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article imageOp-Ed: September 11 – the day the world changed

By Alexander Baron     Sep 2, 2011 in Politics
New York - Next week is the 10th anniversary of the greatest atrocity in modern history outside of war. ‘9/11 – The Day That Changed the World’ is one of many programmes commemorating that event. It also contains much footage that debunks the conspiracy monge
This is a 94-minute documentary – including advert breaks - of the events of that tragic day; it includes contributions from White House staffers and the First Lady herself, Laura Bush – though not from her husband. Laura Bush said her first thought when she heard the news of the first plane was that it was probably an accident. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani thought the opposite.
At that time, President George Bush had gone back to school, and was sitting in a Florida classroom.
Obviously when the second plane hit the second tower, New York and indeed America was under attack, and everybody in high places knew it. Leaving aside the damage already done, the problem they had was to assess what was coming next. This is one of the many points the conspiracy cranks trip up on, but nothing will ever convince the faithful. In the Kennedy assassination, somebody shoots the President, who else are “they” going to shoot? Will there be bombs? Could this be a full scale Soviet invasion? From the distance of more than four decades in a post-Soviet world, it is easy for us to dismiss such concerns as laughable, but we weren’t there on the ground.
The same concerns were raised in the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Originally this was thought this was the work of Islamists rather than of largely one man, a white, native born American and former Gulf War veteran, Timothy McVeigh, who saw it as payback to the Federal Government for the Waco Massacre.
In the wake of this atrocity, the Federal Government was given extensive new powers of surveillance, this was the same Federal Government that had murdered the wife and only son of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge in 1992, and the next year, seventy-five people, a third of them children, at Waco, Texas. So what did the crazies do? They blamed the very same Federal Government including then President Clinton for the atrocity as the pretext for these increased powers ignoring a little thing called cause and effect.
Returning to the documentary, we see here the hijackers, including ringleader Mohamed Atta going through airport security; we see the planes hitting the towers and the debris flying, bits of plane on the ground, and people jumping out of windows from a hundred floors and more up, over two hundred of them.
When the second plane hit, it was time to interrupt the President, who looked dumbfounded – not like the man who’d ordered it, Mr Icke.
A decision was made by the military to set up a combat air patrol over New York to intercept any further attacks. No one of course expected a plane to hit the Pentagon, and for an attempt to be made to give the White House the same treatment, United Airways Flight 93. When it became clear that a hijacked plane was indeed en route to Washington, the White House was evacuated; Vice President Dick Cheney ended up in a bunker deep under the building, then the plane they thought was headed for Pennsylvania Avenue hit the Pentagon, where the entire US Navy Command Center was wiped out. Bush was advised not to return to Washington, so Air Force One was diverted to an obscure military base complete with Presidential bodyguards and the press corps.
The plane took off in the opposite direction because there were people at the other end of the runway who as far as anyone knew were terrorists aiming to kill the President. Everyone had to be rechecked by sniffer dogs before boarding, in double quick time.
Elsewhere, the five thousand six hundred aircraft in the air were all ordered to land at their nearest airports, an enormous task. Then the military were posed an unthinkable question, what do they do if another plane is hijacked and heads to Washington? As the possibility of a shoot down order was being discussed, news of United Airlines 93 came in; two fighter planes were engaged to intercept it, in other words to shoot down a plane carrying American citizens.
How would you like to make that decision, Mr Jones? Or you, Mr Icke? What if an apparently hijacked plane had not been hijacked? Maybe it was in trouble for some reason and was attempting to land somewhere else? How would you like to have the blood of two or three hundred innocent people on your hands? This is one area where these deluded cranks always lose the plot. The conspiracy mongers and assorted loonies never consider such things as terrible dilemmas, human fallibility, cock-ups, the tendency in any big organisation of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and of course, coincidence. They love coincidence. In the space of less than five years President Kennedy and his brother were assassinated. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed two months and two days apart. All were murdered by lone gunmen from radically different backgrounds and with radically different motives, but there has to be a connection. There are also fascinating coincidences between the Kennedy Assassination and the Lincoln Assassination a century earlier, coincidences that mean absolutely nothing as far as human mendacity is concerned. So maybe the supernatural is at work? Now about that hijacked plane, the one that was headed to the White House.
A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the Wo...
A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center.
U.S. Navy Photo by Preston Keres
The Vice President said they thought the fighters had taken it out; it was of course the passengers who had stormed the cockpit, although we will never know precisely what happened aboard that fateful flight.
With several planes unaccounted for, the President authorised the shooting down of any hijacked plane. There was also a hoax call made to the White House. This is one of the problems which always trouble the authorities in time of crisis, what is real and what is not? One of the criticisms levelled at particularly American intelligence (if that is not an oxymoron) is that Al-Qaeda operatives had entered the US, men who were on the radar. It is well known that one of them was actually listed in the phone book. The problem with this sort of nonsense is that it is wisdom in hindsight.
Take Britain, there are maybe seven or eight million people in this country who have some sort of criminal record. There are literally thousands of people walking the streets who have convictions for very serious crimes such as kidnapping, rape, and even murder. The vast majority of them do their best to put their past behind them, and some become extremely successful, like Leslie Grantham who appeared in a long running soap opera for years. Alas, a few do not; two recent high profile cases are those of convicted murderers Jon Venables and Learco Chindamo. Fortunately, the obviously troubled Venables was picked up on before he could go off the rails completely, and although Chindamo was acquitted of robbery, he is now back in prison because as a life licence parolee he has to stay out of trouble per se, not simply get “a result” as did Casey Anthony.
Whenever a former convict is convicted of another serious offence or maybe a series of offences perhaps many years after being released from prison, the cry goes up, why didn’t the police know, why wasn’t he being monitored? If a man has paid his debt to society, the police are not supposed to and indeed are not allowed to harass him for the rest of his life. Similarly, what is a member of Al-Qaeda? This is not a club, there are no membership cards or subscriptions. To this one must add the fact that the American Government keeps files on millions probably tens of millions of people who are deemed potential terrorists, child molesters, murderers, forgers, or just plain subversives, which can mean almost anything. This is the end result of living in a total surveillance society. Two Al-Qaeda entered America and lived there openly. So what?
Returning to the documentary, eventually the President ended up in a secure conference room in an underground complex in Louisiana, but he wasn’t there for long, Bush made the decision to return to Washington. Unbelievably, there was also humour on this tragic day; if you were running a military base, how would you like to receive a phone call from Air Force One telling you the President was on his way, and that he had a list of demands headed by 25lbs of bananas? Meantime, American embassies around the world were closed.
While the wounded were still being tended, another decision had to be made, how to respond. The problem was that this was not the Cold War, there was no visible enemy to strike back against, so Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq!
We know the eventual response of course. In the wake of the atrocity, there was an enormous reservoir of goodwill towards the Great Satan from even the most unlikely quarters. Sadly, the invasion of Afghanistan and more importantly of Iraq and everything that went with it, secret renditions (ie kidnapping) interning men for the best part of a decade without trial, the admitted torture of some prisoners, and a massive programme of domestic surveillance, all these have destroyed that reservoir of goodwill to such an extent that even many Americans now regard their own government as their enemy. Although hopefully none of them will resort to the drastic steps taken by Timothy McVeigh, it is clear that the response of the government – and not only the American Government – to 9/11 has brought only more hatred directed towards them, and towards the West.
America has also now lost many more servicemen in the war on terror than were killed on that tragic day, overwhelmingly young men, and some women, who sacrificed their lives so that America could be turned into a police state? This is the real and shocking truth about 9/11, one that needs no embellishment by self-styled political analysts (read conspiracy cranks).
9/11 – Day That Changed the World is currently on iplayer; if you can't get it, watch out for it on YouTube.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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