You can watch a bushel basket of specials this weekend about 9-11, 2001. If you have been paying attention the last ten years, chances are you wonít learn anything, nothing at all, new from watching hours of these reports. NBC had a Brochaw thing on Friday that mainly recycled interviews from other programs and stories that have been reported multiple times during the last ten years. There is nothing really wrong about such repetition, because there are always viewers who didnít see the other reports or who feel a need for some sort of refresher course on recent history.
The sum total of blasting away with remembrances, hour after hour, for days on end is kind of numbing, however. Besides, do we really want to make a fetish out of our national experience of 9-11? Havenít we moved on? (I realize that those who lost family and close friends canít, truly, move on, because the person who died is still missing from their lives.) That day and what happened was one day, not all of our days and mature people are required, by the passage of time, to grow and expand on their life experiences, not just replay them like some old song on the radio.
What should we have learned over the last decade? I canít say, at least not for everyone. The stories are different and it depends on how you experienced those events. In the larger sense of the nation, here are some things that we should always bear in mind when considering the terrorists attacks:
1. They attacked us because we are a big fat target that all the world loves or hates (sometimes at the same time) and because they thought they could gain by doing so (they were wrong).
2. We went into a national panic after seeing those events live on television and we havenít fully recovered from that panic yet. The reaction caused us to go into two very costly wars without enough questions being asked and with far too much money being spent recklessly, along with the taking of thousands of human lives.
3. Never again should we allow ANY president to take us into a war like G.W.Bush did in Iraq. It doesnít matter which party the president belongs to, it doesnít matter if we like and admire the president, it doesnít matter if our patriotism is questioned, we, the people, must assert ourselves in our democracy or we will find that we will lose our democracy to autocrats who think they know better than we do what needs to be done.
4. We are currently wasting billions of dollars on secret missions to stop terrorism (see the new book by Dana Priest entitled Top Secret America). We are also wasting billions on airport inscurity measures. (Yes, I mean insecurity.) Turning the entire American flying public into virtual criminal suspects makes it less likely that a terrorist will be caught and violates fundamental understandings of the relationship between American citizens and their government, period. It is wrong on so many levels that many pages would be required just to detail these wrongs.
5. Our government conspired to conflate the threat of terrorism and we have not come down from that massive over estimation to this day. It was put in place by G.W. Bush, but the same basic line has been adopted by Obama. None of the extraordinary security measures has been withdrawn, save for ďenhanced interrogationĒ (torture) of terrorist suspects.
6. America remains a difficult target for terrorists to attack. The success of preventing attacks to date revolves more around this simple fact than the combined efforts, involving billions of dollars, of our forces trying to prevent terrorism. We have the good fortune of being far away from the seat of terrorism, the middle east, with no land connections in between. If we were not a difficult target, one can be certain that we would have gone through at least five to ten more attacks over the last ten years.
7. There will NEVER be another successful hijacking of an American commercial airliner over American skies because the pilotís station (cockpit) door was hardened in all commercial aircraft. If someone attempts to take control of a plane, the pilot knows he or she cannot open the door, because it only ensures death. In the event someone gets onboard with a weapon, the pilots will land the aircraft at the closest airport, after having taken measures in the sky to disrupt and prevent a hijacking. Had the door hardening been done previously, 9-11 would not have unfolded in the way it did. The airlines resisted the measure for years because it cost about 50,000 dollars per aircraft. In all likelihood, at least one or two of the hijackings would have stopped with killings in the cabin, not crashing into buildings and the hijackers would have been taken into custody.
8. Terrorism may be a continuing fact of life in the 21st century, but it is not likely to be a constant threat unless we allow our fears turn it into one. We have to be more calm and mature about these matters. The greatest danger going forward is from domestic terrorists adopting some of the techniques of foreign terrorists. If that should happen, all of our civil liberties would be under constant threat and would likely be destroyed.
Doug Terry, 9.10.11