Where were you eight years ago today at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time? What were you doing then? Do you remember?
Do you remember when you learned airliners had been used as weapons of mass destruction against America?
Sure you do. That memory is etched into your brain as permanently as if it had been carved into granite, just like other history-changing events: the assassination of JFK, the first moon landing, the Challenger explosion, the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. It’s tattooed there, with permanent ink.
And so is the feeling you had in the pit of your stomach. Anguish over thousands of lost souls—fellow Americans, mostly, but it didn’t matter where they were from. You knew they were gone… you didn’t know how many but you knew it must be thousands… and you were frightened because you didn’t know if more attacks were coming or when or where they would be.
There was anger, too. Anger that enough evil existed in the world to do such a thing. More anger that some were applauding it, as spontaneous celebrations broke out throughout the Middle East.
There was a resolve that began to form as well. A resolve to do whatever you could to help those affected. It took many forms, like donating blood or sending money to support rescue organizations like the American Red Cross.
There was also the beginning of a resolve to make sure those responsible were punished. That resolve was strengthened by the words of President George W. Bush when he stood in the rubble with his arm around a firefighter and spoke into that megaphone, “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
And they did. Less than a month later, on Oct. 7, bombs began falling on Afghanistan.
A lot has transpired since then, not all of it good.
There’s the American Patriot Act, passed hurriedly under the guise of helping to find terrorists but now being used more and more on Americans. There’s the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a branch of the Treasury Department, it is the government’s enormous financial data collection arm. It pulls in personal and information from the IRS, FBI, DEA and Secret Service, as well as customs and the postal inspection agency.
According to some experts, FinCEN taps into the National Security Council and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. FinCEN even gets information from the likes of your friendly banker.
There are Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) on anyone who engages in any “suspicious transaction relevant to a possible violation of law or regulation.” This includes such things as large money transfers or other activity deemed suspicious by a banker. The information is sent to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), among other places.
There has been the suspension of Habeas Corpus for American citizens. Remember Jose Padilla? He’s the accused “dirty bomb” suspect arrested as he stepped off an airliner at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago in May 2002. He then spent three and half years in a military brig in South Carolina, plus two more in a federal prison before his trial in January 2008.
During his military confinement he was subjected to prolonged isolation and intensive interrogations in conditions a judge called harsh. Still, no evidence of a dirty bomb plot was ever uncovered and Padilla’s conviction was for conspiring to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad.
There are more onerous regulations on travel and invasive searches of airline passengers. Metal detectors now must be passed through to get into government buildings.
Eight years later our troops are still in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. Osama bin Laden has not been found—I think he’s been dead a long time—and al Qaeda are hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The war there is getting deadlier for U.S. troops by the day.
Pakistan, which signed on as an ally, has seen its government change hands and Islamo-fascist terrorists are fighting a war there in an effort to get there hands on the country’s nuclear weapons.
American troops remain in Iraq as well, where we fight a proxy war with Iran.
But we’re no longer fighting a war on terror. It’s an overseas contingency operation, and what used to be called terrorist attacks are now man-caused disasters.
No, the terrorists are now those who oppose government overreach. As reported on The Heritage Foundation website, Obama’s campaign organization, Organizing for America, sent out notice to its grassroots supporters to use today, Sept. 11, to wage a phone campaign calling U.S. Senators to pass healthcare reform. The Obama website—since scrubbed—said, “All 50 states are coordinating this—as we fight back against our own Right-Wing Domestic Terrorists who are subverting the American Democratic Process…” A screenshot of the page and The Heritage Foundation’s story can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, terrorists captured on the battlefield where they were shooting at American and coalition soldiers and setting improvised explosive devices (IED) are going to be removed from the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and brought to the U.S., if the president and attorney general have their way.
They’re not going to be brought to the states just to stand trial. They’re going to be incarcerated here as well.
Not to worry, says Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the worst of them will not be released on American soil. No, they’ll remain in prison where they can proselytize the American prison population and create real domestic terrorists.
As Americans awoke on that fateful morning eight years ago and began going about the business of their ordinary, workaday lives we were all blissfully ignorant of the catastrophe about to be hoisted upon America.
There were still big arguments over the Supreme Court ruling nine months earlier that cleared the way for a Bush presidency, and those on the left were concerned about the direction country would go politically. They were calling him fascist and Nazi.
Now it’s eight years later. A new president is being called Nazi, socialist and Marxist. And those on the right are worried about the direction the country is going politically.
It’s been eight years. The country is as divided now as it was at 8:45 a.m. that fateful day and the only thing that has progressed is the march against American privacy and freedom.