9/11...Seven Years Later
Where is Osama bin Laden SEVEN YEARS after his 9/11 attack on my city? Same place he was seven years ago only stronger than ever.
Mr. Bush...what part of "Osama bin Laden determined to attack the US" didn't you understand?
And why haven't you stopped al-Qaeda and caught bin Laden? Seven years after Pearl Harbor we had decisively won the war and rebuilt and gotten our economy booming. Seven years after Pearl Harbor Hitler was dead and many of those responsible for atrocities brought to justice in an international court of law. Seven years after 9/11, where is Osama bin Laden?
Imagine leaving home in the morning, voting in a primary election for mayor, catching the subway to work and starting your day. Imagine hearing strange noises, but thinking nothing of them. Then imagine hearing that the WTC was no more and desperately trying to reuinte your family, now scattered across a city in crisis with no subways running. That was seven years ago today.
Seven years ago today, I was sitting in the same place, the NYU medical center (though a different part of the building). It was here in the NYU medical center that I heard the planes hit the WTC and wondered what those sounds were. It sounded like exactly like a semi-truck going too fast down the highway and hitting some bumps...that is what the 9/11 attacks sounded like. I looked up both times I heard that noise, looked out over the FDR highway and East River of NYC, saw nothing but the usual traffic, thought nothing more about it. It was only much later that I realized I had heard the planes hit.
My wife was under the WTC in the subway when the first plane hit. She knows this because the people who got on the next stop were in shock, in tears...they had just seen it happen. Not on TV, not hearing it second or third hand. They had just seen a jumbo jet slam into the WTC...live. My wife was among the first to know it happened because she heard about it from witnesses who were getting the hell out of there.
Seven years ago today, I was trapped on Manhattan, with no route back to my home in Brooklyn. My daughter was at school back in Brooklyn. My wife and I were stuck in Manhattan all day. The streets of Manhattan pretty much shut down. Wave after wave of emergency vehicles barrelled downtown along the FDR highway...but few other cars were on any of the streets. Wave after wave of tired, shocked people walkied doggedly uptown along all the other streets. No one knew where they were going, they were just getting away from the disaster, moving uptown, wondering where was safe...wondering how to get home. We all needed to get away but didn't know where to go. We had no idea when or where the next attack would come. We were trapped on what was clearly a giant terrorist target.
I remember my co-worker never made it in that day. She had said goodbye to her husband and, uncharicteristicly, gone back to sleep. She awoke to images on TV of a plane hitting the exact spot where her husband worked. I called her repeatedly that day.
"Have you heard from him yet?"
"Don't worry. Everyone is getting out. He'll make it."
That was the first call. By the end of the day it was...
"Have you heard from him yet?"
Then lame silence because we both knew that anyone who could get out was out. She had long ago realized that her husband was dead. Though it was a year later that they recovered a piece of him large enough to confirm his death.
Imagine kissing your husband goodbye, falling back to sleep, then waking up to that? Imagine having dinner with someone the night before, then slowly realizing the next day that he worked right where that plane hit.
It was early evening when we finally made it home. When we started walking from the train station in Brooklyn to pick up our daughter. We were directly under the smoke plume in our neighborhood. Seven years ago today, the ashes of the WTC and those who died therein, fell on my skin on on my neighborhood. We realized at the time just what was hitting our skin and it was one of the strangest moments in our lives. Touching the ashes of all that...
Already America was starting to lash out at Muslims. But not in my neighborhood. My family chose that night to eat out at a Muslim owned restaurant in our neighborhood. It was full.
I am not sure if I was a New Yorker before 9/11. I was afterwards. You can't go through that with a whole city full of people without becoming part of that city.
I write about this every year...and every year the frustration grows. Bush had been warned that it would happen but did nothing. Clinton had told him over and over again to watch out for bin Laden, and Bush did nothing. Why is Bush, the incompetent idiot who ignored direct warnings of the attacks, still in the White House?
Every year the frustration grows. Why is bin Laden still free? Why is al-Qaeda stronger than ever (according to our own government's intelligence reports)? Why is terrorism getting worse worldwide (according to Bush's own State Department)? What are we doing in Iraq? Why are we picking fights with Iran?
Every year the frustration grows. Why are firefighters who fought for America on 9/11 still dying with inadequate healthcare from the government? Why didn't mayor Giuliani, governor Pataki or Bush find some way to give the firefighters the equipment they needed so they could safely serve America? Why didn't Giuliani give the firefighters the proper equipment in the first place? Why have the Republicans cut so much funding to our first responders?
Every year the frustration grows. Why are our troops fighting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why didn't Bush give our troops the equipment they needed from the start? Why did the Republicans cut benefits to Veterans even as they started this massive war?
Every year the frustration grows, but what is worse this year than ever is the realization that Bush and Osama bin Laden are playing disgustingly similar games using disgustingly similar lies.
Every anniversary of 9/11 I used to write a letter to the editor about my anger at Bush's failures, both his failing to heed the ample warnings of an impending attack back in 2001, and his failing to get al-Qaeda, the people responsible for the attack. I sent this letter all over the nation. In the past I have had these letters published in New Hampshire and in Time magazine. 9/11 is the chance for New Yorkers to remind America that Bush has failed in every way regarding the 9/11 attacks. Please join me this year in voicing our outrage as witnesses to 9/11.
Now I blog more than I write letters because I think more people read my blog than ever read those letters. But my feelings are the same every anniversary. Saddness and anger.
This is the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the Bush administration has never admitted their failure to heed the warnings and they are still failing to get the people responsible for the attacks.
Since 2005 my rage at the Bush administration for its failures regarding the 9/11 attacks is actually matched by a new rage. Before 9/11 we knew attacks were planned, but we didn't know when. With hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration had not only warnings of what would happen if a category 3 or higher hurricane hit near New Orleans, but they also had every weather channel in the nation tracking Katrina as it headed right for Louisiana and Mississippi. This time, Bush knew exactly when disaster was going to hit America. And he still failed to do anything.
THIS is what Bush and McCain were doing as Katrina victims died:
I was amazed at his lack of leadership after 9/11. He behaved like a deer in the headlights. But after Katrina hit, he was even worse, continuing to enjoy a vacation as thousands of Americans died and suffered. Again, WHILE AMERICANS WERE DYING, Bush and McCain literally partied.
Furthermore, Bush again is refusing to take responsibility for his failures to be prepared. Bush and the Republicans cut funding for repairing the New Orleans levees, an act that is directly responsible for most of the flooding of New Orleans. They need to admit their mistakes! Their failure to heed warnings and admit mistakes killed Americans on 9/11 and killed Americans in New Orleans.
And then they did the same thing with the levees and bridges in the Midwest. They have been WARNED of the critical condition of our levees and bridges, but ignored that warning, allowing bridges to collapse and floods to devastate the Midwest.
On this anniversary of 9/11 I am faced more than ever with the realization that the failures of Bush and the Republicans is destroying America. My memories of the 9/11 attacks mixed with the images of the citizens of New Orleans, left to starve and die by a callous government, and the knowledge that Bush could have prevented 9/11, prevented the starvation and horror in Katrina's aftermath, prevented the bridge collapses, prevented the worst of the Midwest floods...all bring me to a level of rage I have seldom felt. Mr. Bush: your incompetence is killing America and I hate you for it.
Seven years ago we were attacked. Seven years after Pearl Harbor, America had won what was arguably the most destructive war in human history. We had won decisively. FDR led us from the horror of the attack, through the retooling for war and into the heart of war. Truman led us to the final victory.
What has Bush done?
I leave the last word to a victim of 9/11 in this Daily Kos diary.