31 December 2005

9/11 and me

I worked actively in a federal agency involved with DoD. I am currently seeking retirement due to my infirmities, which keep me housebound for my safety. Before that I actively worked for my agency in various capacities.

In the days leading up to 9/11 I was struck by back spasms which were strong and deep. Medications helped to soothe them and bring them under control. The morning of 9/11 saw me on the sofa, watching the news... and staring in horror... helpless to move, to do, anything... but watch. The nation joined me in disbelief. In horror. In dread. New York... South Tower... Pentagon... North Tower... rumors of problems and jets gone missing... possible attack at the Dept of State... evacuations... National Guard... fighter jets scrambled...

I received a phone call to make sure I was ok from my supervisor. Then family members living out of state. I was fine. One of my coworkers worked in the Pentagon, and I was not too sure about her. Still, it is a stout building and when they revealed that it was the new, renovated section I breathed a sigh of relief. Unless an errand took her there during the critical seconds, she was safe. If the attack had happened a couple of months later... well... I would not have been reassured as her office was moving to that section.

In the days following I received news that a colleague that worked for a contractor had been on Flight 77.

I waited... my agency was shut down for days... then allowed to re-open... when I could barely hobble to my car and sit in it, I went to work. And asked to be moved from my semi-admin job back to a warfighter support job that I had come from, which was granted. I helped there to spell the men and women that had been required to stay at work... and do their jobs... I spelled them, did the work they did and that I had done previously... to support... and help... Afghanistan... we dredged through every scrap of info we could... copied and produced works decades old... and sent them quickly and directly to the commands involved.

Terrorists, al Qaida, Afghanistan, support networks, internetworked terrorist organizations of all stripes on a global scale. The President took the US to war even as the Pile smoldered. And at the time and still now, that war has not been properly scoped. When you learn that IRA terrorists trained with the PLO and that al Qaida agents had trained with both, and then have contacts with FARC and The Shining Path.... that is a problem.

Transnational terrorism.

Say it slowly.

No terrorist organization works in a vacuum. They cross-train. They provide support to each other. They share their dirty little secrets on how to make bombs and weapons and attack and hide. Those links came out as people talked... and yet the news media never heard that when they asked *why?*. The links are there and are *still* there.

It was not *just* al Qaida.

It was not *just* Afghanistan.

My generation had a Pearl Harbor level attack. The target should be Transnational Terrorist Organizations. If they receive money outside of their home country, they are transnational. If they train with other terrorist organizations outside of their home country, they are transnational. And if a country does not vigorously pursue and seek to rid itself of these groups, then they are tacitly if not actively supporting transnational terrorism. And what was the message sent by the work in Afghanistan and then Iraq?

The United States does not have the *will* to fight the necessary fight on a global scale.

I looked for the President to strike while the metal was hot, near molten, and forge a new consensus for the modern age. To hit hard on national opinion and wake us up to the fact that the Cold War had masked a growing problem that had been striking fear into the hearts of millions globally. Terrorists had been mostly showmen, but the attacks were becoming more serious, more deadly and more pointed. Many groups had rhetorically declared war on the United States. Osama bin Laden did in the 1990s. And because they were mostly showmen with guns, because the US foreign policy did *not* change after the fall of the Soviet Union, because attacks from Tehran to Beirut to Africa to NY to Yemen were not seriously addressed... we got 9/11.

I had wished that the President had gotten up before Congress and simply said the following:

"To all terrorist organizations that have declared war on the United States: We reciprocate. To all those that support you be they States or companies or groups or individuals: You are the enemy of the United States. I ask congress to reciprocally give a Declaration of War against all groups and organizations that have declared war on the United States since 1945. Those States, companies, organizations, groups and individuals who support you are also targets. Any of these that have publicly stated their enmity for the United States have until I sign the Declaration of War to sue for peace. Once I sign the Declaration of War, unconditional surrender will be your only option. We have not taken you seriously before, and today we do. We grieve for our dead and tell you as a Nation, we will not stop until every last declared enemy of the United States has given up its activities to harm us. You have asked for war. We, as a people, will oblige. I ask Congress to provide this Declaration of War and mobilization authority so that our country can begin the task that has been set to us. And to the American People, I say that we do not strike out of grief or vengeance. We strike because we have been struck many times and have held ourselves in abeyance and have paid a dear price for that. No longer, that time is over. And to the rest of the World listening and watching: Lead, follow or get out of the way; do not think you will stop us. Thank you and god bless the United States."

Needless to say, what we get is piecemeal and insufficient for the task at hand. You can defeat an opponent by 'salami slicing' them to pieces, but only if they stop feeding in more salami at the other end.

9/11 was a day that the beast of barbarism and inhumanity squarely faced the United States.

We flinched from the task at hand.

We will pay a much larger price because of that.


Never forgive.

Never forget.


a.k.a. Blandly Urbane said...

Jumpin' Jiminy Crickets! This is an incredibly well thought out and written post.

It is so incredibly appropriate to each and every day that passes or is yet to come.

Thanks for sharing

A Jacksonian said...

You are greatly welcome.

These are *still* the things I think and see.

And will be to my grave.