September 11th, 2005

Halloween Cat

Another 365

I told myself I wasn't going to watch any of the retrospectives or shows or anything about 9/11 today, on 9/11/05. But out of sheer habit on a Sunday afternoon, I turned on the History Channel, and now I'm stuck watching because it's fascinating (although also extremely frustrating, in retrospect).

This show I'm watching is dealing with the security failures on every level which happened, but it took a few moments and went back to explain Osama bin Laden, his ideals, his background, his crusade, and how long he's been at war with America (pretty much since 1992, although we didn't seem to know it until 1996 or so). In 1999, Bill Clinton started ordering bomb strikes on al Queda training camps in Afghanistan, searching for bin Laden. A few strikes were made, and then (oh, GOD) he was accused of "wagging the dog," trying to distract the American public with this phantom terrorist group to shift focus from Monica Lewinski. More than once our bombers and stealth trackers HAD bin Laden, but were forced to pull back because it wasn't a smart political move.

Why is it that every time Bush plays "look at the monkey!" with one thing or another, they don't shout about it? Where are the checks and balances? Maybe Clinton was trying to distract people. But we were well aware that bin Laden posed a threat then, and the Clinton administration tried to warn the incoming Bush administration that bin Laden and al Queda was the most important danger facing America.

Hindsight is 20/20, indeed. But it just continues to bother me that we're all ready to shout "They're responsible!!!!" pointing fingers at other Americans (Republicans as well as Democrats, and vice versa), rather than, as I read in a Times Op-Ed piece a few days ago, pointing our fingers at the one man responsible for it: Osama bin Laden. He wanted to destroy the World Trade Center, and when his men failed in 1993, he took a step back, re-grouped, and waited eight years until he knew his plan would work. Simple as that. Sure, we dropped the ball, but I doubt any American would have put up with the level of security we now put up with if it had come before the attacks (hell, I barely tolerate it NOW). Can you just imagine some of these hawks allowing a search of their SHOES if it hadn't happened?

There are a thousand things that have happened in the years since. American patriotism resurged, then faded back to pre-9/11 levels (I noticed NO flags flying today on houses that flew them, day and night, for a year or more immediately after; there are a lot fewer "American proud" bumper stickers). It's been a horrible, horrible decade so far; disasters both natural and manmade, of every scale, economic and physical, national and international. On a personal level? I've had two really outstanding years; I've found some really great music; I lost a lot of weight; I've lost a few personal heroes and a truly wonderful cat. But I have a home, a good job, a loving and magnificent spouse, some tremendous friends, a little family, and reasonably good health. All in all, as halfway marks for a decade, that's not too bad.
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