The Tears of September

Columnist : Albert Paschall

(Friday September 14, 2001) The smoke has yet to clear from the massacres in New York and Washington DC, workers continue to drag bodies from the rubble.  6,000 more body bags have been ordered and it’s still not clear know who is responsible for this mass murder or what can be done about it.
On September 11th did we learn our lessons?  Every one of us will forever remember where we were, what we were doing and whom we were with when the notion that fortress America was invulnerable collapsed in the ashes of the World Trade Center.  Suddenly our collective national indifference was shattered like the walls of the Pentagon by the notion that none of us, anywhere we are or will be, in this country will ever be safe from foreign attack again.
Unlike Pearl Harbor the September 11th massacre didn’t involve a military base that should have been warned of at least the risk of impending danger.  Tuesday morning we were witnesses to the total failure of the Federal government to provide for its primary and priority purpose — the common defense.  That this brutal act of savagery occurred demonstrates how far astray the Beltway power structure has gone in the last 4 decades from the great experirement it was when it was created over 2 centuries ago.
While the government of the United States was demanding five times as much of our earnings as it did during the height of the cold war, Aldrich Ames a deputy director of the CIA was selling the most highly classified information that our nation had to Soviet agents.  $20 billion in defense technology was rendered useless.  Nobody noticed Ames’ switch from an old Ford to a new Jaguar and a move from a $200,000 house to a $2 million mansion while on a government salary grade.  Ames’ pleads guilty, the CIA is saved the embarrassment of a trial and life goes on with nary a word from the citizenry.
While the government of the United States has found more ways in the last 8 years than in the previous 200 combined to interfere in our personal lives Robert Hansen was selling our intelligence to Russia.  Hanssen was in the chain of the FBI’s high command the people trying to arrest whoever is responsible for the most heinous crime in our history.  A dozen Russians who spied for the US Government ended up with bullets in their brains because of Hansen’s treason.  He allegedly wet his pants when he was arrested.  He too has pled guilty, went to prison and in the interests of our national security the beleaguered FBI is spared the embarrassment of a trial.
On September 11, 30 ruthless thugs boarded 4 different airliners from 4 different cities.  While they were boarding at the FBI, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the US Information Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Defense, the National Security Counsel countless thousands were supposed to be at work delivering us from this kind of evil on that tragic Tuesday morning.
While the bureaucrats were pushing their papers from one end of the country to the other more Americans probably died in an act of war on our own soil that at any time since the battle of Gettysburg.
In the wake of this travesty will the Potomac two-step go on?  Will we shrug when the next government agent sells out to a foreign power?  Will we laugh when the vice president goes on TV to make jokes about $1,000 government hammers?  From this day on will we ignore the shame of having some 25% of our active duty military families on food stamps while Federal bureaucrats run up millions in balances for personal items on government issued credit cards that banks write off at our expense?  When the next sex scandal hits the headlines from the capital beltway, behavior that would get any of us fired from our jobs, will we just say that’s the way it goes in the pinnacle of democracy?
Undoubtedly there will be countless commissions and committees looking for blame for the massacre of September 11.  Revenge will be served cold on a culprit somewhere in the world for this savage surprise attack.  Undoubtedly the circumstances demand our patriotic best but those same circumstances demand reasoned expectations and assurances that our government knows what it is doing before we send our sons and daughters in harms way in some primitive foreign backwater against an enemy that has demonstrated such savage disregard for basic human dignity.
As December 7, 1941 shall always be the day that lives in infamy, let September 11, 2001 be the day that killed our apathy.  Let us bury it with those poor, innocent souls who died in such horrible ways.  With the hope that someday the tears of September might wash away our collective indifference, with the confidence of knowing that our best hopes have always prevailed and we are ready to stand together whatever comes next.  After all we were born with the greatest political heritage in the world’s history and are now more determined than ever to be “we the people of the United States.”