By W. David Jenkins III
“Each candidate behaved well in the hope of being judged worthy of election. However, this system was disastrous when the city had become corrupt. For then it was not the most virtuous but the most powerful who stood for election, and the weak, even if virtuous, were too frightened to run for office.”– Niccolo Machiavelli
“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today” – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s been three years since I’ve acknowledged the anniversary of 9/11 in writing. I first started this series called Lost in America a few short weeks after the attacks as a way to reconsider what had happened, and to honor the true heroes of that dreadful day; the people who “kept on digging.”
Only four days in that first week of October ‘01 passed between the two parts of that first installment dedicated to 9/11 and in that short time, the rending of this country became all too evident. Before Bush had the chance to have his “bullhorn on the debris” moment for all the cameras, America was simultaneously flying flags while its citizens were pointing fingers at one other – and worse.
Hate crimes escalated in the weeks immediately after 9/11 as a newborn xenophobia gripped the nation. That same fear has become the sole reason for the continued existence of the current Administration. With the aid of a Congress and corporate media that remain supine, the Bush Administration has spent the last five years on a sick and reckless crusade that has left this country beaten and bloodied in exchange for an imperial presidency.
We are now five years past the horror that began this country’s downward spiral. We find ourselves, yet again, having our fears and emotions manipulated as the media and the leadership in DeeCeeVille continue the war against “we the people.” The latest, and one of the most despicable examples, is ABC’s “Path to 9/11,” an alleged “docudrama” promoted as the official true story – even though the producers admit they made a lot of it up. In a sad offering from a die-hard conservative writer and a shameless media outlet, we find our attention being diverted away from any real threats in order to point fingers in the wrong direction – again.
The fact remains that this anniversary arrives in the middle of what may be the most noxious and meanspirited election season since that fateful day. 9/11 has become little more than a useful tool for a brazen Republican majority whose future has never been more endangered. Bush and the Republican led Congress have failed this country to such an extent that even those who once supported them are turning away.
The last five years have been nothing but failure and lies – yes lies – to the American people and the rest of the world community. No one ever dreamed that airplanes would be used as missiles, or no one ever expected the levees to fail, or we will be greeted as liberators and on and on – all lies. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Katrina disaster are all blatant examples of this Administration’s ineptitude. Domestic spying, secret prisons, and torture are a testament to the failure of Bush and the Republican leadership to protect and defend the Constitution. For such reckless self-interest to once again trot out 9/11 as some sort of defense or diversion is nothing less than digging up those victims’ graves and spitting on their corpses.
Now we find ourselves as a majority who question the policies of those who have made the world less safe and America less respected since 9/11. We are accused by the Right as being equivalent to “Nazi appeasers” and of having a “pre 9/11 mind set.” The very people, who soiled their undies when Bush was morphed into Hitler for a campaign commercial back in ’04, are now defending the remarks labeling the majority of Americans as Nazi appeasers.
Quite honestly, there is nothing wrong with having a pre 9/11 mind set if you think about it. When the WTC was bombed back in ’93, there were no calls to invade any countries, especially any countries that had nothing to do with the crime. And because the 1993 bombing was treated as a crime and not an “act of war,” no military action was deemed necessary, thousands of military and innocent civilian lives were spared, and those who attacked us were caught, tried and convicted. Yousef and his ilk will spend the rest of their days rotting in jail. That is the result of a “pre 9/11 mind set.”
It is no secret that other countries in a post 9/11 world still treat acts of terrorism as a crime. When London was attacked in July 2005, Great Britain did not embark on an invasion of Pakistan. The thwarting of the latest group allegedly threatening the airlines with liquid explosives was apprehended through the use of police work and cooperation with foreign intelligence. Unfortunately, the U.K. botched things up when they succumbed to the desperate pleas of the Bush Boys to rush the bust because they needed a headline (diversion) and so, subsequently, some of those arrested were freed due to lack of evidence. Hopefully, those countries successfully fighting the terrorist elements on their own home fronts will learn to hang up the phone when the Bush-Kops come a-callin’.
But five years after the attacks of that day, America is still lost. We are at war with each other, we are at war with our leadership and we are at war with the media. We have a botched and bloody invasion in Iraq, which is, frankly, the greatest insult to the victims of 9/11. We have an unfinished and failing invasion of Afghanistan. And, we still have enormous suffering in the battered and neglected city of New Orleans and surrounding Gulf Coast.
There is a recently released Senate Intelligence report that destroys the Bush Administration’s reasoning for invading Iraq. There is news concerning Pakistan making a peace treaty with al Qaeda and bin Laden. Meanwhile, our President admits to the existence of secret prisons, but still denies that we torture anybody. However, he has asked Congress to “define torture,” just to be on the safe side- and if that includes anything being used on detainees, well if they would just kindly make those tactics legal so he doesn’t have to break the law anymore.
And if shoving 9/11 in our faces doesn’t quite do the trick this election as the GOP hopes, they have pledged to spend more than $45 million in the last 60 days of the campaign to “get personal” in a last ditch effort to “help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall.” And if that doesn’t work, well there are still all those Diebold voting machines out there.
Looking back at what I wrote about nearly five years ago, one of the most depressing things is what has become of those “heroes who kept on digging. ” Sadly, they ended up enduring the very first in a long series of lies about 9/11 put forward by the Bush administration. Christie Todd Whitman, then-head of the EPA, reassured the first responders and the rest of the country that the air around Ground Zero was “safe,” while testimony from the EPA’s own inspector general states that they knew that wasn’t true. Now many of those first responders are suffering the ill effects of exposure to that toxic air; rates of severe respiratory illness and cancer are rising at an alarming rate among first responders. But that was just the beginning of the lies and manipulation by fear that the Republican leadership would use to their advantage over the past five years.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this five-year anniversary is the fact that we still don’t know all that really happened that day. The crime scene that was Ground Zero was cleared before any real investigation could take place. That it was treated as an act of war rather than the most heinous crime in our history robbed experts of the chance to piece together what happened. Years of secrecy and conflicting statements by those in positions of power foster the creation of “alternative theories” that continue to divide us all.
That the Bush administration stalled not only the creation of an independent commission to look into 9/11, but stonewalled, under funded, and hedged full cooperation with the commission is an issue that has never been addressed by the mainstream media. But there is a bright light even five years later.
As a result of the growing body of evidence which questions the “official version” of the events of that day, and the subsequent report that the “independent commission” released in order to support that version, many 9/11 families are demanding a new investigation. After fighting so hard for so long to get an independent investigation, these families remain angry that many of their questions have yet to be answered. They watched the Zelikow led commission gloss over conflicting testimony in its effort to appear nonpartisan, which did little more than substantiate the obvious lie that is the “official” version.
With all that has been done in the name of 9/11, and despite how destructive and divisive the events of the past five years have been, perhaps the greatest monument to the sacrifice of those thousands lost would be to open the door and allow these new “heroes to keep on digging.”
Anything less would be a disgrace to those victims and America.