19 Years On

Next year it will be twenty years on. A few minutes ago it was exactly 19 years to the minute. The first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 am EST. We now suffer a 9/11 every couple of days in the US thanks to Trump’s bungling of the Coronavirus response.

Fires are decimating some of the most beautiful parts of the country on the west coast. Corona is almost certainly set to rage again with the great “re-opening”.

But let’s take a minute to remember what happened 19 years ago, and how the nation came together and responded then. Imperfectly, and sometimes tragically, from the Bush/Cheney regime. It has all been covered here on these pages. The moment could have created a lasting unity and, instead, was exploited to the opposite. But for a couple of days, it felt different. Let us remember why.

49 replies
  1. FLwolverine says:

    In October 2001 we visited friends who lived in Paris. On 9/11 they were in southern France on their honeymoon. They told us about the outpouring of love and support they experienced both there and in Paris. By the time we got there, crowds were demonstrating against the anticipated US invasion of Afghanistan.

  2. Greg Hunter says:

    I happened to be teaching a computer class at Naval Weapons Station Charleston when the first plane hit. It was a surreal experience to watch the plane hit the second tower but it did remind me of watching the start of Gulf War I on the office TV. It was a galvanizing event for a lot of people but certainly was exploited to make terrible decisions. My fears of an inept republican administration came true, but with Rush and Fox they made their own reality.

    My first email ever to my Senator Mike DeWine had occurred in June of 2001 and it involved Afghanistan as I had asked him why the Senate had authorized payment of 44 million dollars to the Taliban for destroying the poppy crop? I asked him why the destruction of the poppy crop should be rewarded to the Taliban regime; a theocratic government that repressed everyone but devout men. I never got an answer from Mike. After the death of my best friend of a heroin overdose in 1999, I was adamant about ending the Drug War on naturally occurring products as Prohibition was a failure in the US and our US based Drug War was a failure world wide.

    Nineteen years on and Mike lost his Senate seat to one Sherrod Brown, a good thing, while he went on to be Attorney General of Ohio under a failed Wall Street Banker by the name of John Kasich. AG DeWine busted weed dealers while the Doctors in white coats incited one of the worst overdose episodes in American history as they passed out millions of opioid pills in Ohio under his nose. AG DeWine got his turn at Governor and true to Taliban form, passed the heart beat bill in Ohio and so it all came full circle.

    The Taliban will resume control of Afghanistan and the poppy crops are better than ever while our reputation is ruined, we are divided at home and the Treasury barren. In my mind Bin Laden prevailed.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, prevailed is maybe a good word for it because nobody “won”.

      I was asleep in our master bedroom, my wife had just come out of the shower (she went to work far earlier than me). She, not really screamed, but shouted for me to get up because “something serious was going on”. Think it was so early that the news folks still thought it was a private plane. But, then, of course, it was not and the second plane hit. It, in some ways, seems like yesterday.

        • bmaz says:

          It was truly surreal. I assume it was just as early there where you are, and it was a bit much for the break of day.

      • Burt berman says:

        I live in LA, one time zone west of you of I think …was up at 530am….a morning show in back round as i prepared to drive to my 9am weekly “division heads” meeting at the movie studio i worked at … the shit went down on TV… One tower, then two. My wife and I looked at each other as if to say, sardonically: “Trouble in River City”. first tower told a story; second was like checking math. But, um…the meeting…it was run by a very abusive person. Those who worked for him walked on egg shells most days. So—didn’t think twice about not setting off. Headed for Hollywood from Venice. Thought I’d check in with boss’ office when halfway there from Century City—like, I didn’t want to go in but had no idea what the 411 really was at 815am or so, west coast time. One of the assistants said: No need to come in, the meeting’s cancelled, studio closing for the day. It was then I knew things were as bad as they had seemed. Ten days? Two weeks? later, Karl Rove came to town to meet w/Hollywood’s studio heads (at his request) to brainstorm how Hollywood could mobilize w/ him and the President’s admin to hit back. As far as I now, nothing ever came of of it, other than the the chill itself.

      • Timmer says:

        You don’t know me a$$hole. I have been donating and door knocking since the late 60’s. I know I am not as gifted as you believe you are but you need to show a little more respectfullness to readers, dick

        …….”And, by the way, “the rich” usually get better outcomes because they can afford better attorneys and defense, not because they are “rich”. You want to do something about that inequality? Maybe stop whining on a blog, get off your ass and donate money and time to public and contract defenders in your area. Until then, please spare me your bullshit lecture.”

  3. Molly Pitcher says:

    If this country is too stupid to see that Republican administrations come to power unencumbered by legality, destroy the economy and the environment and ravage our reputation on the world stage, we deserve the government we get. We cannot let Trump continue the destruction that The Bushes began. The 9/11 assault was a direct response to the Bushes actions in the Middle East.

    131 days to Inauguration Day. It cannot be for Trump.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In 2001, most of Europe knew terrorist attacks all too well. I happened to be on the phone with a colleague in Paris at the moment when all of Europe stopped, heads bowed, in honor of America’s loss. One day, we might earn that much respect again.

  5. madwand says:

    Eastbound on Rt 80, a day or two after 911 I was driving in to work to move my aircraft out of the 18 mile, just imposed restricted zone, around NYC and passing dump truck after dump truck all marked with the same quarry. There must have been over a hundred possibly more, all in the right lane. I flew over that quarry all the time when flying out or into the flight facility on the backside of Picatinny Arsenal. There was never more than a few trucks and no parking area where they were maintained, so I was astonished at the number I passed seemingly endless. Later they had a story on the news about the trucks crossing the GW and then moving down through Manhattan to pick up the remnants of the Trade Center, loading up and reversing course, and then moving the rubbish to Staten Island. It went on for awhile. I also thought someone had to be on the ball to have organized all those trucks a day or two after 911 to start that salvage operation.

    Later that day we were told we had to file an instrument flight plan, take off runway 24 and make a right turn and head out into NJ to our destination out of the 18 mile zone. Making a left turn would get you shot down by the CAP patrolling over NYC. Before that we had to go through security at one of the FBOs and that was ready to go also, but by uniformed personnel with insignia I had never seen. They were obviously contractors as the quarry trucks were also. They had been organized and deployed on short notice.

    Much later at an aviation conference in PA a young man rose up to speak about his brother who worked on the floors above the impact and was unable to egress below that point. He told the haunting story of talking to his brother for what time they had left and the moment when his brother’s phone went dead.

    These days historians are starting to signal out 911 and GW’s response to it as the beginning of the US decline as a moral influence around the world. If history can be ascribed according to great men, then our great men have failed. Trump or someone like him was inevitable. If he remains in office this decline will be accelerated.

    • bmaz says:

      Change to IFR makes sense, hard to imagine it took that long. There are a lot of things you note that had to be part of a response plan. It was nice when we had those.

    • dimmsdale says:

      I remember that gruesome parade of heavy articulated dump trucks, piled with debris, nose-to-tail along a darkened and all but deserted Canal Street, grinding their way to Staten Island in what seemed like an endless procession. The previous couple of days, a line of trailered excavators and dozers and dump trucks bearing the logos of construction companies all up and down the eastern part of the country, appeared out of nowhere, taking up two lanes of Sixth Avenue, parked silently and pointing all the way south to Ground Zero, volunteered equipment intended to be ready if needed.

      I passed the line of dump trucks that evening on a mission: to check on an out-of-town friend’s elderly mom, who lived south of Delancey and was without electricity and unreachable by phone. Police had set up east-west perimeters at Houston, Canal, and all around Ground Zero; you needed a resident ID to get past, which meant I wasn’t gettng south of Canal Street legally. Instead, I walked all the way to the East River, where the perimeters kind of petered out, and headed south along the waterfront.

      Fell a couple of times in the pitch black, but there was a white glow of light south of Delancey, and the sound of generators, so I made for that. The apartment building was bathed in light and (because of the number of elderly residents) the generators were brought in to keep lights and elevators on. The elderly mom greeted me in a housedress, gave me a glass of water, asked if I’d like a potato cooked on the stove burner. We chatted, one of the most bizarre social calls I’ve ever made. Duty done, I made my way home, and encountered the procession of dump trucks.

    • RMD says:

      Project for the New American Century PNAC

      Of the twenty-five people who signed PNAC’s founding statement of principles, ten went on to serve in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.
      Observers such as Irwin Stelzer and Dave Grondin have suggested that the PNAC played a key role in shaping the foreign policy of the Bush Administration, particularly in building support for the Iraq War.”[Wikipedia]

      • RMD says:

        I meant to include these important details:

        In 1998, Kristol and Kagan [founders of PNAC], advocated regime change in Iraq. They advocate this throughout the Iraq disarmament process in articles that were published in the New York Times. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush, specifically advocating regime change through “a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

        The letter suggested that “any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq,” even if no evidence surfaced linking Iraq to the September 11 attacks. The letter warned that allowing Hussein to remain in power would be “an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.”
        From 2001 through the invasion of Iraq, the PNAC and many of its members voiced active support for military action against Iraq, and asserted leaving Saddam Hussein in power would be “surrender to terrorism.”[Wikipedia]

    • John Lehman says:

      Clearly followers of Osama bin Laden’s brand of Wahhabism were to blame for 9/11 and not the Shi’ite/Sunni Iraqis who are Wahhabism‘s traditional enemies. Sadly justice had to wait in line for the neoliberals’ opportunistic agenda.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    I posted earlier about NY Daily News report about Mnuchin’s withholding of FDNY survivor medical benefits, and also the CNN report regarding all of the 9/11 lies which was pretty stinky on several levels.

    Then, we have the nonsense today in Shanksville, PA where DJT cannot even recite the Pledge of Allegiance (and Melania didn’t even try) which tells me everything I need to know about how patriotic DJT is, no matter how many times he hugs the flag or says how much he loves the troops.

    Of course, the courtier press continues to give DJT a pass while screaming that Biden isn’t doing enough to stop protests. DJT upped the ante on that by saying he’ll crack down on anyone protesting his attempted theft of the election. Also, the MSM still won’t call the payroll tax holiday (to be made permanent if DJT “wins”) the death dagger to Social Security that it is. The fact that DJT is forcing the government employees to eat this makes it pretty clear to me that functionally this is extortion.

      • Tom says:

        Isn’t that what body language experts call a self-soothing or self-solacing gesture? Something you do when you feel awkward or vulnerable in a public setting and give yourself a hug to comfort yourself.

      • Epicurus says:

        It looks like they are observing a moment of silence. DJT probably didn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance because he can’t remember it.

        My son was going into work, something like four blocks from the towers, when the first plane hit. He was in his work building when the towers fell and the building was engulfed by the dust storm. When things got a little clearer and they let employees leave, he walked back to his apartment in Queens. Couldn’t reach him and he finally contacted us in the early afternoon.

        Re: GWB and the Iraq decision, DJT and basically all his decisions, and with apologies to the Buffalo Springfield,

        Paranoia strikes deep
        Into your life it will creep
        It starts when you’re always afraid
        You step out of line, *your father* come and take you away

      • P J Evans says:

        And in Shanksville, one of the firefighters brought up his previous visit (2012? 2014?) where he promised to brign beer next time. And Biden handed them two six-packs, to cheers from the crowd. (He seems to have a really good memory – or he makes notes and reviews them before the next time he visits a place. The kind of thing that impresses people favorably.)

  7. BayStateLibrul says:

    I was doing an audit review in Providence Rhode Island when I heard the news.
    It was surreal driving home that day on Route 95.
    Because I have a common name, after 9-11, I ended up on the “no-fly list”
    I remember being pulled off a plane on our way to Europe for a holiday.
    Thank God they let me back in, after explaining and proving that I was the wrong “John Doe”

    • P J Evans says:

      When the first ones hit, I was getting ready to leave for work.
      When the one hit the Pentagon, I was at the train station, where the coffee place had its TV on.
      (They cancelled work, but I didn’t find out until I got there and everyone was leaving.)
      The train was very quiet that day – both directions.

    • posaune says:

      We took a flight out of Dulles for Heathrow I believe on Sept 30. One of the first flights out after air traffic resumed. We were headed to a long-planned reunion of my father’s B-17 bomber group (91st HB) at Bassingbourne in Cambridgeshire (the Memphis Belle base). The stewards and crew were noticeably nervous. But those 85-yo and 90-yo veterans? Unflappable. One kept saying, “at least the Germans aren’t shooting at us.”
      All the English were so sympathetic. American Embassy in Knightbridge overwhelmed with flowers. Our trip to Maddingly Cemetery was somber–completely haunting to this day.

  8. gmoke says:

    In our very slow motion descent into full Fascism, the fall of the World Trade Center was our Reichstag Fire (whatever you believe about that event’s official story). We have now entered the stage of the “Köpenicker Blutwoche” (see the killings in Kenosha and Portland). So it’s taken the USA about 19 years to go through what it took the Nazis about 5 months.

    We still have ways to stop that slow motion descent but it’s gonna take more than voting (but please, yes, please, yes, vote). Remember, even if there’s a blue tsunami, a lame duck Trmp and McConnell have from November to January to wreak havoc.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    Also remember that it is unlikely that a veto-proof majority will occur in either house of Congress, so the mischief potential is real.

  10. Vertalio says:

    Timely reminder of what good acts we are capable of, and most all of the world, too. Pity we squandered it.

    I was watching on a small tv, home in MA; told the house painters to come watch too, through the window. Time seemed to flow in a slower river.
    I forgot to tell them there would be dynamiting across the street, though, and while we watched the first charge went off. Thought they’d melt into puddles on the spot.

  11. Raven Eye says:

    Some of my company colleagues were in one of the smaller WTC buildings at a planning conference with NYC personnel. They watched as people fell from the building, and then they evacuated uptown through the dust..

    A retired Coast Guard admiral I had worked with was in the hotel when the first tower went down. When the noise stopped, he looked up and could see the sky and the traffic lights “outside”. He evacuated safely, caked in dust.

    In DC it was a gorgeous fall morning. A colleague was driving his mustang with the top down on South Washington Boulevard next to the Pentagon and watched AA Flt 77 hit the building. Traffic stopped, he got out of the car, and hiked to the Metro Station. His car was ticketed, and he still has that ticket. He later worked in one of the Gulf states where his hosts consistently denied what he had witnessed first hand.

    I was trying to keep things sane in our offices in Fall Church, since we had people spread out all over the country.

    A few days later, with normal work on hold, I was assigned to the After-Action Report for the Pentagon attack that Arlington County got underway. We pointed the county to some federal funding, but started our work without delay followed by weeks of interviews. We talked to local, state, and federal personnel, starting with the firefighters who were assigned to the crash truck that was sitting close to the point of impact that morning. One of those firefighters still had little bits of metal in his back. I still have my notes.

    When you talk about people pulling together…The professionalism of the first responders from Northern Virginia and DC was amazing. The feds came in a little bit strong, but then fell into place when they realized that they didn’t have the knowledge and experience that the locals did. Arlington County, Alexandria City, DCA Fire, and Fairfax County were just plain impressive. The transition from Response (locals) to Recovery (feds – especially FBI) to Restoration (Pentagon) was excellent. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) may be a ceremonial unit, but they are, first of all, soldiers. They were attached to the FBI and did the grueling work of recovery inside the building as engineers determined areas were safe.

    Many stories to tell…I don’t think I went on S. Washington Drive or was on the ground near the Pentagon for a couple of years.

    The last little bit was a dual promotion ceremony to Lieutenant Colonel for an officer in our office (Army) and her twin sister (Air Guard). Their aunt was on AA Flt 77, and the ceremony was in the Pentagon chapel, which is at the impact point.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I get the sense that a lot of people aren’t wrestling yet with the reality of Donald Trump.

    What kind of a man lies about 9/11, asks Joy Reid, as Trump has for nineteen years? A psychopath, that’s who. The kind who saw that day as a promotional and real estate development opportunity, a day to grab some of that free money being thrown around to survivors. For Donald Trump, 9/11 was just another day. That’s why he can lie about it, the way he lies about every day that ends in “y”.

    That’s what’s president, for another few months. It’s why he should not be president. It’s why he will lie and cheat without restraint to stay president.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      I agree.
      That’s why I lose hope, regain hope, lose hope, regain hope, in a topsy-turvy way, like dodging “chin music” from the deplorables brush back pitches, trying to figure out “why”
      Howard Zinn kind of sums up the moment. “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. He goes on, “What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

  13. CapeCodFisher says:

    MAYDAY MAYDAY.. I remember May 1, 2011, sunrise fishing… A guy I knew was there even earlier than I was. I went up to him and said, “Mayday mayday”… he said what are you talking about. I told him Obama just killed Bin Laden… he hadn’t heard about it because the news broke at about 4 AM that day. Then we had some fun for about 10 minutes joking about how bin Laden might have tried to call 911 when the commandos were ambushing him… “hello, 911, yes there are men with dogs shooting at me, help, mayday, mayday”.. or something like that. Anyway we hunted him down. All Americans were behind it.

    • Margo Schulter says:

      No, in 2011 I wasn’t behind assassinating Osama bin Laden, as I said at FDL at the time, although I consider him in the same league as Pinochet and would have been behind bringing him before The Hague.

    • timbo says:

      I was more for bringing him back to the US to face actual judicial review of his case. The idea that we are some how morally superior to anyone else simply because we have the power to kill people where ever we want to is something that needs to be reviewed, lest we become the enemy we originally sought to defeat. Equality under the law, pluralism and diversity in our society, and respect for basic human dignity do not flourish from exercising power mostly without significant deference to those three principles.

      • timbo says:

        This does not mean that my opinion was/is a prudent opinion, it only means that one’s own faith in one’s own society is not something that should be assumed to be only of expediency of the moment, moment to moment, every moment; an unending pragmatism applied constantly is unlikely to lead to a coherent and lastingly stable policy or lasting positive result (for the hyper-pragmatist). Idealism has its place and has lead in some cases to the possibility of improved general living conditions for much of humanity, enough so that our species now dominates the planet many times over in many, many categories. However, that doesn’t mean that where we are headed is a pleasant place.

        Where the US went in Afghanistan 40 plus years ago policy-wise does not seem to have resulted in us being in a better place ethically… no matter how many people we killed extrajudicially throughout the intervening years to prove otherwise… We must not forget that we provided material and training support to the mujaheddin in that country for more than a decade prior to the rise of the Taliban and prior to the coordinated attacks on our country of September 11, 2001. And not to delve too deeply into the 2002-03 illegal war in Iraq, and subsequent ill-fated occupation of that country that has ended up being the quagmire it remains since. So I ask now if we, as a nation, as a part of our national security policies now, have stopped blundering around the world without any sense of moral purpose beyond the fact that we can? For if we have not, then we have not really gotten much out of our “participation” in 9-11 celebrations for all the lives and money that have been wasted since that awful tragedy of failed-policy hit our fans in the can on yet another fateful day in a long fall from whatever grace we once might have claimed without bald-face lying to the world, ourselves too, deeper and deeper.

  14. rattlemullet says:

    So how is it that Saudi Arabia remains so intertwined in the power trenches of American Government? Am I missing something? Do we just over look the obvious? Does it all boil down to money and oil?

  15. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Thanks for the chilling, and close-in, recollections, and also for the longer view of our country’s grinding decline.

    (Working in my studio 9/11 the phone rang, my mother simply said, “turn on your TV.” A few weeks later she—74 at the time—reminded me “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires.”)

    About that “sense a lot of people aren’t wrestling yet with the reality of Donald Trump,” my own attention turns toward my own sense of privileged normalcy, such as it can possibly be under circumstances that have me musing ‘how angry the Gods must be!’ Still, even low information, non-ideological, voters can see our country is being led by a madman.

    Is there a normalcy bias? We’ve been hunkering down in Cleveland, yet, we are well informed. How to wrestle with the reality of Trump? We’re privileged and self-contained. Are we to profoundly disrupt our own routines to #resist?

    I have started phone canvassing for Biden/Harris, cleaning up phone lists mostly, yet I can already contrast the few responses. What is the number one issue for the Biden/Harris voters I’ve reached?

    Ousting Trump. We hope for a take down.

  16. CapeCodFisher says:

    Same. My mother called and said turn on the TV.

    Trump pretended to be an informed decisive biznessman on TV, but the real thing, not very good at it. I heard a former US Prosecutor beginning to lay out the elements of manslaughter and even second degree murder charge against him.

  17. Geoguy says:

    I was working out of town when it happened but my wife and daughter were home. (We could see the towers from the backyard.) Cell and landline phones were down all over the area. When I finally got through to the house my wife was in a panic; should she grab the baby and leave town? I repeatedly asked her which way the wind was blowing until she understood. The NW wind was blowing the plume over lower Manhatten and Brooklyn, away from the house. Little did I know just how toxic that smoke would be.

    Shortly afterward I was working on the Jersey waterfront next to the berth where ships were being loaded with steel from the twin towers. It was an endless stream of barges and ships. The steel was shipped all over the world for recycling. When PATH train service was restored to lower Manhatten I would ride the trains every day for months to a project in Brooklyn. The train entered Ground Zero from the west and followed the perimeter half way around. By then it was a construction project in a deep excavation and a major tourist attraction. Normally I can’t keep my nose out of a hole in the ground but I was more horrified than fascinated. Friends and family who visited the area all wanted to go see it. I just couldn’t bear to go as a tourist and haven’t been back since.

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