"[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state -- what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations -- what we can call civil society. ... In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does. ... Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force." ~ Ed Crane
Exclusive to STR
September 11, 2008
Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. ~ President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001
I can be a rather petty individual. I'm far too introspective for my own good, meaning that I can get bogged down in my own problems pretty easily. Tuesday morning September 11, 2001 was just such a day. By about 10:30 or so, I was already in a foul mood for a reason I can no longer remember. Then my boss called us all into the training room for a quick meeting. I slouched over to the door of the room to hear him say that we could go home if we wanted. I thought he was referring to the fact that one of our computer systems was malfunctioning, and continued to gripe to myself that this will not apply to me, as I was not using that system for my workload at the time. In a few moments, that thought would seem very self-pitying and trivial, indeed.
Seconds later as I raced out the door to my car, speeding to my sister's house to get to a television, the voices of the DJs on the radio stations in the New York area were strangely altered. DJs all sound the same, so it was horrifying to me to hear them talking slightly faster and in a somewhat higher register than normal. The calm, sunny surroundings didn't seem to help much, as they made the day so much more surreal.
There are a lot of details I remember. So do you. We don't need to rehash them all. To do so is little more than prurient at this point. So I will mention just one more before I tell you what I have to get off my chest. Every day after work, for the next several months, I would pass by a house close to my apartment complex where an enterprising individual had hastily spray-painted a sign, which he placed against some bushes outside his home. The sign simply said, from one day to the next, "Day 12"... "Day 13"... "Day 14"...
That's how everyone felt who drove by the sign. I went just as nationalistic as the rest of them. I envy now the level-headedness of Internet writers who understood then what was happening behind the deadly, bloody theater to which the rest of us succumbed. I am ashamed of being so naïve, and for so long afterward. The money I've given to put band-aids on the subsequent wars doesn't begin to cover my shame for supporting the initial bloodlust.
And I hope I'm writing to readers who are intelligent enough to remember exactly where that bloodlust was directed. If you hadn't known his name prior to 9/11, you surely know it now: Osama bin Laden. The media have been desperate ever since to paint him out to be as dangerous as Hitler. The Germans of a few decades ago made it terribly easy, with that ancient, bizarre, freakish symbol reminiscent of a Ninja star, given a frightening new context in stark, lurid colors of red and black; that robotic salute accompanied by equally disturbing goose-stepping; the frenzied hiss of adoring thousands chanting, "Sieg! Heil!" But the ragtag look of Middle Eastern terrorists doesn't provoke the same level of fear as an ideology that has given Hollywood and political pundits alike so much material to work with. The unprecedented disintegration of three steel-framed New York skyscrapers in midair, and in seconds, gave bin Laden's image as our national nemesis a much-needed boost.
He then became the subject of the Two Minutes Hate that politicians always need when they've taken care of the last one. With the Cold War being over, and Russia revealed to be a sorry rival after the implosion of the Soviet Union , 9/11 gave the political class exactly what it craved.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the calm, rational minds of libertarianism, if they had been heeded, would have helped to give us the pause that was necessary in the immediate aftermath of those desperate hours. With carnage that is now too late to stop, or to even reduce in spite of the increasing unpopularity of this war, a logically-thinking austerity is needed now more than ever. What I am about to share with you takes just such emotional restraint, if you can manage it, and if so, please feel free to share your well-reasoned arguments with me.
As we all know, 9/11 is rife with conspiracy theories, many of them not welcome, at least in the eyes of the mainstream media. I do not wish to foray into them here, for many reasons, not the least of which is because STR's editor does not care to delve into them either. I would like to take you, instead, into the heart of our government itself: The FBI's own website, so you can see what I see.
Here, at the bottom of the FBI's front page, you will see a link in small-sized font for "Most Wanted Terrorists." If the webpage to which it links hasn't changed since I wrote this (and it seldom does), the link will take you to a page where, of course, the first picture you see is of bin Laden. However, before clicking on that link, just take a look at the introduction at the top of the page. I have read and re-read these paragraphs many times over the last two years, and the text remains the same: terrorists indicted in grand juries, blah blah blah, rewards will be given, etc., etc. There is one phrase, however, that sticks out like a sore thumb:
"Future indictments may be handed down as various investigations proceed in connection to other terrorist incidents, for example, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 ."
Forgive me if I am wrong, but wasn't the point of invading Afghanistan in October, 2001 to overthrow the Taliban, for giving aid and support to Al Qaeda, who carried out the attacks of 9/11, under the direction of bin Laden? Can someone please name an investigation into 9/11 that is still ongoing? How about a single grand jury? Surely, the link to bin Laden's bio will explain more.
Except there isn't much information on this page, either. It mentions the terrorist bombings of US embassies in Africa , and "other terrorist attacks throughout the world." Pray tell, would one of these "other" terrorist attacks be 9/11? If so, is there a reason this particular attack is not mentioned by name? If not, why not? Does it have to do with the "ongoing investigations" mentioned on the previous page?
I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. And in so doing, people with similar questions are often branded as nutcases. Holocaust deniers. Doubters of the moon landing. Kooks with one too many guns living in trailers in the Ozarks or the Intermountain West. But this isn't my webpage. It's the government's webpage. The same government that warns us all not to indulge "outrageous conspiracy theories." The same benevolent government that passed this law. Call these questions my own petty, self-indulgent concerns, but for me, they won't go away. Each link on this mental chain is clearly linked to the next.
If these webpages do not show a single terrorist wanted in connection with 9/11, then did we get them all? If we did, then why are we still doing what we're doing in the Middle East, and why the ongoing investigations? If the people who had a hand in incinerating ordinary people (who were probably just as fed up with their boring office jobs as I am with mine) have all been killed and/or captured, then why the government and media mantras condemning bin Laden?
Here's another series of links in the chain: If investigations are still ongoing into the 9/11 attacks, then were the reports about bin Laden's involvement mere speculation? If so, then wouldn't the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq be considered rather severe distractions from ongoing investigations, and an improper use of much-needed federal funds? Should these divergent US Military interventions be called war crimes? Is that a legitimate assessment, if the information on this page (or missing from this page) is accurate?
Or am I just making too much of the FBI's little webpage for bin Laden? Should it not bother me, then, that the FBI mentions attacks that happened on foreign soil in specificity on this page, but not the worst terrorist attack that happened in our own country? Isn't the FBI supposed to be more concerned about what happens in America , to Americans? Isn't that the ostensible purpose for an FBI? Am I asking too many questions?
I think not. I didn't ask enough questions after that day. I went blindly along. Far more than 3,000 people are now dead. Seven years have gone by. The Two Minutes Hate has been suspended for the duration of the ridiculous charade of a presidential election. Prior to this election, it had already become mere fodder for late night talk show humor, and little else. Osama bin Laden is a tad worse than an annoying celebrity. To American eyes, he looks silly in that hat and beard. Images of office workers falling thousands of feet to their deaths no longer have the same shock value. And the FBI's webpage for bin Laden sits there, glaring at me and only me, I suppose. This is what makes me a crackpot whack-job. A 9/11 "Troother." Simply because I have a few questions about a few things the government has told us that don't add up.
Perhaps I'm making too much of all of this. Chalk it up to my pettiness over my own personal problems. Tom orrow, after all, is Day 2,558. Maybe the FBI will find some time to update their Two Minutes Hate by then. Perhaps some military commandos will snatch bin Laden as well. If these things do in fact happen tomorrow, will any of you feel any better about what I've just shown you?