Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001. It feels like five years at most. Perhaps because the attacks were so horrific and shown on TV over and over that it looms so large. Or, maybe it’s early stages of Alzheimer’s? I’m sticking with “looms so large.”
I was glued to the TV that gruesome day, overcome with tears. People jumped out of windows, employees were trapped in their offices and firefighters sacrificed their lives to save others. (Is there any occupation more heroic than fire fighting?)
Many who perished had actually evacuated the buildings, only to be told to go back to work. An early arriving fire engine captain even stated that the fire could be knocked down with three units. If a jet had plowed into my high-rise workplace, there are two chances I’d go back to work: slim and none, and, as they say, slim just left town.
As tragic as the 2,966 deaths (all but 13 died that day) were the hundreds frantically searching for missing loved ones. Desperate, they put up photos on makeshift bulletin boards, hoping and praying. It broke my heart to watch.
And yet, amidst my grieving, there was an inexplicable doubt. I had the uneasy feeling that what I was watching (my lying eyes?) and what we were being told, didn’t match.
We all have emotional memories of 9/11. At the risk of being told I should wear a tin foil hat (in my case, it would be a tin foil visor) I’m going to share mine.
As the World Trade Center buildings came down the implosions seemed surreal. (Then again, everything that day was surreal.) They looked like the planned demolitions we’ve seen on TV news from places like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. As onlookers watch from afar, old hotels implode artfully into their footprint. This, as highly skilled demolition experts have scientifically placed charges throughout the structure to ensure the efficient destruction.
The Twin Towers were steel-framed buildings, which were actually designed to withstand the impact of a jet plane. Built in 1966, the architects took into account that an Air Force bomber had accidentally hit the Empire State Building in 1945, resulting in 15 deaths.
It seemed so strange that building 7 came down, a structure that hadn’t been hit by a plane and had only caught fire from “burning debris.” It didn’t wobble or break apart, it just turned to dust. And then Larry Silverstein, the leaseholder of WTC, (for 3 months before 9/11) made the oddest admission.
In referring to building 7, Silverstein said, that due to the heavy loss of life at the other towers, “we decided to pull it.” Pull it? That’s a demolition term meaning to set off explosions to level a structure. Semantics aside, Silverstein and his associates managed to collect $4.55 billion from insurance.
After the WTC collapses, virtually no steel frame was left standing. In history, that’s never happened before, nor since. In fact, there have been high-rises, which have burned for days under intense heat, and yet, always some of the steel structure remained standing.
So many questions, so little time. Upon hearing “the country is under attack,” and this being the nuclear age, why did Bush sit frozen for a full seven minutes in that classroom listening to the kids read “My Pet Goat?” Why did White House Chief of Staff Andy Card merely whisper in Bush’s ear and leave? Why didn’t he wait for instructions?
In the middle of a total air blockade, why was the entire Bid Laden family in the U.S. shuttled out of the country without a single FBI debriefing? (The FBI was furious.)
Given this was the worst attack on our home soil, why were Bush and Cheney so adamantly against a 9/11 Commission? And why did we spend a paltry $14 million when we spent five times that on Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky’s dress?
And why did Bush and Cheney agree to testify only if they did so together? And why not under oath, and not even with a transcript? (My buddy Don Margolin and I once had to testify together like that, but we were 12, in Hebrew school, and it involved surreptitiously eating sunflower seeds.)
In 1999, when golfer Payne Stewart’s private jet left its scheduled flight plan, within 15 minutes NORAD planes were on either side. (The cabin had lost pressure and all inside were dead.) On 9/11, during the time that the four hijacked airliners were completely off their flight plan, why were no NORAD planes scrambled?
Inscribed in marble at the CIA building, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Inspiring words. If only they meant it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to adjust my tin foil visor.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.