I'm surprised how often in the last few days I've shed tears. I cried when I finally got to a TV and saw the outrageousness of the attacks. I cried while watching ABCNews' heart-wrenching coverage of people congregating with pictures of their missing loved ones, outwardly grieving and hoping against all hope and reason that they might be alive. I cried during the Star-Spangled Banner, more than once.
I love my country, I love our way of life, our freedom and liberty and our open society. I'm proud to be an American. I voted for our President, I'm proud of our President, I support our President. I'm proud of the way we've set apart our differences and come together. I'm proud of the men and women of our armed forces and our investigators and our relief workers and our leaders. And I'm proud of the way the world's leaders have pledged unity and support.
The FBI now thinks there were EIGHT groups of initial hijackers. Two of the groups hijacked and piloted jets into the World Trade Center towers 1 and 2. They were BRUTALLY successful, perhaps more so than they ever expected. One group hijacked and piloted a smaller jet into the Pentagon. There is evidence the original target was the White House. One more group was apparently prevented from taking their plane to their target by a brave group of passengers who realized the hijackers were suicidal. They crashed in Pennsylvania, though the target may have been Air Force One, the President's mobile command center housed in a heavily customized 747.
The attack on the World Trade Center was brilliantly executed. The man suspected of being a mastermind of the US operation, Mohammed Atta, was the pilot of the first plane which struck the South tower. The attacks shook the buildings, but it was the 45 tons of highly explosive fuel which melted the upper structures of the towers. After that, it was gravity which brought the buildings down floor by floor. The accuracy and planning required was strong. The buildings housed tens of thousands of people. Casualties, though exact figures may never be known, may top 5000 people, not including the thousands of injured, not including dead relief workers, the plane passengers, or those killed at the Pentagon. And the economic impact will be SEVERE. The NYSE hasn't been trading for days. Whole companies have been wiped out, others have lost sizable offices and dozens of employees. The aviation industry has lost many billions of dollars and may lose billions more. The insurance industry may be hardest hit. We will ALL pay for what has happened with our wallets. Clearly, the WTC attack was a master stroke.
For those who live near or who have been to Dallas, you're aware of the huge green-outlined building which dominates the skyline, the Bank of America Plaza. EACH tower of the World Trade Center was several yards wider, several yards longer, and a staggering 50 percent taller than that Dallas landmark. In addition, each was far larger underground.
Two more groups have apparently been ARRESTED. These two are groups of four and five Middle Eastern men carrying thousands in cash, false IDs, flight training manuals, and box cutters. The remaining two groups are still at-large. Their targets were unknown, but the Capitol building and the Supreme Court have been mentioned as possible targets.
So what we have are two very successful groups, one only partially successful group, one group which was thwarted from their ultimate destination, two groups which have been apprehended before they could carry out their terror, and a final two groups which are still being sought out.
The point is that as devestating as the death and destruction in Manhattan is, it could have been MUCH WORSE. The White House and AF1 could have been destroyed. FOUR MORE planes besides those targeting the WTC, White House, and AF1 could have struck targets. And as terrible as a jumbo jet being used against innocent civilians is, I can only imagine how lucky we are that methods such as nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons weren't used. A light, suitcase-sized 'dirty' nuclear bomb can destroy SEVERAL CITY BLOCKS. It would make the Oklahoma City bombing look like a firecracker. Nerve gas released in the NYC subway could conceivably take the lives of tens of thousands. The Anthrax virus or other biological weapons, depending on the delivery system, could be even more widespread and devestating.
Thumbs down to Michael Moore, who in amongst the unity and support is a voice of strife and divisiveness. He has used this tragedy as a vehicle to spread lies and further his own small-minded socialist political agenda.
Thumbs down to my fellow students, who have failed to be affected in the slightest and proven their absolute ignorance and stupidity. Unless the bombs are going off right in front of their heads, it STILL, STILL isn't real or cause for concern for these people who care about nothing but their own hedonistic wants and pleasures. Ignoring the world and the country during times of peace is bad enough, ignoring it this week is unconscionable. Some people have NOT A CLUE about the cost of their liberty. THEY HAVE NO IDEA OF THE PRICE OF FREEDOM. ABCNews talked to a group of 10-11 year olds. These kids were more informed, more concerned, more well-spoken, and more intelligent than the great majority of the college students I've had the misfortune to associate with this week.
Thumbs down to some of the Europeans (and even a couple Americans) I've heard from, who believe that the US has finally gotten what it has deserved for so long. Thumbs down to those who lament the fact that the nation as a whole has rallied around the President. Thumbs down to those who've referred to the President and the country as 'triggerhappy' and 'war-mongering'.
Thumbs down to gas station operators doubling, tripling, quadrupling prices in the afternoon and evening hours of Tuesday, taking advantage of a national tragedy to gain a little temporary profit. You will get what you deserve.
Thumbs down to those who have let their anger blind them, attacking Islamic places of worship and innocent Americans of Middle Eastern descent.
Thumbs down to our aging military technology, our drastically cut military budget, and our lapse in Intelligence and National Security.
Thumbs down to American funding and training of bin Laden and other Afghani freedom fighters during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Our desire to fight communism at all costs lead us to fund a group of people who had little interest in carrying forth the values of those providing the funds. Afghanistan 'won', and the result is a theocracy far worse than communism. As bad as we might think the Russians were during the Cold War, as screwed up as their ideology was, they were RATIONAL. They were human. They were always willing to listen, to back down, to not resort to such vile acts of terrorism. And the real reason they lost Afghanistan? Because they didn't really give a damn. This was a country which, at the time, could have defeated the US, it is obvious they could have had Afghanistan had they really wanted it.
Thumbs down to George Bush #41, who in 1991 chose to accede to the wishes of the UN when the mandate ran out and back out of the Persian Gulf. Supplication to the UN was a fatal political error as well as a terrible International mistake.
Thumbs up to the television networks, who have done an amazing thing in broadcasting days worth of 24 hour news, with NO commercials. I dog the media quite often, but their coverage has been superb this week.
Thumbs up to the US corporations which have donated tens of millions of dollars to the relief effort.
Thumbs up to the hundreds of thousands of people all over the country lining up to donate much-needed blood. Just remember, the need for blood will be as great or greater two weeks from now, and a steady stream is important.
Thumbs up to Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has authored and sponsored a bill to bring back Sky Marshalls. ONE MAN with a gun on each plane could have prevented so much tragedy.
Thumbs up to Rudolph Giuliani, who has shown immense strength and capacity for hope and compassion.
Thumbs up to the people who love our country and our way of life, and who have always loved our country and our way of life. Thumbs up to my mother, who didn't have to go buy a flag to fly, because she already owned three of them. Thumbs up to those people who didn't need a national tragedy before they professed their support for the American way of life, our openness, our unity, and our President.
Thumbs up to the men and women who have come before us and given their lives to give us this great land and to secure and defend our freedom. Thumbs up to those who will do the same in the near future.
Thumbs up to the tens of thousands of brave relief workers at the wreckage of the World Trade Center, selflessly doing whatever it takes against all odds.
Thumbs up to PlanetUnrealForums, which in remembrance and reverance chose to shut down all the forums for Friday, September 14th.
Thumbs up to President Bush, who has been extraordinary in the past few days. He has connected with the relief workers in Gore country, NYC, in a special way. He has been visibly angry, shed genuine tears in front of cameras, and stood strong. I am SOOOO thankful President Bush and Vice-President Cheney and Colin Powell and this whole administration are there and not a Clinton or Gore administration. It gives me and many others hope, something to lean against for assurance and confidence, and that's something I'm not sure I would have if someone else were in office.
Thumbs up to the US Congress, which has united with political, financial, and moral support for the President. Issues like the tiny draw from the 'Social Security Surplus', Gary Condit, reparations, and other political hot topics suddenly seem insignificant and trivial.
What is to come? Well, it is believed Osama bin Laden is behind these attacks. bin Laden is an exiled Saudi fundamentalist reportedly worth $300 million on his own who has used Afghanistan as his base of operations for years. He DEEPLY hates the US for a variety of reasons and has declared a Holy War against us. He did not have a terrible childhood but a very priveledged one. He is highly educated. It is currently thought bin Laden has left his camps and fled for the mountains, though he denies responsibility. The Taliban, the ruling theocratic government in Afghanistan (and purveyors of some of the worst human rights violations in the world today), has said bin Laden is not responsible, and at first expressed condemnation of the attacks. It has now warned us that should we take retaliatory action against bin Laden, it will take 'revenge' against us. The official stance of the Bush administration is that we will not discriminate between the attackers and those who harbor them.
We are putting pressure on Pakistan to force Afghanistan to turn in bin Laden and to allow us access to their airspace. NATO has invoked part of its charter, saying that an attack on one is an attack on all, pledging full military support for the US. China has even pledged support, offering to send a contingent of trained relief workers. Russia's stance is unclear (though, like most nations, they have expressed deep regret). Meanwhile, Iraq has come out with strong support for the terrorist attacks. A State Department report says that there may be 35 to 50 countries which have harbored, funded, and/or lent support to bin Laden in the last few years. The phrase 'International Terrorism' may take on a whole new meaning as we uncover some more details of the planning and support that went into this plot. Make no mistake though, this is STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM.
More people have died in NYC from this than died in Pearl Harbor and the Lucitania combined. 97 percent of Americans favor the use of force for retaliation. That should be an absolute GIVEN. I'm wondering who the opposing 3 percent are. We CANNOT hide our heads in the sand and just hope this doesn't happen again. Listen, this HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING! We will never be the same. We must strike hard and quick, but do so based on facts and evidence. Newspaper headlines read 'US prepares for war'. 40,000 military reserve members have been called to active duty, although the authority to call basically ALL OF THEM ( at least one million reservists) has been provided, and that 40,000 is well-known to be just the tip of the iceberg. There is NO QUESTION in my mind that this is war. The questions come as we ask 'war against whom?', 'war to what extent?', and 'what kind of war?'
And when our great President states that this was an attack on our open society, on our way of life, on democracy, his words carry more meaning than they initially might seem to. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the War on Terrorism, which will dwarf the War on Drugs. One of the reasons I've been for decriminalization of drugs for a long while is that the Drug War has been used as justification for some of the most heinous infringements of the rights of Americans. The war on drugs is also a war on civil liberties, a war on freedom, a war on privacy, a war on the Bill of Rights. But the war on terrorism will do so much more.
So the question becomes, how much essential liberty do we give up in order to obtain a modicum of temporary safety? Which sections of the Bill of Rights do we throw out? If we cease to be the open nation we were on Monday, has the attack on our way of life succeeded in some way? Do we submit to the 'Israelization' of our society? In Israel, EVERY citizen carries a gun, sometimes multiple guns, everywhere. It is as normal as putting on one's shoes in the morning.
Right now, we have the support of the UN, the EU, NATO, as well as a number of independent nations. President Bush has the full support of Congress. The nation's people are united.
How long before this becomes Gephardt and Daschle -vs- Bush and Powell? Or the CIA -vs- the ACLU? Or the US -vs- the UN?
I don't know what will happen. Tomorrow morning the Taliban or Pakistani government may present bin Laden's head on a stick for examination by the world. On the other hand, a number of nations could unite against the US in a Jihad and a large scale war could break out. I'm not sure President Bush and Colin Powell will be able to sell a war to the American people, and I think the likelihood of that being the case diminishes with each day that passes.
But I just hope you remember how you feel right now if and when we find ourselves in an all-out war, suffering massive casualties, spending billions of dollars, fighting on ten different fronts, facing the possibility of military conscription (the draft), having been abandoned by the UN and NATO, with no end in sight. I don't mean to sound like an alarmist or a reactionary. But I don't think this is the end. I think it is the beginning.