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Topic: 9/11/09 (Read 1541 times)
September 11, 2009, 09:27:06 AM »
I mark the day, as I have since 9/11/01.
I mourn after going off duty.
My wife is training in a police academy, preparing to go into harm's way to defend and protect her adopted country.
I know that if I live to 100, this day will always carry the same weight with me.
Reply #1 on:
September 11, 2009, 10:15:46 AM »
The Blood of Heroes
Reply #2 on:
September 11, 2009, 11:20:42 AM »
Respects to the rescuers who rushed into harms way and were killed or injured, rest in peace all who were lost this day. The zealotry that led to this black day still remains; never forget, never relent.
Reply #3 on:
September 11, 2009, 03:16:57 PM »
Updated: Fri., Sep. 11, 2009, 10:39 AM
Betraying our dead
By RALPH PETERS
Last Updated: 10:39 AM, September 11, 2009
Posted: 1:13 AM, September 11, 2009
Eight years ago today, our homeland was attacked by fanatical Muslims inspired by Saudi Arabian bigotry. Three thousand American citizens and residents died.
We resolved that we, the People, would never forget. Then we forgot.
We've learned nothing.
Instead of cracking down on Islamist extremism, we've excused it.
Instead of killing terrorists, we free them.
Instead of relentlessly hunting Islamist madmen, we seek to appease them.
Instead of acknowledging that radical Islam is the problem, we elected a president who blames America, whose idea of freedom is the right for women to suffer in silence behind a veil -- and who counts among his mentors and friends those who damn our country or believe that our own government staged the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Instead of insisting that freedom will not be infringed by terrorist threats, we censor works that might offend mass murderers. Radical Muslims around the world can indulge in viral lies about us, but we dare not even publish cartoons mocking them.
Instead of protecting law-abiding Americans, we reject profiling to avoid offending terrorists. So we confiscate granny's shampoo at the airport because the half-empty container could hold 3.5 ounces of liquid.
Instead of insisting that Islamist hatred and religious apartheid have no place in our country, we permit the Saudis to continue funding mosques and madrassahs where hating Jews and Christians is preached as essential to Islam.
Instead of confronting Saudi hate-mongers, our president bows down to the Saudi king.
Instead of recognizing the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi cult as the core of the problem, our president blames Israel.
Instead of asking why Middle Eastern civilization has failed so abjectly, our president suggests that we're the failures.
Instead of taking every effective measure to cull information from terrorists, the current administration threatens CIA agents with prosecution for keeping us safe.
Instead of proudly and promptly rebuilding on the site of the Twin Towers, we've committed ourselves to the hopeless, useless task of rebuilding Afghanistan. (Perhaps we should have built a mosque at Ground Zero -- the Saudis would've funded it.)
Instead of taking a firm stand against Islamist fanaticism, we've made a cult of negotiations -- as our enemies pursue nuclear weapons; sponsor terrorism; torture, imprison, rape and murder their own citizens -- and laugh at us.
Instead of insisting that Islam must become a religion of responsibility, our leaders in both parties continue to bleat that "Islam's a religion of peace," ignoring the curious absence of Baptist suicide bombers.
Instead of requiring new immigrants to integrate into our society and conform to its public values, we encourage and subsidize anti-American, woman-hating, freedom-denying bigotry in the name of toleration.
Instead of pursuing our enemies to the ends of the earth, we help them sue us.
We've dishonored our dead and whitewashed our enemies. A distinctly unholy alliance between fanatical Islamists abroad and a politically correct "elite" in the US has reduced 9/11 to the status of a non-event, a day for politicians to preen about how little they've done.
We've forgotten the shock and the patriotic fury Americans felt on that bright September morning eight years ago. We've forgotten our identification with fellow citizens leaping from doomed skyscrapers. We've forgotten the courage of airline passengers who would not surrender to terror.
We've forgotten the men and women who burned to death or suffocated in the Pentagon. We've forgotten our promises, our vows, our commitments.
We've forgotten what we owe our dead and what we owe our children. We've even forgotten who attacked us.
We have betrayed the memory of our dead. In doing so, we betrayed ourselves and our country. Our troops continue to fight -- when they're allowed to do so -- but our politicians have surrendered.
Are we willing to let the terrorists win?
Ralph Peters' new thriller, "The War After Armageddon," goes on sale next Tuesday.
Reply #4 on:
September 11, 2009, 05:08:05 PM »
Pajamas Media -
Eight Years After 9/11: Are We Getting Complacent?
Posted By Ryan Mauro On September 11, 2009 @ 12:00 am In . Feature 01, . Positioning, Homeland Security, Middle East, US News, World News | 48 Comments
We can all remember the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Almost all of us can remember the second anniversary. The third, a lot less; the fourth, even less. Eventually, something happened: we forgot about 9/11.
I began working at Hollywood Video, a movie rental store, in 2004 and saw this process happen. On September 11 of each year, I’d walk in and almost no one would mention the significance of the date, and the number of those that did steadily declined to zero by 2008, my final year there. Customers frequently asked the date, as they always did, not even realizing that it was September 11, but they always managed to remember the release date of the movie they were waiting for. And, I must add, this was in New Jersey, only a short train ride from New York City.
This complacency can be seen in public opinion polls, the media, and even the government’s reaction to incidents that would have sparked fear nationwide and saturated media coverage in the years immediately following 9/11.
Take some of the incidents where radical Islam showed its head this year alone, such as in the case of Rifqa Bary , a 17-year-old girl who converted to Christianity from Islam. When her father found out, she claims, he threatened to kill her, causing her to flee to Florida. Her attorney says she had been abused at home. We now know her father’s mosque, the Noor Islamic Cultural Center of Colombus, had Salah Sultan , a radical preacher of anti-Semitism known for preaching about the future destruction of the U.S. and with ties  to the Muslim Brotherhood, as a “resident scholar.” Bary’s attorney, John Stemberger, pointed  to many other ties the mosque has with terrorism in his 35-page court filing .
Although the case has received a fair level of media attention (but far from the amount it deserves), very few reports have mentioned the extremist ties that give credibility to Bary’s fears. Instead, MSNBC ran an AP article  titled “Parents Say Local Runaway Was Brainwashed.”
The Orlando Sentinel ran a piece  on August 30 that opened with “Mohamed Bary is a doting Muslim father, intent on giving his daughter the best education he can. But he says he made a terrible mistake last October: He bought her a laptop computer.” A little further down it has a subheading of “Friends back family,” which says that “people who know the Barys say Rifqa’s allegations are crazy. … Mohamed Bary, 47, is a kind, gentle man who loves his daughter.” Not a mention is made of Stemberger’s court filing or the ties of the family’s mosque.
On July 14, I wrote an article  for Pajamas Media about the arrests of three individuals for trying to sneak weapons on board two separate U.S. Airways flights to Phoenix, taking off from Philadelphia and Tampa about 35 minutes from each other. The FBI’s initial reaction was to dismiss any connection among the arrests and the media dropped the story. I am not aware of a single news article mentioning all three arrests and the similarities of their circumstances, and I can only find a small handful of articles covering any of the individual arrests. Just like those walking into the video store I worked at, the impact of 9/11 on the media has dissipated.
The 30-second news culture of today is causing the media and the public to fail to see the size of the problem. The case of a convert to radical Islam shooting  at soldiers in Arkansas is forgotten before the next story of the arrest  of seven in North Carolina for training to join overseas terrorists hits the news.
When each is given short attention and treated as the isolated actions of the few wackos that inevitably exist in a large population, the big picture is missed and they are looked at as little speed bumps on America’s road — and not the potential traffic-stopping train crash they can become.
The fact that there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 is an advantage to the terrorists of the future. As long as they aren’t too blatant about their objectives and they throw out nice words about condemning “terrorism,” they are free to organize without much media scrutiny. They will be armed with the unreasonably high standard of proof that is demanded before labeling someone as a radical.
The resolve of the American people to fight overseas is quickly weakening. Americans seem content to believe that our post-9/11 efforts have sufficiently weakened the enemy and therefore that their rhetoric shouldn’t be taken as seriously. Those that try to raise awareness about the threat are dismissed or even attacked, as the Christian Action Network learned  after releasing its Homegrown Jihad documentary earlier this year about radical Islamic compounds in the U.S. that have been used for paramilitary training.
The government’s current attitude towards gathering threats seems to reflect a decreasing concern about terrorism and the growth of extremist networks at home. Just by being a little craftier than al-Qaeda, groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and governments like that of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and Assad are able to appear moderate and flexible. The FBI decided to end its relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations  following its designation as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial, only to continue ties  with the Islamic Society of North America , another “unindicted co-conspirator” in the same trial.
The media and American people certainly do remember the events of 9/11 in terms of history, but the impact and lessons of 9/11 have been forgotten. On that day, we realized that enemies seeking the most horrid of goals come in different shapes and sizes, and use different strategies and tactics. By dismissing each case of terrorism and extremism as “isolated,” rather than yet another example of the reach of radical Islam in all its forms, enormous portions of the media, the government, and the American people have forgotten what 9/11 taught us. One day we will be taught again.
Article printed from Pajamas Media:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
 Rifqa Bary:
 Salah Sultan:
 Council on American-Islamic Relations:
 only to continue ties:
 Islamic Society of North America:
Reply #5 on:
September 11, 2009, 05:21:43 PM »
with PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie
American cops: Force multipliers in counterterrorism
Editor's Note: I don't typically write in "first person" on this Web site. This is, in fact, the first time I’ve ever done so. One of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to talk to heroes every day. From cadets to Chiefs of Police, from the rookies to the recently retired, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of outstanding police officers. But I don’t often get to speak with one of our country’s heroes who has hunted (and bagged) international terrorists. Fred Burton has been there and done that, and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with him. What follows are a few of the highlights of that conversation. I will refer back to this interview at times in the future — my intent here is merely to relate some of the wisdom he shared with me during our talk, the sum of which is this: American cops are on front lines against potential terrorist attacks on our soil.
— Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Senior Editor
Some PoliceOne Members already know a little bit about Fred Burton through his regular columns on current counterterrorism activities both here and abroad. For those of you who don’t know his work, a little bit of historical context will go a long way.
Fred Burton began his law enforcement career in a way many police officers can relate to — a young man with the desire to help people in his community became a cop in Montgomery County, Maryland, which borders our nation’s Capitol. In the first chapter of his book, GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, he writes, “I was a Maryland cop. I protected my community. I loved law enforcement, but I wanted something more.”
He applied for federal service, and the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State offered him a job. Before he began training for the DSS in November 1985 — around the time terrorists hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise liner — he had never even heard of the organization. By the time he retired from DSS, Fred had helped create (and then lead) the agency’s Counterterrorism Division. “Very few people have ever heard of us,” Fred writes. “My training for that work was as a street cop back when terrorism was in its infancy.”
He orchestrated the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He investigated cases including the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane, al Qaeda’s New York City bombing plots before 9/11, and the Libyan-backed terrorist attacks against diplomats in Sanaa and Khartoum. He has served his country in ways that may remain secret forever.
Today, Fred Burton is widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on terrorists and terrorist organizations. As Vice President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security at STRATFOR, a global private intelligence company, Fred Burton leads a team of experts (with input from human intelligence sources around the world) that analyzes and forecast the most significant events and trends related to terrorism and counterterrorism.
To this day, he carries with him at all times a list of about a dozen names — handwritten into a small journal — of known actors, unidentified suspects, rogue intelligence operatives, and terrorists’ aliases or code names. When a bad guy is caught or killed, the name is scratched off the list. The number of names varies, he says, “depending on the speed of justice in the world.”
The NYPD Beat Cop Concept
Most police officers have a pretty good handle on where the “high-value targets” are in their patrol area. Many even think beyond the typical list of power plants, transportation facilities, malls, hospitals, sports complexes, rail yards, radio towers, and public buildings. But it goes way beyond even that. Burton says that agencies and officers should be aware of where the offices are whose CEOs or managers are particularly high-profile, or unexpectedly low-profile. He says that targets could be among the most innocuous-looking structures and areas.
“It’s still surprising to me the kind of blank stares I get at times — officers may know that they patrol an area that has a nuclear reactor, or that there’s a large dam. But they may not know, for example, that large oil, chemical, or gas lines run through their areas or that your suspicious person call in the vicinity of a location may be connected to those kinds of places.”
Further, Burton advises that police officers get to know the locations of the synagogues in their area of responsibility, as well as the mosques. “Have you made any effort to reach out to the Imam of the mosque or the Rabbi of that synagogue and establish some dialogue? What I sense — what I know and I’m sure you know too — is that cops are responding to their radio calls and they don’t have a lot of opportunity to get out and just develop some very granular contacts in the community. But these could turn out to be valuable information conduits.”
If you have a good avenue of communication within your various communities, he explains, they’re more apt to bring more information to your attention. “Say, for example, if they have someone — whether it’s in the jihadi community or in the right-wing Jewish extremist community — that they want to talk to you about...” Burton offers, and then allows that sentence hang in the air, unanswered.
Individuals working day-to-day in ethnically-owned private small business — from the deli to the hot dog cart to the self-storage businesses — are always good conduits of information if you really know your area of responsibility. When he visits police agencies around the country, he asks for a show of hands among the gathered group: ‘who here knows those business owners, or even where the synagogues, Jewish day care centers, or mosques are located?’
“You’ll get a hit or miss response,” he laments. “In an audience of 100 you might get 25 hands. Whether folks don’t want to respond, or what, I don’t know. But I get a sense there’s still not a lot of understanding of your different communities... where you can play a significant role in the war on terror.”
Information about all of these types of people and places has meaning — specifically it can mean the difference between an attack that’s carried out and one that’s prevented.
It’s the old beat cop principle that New York City is so famous for — knowing everything that is happening on your beat. “You really do need informational resources in the community as well as good observation skills to know what changes are taking place.”
Who’s Watching the Watchers?
Most pre-operational surveillance — such as sitting on a park bench, taking a picture, or shooting scenic video — is innocent-looking in nature and generally does not break the law. The real problem with this isn’t the legality of the activity, it’s that in too many cases, virtually no one is taking note that it’s happening. Burton says that often, no one has the mindset to wonder, ‘Why is this person taking a picture of this building?’
Worse, omong those who do make the observation, few will take the time to write it up in an intelligence report and make sure that it gets to the local Joint Terrorism Task Force for further investigation. “There may be three or four of those things that happen across a region,” Burton says, “but no one would know to make an analysis because no one bothered to send the sighting up the line.”
According to Burton, there’s a prevailing expectation among too many cops that someone else is doing that, but in fact, nobody is. “I think street cops think, ‘Well, the FBI must be doing that.’ And that’s just not the case. You know, the FBI — especially today’s FBI — they have an operating manual that’s about the size of an old Bell telephone book. They’re under a lot of bureaucratic requirements and scrutiny as to when they can talk to people and when they can’t. It takes a lot of supervisory approvals and so forth. So, your average street cop or your average detective has much more probability of running into a real terrorist than your average federal agent does. They also have the ability to just do more intelligence collection through interfacing with their area of responsibility.”
Burton contends that the thwarting of a terrorist attack is more probable at the street level than at the federal level. “I spent a lot of time with these folks across the country and I talked to a lot of different people and do a lot of speaking engagements with counter-terrorism agents. Even in the post-9/11 environment with DHS and your joint terrorism task forces with intelligence division agents and detectives — everybody kind of senses that somebody else is doing this stuff. In reality, they’re not.”
Jails: The Jihadist Jack-in-the-Box
Where would a jihadist go to cultivate new recruits? Where would he find recent converts to Islam who could easily be radicalized? Where are there large numbers of young men who feel disenfranchised and prone to violence? You’ve probably already guessed the top two places (hint: they’re not colleges and mosques). Cartels and gangs on the streets, and their related populace who live behind bars.
“You have a couple of environments that are very conducive for the recruitment for jihadist criminal activity. Obviously, one is the prison systems — more at the local and state level than the federal system because the federal system usually has folks that are put away for a good number of years due to federal sentencing guidelines. So, in essence, at the local and state levels where you see more of the recruitment of gang members as well as you get the converts to Islam, you get the captive audience that has to join the group for self-preservation phenomena.”
Burton says that there are some outstanding programs underway in some state and local corrections agencies that are beginning to develop actionable intelligence on these prisoners to garner how they’re doing recruitment. Despite these excellent efforts, there remain some “huge intelligence gaps” due to the difficulty of getting that kind of data and making sense of it. But strides are being made by extending some of the intelligence gathering activities devoted toward drug cartels and their criminal cadre who occupy our prisons.
“The other phenomena — and we see it especially when it comes to the Border — is that relationship between your various cartels and your criminal enterprises, your street gangs. Whether it’s MS-13, Barrio Aztecas, or a lot of smaller ones, you know there has to be an interface between the cartels that are pushing the dope north and the flow of weapons, stolen vehicles, and cash going south. You have that hand and glove interface there.”
Case in Point: A Successful Model
At the center of the successful take-down of a grassroots jihadist cell in May are some of the very things Burton discussed with PoliceOne:
1. among these homegrown terrorists, only one was reared as a Muslim — the other three converted to Islam in prison
2. relatively ordinary local synagogues were among the terrorists’ intended targets (the other target was a U.S. military transport aircraft)
3. one well-placed informant in a mosque was the conduit of information to law enforcement
4. the would-be terrorists used cameras bought at Wal-Mart to photograph their targets, doing their pre-operational surveillance in the open
5. vigilant observation of the suspects — and information being quickly passed to federal agents — led to the successful prevention of an attack
Of course, we’re talking about the Newburgh plot. In STRATFOR’s excellent analysis of the failed plot, Burton and his team write that “with an informant in place, the task force in charge of tracking the Newburgh plotters most likely constructed an elaborate surveillance system that kept the four men under constant watch during the investigation and sting operation, using technical surveillance of their residences and potential targets.”
Having the ability to closely observe the group’s communications and movements, STRATFOR estimated, law enforcement officials were able to gain control over the group’s activities to such a degree that they felt confident in letting the plotters plant a 37-pound inert explosive device in the trunk of a car outside of Riverdale Temple and two similarly harmless bombs outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, a synagogue a few blocks away.
There’s one other element to the Newburgh plot that Burton discussed with PoliceOne, and it’s as esoteric as it is concrete. The suspects told their arresting officers that they “wanted to commit jihad” because they were “disturbed about what happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Going Home... Eyeing the Horizon
Burton was recently invited to do a presentation on terrorism for his old PD, Montgomery County Police. “I guess it was about 250 police officers, and they had invited the U.S. Park Police and ICE and ATF... it was good going back and having an opportunity to talk to my old department.”
Among the things Burton said to the group is something he tries to talk about wherever he goes — that police officers are so focused on the day-to-day of patrol that they sometimes fail to recognize how the events which take place abroad can impact security here in the States.
“Whether that is a Mumbai attack or the current saber-rattling between Israel and Iran, they don’t put it in a domestic perspective. Meaning, ‘how does this international event resonate here? What are the possible ramifications to us here on my beat and in my city?’ I talk to a lot of police officers and what I see is that once you start talking about this issue, they clearly get it then and recognize that it’s important.”
Burton says that once the international trigger incident occurs, it is way too late to go back and start laying the foundations to those relationships and making those intelligence inroads. The “quiet times” on patrol are the best times for doing security surveys at those facilities, or establishing liaison with the owner of those properties. He asks, “Have you done a walk-through when you’ve got some down time to know these sites in case you’re called for an active shooter that takes place at this location?”
Just one example from which you can choose — among the topics he covers at STRATFOR — Burton points to the tensions between Iran and Israel right now. “Whether or not Israel is going to conduct a preemptive strike on Iran is a topic that we discuss here every day. That event, in the event that it occurs, will significantly resonate here in the United States. One: does your average police officer recognize that? And two: you’ll be in a much better position if you already know within your area of responsibility those Jewish-owned, multi-national Jewish schools, synagogues, as potential target sites and you’ve made an effort to establish contact with all of them. Because that brings you to the new phenomena of your lone-wolf jihadi and how in all probability — again, back to your street officer — your street officer is going to be the most probable interface between the victim and the perpetrator.”
Counterterrorism Force Multipliers
Burton states with conviction that police officers in the United States are at the front line of the preemption of a terrorist attack on our soil. He adds that strictly from a data-collection perspective — and all police officers are data-collectors — cops are “our best eyes and ears for detecting pre-operational surveillance by anybody. If you could marshal those assets nationally, from sea to shining sea, you could have a much better picture of events from a real-time surveillance perspective than we currently do.”
The good news, he says, is that America’s cops are a counterterrorism force multiplier, especially when you’re entering into times of heightened concern.
The bad news is chillingly simple: “Based on my investigations and the kind of work I’ve done in the past, once that suicide bomber starts rolling toward target they’re going to be about 95 to 97 percent successful in carrying out their mission and killing somebody.”
A veteran of more than ten years in online and print journalism, Doug Wyllie was writing about digital music before Napster, streaming video before YouTube, and wireless technology since the original Palm Pilot debuted. As senior editor of PoliceOne, Doug is responsible for the editorial direction of the PoliceOne website. In addition to his editorial and managerial responsibilities, Doug writes on a broad range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community.
Reply #6 on:
September 14, 2009, 01:24:54 AM »
September 11, 2009, 4:00 a.m.
Our National 9/11 Schizophrenia
The great debate over 9/11 and the American response — is it coming to an end?
By Victor Davis Hanson
Ninety-six months ago, 19 Islamic terrorists — led by Mohamed Atta, organized by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and ordered by Osama bin Laden — hijacked four American airliners. They destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and murdered 2,974 people. The al-Qaeda–planned attack was the most lethal on the American homeland in our history.
In response, the United States quickly attacked and removed the Taliban government that had offered sanctuary to the killers. About 15 months later, in March 2003, America successfully invaded Iraq, deposed the dictator Saddam Hussein, and fostered a constitutional government in his place.
At home, a new Department of Homeland Security oversaw fresh counterterrorism measures. The government stepped up wiretaps and email intercepts of suspected terrorists. It established military tribunals, continued renditions of jihadists abroad, and inaugurated Predator-drone assassinations of terrorists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Bush administration ordered the creation of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
All of these post-9/11 measures were debated in the congressional election campaigns of 2002, and during the presidential campaign of 2004. Incumbents responsible for such a muscular response to al-Qaeda were mostly reelected — given that, despite the steep human costs, the Taliban regime and Saddam Hussein were gone, democracies were in their places, and the United States had not suffered another attack when most experts had affirmed that such an event was inevitable.
In addition, almost immediately after the removal from power and later capture of Saddam Hussein, Pakistan put its nuclear proliferator, A. Q. Khan, under house arrest. Libya voluntarily surrendered its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and its facilities for manufacturing more. A peaceful “cedar revolution” in Lebanon led to the removal of long-standing Syrian occupation troops.
None of this was easy. Almost 5,000 Americans died in the two wars; over $1 trillion was spent. At home the country was torn apart in domestic acrimony. The last eight years have seen a resistance culture spring up, let by such as Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and Joe Wilson — coupled with congressional fury in which senators have characterized our own troops as analogous to Pol Pot, Nazis, Communists, terrorists, and Saddam Hussein’s Baathists.
Today one-third of Democrats believe that President Bush was involved in the planning of September 11. Best-selling books have alleged that 9/11 was a planned government operation. Novels were published and movies screened envisioning the assassination of George W. Bush. Politicians as diverse as Robert Byrd, Al Gore, and John Glenn all compared the president or his policies to Nazis or Brownshirts. All that was in response to the losses in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, in addition to the partisan advantage sought by discrediting the Bush presidency.
Now, on the eighth anniversary of the assault, the world has changed almost beyond belief — even if many circumstances that led to the attack on America have not. The Taliban regime and Saddam are still gone. Democracies still function in their place. America remains safe from attack. Yet rarely do we credit anyone for such facts.
Indeed, we are now in a post-9/11 sort of limbo. On the one hand, popular culture, the Democratic Party, the Democratic-led Congress, and Barack Obama have at various times denied the utility or morality of Guantanamo, elements of the Patriot Act, rendition, military tribunals, Predator attacks, or the conduct and very necessity of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The new post-9/11 narrative is not so much that a radical fringe of fundamentalist Muslims had established nefarious relationships of mutual interest and benefit with Middle Eastern dictatorships in order to terrorize Western targets, but that an insensitivity and chauvinism on the part of the United States had driven proud Muslims through desperation and angst into Islam’s radical fringes.
This narrative proved to be a winner in 2006 and 2008 for both congressional Democrats and Barack Obama. In varying ways, during the luxury of quiet from terrorism at home, they promised a respite from Bush’s costly optional wars, his unnecessary and largely unconstitutional “war on terror,” and the general notion of an us/them dichotomy between the West and radical Islam. Candidate Obama at one time called for all American combat brigades out of Iraq by March 2008, repeal of much of the anti-terrorism protocols, and a rapid closing of Guantanamo.
But reality was far different from rhetoric. America, after all, was still safe in a manner that no one envisioned after the 9/11 attacks — and perhaps for a reason as well. So if Barack Obama and his supporters once damned tribunals, wiretaps and email surveillance, renditions, and Predator assassinations, now in power they strangely began to approve of, or at least tolerate, most of them.
The detention facility at Guantanamo is deemed abhorrent, but its continued presence suggests that even its critics acknowledge a certain utility. Iraq was written off as “lost” by opponents, but over 130,000 Americans still shepherd its fragile democracy. The “good” and older war in Afghanistan is now more violent and more controversial than the relatively quiet “bad” conflict in Iraq. Apparently, eight years of the Bush policies in reaction to 9/11 are as silently ratified as they are publicly condemned — an Orwellian moment in which “Bush did it” has become a public slur, while a privately appreciated fact.
What lies ahead? The present schizophrenia, I think, is untenable. The public is happy that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mass murderer of September 11, was waterboarded and thereafter expounded on his terrorist network; the Obama administration, in contrast, believes that all those who extracted that information in the bleak months following 9/11 should themselves be investigated and, if need be, tried and punished.
For the last two years, polls in the Middle East have shown a radical drop in support for both bin Laden and the tactic of suicide bombing. We in response have apologized to the Muslim world and magnified its glories at the precise moment when, of its own accord, it has turned on its radicals, who have brought death, destruction — and defeat — to all in their midst.
Few Americans now support our continued presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. And yet even fewer ever thought that the Taliban and Saddam would be quickly dispatched, and two constitutional governments would still be surviving in their absence.
In short, we are reaching a critical moment of clarity. We continue practices that we say are either futile or wrong, and we demonize their architects in speech even as we ratify them through action. At some date, the Democrats and Obama may well close Guantanamo, try our own CIA interrogators, cease tribunals and renditions, ground the Predators, pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, reach out to Iran and Syria, and distance the United States from Israel.
At that point, when liberal deeds at last match liberal rhetoric, the great 9/11 debate of the last eight years — are we still in lethal danger from radical elements of Islam or not? — will finally be decided by either our continued safety or another September 11.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
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