Tag Archive: 9/11

September 10th


September 10th. The last good night, the last before of 2,996 afters. The 12th anniversary of the last night of not knowing something we wish we didn’t know now, of what we’ve seen – planes into buildings, memorandums floating on the air, mangled fire trucks – that we can’t unsee now.

September 11th was the rallying cry of the worst president in history, arguably, though most of America was only too happy to tie yellow ribbons on everything, fly the stars and stripes (cheerfully made in China) on every auto. I hit the street in protest as that war started; most everybody here did. But America was still chanting about towelheads and willing themselves, in misguided Freedom isn’t Free! patriotism, to believe it was Iraq on 9/11 so George Bush could have his Daddy’s war. Propaganda so effective that fully seven years later the Republican Party actually made a serious try to lob an underbright Alaska governor to the heartbeat-away slot in the White House, who actually thought 9/11 was Saddam. And wasn’t kidding.

1239666_474682075972374_565442930_nThe takeaway for the American people, after years of being fooled, was finally to see the world as progressives saw it plain and almost immediately; that ‘enemies’ aren’t interchangeable, that it’s better to understand the attack in some context, however painful, that our hands are not clean says much of the world, and that we owe our precious soldiers the respect of deploying them only when absolutely necessary.

Clearly, the president had some trouble with that takeaway. And that’s troubling, given why we elected him, and how he took pains to distance himself from his foolhardy predecessor.

But I think what we saw in tonight’s inelegant speech is a president forced by the rest of us – war-weary voters, stoplossed military families, and congress members across all spectra – to do the harder work of finding diplomatic solutions, and engaging the community of nations (where there’s some doubt who perpetrated this). This is not what President Obama wanted, but in the spirit of something other than trumpeting American exceptionalism, it is a saner approach – particularly from the nation with which napalm, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are associated. I know I’ll take a hit from some people on that.

Without the wisdom, the questions, even the anger of the American people, without the brakes Congress applied, and without the takeaways of more than 10 years of war by fools, President Obama might have made a different speech tonight. We have many people to thank for the possibility of a non-military solution now. Obama gets credit for listening.

Every year this night I begin reliving September 11th. I’m not alone. Part of this is the guilt of the dislocated; I was in Detroit, where National Guardsmen sat in Jeeps on Woodward Avenue, rifles on their shoulders. But I wasn’t here where middle school kids learned their fathers were missing when hysterical mothers came to collect them, where ordinary people tried to drive carloads of boots to the city, because they heard on the radio the steelworkers needed them. Most of all I relive it to keep faith with my Ohio fire chief grandfather, who I see in the faces of all lost firefighters. And to acknowledge the unknowable stories of the jumpers, whose quarter-mile fall from the sky are the mysteries of my nightmares.

I support public release of more of the video and info members of Congress have seen; we owe to the dead of Syria to witness it.  But if I thought lives would be saved in Syria if we bombed, I’d back the President right now. I don’t see how we can even consider it until all non-military solutions are exhausted.

And it’s a bad day to remind me of battles begun in the name of a war on terror.  


“I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

– Chris Christie’s mentor and patron, George W Bush

In a column extoling the support that Chris Christie is receiving from certain “Democrats”, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Matt Katz discusses the reasons why the governor has received accolades. Unsurprisingly, it boils down to money and power.

What Katz and the general public fail to see is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Christie is one of the most astute politicians of our lifetime. He rarely blunders in his quest for political power and influence, and his taxpayer-funded squad of spin doctors is among the best in the business.

They say that history repeats itself, and that is becoming apparent in the political ascent of Chris Christie.

Minute-by-Minute on September 11, 2001

World Trade Center

8 months after, the New York Times finally made me understand the chaos inside the towers – an extraordinary piece of research and writing. I’ll give you the link below.

Everyone has a story of 9/11. This photo was from a forgotten roll of film Rob & Brenda Usdin took, found and finally developed with a due date of Sept. 11, 2001. They had no idea what was on it, when they picked it up on September 12th. This is what was on it. It fits my mood.

My cousin Barb posted a photo of herself dancing on the observation deck in 1983, 18 years before. Flight attendants were remembered this morning, by union leaders remembering union sisters and brothers. All across New Jersey, names are recited.

MSNBC is replaying the Today show’s coverage as new layers of horror unfolded live and in real time. It’s what I was watching 11 years ago, as I was visiting my mother in Michigan. “Turn on the TV,” said my mother’s friend Iris that morning. What channel? “Oh, honey – it’s on every channel.”

But all the cameras are at a distance. Sometimes they try to zoom in closer, but the moving specks the camera picks up might be people jumping. The camera pulls back.

It’s irrational, but I always felt out-of-place not being here, when people I know and care about felt under attack. Not under attack as watched on TV, but under attack where they live, work, go to school. There are people in mourning today; for them this day isn’t about the horror unfolding on small flickering screens, but to husbands and sons, wives, daughters and sisters.

Eight months after 9/11, the New York Times published an extraordinary piece of journalism. Using phone and BlackBerry conversations, emails and voicemail, reporters reconstructed the final 102 minutes of what happened inside those towers, when people called their loved ones, what they said, what they realized, what they said was happening.

Fighting to Live as the Towers Died. Read it, read it, read it.  

Rest in Peace, Simon Dedvukaj, all first responders, all our friends lost on that day.

Two pieces of 9/11 event reconstruction coverage maybe you haven’t seen (or heard)

All week, I’ve been reading articles that say that hipper, more sanguine people than I am no longer mark 9/11 by saturating themselves in media and reliving – in the way only wall-to-wall tv news lets you – every minute all over again. I get it, and I see the reasons why; not to watch names called out or inspirational movies about Flight 93 passengers is not to dismiss the event, or care about it less. It’s only to mark it away from the fluttering images of infotainment.

But I do relive it the way hipper people no longer will. My television was on for some 50 hours straight. Part of that is simply my news-junkie self, obeying its imperative.  

My Reaction to 9/11, One Week Later

promoted by Rosi

10 years ago I wrote this piece in reaction to the attacks of 9/11, and in reaction to our country’s early reaction to the attacks of 9/11.  

Fight the Terrorists by Making America Greater Still
By North Plainfield Councilman Nathan Rudy (former)

(Published at PoliticsNJ.com on 9/18/2001) The terrorists who attacked America in New York and Washington D.C. exacted a heavy price on our country. We lost not only some buildings and many, many innocent lives, but also a piece of our national soul. The sight of those buildings collapsing extracted a piece of our core, and we are still searching for what will fill it.

In that search we are finding each other, and our patriotism. We are meeting on street corners with candles, trying desperately to give blood or donate blankets or get permission to dig through the rubble. Flags are flying on homes, cars, street lamps and more. Prayer services are packed, and even Borough Council meetings have a few more people than usual.

This unity is heartening, but it also comes with a hefty obligation to ensure that we are unified in the right direction, that we fill that void with something positive. Many countries have been unified in the past, with disastrous results. I do not believe for a second that we could sink to the depths of a WWII Germany or a 1979 Iran, but the United States has itself been guilty in the past of the improbably terrible act sanctioned by its people.

Keeping America Safe

On the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the current terror threat and precautions is yet another reminder (and reason) for a discussion about “keeping America safe”.  The hundreds of billions of dollars spent on wars of aggression, and the tens of billions of dollars lost to fraud and waste in Iraq and Afghanistan –  even tens of millions supposedly going directly to the Taliban and other insurgent groups – are more evidence of how our reaction to 9/11 not only failed to keep us safer but wasted precious resources that could be used to actually keep this country safe.

Republicans (and now a growing number of Democrats) in Congress – both now and over the past decade – are/were more concerned with writing blank checks for billions of dollars, not just putting this country at further risk, but ignore the real things that put American lives at risk and fail to keep us safe on a day to day basis.  The threat of attack is nothing new – it goes back at least to the 1950s, where students had drills to hide under their desks and more recently in the 1980s with the Cold War.

The Real Coming Hurricane

Unless you’re living in a cave and are cut off from the outside world, you probably are aware that a hurricane is coming to New Jersey. The press coverage is relentless, and credit should be given to those reporters who are providing helpful hints on how to deal with the pending disaster.

By all accounts, Irene is predicted to be one of the worst natural disasters to hit New Jersey in a long time. There will be millions of dollars of damage, lots of inconvenience as we are diverted from our daily routine, and, tragically an inevitable loss of life.

9/11 Memo to Gov. Christie: Not Everything is About You

Like everyone, I’m still dumbstruck by the events of September 11, 2001. I was in Detroit, not here. Detroit, sharing a river, bridge & tunnel with Canada, is the nation’s most vulnerable area to illegal entry. City was in lockdown. Travel between the two countries at dead-stop. On Woodward Avenue, National Guardsmen on jeeps with rifles on their shoulders.

But I’ve always believed that September 11 didn’t happen to America, it happened to New York – and also to New Jersey & Connecticut. Because the people who died in the World Trade Center were our people. I can’t imagine what it was to be here. In the middle school, kids throwing up whose parents worked in NYC. The flyers. The smoke and steam visible from our cities on the Hudson.

With the 10th anniversary coming, felt as deeply near the Pentagon, Christie’s usual bombast seems particularly unwelcome now. In the last few days, Christie has called Mayor Bloomberg, whose city deserves respect right now, a Napolean a dictator and a putz. I realize part of what he’s is after is to get recognition for Donald DiFrancesco, who was ever so briefly sitting as governor when 9/11 happened. That he wants a role for David Samson, Port Authority Chair, and not inconsequentially his appointee. That some of it is wanting to make sure NJ has a role in the commemoration, as we certainly had a role in the loss.

But, even giving the Governor that benefit of doubt, most of his embarrassing kicking and screaming is simply typical Christie conduct.

But as we come up to the worst national day in most of our lives, it’s time for the Governor to tuck away his tantrums, and show respect – with his own behavior – for that loss. It’s not the time for ungentlemanly name-calling or jockeying for position. Gov. Christie is the biggest of big wheels – okay, Governor, we all get it, bully for you. But arguing about the program? People died – try to keep your eye on the ball. Grow up a little before September 11, 2011. Try to remember that not everything is about you.

Postscript: At a presser this morning at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, the Governor denied calling Bloomberg any of those things. I don’t believe him for a minute.

We Got Bin Laden; How About the Anthrax Killer?

Just after the attacks of September 11th there was another attack that is often and curiously forgotten.  A series of letters to politicians and the media were sent out from a Hamilton, NJ post office that included a weaponized version of Anthrax.  Five people died in these attacks, and mail in many offices throughout the government and business world is still handled differently to this day.

In 2008 Bruce Ivins, one of the prime suspects and a civilian expert on anthrax for the military, committed suicide and the FBI and Department of Justice said, “OK, it’s over.  We got out guy.  Nothing to see here.  Move on!.”

Only many people — including one pretty smart dude named Rush Holt — thought that this was a load of crap and demanded it be looked into.  Most in the media and government (those who were attacked) mysteriously yawned, which was particularly difficult because they also had their heads up their asses.

Well, looks like the DoJ decided to take theirs out, and it looks like they now think Ivins wasn’t so much able to make the anthrax in those letters.

Shortly after Ivins committed suicide in 2008, federal investigators announced that they’d identified him as the mass murderer who sent the letters to members of Congress and the news media. The case was circumstantial, with federal officials arguing that the scientist had the means, motive and opportunity to make the deadly powder at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md.

Now, however, Justice Department lawyers have acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab – the so-called hot suite – didn’t contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.

That was the key thing, that Ivins used the Army’s lab to weaponize anthrax so it could be inhaled and kill.  But now the government (who still says he did it) says he couldn’t have done it at that lab.  And they are unable to explain how he could have accessed or built another lab they can’t find or place him in to have made it.  

Which pretty much means he had to buy it at the local Wal*Mart, maybe during the Terrorist Device Sales Days of September 2001.

Or it means that the person who really murdered those five people, injured dozens of others and terrorized our country is still out there enjoying their freedom.