9-11 Attacks: Are We Safer Now Than 10 Years Ago?

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

It was 10 years ago, this week, when America experienced the horror of the 9-11 attacks, that ended the lives of 2,957 people.

But two ongoing wars later, we must ask ourselves: is America, and the world, any safer as a consequence of the extreme militaristic response to 9-11?  What valuable lessons have the country learned from the tragedy of that deadly September day?

Last Sunday, thousands attended memorials in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, and in Lower Manhattan at Ground Zero. In New York, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with President George Bush and Laura Bush attended the ceremony. President Obama quoted Psalm 46 and President Bush read Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 letter addressed to a mother who had lost two sons during the Civil War.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were also in attendance, as well as former Governor George Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

At a nighttime Kennedy Center speech, President Obama declared “Ten years ago, America confronted one of our darkest nights. Mighty towers crumbled. Black smoke billowed up from the Pentagon. Airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field. Friends and neighbors, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — they were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty. On September 12, 2001, we awoke to a world in which evil was closer at hand, and uncertainty clouded our future. In the decade since, much has changed for Americans. We’ve known war and recession, passionate debates and political divides. We can never get back the lives that were lost on that day, or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed. And yet today, it is worth remembering what has not changed. Our character as a nation has not changed.”

Truthfully, America’s “character” needs to change. After 9-11, Americans were asking the question: “Why do they hate us?” Instead of a healthy dose of honesty, President Bush advanced the debatable answer, “They hate us for our freedoms.”

This was said, although, Washington supports some of the most despicable despots in the Muslim world, like the rulers of Saudi Arabia and until recently Yemen's dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh.

For far too long, American foreign policy has advanced imperial arrogance around the world. Some American politicians such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has even argued that 9-11 was an extreme example of “blowback” from those in the Muslim world feed-up with the interventionist Western governments into their political affairs.

The murder of nearly 3,000 people, particularly civilians, is a heinous crime by any standard. This kind of disregard for life must be condemned by individuals of conscience everywhere. Those responsible for this act of mass murder sinned against humanity and God. The grief of Americans, due to 9-11, is surely understandable.

But should our governments take the position that American lives are more valuable than the lives of others and give others this impression? Would then really ensure our safety?

Unfortunately, far too many Americans seem to care only about the lives of Americans and this is a message that starts at the top with our governments; while remaining deaf, dumb and blind to the often unlawful use of force of arms by the government against foreign peoples even defying Congress.

“American exceptionalism” has, lamentably fostered a troubling level of arrogance in many who discount the welfare of people who don’t fit the prototype of "mainstream" America. The callous indifference for human life, by American politicians, in response to 9-11, is a case in point.

Ironically, since 9-11, America’s political establishment has taken the Old Testament maxim of “an eye for an eye” to a horrifying extreme. Shortly after 9-11, President Bush launched war in Afghanistan, then followed it up by invading Iraq in 2003.

How many innocent Afghans and Iraqis have died in these long wars, which politicians had claimed would be "short"? Regrettably, many Americans have no idea of the death and destruction done to civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why hasn’t American journalism honestly told the American people of the full impact on civilians of these wars so that the public is informed, allowing them to act accordingly?

Wasn’t it clear the Bush Administration committed war crimes?

The history books will be unkind to America for this decade of disaster that ushered in the new millennium. Currently, there are a host of domestic economic problems that have been caused, or, are exacerbated by these untenable wars started by the Bush White House, but continuing today.

America is known as a country that engages in wars of invasion and torture. As a consequence of the “war on terror,” we witnessed outrages at Abu Ghraib and the turning of Guantanamo Bay into an American Gulag, where Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims were subjected to degradation and torture. The promise to close it has been shelved.

The concept of “extraordinary rendition”—a dangerous euphemism for the outsourcing of torture to foreign countries—was introduced into the American lexicon. We learned the Bush Administration was sending terror suspects to so-called “black sites,” to be tortured. Not surprisingly, many of these detainees were innocent.

Another major issue that hasn’t been seriously discussed by the establishment media is the relation of Saudi Arabia to 9-11. The official government story tells us 15 of the 19 hijackers reportedly responsible for 9-11 attacks were Saudi citizens. None were from Iraq. Moreover, we know the vast majority of suicide bombers, who fought in Iraq, came from Saudi Arabia.

Several questions arise here. Since, Saudi Arabia is an ally of America, why do so many Saudi citizens "hate" America? Could it be that some Saudis are angered because America props-up a despised Saudi Royal Family? What was the Saudi government’s role in the Iraq invasion? Why is Saudi Arabia exempt from the demands for "liberalization"?

There are many other unresolved questions regarding 9-11. Troublingly, because of our own government’s lack of honesty, many do not believe the official story; there are even those who go as far as claiming 9-11 was orchestrated by the government.

One does not have to even remotely adopt that viewpoint, to accept that there are many secrets about 9-11 that are being kept from the public. Some, in government, will say it’s in the interest of national security.

At the end, the main question now is: ten years later, can we say another 9-11 is less likely to happen today?

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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