We watched in horror, followed by angry grief, as thousands died a horrible death in a single tragic morning. My daughter called from college, weeping. Some of her classmates had lost friends and relatives when the murderers slammed one of the highjacked aircraft into the Pentagon.
She spoke so softly that I had to strain to hear: "How can people do this?" Of course, I had no answer. For a time, the grief of some of those classmates was joined by a new fear for those who were Muslims. Some stayed home to avoid being confronted by misplaced vengeful actions from strangers.
In the days and the months following, a righteous American rage was subverted for political purposes by a cynical administration. Even during the Republican convention this year, images of the collapsing buildings were used to score points with partisans. The dead are still being propped up for use as involuntary, unconsious, campaign workers.
We backed the invasion of Afghanistan to get the mastermind, bin Laden, and the other surviving murderers. The story had not yet come out from Tora Bora that the administration had denied pleas for the troops needed to finish off the trapped bin Laden and his demoralized followers.
We were joined in rage as the administration presented proof that bin Laden was behind it. A tape came to light showing the joyful al Qaeda leader celebrating and laughingly revealing details of his planning for the murders. The President promised to get bin Laden "dead or alive."
My President's popularity eventually nosedived over many shows of careless incompetence. But that plummet came with a growing realization that he had rebuked with sarcasm those who warned him of the threat before 9/11 ("All right. You've covered your ass, now") and that he had let bin Laden go in order to prepare for invading Iraq. How to explain such failure?
Now comes a last ditch explanation for the dismissed warnings and the failure to capture or kill bin Laden. The administration admits that bin Laden, as head of al Qaeda, must bear responsibility for 9/11. And he did order creation of plots against the United States. But the new White House position is that bin Laden is innocent of masterminding the attack. "No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of 9/11, and he's sitting in jail right now," says the President's spokesperson. So bin Laden was not the major player after all. The real one responsible is in custody. Well then ....
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