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.