September 10th

September 10th

: A reader sent me this link to a Washington Post story about what was happening on September 10, 2001 — besides sharks. Patrick Gavin is writing a book on the day.

Outgoing Mayor Rudy Giuliani attends a sermon by Father Mychal Judge, who is addressing current and former firefighters, as well as Fire Department Chief Pete Ganci, at a Bronx firehouse. “You have no idea, when you get on that rig,” the priest says at the firehouse, “no matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea what God’s calling you to do. . . . Good days, bad days. Up days, down days. Sad days, happy days — but never a boring day on this job.”

President Bush’s approval rating stands at 51 percent. He spends the first part of his day meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, discussing a potential free-trade agreement between the two countries. Later he flies down to Florida to promote his education bill, pursued throughout the day by questions about the slumping U.S. economy. Unemployment is 4.9 percent and rising. The surplus is disappearing. More than 1 million people have become unemployed since January.

“This has been an awful week for the stock markets,” Sam Donaldson declared yesterday morning on ABC’s “This Week.” He was being modest: It has been an awful year. The manufacturing and technology industries have been especially hard hit by the economic downturn, and corporate profits have dwindled. The Dow Jones is down 11 percent this year, the Nasdaq down 32 percent.

“Is the worst over?” Donaldson asked. “I mean, what’s ahead?”

And then there were things happening that did not make the news, yet:

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, informs Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had sent Cheney a copy of her legislation on counterterrorism and homeland defense in July, that the vice president will be unable to review her legislation for at least six months.

At the Justice Department, Attorney General John Ashcroft rejects the FBI’s request for $58 million to fund such counterterrorism initiatives as new field agents, intelligence analysts and translators.

U.S. intelligence agents tape al Qaeda members saying “the match begins tomorrow” and “tomorrow is Zero Day.” The tapes won’t be translated until tomorrow.

I don’t long to return to September 10th. Oh, of course, I wish September 11th had never happened. But I don’t long to return to some imagined era of innocence, which was really an era of ignorance. We didn’t know. We weren’t prepared (and I’ll argue, unlike the 9/11 Commission and other pilers-on that we couldn’t have been). But now we know.

  • Seppo

    Of course we could not have been prepared. Oh, we MIGHT have been able to disrupt some small part of what actually transpired in the Sept 11 chain of events, and maybe it would not have happened that day, in that way.
    But evil of that magnitude would find a way to express itself, as we have seen many times since that day.
    Sad that so many waste their time trying to assign blame about how these specific events were “allowed” to occur in a free world. But the world cannot bring itself to righteous outrage over the Beslans and Balis and Jakartas without distracting on self-referential nonsense and hand-wringing. The innocents are butchered, and we dishonor them in refusing to confront the nature of the enemy.
    Evil must be confronted, resisted, defeated, and that is where our energies must be directed. This anniversary is a time to remember that.

  • Frank Church

    I hate how we use 9/11 to scare people into this illegal raping of the planet. The families of the victims must be reeling with disgust at our gall.

  • MPF

    Recognizing the 20th Century abolition of the marriage exception to sex crimes liability, and leaving the inanity of the content of your statement aside, please define a legal rape.

  • Angelos

    Must have been Clinton’s fault that Cheney, Ashcfort, Bush, and Rice didn’t give two shits about terrorism until 9/12.
    Now, before Kat and Mike get their panties in a bunch, I’m not saying the specific attacks could have been stopped. But 8 months in office of complete indifference to anything any Democrat told them, ignoring all the security information that came from the previous administration, 8 months of absolute head-in-the-sand attitudes, it’s no wonder we were caught with our pants down.
    And 3 years later, are we any more prepared? Absolutely not. We still don’t have enough Arabists, trust me, I know. I run a translation/interpreting agency, and I get called all the time by the local cops and FBI office. I can’t find enough qualified Arabic-speakers to send to deposition, interrogtations, trials. We still don’t have centralized intelligence sharing. We have nothing but Tom Ridge campaigning for his buddy. Chatter, that’s good. Orange alerts, uh-huh. Election disruption, check.
    I want to know what excuses we’ll hear when we get hit next. These people who are campaigning on the safe world they’ve created (?!?!), who are telling us that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorist attacks. How will they explain it, the NEXT time we get caught with our pants down?
    Yes, I hold the Bush admin in utter disdain. But this is an American rant more than a political rant. I watched TV for how many days after 9/11, like most of you. I sent everyone home that morning, and my fiancee, my brother and I just watched with amazement/horror/more emotions than I have time to list.
    And what’s changed? We can’t defend ourselves because we’re overextended in a country we had no business invading. We’re embarrassingly undermanned in Afghanistan, where if we had committed ourselves from the beginning, we’d would have had a much better chance of truly decimating al Qaeda. I was all for Afghanistan. Crushing the Taliban, rooting out al Qaeda training camps, destroying as much of thei heirarchy as possibly.
    But no, W had Iraq in his sights from day 1. So we went from blind to the threats, to unable to do anything about them. Now Afghanistan is falling apart, Iraq is a disaster, and we can’t do squat about Iran and Korea, should the need arise. Good.

  • Andy

    The terrorist acts could not have been prevented without perfect knowledge before hand. The next attack will be the same way. We cannot have perfect knowledge and remain a free society.
    9/11 changed us. We feel more vulnerable and yet are more protected than we were 3 years ago.
    The only way forward is to be educated on possibilities, probabilities and potential acts. We can anticipate but not predict. The future is still unformed and within our ability to change.
    We learned that small actions can have great consequences. That brave individuals need not passively accept the fate dealt but can act. We need to be more aware of our surroundings and remember that each of us can act to change the shape of the future for many.
    We cannot surrender our freedoms for the -promise- of security. There is no absolute protection from the actions of others and the whims of fate. We must be true to our American values and ideals. We have a culture unlike any that came before. It is worthy of protection, even sacrifice.
    Life has many moments when you realize that things have changed and will never be the way they were. It is up to each individual to examine how they will adapt to the change. Will we be tossed about and blown by fate? Will we take command of ourselves, anticipate with new awareness, act upon those perceptions before the next blows arrive?
    Each of choose how we will live the future. The past is gone. We can only learn lessons that may not be relevant. We won’t know until we try the next time. There is always a next time.

  • Person of Choler

    Wait! You forgot to mention what the Halliburton executives were doing on that day.