As the terrible anniversary arrives, we can rejoice in the resiliency of our nation, so horribly attacked ten years ago, and hope that all Americans today will be safe from our enemies.
We all have our memories of that terrible day. I mostly remember not being able to figure out what was going on. My first word came from a man I was interviewing for a magazine story. “There’s been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,” he said. “A plane has flown into the tower.” I was irritated. I hate the propensity to jump to bizarre conclusions. It was obviously a terrible accident. Nobody flies into a building in downtown Manhattan on purpose.
Even though terrorists had targeted the WTC in 1993, when I was living in New York and can remember getting the news at my desk at the New York Observer, I found the notion of an aerial attack on New York beyond my ken that day. Then he said that a second plane had hit. No, it wasn’t an accident. I turned on the TV and couldn’t figure out what was happening.
Planes were grounded, some were missing. What was happening? At some point in the confusing day, a colleague from the IWF called. “Did you know Barbara Olson was on one of those planes?” she asked. Olson was on the plane that hit the Pentagon. I knew Olson, a feisty commentator, talented writer, and lawyer, and one of IWF’s founders, only slightly. But the idea of knowing anybody who had perished in the inferno was startling.
I can’t help thinking that many of us have reverted to the way of thinking that my own incredulity that day showed. It was inevitable-one can’t burn always with a hard gemlike flame (apologies to Mr. Pater). But I can’t help thinking that some of our forgetting is because we want to be politically correct. We don’t want to be parochial.
Former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who had been the judge in the case of the 1993 attack (and who, as a result, lived for years with protection from U.S. Marshalls), also cautions against being naive when we deal with our enemies. It’s not a day to get into politics, but I can’t help wishing that commentators and administration officials would refrain from hinting that information regarding possible incidents now came from Bin Laden’s compound.
We all commend the president for killing him (it does make the anniversary more bearable, doesn’t it?), but (like Mukasey) I believe the government could do with releasing a lot less intelligence. It helps our enemies. And they are still our enemies.