Before you plow eyes-first into my thoughts below, let me just point out that that is, by and large, all that
these are - just thoughts. They could be right on the money, or they could be total bullshit.
Sometimes, maybe both.
|9/21/01 - December 7th, 1941 is no longer alone in infamy. The
United States of America will forever be possessed of two dates of
infamy, now including September 11th, 2001. Let us hope that the
count will stand at two.
I have been to Hawaii twice, and visited Pearl Harbor both times. I find the USS Arizona Memorial to be dignified and touching, and quite provocative. I highly recommend you see it some time... The Arizona still weeps for her crew - thousands of gallons of fuel oil were in it's tanks when it was sunk, and small black droplets meander their way to the surface regularly, spreading into little rainbows when they break the surface. One of the turrets that once supported her massive guns still rises slightly above the surface of the harbor, and now services as a repository for leas of fresh flowers that visitors toss in from the windows of the memorial, which straddles the Arizona as she rests on the ocean floor. Of all the warships damaged in the brutal attack on Pearl Harbor, the Arizona was the only one that could not be restored to service, and she became a symbol for our efforts in the war against the Japanese.
On my first visit to the memorial, I bought an American flag at the gift shop there - they sell several different sizes of flags, all of which were flown at the memorial above the Arizona and saluted by members of our armed forces. I bought the biggest one they had - it sits in a display case above my desk in my office at work. I thought the flag meant a lot to me the day that I purchased it...a monument to our fearless sailors (and other fighting forces) who fought valiantly to put down the imperialistic Japanese offensive (not to mention the Nazis) in World War II. Now it means so much more...
|9/21/01 - But know that there are important differences between the
attack on Pearl Harbor and the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon.
First of all, Pearl Harbor was a military installation - the Japanese were
attempting to eliminate our ability to wage war in the Pacific
theater. To my knowledge, no civilian sites were targeted by the
Japanese (well, I think at least one civilian small aircraft was shot down
by Japanese fighter pilots). The men and women that the Japanese
attacked had the capability to defend themselves and return fire - those
who survived the initial wave of fighters, that is. The USS Nevada
valiantly made a run for open water to engage the enemy, but her captain
ordered her beached when it became clear she would not make it. Say
what you will about the Japanese at that time, but at least they had
enough honor to limit their targets to military ones. 1,177 sailors
went down with the Arizona, and will remain entombed there for all
The World Trade Center, on the other hand, was a completely different matter. Instead of a military target, the WTC was a purely civilian site that was a symbol of the greatness of America. There was no strategic, or even tactical, advantage for any attacking force to take out the WTC - rather, it was the target because of it's understood appeal as a testament to the strength and pride of the USA. The attackers are also not a nation, not a visible force that you can point to on a map and see and feel. They hide in the shadows, and do not accept the consequences of their actions. They hide among us, deceiving and scheming and plotting while they teach our children at school, or prepare our lunches at a restaurant. How do you bring war upon rats that hide within your own house? These rats have no honor at all, if you can say that honor even exists in war - they didn't have the balls to attack people who might be able to defend themselves, rather, they can only attack those they know will be helpless and not able to respond in kind. Current estimates of the casualties of the WTC and Pentagon attacks, including the four hijacked airplanes, are in the neighborhood of 6,300 people. Whatever the final tally turns out to be, it pales the number lost with the Arizona.
Both attacks were intended to break the will of the American people. It didn't work in 1941. Sixty years later, it still isn't going to work.
|9/21/01 - As horrific as the attack on the WTC was, it could have
easily been so much worse. Walking through NYC after escaping the
WTC, and after watching her towers crumble to dust, I began to realize
this. With all of the preparation and planning that went into the
attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, why weren't they worse?
Think about it: how much more effort and money would it have taken to have
smuggled a pound of Anthrax, Ebola, or some new designer germ onto one of
the planes that hit the WTC? Or even just some kind of poisonous
chemical? OK, so Anthrax by itself would be hard to use as a
biological weapon - but let's say for the sake of argument that some
clever scientists someplace managed to make it capable of direct
communicability via airborne transmission, and fixed other issues
pertaining to it's viability as a weapon of mass destruction. They
come up with a new strain of the virus and load a small bag full of the
stuff and put it on one of the WTC planes. What happens next?
Next, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is crawling all over NYC performing all kinds of tests, which I'm confident they were. Giuliani has already ordered all of the roads and trains in and out of the city shut down, effectively providing some level of quarantine. An hour later, a CDC scientist determines that a "bug" he found to be prevalent in the city's air to be a highly virulent germ of unknown origin. The CDC contacts the mayor's office and directs him to not re-open the roads and trains until further notified. Two hours later people begin showing up at the city's hospitals and clinics with acute symptoms of the flu, "or something." The CDC notices and quickly verifies that they have contracted a disease from the unidentified bug. Their labs are already feverishly working on an antigen to the germ... The CDC orders a more widespread quarantine to include most of the eastern seaboard - anywhere the prevailing winds might have carried the airborne virus in the past few hours. Cities in the wind's path are advised to evacuate. A few hours later, people are dying from the incredibly brutal germ...and thousands upon thousands are waiting outside hospitals to be seen. Soon, someone will have to make an unthinkable decision - with such an incredibly vicious bug in the air, and so far no antidote, inoculation, or even effective treatment apparently forthcoming, just exactly how do you protect the rest of the country?
Ever see the movie "Outbreak?" Overall, not a bad movie, save the usual butchering of science that Hollywood is (in)famous for. The general concept was that this really, really bad virus had been unleashed in some town in America, and the CDC was not quickly coming up with a way to combat it. So, the military was going to napalm the town to "sanitize" the area and prevent the bug from spreading. Sound far-fetched? Maybe. But, faced with that same decision in the real world, just exactly what do you do? Hope that the scientists do manage to come up with an antigen sometime soon, or cut your losses and "sanitize" the area to protect the rest of the country?
Was there an Air Force bomber or two loaded and ready to cauterize NYC in the event that order came down? I can't say. But I also can't say that I'd be surprised if there was.
OK, so the whole "designer virus" thing is a little too far-out for you? Fine...how about a nuke? Let's presume that the leader of whoever performed this attack had, say, $300 million to their name. Enough to buy a nuclear device from some unscrupulous Russian military insider? Or, maybe to secure one from your buddies who do have that technology? The USA and the former USSR are hardly the only countries capable of building a nuclear warhead. India and Pakistan both demonstrated nuclear bomb technology just a few years ago. Other countries have really smart physicists who can figure this stuff out too. You could probably find just about all the information you'd need on the internet by now. A Newsweek article I read recently indicated that Osama bin Laden attempted to purchase black market uranium for the princely sum of about $1.5 million - and evidently failed. At least, as far as we know.
9/25/01 - Well, 4 days after I wrote this initially, CNN.com posted this story about the threat of germ/chemical warfare, which included coverage of the USA's flight ban on crop-dusters, which could theoretically be used to spread a bio-active agent.
9/28/01 - Another MSN article on bin Laden and al Qaeda attempting to get their hands on chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
|9/21/001 - Thing is, people in America don't understand the actions of
religious militants like these. If you go to church (or synagogue,
or mosque, or tabernacle, etc.) at all, chances are Sunday (or Saturday
or...) is about the only day of the week you even think about it.
The rest of the time is spent driving the kids to soccer practice.
These people LIVE their religion...it is all that they have and it is all
that they are. And, as has been proven time and time again
throughout the history of man, religion is the final refuge of
hatred. The intolerance for others who are different from you (i.e.
practice a different religion) has driven greater death tolls than any
other factor ever. Just speaking of relatively recent history, the
Romans threw Christians to the lions. The Christians had their
Crusades ("Onward, Christian Soldiers"). Entire Egyptian
dynasties rose and fell due to changing religious alliances. The
Spanish Inquisition (which, by the way, no one expected). The Nazis
and the unspeakable atrocities against Jews. Our very own American
forefathers cleansing our land of the Godless savages who were already
here when they got here. Spaniards did the same thing to, well,
pretty much all of South and Central America (and some of the USA).
So did the French. Pope Innocent the 3rd helpfully pointed out that
witches could not cry more than 3 tears from their left eye alone...witch
"Yeah," you say, "but that was all a long time ago - we were stupid then, and didn't know any better. We don't do those things now." Hmmm...been to Ireland lately? Ireland, if you haven't noticed, doesn't have any trouble with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Zen-Taoists, Moonies, or anybody else...it's Catholics and Protestants. You know, just like we have here in the States. They're JUST LIKE US. They're white, they speak English, and they drink Coke. And they fire-bomb each other's malls.
Although I can't claim to have any idea why the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have gotten so pissed at each other, I think I do have some flimsy insight into why Osama bin Laden and his bands of merry men (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter) hate America so much. But first of all, I want to make one thing clear...
This "war" is not against Islam. It is not against Arabs. From what I have gleaned from newspapers, magazines and the internet, these people are ultra-hard-line fundamentalists, literalists even, of Islam - not like your Muslim neighbor across the street. These guys find in the Q'uran all kinds of statements and reasons to hate the Western World's debauchery, and they take them literally. You can find the same kind of stuff in the Bible, and I suspect other holy books too. It's just that, even though there is a passage in the Bible that tells us to kill gay men, we don't (evidently, lesbians are OK - see Leviticus 20:13 and surrounding passages). There's all kinds of directives in the Bible to keep women subjugated to men, but we don't really dig that way of thinking anymore. We also don't sacrifice animals to God anymore (that is soooo Old Testament). By those same tokens, these terrorists have found all of the extremist ideals they wanted in the Q'uran, and that's what they're enforcing. Muslims don't do the things these people do, any more than Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and atheists do. I am confident that, if he exists, Allah would spit these guys from his mouth. BTW, as an interesting side-note, my Microsoft Office 2000 doesn't recognize the word "Q'uran." I wonder who wrote this office suite...
Anyway, back to my rant: America, and indeed the rest of the Western World, engages in all kinds of disgusting activities that these guys' twisted version of Islam won't tolerate. Things like educating our women. Letting them wear shorts (not to mention bikinis). How about drinking alchohol? Owning televisions? Playing Diablo II on our home computers? Evangelizing Christianity (or the Church of Mormon, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or pretty much anything but Islam)? Evidently, just existing as a non-Muslim country might be good enough to get their panties in a bundle. They want a totalitarian theocracy, in Islam of course, to rule countries - not this new-fangled democracy (OK, republic) thing we've got going on here. Outside of pure religious reasons to hate us, we tend to live fat, hedonistic lives with our condos on the beach and our bitchin' Trans Ams, in blissful riches and comfort beyond anything anyone in their area of the world can even imagine. People say "we should bomb them back to the stone age." Have you seen Afghanistan? They ARE in the stone age. They have nothing of value - they have nothing to lose. Bomb them? Bomb what? We can make their big stones smaller, but that's about it. On the other hand, they know for a fact that they have everything to gain by engaging in a suicide mission to destroy America. I guarantee you that each and every one of those terrorists expected to wake up in paradise to see the beaming face of Allah thanking them for their good work against the American infidels. It is the greatest of honors to be asked to die for the glory of Allah, not unlike the kamikazes of WWII. It is said that bin Laden even pays a pension to the families of the suicide attackers.
These guys are smart, they are patient, and they are just begging for a chance to die for the glory of Allah. They are dug into the barren hills of Afghanistan...they are college students in Germany...they are doctors in Texas. We can't just decide to nuke Afghanistan and expect the problem to be solved...we probably wouldn't even get bin Laden in the process - we'd just kill all of the innocent people who had no place to hide. They are also in the process of re-writing their history to suit them - Afghanistan has a rich Buddhist history as well as Islamic. The Taliban has been destroying all signs of "idolatry" (read: statues of the Buddha) all over the country, and pretty much any other sign of non-Islamic religions. Earlier this year they destroyed two massive statues of the Buddha that had been carved into the side of a mountain - the value to humanity as a whole of those centuries-old monuments was, well, monumental. Many organizations offered to somehow come and remove the enormous standing Buddhas (rare enough that they were standing Buddhas, let alone the size of a mountain), but the Taliban would have none of that. Even Pakistan, also rife with extremely conservative Muslims, shunned the childish act. This is close to being on the order of someone like Napoleon deciding not just to shoot the Sphinx' nose off, but to just demolish it and the pyramids too, since they had nothing to do with his particular view of what the history of the area should be. Napoleon just declared that the pyramids had been waiting eons for him to show up and conquer the country, and was satisfied with that. Note that history is generally re-written by the victor...evidently, the Taliban believes it has already won.
9/28/01 - Here's a MSN article about a "last-day" guide full of religious zealotry and helpful reminders that underscores the mindset these people have.
9/28/01 - Still not sure about the connection between religion and intolerance (and war)? Take a gander through this CNN article. Here's a couple excerpts - quoting bin Laden:
"We hope that these brothers will be the first martyrs in the battle of Islam in this era against the new Jewish and Christian crusader campaign that is led by the Chief Crusader Bush under the banner of the cross" bin Laden said, referring to 3 Muslims who died in an anti-US demonstration in Pakistan.
"We ask God to make us defeat the infidels and the oppressors and to crush the new Jewish-Christian crusader campaign on the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan."
The reason he's tying Judaism into this is because of our ties with Israel. These guys have been spoiling for a holy war, and now they've got one.
9/28/01 - Don't think for a second that it's got to something about Islam that leads people to do such things - I already went through that. Here we have good old Americans demonstrating just exactly how intolerant we can be of those who are not just like us. Another story about middle-eastern people being thrown off of airplanes because the crew and/or passengers "didn't feel safe" with them on board.
|9/21/01 - So, just exactly how do we fight a war against
terrorism? Without a defined target that you can point a nuclear gun
No, really - the USA developed a gun that fired nuclear bullets (they were mighty big bullets). Problem was, it couldn't shoot them far enough to be out of the blast range when it hit, so you had to dig a hole before you fired, shoot the gun, then jump in the hole and wet yourself as the shockwave hurtled livestock over your head. For reasons unknown, our military actually decided not to put the gun into service.
...how do you kill these people? As I noted above, dropping bombs isn't going to do much good - it will just annoy the debris already sitting there. We could nuke the whole friggin' country, but aside from the fact that such a tactic still wouldn't guarantee that we'd get who we want, it pretty much would guarantee staggering amounts of innocent civilian casualties. We could send in some covert ops, like Navy SEALs, assuming we could get good intelligence on where the dirtbags were...but even assuming that we inserted them successfully, there's pretty much no way we'd get them back out alive. No...I think what's likely to happen is a massive air offensive to make sure everybody is sufficiently peeved at us, and then a huge ground assault full of thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of soldiers and artillery to scour the hills and valleys looking for the terrorist groups one cave at a time. It could take years to find them...and that's just the ones in Afghanistan. This is supposed to be a war against terrorism everywhere, which could likely include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, not to mention the ones already resident in the US, the UK, and elsewhere.
This war is not going to be a fish-in-a-barrel conflict like the Gulf War. It's going to be ugly - there will be lots of casualties, and it's going to take a very long time. America, you have to make sure that you have the stomach for this. Because it's likely to also trigger other terrorist attacks in the US and Europe in response. Our armed forces, and those of our allies, are going to go into this for the long haul, and it is of great importance that we stand behind them and support them for the duration. This could be a Texas-sized Iwojima...let's just make sure it doesn't become a Vietnam.
|10/04/01 - Today Pakistan declared that the evidence
presented to them by the US was sufficient to justify the extradition of
Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan. Check out this article
on MSN for more info. While certainly a step in the right direction,
remember that right now, Pakistan is the only country left in the world
that recognizes the Taliban as the true government of Afghanistan.
There were only two other countries that ever did - the United Arab
Emirates and Saudi Arabia, all four countries of course essentially 100%
Islamic, if I gather correctly. The UAE and Saudi Arabia both
dropped diplomatic ties with Afghanistan after the attacks...Pakistan has
withdrawn their diplomats from their embassy in Afghanistan, but have not
actually broken ties. Being the closest supporter of Afghanistan and
the Taliban, the Pakistani government is really out on a limb on this one
- there have been riots in many towns in Pakistan defying the government's
apparent backing of the USA and NATO, with common protestor themes running
along the lines of "Kill the USA" and other assorted pleasantries.
From the looks of it there is a very good chance that Pakistan could
nosedive into a civil war, with the ultra-conservative Islamic extremists
(who are staunch supporters of the Taliban) taking it to the more moderate
government and society at large. Pakistan's government realizes that
there is no hope in standing by Afghanistan/the Taliban, but the factions
of religious zealots in Pakistan who support the Taliban's idealism, and
who also regard bin Laden as a hero, see it as an infidelity in the eyes
of Allah. They could easily plunge into their own holy war.
While this is a grave risk within Pakistan, having different Islamic groups facing off against each other, and even greater danger is the possibility that a large consensus among Islamic peoples is reached that there is indeed a crusade under way by the Christians and Jews to wipe out Islam - which his the rhetoric being spouted now by bin Laden and the Taliban. Should Muslims in many countries begin to feel that way, the entire world will be in dire straits indeed (my apologies to Mark Knopfler). If the Islamic extremists groups become successful in activating a large-scale holy war of Islam vs. Christianity/Judaism, we will discover how accurate our fiction writers have been over the past few decades in wondering about what World War III would be like. Keep in mind that at least a few Muslim countries have nuclear technology, such as Pakistan and India (well, India I think is primarily Buddhist - but I think they also have a large population of Muslims. I'm not an authority on it...feel free to correct me)., and they have other very powerful military forces as well - not to mention the ability to potentially mobilize millions of Islamic men who would gladly die in the effort to protect their religion and the honor of Allah. <10/22/01 - I correct myself - India is primarily Hindu, not Buddhist.>
In a war to protect the very existence of your religion, there are absolutely no rules - it would be the most desperate of times for the Islamic countries involved. You can be assured that the full extent of their ability to make war would be utilized, including any nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.
Due to the distance between the USA and the middle east, it is less likely that they would be able to deliver such weapons over here in a time of war...outside of more terrorist activity. To the best of our knowledge, these countries do not own any stealth technology that would allow them to deliver a nuclear warhead in a conventional manner - i.e. flown in on a plane and dropped as a bomb. We would see them coming far too soon for them to really have any chance of making the delivery. But, that doesn't help the countries relatively close to them...clearly, Israel would be a prime target - and would be in range of one of their bombers or probably a missle. As would many other countries, including all of the former USSR and I suspect many European countries.
Keep in mind that that's just thinking about conventional weapons delivery techniques - as noted, the threat of clandestine terrorist activity to smuggle such devices into the USA is still very real, although hopefully much harder to pull off with our heightened security measures in place. Difficult, yes - impossible, no.
At any rate...we shall soon see.
|10/04/01 - Dig this article
from Newsweek detailing similar "America must die" sentiments
among the family members of the sheikh who ordered the bombing of the WTC
in 1993. These people honestly believe that the USA (with the help
of Israel, of course) is bent on destroying Islam. "Everybody
Have I missed something? I don't seem to recall any directives by our government to wipe out Islam. Problem is, this is religion, which needs little or no rationality. We are different, therefore we are not tolerated. I am sure, though, that perhaps they might have some grounds to disagree with our foreign policy over the years...surely I have not noticed all that has occurred over the past few decades, but I would be surprised if it would strike me as being worth a holy war.
|10/04/01 - Here's a little insight into perhaps the kinds of societal changes we need to consider in the future. This Newsweek article describes the case of the suspected terrorist whose hard drive was denied to FBI investigators early in September who suspected he was up to something. Allowing the FBI to dissect his computer would have been a breach of his rights. Which begs the questions...do we need to rethink our "rights" in order to maintain our safety? In countries that have to live with terrorism on a daily basis, all kinds of our ideals have been tossed to the wind. Things that we don't do because they are "wrong" they must do to ensure safety - things like racial profiling and intrusions into your private life. Defninitely things we need to think about...|
|10/04/01 - Evidently a case of paranoia on our parts...the Texas doctor, a Muslim man here trying to gain residency at the hospital he works at, was implicated immediately in the Sept. 11th attacks and arrested by the FBI - you saw his face all over the networks. Turns out he had nothing to do with it - after 12 days of what sounds like pretty poor treatment. Sad...at least nobody killed him, and the Saudi embassy had enough sense to protect his family while he was being held without evidence. Nice job, guys. Read about it here.|
|10/04/01 - And here's what the US and British governments have been talking about - MSNBC released the full dossier of British evidence linking al-Qaida and bin Laden the the attacks. One might conclude that this is essentially the same information, save I'm sure some stuff that's still classified, that Pakistan feels is "sufficient" to indict bin Laden. It's somewhat dry reading, but worth it...|
|10/10/01 - As you well know by now, the war on the al-Qaida
and the Taliban has begun in earnest, with air strikes beginning on the
7th. It would appear that the Taliban's meager air control and
defense capabilities have been eliminated, such that the US and it's
allies claim air superiority, and can now pretty much do as they
please. An interesting note to many people is that many of our
fighter/bombers are returning to their carriers and bases without
unloading all of their ordnance - oftentimes they can't find anything
worth bombing. As I noted a while ago, there's not much of anything
of value in Afghanistan anymore. I am surprised, however, that there
has evidently been no air-to-air engagements of Afghani aircraft with ours
- they do have some, or at least did - as far as I know, none of them even
attempted to take off. Strange. Having eliminated resistance
to air attacks and humanitarian aid flights, and with the lack of
additional targets to blow up, it seems now that the war must indeed be
taken to a lower altitude. Indications now are that ground forces
and attack helicopters will be used to sniff out and engage the Taliban's
Which is to say nothing of the other countries that we are looking at possibly targeting in the now ongoing war against terrorism. Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and other countries harboring/supporting terrorist groups are all potential targets. I have a feeling that it will not be much longer before we begin to seek targets in countries outside of Afghanistan.
|10/10/01 - The Organization of the Islamic Conference,
which represents an incredible 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, has convened
and formally denounced the attack on America on the 9/11/01.
However, they also are being rather vocal about the retaliation by the US
and possible other targets outside of Afghanistan. Read about it here
If I recall correctly, there's about 6 billion people on the face of the Earth. About one in 6 is Muslim. That is an immense number of people, in a large number of countries...we can only hope that they do not succumb to the anti-western world rhetoric coming out of the Taliban and bin Laden.
|10/10/01 - The US is warning television networks to be wary
of airing any video tape or other messages provided to them by the Taliban
or al-Qaida, citing the possibility of coded messages including
instructions for terrorist groups. Recently a number of television
stations aired a tape from an al-Qaida speaker warning that plane
hijackings would continue, and calling on all Muslims worldwide to join in
their "duty" to kill Americans wherever they find them.
The idea of coded messages in public broadcasts is certainly nothing new. If we go back to the attack on Pearl Harbor, you may or may not recall that the Japanese military was using public weather reports to encode and deliver messages. On a pre-determined day, the weather report would indicate whether to attack Russia, Hawaii, or other targets. The code-phrase "east wind rain" uttered by the weatherperson during the broadcast informed the Japanese Imperial Navy to attack Pearl Harbor. There is no reason to believe that the Taliban/al-Qaida couldn't have devised similar coded messages as well.
See this CNN story for more detail.
|10/10/01 - More tough talk from Tony Blair, the British
Prime Minister, as he discusses the probability of additional attacks
outside of Afghanistan to root out all terrorism. Mr. Blair has
already shown that he is ready, willing and able to back up his talk with
action, as the British have already participated in the air strikes on
Afghanistan. 20,000 British servicemen and women are already
positioned and ready to take action when necessary. Read about t on
It is of the highest importance that the US gain and maintain allies in this operation - especially Islamic countries that may or may not be formal members of NATO. If the large number of Islamic countries feel that this is a unilateral crusade by America against Islam, as being preached by bin Laden, then we are at significant risk of being singled out and attacked by other Islamic organizations or countries. The participation of other countries in the attacks, such as Great Britain, as well as the support of countries like Saudi Arabia, will stifle feelings of unilateralism and holy crusades (at least, on our part).
|10/16/01 - Here's a really good article
from Newsweek describing how these Middle Eastern Islamic countries have
come to hate the USA so much. It's truly amazing to think that they
harbor such hostilities against us...but as I described above, and as
you'll see in the article, there's an awful lot for them to get riled
about if they want to.
The good news is that so far, it doesn't appear as if Muslims in general are following bin Laden's lead and engaging in the holy war. I'm still surprised, though, and the large number of very vocal demonstrations (sometimes riots) against the US-led actions against the Taliban. Not to mention a new generation of peaceniks here and abroad reviving old anti-war rhetoric...I guess there's always going to be that kind of mentality somewhere. They must not have been watching the news.
|10/22/01 - Although I didn't mind being right about my
analysis of what the war on the Taliban would be like (we have carried out
massive air attacks now followed by land-based attacks by special forces
with heavy-duty cover attack planes), I really didn't want to be a prophet
of bio-terrorism. Unfortunately, I was right about that too...as you
must be aware by now, there have been a disturbing number of anthrax
attacks on our government and other high-profile companies (such as
Microsoft and television stations). I am not convinced that the
Taliban has anything to do with these attacks yet - it would be just as
easy for this to be some demented small group within the US piggy-backing
on the 9/11 attacks. It may be multiple individuals, unconnected,
copy-catting each other. Of course, it might very well be the
Taliban or al-Qaida as most suspect - time will tell. I believe that
the fact that these anthrax attacks are being carried out via the mail
lends credence to the notion that it is very difficult to build a
large-scale anthrax "bomb." There are a number of barriers
to bio-weapons, such as the need to keep living varieties alive (anthrax
is a bacterium, although a very hardy one) and devising a working delivery
mechanism. You need to deliver adequate quantities of the material
in a manner that won't destroy the material when delivered, but will
disperse it widely and evenly enough to maximize it's impact. Not
easy - a bomb would destroy most of the material, whereas a crop duster's
equipment isn't made to handle stuff that small (an anthrax spore is far,
far smaller than the fertilizer or pest control materials that crop
dusters are meant to distribute). Anyway, a crop duster making an
unauthorized run at a densely populated area would be blown out of the sky
rather promptly by our Air National Guard.
It is still highly disturbing that these attacks are taking place, regardless of their intensity or effectiveness. Be glad, actually, that it's just anthrax - it could be worse. It could be anything from a genetically modified strain of anthrax to genetically modified strains of the plague. The plague (yes, the one that wiped out a third of the population of Europe a while back - and killed 10 million Indians not honestly that long ago) is still alive and well in it's biological sink; namely, rattus rattus ("rats" to you and me). I recently read a fascinating article about the plague somewhere (unfortunately, I don't remember where, but it was probablly CNN.com or MSN.com). As biologists and pharmaceutical researchers know, these kinds of bugs can evolve rather quickly - a new strain can appear suddenly and spread with traits that were not there before. Case in point, it is not altogether easy to spread the most dominant form of the plague from one human to another - any case that you hear about today is probably in relation to some isolated individual who came into contact with a carrier rat or prairie dog or something. It isn't overly likely that that human will pass the affliction on to another human - the bug isn't built for that. However, as noted in a small number of enormous plague events, such as the aforementioned one in medieval Europe, there is every chance that in successive moves of the bug from one host to another (such as via fleas) will eventually "strain" out the most effective strain for the current conditions, regardless of whether or not that strain was dominant before. You always have the random mutations that occur between generations of any organism as well, from bacterium on up to deal with - benign, neutral, or helpful mutations stick around, whereas derogatory mutations get quickly winnowed out. Essentially, the foundation of evolution (indeed, the foundation of essentially all biological sciences as we know them). Hence, a strain that was just kind of sitting around doing nothing, or one that randomly mutated into existence, can suddenly run wild in it's newly accommodating environment and have drastically different results than the original, dominant strain. Many scientists believe this is what occurs when truly massive outbreaks happen - at the point at which the outbreak is contained (or has run through everyone it can find), the new strain finds itself without suitable hosts, and it simply blinks out of existence - but the original dominant strain remains in the biological sink that has always hosted it, waiting and ready to do a repeat performance.
Um, so anyway, the former USSR has admitted to developing such optimized strains of the plague (so did we - and probably a few others) for weapons use...who knows if they kept any around? Even if they didn't, or we didn't, or somebody else didn't, the knowledge is there and it is definitely repeatable. A strain of the plague optimized for human hosts, designed to be resistant to antibiotics and other antigens, and capable of airborne transmission would be as close to hell-on-earth as we are ever likely to get. Smuggle a small nuke into LA? You could kill a couple million people, maybe. Release such a cleverly-designed strain of the plague in LA? You'd probably kill at least all of southern California before we even knew what was going on...and by then, the plague would have been spread to every other major city in the country by airplane travelers, and in the time it takes us to develop and disseminate an effective antigen...well, by the time one was created, there might not be many people left to inoculate. Ever see the movie "Twelve Monkeys?" If what I just described scares you, don't.
|10/22/01 - Now, I'm really not out just to scare everybody...really. It's just that I don't think Americans have ever seriously considered just exactly how fragile all of humanity is. It is absolutely possible that some truly deranged genetic engineer could devise a bacterium or virus so virulent, so resistant, so transferable, that they could essentially wipe out the human race in all modern areas (read: places where airports are and people move around a lot). "Twelve Monkeys" is not a very far-fetched movie...which makes it all that much more scarier. Scarier still is the concept that we might have already engineered that bug...and have it on ice just waiting for the "if" and "when" to break it out. We did this kind of engineering, as noted above, as did the USSR and who-knows who else. I find it interesting that I have to keep reminding everyone that when we talk about the things "other" people do, we ourselves as the USA also do those things. Christians declare ridiculous holy wars just as easily as anybody else...Americans joyfully develop bio-weapons just as earnestly as anybody else. We also generate our own terrorists...such as the Unibomber and Timothy McVey (or is it McVay? Not that I care.). "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And, I presume you know the more modern-day version about people in glass houses. Just trying to keep everybody honest, here...|
|10/22/01 - Just barely one step up from the people who are carrying out these anthrax attacks are the jackasses preying on our fears by scamming us out of our money for "medicine" that will protect us from the bug. All manners of websites are popping up on the net and spamming us telling how we can be saved by buying their illegal products. There are points at which the English language stops before you find the word you're looking for...somewhere, about 100 feet below "loathsome," should be a word that describes these parasites. Read about it in this MSN article.|
|10/22/01 - Here we go with the clash between civil rights
and homeland security...
An article from CNN.com regarding supposedly hundreds of people currently held in the US without formal charges.
And a "fact sheet" all about the issue of civil rights infringements also from CNN.com.
|10/22/01 - The last thing I did tonight was really go off on a tangent fuming about my personal assessment of the state of humanity in terms of the religions we follow, and the science we practice. I later deemed the rant to be generally inappropriate for the purposes of this site - namely, the honoring of the memory of loved ones lost in the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. If I can be frank (not that I don't want to be Kaleb, but, oh, nevermind), any religious person who read this diatribe I penned (OK, typed) would quite simply be really pissed at me. I have therefore chosen to move the rant away from the main portions of this site, out of respect for those who have different philosophical/theological views from my own. Having said that, I feel also that my desire to be honest and maintain my personal integrity compels me to publish said rant, since it actually was meant to support ideas I've posited here already. If you are a religious person, know that I respect your right to choose exactly what to believe in philosophically or theologically, and I have absolutely no desire to upset you. I am deeply grateful that people of all creeds find value in my memorial website, and the last thing I would want to do is to ostracize any of you. If you willfully choose to read my ramblings anyway, you may do so here. If not, please enjoy the rest of the site with my sincere thanks for stopping by.|
|11/10/01 - OK, I know - haven't been updating as much as I should be. I can say this about the effects of having survived the WTC tragedy on myself - I have become rather lethargic in doing anything outside of what simply must be done. Anything "optional," like doing the laundry or updating a website, I just seem to put off indefinitely in favor of doing nothing at all. Funny, that.|
|11/10/01 - A number of key events have transpired since my last update. First, the insurgence of Pakistani men into Afghanistan to join the Taliban and their jihad. I think this bodes ill for the war at least in terms of limiting perception of this being an anti-Islam conflict. In one report I read, 5,000 Pakistanis crossed the border into Afghanistan in one night. Pakistan, as we all know, has many groups fiercely loyal to the extremist views spouted by the Taliban, and they regard bin Laden as a hero. No wonder that many of their men have chosen to join the holy way. The problem, as I see it, is that now we have the potential to involve Pakistan interests more intriniscally into the fight. If news gets back to Pakistan of, say, a US warplane-dropped "bunker-buster" bomb that killed virtually all of their 5,000 soldiers, how would the people of Pakistan react? There is already an enormous amount of talk about overthrowing the existing Pakistani government, which is taking serious heat internally for cooperating with the US-led assault on al-Qaida. If suddenly we were to kill the Pakistanis that have joined the war, would that be enough incitement to spur a civil war within Pakistan? Need I remind everyone that Pakistan has a successful nuclear weapons program? The absolute last thing we need is for Taliban-minded militants to get their hands on a nuke or three. As noted above, they're not likely to be able to deliver it to the USA, but I would definitely fear for Israel - I think the al-Qaida network would have a decent chance of getting a nuke into Israel if they had one. bin Laden has been constantly fuming about how the UN "gave the land of Islam to the Jews" and how this is a "Christian/Jewish crusade" against Islam...given his track record and his current state of affairs, I wouldn't put it past him for a second to unleash any kind of weapon of mass destruction in Israel, maybe even in Jerusalem (if I can't have it, then neither can they). You might think that a place like Jerusalem, the holiest of places for a number of major religions, would be a peaceful, idyllic place to live. In reality, inhabitants of Jerusalem are probably some of the most likely people in the world to be murdered for no particular reason at all. Religion fuels hatred, and there is more concentrated religion in Jerusalem than any place else I can think of.|
|11/10/01 - bin Laden has publicly stated that he has in his
possession chemical, biologic, and nuclear weapons, which he holds
"as a deterrent." I find it very unlikely that he has a
nuclear weapon (yet), but there was a report that he may have gotten
access to low-grade nuclear waste material - perhaps from a former USSR
nuclear plant or from the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. Nuclear
waste has absolutely no chance of being used to create an actual nuclear
warhead, but it is intrinsically rather nasty stuff. Were Osama and
his acolytes able to obtain such material, they would definitely be able
to stuff it inside conventional weapons, which would spread the
radioactive waste all over the countryside. Such a tactic, if done
well, could case equivalent deaths to a true nuke (although it would take
a lot longer to die from radiation poisoning), and also have the sinister
effect of rendering that (probably very large) parcel of land completely
uninhabitable for generations. If you detonated such a device high
in the atmosphere, you could spread sickness and mutation-bringing
radioactive waste all over an entire country - rendering the whole place a
desolate wasteland. A cloud of the stuff would roam at the whim of
the weather, and could carry it's payload of death just about
anywhere. Not a great turn of events, if the Taliban has indeed
gotten their greasy mitts on a sizeable supply of nuclear waste.
On the other hand, I think it's very possible, if not likely, that al-Qaida has secured chemical and biological weapons. The current anthrax attacks in the US I honestly think are the work of some demented US national who's just taking advantage of current events. Time will tell. However, that's not to say that al-Qaida and the Taliban don't have anthrax or some other bio-active agents to play with. With any luck, though, Osama is bright enough to realize the danger to his own people of mis-handling such weapons - he could just as easily kill all of his own soldiers along with all of their immediate opposition forces. What I fear the most from Osama is not a direct attack at the US, the Northern Alliance, or even Israel with such a weapon...I find it quite possible that while retreating from a given city in the face of a US/Northern Alliance advance, the Taliban could unleash a biological or chemical weapon in that town to cause thousands of civilian deaths and then accuse the US of having perpetrated the attack. It would be the kind of atrocity that could incite more Muslims to take up his cause, if they believed the story that the US carried out the attack. As I see it, Osama's word still carries a lot of weight in his part of the world...if he says the US dropped Agent Orange bombs in a major Afghani town, then people will believe him. He does need to have some kind of "proof" to his stories about how the US is leading a crusade against Islam itself, and not just his terrorist organization...
Here is a CNN article on bin Laden's claims.
|11/10/01 - A couple days ago, the Northern Alliance, aided
by US airstrikes, finally pushed the Taliban out of the key northern city
of Mazar-i-Sharif. This is indeed a major victory for the NA, as the
town controls an incredibly important supply route from Uzbekistan, which
remains open even during the harsh winter months. Mazar-i-Sharif
also has a sizeable airport, which can now be used as a base of operations
for the US military and/or the NA. Fighting had been very fierce
until the withdrawl - the Taliban was not even able to recover it's dead,
which are reportedly lying where they fell or stacked in piles to
rot. The victory will serve well to bolster US/NA relations as well
as the morale of NA troops - it should also strike a blow to the morale of
Taliban fighters, even as reports continue that Taliban soldiers are
either surrendering or even changing sides to fight for the NA. It
is said that the Taliban will raid a town, take it's capably-bodied men
and force them to fight - under the threat of having their entire families
killed. No wonder that some Taliban fighters don't have the heart to
stick out a tough gunfight...
Here is a Time article about the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif.
|11/12/01 - Today I awoke to the news of an American Airlines A300 going down just after takeoff from JFK. Initial indications are that it was a mechanical failure, and not a hijacking. It would be unlikely that terrorists had anything to do with this, because in order to cause a mechanical malfunction they would have to infiltrate AA ground support and get to the plane with tools and work on it as a mechanic. This appears to be just an unfortunate accident...|
|2/12/02 - Well, it's been quite a while since I last
updated this site. The war is all but over - Afghanistan is in
shambles, as is al-Qaida and the Taliban. All that's left is to find
Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice...or bring justice to him.
Not that we can get enough justice out of him to atone for his crimes.
A while ago we were shocked about the young man in Florida who stole a small private aircraft and flew it into a FL bank building, leaving behind a note supporting bin Laden. Truly amazing and disturbing that a middle-class white kid (a fact I point out only to showcase his difference from the terrorists) with evidently no ties at all to bin Laden or other organizations can be pulled into their way of thinking, even if it is just to be a copycat.
I've pretty much said all that I have to say on the subject, I guess...I'll update the site one more time probably if/when bin Laden is found, but that will probably be it. Thanks for stopping by, and especially for your support - I intend to leave this site up forever as what it was intended to be - a memorial to the victims. Please continue to refer the site to friends to help honor the memory of those who have passed on...
|9/26/02 - So, the 1 year anniversary of the event came and
went...people were asking me why I didn't make any updates to the
site. To be honest, I just couldn't think of anything more to
say. Osama bin Laden may or may not be dead...and the hot spot in
the world is no longer Afghanistan, now it's Palestine and Israel
(again...or maybe still). I really didn't do anything special on the
11th - actually, I was on an airplane to LA. Which, kind of freaked
some people out - for some reason, evidently I wasn't supposed to fly
anywhere on the 11th. But, it was just a normal day for me for the
most part. I watched a bit of the special on TV regarding what
president Bush was doing that day, but didn't watch anything else.
All of us that were in the WTC together did a conference call the day
before - everybody's doing well and life is pretty much back to normal.
And, I'm afraid that's really pretty much it. I've vented about all that I've had to vent here already. If I think of or hear of something interesting relating to 9/11 I'll post it here...otherwise, maybe this will be it. Thanks for all of your support, and please keep referring the site to your friends. There's a lot of stuff here for people who haven't seen it yet.
|10/1/02 - OK, so I honestly didn't expect to be making
another update this quick, but I came across something today that
absolutely astounded me - it should astound you too. Evidently,
according to a news source HERE
there were two high-ranking Chinese colonels who penned a book detailing
"unrestricted warfare" tactics designed to destroy the
USA. Support and admiration for the work was high in China even
before the attacks - after the attacks, according to the report, the two
colonels were hailed as national heroes, and took credit for designing the
All I can say is..."wow." Honestly, I wouldn't have dreamt in a million years that China had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks - let alone that their country generally held us in such low regard. I don't know enough about this incredible new bit of information, so am not going to draw any conclusions. However, it is definitely worth looking into.
|10/1/02 - Here's an older article from the WorldNetDaily news site. I'm not finding any "big" news sources with articles about this right off the bat...obviously consume this information with a bit of temperment. We'll see if anything else comes of it.|
|11/4/02 - OK, I haven't heard anything more about the alleged Chinese colonels' involvement in this. Chalk that all up to "unsubstantiated" until such time as we hear more about it...|
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