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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Got a hometown newspaper 9-11 editorial? Here's mine.


Lessons of 9/11
When attacked by terrorists based in one country, don't invade a country unrelated to the attacks.
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle


FIVE years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the nation has achieved a clarity and consensus concerning what happened on that terrible day and what lessons we should learn from the experience. Those lessons, informed by nonpartisan studies and commissions, are no less useful for being the product of 20/20 hindsight. History might be only the lantern on the stern of the ship, but every navigator needs to be cognizant of where the vessel has been and how it arrived at its present course:

• When the nation is under attack, the commander in chief must be informed and take charge immediately. Only the president can decisively wield the country's military and law enforcement resources. On 9/11, Air Force interceptors were not sent aloft until long after aviation officials knew four airliners had been hijacked.
• When the United States is attacked by a terrorist group based in Afghanistan and supported by its government, the nation's military, intelligence and law enforcement efforts must be focused on that country until the enemy has been vanquished and its sanctuary permanently denied. Invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11, needlessly strained our military and ruptured important alliances.
• There are times when the United States must act alone to protect its interests. However, the struggle against al-Qaida and its imitators requires the cooperation of the community of nations. Invading Iraq alienated important allies and squandered the good will — particularly throughout the Muslim world — that the United States enjoyed after the heinous, unprovoked attacks of 9/11.
• Although the United States has made great progress in killing or capturing al-Qaida operatives, it must contend with the jihadist extremism being preached to young Muslim men. Secret prisons and mistreatment of prisoners inflames Muslims' hatred. No intelligence gained from torture and abuse can make up for the damage done.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 02:00 PM
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From the same paper.

Sept. 10, 2006, 7:16PM
U.S. is safer now that we have engaged our enemies
Our defenses are stronger, and the terrorists are being rooted out where they live

By LAWRENCE J. HAAS

WE can debate endlessly whether we have adequately upgraded our military, secured our borders or protected key potential targets of terrorist attacks, such as chemical weapons plants.
But, national security begins not with the arming of troops, fencing along borders and X-ray machines at airports. It starts with the recognition that we are at war, that the forces of anti-Western terror and intolerance are seeking our destruction and that we must respond in kind.
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In that sense, we are surely safer than we were five years ago. We are engaged and mobilized — not as much as we could be, but far more than we once were. We debate how to confront our enemies, not whether we have them. We debate how to prepare for future attack, not whether we need to.
It was not always such. For decades, we were oblivious to the mounting threats to our safety. We ignored the taunts of our enemies and responded weakly to their attacks, prompting them to ramp up both their rhetoric and action.
Such taunts date back to the 1950s with the Muslim Brotherhood's Sayyed Qutb, who viewed the West as decadent and sought a society under strict Islam. Today, the same taunts pervade the speeches of al-Qaida's leader, Osama bin Laden; Hezbollah's chief, Nassan Hasrallah; Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and many others in a network of Islamic fundamentalism that stretches across Europe, African and Asia.
Notwithstanding doctrinal differences over Islam and historic and sometimes bloody splits between Shiites and Sunnis, the leaders of Islamic fundamentalism agree on the virtue of murder in the cause of God and deride freedom-loving peoples as weak and unworthy.
Direct attacks on America date back to 1979, when militants seized our embassy in Tehran and held more than 50 of our people for more than a year. The next two decades brought bombings at a Marine barracks in Beirut, the 1994 World Trade Center bombing, the bombing at Khobal Towers, embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and, finally, Sept. 11.
But not until the latter did we awaken from our slumbers and launch any kind of real war in response. We sent our military into battle, and we consolidated domestic safety efforts by creating a Department of Homeland Security. In the private sector, concerned leaders sought to focus public attention on the need to support pluralism and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism by creating such organizations as the bipartisan Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
In Afghanistan, we uprooted al-Qaida's safe haven, killed many of its leaders, and kept the others on the run. In Iraq, we toppled Saddam Hussein, who gave financial bounties to the families of suicide bombers and viewed America as a sworn enemy. We have helped our allies disrupt terrorist plots in Europe, and we are providing key support to nations in Africa and Asia that are confronting their homegrown members of the global terrorist network.
Moreover, we are better pinpointing the threats at hand. We are focusing more on the Iran — the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, which is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. As Iran's leaders threaten to "wipe Israel off the map" and speak hopefully about "a world without America," we search for the right combination of sanctions and incentives to persuade the regime to change its ways, or persuade Iranians to change their regime.
Could we do more? Of course! But, we are surely safer than we were on a sunny autumn morning in 2001, when an attack of four airplanes forced us to recognize dangers we had ignored for far too long.
Haas is a visiting senior fellow at Georgetown University's Government Affairs Institute.
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 07:22 PM
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And mine:

The Fifth Anniversary
Mr. Bush has refined his theory and conduct of the war against terrorism -- but not in the right way.
Sunday, September 10, 2006; Page B06

AS THE fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches, President Bush has offered the country a partisan but sometimes revealing review of the war that began with the attacks on New York and Washington. For the most part, he has belligerently defended his strategy and methods; he has demanded that Congress immediately approve his controversial schemes for the detention and trial of foreign terrorists, once again using vital questions of national security as a campaign wedge issue. But the president has also signaled subtle shifts of course in the way his administration understands the war and in the way it proposes to fight it.
Mr. Bush has refined his description of the enemy: Now he says "the war on terror" is "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century," pitting free nations against a "totalitarian" version of Islam. Tacitly acknowledging that some of the ad hoc measures he adopted in secret after Sept. 11 are unsustainable, he has also sought to reshape them and put them on a more solid legal footing. With little more than two years left in office, aides say, Mr. Bush is trying to lay the foundation for a long struggle that he believes is "only in its opening stages."

We think Mr. Bush is mostly right about the stakes of the threat posed by Islamic extremism, and we've welcomed some of his adjustments, such as his steps to bring all U.S. military operations back into conformance with the Geneva Conventions. But two major aspects of the president's speeches are troubling: his characterization of the Islamic threat as "a single movement" including both al-Qaeda and Iran; and his insistence that the United States reserve the right to violate international humanitarian laws.
In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 Mr. Bush's declared enemy was al-Qaeda and the allied Taliban regime in Afghanistan; later he defined an "axis of evil" that lumped together Communist North Korea, Iran and the secular Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Now he perceives both al-Qaeda and Iran, as well as affiliates like the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, as collectively making up "a worldwide network of radicals that use terror."
One problem with this view is that it acknowledges but skates over the enormous differences between Sunni terrorist networks and Iran. In Iraq, al-Qaeda is literally at war with proxies of Iran, which in turn is a sworn enemy of the Taliban. Mr. Bush asserts that "the Shia and Sunni extremists represent different faces of the same threat"; in fact the Iranian regime does not threaten, as does al-Qaeda, to launch devastating attacks on the American homeland. Its interests are more nationalist and regional than ideological and global. There is a wide gap inside the regime between extremists like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and moderates like former president Mohammed Khatami, who on Thursday delivered a speech at Washington National Cathedral calling for dialogue between the West and the Islamic world.
The danger is that Mr. Bush's flawed definitions will lead to flawed strategy. While the threat that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons must be confronted -- as should the nuclear threat from North Korea -- Tehran's Islamic doctrine has not proved a major danger to the world, or even the region, over the last quarter-century. Mr. Bush rightly said that "it is foolish to think that you can negotiate with" al-Qaeda. But as the State Department's recent diplomacy reflects, negotiation -- or long-term containment -- may be the best option for Iran.
Mr. Bush seems to understand better than he did five years ago that diplomacy and the promotion of democratic values are as important to winning the war as military action. But in insisting on maintaining the CIA's secret prisons and in asking Congress to cancel some of the protections from abuse granted prisoners by the Geneva Conventions, he risks perpetuating and compounding one of his greatest errors. As senior U.S. generals now state publicly, abusive interrogation techniques are ineffective and counterproductive; they do not produce reliable intelligence. At the same time, they make it impossible for the United States to obtain full cooperation from key allies in Europe and elsewhere, damage its reputation around the world, and make it more likely that captured Americans will be tortured.
Mr. Bush could do the country a great service by using the remainder of his term to put the war against terrorism on a sustainable long-term course. But lumping disparate threats together, insisting on tactics that alienate allies and violate fundamental American values, and using the war as a partisan bludgeon makes for an unpromising start.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 07:36 PM
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From the St. Petersburg Times:

Freedom from fear

With America's reputation in eclipse, we would do well to remember the unity of purpose we felt after terrorists struck five years ago.

A Times Editorial
Published September 11, 2006

Five years ago today, on a lovely September morning, bolts of terror came out of a clear, blue sky. Nineteen men armed only with box cutters hijacked four passenger airliners and rammed three of them into the symbols of American military and financial might. Two of the planes flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York in a horrifying spectacle. A third plane demolished a wing of the Pentagon. A fourth, United Flight 93, believed to be headed for Washington, crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers rose up against the hijackers. In less than an hour, 3,000 people died that day.

That was the day terrorism came to America, and we haven't been the same since. Neither has much of the world. Since then, terrorists have struck in London and Madrid and Indonesia, among other places - nothing as spectacular as 9/11 but still lethal to hundreds of innocents. But they have not hit the United States again, not that anyone doubts that they have been trying. President Bush said last week that scores of terrorist plots have been foiled, and that while America is safer than it was five years ago, it is still not safe. Will it ever be in a world of suicidal maniacs?

On this anniversary, we would do well to put aside our rancorous divisions and crazy conspiracy theories and reflect on that post-9/11 period when Americans came together in purpose and spirit and much of the world felt our pain, even if it all was too brief. That memory is worth holding on to.

There was something unreal about watching the horror of that day unfold on television. Who can forget the sight of people leaping to their deaths from the top floors of the burning twin towers? Or of the first responders - firefighters, police officers and rescue workers - who heroically braved smoke and fire and dust in their desperate attempt to reach any survivors? Americans lined up to donate blood and gave generously to aid the families of the victims. We knew the endless kindness of strangers. In Washington, bitter partisanship gave way to unity and the debate over domestic priorities was crushed by the question of how to protect the homeland from madmen bent on mass destruction.

The world wept with us and for us as they saw America as a victim instead of an arrogant superpower. Iranians held candlelight vigils to express support for the American people. Germans marched in the street to show solidarity. In France, a front-page editorial in Le Monde, reliably anti-American on most things, proclaimed: "We Are All Americans." The world stayed with us when Bush launched a "just war" in Afghanistan, where the Taliban was protecting Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorists.

Sadly, the good that came out of 9/11 was not to last. It began to unravel after the president, with the approval of most congressional Democrats, chose to go to war against Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. World opinion turned against us, and as Iraq became a huge debacle, Americans turned on each other.

America has taken quite a beating in world opinion in recent years on everything from prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo to secret CIA prisons abroad and warrantless eavesdropping at home. The debate over balancing our liberties and our security rages on in Washington, and America's image in the world has been badly tarnished.

We can never go back to the way things were before 9/11 - or even to the way we were in the immediate aftermath of that calamity. It's hard to imagine a future not chilled by the threat of terrorism, which started as a cause and has now metastasized into a mentality among Islamic extremists.

But we can - and we must - hold on to the values and the spirit that some call American exceptionalism. The terrorists would like nothing better than to see us surrender our most precious freedoms and bedrock values to fear.

So on this fifth anniversary of that day of unspeakable savagery, let us remember how we felt on Sept. 12, 2001, not the fear and heartbreak so much as the unity and purpose we shared. Only then can we take a full measure of our loss.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 12:43 PM
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Lawrence Journal-World

Threat grows

Tightened security has made Americans safer, but the threat of terrorism is still strong.

J-W Editorials

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

“Are we safer today than we were five years ago?" This question has been asked time and time again in recent weeks as the fifth anniversary of the terrible 9/11 attacks approached. Some asked the question in a genuine manner with no hidden nuances, while others used the question primarily for political purposes.

No matter what the situation or issue may be or how Bush critics may try to hide their bitter hatred toward President Bush, they use every possible method to paint Bush and his administration in the worst possible light. There is nothing he has done or can do in the coming months to please these critics.

The answer to the question of whether this country is safer today than it was at this time in September five years ago or before the actual attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon should be a resounding “yes.” At the same time, the danger is not less; in fact, it could be even greater.

Before the deadly attacks, there was a sense of false security. Wars and terrorist attacks happened abroad but not on U.S. soil. We were protected by the vast Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and our intelligence agencies were providing effective security.

History shows Americans were living in a dream world, and, for whatever reason, citizens of this country were not aware of how much Uncle Sam was hated, resented or envied by people in many other parts of the world. Some of this hatred was based on religious beliefs, America’s support for Israel, a misconception of what the United States is all about and the belief America’s goal is to dominate the world. Others are simply opposed to democracy and freedom.

During the past five years, this country’s intelligence agencies have become far more alert and effective and are doing a far better job of cooperating and sharing information with one another. Various laws have been put into effect allowing government officials to monitor the actions of suspicious individuals. There is far greater security in our nation’s airports and other transportation centers. Our armed forces are better equipped to deal with terrorism. The public has been encouraged to report anything that appears to be suspicious, and the overall security scene is far more effective.

However, this does not mean there is any room for complacency or a relaxation of security efforts. In fact, this effort needs to be strengthened and improved, and this is likely to be the case for many years to come. Those who are committed to killing Americans and using terrorist tactics are not going to roll over and play dead. Unfortunately, there are likely to be other successful efforts to kill and terrorize Americans here within the United States in the coming months or years. For this reason, our surveillance efforts must be raised to an even higher level rather than easing off.

Our enemies are looking for any weakness in Uncle Sam’s commitment, and they hope Americans will tire of the battle and the cost of the battle — in lives and in dollars. They hope Americans will tire of living in fear and dealing with what a segment of the population sees as an erosion of some freedoms Americans enjoy. Our enemies are eager to do what they can to defeat those political office holders who are unyielding in their fight against terrorists.

Again, the answer to the question of whether this country is safer today than it was five years ago is “yes,” but the danger now is out in the open and, in fact, our enemies are smarter and can take advantage of the openness of our society. We cannot let our guard down. It must be strengthened, and those in our intelligence and security forces should not be handcuffed and handicapped in their efforts to protect this country and its citizens.

Don't believe everything you think
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 04:28 PM
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Olberman put it best....

This hole in the ground

Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.

And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

Yet what is happening this very night?

A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?

Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."

When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

Who has left this hole in the ground?

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14687895/#060911a

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