Monday, September 11, 2006

I Really Wish Your Imaginary Friend(s) Would Stop Making You Kill People

I remember the first indication I had that anything was wrong on 9/11/2001; it was the sound of jets flying over my apartment. I was still in Houston, and I lived near a building alternately called Williams Tower and the Transco Tower, right by the Galleria. I guess someone in power thought the building might be a target, so a flight of F-16s was summoned to circle around like so many buzzards. Because that’s where you want to shoot down the enemy plane; right next to the target, in a heavily populated area...

I was unaware that there was anything going on before I heard the jets overhead. I was unemployed, and playing video games on my couch before a job interview. Okay, maybe not before a job interview. Maybe before making lunch, followed by more video games. Shut up.

Rufus noticed the planes before I did, and came into the living room, meowing his head off, behavior which, if you’ve met Rufus, isn’t that unusual. This is a cat who yells at his water.

I looked out the windows, saw the planes, and turned on CNN (I had no computer/internet at that time); just in time to see tower one going down. Yikes.

My first thought was, sadly: finally. I had been expecting an attack on a major US city for years, but had predicted that it would be a dirty bomb, or worse, a “clean” bomb. Did you know that there are allegedly a number of “suitcase nukes” missing from the old KGB inventory? How many, you ask? Between five and ten. Eeek.

I wasn't surprised that planes were used as weapons after I learned who was responsible. Al Qaeda (whose leadership is made up of former Mujahideen fighters) was trained by the CIA to kill Soviets; one of the methods the Company taught was hijacking a fully fueled passenger plane and using it as a guided missile. Chickens, home, roost, etc…

Has this country learned anything in the five years since 9/11 that might prevent further attacks? Nope. We’re still pissing off potential attackers. The war to liberate Iraq has turned into the best recruiting event so-called “global terrorism” has seen since the Crusades. The fucktard in the White House is doing the best impression of Nero since, well, Nero. I feel LESS safe now than I did before 9/11. Here’s the thing; Israel may (in my opinion) get a few things wrong in the diplomacy department, but what they do get right is airport security. Check out
this link from the Wikipedia page on El Al. Why don’t we do follow these methods in America? Four reasons: the airlines won’t spend the money (because they’d have to raise ticket prices), the government won’t put six marshals on every plane, most Americans wouldn’t want to show up three hours before their flight, and the government won't profile those of Arab descent. But look at El Al’s safety record; it’s beyond compare. Israel is a MUCH bigger target than the US, so maybe they know more about this sort of thing than we do. I’m not the biggest fan of any kind of profiling; but in some extreme cases, it’s academic. Until a blond, blue-eyed terrorist is arrested, don’t we have to look at the most likely persons to be involved with a terrorist act? The other side of that coin is that it would seem to emphasize the need for terrorists to recruit blond, blue-eyed operators. Hell; I ALWAYS get extra screening; I guess because I have a beard and a weird last name.

The really scary thing about the current state of airline security is that they tell you EXACTLY what you CAN bring on the plane. So, I can bring liquid medication on the plane (or more accurately, *something* in a medication container)? I can bring formula or breast milk for my baby? Great! If I’m an enterprising terrorist, I’ll make this information work for me. And don’t get me started on exit door screening, or the lack thereof. Can you imagine what might happen if some whack-job opened an exit door mid-flight? Have you ever sat on the exit row? Have you ever been screened for that seat assignment? You haven’t, have you? All they ask is if you are “willing and physically able to perform the duties associated with the seat”…on the ground. Do those doors work in the air? Do you trust the maintenance and electronics of an aircraft that has broken reading lights to have safeties on the exit doors?

Let’s not forget the “lesson” of Katrina. What if instead of a hurricane, broken levies, and flooding; New Orleans had been hit with a dirty bomb? Would the response have been the same? Shouldn’t FEMA and Homeland Defense have treated Katrina as a drill for just such a response? What better opportunity would they have had to test options for evacuating a city, and first response procedures?

But that’s not how the federal government learns. It takes more than one disaster or attack for them to learn a lesson. Uncle Sam is like a bad, bad puppy. It needs its nose pushed onto a great number of turds before it learns not to shit in the house. I have the sinking feeling that we aren’t done with turds just yet.

What, you may ask, is the root of these recent terror attacks? Greed, oil, money, religion and fear, in that order. There’s a WHOLE lot of money in oil and gas; and the men who control the rights to most of the supply are very religious, as are the people who live on the land over the oil and gas, as are the men who control production. We put bases in Muslim countries, and piss off people who don’t want the US in their country at all, except for the oil companies, but only for a price. Oh, you want our oil companies there? You want to buy our tanks, our planes? Sure! But we get to put a base in your country. Who controls the oil & gas supply? A few Middle Eastern Muslims. Who controls the production and the military? A few American Christians (who, beyond their greed, actually believe that they are doing "god's work" by destabilizing the region, thus helping bring about "Armageddon", and the "second coming" of their "savior"). Greed + Fear = Anger, and Anger + Poverty = Terror, or Crime, or both. It's a classic vicious cycle; and until terrorist attacks cause either group to lose large sums of money (we're talking in the hundreds of billions, for starters), neither side will change the status quo. "Everyone" (read: those in power) is making money; so what if thousands of civilians and military personnel are dying? So what if they are helping to create a culture of fear? So what if they are perpetuating a cycle of poverty (and thus, resentment of the west, and easier pickings for terrorist recruiters)?

Here's a "fun" question -

Q: What is the ultimate purpose of a terror attack?

A: To cause the civilian population to lose faith in their government, and that government’s ability to protect them from the scary/bad people, thus destabilizing said government. Period. There is no military upside to a terror attack. You aren't hitting a military target, so you haven't harmed those who oppress you, or those who might have the ability to directly strike back. There is no ground gained, no prisoners taken, and nothing of any real value learned, other than the competence of the first responders. There is sometimes a financial upside to a terror attack; but it's usually for the very governments that the terrorists are attacking.

So long as we fear terror, the terrorists win. So long as we allow our own government and politicians to control us using fear, the terrorists win. So long as we don’t prevent attacks using logical, proven methods, the terrorists win. We weren’t attacked because “they hate our freedom”, or because of “bad luck”, or “karma”. John Milton said it best: “Luck is the residue of design”. We trained an attack dog, hoping it wouldn’t come back and kill our children. It did. Now we’re helping breed more attack dogs, and we still aren’t protecting our children from future attacks. That's bad planning, not bad "luck". Something has to change before something worse than 9/11 happens. And soon.


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