Tag Archives: 9/11

Killing of murderer underscores nature of this fight

The killing this week of Qassem Sulemaini underscores a fundamental question about the crisis that was thrust on this country on 9/11: How we do declare victory in a war against international terrorism?

Sulemaini led the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He had buckets of American blood on his hands. He needed to be hunted down and killed. And so it happened in a drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and his forces have been fighting against Iraqis and U.S. troops.

More than 18 years ago this country was dragged into a war of someone else’s choosing. Al-Qaeda terrorists pulled off a stunning and cunning surprise attack on this country from which we likely never will recover emotionally, at least not as long as there are Americans still living who remember that terrible day in 2001.

We went to war. President Bush said at the time that our fight was not with Muslims, but with those who perverted their faith into a demented justification for the act of evil.

And so the fight has gone on and on.

Our special operations forces killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in May 2011. They went into action again in October of this past year and killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. They, too, needed to die. Did their deaths or the death of Sulemaini spell the end of their terror networks? No. They all found someone to replace them; Sulemaini’s deputy commander has stepped into the commander’s role in Iran.

I don’t intend to suggest this country should give up fighting the terrorist monsters. I merely intend to seek to put this fight into what I hope is a proper perspective.

We should acknowledge that terrorists have existed since the beginning of civilization. The 9/11 attack at the beginning of this century emboldened them. They have become more brazen than before. Moreover, the rest of us are paying more careful attention to their hideous rhetoric and, yes, their actions.

We can take some comfort in the tactical victories our side is able to score: the deaths of terror leaders and the battlefield successes we can secure as we seek to defeat the terrorist monsters.

I cannot stop wondering, however, whether a declaration of victory against terror is even possible. The terrorists, I fear, possess a deep bench full of lunatics who are willing to die for some perverted cause.

Therefore, the fight must continue.

Hoping for an actual breakthrough with Taliban

(Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) 

Oh, my … I do hope for an actual peace treaty with the Taliban.

Such an agreement could end the longest war in U.S. history, the one that began in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attack on this country.

Donald Trump ventured to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving, broke bread with the troops and then announced to the world that peace talks with the Taliban had resumed. Remember, though, that he broke these talks off after an attack by Taliban fighters that killed an American serviceman.

What was so appalling at that moment was that Trump was going to bring the Taliban to Camp David while the nation was commemorating the 9/11 attack. Bad call, Mr. President.

So, now the talks are back on, as the president has said.

I want the war to end. I grew weary long ago of hearing of our men and women dying in combat. I am going to hope for the best here.

One word of caution: We are negotiating with a cunning, hideous, gruesome bunch of monsters. The Taliban are among the worst of the worst that humankind can produce. I worry that they cannot be trusted as far we can throw any of them.

If these talks produce an actual agreement and if it means an end to the nation’s longest war, then count me in.

Let us be wary, though, of the monstrous cabal with whom we are dealing.

Trump’s penchant for lying goes on and on and on …

Donald Trump declared he was “too busy” to watch the televised impeachment inquiry hearings in the House of Representatives.

“Too busy ” doing what remains a mystery to many of us, but that’s what he said.

What, then, did the president do on Friday during the second day of hearings? He fired off a Twitter message that former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch said would “intimidate” future witnesses. Indeed, the president commented in real time on what the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was telling members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Therefore, the president was watching the hearings. He wasn’t “too busy” tending to statecraft.

Why does the Prevaricator in Chief continue to lie?

I have referred to his “gratuitous” lying. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He lies for the sake of saying the first thing that enters his skull and flies out of his mouth. Why would he tell the nation he would be “too busy” to watch the hearings when he was watching them?

I don’t get this guy. I don’t understand what rattles around inside his noggin that compels him to lie. What’s more, he’s proven to be a bad liar. He’s not good at it. He says things that are demonstrably fictitious.

Case in point: He has told the nation that he lost “many friends” on 9/11 inside the Twin Towers as they collapsed. He did not. It has been shown that he didn’t attend a single funeral for anyone who died on that terrible day. Yet he lies about losing friends?

To my way of thinking, that fits the description of a “gratuitous lie.” It is something he says because, well, he can.

Donald Trump is never “too busy” to tear himself away from a TV set whenever he is the subject of whatever is being broadcast.

No one’s keeping score, Mr. POTUS … except you!

Donald Trump is now engaging in a “Can you top this?” game involving the dispatching of international terrorists.

Disgusting!

The president had the gall to say that the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “bigger” than the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden. While he was taking questions from reporters Sunday after announcing al-Baghdadi’s death at the hands of Army Delta Force commandos, Trump decided — and this is no surprise — to suggest he had one-upped the mission authorized by President Barack H. Obama to kill bin Laden.

Oh, he did say that killing the al-Qaeda leader, bin Laden, was “big,” but then he said taking out the Islamic State honcho was an even more significant event.

Well, I won’t enter a debate over which death was bigger. It is pointless and irrelevant.

I just want to re-state what I said earlier, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death was a gigantic blow to ISIS. Moreover, I applaud the president’s decision to authorize the mission.

It was huge. Then again, so was the Navy SEAL mission to kill bin Laden, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed 3,000 innocent victims in both cities.

Why in the world does the president of the United States choose to cheapen a monumental military victory with an idiotic boast that this take-down was bigger than an earlier one?

Utterly bizarre.

War on terror: a conflict with no end in sight

While the world digests the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the hands of U.S. Delta Force and CIA commandos, it is grappling with what the Islamic State leader’s death means in the war against international terrorism.

I want to offer this perspective, which is that al-Baghdadi’s death won’t signal the end to the war against terrorists, let alone against the Islamic State.

It is my view at least that 9/11 signaled a new era in U.S. geopolitical activity that doesn’t appear to have an end anywhere in sight.

We’ve known for many decades that terrorists were out to “get” us. The 9/11 attack 18 years ago simply burst that awareness to the front of our minds. Al-Qaeda’s daring attack signaled to us all that we were perhaps more vulnerable than we ever thought.

So the war has commenced. I share the critics’ view that the war on terror has taken a bizarre turn at times, particularly with our invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the misery that the Iraq War brought, given that Iraq had no connection with al-Qaeda, nor did it possess weapons of mass destruction.

However, the war on terror is likely to continue until the world no longer contains terrorists willing to die for the perverted cause to which they adhere.

In other words, we’ll be fighting this war forever.

Whether we fight at the level we have been fighting remains to be seen over the span of time. If 9/11 taught us anything it should have taught us that we cannot let our guard down for a single moment.

Not ever.

This is why Trump can’t stop criticizing Barack Obama

I am not the first person to say this, but I do believe I understand better now why Donald J. Trump cannot cease criticizing his immediate predecessor as president of the United States.

This video is from the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. President Obama launched into a hilarious takedown of Donald Trump, who at the time was known primarily as the host of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Little did anyone realize in that moment that Trump would ascend to the nation’s highest office.

Maybe someone saw it coming. If they did, they were the smartest political prognosticators in human history.

But there’s something else worth mentioning about Obama’s performance that night. Earlier that day, he had issued an order to send Navy SEALs, CIA operatives, Army Green Beret pilots into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.

He went on the air the next evening to tell the world about the successful mission that eliminated the al-Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

However, the president managed to keep it all to himself while skewering Donald Trump.

Accordingly, if I were Donald Trump and had been the butt of deftly delivered jokes by the president of the United States, perhaps I would be a little miffed, too.

I believe they would call it “envy.”

Charm offensive doesn’t always work

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — We entered this beautiful country aboard our pickup and hauling our fifth wheel through a thinly traveled checkpoint just north of Bellingham, Wash.

We were ready for the inquisition we expected from the Canadian border security personnel. We presented our passports … and then the inquiry began.

Why are you coming to Canada? You’re headed for Kamloops … why did you pick that city? Do you know anyone in Kamloops? How long do you intend to stay in Canada? Where do you live in the States? Do you have any guns with you? Are you aware that bringing guns into Canada is illegal?

We were advised before our arrival at the border that fresh produce wouldn’t be allowed into Canada. The young woman didn’t ask if we had anything like that aboard. Whatever. We didn’t.

The border security guard asked us many of the same questions more than once. I sought to be usual charming self with her. It didn’t take. She wasn’t having any of it.

She asked us when we intended to get back home. My answer: Hey, we’re retired. We’re going to head for the house whenever we feel like it. I said it with a broad grin; the border security agent didn’t smile back.

We understood precisely why these individuals ask these questions and why they repeat themselves. They look for any rattles in our answers. They are trying to get a rise out of us.

In the moment, I was thinking of how my wife and I went through airport security a decade ago at David Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. Talk about intense grilling! The young man asked us seemingly dozens of times the same set of about eight or 10 questions, looking for us to get jumpy. We didn’t flinch. We cleared airport security just fine and were on our way home.

We got a first-hand look at precisely how the Israelis have prevented jetliner hijackings and terror attacks at their main international air terminal.

Moreover, we got a smattering of that treatment while crossing into this beautiful country just north of the United States of America..

9/11 still seared into our memory

Many millions of Americans are recalling a terrible day that dawned 18 years ago today. It didn’t start out that way, but it got dark in a major hurry.

They’re remembering where they were when they heard the news. Me? I was at work at the Amarillo Globe-News.

My colleague walked into the office and stuck his head in the door: “Did you hear the news. Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.”

I asked two questions: How big was the airplane? How was the weather? I don’t recall my colleague knowing it was a jetliner. He did say the weather in New York City was beautiful.

“What kind of moron would fly into a building?” I asked with all the appropriate derision.

I turned on a small TV I had in my office. I watched one of the towers burning. Then — in real and horrifying time — the world watched the second jet liner crash into the other tower.

In that moment, we knew what we had: an act of war!

The Pentagon was hit by a third jetliner. Then we heard about the Shanksville, Pa., crash involving a fourth hijacked airplane.

We would go to war in Afghanistan. We would toss the Taliban out of power in that remote land and then launch the hunt for al-Qaida terrorist leaders who masterminded the hideous attack.

I will admit to being frightened in the moment. Anger? Absolutely!

I wanted the nation to fill with resolve to defeat the bastards who committed this horrific deed. Sadly, I fear our nation has lost some of its collective resolve. We’ve been torn asunder by a war that President Bush launched against Iraq, telling us that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “something” to do with the terrorist attack … when he didn’t.

To be honest, I remain puzzled on how we “declare victory” in this war. Or if we can ever actually make that victory declaration.

However, the fight goes on. It must go on.

So, we’re now negotiating with terrorists … correct?

I always thought the United States had a policy that prohibited it from negotiating with terrorists. I must have been mistaken. Then again, maybe not.

Donald Trump has cancelled a meeting he said was set for Camp David between our national security team and the Taliban, the monsters who once ran Afghanistan and with whom this country has been at war since 9/11.

Hold the phone! Trump said he cancelled the meeting because of the Taliban’s role in a bombing that killed a dozen people, including a U.S. serviceman. I get that the president would cancel the meeting.

However, why meet with these monsters in the first place?

I am fully aware that we’ve negotiated with the Taliban, such as the time we secured the release of that U.S. soldier who, it turns out, walked voluntarily into the Taliban’s custody many years ago. The Obama administration posited the ridiculous notion that the Taliban is not a “terrorist” organization. Of course it is and the administration was wrong to call the Taliban anything other than a terror group.

The Taliban is a cabal of monsters. They do not deserve to sit around a conference table at Camp David, the esteemed presidential hideaway retreat in the Maryland mountains.

If only we would return to what I’ve understood to be a truth about U.S. diplomatic policy: We do not negotiate with terrorists.

Trump signs important bill … but lies about its context

I was glad to see Donald Trump sign an important piece of legislation into law this week, the bill that extends medical assistance to 9/11 first responders for the next several decades.

He did so in a White House ceremony under bright sunshine. Sitting before him were many of the firefighters, medical personnel and police officers who rushed into the infernos — in New York and Washington — on that terrible morning nearly 18 years ago.

But then …

Trump did something that has become almost a standard part of his performance as president of the United States. He sought to insert himself into an event in which he played no role. Perhaps you heard him during the bill-signing ceremony.

He talked about going to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, hobnobbing with the first responders. He said he was “there,” but refrained from calling himself a “first responder.”

In truth, Donald Trump was not there. Reports surfaced immediately after the ceremony from New York fire officials who disputed Trump’s assertion that he was present in the rubble where the Twin Towers once stood. He was nowhere in sight, they said.

Trump did call a New York media outlet to tell reporters that Trump Tower was the tallest building in the city once the World Trade Center collapsed from the damage caused by the hijacked jetliners crashing into the towers.

This is the kind of behavior that is utterly reprehensible, so blatantly phony that it defies my ability to comprehend how this man gets away with it … time and again! I mean, for crying out loud, he didn’t even lift a finger to win congressional approval of the bill he signed into law.

He once claimed falsely that he watched “thousands and thousands of people cheer” while the Twin Towers burned and fell on 9/11. He said he lost “many friends” in the towers. Now he says he was present at Ground Zero while police, firefighters and medical officials did their grim job. He lied every single time.

This man cannot cease making himself part of whatever story is being told, no matter how tragic. A president needs to exhibit compassion, empathy and authentic humanity in these times. Donald Trump is utterly, categorically incapable of demonstrating any of those traits.

The president showed us yet again his absolute unfitness for the job.