Courtesy of CNN, these are all the names of the nearly 3000 people
who died eight years ago today or at least those that we know of.
The Republican Party has gotten quite comfortable warning us to never forget the lessons of September 11th yet the supreme irony of all is that George W. Bush never learned his own lesson before the attacks by brushing off the warnings from Richard Clarke, the CIA and several foreign governments who tried in vain to warn him about the rise of al Qaeda and the likelihood of a massive attack on US soil.
It's time to take the GOP's advice to heart and then some. Namely, in remembering the immediate lessons of September 11th, we also need to remember the extra credit assignment embedded in that lesson: Namely, to be vigilant of not just enemies abroad but also of the ones in our own midst.
And, as with all national tragedies such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the truth of what truly happened that day and what had precipitated it will not be known for several decades. Yet there were many things the Bush administration did not want to be known and national security had little if anything to do with it. The White House, after all, tried to block the formation of the 9/11 Commission not once but twice. And even when they "testified" before it, Bush and Cheney went in like Chang and Eng Bunker with the Commission forbidden to take notes and the media likewise forbidden to enter.
Suddenly, Inauguration Day was September 12, 2001 and not January 20, 2001. Somehow, in the midst of its most spectacular failure and perhaps the most spectacular presidential failure ever, George W. Bush and the Republican Party realized that exploiting the fear and hysteria after 9/11 was the only way to rally the nation and to salvage their party's hopes for a permanent reich that would last 1000 years.
On three different fronts, September 11th saw the rise of the Republican Party as an emerging fifth state. They would incorporate if not outright co-opt the other four estates (the poor, the corporate nobility, the religious right and the media) to establish a Republican majority in both houses of Congress as well as hermetic control of the White House and would lead to the Republicans' rise as an undeclared Fifth Estate.
The religious right would proselytize the heathen Muslims abroad and stoke fear and distrust of the unconverted, the corporate nobility would get their tens in billions in contracts that Rumsfeld promised them after the 19 hijackers bought their plane tickets and the stenographic, uncritical media beat the drums for a war that the poor largely had to fight.
And the most educated nation on earth never asked in sufficient numbers why we went to war with the Taliban even though they're a regional terrorist organization with no role whatsoever in 9/11 and, even more inexplicably, why we were going to invade and occupy Iraq when they had even less to do with 9/11. If you believe the official narrative, then the man most responsible for 9/11, Osama bin Laden, was pursued and has suffered the least.
How can this happen when close to 3000 souls and tens of thousands of loved ones were crying out for vengeance, justice or at least simple resolution? Norman Solomon makes a pretty persuasive case that Americans get patriotic and blindly supportive of any war whether or not a foreign attack had taken place and the media time and again since at least Vietnam has played its role in supporting whatever the administration plans in secret. September 11th was merely the continuation of a trend with nearly 40 years of precedent.
Yet the Republican Party is still such a potent force in America even when disillusion has reduced them to little more than the regional status of the Taliban they were so eager to scatter. Despite the most horrible track record for prescience and unending, impenetrable delusion in any party's history, the media is still playing its part by trotting out one disgraced and discredited Republican and conservative after another to pontificate on all matters ranging from national security to immigration to Wall Street bailouts to health care reform.
And despite us having elected in good faith as president a Democrat who has turned out to be a corporate-friendly, battered spouse of the GOP, the Republican Party still reviles him for not entirely being one of their own as if that's a great shock to their system. As a result, this party that has been wrong more consistently than at any time in their 150 year-long history, the Republicans are still successfully hijacking virtually every debate from stimulus packages, bailouts and health care.
About the only thing that can be said about September 11th 2001 is that it had robbed us of more innocence, more complacency and more delusions than perhaps any other disaster or tragedy. Some of us had come to embrace not only torture but the torture of those who had never attacked us and even those we had sworn to protect. Some of us had rejected torture while still being forced to admit that we have become at least as ugly and as ruthless an entity as those who'd attacked us eight years ago today.
It permanently and radically transformed our government, which saw the formation of a Department of Homeland Security, the USA PATRIOT ACT and a Directorate of National Intelligence. Yet one official government report after another cannot prove that these entities and our programs have, in those 2922 days, enhanced national security one bit. In fact, some have proved that we're more vulnerable than ever.
And the 9/11 terrorists, whoever they really are, had succeeded well beyond their wildest dreams. Instead of creating merely a giant hole at Ground Zero or the Pentagon or a giant scar in a Pennsylvania field, they had managed to first unite in ignorance then tear apart what was once the mightiest nation on earth, to create an ideological fissure that is not likely to heal over in the span of our lifetimes.
Yes, we need to remember the immediate lessons of September 11th 2001, to not let our vigilance flag while retaining our compassion and humanity. But the second and harder lesson to learn is to be even more vigilant of those domestic enemies who would seek to capitalize on national tragedy for financial, religious and political gain.