Osama bin Laden is surely just pleased as punch.
Since he made his initial investment in convincing a bunch of dimwitted Muslim jihadists to hijack four American airliners with bollocks and boxcutters and steer them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and, abortively, a Pennsylvania cornfield, he’s had to do little but settle back and enjoy the show.
Five years out, Sept. 11 just keeps paying dividends. His co-investors, the Bush Administration, have made sure of that.
The images of those huge airliners smashing into the Twin Towers are as clear in my memory as if it happened yesterday. And it’s not because I watched the endless replays of the moment on TV, or gazed in fascination at the many images that filled the Web, because after the first day or two, I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t gaze. The horror was too huge, my imagination too vivid, my heartbreak for the victims too complete.
Like just about everyone else in America and the world, I was stunned.
I discovered it was happening when I turned on my computer in the quiet half-hour before I left for work, sitting down with my cup of coffee. There, on the MSN homepage was a photo of the first tower, a huge fireball blowing out its side near the top. As I recall, the headline read, “Airliner crashes into World Trade Center.”
My initial reaction was one of deep irritation that MSN would put what was so obviously a promotional photo and hed for some new disaster movie on their news site. It was, I thought, a truly nasty bit of bad taste.
And yet, because it was such a shocking image, I could hardly believe that they had done it as some promo. Surely, this couldn’t be real. I clicked on the hed.
Of course, it was happening at that very moment. It was terribly, mind-bogglingly real, and by the time I’d scurried into the living room to flip on the TV, the second airliner had hit its target.
By the time I got to work, both of the towers had collapsed.
As an act of terrorism, it was flawless, a work of dark genius. For weeks, Osama’s masterpiece terrorized my nation and got the rapt, horrified attention of the entire world. The scale was truly awesome.
If there was consolation – and it was no consolation, not really – it was that of the many, many thousands initially thought to have been in the destroyed structures, just under 3,000 people actually lost their lives in the attack.
Bad enough, certainly. A nightmare of mythic proportions.
And there in 2001 it could have stayed, a terrible, sad memory of mass death, casualty, destruction and terror. Sept. 11 could have gone down in history with other horrific acts of war, terror and genocide like Pearl Harbor and the Oklahoma City bombing in the U.S., and the Holocaust, the Gulag, the Munich Olympics and Locherbie, the suicide bombings in Israel and others in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
With quiet, determined intelligence and intense police work on an international scale, Osama bin Laden and the members of his al Qaeda terrorist network could have been captured and brought to justice, and the training camps in Afghanistan destroyed.
It would have cost a lot of money, but it’s unlikely that any American would have begrudged it. Nor would’ve the world, which mourned with and supported America like nothing seen before or since. For a brief time, we were all in this together.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” said President Theodore Roosevelt, quoting a West African proverb. Never one to behave passively, either domestically or on an international scale, Roosevelt understood the benefits of diplomacy backed by action.
But the administration of George W. Bush had and still has no interest in history or lessons learned. Forget that all that pansy-assed diplomacy shit: America threw a shrieking hissy fit and loaded its peashooter.
The American people, fully prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to catch and bring to justice the mastermind of the terrible crime committed against them, were told to be very, very afraid, but go ahead and go shopping. In fact, we were told to shop more for America, you dweebs.
Osama couldn’t have asked for better return from his investment. Bush and Company just kept giving and giving. In the five years since Sept. 11, 2001, we’ve exceeded his wildest and most florid dreams of death and destruction for his enemies. And he hasn’t had to lift a finger or spend any more of his money. We’ve taken over for him.
And if our swaggering resolve flags even a little, well, he just records a video from his undisclosed location (a few doors down from Big Dick Cheney’s) and has one of his gofers drop the CD or tape off at the nearest news outlet. Then he sits back, once again, to watch the show.
And what a most excellent, rewarding show it has been and continues to be.
Since Sept. 11, America has started and waged war on two Muslim nations, enthusiastically supported the Israelis in a third and is throwing another hissy fit in preparation for a fourth. In the three it’s already been up to its neck in, thousands upon thousands of innocent people – people no different than the Americans lost on that bright September morning — have been killed or maimed.
Untold numbers of good people, who might have otherwise gone about their quiet lives as taxi drivers, computer techs, storekeepers and scholars, farmers and shepherds, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and wives and husbands, have been justly enraged by the senseless, mindless mass murder visited upon them and inspired to become terrorists themselves. For generations to come, their children and grandchildren will do the same.
Thousands of American soldiers have given their lives or their limbs.
On this, the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party have absolutely outdone themselves as they’ve humped their way through bin Laden’s wet-dreams.
They’ve taken the United States of America from being the greatest democracy the world has ever known to being a whining, swaggering, musclebound, idiotic, cowardly and bad-tempered theocratic kleptocracy. As Bush and our Republican-controlled governent rush us blindly and with cheerful enthusiasiasm toward the abyss, they’ve destroyed our credibility and standing among the great nations and peoples of the world. At home, they’re busily destroying our rights, our liberty and the very freedoms our country was founded upon.
With the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 coming just the day after tomorrow, ABC/Disney plans to release a six-hour propaganda deluge called “The Path to 9/11.” The right-wing, evangelical and conservative Republican extremists who funded and produced this two-part movie, which will be shown tomorrow night and on the night of Sept. 11 itself, claim that it’s based on the 9/11 Commission Report. They claim that it’s historically accurate, this “docudrama.”
But in reality, using the vehicle of this gravely flawed motion picture, they hope to rewrite history in the minds of the American people – for generations to come – by blaming Osama’s terror attacks on the Clinton Administration and the Democrat Party.
Although it cost between $30 and $40 million to produce, ABC/Disney plans to air this right-wing propaganda blitz commercial-free, telling us that they’re doing so because of the solemn gravitas of the subject matter. My guess at the real reason is because no corporation with any vestige of capitalistic self-interest wants to associate its name with such blatant right-wing propaganda. If the whole thing somehow goes south, they’d rather not have their products and services boycotted.
Now that August is over (one doesn’t start a marketing campaign in August, ex-Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card famously reminds us), this latest conservative propaganda joins the massive Republican campaign/propaganda blitz now underway in our country. Since it worked so well in 2002 and 2004, we’re once again inundated with words and speeches designed to scare the crap out of us with the threat of Evil Osamas under the bed so we’ll keep those chesty, brave Republicans in office. And, as before, they’re calling call those who question and object to these self-serving political lies traitors, unpatriotic, un-American and – a brand-new label !– terrorist appeasers.
In just two months, a national election, which could well break the Republican death-grip on power and bring America’s slide into ignominy to a screeching, heart-thumping halt, will take place.
And right on schedule, bin Laden has released yet another scary video and BushCo has decided to come clean regarding those CIA “black sites” all over the globe. Lo and behold, they’ve been holding a bunch of the terrorist big-wigs responsible for Sept. 11 in them for years, but now, they’re moving them to that model of modern gulags, Gitmo where they’ll be held until the kangaroo courts, complete with “secret” evidence, commence.
This, one supposes, is to make the Republicans look like good protectors to the mouth-breathers among us. And don’t forget — look for those ever-popular color-coded alerts to start popping up with alarming frequency over the next several weeks.
With a national press which has forgotten how to ask pointed questions of elected government officials, and which now focuses its attention on important matters like George Bush’s alleged summer reading list , I think this is a good time to revisit ol’ Teddy Roosevelt and take a hard look at what he had to say about the American presidency:
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”
in an editorial for the Kansas City Star,May 7, 1918
By the way, what are we doing about Osama bin Laden? Well, as long as his popcorn supply holds out, he’ll sleep well at night:
“The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.”
— President George W. Bush, Sept. 13, 2001
“I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”
— George W. Bush, March 13, 2002
Update (Sept. 10, 9:45 a.m.):
This is just … surreal.
Just went to the Yahoo home page to check my e-mail, yawning a big ol’ Sunday-morning-on-vacation yawn. And what do I see but this big ol’ photo of Condi looking all kittenish as she glances over her shoulder, her red lips pursed and her skeletal hand to her throat as if saying, “Moi?”
Next to the photo, the headline reads, “Rice: U.S. Not Entirely Safe From Attack.”
No! You’re kidding, right, Condi? You mean … you mean those nasty terrorists could attack us again?
My Cap’n Crunch just turned to chaff in my mouth.
I mean, I thought all these wars and things were to get those meanies! Aren’t they supposed to be blowing up our kids in uniform over there so they won’t think of blowing us up over here? I mean, these terrorist types are really stooooopid, aren’t they? Did I miscombobulate that somehow?
I’m … well. I’m just steamin’, here. Dang, I even forgot to turn on my Mr. Coffee!
Honestly. Never mind that it’s always seemed a little, well, off to me that we’ve sent our kids to Iraq with the intention of using them like a tethered goat kid in a clearing, hoping to draw tigers, but the jungle turned out to be packed so full of tigers they’re slaughtering kid after kid so fast we can’t get a good shot at ‘em.
Too bad Big Dick isn’t there. He could whip it out and shoot ‘em in the face. That’d show ‘em.
But I digress.
Condi, honey, you mean all of this, all this stuff we’ve been doing for the last five years, all this death and destruction and Constitutional shredding and wearing flip-flops on airliners and stuff is like, for nothing? We aren’t even safe?
I dunno, gang. My head aches. I think maybe we’ve been had.