Viewpoint: Sept. 11 review deserves better

If you’re like me, by now you are sick of 9-11 redux, the slickly packaged marketing of tragedy for profit with its maudlin wallowing in self-pity and cloying sentimentality.

The buildup has been going on for months. Craig Williams, writing for near the end of July, said: “I swear to God I saw a fashion story not long ago that said something like ‘In light of the events of Sept. 11, ladies are finding comfort in wearing more brightly

colored hats.’

“A company in Georgia used recycled pieces of steel from the World Trade Center to make medallions, which it sold for $30 each. The Australian fashion chain Quick Brown Fox sells sequined handbags with pictures of planes crashing into the WTC for about $87. Vendors pushing pictures and memorabilia for profit swarm over ground zero like maggots.”

Jonah Goldberg, editor of National, found much of the coverage of the anniversary of the attacks completely revolting. He especially was disenchanted with television coverage.

Goldberg wrote: “It seems when it comes to weeping and hugging, there is no such thing as too much. Perhaps because the networks believe that’s what their predominantly female audiences are looking for, they see no problem with an endless parade of grief. Or perhaps wallowing in remorse and self-pity is simply all the rage in the self-help culture that dominates newsrooms.”

Goldberg continued; “We will watch in awe, the bravery and the sacrifice and the suffering on display a year ago, and then some guidance counselor with important hair will come on the screen to put everything in ‘perspective,’ which is to say they will tell us that wallowing in grief is a permanent entitlement. But doing anything about it, ‘that’s a complicated question for a country with such a troubled past as ours.’”

The immediate future isn’t looking so hot either. It’s a year since the tragedies in New York and Washington, and we still don’t know exactly what happened. There are still no plans for an independent, public investigation of how nearly 3,000 Americans and people from around the world were allowed to die and what might have been done to prevent it.

Bush and his coterie of corporate bloodsuckers still pursue a policy of secrecy and keeping public business away from the public. Instead of an open, honest and thorough airing of what we need to do to prevent another such calamity, we have the nauseating spectacle of these “public servants” asking congressmen and women to take lie-detector tests to find out who leaked secrets about plans to attack Iraq.

Since Sept. 11, we have seen, not national unity, but growing divisiveness as the government assaults civil liberties, practices a new form of McCarthyism in which those opposed to the antics of Bush and the Republicans are branded unpatriotic and un-American.

In that sense, the terrorists have won. They have turned Republicans against Democrats, citizens against immigrants, Christians against Muslims. Secrecy just makes it all worse.

We need a full, open, televised investigation into 9-11, and we need it now. We needed it last October. This country belongs to the people, not to the government. As citizens and taxpayers, we should demand, because we deserve, honest answers to the multitude of questions still surrounding these attacks.

For instance, what did the president know and when did he know it? What was the nature of the warning of Aug. 6 from National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice that a terrorist attack was imminent? Did the hi-tech voice and keyword-recognition system known as Echelon intercept warnings of impending attack on Sept. 10? Is there a way to speed up processing of these intercepts? The intercepts supposedly weren’t processed until Sept. 12.

Why the air defense system cease to function on that terrible day? We have been fed the nonsense that there was no plan or policy in place to deal with such things and that only a few fighter planes were available to defend the country.

Americans are not that stupid. Policies and procedures were in place for such an eventuality since the early ’90s. In the year before Sept. 11, military jets were scrambled 67 times in response to perceived threats. Each time the operation went off without a hitch, yet on Sept. 11 they just couldn’t seem to get it right or get it off the ground. But we are supposed to believe it was all coincidence, and the administration had nothing to do with it.

There are other unexplained aspects. Why wasn’t there a federal law requiring reinforced doors on airliner cockpits? Was United Flight 93 brought down by a struggle between hijackers and passengers, or was it shot down by the military? Who locked the roof doors at the World Trade Center, preventing hundreds from escaping the choking smoke of the tower fires?

Why was the Pentagon so vulnerable? Did anybody claim responsibility for the attacks? Where was Osama bin Ladin during this time?

For that matter, where were our leaders? Cheney, we’re told, was hiding in a basement bunker at the White House with Condoleeza Rice while Bush flitted around the country like a scared rabbit. Congress fled the capital, as did most of the military brass and Bush’s corporate buddies. To his credit, the only administration official to stand and deliver with the ordinary folk on the scene was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who joined a bucket brigade at the Pentagon. What sterling examples of real leadership!

Above and beyond all this, the law of unintended consequences continues to operate. The costs in federal dollars spent are astronomical. State and local budgets are being exhausted, world financial markets are ready to collapse, costs for private security and insurance are climbing rapidly, and other issues are buried behind a rally-’round-the-flag mindset in the past year.

The attack on Afghanistan has resulted in excessive civilian casualties, regional instability and a brush with nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Al-Qaeda is still functional and may be resurgent once our forces depart. Oppression is on the rise in surrounding states such as Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and many of the other “stans.”

Washington’s rhetoric has largely destroyed the improving relationship we were seeing with Iran and has obviously worsened the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Looming even larger and more deadly is the prospect of war with Iraq. Bush II and the “chicken hawks” are determined to invade that country and topple Saddam Hussein. The result may be Armageddon.

Bush is calling for $396.1 billion in military spending in the next fiscal year, according to the Center for Defense Information. That’s a 13 percent increase from current levels and 15 percent above the Cold War average. All this to finance a force one-third smaller than it was 10 years ago. Spending for this purpose in the next five years will total $2.1 trillion. It bodes strongly for sinking the economy.

John Tirman, program director of the Social Science Research Council, said: “One must ask: Is all this worth it? It is conceivable—likely even—that the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, were a one-off catastrophe; if there is a determined network of terrorists ready to strike again, expect them to set forest fires, not to ram a truck into the Lincoln Memorial. They will do things for which there are no guards, just as they did on Sept. 11. The plain fact is, however, that not a single, credible threat has been revealed by the U. S. government since that sad day.”

John Madsen and Wayne Stanton, writing for, observed: “When the Turkmens, Uzbeks, Afghans, Pakistanis, Azeris, Kurds, Turks, and Georgians tire of the special treatment that U.S. Special Forces receive for guarding gas and oil pipelines—and the young troops are killed—will America’s leaders notice? No.

“Hand it to the CYA crowd, they now know that they can successfully sell the American public a rotten barrel of apples (or oil) and they will buy it gladly. Armed with that knowledge, the next attack may trigger enactment of national martial law.”

All the rehashing of last year’s assaults has produced little of substance. It has been popular to ask every interviewee, particularly celebrities, how 9-11 changed their lives. One reporter asked Brad Pitt that question.

I’m sorry. I have to side with Craig Williams. He said: “Brad Pitt’s life hasn’t changed a whit ‘since 9-11.’ And even if Pitt’s life has changed, I don’t give a rat’s ass about it. I also don’t care what Julia Roberts or Courtney Cox or Ben Vereen thinks about 9-11 either, for the record. Those people aren’t real. The people who were shredded unrecognizably while they fell through hundreds, may be 1,000 of feet of glass and steel and flaming jet fuel—they were real.”

Amen! We should thunder our demand that this so-called government not mock their deaths. We want to know WHY, HOW, WHO AND NOW?

Where is Osama bin Laden NOW? The Bush’s administrations failure to find him, mixed with unilateral arrogance and the propaganda of the American Media has made us the rude joke of the world.

Almost 3000 deaths should make us shake with rage rather than be ruled by fear, sentiment and intimidation, which seems to be the character of our U.S. Congress. Where is their investigation and backbone?

The people with the real backbone are the families of the 3000 dead. Our hearts and minds are with them, and may God keep and bless them.

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