Saturday, September 13, 2003


Sepember 11th wasn't the day to post this, so I chose to wait. It was the most horrific event in my lifetime and I deeply hope it remains that way. Even though 3000 people died, we were very lucky that more than 100,000 didn't. The terrorists were more concerned with how things played back home than with making the most effective and devastating strike they could. While planning their activities well, they lost the big picture and we are fortunate for that.

I am also glad that George Bush was our President and not Al Gore. Bush rose over and above the challenge; I suspect Gore would have been in over his head and handled things as he saw them handled for the previous two terms. While I have trouble with the details and some of the collateral issues (like the Patriot Acts), I support out efforts to root out and eradicate, as much as possible, those responsible. We have bitten off a mighty big chew, one that we'll be a long time processing. I have questions, but they arise from the natural problems someone far from the planning has with the apparent actions of those in command. I can live with it.

But there are still questions that demand more immediate answers. Not the harpie political mongering of Senator Clinton: "What did he know and when did he know it?" Nor the conspiracist whispers: "Why did Bush allow this attack?" Rather, they grow from the actions, reporting and accounts of the event itself.

The Philadelphia Daily News asks twenty of those questions and I urge you to read them. It is thought-provoking stuff. Some of the questions are fluff to pad the article, but some cut right to the heart of the day.

They do leave out two more questions, though. First, there's the story from New York of a Palestinian boy who, caught day-dreaming one day in class, staring at the two towers, who said something bad was going to happen to them. It was a week before 9-11. The story is well documented, but hasn't been investigated. Then there's the also documented story of the Israeli cell phone (or was it pager?) company that sent out a terrorist warning to their subscribers two hours before the first attack. This wasn't the Palestinian assertion that Jews knew, but I think is the source of that libel. That story, too, has disappeared. (Sorry for no links here; they are difficult to track down now. But if necessary for readers, I will look if asked to back myself up.)

Also, there is this reconstructed timeline of President Bush's movements and actions that day. This site has meticulously linked and documented writing that brings up a lot of questions themselves. Go to their home page for more. They are not as "conspiracist" as most sites, though they do slip in the occasional unwarranted speculation or assertion, so be careful in reading.

Lastly, why after two years has not one single government official been reprimanded, demoted, punished, fired, charged, arrested, taken to jail or court or otherwise disciplined? That, more than anything else, is what galls me. There is strong and clear evidence that some folks didn't take the action they should have.

I don't think there is a conspiracy. I do think there is a lot of turf-protecting, ass-covering and career saving going on. This is normal behavior for large bureaucracies. I'm not saying we should find a few people to point the terrible finger of blame at for 9-11. But there is no real evidence that meaningful change has come as a result. And that's what scares me.

Because I do think one day before I die, I will live to see a small nuclear attack on a city of America or Europe. Or, as has been alleged recently, a massive biological attack by the remnants of Al-Qaeda. Either way, that's too terrible to confront. It demands that renewed, focused and efficient agencies are on the job. How do we know that we have the folks up for the task?

Who watches the watchmen?

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