Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 11, 2001, Reimagined

WTC Attack September 11, 2001
On Tuesday of this week 17 years ago, Hijackers flew commercial airliners into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Passengers and crew were credited with thwarting the terrorist hijackers’ planned attack on the U.S. Capital. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, in which close to 3000 people were killed, was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in history.

We were fortunate at that time to have great confidence in the leadership of our country; in our intelligence community, the FBI and in law enforcement. There were system failures, particularly in communications. And sure, there was second guessing later about the actions taken in response to the attacks, but while events were unfolding, we trusted in our leaders to see the country through.

George W Bush first hears of WTC attack
Imagine what would happen now under the Trump Administration. The “usual suspects” carry out a devastating attack on a soft target with symbolic importance, like the December 19, 2016, attack on a Berlin Christmas Market — an attack claimed by ISIS.

Who would be blamed for not connecting the dots? Would the Intelligence and Law Enforcement agencies — the FBI, the CIA, NSA, DIA — carry sway with President Trump in formulating a measured response?

Who would we bomb, who invade? What new immigration restrictions would be imposed, what internment camps would we open for Muslim-Americans?

What new requirements would be added to the Patriot Act, what more intrusive surveillance on all Americans? What nature of protest would be made illegal? When would martial law be lifted?

The next terrorist attack on American soil is not a matter of if, but when. Determined fanatics willing to die for their cause will usually outwit even a well-managed Department of Homeland Security staffed with highly motivated and trained officers. A bombastic “strongman” equipped with a keyboard and wielding a heavy-handed immigration policy will never be an effective counter to terrorism. A country divided against itself will never be ready, or resilient.

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