By Tom Engelhardt
Let's bag it....
I'm talking about the 10th anniversary ceremonies for 9/11, and everything that goes with them: the solemn reading of the names of the dead, the tolling of bells, the honoring of first responders, the gathering of presidents, the dedication of the new memorial, the moments of silence. The works.
Let's just can it all. Shut down Ground Zero. Lock out the tourists. Close "Reflecting Absence," the memorial built in the "footprints" of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday. Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012. Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our "freedom" wars went awry), 102 stories of "the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States". (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.)
Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet tall building, planned in the heyday of George W Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists. Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program. Let's get rid of it all. If we had wanted a memorial to the barbaric inside Job of 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched....for the world to see how the infamous White House Murder INC, operates globally...., especially in the Levant and Eurasia.....
Ask yourself this: 10 years into the post-9/11 era, haven't we had enough of ourselves? If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn't it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness? No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global "war on terror".
No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money. No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, were in every sense abusive, horrific acts. And the saddest thing is that the victims of those suicidal monstrosities have been misused here ever since under the guise of pious remembrance. This country has become dependent on the dead of 9/11 - who have no way of defending themselves against how they have been used - as an all-purpose explanation for our own goodness and the horrors we've visited on others, for the many towers-worth of dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere whose blood is on our hands.
Isn't it finally time to go cold turkey? To let go of the dead? Why keep repeating our 9/11 mantra as if it were some kind of old-time religion, when we've proven that we, as a nation, can't handle it - and worse yet, that we don't deserve it?
We would have been better off consigning our memories of 9/11 to oblivion, forgetting it all if only we could. We can't, of course. But we could stop the anniversary remembrances. We could stop invoking 9/11 in every imaginable way so many years later. We could stop using it to make ourselves feel like a far better country than we are. We could, in short, leave the dead in peace and take a good, hard look at ourselves, the living, in the nearest mirror.
Ceremonies of hubris....
Within 24 hours of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the first newspaper had already labeled the site in New York as "Ground Zero". If anyone needed a sign that we were about to run off the rails, as a misassessment of what had actually occurred that should have been enough. Previously, the phrase "ground zero" had only one meaning: it was the spot where a nuclear explosion had occurred.
The facts of 9/11 are, in this sense, simple enough. It was not a nuclear attack. It was not apocalyptic. The cloud of smoke where the towers stood was no mushroom cloud. It was not potentially civilization ending. It did not endanger the existence of our country - or even of New York City. Spectacular as it looked and staggering as the casualty figures were, the operation was hardly more technologically advanced than the failed attack on a single tower of the World Trade Center in 1993 by Islamists using a rented Ryder truck packed with explosives.
A second irreality went with the first. Almost immediately, key Republicans like Senator John McCain, followed by George W Bush, top figures in his administration, and soon after, in a drumbeat of agreement, the mainstream media declared that we were "at war". This was, Bush would say only three days after the attacks, "the first war of the twenty-first century". Only problem: it wasn't.
Despite the screaming headlines, Ground Zero wasn't Pearl Harbor. Al-Qaeda wasn't Japan, nor was it Nazi Germany. It wasn't the Soviet Union. It had no army, nor finances to speak of, and possessed no state (though it had the minimalist protection of a hapless government in Afghanistan, one of the most backward, poverty-stricken lands on the planet).
And yet - in another sign of where we were heading - anyone who suggested that this wasn't war, that it was a criminal act and some sort of international police action was in order, was simply laughed (or derided or insulted) out of the American room. And so the empire prepared to strike back (just as Osama bin Laden hoped it would) in an apocalyptic, planet-wide "war" for domination that masqueraded as a war for survival.
In the meantime, the populace was mustered through repetitive, nationwide 9/11 rites emphasizing that we Americans were the greatest victims, greatest survivors, and greatest dominators on planet Earth. It was in this cause that the dead of 9/11 were turned into potent recruiting agents for a revitalized American way of war.
From all this, in the brief mission-accomplished months after Kabul and then Baghdad fell, American hubris seemed to know no bounds - and it was this moment, not 9/11 itself, from which the true inspiration for the gargantuan "Freedom Tower" and the then-billion-dollar project for a memorial on the site of the New York attacks would materialize. It was this sense of hubris that those gargantuan projects were intended to memorialize.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, for an imperial power that is distinctly tattered, visibly in decline, teetering at the edge of financial disaster, and battered by never-ending wars, political paralysis, terrible economic times, disintegrating infrastructure, and weird weather, all of this should be simple and obvious. That it's not tells us much about the kind of shock therapy we still need.
Burying the worst urges in American life....
It's commonplace, even today, to speak of Ground Zero as "hallowed ground". How untrue. Ten years later, it is defiled ground, and it's we who have defiled it. It could have been different. The 9/11 attacks could have been like the Blitz in London in World War II. Something to remember forever with grim pride, stiff upper lip and all.
And if it were only the reactions of those in New York City that we had to remember, both the dead and the living, the first responders and the last responders, the people who created impromptu memorials to the dead and message centers for the missing in Manhattan, we might recall 9/11 with similar pride.
Generally speaking, New Yorkers were respectful, heartfelt, thoughtful, and not vengeful. They didn't have prior plans that, on September 12, 2001, they were ready to rally those nearly 3,000 dead to support. They weren't prepared at the moment of the catastrophe to - as secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld so classically said - "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
Unfortunately, they were not the measure of the moment. As a result, the uses of 9/11 in the decade since have added up to a profile in cowardice, not courage, and if we let it be used that way in the next decade, we will go down in history as a nation of cowards.
There is little on this planet of the living more important, or more human, than the burial and remembrance of the dead. Even Neanderthals buried their dead, possibly with flowers, and tens of thousands of years ago, the earliest humans, the Cro-Magnon, were already burying their dead elaborately, in one case in clothing onto which more than 3,000 ivory beads had been sewn, perhaps as objects of reverence and even remembrance. Much of what we know of human prehistory and the earliest eras of our history comes from graves and tombs where the dead were provided for.
And surely it's our duty in this world of loss to remember the dead, those close to us and those more removed who mattered in our national or even planetary lives. Many of those who loved and were close to the victims of 9/11 are undoubtedly attached to the yearly ceremonies that surround their deceased wives, husbands, lovers, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. For the nightmare of 9/11, they deserve a memorial. But we don't.
If September 11 was indeed a nightmare, 9/11 as a memorial and Ground Zero as a "consecrated" place have turned out to be a blank check for the American war state, funding an endless trip to hell. They have helped lead us into fields of carnage that put the dead of 9/11 to shame.
Every dead person will, of course, be forgotten sooner or later, no matter how tightly we clasp their memories or what memorials we build. In my mind, I have a private memorial to my own dead parents. Whenever I leaf through my mother's childhood photo album and recognize just about no one but her among all the faces, however, I'm also aware that there is no one left on this planet to ask about any of them. And when I die, my little memorial to them will go with me.
This will be the fate, sooner or later, of everyone who, on September 11, 2001, was murdered in those buildings in New York, in that field in Pennsylvania, and in the Pentagon, as well as those who sacrificed their lives in rescue attempts, or may now be dying as a result. Under such circumstances, who would not want to remember them all in a special way?
It's a terrible thing to ask those still missing the dead of 9/11 to forgo the public spectacle that accompanies their memory, but worse is what we have: repeated solemn ceremonies to the ongoing health of the American war state and the wildest dreams of Osama bin Laden.
Memory is usually so important, but in this case we would have been better off with oblivion. It's time to truly inter not the dead, but the worst urges in American life since 9/11 and the ceremonies which, for a decade, have gone with them. Better to bury all of that at sea with Bin Laden and then mourn the dead, each in our own way, in silence and, above all, in peace.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
- Scientist and writer Arthur C. Clarke
Airplanes have been flown by remote-control since 1917. As Wikipedia notes:
In 1917, Archibald Low as head of the RFC [Britain's Royal Flying Corps] Experimental Works, was the first person to use radio control successfully on an aircraft.
There were also [during the 1930s] remotely controlled cutters and experimental remotely controlled planes in the Red Army. In the 1930s Britain developed the radio controlled Queen Bee, a remotely controlled unmanned Tiger Moth aircraft for a fleet’s gunnery firing practice. The Queen Bee was superseded by the similarly named Queen Wasp, a later, purpose built, target aircraft of higher performance.
As the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum notes, President John F. Kennedy’s older brother flew a secret mission involving the remote-control flying of a bomb-laden airplane to attack Nazi targets inside France:
On the 31st July 1944 a U.S.N. special air unit, codenamed Project Anvil, moved to Fersfield from Dunkeswell in Devon. The mission was to involve the use of explosive-laden PB4Y-1 Liberator bombers under radio control. The crew of two, Lt Joe Kennedy (pilot), and Lt. Wilford John Willy (radio control technician/co-pilot), were to take off with 21,150 lbs of Torpex in 347 boxes and establish radio control of the Liberator by a Ventura mother-ship. Once full control was established and tested, at a pre-determined point the crew would parachute from the aircraft through the nose wheel bay emergency exit and the bomber would continue the rest of its mission under radio control, finally crashing onto the target.
NORAD (the North American Air Defense Command) had at its disposal a number of U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-106 Delta Dart fighter aircraft configured to be remotely flown into combat as early as 1959 under the auspices of a program know as SAGE. These aircraft could be started, taxied, taken off, flown into combat, fight, and return to a landing entirely by remote control, with the only human intervention needed being to fuel and re-arm them.
As Wikipedia explains:
The Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) was an automated control system for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft used by NORAD from the late 1950s into the 1980s. In later versions, the system could automatically direct aircraft to an interception by sending instructions directly to the aircraft’s autopilot.
In normal operation, communications between the SAGE centers and the interceptor aircraft was relayed via radio equipment at the radar sites, which were more widely spread out than the SAGE centers themselves. A properly equipped aircraft, like the F-106 Delta Dart, could feed the SAGE directions into the autopilot and fly “hands off” to the interception.
NASA and the FAA flew a plane by remote control in 1984:
In 1984 NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) teamed-up in a unique flight experiment called the Controlled Impact Demonstration (CID), to test the impact of a Boeing 720 aircraft using standard fuel with an additive designed to suppress fire.
On the morning of December 1, 1984, a remotely controlled Boeing 720 transport took off from Edwards Air Force Base (Edwards, California), made a left-hand departure and climbed to an altitude of 2300 feet. It then began a descent-to-landing to a specially prepared runway on the east side of Rogers Dry Lake. Final approach was along the roughly 3.8-degree glide slope.
Indeed, prior to 9/11, remote-controlled planes could fly up to 8,600 miles (from the April 24, 2001 edition of Britain’s International Television News).
One day after 9/11, an article appeared in a top science and technology news service stating “hijackings could be halted in progress with existing technologies, say aviation researchers”. The article quoted a transportation expert as saying:
“Most modern aircraft have some form of autopilot that could be re-programmed to ignore commands from a hijacker and instead take direction from the ground . . . .”
See also this article, in which the former head of British Airways “suggested . . . that aircraft could be commandeered from the ground and controlled remotely in the event of a hijack.”
Some have speculated that remote control played a part in 9/11:
And some allege that the use of remote control could explain some of the strange behavior by the 9/11 planes.
Indeed, more than 40 years ago, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested shooting down a military drone airplane, pretending it was a real airplane, and then blaming the attack on the Cubans as a way to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
And coincidentally, Fox TV aired a fictional drama 6 months before 9/11, in which the U.S. government intended to fly a plane into the World Trade Center via remote control and blame it on terrorists.
Note: While some claim that remote control played a part in 9/11, a separate – but interesting – question, is whether remote control could and should have been used to safely land the hijacked airplanes. Given that Al Qaeda flying planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon was wholly foreseeable, and hijackings could be stopped using existing equipment, why wasn’t the equipment used to stop this type of attack? In other words, why didn’t ground control have the ability to override the hijacked airlines to safely land them and take control of the aircraft?
It's long past time for the U.S. to stop pretending to be the world's sheriff. We can't afford it, and I don't want to be in the position of having to choose between Los Angeles and Taiwan.
Getting involved in everyone else's business has gotten us 9/11 (stationing troops in Saudi Arabia, bias towards Israel), the first and second Arab Oil blockade, Gulf War I and II, the Afghanistan war, ballooning Homeland Security, DOD, and intelligence spending that has wasted trillions and resulted in the deaths of about 5,000 Americans and tens of thousands of others.Time for all the Rambo wanna-bees to get a job - if anyone would want them....
Add more troubles ahead from the Mediterranean to Africa to South America....
As soon as Brazil announced 2008 ,the discovery of a major oil deposit in its claimed "exclusive national maritime economic zone" of 4.2 million sqkm in the South Atlantic, the U.S. re-activated in 2008, the U.S. 4th Fleet, which it had de-activated in 1946, and organized U.S. Southcom, and formalized U.S. military bases in Colombia near the border of Brazil. Of course, Brazil will never be a military adversary, but de facto, Brazil is now the geopolitical adversary of the U.S. because it is the major component of an independent South America which is formalizing a geopolitical union that is opposing "foreign intervention"....
Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia.
9/11 was not a work of Muslim groups, says former Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad
From the blog of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on September 08, 2011
1. I had written in this blog that the attack against the New York World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 9/11 2001 was not by Muslim terrorist.
It could have been by other groups.
2. In the Star of Friday 2nd September, a report by AFP, date-lined New York has this to say:
“For some Americans, the deaths of nearly 3000 people was not the scariest thing about 9/11.
It was realising who carried out the attack: yes, the American Government.”
3. I believe Arab Muslims are angry...
But they or their handlers do not strike me as capable of planning and strategising such attacks...
4. But consider the attack on 9/11.
The planning must have taken a considerable length of time.
The candidates had to learn to fly in tiny aircraft.
Unless they were already airline pilots familiar with big passenger aircraft, their pupil pilot licenses would not be of much help to fly the four aircraft to their targets which were not an the route of the planes.
5. Planning to hijack four aircrafts simultaneously would require great precision in timing and logistics.
One aircraft maybe. But four simultaneously!
I don’t think Arab terrorists from Saudi Arabia can carry out this highly sophisticated operation with such success.
6. Then there was the collapse of the two towers hit by the aircrafts.
They came down nicely upon themselves without toppling against the other buildings close by.
It looks more like planned demolition of buildings than collapse consequent upon being hit by aircraft.
7. But a third building also collapsed in the same fashion although it was not hit by any aircraft or by the collapsing twin towers.
What is the explanation for this untouched building collapsing upon itself and not damaging other buildings nearby?
8. Then there is the total disappearance of the aircraft which hit the Pentagon building.
There was no debris of any kind, no broken parts of the aircraft, no black box, and no human bodies flung into the surroundings.
Is it possible for an aircraft to vaporise totally after a crash?
9. And the fourth aircraft which was supposed to have crashed in an open field. Again no sign of any debris.
No big crater.
Did it vaporise into nothingness also. Did the innocent passengers also vaporise?
10. The American press is great at reporting incidents.
They will give full coverage, with great pictures sketches and detailed descriptions.
For months they would publish stories with revealing photographs.
They would interview the relatives of the passengers who died in the crashes.
But the American press was strangely silent about 9/11.
11. It is now the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Bush lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
As a result hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans and a few thousand of young American soldiers died, thousands more are wounded, maimed for life, suffering mental breakdowns.
Two countries have been devastated and fratricidal wars have become endemic. And still no democracy.
12. This is the legacy of George W. Bush. If they can lie so as to kill Iraqis, Afghans and American soldiers, it is not unthinkable for Bush & Co. to lie about who was responsible for 9/11. Human lives do not seem to mean much to Bush!