I could. I heard rumors about things like a car bomb outside the State Department, something which thankfully wasn’t true. I also watched in great horror as the second tower came down, and called my mom and my dad to talk with them about what was happening.

The cable installer was right on time, arriving shortly after 9am. He got the cable installed and suddenly we had 150 or channels at our disposal, almost all of which were rebroadcasting CNN. I stayed glued to the TV for pretty much all that day and most of the next. And then, like everyone else, except the so-called “truthers,” I went on with my life.

Our country did change that day, but it didn’t change even slightly for the better. Before September 11, 2001, it would have been unthinkable for our nation to sanction the use of torture. We never would have held people indefinitely without charges or trial. Our government wasn’t allowed to monitor phone calls of American citizens without warrants. Mosques could be built without people raising an eyebrow. The security measures we’ve put into place in our airports would never have been tolerated. Tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq would not be dead. We wouldn’t be stuck in two foreign wars, one of which wasn’t even remotely necessary.

Our country was severely damaged that day, but not by the terrorists who knocked down some buildings and killed a crapload of people. Our country was damaged by ourselves and our leaders, who sold out the notion of civil liberties and freedom in return for a perception of security that everyone knows is false anyhow. We have become a lesser, damaged country that ignores the principles we want everyone else to uphold.

It’s been ten years since the attacks, and arguably that’s because of what we’ve done. I’m sure the increased security probably helped a bit, but I doubt it was the main reason we haven’t been attacked. The main reason is that, on that day, AL-Qaeda got lucky. Very lucky. We had a president who was asleep at the switch and ignored reports with titles like “Al-Qaeda Determined to Attack Targets in the United States,” and no one had ever really tried to do something like this before. This was a one-off, and even without the insane security measures and curtailment of rights and freedoms, likely we still wouldn’t have been attacked by them again in any notable way.

Glenn Beck did something a couple years back called “9/12” or somesuch. It was about returning people to the mindset we had the day after the attacks, when we were one country pulling together. I’d much rather we go back to 9/10, when we were a country that stuck to its guns on issues of freedom and democracy. A country that took a far greater threat in the form of Nazi Germany and still played by the rules of war and still give the Nazis trials rather than holding them forever.

One day, with luck, we’ll go back to being the country we were on September 10, 2001.


Al Qaeda’s Got an Urgin’ for a Surgeon

Why so serious?

According to government warnings, al Qaeda is trolling around looking for doctors who might be willing to implant explosives into people. Because apparently they think The Dark Knight is a documentary.

This is silly on so many levels. First, this explosive would be next to useless for anything other than killing the person it is inside of. The mass of the body would act as a shield and you’d have no real shrapnel flying around. Just lots of chunky salsa. Second, how would one detonate this? I picture someone with a fuse sticking out of their liver. Ok, they’d probably use a cell phone or something, but that just complicates matters further. Third, how many people would die from an infection or complications before they had a chance to detonate? Fourth, really guys? That’s the best you can come up with? Losers.

What’s really stupid, however, is the government warning about this. It serves only to make people paranoid and, realistically, I think it would be unlikely they could find an implanted bomb through normal screening methods. From CNN’s article on this:

“As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place. These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport,” [spokesman Nicholas] Kimball said.

So what additional screen procedures are these? If it’s something that won’t show up on the standard x-ray/metal detector arrangement, how are they supposed to find it? Are we all going to get free full-body CAT scans now?

This s something that can be filed under “Ignore Completely”, except for the fact that now that our government has brought it up they’ll have to find a “fix” somehow. So, yeah, probably coming soon to an airport near you, full-body CAT scans.

We Got Him?!

Well, breaking news and subject to modification, but it sounds as though former US ally Osama bin Ladden is dead. Dead as a tin of Spam. I’m getting this from CNN, CBS and others. The President is apparently going to speak on this soon.

If this is indeed true it changes… well, not much, really. He’s been largely irrelevant since he got lucky back in 2001, and with the recent so-called “Arab Spring” he and his message have become ever more irrelevant. But no doubt this means an end to terror, right? And somehow everything is better and stuff? I don’t know. I wish we’d caught him alive. A trial for him would’ve been a great thing, since we’re a nation of laws.

It’s also worth mentioning at this point that he and his kind did a lot of damage to us. Four airplanes, a couple thousand dead, damage to the Pentagon, a few buildings knocked over. It’s also worth mentioning that we did a lot more damage to ourselves than he ever did. He didn’t force us to start using torture. He didn’t make us hold people without charges and without trial. He didn’t make us launch invasions of two countries, one of whom had nothing to do with 9/11. We’ve killed far more people in our efforts to stop terrorism than any terrorists have ever killed. Now that bin Ladden is dead, I hope this nonsense stops.

But I don’t think it will.

*** UPDATE – 8:11pm ***

Sounds like we got him in a mansion outside Islamabad. That’s the capital of Pakistan, a nation which has gone out of our way to reassure us that they are working very hard indeed to stop terrorism and find bin Ladden. Whoops.

*** UPDATE – 8:38pm ***

Obama is talking now and making some good statements, including about how bin Ladden attacked Muslims, too. CNN is also showing people celebrating outside the White House. That’s classy. *eye roll* Regardless of what you think of bin Ladden he was still a human being and we really should not be celebrating this.

*** UPDATE – 849pm ***

The President said “Justice has been done.” No, it hasn’t. Justice would have been bringing him to trial, presenting evidence and getting a verdict. This was revenge. Better killing him than nothing, but a trial would have been much, much better and much more like the country we claim we are.

*** UPDATE – 9:43pm ***

The best comment I’ve read or heard about this so far comes from Andrew Sullivan (of course).

The more I hear the more Obama seems very close to this over the last few months: in weekly meetings, deeply involved in five national security meetings recently. This was not a lucky break. This was the end-point of several weeks of coordination. And Obama’s cool throughout. As Donald Trump was birthering out, Obama was aiming right at this country’s deadliest enemy.

While I disagree that bin Ladden was our deadliest enemy, I can certainly agree with the sentiment behind the differences between Trump and Obama.

Al Qaeda’s Softer Side

A spokesman for Al Qaeda has offered a nice little apology for all the innocent people they’ve killed over the years. Well, not all of them. Only the Muslims.

From the above-linked article:

“We also express the same in regard to the unintended Muslim victims of the mujahedeen’s operations against the crusaders and their allies and puppets, and to the countless faceless and nameless Muslim victims of the murderous crusades” in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Waziristan regions and Swat Valley, and elsewhere, he said.

Well, how sweet of them. How nice. How conciliatory. So no apologies for the non-Muslim innocent men, women and children killed on 9/11 or in other terrorist attacks. Even if they believe those who worked in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were legitimate targets, they should still apologize for the people on the planes that were rammed into them.

Oh, well. Once again we prove that it takes religion to bring out real evil in people. Sure, you can have it without religion, but believing it’s what God wants you to do sure makes it easier.