The horrible acts of September 11th, 2001, separated Americans into three groups. One group lives in a Sept. 10th world that has yet to see the horror. Based on their world view, they object to the fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world wherever terrorists lurk because they believe terrorists should be prosecuted as criminals by the justice department and police. During the Clinton administration, the terrorists responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 were tried in our courts, and the sad truth is that this response only emboldened other terrorists, leading them to further bombings in Saudi Arabia, Kenya, and Tanzania, and the ramming of the USS Cole. People living in a Sept. 10th world believe that talking to people who hate us will solve all of our problems, as if there were some magical phrase that, once uttered, would stop terrorists from wanting to cut off our heads.

Another group continues to live in a Sept. 11th world, with all the fear and mind-numbing shock of that terrible day. They are reduced to crying and hand-wringing over the acts of the terrorists–and worse, they see our military response to terrorists in the same way. They appear to be unable to differentiate between the deranged and indiscriminate violence of al Qaeda and the controlled and directed violence of our military. My wife thinks that many of the 9/11 “Truthers” are stuck on this day, which explains why they want to blame President Bush and the government for the attacks. Rather than focusing on fighting the terrorists who actually hijacked the planes, they direct their fear and hatred towards President Bush because deep down they know that their hatred of the President is safe from dangerous retaliation. To them, President Bush is the safer target.

Then there is a group of Americans who live in a Sept. 12th world. This group recognizes that there are terrorists who hate us, our freedoms, and our industry and prosperity. Yes, the terrorists who hate us and the countries that sponsor them could have their own freedoms, industry, and prosperity, but that would require work on their part. It’s far easier for them to hate us and try to destroy us. People living in a Sept. 12th world realize that terrorists won’t go away even if we wish for it extra, extra hard, nor will they go away if we try to buy them off. So as long as they want to kill us, we will have to keep them from their goal. And for seven years now, that has meant sending our military into harm’s way to do the job it does best: killing people and breaking things. It’s not popular with the terrorists, nor is it popular with people living in a Sept. 10th or 11th world. But it is necessary.

Regardless of which mental category we fall into, the sad truth remains that that we physically live in a Sept. 12th world. And we will remain in a Sept. 12th world until radical terrorists have given up trying to destroy us. That will in all probability take a while, but like most long-term endeavors, it’s a goal worth pursuing.

Terrorists struck the U.S. on this day in 2001, but since then, we have been blessed with six years of peace here in our country. Three years ago I wrote that it’s a question of when, not if, we will be struck again. I was sure that we would have been attacked again in 2004, but I am happy that it didn’t happen. Yet I remain certain that we will be struck again, so what will be our response when they strike? I’ll say it again:

What will be our response to the next big strike? Will we bury our dead, roll up our sleeves, and proceed to clean out the human cesspool that is terrorism? Or will we follow Spain’s lead? After the March 11th bombings, Spaniards marched in the streets shouting their anger and will to fight. But mere days later, they crawled to the voting booth and voted for a Socialist leader who pulled them out of Iraq and cried, “Don’t hurt us!” First they stood tall, then they rolled over on their backs and pissed themselves in fear. If this wasn’t a victory for the terrorists, what would be?

We have a choice: we can spread the freedom that we are blessed with across the nations, as we have done with 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq, or we can crawl before our attackers as the Spaniards did. President Bush wants us and the world to be free. But looking at the Democrats’ words and actions, I am left to believe that they are willing to quit and run.

Me? I prefer to stand up to evil. How about you?

There are moments of moral clarity in life when the obscuring fog of confusion and doubt are blown away by a blast of information that brings everything into sharp detail. One of these occurred last night as I read the following from a FrontPage Magazine article about the actions of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) (hat tip to Little Green Footballs):

Seven years earlier in November 1999, two Saudi students on an America West flight from Phoenix to Columbus were detained after landing because they had made repeated attempts to enter the cockpit area of the plane during the flight.

In both cases, CAIR rose up to defend the offenders in question and engaged in their now standard grievance theater protest politics. In the most recent case, CAIR has tried to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the incident by backing the “Flying Imams” and supporting their lawsuit against the airlines and passengers for responding to their bizarre behavior. The lawsuit is being handled by a Muslim attorney associated with CAIR.

When it comes to the November 1999 incident, any mention of CAIR’s involvement or defense of the Saudi students has been scrubbed from the organization’s website. It’s no wonder, as the 9/11 Commission Report (page 521, footnote 60) explains that the FBI now considers the incident as a “dry run” for the 9/11 hijackings. And the two men involved? As the 9/11 Commission Report explains, Hamdan al-Shalawi was in Afghanistan in November 2000 training at an Al-Qaeda camp to launch “Khobar Tower”-type attacks against the US in Saudi Arabia, and Mohammad Al-Qadhaieen was arrested in June 2003 as a material witness in the 9/11 attacks. Both men were friends of Al-Qaeda recruiter, Zakaria Mustapha Soubra, who drove them to the airport that day in Qadhaieen’s car. Another friend of Shalawi is Ghassan al-Sharbi, another Al-Qaeda operative that would later be captured in Pakistan with high-level Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida.

There is a connection between these two incidents, as the leader of the six “Flying Imams” this past November is none other than Omar Shahin, the former imam of the Islamic Center of Tucson, where the two Saudi students from the November 1999 incident attended. Counterterrorism expert Rita Katz told the Washington Post in September 2002 that the mosque served as “basically the first cell of Al-Qaeda in the United States; that is where it all started”. (Len Sherman’s Arizona Monthly November 2004 article, “Al Qaeda among Us”, provides greater detail about the connections between the Saudi pair involved in the November 1999 event and the Al-Qaeda cell that operated in Tucson and Phoenix.)

These links helped me to understand with clarity something I had long suspected: CAIR is an organization of quislings, willingly assisting the Islamic terrorists who labor to kill Americans and overthrow our nation’s rule of law to replace it with Shari’a. CAIR is actively using civil rights lawsuits as a smoke screen for terrorists. Groups like CAIR insist on the current insanity at airports that requires 80-year-old grandmas and a former Vice President to pull off their shoes and receive pat-downs. We mustn’t profile, because that would get airport security sued for racism. But Islam is a religion, not a race.

I refuse to listen to any further grievances voiced by terrorism-tainted CAIR, or by any other group that functions as a support system for those who seek the Islamist overthrow of these United States and the world.

The geniuses of Cox and Forkum have added another cartoon showing how America has been confronting terrorism since September 11th, 2001.

Confronting Terrorism

It’s been five years since Islamic nutjobs used airplanes to carry out acts of terror. Almost 3,000 people died because a radical branch of Islam claims that Allah said it was OK to kill infidels. On this anniversary, look around you and see how people are remembering this day. Are they remembering the terror they felt and steeling their resolve to remain free, or are they hiding their heads in the sand and pretending it didn’t happen?

What about you?

Brigham Young University professor Steven Jones has hit the news again. I first wrote about Jones when his “controlled demolition” theory about the World Trade Center collapse started to rattle around the Internet. I couldn’t believe his theory then, and I can’t believe it now.

KSL filed a report about Jones being put on paid administrative leave by BYU:

The man on paid leave is Dr. Steven Jones. He’s a physics professor involved in the so-called “9-11 Truth Movement.”

Jones believes unnamed government agencies orchestrated the fall of the twin towers and he says there’s evidence to back it up.

Two weeks ago he published his theory in a paper called “Why Indeed did the World Trade Center Buildings Collapse?” In it, the professor says the towers fell not because of planes hitting them but rather pre-positioned demolition charges.

He cites research conducted at BYU on materials from ground zero, asserting those materials show evidence of thermite, a compound used in military detonations. He says terrorists could have never set those charges.

The State Department has released a rebuttal to Jones’ theory in a 10-thousand page report.

I still say that Occam’s Razor doesn’t support the professor.

On Sunday and Monday of this weekend, ABC will broadcast “The Path to 9/11,” or as ABC puts it:

ABC will present “The Path to 9/11,” a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources, in an epic miniseries event that will air with limited commercial interruption.

The Left in this country are already getting riled up over this miniseries, but I’m not sure whether they are more concerned about the dramatization of events they say didn’t happen, or that so much blame is laid at the feet of their beloved President Clinton.

A common complaint voiced about the miniseries is that it shows events that didn’t happen. Here’s how this was written up at

The first night of Path to 9/11 has a dramatic scene where former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger refuses to give the order to the CIA to take out bin Laden — even though CIA agents, along with the Northern Alliance, have his house surrounded. Rush Limbaugh, who refers to Nowrasteh as “a friend of mine,” reviews the action:

So the CIA, the Northern Alliance, surrounding a house where bin Laden is in Afghanistan, they’re on the verge of capturing, but they need final approval from the Clinton administration in order to proceed.

So they phoned Washington. They phoned the White House. Clinton and his senior staff refused to give authorization for the capture of bin Laden because they’re afraid of political fallout if the mission should go wrong, and if civilians were harmed… Now, the CIA agent in this is portrayed as being astonished. “Are you kidding?” He asked Berger over and over, “Is this really what you guys want?”

Berger then doesn’t answer after giving his first admonition, “You guys go in on your own. If you go in we’re not sanctioning this, we’re not approving this,” and Berger just hangs up on the agent after not answering any of his questions.

ThinkProgress has obtained a response to this scene from Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, and now counterterrorism adviser to ABC:

1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.

2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

In short, this scene — which makes the incendiary claim that the Clinton administration passed on a surefire chance to kill or catch bin Laden — never happened. It was completely made up by Nowrasteh.

The actual history is quite different. According to the 9/11 Commission Report (pg. 199), then-CIA Director George Tenet had the authority from President Clinton to kill Bin Laden. Roger Cressy, former NSC director for counterterrorism, has written, “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda.”

That charge is pretty damning. I listened to the local Air America Radio show as I drove into work this morning, and the host had someone on who was identified as an editor for He stated in solemn tones that the above Sandy Berger scene didn’t happen, and “nothing like it happened.” Really? Proving a negative is tough, but there may be something to the scene. Here is something the New York Sun printed in the summer of 2004 about Sandy Berger, based on the 9/11 Commission’s report.

Well, look now to what the 9/11 report has to say about the man to whom President Clinton, under attack by an independent counsel, delegated so much in respect of national security, Samuel “Sandy” Berger. The report cites a 1998 meeting between Mr. Berger and the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, at which Mr. Tenet presented a plan to capture Osama bin Laden.

“In his meeting with Tenet, Berger focused most, however, on the question of what was to be done with Bin Ladin if he were actually captured. He worried that the hard evidence against Bin Ladin was still skimpy and that there was a danger of snatching him and bringing him to the United States only to see him acquitted,” the report says, citing a May 1, 1998, Central Intelligence Agency memo summarizing the weekly meeting between Messrs. Berger and Tenet.

In June of 1999, another plan for action against Mr. bin Laden was on the table. The potential target was a Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan known as Tarnak Farms. The commission report released yesterday cites Mr. Berger’s “handwritten notes on the meeting paper” referring to “the presence of 7 to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties.” According to the Berger notes, “if he responds, we’re blamed.”

On December 4, 1999, the National Security Council’s counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, sent Mr. Berger a memo suggesting a strike in the last week of 1999 against Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Reports the commission: “In the margin next to Clarke’s suggestion to attack Al Qaeda facilities in the week before January 1, 2000, Berger wrote, ‘no.’ “

In August of 2000, Mr. Berger was presented with another possible plan for attacking Mr. bin Laden. This time, the plan would be based on aerial surveillance from a “Predator” drone. Reports the commission: “In the memo’s margin, Berger wrote that before considering action, ‘I will want more than verified location: we will need, at least, data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place.’ “

In other words, according to the commission report, Mr. Berger was presented with plans to take action against the threat of Al Qaeda four separate times — Spring 1998, June 1999, December 1999, and August 2000. Each time, Mr. Berger was an obstacle to action. Had he been a little less reluctant to act, a little more open to taking pre-emptive action, maybe the 2,973 killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks would be alive today.

So here are four known examples of Berger blocking action against al-Qaeda. We cannot say for sure that these were the only times Berger blocked action against al-Qaeda, because the documentary evidence is now tainted by *drum roll* Sandy Berger himself. Berger confessed to removing top secret documents from the National Archive, and destroying some of them. Because he was unsupervised during these visits, it is very possible that he substituted uncommented copies of these documents. For this, he got a slap on the wrist. This is why Rush Limbaugh refers to him as “Sandy Burglar.”

This whole brouhaha about the miniseries leads me to wonder whether writer Cyrus Nowrasteh created this scene based on some specific information he has, or whether the scene represents an amalgam of the four times Berger blocked action against bin Laden, or whether it is just a bit of creative writing for dramatic effect.

I understand that ABC says this miniseries is “a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 Commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews.” But does that grant them license to fiddle with the facts for dramatic effect?

And if this miniseries has unsubstantiated scenes added for dramatic effect, doesn’t it fall into the “fake, but accurate” camp? I’m not sure I like the sound of that.

So convicted terrorist dickweed Zacarias Moussaoui said he lied about taking part in the September 11th plot, and he thinks it would be a nifty-neat idea if he could take a mulligan on his guilty plea. This is the same man who very recently was shouting, “America, you lost! I won!” after Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced Moussaoui to life in prison without parole.

I was thinking the right sentence for Moussaoui would be being hosed down with liquid lard, wrapped in a pig skin, dropped out of a 110 storey window, cremated, and then ashes mixed in the concrete of the new Twin Towers foundations. But maybe that’s a bit too excessive.

But I think I can live with Moussaoui going out with a whimper.

... with a whimper

Professor Steven E. Jones is not a conspiracy theorist because, as Ryan McIlvain writes in Brigham Young University’s NewsNet, “he’s wearing a button-up shirt, dress slacks, matching socks. He’s soft-spoken, polite – the picture of the mild-mannered professor.” But how else could you describe what the Professor is peddling?

Jones published a paper on November 8, 2005 titled “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” He points to the building known as WTC 7, asking why it collapsed when it wasn’t hit by a plane as the twin towers were. He also states that no other steel buildings have been brought down by fire, before or after September 11th.

So what is his theory? Professor Jones believes the buildings were taken down by controlled explosions.

Jones points to small puffs of dark clouds on the sides of the three buildings and compares them to the controlled explosions or “squibs” that demolition experts use to bring down a building. He links to video images of the three buildings collapsing, and points out puffs that he calls squibs. Are these indeed visual evidence of a controlled demolition, or just the random effect that occurs when a building collapses and the compressed air inside it blows out any available opening? I favor the latter idea because it is simpler, and while I am certainly no demolition expert, I normally see more action than a few random puffs of smoke when a building is demolished. The controlled demolition of the Seattle Kingdome is a great example of what exposed squibs look like. Other video clips of controlled demolitions don’t have such visible squibs, but most other buildings were not constructed like the Kingdome. Still, in most of these clips one can see visible explosions, especially in external supporting walls. I would assume that a controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers would require many more squibs than the visible puffs Professor Jones points out to support his theory.

But what do I know? I’m not an explosive demolition expert. Then again, neither is Professor Jones.

Jones’ specific field of expertise is in fusion and sub-atomic particles. One person debating the merits of Jones’ paper on a 9/11 site pointed out that all the professor’s published papers to date have been on particle physics and muons. Nevertheless, let’s assume for the moment that Jones knows what he’s talking about. Here is some of the “evidence” the professor points out to back up his thesis, as quoted in the NewsNet article:

Pressed about the implications of his hypothesis, Jones leans back in his chair and says, “Okay, let me back up.”

He mentions a few lesser-known details about the Sept. 11 attacks, appending little comments like “and that’s a fact” or “and that’s on tape” at several points along the way:

  • Larry Silverstein, WTC leaseholder, insured the buildings against terrorist attack for billions of dollars less than two months before Sept. 11, Jones says.
  • The towers were loaded with asbestos – “not anymore,” Jones adds, “but they were. There was discussion for a long time: ‘We’ve got to either get rid of the asbestos in these buildings or take them down and start over.’”
  • In the aftermath of the buildings’ collapse, Silverstein said of WTC 7, “We decided to pull it.” Jones says “pull” is a common demolition term. “To pull a building means you initiate the demolition.”
  • Much of the steel from the collapsed towers was shipped to Asia for recycling, Jones says. “This was done over the objections of serious scientists and engineers, saying, ‘Look, you’re destroying evidence. We want to know how fire and damage could have possibly caused these buildings to collapse.’”

“You didn’t know that, did you?” Jones says. He leans back farther in his chair. “We need an investigation,” he says again.

But where is the hard proof supporting Jones’ theory? David Hume famously said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” so where is the smoking gun? Instead, Jones seems to believe an investigation is in order merely because his claim is so serious. Likewise, Democrats called for an investigation into the debunked memos reported on by Dan Rather of CBS. It wasn’t the nature of the evidence that was being put forth (and subsequently debunked), it was the seriousness of the charge that made the Left rush to believe in baseless claims. OK, that’s about as political as I’ll get with this.

It’s probably also worthwhile to point out that the people who are getting most excited about Jones’ paper (which has not yet been peer-reviewed, by the way) would normally not deign to give a BYU professor the time of day. But since his as-yet-unreviewed claims feed their hunger for a conspiracy, their desire for a potential whipping-boy who can take the lion’s share of the blame for 9/11, they rush to embrace his claims and laud him as the hero of the hour. Shared delusion makes for strange bedfellows.

So what are the possibilities? As I see it, there are two options:

A) Islamic nutjobs hijacked four planes with the goal of causing damage. Two of those planes struck the two main World Trade Center towers, causing them–and subsequently WTC 7–to collapse.


B) Islamic nutjobs hijacked four planes with the goal of causing damage. Two of those planes struck the two main World Trade Center towers. Shadowy personages with unknown agendas either knew that they were coming and meticulously wired up the three buildings with carefully-placed charges to cause the buildings to implode, or the buildings had been wired up previously to take advantage of an unexpected plane striking the building. After allowing the people to leave the towers, the masterminds behind the planted charges blew up the buildings. They were so cunning that they were even able to detonate charges in locations above where the planes hit, which had been on fire for an hour.

“It is quite plausible that explosives were pre-planted in all three buildings and set off after the two plane crashes – which were actually a diversion tactic,” Jones writes in his paper; apparently he believes option B is more plausible than option A. Such a conspiracy could not be small in scope–indeed, it would have to be appallingly large–but so far, not a single person has come forward to admit that he or she did the wiring or even saw the buildings being wired for explosives. Nearly all widespread conspiracies are brought to light in this way; no large conspiracies have been able to stay so universally close-mouthed for such a long period of time.

I believe Occam had something to say about choosing from two options.

Addendum (11/19/2005): Having done some admittedly limited searches on this story, I don’t find it has much by way of legs. The only large blog that has carried this story I have found appears to be Michelle Malkin from last week.

This day brings me bittersweet feelings. I am heartbroken over the death of thousands on that day four years ago, but I can be content in the knowledge that in our response to these thugs, 50 million people are now freed from oppressive dictatorships that supported terrorists acts like the ones we saw that September morning. Sitting on my shelf is a documentary about New York firefighters, filmed by two French brothers named Jules and Gedeon Naudet. I have held off watching it these four years, but I will watch it today. I missed the documentary put together by National Geographic, but I plan on buying that soon as well. I don’t want to forget why America is at war with terrorists.

Below are eleven images from the slideshow available at Little Green Footballs. If anyone asks me why we are doing what we are doing, I point them to Charles’ slideshow.

Incoming Plane

Second Plane Hits

Pentagon Burns

The Towers Burn

Three Falling


The First Tower Falls

The Second Tower Falls

Died in the Service of Others

Empty Streets

Never Again

There are moments in your life that stick in your memory forever. My grandfather remembered Pearl Harbor and the twin joys of VE Day and VJ Day. My father remembers the day that Grandpa came back from fighting in the Pacific. He also told me about anxiously listening to the radio during the tense days of the Cuban missile crisis, and learning of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and later his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.

I don’t know if things really are happening faster in my life, or merely that I have lived through these experiences rather than learning about them secondhand. In my lifetime, I remember where I was the moment I heard President Reagan was shot. I watched live footage of the Challenger exploding on CNN, and wept as the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry. I remember the burning at Waco, Texas and the bombing two years later in Oklahoma City. The Berlin Wall coming down was a joy to see, since I had traveled through Checkpoint Charlie only a few years before. The explosion of Mount St. Helens, and the explosive LA riots showed me the level of destruction nature and man can produce. And I remember where I was as I learned about the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. It has been three years since this tragic day.

Images from that day evoke many emotions for me: anger at those who did this, sadness for those who died, and compassion for those who watched their loved ones die. I originally picked the picture of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center for this post, but I changed my mind. The firemen who raised the flag at Ground Zero are an example of Americans working to make the United States better. To make this happen, those who support, plan, and execute acts of terror need to be hunted down and stopped. President Bush has served notice to the terrorists that their days are numbered, and warned the nations of the world that harboring terrorists will bring down American retribution. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has fallen, Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq is no more, and the U.S. remains free of any major terrorist attack to this day.

Will the U.S. be attacked again? Most certainly. But for three years the terrorists have been kept on the run, hiding in caves to avoid American military might. Three-fourths of al Qaeda’s leadership and structure is gone, either dead or captured. But al Qaeda is not the only terrorist group out there, and the battle to keep America safe and free from those who want us dead will continue for years, if not decades.

It will take determination, and that is the strongest feeling that the images of the September 11th attack evoke in me.


Some other good places to go today:
* Captain Ed writes about his view of today. He sees many of the same life-changing history events.
* Charles of Little Green Footballs writes about September 11th.