Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We Remember!

Today, the sixth anniversary of 9/11, we remember.

Six years ago, I went in early to work. It was a gorgeous September morning, with a clear, bright blue sky. My younger son was off to his first day of Montessori pre-school at our nearby elementary school. At 8:55 a.m., the teacher snapped a photo of him smiling happily, sporting his brand new backpack, as his mother crouched next to him. Little did they know, it was the end of innocence.

As I sat in my office on Fifteenth Street, overlooking the White House, with a terrific view of the monuments, the Potomac, Arlington Cemetary and northern Virginia beyond, an associate came by to tell me a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. I assumed it was a small plane--a Cessna or something like it. After a few minutes of work I wandered over to the next office, where another lawyer had a television, to see what was up. It looked pretty bad--smoke and flames pouring out of a WTC tower.

While we watched, the second plane hit, with instant, awful consequences. We were horrified. Obviously, this was deliberate. Still, it seemed to be an attack on New York.

After a few minutes of stunned viewing, watching the images again and again, I returned to my office, figuring it would be awhile before there was any real news as to why this had happened. I tried to concentrate on a legal brief. While sitting at my desk, I noticed an odd sound, like a firm puff of breeze on the window, on a day with no breeze whatsoever. I ignored it for about 15 seconds, but it still bothered me, so I got up and walked to the window.

What I saw was a massive column of thick, dark smoke boiling up from the far side of the Pentagon. Something big had just happened. I grabbed binoculars, but couldn't tell much more--just that a very large explosion had occurred just across the river. I ran into the neighboring office, where three other attorneys were still glued to the television. "Forget the TV!" I screamed, as they looked at me like they would a madman. "Look out the window!" The closest to the window, still thinking me crazy, turned to look, then said "Holy shit."

We still didn't know it was another plane--we thought it might be a truck bomb. Whatever, Washington was clearly also under attack. There we were, right next to the White House, next to windows that could easily be blown in by the concussion of a large explosion. Rumors were already swirling of an attack at the State Dept. (we could see Foggy Bottom--no smoke) and the Capitol (which we couldn't see). Time to get out.

Everyone said Metro was closed, so I thought I'd walk home to Arlington. On the way, I discovered that Metro was still running, so I made the tensest underground ride of my life--mercifully only 10 minutes long--back to Clarendon in Arlington. As I walked the four blocks home from the Metro station, an F-16 screamed overhead, causing everyone on the sidewalk instinctively to drop. In the distance, sirens wailed as more emergency vehicles headed to the Pentagon. We could still see the plume of smoke.

I don't intend to ever forget that day. I don't doubt that Bin Laden's true targets that day in Washington were the White House and the Capitol, and he almost succeeded. No telling what would have happened to me, one block away, if a large jet had slammed into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

I know people who lost loved ones on 9/11. And we all lost our sense of security.

I have to go on with everyday life, but today I take the occasion to be furious at President Bush and his administration, for their utter failure to make us safer, and for their utter failure to punish the men who did this to us. It pisses me off that Bin Laden is still at large, six years later, while we went to war in the wrong place, against the wrong people, for the wrong reasons.

Today, when we should be remembering 9/11 and re-dedicating ourselves to making sure it never happens again, we are instead debating details of a troop reduction in . . . Iraq. Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. That's all it's been for nearly five years. Not Bin Laden. We created a haven for Al Queda in Iraq, and now we're bragging about reducing it. That's nothing to crow about. When Bush says we're fighting Al Queda in Iraq, I want to strangle him--he's a dope.

So what does the Wall Street Journal have for us on this day of rememberance of 9/11? They have a full half page screed by Norman Podhoretz--one of the misguided neo-cons who got us into Iraq--attacking the "left" in American politics. "Six years after 9/11 it's notable how little the politics of the left have changed." Boy does this guy need a lobotomy. Let's be perfectly clear about this: for the ENTIRE time since the 9/11 attacks, the man in charge of responding has been George W. Bush and he has botched it just as badly as everything else in his incompetent administration. For the WSJ to be sitting around promoting attacks on the "the left" is just preposterous. In contrast, the Post has a column by George Will, with whom we rarely agree, noting quite correctly that we still have no mission in Iraq.

Mainstream America does get it--in a recent poll 61 percent said they were not satisfied with the way things were going in the war on terror. They know that Bush is a failure. Millions regret ever voting for the guy; they're embarassed, as they should be. In running for re-election, Bush leaned heavily on the national security angle, warning darkly that turning him out of office would be a victory for the terrorists. How wrong that was.

Unfortunately, we saw the true Bush on 9/11, before the political makeover artists could intervene. That was the Bush who retreated in fear, flying AWAY from Washington. We only wish he'd stayed away and let someone competent take on the job of avenging the awful tragedy that struck our nation that day.

No comments: