9/11 still powerful after 5 years

The media has begun their observances of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This weekend I watched some of the documentaries on some of the channels like PBS and CBS and the images and feelings are still very powerful.

I still vividly remember what I was doing that morning in 2001 when the first reports came in, I was noodling on the computer. I had just come home from my night job and I had the “Today” show on in the background while I decompressed before going to bed. After seeing the 2nd plane hit the tower I didn’t go to bed until around Midnight the next day.

I wrote my thoughts into an essay posted on my iHumanism website.

September 11: A Humanist Response

I read on some website that non-theists didn’t speak up when the event happened, giving the impression that they didn’t care about the tragic event. That is just a myth. We just don’t put out press releases about how we feel. Even if we did we couldn’t afford to have it published.

The only real thing that I am still upset about is our present government officials are fear mongers. President Bush took the opportunity to give a speech the other day about “our” fight against terrorism. In one speech he claimed we were “safer” but faced increased threat of terrorism and that the war on terrorism includes Iraq (even though before we invaded in 2003 Iraq was not part of 9/11 or the war on terrorism).

The Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows and claimed the administration was doing “a hell of job” on security.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of securing the nation against terrorists. You know, we’re here on the fifth anniversary (of the 9/11 attacks). And there has not been another attack on the United States. And that’s not an accident, because we’ve done a hell of a job here at home,” Cheney said in the broadcast interview. “I don’t know how much better you can do than no, no attacks for the past five years.”

Cheney Defends Hardline White House Role

But he and the administration have not been questioned as to why the leader of the group that attacked the World Trade Center is still at large 5 years later. Or why a military solution has not defeated al-Qaida either abroad or closer to home.

Besides we’ve heard it before. Remember, Brownie was doing a great job as head of FEMA after Katrina and we know how that turned out.

King George spies on loyal subjects just in case….

That loud thud you heard Saturday was the other shoe falling in Washington when President Bush went on live television and admitted he had the National Security Agency spy on US citizens. He hid behind the cloak of the 9/11 attacks to justify his actions in issuing the order.

“The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.”

The Bush administration also said that not only did Congress allow the President to issue such an order in the blank check resolution they gave him in October 2001, but that Congressional leaders, GOP and Democrats, had been briefed on the spying on several occasions.

The NY Times wrote this on Sunday:

“The disclosure of the security agency’s warrantless eavesdropping on calls between the United States and Afghanistan sheds light on the origins of the agency’s larger surveillance activities, which officials say have included monitoring the communications of as many as 500 Americans and other people inside the United States without search warrants at any one time. Several current and former officials have said that they believe the security agency operation began virtually on the fly in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Eavesdropping Effort Began Soon After Sept. 11 Attacks

As any fisherman will tell you, when one tosses out a net sometimes you get other things beside fish. That is the Bush operation in a nutshell. It assumes we are guilty till proved innocent and their fishing operations have had limited success. Fewer than a couple dozen people arrested in the US for suspected terrorism activities since 2001 have been terrorists.

In a Washington Post article in June 2005 found:

Among all the people charged as a result of terrorism probes in the three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Post found no demonstrated connection to terrorism or terrorist groups for 180 of them.

Just one in nine individuals on the list had an alleged connection to the al Qaeda terrorist network and only 14 people convicted of terrorism-related crimes — including Faris and convicted Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui — have clear links to the group. Many more cases involve Colombian drug cartels, supporters of the Palestinian cause, Rwandan war criminals or others with no apparent ties to al Qaeda or its leader, Osama bin Laden.

But a large number of people appear to have been swept into U.S. counterterrorism investigations by chance — through anonymous tips, suspicious circumstances or bad luck — and have remained classified as terrorism defendants years after being cleared of connections to extremist groups.

For example, the prosecution of 20 men, most of them Iraqis, in a Pennsylvania truck-licensing scam accounts for about 10 percent of individuals convicted — even though the entire group was publicly absolved of ties to terrorism in 2001.

U.S. Campaign Produces Few Convictions on Terrorism Charges

Bush’s actions may also conflict with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978) that requires court orders before spying on anyone can be started. That act was made law after the widespread surveillance done on protest groups and others in the 1970’s by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies and the abuse those agencies were found to have done.

A basic civil right is that search and seizure requires a warrant from a court. It is a check against an abuse of Federal power against people. President Bush seems to be abusing his authority.

Now I fully expect to see, later Sunday morning, the usual administration talking heads trying to spin Bush’s actions and try to turn it around and make it look like those for civil rights are in league with terrorists. Watch the morning shows and you will see it and hear it.

Then there is this bit from his “speech”:

“The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation’s top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.”

President’s Radio Address (12/17/2005)

He is asking us to trust him and his appointed officials to operate in a correct manner. This is the same guy that just days ago admitted he tried to sell the war in Iraq based on bogus intelligent info, that we aren’t holding suspects in secret prisons in other countries where torture is not a big deal, and Iraq is getting better everyday. I find it hard to see President Bush and “trust” in the same room not alone in the same sentence.

According to the NY Times:

“In the early years of the operation, there were few, if any, controls placed on the activity by anyone outside the security agency, officials say. It was not until 2004, when several officials raised concerns about its legality, that the Justice Department conducted its first audit of the operation. Security agency officials had been given the power to select the people they would single out for eavesdropping inside the United States without getting approval for each case from the White House or the Justice Department, the officials said.”

And this is what happens, and we told you so, when Congress signed away their oversight on the “war” on terrorism in October 2001.

Congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, have some serious explaining to do as to why they let the spying continue as long as did and it seems it still is. Their shock and indignation seem very hollow indeed.

September 11 revisited: an essay

In my spare time I write. I have done it for many years and it is a way for me to rant and work out issues I have in my thick skull. Most of the time I write short stories but I also like to write essays on various topics.

On September 16th, 2001, still in shock from the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, I wrote an essay as a Humanist repsonse to the incident.

I felt that today, the 3rd anniversy of the attacks I would share that essay I wrote so soon after the event:

A big black smoking hole in one of the World Trade Center towers was the first scene I saw at 8:55 am on Tuesday September 11, 2001. Thick black smoke poured into the air. The reporters said a plane had crashed into the tower. At 9:03 am I witnessed, live on TV, a second jet come into view and plow into the other tower with a resultant explosion as thousands of pounds of fuel ignited.

“What the f***?” I remember saying while the commentators on the morning show were asking if they just saw what they just saw. They reran the video and yes it was a second jet crashing into the other tower.

For the rest go here: September 11: A Humanist Response

Stewart zings Blitzer – film at 11

I was watching The Daily Show tonight and Jon Stewart had on Wolf Blitzer from CNN. Stewart just hammered Blitzer about the 9/11 Senate Report released today.

The following exchange is from memory so the exact wording is iffy:

Stewart: So do you think that this Senate report should be the biggest political scandal ever?
Blitzer: You never made a mistake?

Stewart: So did the media go over what went wrong?
Blitzer: Yes we had meetings.
Stewart: I’m not talking about deciding what to put on the crawl (at the bottom of CNN’s picture) but did you look at what you could have done differently?
[funny bit about the crawl here]
Stewart: What could have the media done differently?
Blitzer: We should have been more skeptical.
[Stewart has a large facial reaction as if he was going to say “Isn’t that your job.”]
Stewart: So is it that the Republicans and Bush intimidated you guys not to ask the questions?
Blitzer: No. It wasn’t that. I’m not sure what happened. Look i went to Kuwait I got all the briefings the CIA, Defense Department, FBI, Congress, and everybody said he had huge stock piles of biological, chemical weapons and it was only a short time before he had a nuclear bomb….
Stewart: Right….
Blitzer: Condoleeza Rice said on my show ‘Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer’ [audience laughs at obvious plug] before the war, that she didn’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud….
Stewart: Right but we have since learned that Pakistan sold ‘mushroom’ material to every country in the area BUT Iraq. This is a crazy world…. whoooo….hoooooo. [then Stewart twirlls in his chair and waves his arms crazily]

COMEDY CENTRAL TV Shows: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Saddam didn’t attack the World Trade Center

Ok. One more time. There has been NO evidence that Saddam Hussein helped in the planning or execution of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

I am gobsmacked when I continue to see polls here in the states that report people think he had something to do with the attacks. It simply has not been proven.

The idea that he did have anything to do with the attacks of 9/11 was one of the ruses used by the administration of President George Bush Jr. to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The other ruses being that Saddam was an immediate threat to the US and that he had tons of weapons of mass destruction to use or sell. Those have also not been proven.

The typical knee jerk rebuttal to my comments include “then you must have wanted Saddam to stay in power. He was an evildoer and we helped rid the Iraqi people of a ruthless dictator.” This rebuttal is a simple red-herring trying to distract one from the illogical conclusion.

I agree that Saddam was a butcher and didn’t deserve to remain in power. That doesn’t mean that taking him out with a full scale invasion based on a false premises was the correct action to take at the time.

My comments peak to the outright falsehoods spun by our President and his cabinet to mislead us into supporting his strong arm tactics.

The removal of Saddam didn’t make the US any safer nor was it a blow against terrorism. Meanwhile the Taliban (remember them) are regrouping in Afghanistan as we try to loot the commercial interests in Iraq. I argue that was the REAL reason Bush et al lied to the US people.

Bush and the neo-conservatives who dreamed up the BIG LIE have the blood of over 500 brave soldiers on their hands, most killed AFTER Saddam was removed from power. The week of Christmas the Terror Threat was raised to Orange – the 2nd highest level – and we are now safer?

When will the President stop lying to us? Maybe when he is removed in the 2004 elections. I hope the rest of the country gets a clue by then.