Tag: September 11 attacks

How are things for us today?

Today, September 11, 2013, marks the 12 anniversary of the sad attacks on our country that started the GWoT. I would like tot ake this opportunity to thank all those that have sacrificed to protect us since then, and leave you with some information on what the left told us was the only just war after the 9-11 attacks, related to our troops. Make of it what you want, but it is not the only bit of contradictory news about our progressive leadership and their agenda to reshape the world, to provide more “social justice”, whatever that may mean, for all.

Anyway, in the age of Obama, “social justice” clealry means that the 1% have never been this well off since the 20s. I am also not surprised to find that the middle class is getting squeezed, while the ranks of the poor grow. Collectivism has, and will always be a two-tier system: the elite masters that control from the top, and the serfs. And the only promise collectivism can keep is that of equal misery for all. But they won’t tell you that. Instead they promise you free shit, that others are supposed to pay for, which then never really gets delivered.

Thank you for that hope and change persident Obama! I am sure that the facts will not disuade the people that still believe the same stupid shit Obama and his team peddle, because after all, they mean well, and they are going to give us all free shit! It’s all desperate times for these people.

The Stabby Skies

Last week, TSA, in its never-ending quest to make air travel more complicated and arbitrary, decided to allow small knives back on planes. Apparently, this is controversial. But as I see it, the only real controversy is why they are only lifting the ban on small knives.

I realize that talking sensibly about terror threats is considered insensitive. We’re all supposed to be in a constant mindset of PANIC!! But let’s be honest: the big security loophole that was exploited on 9/11 was not knives. The security loophole was the policy of cooperating with hijackers, a policy the passengers of United 93 ended heroically and permanently. With a locked cabin and a policy of never cooperating with hijackers, the chance of another 9/11 is low whether the hijackers show up with small knives, big knives, Swiss Army Knives, machetes or nothing but their small swinging dicks. A hijacker armed with a knife could kill some folk (before likely being beaten to death by the passengers). But I think our efforts would be better directed toward keeping hijackers off planes rather than knives. The focus on knives is just an extension of our national dementia on weapons as evil talismans that cause death and destruction all by themselves.

Of course, even this baby step toward sensibile screening policy has to come with a passel of TSA bullshit. Knives are limited to 6 cm in length. Knives with molded grips or locking blades — assault knives, I guess — are still banned. Moreover, they are continuing a ban on boxcutters and razors for “emotional” reasons since obviously the sight of a razor blade would reduce the American passenger — the passenger who, you may remember, actually fought back on 9/11 — to weeping hysteria. So stand by for TSA lines to get longer as they puzzle out whether a blade is allowed or not.

Reflections on a Decade

I’ve been tinkering with this piece for a week now, writing and deleting paragraphs, piling on links, reading what everyone else is saying, hoping some glorious insight would descend from the heavens (assuming my glorious insight bill is paid up). But the more I think about 9/11 and the decade that has followed, the more I keep circling back to one thought:

We are still here.

Ten years have passed. Osama bin Laden and most of his henchmen are dead. Before he went, he was reduced to a bitter little man clutching a blanket and watching his past glories on TV. Al-Qaeda is broken, probably never to return in anything like its former form. Saddam Hussein is dead. Gaddafi, if not dead already, is out of power. Iran is cut off and barely clinging to power.

But we are still here.

9/11 was act of unmitigated evil. You can read Goldberg or Hitchens if you need a reminder of the vile nihilism calling itself Islam that was Al-Qaeda. I’m currently reading, somewhat belatedly, The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright, which chronicles the rise of Al-Queda. This was not, as some would have you believe, a movement of oppressed peoples yearning for justice. It was lead by wealthy privileged narcissistic ideologues who persuaded young, disaffected young men to commit evil acts. Those men were not oppressed by the West, but by the medieval misogynistic cultures in which they lived (most of whom still think we faked 9/11). They delivered a terrible act of violence that killed “only” 3000 because we — the American people — responded so beautifully. The towers were evacuated in record time — almost everyone below where the planes hit survived. The first responders fell saving as many as they could. The passengers on United 93 made the first counter-attack in the War on Terror. American Muslims turned out to be our strongest allies rather than a fifth column. And later attacks — the undie bomber, the shoe bomber, the Times Square bombers — were foiled by alert citizens, not our elaborate security state. Instead of descending into chaos, we pulled together and moved on.

We are still here.

There are those who will tell you that our survival is because of the heroic leadership of George W. Bush. Perhaps. I for one agree with Anne Applebaum that, on a political level, we did over-react, did spend too much money, did sacrifice too much of our freedom. The War on Terror is a $100 billion a year expense that mostly serves to catch drug dealers. It has entailed two wars that, when you count benefits for 150,000 injured veterans, will cost us over $4 trillion. We’re treated like criminals when we try to board an airplane. We treat peaceful tourists like suspects. And the Patriot Act, with all its glaring flaws, retains bipartisan support.

But. We are still here. I think it’s absurd to argue, as Sullivan does, that bin Laden got what he wanted. It’s impossible to know what was going through that lunatic’s mind at the time, but I doubt that he envisioned, ten years later, being dead and irrelevant. That we have made mistakes along the way — some of them very costly — is not the same as him having won. We just made our inevitable victory more difficult and more costly than it had to be. But in the wealth fountain that is the US economy, even a $4 trillion mistake, assuming it was a mistake, is not something we can’t absorb. We will claw back our civil liberties, eventually. When I look around, I don’t see a police state. At least, not until I’m in an airport. I see a country that still argues, fights, debates, yells, screams … and, in the end, grudgingly does the right thing.

This is way of America. We never act precisely the way we should. We make mistakes. We go down blind allies. We, as Churchill observed, exhaust every other possibility before doing the right thing. But we gradually, fumblingly, eventually stumble in the direction we need to go.

We’re still in the process of turning back from the edge. The economy has our attention for the moment, but the watchdogs are ready to move when we are. The ACLU, God bless them, just gave Obama a stinging rebuke on civil liberties. Libertarians, liberals and conservatives continue to grumble about the TSA and the Patriot Act. Even the Washington Post got into the act, documenting the gigantic intelligence industry we’ve built. Ken at Popehat runs down a list of reasons why we put up with TSA abuses which could be expanded to many aspects of the War on Terror. All are valid, but I would say the more important aspect is that Americans simply can’t be bothered, most of the time. Things have to reach a critical mass before we react and they haven’t yet. But they will. And when they do, the path to recovering our liberty has already been carefully laid out.

But despite all that, we are still here. When I think about the last decade, I will not think about living in fear of anyone. I will think about the spread of smartphones and tablets. I will think about the Red Sox and White Sox winning the World Series. I will think about my Packers and Steelers winning superbowls. I will think about the SEC dominating college football. I will think about Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and the movies of Chris Nolan. I will especially think about having become a dad. I will think about the science I’ve done and the people I’ve been privileged to work with. I’ll think about Lee and how I miss his voice.

That’s America. That’s our strength. That is what is crumbling would-be empires. Because being rich and having fun is more appealing to human beings than blowing yourself up. And that I can look back after ten years and see all that tells me all I need to know.

Osama bin Laden failed. Al-Qaeda failed. All of the fanatics and monsters of the world have failed to even slow us down.

We are still here.

Bin Laden, Unplugged

The US has released five videos of bin Laden taken from his compound. Here is the most striking one:

I find this striking because it really shows bin Laden for what he was: not some nobel warrior fighting the giant, but a pathetic man reduced to reliving his past glories, his tentacles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan defeated or reduced. For all the instructions he was sending out, his ability to hurt us has been substantially reduced and is now gone forever.

Still, this remains my favorite bin Laden vid.

In other news, Extreme Liberal speculates that Bradley Manning’s leaks may have forced Obama’s hand on bin Laden. It’s speculation at this point. But it will be interesting to find out. It’s clear that Manning did not filter anything he sent to wikileaks before doing so. Would all his defenders be jumping for joy if his leaks of secret info had resulted in bin Laden escaping?

About Last Night

A few more thoughts about last night:

Is it appropriate to celebrate the death of a human being? As Fallows said: “It is almost never right to celebrate a death. Almost.” I would not describe the celebrations going on in various cities as celebrating a death. I would describes as a profound relief and a deep satisfaction. Justice has finally been delivered.

Mostly it’s a feeling of vindication: a feeling that the death and maiming of so many of our best has been redeemed in some way:

There was a break in the kitsch. One man right next to the White House gate held up a picture of a young man in uniform and a folded flag — the kind of flag given to a family upon the death of a soldier. The man holding this was Thomas Cowen, a security contractor, and the man in the photo was Sumner, his late son. Sumner had fought in Iraq, gotten injured, and been sent home. While home, he took his life. When he heard the news about bin Laden, Thomas felt like there had been “vindication” for his son.

“My boy did what he needed to do,” he said. He went on to talk about how proud he was that bin Laden was killed by Americans, and as he talked, he was constantly interrupted by young revelers tapping him on the shoulder and thanking him.

Nothing can ever bring back those we have lost. But if, indeed, this is the breaking of Al-Qaeda, we can know that their sacrifices led to this. The leader of the vilest terrorist network in history has an American bullet in his brain. This has to weaken our enemy and make us safer.

There are many images and videos from last night. But this is the one that I find really striking: our leadership huddled around laptops watching a livefeed as they gambled they could bring down a monster.

They did. Well done.

Time to rethink U.S. – Pakistani relations…

As I suspected and as the news hinted, it now looks like we finally got Osama because the US went at it alone instead of telling the Pakistanis we were going after him as was the case in the past. That’s because the Pakistanis were actually playing us and helping him.

American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.

The claims, made in leaked US government files obtained by Wikileaks, will add to questions over Pakistan’s capacity to fight al-Qaeda. Last year, David Cameron caused a diplomatic furore when he told Pakistan that it could not “look both ways” on terrorism. The Pakistani government issued a strongly-worded rebuttal.

But bin Laden was eventually tracked down and killed in compound located just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s prestigious military academy in Abbotabad. The raid by elite US troops was kept secret from the government of Pakistan. Only a tight circle within the Obama Administration knew of the operation. In December 2009, the government of Tajikistan warned the United States that efforts to catch bin Laden were being thwarted by corrupt Pakistani spies.

Explains why the guy was so effective at hiding out for so long, despite our major effort to find and bag his ass. The Pakistanis played us, and played us good, and this revelation should reshape our policies and actions towards them. At a minimum we should stop giving them any money or aid. And we should be seriously concerned that so many in the military and intelligence agencies of a nuclear armed Pakistan are in bed with al Qaeda, a sworn enemy, that has repeatedly said it wants to nuke the west. Doesn’t this qualify Pakistan as a terror enabling state: our worse night mare? This is going to be one heck of a foreign policy problem for us. At least Pakistan now should be made aware that any WMD action by al Qaeda means we obliterate their country. Might serve as a deterrent, might not. We are dealing with insane religious fanatics and evil men here in most cases.

Think about it: how can we ever feel secure with al Qaeda having ties to a government that not only has sympathies for their cause, but has nukes? And what’s China’s role in all this? Pakistan is one of their proxies – against rival India – and I am sure China has going-ons there that are definitely not in our interest. Seriously, while the death of bin Laden is a big score, the revelations that come with it should make us wearier than ever that we can win this war against the terror enablers without resorting to a brutal “hammer them all down” approach. Does the west reach a point where it simply looks at the cost vs. return and decides that since these people want to drag us all back to a dark age that it’s us or them? These revelations are not good for anyone I think, but we can not ignore them. Looks like team Obama is going to have to do some serious growing up here.