The Naked Emperor

15 April 2004

9/11 Commission

15 April 2004

Lately I have been recalling something called the "Golden Fleece" awards. They were given out, I believe, by the late Sen. William Proxmire for the most outrageous waste of government spending. My personal favorite was $90,000 spent on a government funded study of why children fall off tricycles. Answer: "they lose their balance". It cost 90K to learn this. Hell, I could have told them that for 60 K. Or ever 30K. Maybe for a Hershey bar and a Coke. But the Hershey bar would have to have almonds, I do have standards to uphold.

All of the above dribblings from my brain bring us to the point. The 9/11 Commission. It seems they are tasked with finding out who's to blame for the terrorist attacks on that date. Before I detail how horrific, wasteful, and counterproductive I think said "august" body is, let me save the government a lot of my money.

Who's to blame for the terrorist attacks? Maybe I'm simple, but how about oh, the terrorists? I mean, weren't they the ones who chose the targets, manner of attack, and actually subdued the passengers and flew the planes into the buildings? Did Bill Clinton or anyone in his administration do that? How about Bush or his people? No, it seems to me that the terrorists caused 9/11.

Since I've now provided the answer already, we needn't continue with this farce. Please remit the unspent balance of the commission's budget ASAP, email for my address to send the check. Or small bills would be nice. And hurry, I've got my eye on a new truck and a new tractor.

As to how the terrorists succeeded, it's simple. We got whooped. They were more clever and determined than we were, and more than we thought they could be.

They turned our training against us. For a quarter century we believed that if hijacked, just stay calm and let the authorities handle it. You'd be OK. The hijackers would make some demands, and would eventually end up escaping, in jail, or dead. They rarely killed.

On 9/11 there were no demands. Just death to thousands. On three planes, the passengers responded according to the way we were all taught. They did as they were told, with one exception. Cell phones. They called, and let outsiders know what was happening before they were murdered.

On the fourth plane, they did the same. Except the cell phones brought news of the fate of the other three planes. It seems we learn VERY quickly. Those passengers realized that the paradigm had shifted and the training was hosed. They instantly knew that the authorities were not going to save them. Those passengers realized that their fate was in their own hands. They acted. Their heroic act, and subsequent sacrifice saved hundreds if not thousands of lives. How is it that the passengers of the fourth plane knew in such a short time what was happening and yet the 9/11 commission has yet to figure it out?

I was at work, discharging a patient that morning. My tech had the TV on. We looked over to see NBC showing the first tower burning. Fascinated and horrified we watched. Then we saw the second plane approaching. That instant I knew we were under attack and that we were at war. I tried to figure where suicide bombers would have gotten aircraft to commit such an atrocity. It never occurred to me that those planes were full of paying passengers out of American airports, destined for mass murder. But I knew that the world had just changed forever.

In the aftermath, I saw numerous signs and stickers saying "we will never forget". Yet here we are, two and a half years later, quibbling about useless minutia. We have forgotten. The simple fact is that only the terrorists who would be in the cockpits knew of their intentions. Eight people. And they used good security. They didn't say in any message "when we hijack flights X, Y, and Z on 11 Sept 2001." Therefore, we couldn't have intercepted that information. Unless one of those eight people had talked, or been a double agent, there was no way to prevent the attack.

We knew something was happening, but there was no way of knowing the details. Given the pattern of al Qaida attacks, the safest assumption was an attack somewhere abroad.

I remember that there were signs and shirts in the sixties with the slogan "what if there was a war and no one came?". It seems we've been having one since 1993 where we didn't show up. They have been at war with us for over a decade, but we weren't at war with them. Cost: 3000 dead on 9/11. So much for sixties feel good slogans.

For us to have prevented that attack, we would have had to go to war sooner. Yet how could we? When we opened the Iraqi theater with much greater evidence, the political firestorm has been fierce. Can you imagine either Clinton or Bush going on the air and saying "We have noticed an increase in chatter within al Qaida, and we think they may be planning something. While they usually attack outside the US, we can't rule out the possibility of an attack here. Therefore we're invading Afghanistan" Be real. If we were to go war whenever there is a possibility of someone attacking us somehow someday, we would be at war with every nation on Earth.

When someone demonstrates profound hostility to us, we go to war. Deadly hostility, not just unkind words. Unless you are a psychic mind-reader, we couldn't know how deadly al Qaida would be. If you are a psychic mind-reader please prove your credentials by providing Osama Bin Laden's current and future addresses, lunch menu and shoe size. Upon recovery of his dead, mangled body, you will receive your certificate.

Now that I've done the 9/11 Commissions job (in one night and while on vacation, too!), let's see what they've been doing. As any good politician does, they've been talking. A lot. Silly me, I thought that to get answers, you asked oh, maybe, possibly, QUESTIONS. But again, I'm too simple for DC. Apparently to get answers, you talk. And talk. And talk.

Commissioner Ben-Veniste is one of the best. He really likes the sound of his own voice. REALLY likes it. I think I saw him fondling his voice a few times. He asks questions, then when the witness attempts to respond, he cuts them off and bitches about how little time he has. Maybe, Sir, if you'd shut up once in a while and listen, you might find your time more productive.

I saw another one, I can't remember who, questioning Janet Reno the other day. He asked a very leading question to her about how high level meetings had stopped the Millenium Bomber plot. She said no, it was just good police work by the agent who thought the bomber was suspicious. No special alerts were involved. Apparently Ms. Reno also disputes Dick Clark's account. But that didn't satisfy the questioner. He merely responded by stating "so you're saying" and answering his own question opposite to what Ms. Reno had done, then cut off her testimony by saying, perfunctorily "thank you".

If they were interested in answers, they would listen, not try to get political blame points in. Maybe they'd look at what facts say about Dick Clark's self aggrandizement, not just the 60 Minutes puff piece. This Commission isn't about answers. It's about November, 2004. It's about how can we pin the blame on Bush? Common sense has already provided the answers of who's to blame. But no, we need to spend millions and millions, and give hours and hours of free air time to bash the current president.

I wasn't a fan of the former president. Many people point out that he had eight years to deal with al-Qaida and failed to do so successfully. The current president had only eight months. Bill Clinton did not attack the US. No one in his administration did. The terrorists did. Osama Bin Laden did. Clinton did the best that could be done short of going to all out war. So did Bush. To Monday morning quarterback when there are 3000 bodies and thousands of grieving families is abusive, and treads on their graves.

The terrorists managed to kill a lot of people. Yet they failed. At first. The goal of terror is to intimidate it's victims into doing whatever the terrorist want. They do not seek to win with free elections, or in the arena of ideas. It's a small group who wish to dominate a larger group with fear. When we place blame for the murder of 300 people on who put which memo in which inbox and not on the terrorists, they are winning. When we shirk our duty to defend freedom, they win. When we begin to think that maybe just easing one deadline or running from their atrocities, wherever they may be, the terrorists win.

And when we let a bunch of out of work politicos use the terrorists acts to try to sabotage the actions of a president during time of war, they win.

How's your Farsi? For future reference, Mecca is east when you kneel.

Dr. Peter M. Grout


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