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Pierce writes: "For all practical purposes, the Iraq War, with all its terrible consequences, intended and unintended, was launched on September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked that morning. A country's grief and pain was hijacked later that day."

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. (photo: Aristide Economopoulos)
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. (photo: Aristide Economopoulos)

A Nation's Grief Was Hijacked on the Afternoon of September 11, 2001

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

11 September 18

Keep the memories of those who exploited the attacks at arm's length.

y first reaction to the news of the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001 was to think about all my good friends who'd regularly made a habit of eating breakfast at Windows On The World, and then praying to God that they'd all eaten at their desks that morning. (Which they had, thank heavens.) In Washington, however, the reaction of Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, was quite different from mine. With lower Manhattan, and the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania all still smoldering, this was Donald Rumsfeld's reaction. From a 2002 CBS News report:

With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H."–meaning Saddam Hussein–"at same time. Not only UBL"–the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld. "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Things related.

And not.

While most people were thinking and praying for friends and relatives in New York City, and just generally walking around stunned and hurting, there were people in government already planning to use the attacks as an opportunity to carry out the imperial projects about which they'd been dreaming for decades. (There were other people in government who saw the attacks as a chance to put in place authoritarian measures that had been gathering dust on the shelf since COINTELPRO was exposed in 1971.)

For all practical purposes, the Iraq War, with all its terrible consequences, intended and unintended, was launched on September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked that morning. A country's grief and pain was hijacked later that day.

So, yes, today, remember the fallen, and the friends lost and never found. But remember, too, that many of the people who will be telling you today how much "changed" that day were responsible for some of the changes that never should have happened—Iraq, rendition, torture, warrantless surveillance. Remember the fallen but remember the opportunists, too, the people who were neither stunned nor hurting enough that they lost sight of their golden dreams and who, when those dreams came apart in dust and blood, were able largely to escape responsibility and consequence.

Many of them are Never Trumpers now. Many of them will share their memories of that awful day in which so many of them found a dark opportunity to take the country into the shadows from which it has yet to emerge. Keep all those people and their memories at arm's length. Treasure your own. Console yourself with them if you must. But keep away from the anesthetic banalities that were used to shield effectively the plans and connivances of the people who saw opportunity in the still-burning places that morning. Remember things related.

And not.

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+16 # Moxa 2018-09-11 14:01
Part of the hijacking was to turn a crime and a tragedy into a patriotic symbol. I never saw it as a NATIONAL tragedy, except insofar as it devastated so MANY Americans. I could ask, "How could they wantonly kill innocent people?" But I never asked "Why would they attack America?" I never felt that we were victimized as a country. I always felt that it was an act of rage against an imperialist power. Our reaction of national self-righteousn ess seemed extremely hypocritical, given the amount of terror and destruction our nation has brought into the world. Yet that self-righteousn ess was encouraged and has been used effectively ever since for whatever imperial goal it could inspire or justify.

A few spoke up at the time regarding the question of whether it was possible that American foreign policy might have had a wee bit to do with what happened. People like Bill Maher and Susan Sontag ventured such ideas. They were immediately shut down and punished by the avenging zeitgeist.

But I am as amazed by the public's credulity as by the brazen shamelessness and mendacity of our leaders. How righteously we marched into Iraq. IRAQ?? What did they have to do with anything? Nothing, as it turned out, and as they always knew. But it keeps happening. It is happening now again with this asinine Russia obsession. But nobody notices it because it's a done deal, just like the WMD's. You can't question it or you get squashed. We've been fooled again. Shame on us.
+18 # ThorunnPS 2018-09-12 10:41
More amazing yet was the sheer number of ostensibly intelligent people who fell for this shit without demanding any proof. If I can extrapolate from a couple of very intelligent friends of mine who went along with the narrative, what they all had in common was an insularity born of their failure to read any non-main-stream news or foreign media. I, who habitually read many news sources, both domestic and foreign, was outraged by the wide-eyed gullibility of people who should have known better.
+2 # Observer 47 2018-09-12 20:50
Yep. Right after the second tower fell, my thought was, "Our government is behind this. THEY did it, one way or another." My belief in that realization has never wavered. And yet....probably more than 75% of the country bought the Bush/Cheney/Rum sfeld fairy tale, hook, line, and sinker.
0 # krazykwiltkatt 2018-09-14 04:51
It is useful to remember this statement from PNAC which outlined a new foreign policy by the Bush people including Rumsfield:"Furt her, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor"

Who visualized the current state of the country back then? Who saw ICE, children in cages, police shootings, neo-nazis in the streets?

Read the document.It even posits a Space Force.

Ever since learning that and reading, probably before 2004, an article written by a German called 'Muslims Suspend the Laws Of Physics' which was filled with math and cogent arguments about the impossibility of the official history, I have watched the manipulation this event.

Having lived through quite a bit of history now, I wonder if it will get as bad as I think it will.
0 # ThorunnPS 2018-09-14 09:48
Could you post a link to the document?
+25 # Texas Aggie 2018-09-11 19:37
Never forget the Bushites - Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feith, Rove, Wolfowitz, Addington, Bolton, Ashcroft, Rice, Libby, Haynes, Powell, etc. - who are responsible for the whole situation in the Middle East right now. Never forget that they are directly responsible for the lost lives and destroyed lives that our country and all the Middle Eastern countries are now suffering. If only Hell really existed.
+4 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-09-12 13:23
Right on, Aggster! If only....
0 # Benign Observer 2018-09-13 11:26
And yet Nancy Pelosi says she misses W (and presumably Cheney)!
+15 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 20:24
Yes, I never think of the American grief without thinking of the grief of the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and a dozen or so more nations the US destroyed in its fit of grief and revenge.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised he would re-open the case of 9-11 since clearly the attack was not done by bin Laden or anyone without massive resources and access to the entire American national security system. Another campaign promise broken.

The word "fascism" is tossed around a lot, but the truth is that the US became a totally fascist nation after 9-11. That's what the neo-cons wanted. As Pierce says a lot of authoritarian measures were on the shelf and ready to be passed into law when a "new Pearl Harbor" deluded enough people.

9-11 was a "Reichstag fire" event that allowed the fascists in and behind government to seize total control of the state. We are still living in the wake of 9-11 and the vengeance killing still goes on all over the world.

It is quite possible that the Mueller Probers will discover any day now that it was actually the Russians who blew up New York -- oh, and Shanksville.
+3 # ThorunnPS 2018-09-12 10:43
An excellent comparison - spot on!
+6 # elkingo 2018-09-11 21:28
Yes, Murderous opportunistic swine, and war criminals, all.
+4 # harleysch 2018-09-12 04:03
Yes, Pierce is right. The pro-Iraq war neocon crowd are the Never-Trumpers, including McCain, Brennan, William Kristol, and the whole retinue of Bushies. But don't forget Hillary! Or Obama, who made a statement against the Iraq war early on, but later continued the same regime change policies normalized after 9/11, when he became President.

These same people, including those who provided Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld with the "intelligence evaluations" used to justify the war, are the ones who launched Russiagate, to prevent Trump from realizing his intention to end U.S. support for regime change policies. His efforts to do so led to his being identified by that same coterie of Obama intel leaders as a "Putin puppet."

Thus, personal grief morphed into an ongoing tragedy, in which formerly anti-war Dems have jumped on the war party bandwagon, as apologists for the Russophobic lunacy of McCain, Brennan,
+9 # relegn 2018-09-12 06:15
Many Republicans on the right saw 9/11/01 as their best opportunity to secure some oil fields in the middle east through a broad military response to 9/11 and also build-up a more militarized domestic police force with check points at every courthouse in the country. Many may be claiming to be Never Trumpers but their claims ring false.
0 # dascher 2018-09-12 06:54
I am pretty sure I remember an "unnamed White House official" saying something like "if Saddam didn't do this, he will wish he had" days after 9/11. I can no longer find the unattributed quote in the NYTimes search... hmmmm
0 # jazzman633 2018-09-12 12:35
The most concise and accurate account of the motivations behind 9/11 is Richard Dawkins' "Religion's Misguided Missiles."

It was all about martyrdom, Osama's hatred of the Saudi regime, and his fury that Americans soldiers were treading on holy ground (we left Saudi Arabia soon after).

That's it. No conspiracy. No inside job.

It seems incredible that 9/11 was used as the excuse for so much death and suffering, that Bush and Co. were not convicted of war crimes -- but no more incredible than the fact that the hijackers got through security, all of them. Some without ID. Some carried blades that were shorter that the legal limit, so they boarded just like everybody else.

And America continues to pose as the guiltless good guy. Why, we would NEVER attack anyone without reason!
+5 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-09-12 13:30
Let's not forget, Jassman633, that Dawkins' focus has always been on the evils of religion. Religion is often put to hellish purposes.

But your narrative speaks only to interpretations of the motives of bin Laden and his followers.

What this essay speaks to are the motives of OUR national leaders. What you write may be largely true, but that does not at all mean the far larger game of empire was not afoot. It plainly was, and still is.

Have you never read the plan for the New American Century? Much more informative about what our Empire has been doing than anything Dawkins has focused on.
+1 # jazzman633 2018-09-12 17:51

Religion gave the hijackers the motivation to do it. But I am all too aware of the geopolitical game America's neocon clowns were playing. Planning Iraq even before 9/11. Osama's attack gave them a hugely convenient excuse.
+1 # NAVYVET 2018-09-13 19:00
Many good replies to this, and thank all of you. My first thought on 9/11 was, Omigod, the Israeli war hawks could have done this--with our administration' s consent! Bush had his back to the wall, the public was growing outraged with the insane Israeli war machine and our own government, eqally insane and a lot more stupid. Dubya was slipping into impeachment. After a few days I believed I was wrong, but you can understand why I chose Israel as a tentative explanation. I know only that the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, even war hawks like Saddam and the Taleban, had no part in it, and so many of them are now dead. I'm 82 and I hope I don't live to see the hideous retribution that's almost certain to happen some day on this country. We've been asking for retaliation since the Monroe Doctrine and the Haiti embargo.

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