It was bad enough that terrorists had staged a catastrophic assault on
America. What made it worse was the way that all of us were pushed around
after the fact. Officialdom’s response was based not merely on force
alone, but on sledgehammer force applied where a scalpel might have served
better ends and accomplished more.
Did you ever feel pushed around after 911? I did. Pushed around in
the name of security, in the name of law and order, in the name of this or
that, but pushed around nevertheless. So have many others. Those who don’t
fit neatly into the two main categories of shrink-wrapped 911 remembrance
-- the agony choir and the cheering section. To the media and to
officialdom nothing else, and nothing in-between, can exist.
How about feeling left out? Do you feel like you've been left out of
the drama, left out of the victims' benefits, left off the list of
those who matter? Indeed, what might be justly called a vast "silent
majority" of Americans who don’t seem to be part of the equation does most
certainly exist. Look at it this way: of the one hundred ten businesses
with offices in the two World Trade Center towers on the morning of
September 11th, 2001, the vast majority were banking and brokerage firms,
insurance companies and law firms, which included companies like Morgan
Stanley and Fiduciary Trust. Morgan Stanley alone accounted for
approximately thirty percent of the office space in both towers.
The people in the towers were, in short, primarily brokers and lawyers.
They represented a wealthy elite that on the morning of September 11 saw
at least a significant portion of those persons engaged in ripping other
people off and enriching themselves and their wealthy clients, the
business of many of these latter being real estate flips that were making
housing unaffordable for millions of New Yorkers. Most of those persons
lived in comfortable homes and had what they call "Cadillac" insurance
plans that would pay survivors major benefits.
They were also well-connected to government and business interests.
While it is despicable to regard their plight on 911 with anything except
compassion for the attacks' victims and contempt for those who perpetrated
the attacks, it must also be said that these victims' survivors would have
been well cared for merely on the basis of their existing indemnification.
Yet those same survivors sought -- and almost immediately got --
significant and long-term remuneration from government, corporate and
private organizations. The grieving widows of first responders from city
agencies were also taken care of financially. In a relatively short time,
redevelopment of Ground Zero and surrounding neighborhoods, notably the
trendy TriBeCa and Wall Street sections of Lower Manhattan, were the
beneficiaries of billions of dollars in compensation which included deep
tax breaks for real estate developers building high-rise condominiums in
these same neighborhoods.
A large percentage of housing funded by post-911 money, therefore,
created condos for the jet set and their progeny, providing a boom mostly
for TriBeCa and the nearby Meat Packing District, the latter becoming a
mecca in which rich drug-users partied the nights away and had plenty of
toilet stalls in which to have sex. As to loft-dwellers in TriBeCa's
converted factory buildings, they saw the beginnings of a transformation
of a unique part of the city, prized and well-known for the emptiness and
quiet of its streets after hours and on weekends, and also for its
picturesque urban vistas from both street and rooftop level, into a
termite mound of high-rises, as developers, flush with money and
incentives in the wake of 911, commenced to invade.
As to the plight of the first responders themselves and their status as
heroes, I say that all who acted with courage on that dark day are equally
worthy of hero status. Furthermore, the risk of dying is part of a cop or
a firefighter's job, just as it's part of a soldier's. Those first
responders found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. But so
did thousands of others whose own heroism in the face of catastrophe was
never acknowledged. Nor were those latter paid to take those risks as were
law enforcement and rescue workers.
Yet at the same time scores of thousands -- perhaps even millions -- of
New York City residents who in cases such as my own happened to be in the
vicinity of Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and who, though they had
survived, were nonetheless in many instances severely impacted by the
consequences of the attacks, were given absolutely nothing. I myself --
mainly to see what would happen -- applied
by the end of November, 2001,
at virtually all of the organizations mandated to disburse
financial, medical and other forms of aid to victims of 911 .
What did I get? Zero. Not a cent. Not even an aspirin. Unfortunately my
experience is far from unique. In fact it's typical. The majority of New
Yorkers, many of whom bear psychological scars and suffer medical problems to this day, were given
practically nothing except orders in public by authoritarian figures that
cropped up like weeds for months after the event -- many of whom were
hastily recruited from elsewhere in New York State and whose burgeoning
ranks included state troopers who'd never before even set foot in the boros, as well as English-as-a-third-or-fourth-language speakers hastily
fitted into uniforms at federal buildings -- and endless media catharsis
at home, which for sheer power of numbing repetition amounted to something
Largely absent from public discourse is the indisputable fact that 911
had a considerable ripple effect on many levels of society that is nothing
like the programmatic version of reality we've been endlessly spoon-fed. Yet 911’s ripple
effect is profound and pervasive. It's had serious consequences
nationally and globally, in diverse spheres of government, politics,
economics, ethics and culture, that are with us to this very day, now, ten years
later, as we mourn those who died in the catastrophe. In the immediate
aftermath of 911 the haves got the lion's share and the have-nots got what
they usually get. The towers fell and the Pentagon caved in, but the
status-quo ante and the double-standards it encompasses never tottered for
a minute. These remain with us,
effecting our lives and altering our futures, well into the coming decades
of the emerging 21st century.
Though we're told not to see it, pressured and bullied to pretend it's not there, this ripple effect has rocked the country with seismic
impact, just as
the rippling waves from the hit on JFK continue doing. But those who
struck down President Kennedy killed a single person. I believe that 911
can be viewed as an assassination attempt on America itself, an event that placed
the entire republic under the gun.
Many, like myself, have personal 911 mysteries that will probably
always remain unexplained. Just like some of the larger question marks
connected with post-911 events, such as the downing of a fourth jet,
American Airlines Flight 587, over Rockaway, Queens, on November 12th,
2001, that was never explained satisfactorily, and the wave of anthrax
attacks that began on or about September 17, 2001, yet appeared to have
been preceded by advance warnings in several notable cases. In addition to
these and other large-scale mysteries, there were numerous and
smaller-scale events that raised questions, yet were never adequately
explained -- things like people who conveniently got out of harm's way as
if warned in advance, like other people who suddenly came into money, and
like yet other people who found themselves under strange and shadowy forms of apparent
scrutiny or harassment. As in the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy
assassination of November 22, 1963, unpleasant things began to happen to
There are eerie comparisons between 911 and that fateful day in Dallas
and its immediate and long-term consequences. Interesting to contemplate
amid a list of cross-connections is what is stated by some to have been a
covert program, promulgated in the 1960s, code-named Skill Set, which was
ostensibly developed to destabilize target societies. Skill Set mandated
the infliction of a major catastrophic event that instantly disrupts the
target society and renders it vulnerable to a follow-up program of
control. The disruption is fueled and increased by subsequent covert
actions, but the initial impact itself, like the right set of pressures on
a ball of fissionable uranium, sets off a self-sustaining chain reaction
once a critical mass is reached.
Unlike the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, however, ten years
down the line from September 11, 2001, the nation shows little of the
grit and determination to probe beneath the surface of events that America showed
in the post-Kennedy era.
But as Republican Senator Richard Schweiker remarked about the
JFK assassination during the Church Committee hearings of 1976, "During the
last few years we came very close to having Big Brother take over ...
We're only learning now how close, and it was frighteningly close."
Why this tunnel vision now? Why is there so little apparent interest in
explaining even a few of the central discrepancies and enigmas of 911 whose existence
seem, even on brief reflection, so obvious? For instance, the often-discussed "look on Bush's face" as
he was caught, seemingly without warning, in front of an audience of
schoolchildren at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida,
far from the site of the White House, a main contender for the potential
target of American Airlines Flight 77, the third plane, the one that went
down in a field in Pennsylvania’s Somerset County, and never struck its
mark in the nation’s capital.
For that matter, why didn't this third plane actually hit the White
House, where the president was thankfully absent, a thousand miles away,
on that fateful day? Well, one reason was that the third plane happened to
be the last of the three to have been hijacked and turned around on the
morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, and was being tracked by
military air traffic controllers who handle national airspace traffic, and
could have initiated a chain of events resulting in its being shot it down before it ever reached the White House or the
Capital, a second potential target.
Another conundrum concerns precisely who these people were, those who
planned and carried out the strikes? Specifically, who was goat-face bin Laden,
really? Who was ghoul-puss Mohammed Atta, really? Now, before going on let
me make this clear -- all of them, every single one of those motherfuckers,
was a terrorist piece of shit, and I am in no way, shape or form, even
remotely insinuating that they were "pawns" or had any redeeming qualities
of any sort whatever. Far from it -- fuck ‘em all in hell, I say. Indeed I hope the
last atoms of the murderous and cowardly scumbags who hijacked the planes
and crashed them into the WTC and Pentagon rot in hell till the end of
What I do wonder is whether there was any hidden manipulation behind their
actions. In the shadow world of covert operations, it is an article of
faith that double agents will frequently turn on their handlers and adopt the
program of the
target organizations which they've penetrated in earnest, often rising to leadership positions. In bin Laden's
particular case, the terror chieftain -- and the bin Laden family -- had
long-standing and intricate ties to various international political and
Osama bin Laden was himself once a surrogate of the West, acting
against the Soviets in the war in Afghanistan during the Reagan years. The
Afghan leaders, called "freedom fighters" by the White House and dubbed by
then President Ronald Reagan as "the moral equivalent of America’s
founding fathers," were then lauded as heroes. Given that bin Laden was then a
young Saudi Arabian fighter who rose to prominence amid the ranks of the
Afghan mujahideen after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,
Reagan’s comparison would have included him amid the roster of those it so
highly esteemed. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, whom the Reagan
administration supported in its long war with Iran which began in September,
1980, was deemed yet another important US ally in the Mideast at one time.
Dracula-face terrorist Mohammed Atta, leader of the 911 terrorists,
also showed a history of moving like a chess pawn across the checkered
game board of covert operations for years prior to his entry into the
United States. He boasted shadowy clandestine associations on his
terrorist's resume. Atta's several known ties to intelligence agencies of
different countries is well known and well documented, even in the face of
what little else is known about him.
Now, like both major and minor players in the JFK assassination drama,
all of the principle actors, save one or two on the periphery, are dead,
and have died in manners which have precluded their being brought before
the world where they could be bluntly questioned concerning their motives,
funding and overall plans. Also like the case of the JFK assassination,
events seem to bear the telltale signs of modification after the fact.
We were at first told that bin Laden had been shot and killed after he
had grabbed his trusty Kalashnikov and tried to fire a burst. On its face
it seemed plausible -- after all, we’d seen the terrorist chieftain posing
with his trusty rifle in numerous news hour sound bites. Yet a few days
later, the story was changed, and has changed again. Yes, there are the
captured "tapes." But making him face the music might have just resulted
in the sort of insane drivel from a senile idiot wearing a graying beard
and ratty turban that would have thoroughly discredited the terrorist and
his heinous cause.
We need to penetrate the easy explanations because it all could happen
again, and next time there might be no coming back from the abyss. There
could be a future assassination of America that could dwarf even the
tragedy of 911. To quote Churchill's inspiring words in a sinister light
Churchill never intended, 911 might not be the "beginning of the end," but
merely the "end of the beginning."
How close did the nation come to a Big Brother takeover in the wake of
911, to quote the words that Senator Schweiker uttered in 1976? I can't
say, and I seriously doubt that anybody will be able to say, at least for
the time being. But it may be that we've come close. Perilously close,
perhaps. Thankfully 911 wasn't a full assassination of America. But if it
was anything at all, then it may have been the commencement of a waking nightmare that America should not and
cannot permit itself to relive -- ever again.
And you know what else? Catharsis has its place, but it only takes you
so far. We have our memorial and we've had our emotional purgatives and
Now I for one want some answers.