Tag Archives: 9/11

Deception destroyed our unity

Communities across the land took time over the weekend to honor the heroes who answered the call on 9/11 and some folks spoke about the unity we felt in responding to the terrorists who inflicted so much pain on this great country.

The unity didn’t last, which naturally drew sighs of frustration among many Americans.

I want to remind us of what destroyed our national unity. It was deception from the highest office in the land.

President Bush stood on the rubble at Ground Zero and told the terrorists that they would “hear from all of us soon.” We went to war against the Taliban, drove them out of power in Afghanistan. It was a noble cause, as we had to fight the bad guys directly.

Then we took our eyes off the ball. The president talked about the “axis of evil” that included the government in Baghdad. Then the vice president, Dick Cheney, and the secretary of state, Colin Powell, told us how Saddam Hussein had a hand in the 9/11 attack, how he possessed terrible “weapons of mass destruction” and would use them against us and our allies.

In March 2003, barely 18 months after 9/11, we went to war against Iraq. With that action, we kissed our national unity goodbye.

Our eternal gratitude for the police officers, firefighters and medical teams remains strong. Their raw courage in fighting the evils of a terrorist act will remain with us for as long as those of us who remember that time will walk this good Earth.

Let us not conflate the poor decisions born of deception with that admiration.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

No worries, I will ‘never forget’

I went to a ceremony this morning at Princeton City Hall where firefighters, police officers, local veterans and others gathered to recall the event that shaped our nation’s future.

It happened 21 years ago when hijacked jetliners flew into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and into that rural field in Shanksville, Pa.

No. We’ll never forget what we were doing that morning when we got the news about the terror attack on the country. It launched the global war against terrorism, a war we likely will fight for as long as Planet Earth exists.

I am sure the planet will be around long after you and I are gone.

We call it 9/11 these days. Just say “9/11” and everyone knows what you mean.

The good news is that our special forces have managed to take out the masterminds behind that attack. The bad news is that others have skulked out of the slime to replace them.

We must remain vigilant against threats that have existed all along.

And by all means we must “never forget” the unfathomable cost of what happens when we look the other way.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If only he hadn’t lied

This makes me so mad I could just spit. Dick Cheney came to his daughter’s defense with a stellar argument that called Donald John Trump a “coward” who “lies to his supporters.”

The former vice president of the United States said a “real man” wouldn’t lie the way Trump does.

Of course he is right! I would be leading the cheers for the former VP who served for two terms during George W. Bush’s presidency, except for this little thing. Dick Cheney also is a liar.

I don’t say this with any sort of cavalier attitude. I want the former veep’s ad to sway voters to his daughter’s corner as she battles for re-election to the U.S. House seat that her father occupied before taking on the job of White House chief of staff for President Ford.

Dick Cheney, though, spooned up a major dose of snake oil when George W. Bush became president. He persuaded the president that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, chemicals that it would use against us. He also told us that Saddam Hussein — the late Iraqi dictator — played a role in the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York City. Neither allegation was true.

We went to war with Iraq in March 2003 and lost nearly 5,000 American lives in the process. And for what purpose? To retaliate for lies conveyed by the then-vice president and others within the Bush administration.

This is the kind of thing that sticks to people’s backsides. It’s indelible. No matter how much Dick Cheney might pretend to be a man of high honor and integrity — who tells the truth all the time — we cannot deny that he lied about WMD and the culprits behind 9/11.

I just wish Liz Cheney could have found another ally to launch this attack on Donald Trump.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Avoid victory declaration

It is tempting to declare victory and call it all good now that the latest international terrorist leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been blown to smithereens.

Just as it was tempting to do the same when the SEAL team shot Osama bin Laden between the eyes in May 2011, or when commandos took out Islamic State honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019.

President Biden ordered the drone strike that killed the latest al-Qaeda leader — al-Zawahiri — as he stood on the porch of his house in Kabul, Afghanistan.

But let’s be clear: Many of us warned that there would be other leaders to step forward to succeed bin Laden, al-Baghdadi and now al-Zawahiri.

The war against international terror will be on-going. We must remain alert, vigilant and ready to respond to any threats that present themselves. That is what President Joe Biden pledged we would do when he ended our troop involvement in Afghanistan in 2021.

The “over the horizon” hit on al-Zawahiri demonstrated our nation’s astonishing capability to find and dispatch international terrorists. What’s more, this hit was carried out reportedly with zero collateral casualties. 

These kinds of opportunities don’t present themselves every day. When they do, we must be prepared to take full advantage of them … which is what occurred this past weekend.

The fight must go on.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Biden ‘speaks his mind’?

Michael Kinsley, the liberal columnist and one-time TV commentator, once famously quipped that a “gaffe” occurs when a politician “speaks his mind.”

So it is, then, that President Biden well might have been speaking his own mind when during a speech in Poland he said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

Oops, Mr. President. You’ve just spoken against U.S. policy, which supposedly forbids any effort to bring about “regime change” in a foreign government. Oh, but wait! Didn’t we do that when we went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 and then went to war in Iraq less than two years later while hunting down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein?

Both those efforts resulted in regime change. The Taliban, though, are back in power in Afghanistan; Saddam Hussein is dead, having been hanged for his crimes against humanity.

The White House is trying to take back what President Biden said, that our aim isn’t to remove Putin from office even as we condemn him for launching his illegal, immoral and illogical invasion of Ukraine.

I am not going to sweat much about what the president said. He was telling us what he thinks ought to happen, not necessarily predicting that it will happen.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You must see this TV broadcast

Forgive me for shilling for a TV show. I can’t resist the urge to do so.

“60 Minutes” premiered its new season tonight by telling a single story during the course of its hourlong broadcast.

It told the story of heroism on 9/11. The heroes were the firefighters who answered the call when the jetliners flew into the Twin Towers.

If you are able to watch it On Demand, I encourage you to do so.

CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed many surviving firefighters, children of those who died in the chaos, colleagues of those who perished. They all told the same story. The firefighters who died when the towers collapsed did so because they were faithful to their oath to “protect and serve” the public.

These men and women accounted for 343 deaths on 9/11, the number of New York City firefighters who died because they ran into the flaming buildings.

It was a compelling news report on arguably the most compelling event of the 21st century.

If you can, I urge you to watch it. All of it. Moreover, be prepared to swallow hard.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Keep eyes on all the balls

It was 20 years ago this weekend when terrorists yanked us out of our anti-terror lethargy.

Two decades on and we’re still — at least I hope — on high alert about foreign terrorist organizations that want to harm Americans.

It was said not long after 9/11 that “there is no question about ‘if’ we get again, but only ‘when.'” We haven’t been hit in the manner we experienced on that gorgeous Tuesday morning in New York, in Washington and in Shanksville, Pa.

Guess what. We have more causes for concern now than perhaps we had on 9/11.

President Bush, on whose watch the 9/11 terror attack occurred, warned us anew over the weekend about the threat of domestic terror. We must remain vigilant, alert and ready to respond to the corn-fed, home-grown, right-wing (mostly) terrorists who lurk among us.

We saw evidence of the domestic threat on 1/6. Yep, those who stormed the Capitol Building, threaten to “hand” the vice president of the United States, sought out the speaker of the House of Reps and defecated on the floor of the halls of government were dangerous in the extreme.

What does mean in terms of lessons learned from 9/11?

It tells me we need to keep our eyes peeled not just offshore, but in our own backyard as well.

I am going to implore our members of Congress — specifically the men who represent my interests — to stand with the president in the event he is forced to respond to domestic, as well as international, terrorists. U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Van Taylor — all of whom are Republicans — need to adhere to the time-honored axiom that partisanship should end when our national security is threatened.

That means when threats arise from the heartland as well as from foreign lands. There can be no difference in the ferocity we respond.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Bush speaks blunt truth

Former President George W. Bush told the world a blunt truth while honoring the heroes who confronted foreign terrorists on 9/11.

He said this:

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come, not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” Bush said in a speech Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” he said. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.”

“And it is our continuing duty to confront them,” Bush added.

Yes, Mr. President. It certainly is our duty.

Sadly, tragically and to his everlasting shame, one of President Bush’s successors not only has failed to “confront” the enemy within, he has encouraged them to act. I refer, of course, to the 45th POTUS — the dipsh** who shall remain nameless in this blog.

I understand that President Bush’s remarks have been hailed by Democrats and irked supporters of the 45th POTUS. Hmm. Imagine that, if you dare.

I cannot help but wonder why in the name of all that is holy does anyone object to the words of a former wartime president on whose watch we sought to confront international terrorists. Of course he is correct about the threat of domestic terrorists. He echoed the words spoken two years ago by FBI director Christopher Wray — appointed by POTUS 45 — who said the same thing about the domestic terrorism.

I will stand with President Bush on this one.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Message is still profound

I want to share with you a column written late in the day when terrorists struck our nation 20 years ago and threw us into a period of national grief.

It comes from a brilliant essayist, Leonard Pitts, Jr. I was proud to publish it when I was editing the opinion pages of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

I will post it again right now and let these words speak for themselves … once again.

***

It’s my job to have something to say.

They pay me to tease shades of meaning from social and cultural issues, to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, cultural, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse.

We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though — peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people you, perhaps think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel.

Both in terms of the awful scope of its ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and indeed, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

You see, there is steel beneath this velvet. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

Still, I keep wondering what it was you hoped to teach us. It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred.

If that’s the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re about. You don’t know what you just started.

But you’re about to learn.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

9/11 reminds me why I am glad we left

The commemorations we have witnessed today as the nation marks the 20th year since the 9/11 attacks have taken us — in my mind at least — on a dual-track remembrance.

I am reminded of how unified we were immediately after the attacks. President Bush called us to arms to fight the terrorist network that launched the attack. We stood behind the wartime president … for a time.

Then he took us into Iraq. The Iraq War was launched on false pretenses. We invaded a sovereign nation, removed a hated dictator and then got bogged down in another conflict with no clear motive for engaging the Iraqis in the first place.

We took our eyes off the key enemy: the Afghan terrorists.

President Bush infamously said at one point during his time in office he didn’t think much about Osama bin Laden. His successor, President Obama, made it the nation’s mission to bring justice to the mass murderer. Our special forces did so in May 2011.

Yet the war in Afghanistan dragged on.

And on and on …

Which brings me to the second track. President Biden ended that war. I am more glad today than ever that he acted when he did. It is true the withdrawal could have been executed more cleanly. But our troops are off the battlefield.

We have removed the world of thousands of terrorists. No, they aren’t exterminated. Others have stepped up to replace them. Indeed, the Afghan War had turned into a never-ending struggle against an enemy that cannot possibly be wiped off the face of the planet.

However, we retain — throughout unsurpassed military and intelligence capability — the ability to search out and destroy anyone who intends to do us harm the way Osama bin Laden did on 9/11.

May always remember the attacks of that horrific day. May we also always remain alert to the danger that lurks.

However, let us also avoid the kind of quagmire — and that’s what it became in Afghanistan — that always exacts too heavy a price.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com