Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Reconsidered: a Decade After

In This Issue:

- Causes, Consequences and Alternatives
---America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!; Tom Feeley
---A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe; Chris Hedges
---How I’ll Remember 9-11 This Year; Karen Kwiatkowski
---Public opinion surprises; Glenn Greenwald
---Reporter Recalls 'Reckless Courage' At Ground Zero : NPR
---Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea; Tom Engelhardt
---From a Friend

- Questions About the Government Narrative on 9/11
---911 Experts Speak Out (Video)
---You Only Believe the Official 9/11 Story Because You Don't Know the Official 9/11 Story

[Edited 9/12/11]

America has spent an unbelievable week wallowing in the real and understandable hurt of 9/11. Who doesn't feel deep compassion for the victims of that tragedy? It follows a decade in which our leaders and elites, including most of the mainstream media, and many in the two major political parties, have encouraged and nurtured an ideology of thoughtless revenge--a destructive and hate-filled decade-long reaction to the pain that all Americans felt on that day. The legacy of lies, manipulation, endless war and compassionless carnage has left us financially and morally broken. While our leaders and the media have diverted us from thoughtful introspection and constructive political pro-action, to a state of knee-jerk, thoughtless, hate-filled reaction and Islamophobia, the nation has been robbed and left nearly penniless, as our blood and treasure was spent for war and Wall Street. Osama must be smiling in his ocean grave.

What has been largely missing from recent coverage is any compassion for those we label as our enemies, as well as anything approaching sufficient analysis of the real reasons for our troubles, including the roles our imperial foreign policy and our defense of Israel, have played in them. We still seem to nourish the cynical lies instilled by George W. Bush--that they hate us for our "freedom," etc.-- and we invoke our gods and religion to rationalize an unrestrained brutality that no religion should support.

It is said that there were approximately 2,833 people killed in the 9/11 attacks. Our sanctions on Iraq alone, not counting deaths from the "turkey shoot" during the first Iraq war and subsequent missile attacks, had killed an estimated 100,000 to 500,00 children, and additional others, prior to 9/11 ( Estimates vary between 100,000 to over 1.5 million deaths in Iraq due to sanctions.). We have killed, injured, and displaced many hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since then, including countless innocent civilians. I have heard no notes of compassion for them during the last week of sacred memorialization. We've lost some 7,500 of our own and the toll continues to mount, at a cost approximating $1,248,088,512,604. How many more needless deaths and countries invaded or controlled will it take to bring "closure" to the American sense of pain over 9/11? How far will we sink into bankruptcy and moral depravity before our lust for revenge and need for "closure" are satisfied?

As an antidote to the pious, uninformed, thoughtless, self-indulgent encouragement of self-pity, grief, and hatred offered by the media and government, I offer the following articles:

Causes, Consequences and Alternatives

America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!

By Tom Feeley

First published December 24, 2002

America is a bully, or so it appears to those who live beyond our shores.

Nobody likes a bully, whether he operates in the schoolyard or in the international arena. Those who support a bully do so out of fear. Hence, bullies never have any real friends. They have followers who are intimidated by the arrogance and power of the tormenter. There are many nations, which appear to be friendly to America, yet they wait patiently with hope in their hearts that one-day the bully will meet his match. Meanwhile, they pay homage to the bully in order that they may avoid his wrath.

To the world outside America's borders it appears that Bin Laden strides into the schoolyard, confronts the bully and slaps his face before his tormented schoolmates. Around the globe, good people who have watched the bully in his conceit, speak of justice and democracy as if he was their inventor and the only person worthy of their benefits, are appalled to find that their horror of the event is accompanied with an inward sense of satisfaction. At last, "the bully got what was coming to him".

In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s citizens are scared. Awakened from a dream of rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs, we find ourselves confused and uncertain. How could such a thing have happened? It happened because America's democracy has been subverted, not by communists or terrorists, but by our choices. The great majority of America's people choose to close our eyes or look away when the bully treated the people of other nations in a manner which would sicken them, had it occurred to one of their own family.
. . . .
Injustice is the garden that nourishes terrorism.

A great many of us choose to engage ourselves in rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs. After all, who cares what is happening "over there"?

9/11 has taught us nothing. We have become narcissistic and self centered; like the drug addict who refuses to look at himself, we rage on about how everyone is against us, and use our denial to continue our self destructive behavior. In search of another fix we roar across the world dropping bombs on anyone who may try to point out that our sickness is self-imposed.

If America is addicted to power, who then are its friends ? The pushers who feed the habit or those who call to its attention the destruction it brings on its own family?

Tom Feeley is the editor of

Read the whole article at

A Decade After 9/11: We Are What We Loathe
See also

By Chris Hedges

September 11, 2011 "Truthdig" -- I arrived in Times Square around 9:30 on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. A large crowd was transfixed by the huge Jumbotron screens. Billows of smoke could be seen on the screens above us, pouring out of the two World Trade towers. Two planes, I was told by people in the crowd, had plowed into the towers. I walked quickly into the New York Times newsroom at 229 W. 43rd St., grabbed a handful of reporter’s notebooks, slipped my NYPD press card, which would let me through police roadblocks, around my neck, and started down the West Side Highway to the World Trade Center. The highway was closed to traffic. I walked through knots of emergency workers, police and firemen. Fire trucks, emergency vehicles, ambulances, police cars and rescue trucks idled on the asphalt.

The south tower went down around 10 a.m. with a guttural roar. Huge rolling gray clouds of noxious smoke, dust, gas, pulverized concrete, gypsum and the grit of human remains enveloped lower Manhattan. The sun was obscured. The north tower collapsed about 30 minutes later. The dust hung like a shroud over Manhattan.
. . . .

The shock of 9/11, however, demanded images and stories of resilience, redemption, heroism, courage, self-sacrifice and generosity, not collective suicide in the face of overwhelming hopelessness and despair.

Reporters in moments of crisis become clinicians. They collect data, facts, descriptions, basic information, and carry out interviews as swiftly as possible. We make these facts fit into familiar narratives. We do not create facts but we manipulate them. We make facts conform to our perceptions of ourselves as Americans and human beings. We work within the confines of national myth. We make journalism and history a refuge from memory. The pretense that mass murder and suicide can be transformed into a tribute to the victory of the human spirit was the lie we all told to the public that day and have been telling ever since. We make sense of the present only through the lens of the past, as the French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs pointed out, recognizing that “our conceptions of the past are affected by the mental images we employ to solve present problems, so that collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past in the light of the present. … Memory needs continuous feeding from collective sources and is sustained by social and moral props.”

I returned that night to the newsroom hacking from the fumes released by the burning asbestos, jet fuel, lead, mercury, cellulose and construction debris. I sat at my computer, my thin paper mask still hanging from my neck, trying to write and catch my breath. All who had been at the site that day were noticeable in the newsroom because they were struggling for air. Most of us were convulsed by shock and grief.

There would soon, however, be another reaction. Those of us who were close to the epicenters of the 9/11 attacks would primarily grieve and mourn. Those who had some distance would indulge in the growing nationalist cant and calls for blood that would soon triumph over reason and sanity. Nationalism was a disease I knew intimately as a war correspondent. It is anti-thought. It is primarily about self-exaltation. The flip side of nationalism is always racism, the dehumanization of the enemy and all who appear to question the cause. The plague of nationalism began almost immediately. My son, who was 11, asked me what the difference was between cars flying small American flags and cars flying large American flags.

“The people with the really big flags are the really big assholes,” I told him.

The dead in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were used to sanctify the state’s lust for war. To question the rush to war became to dishonor our martyrs. Those of us who knew that the attacks were rooted in the long night of humiliation and suffering inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians, the imposition of our military bases in the Middle East and in the brutal Arab dictatorships that we funded and supported became apostates. We became defenders of the indefensible. We were apologists, as Christopher Hitchens shouted at me on a stage in Berkeley, “for suicide bombers.”

Because few cared to examine our activities in the Muslim world, the attacks became certified as incomprehensible by the state and its lap dogs, the press. Those who carried out the attacks were branded as rising out of a culture and religion that was at best primitive and probably evil. The Quran—although it forbids suicide as well as the murder of women and children—was painted as a manual for fanaticism and terror. The attackers embodied the titanic clash of civilizations, the cosmic battle under way between good and evil, the forces of light and darkness. Images of the planes crashing into the towers and heroic rescuers emerging from the rubble were played and replayed. We were deluged with painful stories of the survivors and victims. The deaths and falling towers became iconographic. The ceremonies of remembrance were skillfully hijacked by the purveyors of war and hatred. They became vehicles to justify doing to others what had been done to us. And as innocents died here, soon other innocents began to die in the Muslim world. A life for a life. Murder for murder. Death for death. Terror for terror.

What was played out in the weeks after the attacks was the old, familiar battle between force and human imagination, between the crude instruments of violence and the capacity for empathy and understanding. Human imagination lost. Coldblooded reason, which does not speak the language of the imagination, won. We began to speak and think in the empty, mindless nationalist clichés about terror that the state handed to us. We became what we abhorred. The deaths were used to justify pre-emptive war, invasion, Shock and Awe, prolonged occupation, targeted assassinations, torture, offshore penal colonies, gunning down families at checkpoints, massive aerial bombardments, drone attacks, missile strikes and the killing of dozens and soon hundreds and then thousands and later tens of thousands and finally hundreds of thousands of innocent people. We produced piles of corpses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and extended the reach of our killing machine to Yemen and Somalia. And by beatifying our dead, by cementing into the national psyche fear and the imperative of permanent war, and by stoking our collective humiliation, the state carried out crimes, atrocities and killings that dwarfed anything carried out against us on 9/11. The best that force can do is impose order. It can never elicit harmony. And force was justified, and is still justified, by the first dead. Ten years later these dead haunt us like Banquo’s ghost.

“It is the first death which infects everyone with the feelings of being threatened,” wrote Elias Canetti. “It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars. Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must procure or invent a first victim. It needs not be anyone of particular importance, and can even be someone quite unknown. Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed that the enemy is responsible for this. Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.”

We were unable to accept the reality of this anonymous slaughter. We were unable because it exposed the awful truth that we live in a morally neutral universe where human life, including our life, can be snuffed out in senseless and random violence. It showed us that there is no protection, not from God, fate, luck, omens or the state.

We have still not woken up to whom we have become, to the fatal erosion of domestic and international law and the senseless waste of lives, resources and trillions of dollars to wage wars that ultimately we can never win. We do not see that our own faces have become as contorted as the faces of the demented hijackers who seized the three commercial jetliners a decade ago. We do not grasp that Osama bin Laden’s twisted vision of a world of indiscriminate violence and terror has triumphed. The attacks turned us into monsters, grotesque ghouls, sadists and killers who drop bombs on village children and waterboard those we kidnap, strip of their rights and hold for years without due process. We acted before we were able to think. And it is the satanic lust of violence that has us locked in its grip.

As Wordsworth wrote:

Action is transitory—a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle—this way or that—
’Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And has the nature of infinity.

We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place 10 years ago, including in the Muslim world, where I was working in the weeks and months after 9/11, was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Read entire article here.

How I’ll Remember 9-11 This Year

By Karen Kwiatkowski

September 10, 2011 -- It’s been a decade since the attacks of 9-11. Since that time, the cost of the American government has more than doubled while American economic output has drastically slowed. Communication and public speech has suffered under the weight of the Patriot Act, and today, most Americans understand that their government tracks them and spies upon them. Travel across this beautiful land has been made more expensive, as fuel and food costs have skyrocketed. The new and wholly un-American Department of Homeland Security has settled in for the long war, apparently against the American people and American traditions of liberty.

A recent Frontline television program outlined the research effort by two reporters at the Washington Post in describing a "Top Secret" America. The real federal jobs program in the last decade has been in surveillance, monitoring, and intelligence-development – of Americans on American soil.

In the decade after 9-11, Washington, D.C. launched repeated land wars, government takeovers, and nation-building, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq, and later in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and now Libya. None of these wars, all sold as "wars against terrorism" were granted any public congressional debate, and none entailed a Congressional declaration of war.
. . . .
On this ten-year anniversary, I intend to go about my business as usual, and say a prayer of gratitude for the small freedoms I have left. In the afternoon, I’ll be in Charlottesville, Virginia, learning about local apprenticeship and crafts demonstrations. In the evening, I’ll check the livestock and gather the eggs. I won’t allow what I personally experienced that day in the Pentagon, nor the subsequent government drumbeats for war, waving the 9-11 banner, to diminish my awareness of the meaning of liberty.

The real battle for Americans today is a battle to reassert our independence from an overbearing and unsustainable state. Today, we can all celebrate that there are fundamental cracks in the federal state’s veneer, and we can be grateful for the options we still have in our own lives to live free, to practice charity and faith, creativity and productivity, and to rediscover our own power as individuals and communities.

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page. She is currently running for Congress in Virginia's 6th district.

Copyright © 2011 Karen Kwiatkowski


FRIDAY, SEP 9, 2011 11:10 ET
Public opinion surprises

The most common claim to justify endless civil liberties erosions in the name of security -- and to defend politicians who endorse those erosions -- is that Americans don't care about those rights and are happy to sacrifice them.  The principal problem with this claim is that it is false, as a new Pew Research poll demonstrates:
See Poll:
54% - Ten Years After 9/11: United in Remembrance, Divided over Policies
The public continues to be divided over many of the anti-terrorism policies that arose in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a survey conducted Aug. 17-21 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. A majority (54%) say it is not necessary to give up civil liberties in order to curb terrorism while 40% hold the opposite view. In a poll taken right after the attacks, 55% had said it was necessary to give up civil liberties to effectively fight terrorism while 35% disagreed. Read more from PEW

Rest from Greenwald here

Reporter Recalls 'Reckless Courage' At Ground Zero : NPR

. . . . "I believe that grief needs to be private," he says. "That doesn't mean that help can't be given to those who are grieving — it should be given. But you don't make a spectacle out of it. You don't stand up as a politician and wallow in it. And as the media, you don't wallow in it. It's not to deny the tragedy. It's to question the utility of public grief."

Did Sept. 11 Change American Forever?

"Forever is a big word," Langewiesche says. Sept. 11 "certainly did change America, and I was not aware enough of it when I was [at ground zero]. I was so wrapped up in the day-to-day."

That day-to-day cooperation and collaboration, he says, was like "the blossoming of something very beautiful.

"But the larger currents," he continues, "have been hugely self-destructive. One war fought in the wrong way. One war that should never have been. Other wars probably coming as a result. The construction of huge and expensive security bureaucracies. Problems with legal conduct both in war and at home.

"With the current president coming in — finding really these same policies pursued?" he asks. "It seems to indicate that these self-destructive impulses are not a question of the left or the right or who's in charge, but something very worrisome about the United States as a whole. Who we are, what are doing to ourselves."


Let’s Cancel 9/11: Bury the War State's Blank Check at Sea

By Tom Engelhardt

September 08, 2011 "Tom Dispatch" - - Let’s bag it.

I’m talking about the tenth anniversary ceremonies for 9/11, and everything that goes with them: the solemn reading of the names of the dead, the tolling of bells, the honoring of first responders, the gathering of presidents, the dedication of the new memorial, the moments of silence. The works.

Let’s just can it all. Shut down Ground Zero. Lock out the tourists. Close “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday. Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012. Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States.” (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.) Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists. Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program. Let’s get rid of it all. If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.

Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven't we had enough of ourselves? If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness? No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror. No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money. No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were in every sense abusive, horrific acts. And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance. This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11 -- who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used -- as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we’ve visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands.

Isn’t it finally time to go cold turkey? To let go of the dead? Why keep repeating our 9/11 mantra as if it were some kind of old-time religion, when we’ve proven that we, as a nation, can’t handle it -- and worse yet, that we don’t deserve it?

We would have been better off consigning our memories of 9/11 to oblivion, forgetting it all if only we could. We can’t, of course. But we could stop the anniversary remembrances. We could stop invoking 9/11 in every imaginable way so many years later. We could stop using it to make ourselves feel like a far better country than we are. We could, in short, leave the dead in peace and take a good, hard look at ourselves, the living, in the nearest mirror.

Ceremonies of Hubris
. . . .

Note on further reading: I recommend two recent pieces that, amid the mountain of usual writing about 9/11 ten years later, have something out of the ordinary to say: Ariel Dorfman’s “Epitaph for Another September 11” in the Nation magazine on the two 9/11s and how differently two American nations reacted to their disasters, and Lawrence Weschler’s “Memory” in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the shame of a squandered decade.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's

© 2011
Rest of article

From a Friend:

Greetings from MN. My sister found a "meet your muslim neighbors" open house and interfaith prayer service here in Brooklyn Park. We were greeted by the youth group members who had created displays about Habib, Sharia, Common themes between Quran, Bible and Torah, etc. The prayer service was opened by a charismatic young man whose 4 yr. old son recited a few verses of the Quran in Arabic and then we heard from a Lutheran neighboring pastor and a Rabbi from the area, along with the sheriff and someone from Bahia Faith. It was a wonderful way to participate in 9/11 and the community was very welcoming. The following was read by the Lutheran pastor and I thought of all of you:

When the towers of what you know collapse,
what do you know?
Beside the great abyss that has swallowed
what you cherished,
where do you stand?
Before the darkness of war
closed the eyes of your heart,
what did you see?
What does the vast, swirling silence say?

That those who cause pain and those who receive it
fall into the same grave.
That lost in the wreckage every time is
the only God worth having.
That we have seen days dark enough
for resurrection.
That wisdom is born of vulnerability.
That evil is not a monstrous power
but a sinuous thread,
the will to disregard
in service of our fear.
That there is in all of us a great hole,
under a pall of smoke and sorrow,
in which we meet each other
and know each other deeply.
That not victory, but tenderness
will save the world.
That before the dust falls upon us,
we who ourselves are dust will have chosen
to be people of might or people of grace,
one or the other;
and that it is in choosing that we are human,
and in choosing well that we are blessed.
That we are not worthy of our self-confidence
and yet God, still weeping,
resolutely trusts us
with her most fragile hopes.
That our flesh is sackcloth.
That we who are covered with the ash
of our failure, our fear of ourselves,
are yet beautiful,
that we who are certainly lost
can point the way.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

This is from

Questions About the Government Narrative on 9/11

911 Experts Speak Out


You Only Believe the Official 9/11 Story Because You Don't Know the Official 9/11 Story

By Jesse Richard

September 02, 2011 "TV News Lies"-- During the past 10 years I have not met a single individual who, after doing research on the subject then, switched from questioning the official narrative of the events of 9/11/2001 to believing the official narrative of those events.. It is always the other way around. Why do you think that is? There are good reasons for this, and I will try to explain this phenomenon right now.

See Also:
9/11 Reconsidered: a Decade After; Follow-up #1

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