Twitter: raymondcamden

Address: Lafayette, LA, USA

A few random 9/11 Thoughts

09-11-2006 4,963 views Misc 28 Comments

I just wanted to share a few things that are in my mind today. Nothing deep or meaningful - just - well - stuff. I remember everything about 9/11, and it often occurred to me since then if this is just like my parent's generation and Kennedy. They always said they remembered what they were doing when he was shot.

I still remember the Today show breaking in when the first plane hit. I had assumed it was a Cessna or some other small plane, and while I had thought it might have been an attack of some kind, I certainly didn't imagine what was really going on. (And by "attack" I mean more like a suicide attempt or an angry lover - again - I was thinking of a small plane.) When the second plane hit - everything seemed to go downhill and I remember being almost physically ill at that point. I still remember the newscasters saying there may be multiple more planes attacking, and when the next 2 planes hit/crashed, I could believe there would be even more.

Every second of that seems like something I'll never forget - and I wasn't even close to New York. Being in a military town though the change was pretty evident. Our skies were probably not as empty as most as there were quite a few military planes around.

One of the more sad, although almost funny moments came a few weeks after when someone made a snide remark to my wife and son. Why? My son is Korean and apparently the store clerk thought Koreans were involved with the terrorists. (News to me.)

I guess the main thing that I wonder about is - are we a better country now? We have certainly rocked up the security quite a bit - but I don't think we have come to terms with how realistic or effective these changes are. I mean - did we really think terrorists would attack with nail clippers? Seriously? And while I don't want to start a huge civil liberties thread (I think people know my view), I think folks on both sides can say there have been some serious changes lately and we are not doing enough talking about it. Now is the time to do it - before another attack comes.

I am not convinced we have the done the best thing - but I'll be honest enough to admit I'm not smart enough to say what the best track would have been. But I can say it is almost impossible to have a good discussion anymore, especially with one side in particular attacking your patriotism if you dare to question the current administration. (Oh wait, I'm not supposed to turn this into a rant, I'll stop.)

Anyway - please forgive this rambling post. For those who lost love ones on 9/11, please accept my sympathy and prayers. That is perhaps the only thing left we as a country can agree on. (Well, everyone but Ann Coulter.)


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  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 6:48 AM
    The terrorists have already won when american people allow the government to curtail our own freedoms in the interest of fear. You can call it security or prevention, but the truth is it's just plain fear.

    Fear and terror is the goal of terrorism.

    More than any lobbying or subversion, terrorists have touched every single american's lives. I think they got exactly what they wanted.
  • Sam Farmer #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 7:47 AM
    Good points, Ray.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 7:53 AM
    Sorry Ray, didnt mean to get on a soapbox on your blog, I just heard so much this morning about 9-11 on the radio and news I had to say my $.02 somewhere. =)
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 7:54 AM
    Justice - What freedoms have been curtailed in the 'interest of fear'?
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:02 AM
    Well, not being able to bring a soda on a plane is the simplest example. More than simple things is almost an aura of fear, not wanting to, for example, photograph near a federal building for fear of looking suspicious.
  • Edward T. #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:04 AM
    Ray, this post really struck a chord with me. I have often considered the parallel you describe with Kennedy and remembering where you were. My mom is an immigrant, and came to the US just as Kennedy was taking office. As a young European woman, it really was like Camelot for her, and she related that while we were growing up in the 70's.

    There are two events like that in my life: Challenger, 1/28/86, and 9/11/01. I think the first affected me strongly because of my age (I was a junior in HS). Chernobyl happened later that year.

    I remember mostly being worried about technology running out of control back then; but after 9/11, I felt primarily anger. I was reluctantly on board with the invasion of Afghanistan, but I was a little non-plussed with the decision to move into Iraq. I thought, "Gee, they have access to information that we don't; we need to trust them."

    But I just rented and saw V for Vendetta this weekend, and given the direction that things have taken in the past couple of years and the reports coming out about bad choices, I'm starting to wonder. I certainly think it is possible for a group of patriotic administrators to act in good faith and make bad decisions. That is why I'm so glad that people like Bruce Schneier ( are asking the hard questions about our security.

    Nonetheless, these questions pale in comparison to the individual stories of heroism that emerge during crises like 9/11. Today, I remember them and thank their families for their sacrifice.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:07 AM

    You hit upon the xenophobic after-effect of 9/11.

    It's not like the US was a model of racial harmony before the attacks but I recall having lunch with a friend who is a Sikh (wears turban but is from India) and a group of guys passing by and making snide remarks toward him (this happened in Miami).

    Just last week I read an article that had tally of racial attacks towards Arabs in the US before and after 9/11. Before there were on average 30 attacks( going back to like 1998), in 2001 it was 150. It did taper off for 2002, 2003 and 2004. The latest stats were for 2004 where it was in the 50s range.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:18 AM
    Justice - I would have to disagree that not being able to bring soda on a plane would be curtailing freedom in the interest of fear.

    Don't get me wrong, I fear losing civil liberties just as much as the staunchest liberal, however, not everything the goverment does to try and protect us should be construed as curtailing freedom.

    Also, I truly believe that the 'fear' is more a fear of lawsuits for lack of appropriate action, than fear of actaul physical harm.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:35 AM
    A light hearted take on fear mongering (i hope its doesn't offend).
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:52 AM
    1. being subjected to random wire tapping by NSA in the absence of a legitimate reason or a warrant has to the biggest one
    2. removing your shoes and ditching your toiletries every time you want to board a plane
    3. making it uncool to question your government
    4. the latest push by Bush administration towards justifying torture during war
    5. establishment of the Homeland security complex
    6. the ability for police to detain a suspected terrorist for 24hrs on a hunch alone...

    The Bruce Schneier blog recommendation is dead on- I highly recommend his writings if you have the time and interest in security practices, TSA, CAPS-II and NSA stuff.

    Watch the "Loose Change" video on google video if you haven't seen it. There are plenty of rebuttals and whatever your stance on conspiracy theories, at least acknowledge the possibility (if not the probability). The comment about making it "unpatriotic" to question these types of things is about the single most damaging thing that was achieved on that day. I wonder how many people now hesitate to respond to a blog post like this either for fear of being perceived as unpatriotic or getting added to "a list" somewhere?

    Being critical and exacting of the government's decisions since 9/11 is not unpatriotic, it's our obligation. Security is a tradeoff as Bruce says - every citizen is a "consumer" - many trillion $$ later... have you gotten your money's worth?

    I too remember exactly where I was and my heart goes out the families.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:58 AM
    To be fair, I object to point #2 Sean. An airline has a right to say what you can and cannot bring on board for safety reasons. If you do not agree with it, you have the right to drive. While I consider some rules _dumb_, I don't consider them inhibiting my rights.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 8:59 AM
    Oh, when I say "some rules", I meant the airline rules. I mean, someone tell me why I have to turn off my Gameboy during landings. ;)
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 9:02 AM
    Sean - In your list I would say only 1, maybe 2, would actually be 'curtailing freedom'.

    I will admit, there is no perfect solution, there is no easy. The saftey of the public must be weighed against the rights of individuals. Concessions on each side must be made in order to find an amicable solution.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 9:03 AM
    The thing I will never forget about that day was trying to explain to my 5 year old who asked if the planes were hurt when they flew into the towers.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 9:42 AM
    I think if you asked Bruce if we should just ignore security practices because they are inconvenient and the whole computer security threat thing is overblown anyway, I don't think he would agree with you.

    I doubt that there is anyone on this post that is foregoing anti-virus, anti-spam and in some cases anti-phishing software simply because they make running your computer a little slower or require a little more attention. If you look back 5 or even 10 years and probably only a few of us had any of these types of software. Certainly not anti-phishing software.

    It's the same in real life security. It's a constantly shifting struggle between the need for security, the need for secrecy and the need to stay on budget. It's not a "solvable" problem.

    We need to remember that while we may be offended occasionally by the security practices implemented by our government and its agencies, that they are fighting this shifting battle. Some practices will be deemed ineffective and fall by the wayside either through lack of enforcement or judicial review. Others will take their place. There are thousands of good people in the DoD, DHS, CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. whose sole purpose is to protect our country and citizens from those that would do us harm.

    I'm somewhat surprised that so much has been made of the wiretapping practice when it's easy to find that this sort of activity has been going on at least as far back as the Johnson administration. It's never really been a problem because eventually, if anything is discovered, the person(s) being investigated still have their day in court.

    We've known about programs like the FBI's Carnivore program since 1997. And since the FBI is generally considered technologically backward, I can only imagine what's going on at the NSA.

    I fail to see how a minor thing like curtailing the carrying of liquids on airplanes is anything other than a minor inconvenience. How this is a trampling of my civil liberties is beyond me.

    While it has become somewhat fashionable to criticize the current administration and you really can't be a good liberal without stating your opposition to all things Bush, lets take a breath and thank all those people that continue to fight behind the scenes to make us safer and preserve our way of life.
  • Damien McKenna #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 9:51 AM
    Ze Frank had a very good commentary on it:
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 9:53 AM
    On 9/11/2001, I was still a paramedic and living in NJ. In the days following the attacks, I was part of the rescue operation at 'round Zero'.

    I will gladly suffer through some minor inconveniences as not being allowed to bring liquids on a plane or have to remove my shoes during a security screening, if it meant that no one would ever need to live through the hell that was lower Manhattan in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 10:23 AM
    Here's my $0.02, and thanks for the opportunity. Yesterday I had the honor to attend a Town Hall meeting with Admiral John Cotton, the head of the Navy Reserve. Main points, we haven't forgotten, and we never will. What we do let slide in our minds are the people that are not just talking about what happened on this date 9/11, but the ones that are doing something about it. So along with the condolences, I'd like to say a personal thank you to the Sailors from my unit that are currently on Active duty orders in support of the Global War on Terror: Tony, Todd, Erwin, Steven, Steve, Robert, Kurtiss and Dan. These are some of the thousands of heroes that heeded the President's call "Be Ready" on 9/12/2001. If you know someone that is currently serving or has served, tell them Thanks. Check on their family, see if they need anything. We'll have another string of posts like this every year for a long time. And we'll still have citizens away from their civilian lives and families protecting our freedom. That's what I don't want people to forget.

    Chief Al
  • Neil Bailey #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 12:04 PM

    I was actually working in Tyson's Corner (right outside DC) on 9/11, and living in Crystal City in an appt literally directly across the highway from the pentagon. I was literally driving by the pentagon on my way to work (as a developer, I have a problem getting to the office before 10AM - but then I also usually have a problem leaving before midnight, so my boss puts up with it:) when I heard about the WTC - the radio said that a small commuter plane had flown into the tower. Of course they updated that report shortly.

    I used to be able to stand out on the balcony and look almost right down into the hole in the pentagon. I have a special place in my heart for terrorists, and find myself having an extremely difficult time seperating the good middle eastern people from the bad - how on earth do we tell which is which??

    Like just about everyone else in America, I will never, EVER forget that day, and I will do everything I can to ensure that my kids - and THEIR kids - never, ever forget it either.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 12:52 PM
    I too am willing to trade liberties for improved security if it can be demonstated that trades are good ones. The problem comes when nobody evaluates the quality of the trade and it's forced through on someone else's agenda with a profit motive attached (eg. Halliburton, etc).

    No doubt, wearing shoes through a metal detector and the ability to bring your deodorant with you on a plane are not rights at all- they're privileges, and minor ones at that. The only thing Bruce Scheier would agree to is to be aware of the trades and treat them as a consumer would.

    Nobody wants the fallen people from that day to be forgotten- you want to believe that loved ones did not die in vain. But the fact is that everyone wants to hold on to that day and the contempt that was generated and pass it along to their children. We will ensure that we harbor this hatred indefinitely. I don't claim to be righteous enough to be able to just forget it either but how long do you intentionally cling to your hatred and worse yet, pass it on to your children?

    To Mike- I don't criticize the current administration because it's fashionable. I question the effectiveness of what they've changed and how much security we've actually gained.

    Lastly, as far as the freedoms that have been sacrificed. Read this document word-for-word->

    #4 = out the window
    #1 = seriously in question
    #5 = you decide
    #8 = arguably violated

    The Ze Frank blurb is the best commentary I've seen- focus on the unity that came immediately following when when a nation of people cooperated to help each other get through. The fact that Bush tries to yoke that legitimate patriotism to his regime for the advancement of his agenda is crap though.

  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 1:33 PM
    Sean - I agree, institutuing 'security' measures and then not updating them based on the quality of these measures, and whether or not they actaully work is wasteful, especially if the 'security' measures reek of fitting in to someone's agenda.

    I am sure that after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans felt similarly to the way we feel. Though, admittedly, the media is adding to the contempt, whetehr it is intended or not. At least when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was a militery target. I will admit,I still harbor a hatred, for the people who planned and carried out the attacks. In my personal opinion, there is no punishment to cruel or unusual for these savages.

    Am I proud of the way I feel? No, no matter how hard I have tried, I cannot cahnge the way I feel.

    Do I want to pass this hatred on to my children? Absolutely not. Fortunately, I think I have a few more years before I really have to explain what happened other than saying 'some bad men did a really bad thing'.

    As for questioning the current, past or future administrations, it is not only our right to do so, but it is our duty to do so.

    I will admit that I feel recently reported activity would be a flagrant violation of the 4th amendment. I will also admit that some recently reported activities could also be in violation of the amendments you specified, depending on your interpretation of those amendments.
  • Commented on 09-11-2006 at 2:38 PM
    @There are two events like that in my life: Challenger, 1/28/86, and 9/11/01.

    I lost loved ones is both of these tragedies. Mike Smith was not only a hero to me he was also a mentor and a neighbor to me when I was young. I actually still have the bookcase he built for my 5th birthday.

    I also lost three gaming buddies in the towers and soon after in Afghanistan. The media might thing that NY and NYC is ready for all the coverage, movies, etc., but we're not. I found myself in tears this morning and almost didn't come in to work. I'm glad I did, but it is hard as hell to function when you can "feel" the pain around you.

    I posted this on,, one of my sites this morning...

    It's been five years and I found myself in tears this morning it sums up how I feel.

    Honor to those who've fallen, Strength to those who've lost and Valor to those who fight

    R.I.P. Sasha, Biggs & Pez
  • Tom #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 4:22 PM
    I'm an acquaintance of Sean and he told me about the conversation. I wanted to post in general agreement with his offerings (though I will not endorse "Loose Change" - IMHO, the verifiable, consensual realities are disturbing enough).

    First my condolences to those who lost friends, family, acquaintances. I count myself lucky to not be in that group. However, I've definitely lost something since 9/11: faith in the moral imagination of my fellow Americans and confidence in the future of the US as a nation of laws.

    Regarding moral imagination: it seems that Americans just don't care about the corpses our government's policies create around the world (hundreds of thousands compared to the dead we mourn today - 60,000 alone in Iraq; at least half of those "collateral damage" -- ten times the number killed on 9/11). This fact should make people a least a little uncomfortable with all of the flag-waving victimology that gets uncritically spewed on and about this date. But our civic religious fantasies of our own national superiority prevent any critical self-assessment. Dead foreigners, especially brown ones, just don't tip the scales very much.

    The collective fantasy of national moral superiority allows citizens to believe the government's lies about sanitary war practices in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary ("shock and awe", white phosphorous, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, etc). We can rationalize away the mountains of dead, maimed, and poisoned our government's policies create by emotional attachment to a faith in "we are good they are bad" dogmas that are as comforting as they are false.

    Meanwhile, our government has steadily eroded numerous taboos including those against aggressive war, torture, and lawless detainment of suspects without trial. How far away are we from a return to "total war" including the use of nuclear weapons? The narrative of the "savagery" that we face along with further pronouncements of needing to protect our "civilization" and "way of life" will allow for this.

    War, including possibly the use of low-yield nuclear weapons, against Iran before the 2008 election seems likely. The only thing this administration has done with any consistency and success is "double-down" when their policies fail. According to the military, the entire western half of Iraq is lost. Pakistan has just essentially granted amnesty to Al Qaeda and OBL, the resurgence of the Taliban continues apace.

    Nativist exceptionalism and blundering imperial overreach isn't original: all empires fall victim to it. And what is the response of the State to those that attempt to directly challenge this latest, red-white-and-blue colored paradigm of continual war, torture, and lawlessness and its demonstrable lack of success or results? Cheney, on Sunday, on the heels of repeating the lie that Iraq had operational ties to Al Qaeda (in the face of a bipartisan Senate Intelligence committee concluding otherwise) just called anyone who debates these policies a traitor.

    So on this sad day five years later, the question remains: are you with us or are you with the terrorists. The "us" is the Bush administration and its supporters. The terrorists are anyone who oppose their agenda (anyone who doubts this refer to Cheney's comments along with Bush's "bipartisan" entourage today at Ground Zero).

    The democrats will likely once again bring a knife to another Karl Rove gunfight in November. I doubt they are up to the important task of sending the GWB administration as expeditiously as possible to the brimstone recesses of the dustbin of history. Please spare me any inferences that this means they can possibly screw up bringing the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice anymore than this administration has.

    None of it bodes well for democracy and has me a bit wistful for a military coup: at least the joint chiefs attempted - however unsuccessfully - to remove the nuclear option from contingency planning for war on Iran (the chickenhawks are having none of it); at least the military's legal leadership understands the importance of absolutely proscribing torture pursuant to international law and not threatening the death penalty for terrorist suspects on hidden evidence.

    And while the Bush administration flushes our republic down the toilet for the sake of neoconservative ideological purity and phantasmic partisan gain, we are that much less able to work with the world to deal with real threats of annihilation from looming ecological disaster. The permafrost in Siberia is melting faster than projected releasing hundreds of billions of tons of methane - twenty times more warming than C02 - into the atmosphere. Small wonder then that the Pentagon has identified as the greatest threat to US security in the coming decades.

    So I will mourn our dead today, as I mourn the rate of death amplified by our hubris and unmeasured and willfully ignorant pride. And while appreciating what we have to be proud of and thankful for, I will reject appeals to our presumed greatness as a balm for the sting of horrible tragedy. For it's entirely possible that it is not so much our strength that is being tested as our humility.
  • Damon Gentry #
    Commented on 09-11-2006 at 7:11 PM
    "For it's entirely possible that it is not so much our strength that is being tested as our humility."

    Tom, are you suggesting that if we were a more humble nation then the Islamic fascists would not hate us? That we should recognize the decades of terrorist acts against the U.S. and its allies around the world are a result of American hubris? For if the current tension between the [insert insurgent group of the day here] and the U.S. is caused simply and obviously by our lack of humility; then we must have a bunch of complete idiots running the country if they can't see this simple truth.

    I grant you that there are a small number of people in the history of the world who were and are heralded for their pacifism (Jesus Christ, Dr. King, Ghandi, Gyatso, etc...). However, there are also people who displayed enormous strength and were not afraid to use force to confront evil in their times (Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Reagan. In each of their respective times, the warmongers laughed at the pacifists, and the pacifists decried the warmongers.

    September 11, 2001 convinced me that we, as Americans, face a clear and present danger. Perhaps the Islamic fascists were created by the fallout of our foreign policies over the past 50 years. Is the solution to this problem to humbly admit that we were wrong in our actions throughout the world, withdraw as the only superpower left in the world, and isolate ourselves to our borders?

    Millions of people each year risk everything they possess (their families, their homes, and even their lives) to join the fabric that is America. Why would they do this if America is the evil empire? If President Bush was the Great Satan?

    The fact is that is not our humility, but our strength (economically, militarily, and morally) that allows us, more than any other nation in the world, to provide food to the hungry, protect the weak from aggressors, and challenge evil in the world when it exists. We cannot feed the entire world, and we cannot protect everyone, but we do a better job than any other.

    Humility can be a great virtue, but so can strength. We did not rise to become the world’s lone superpower by being humble. We became that way by having the resolve to confront aggression and evil. And I respectfully submit to you that now is not the time to be humble.
  • Tom #
    Commented on 09-12-2006 at 12:11 AM
    "Islamic fascists" -- what does this mean exactly other than being a very poor catch all phrase that is useful as propaganda? You most certainly are referring to any group that follows the Wahabbist sect of Sunni Islam as they are the ones most commonly associated with the desire to return the world to their (incorrect) interpretation of the original Caliphate. Remember then that these individuals run an absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia and have pooled their money most influentially with the Bush dynasty through different times financial entitities like the Carlyle Group and BCCI holdings. Much of the Bush family fortune is due to extensive dealings with the Saudi royal family. Much money from the Saudis goes to Madrassas throughout the Moslem world where young boys are taught the extremist, Wahabbist sect of Sunni Islam. Many of these young men become the foot soldiers of Al Qaeda. So tell me again how our leaders are doing everything to fight what you refer to as "Islamic fascism." Doesn't it disgust you just a little bit in light of the Saudi duplicity in the GWOT to see Bush holding hands with the Saudi emir while American soldiers are butchered in Afghanistan by Sunni Wahabbist Taliban fighters trained in Pakistani Madrassas funded by the same Saudi money that Bush's family profits from?

    The Republican party has very little business dredging up the Hitler threat since throughout the 30s and right up until the US declared war in 1941, the majority of the party did everything to downplay the fascist threat and appease Hitler. It was the legacy of the Wilsonian Democrats (FDR) that kept careful measure of the growing menace from highly industraliazed, imperial powers that were Germany and Japan. To compare a bunch of guys in caves with cell phones and their turbans wrapped too tight to this threat is ludicrous on its face.

    When you can distinguish between Pan Arab nationalism, Kurdish self-determination, the Turkic push for EU status, the Iranian desire for regional stability that favors their national interest, Indonesian desire for regional influence in the South China Sea, Pakistani detente with India while controlling the political outcome of Afghanistan, Saudi and emirate integration into world financial markets, Palestinian self-determination, Egyptian desire for democratic reform, Sunni vs Shia interest in the former Iraq's oil wealth and its commensurate political clout etc. then come back and tell me what the heck you mean by "Islamic fascism."

    Until then, you are dwelling in a world of propaganda and comfortable fictions where 1 billion Muslims with wildly divergent interests are tarred with the same brush in order to keep you and everyone else afraid and compliant.

    I never said America is evil or that we should feel bad about being Americans. America has been an example of the power of prinicples and law to inspire more justice and freedom for individuals which as you point out along with our abundant wealth attracts people from all over the globe. I just think we need to do a better job of seeing how much of the world sees us at times - not for our wealth and freedom which they admire - but for the remnants of colonial and imperial behavior as expressed through corporate control of foreign policy. This has consequences in terms of the number of corpses it creates and though we may comfort ourselves with national fictions and myths about our good intentions, these fictions do not have any power beyond our borders.

    BTW, I am not arguing for pacifism. Just a little intelligence and consistent morality in our application of force. Right now we have neither.

    Thanks for reading.
  • Commented on 09-12-2006 at 5:57 AM
    First off, I hate when people bring up the 'Loose Change' video. I can't get past the basic factual errors about plane types and issues. Sure, they've fixed things as time goes by, but in my industry beginning mistakes are a sign of poor and dangerous craft, where emotion outweights truth. I've seen much better 9/11 conspiracy stuff thank you.

    As for the Suadis and the Bush connection to them, I can't deny the connection or to every Republican since Truman.

    However, the smallest bit of research shows connections to every Democrat politician starting with Truman.

    And people wonder why I left the Elephant to become a Libertarian.
  • Commented on 09-12-2006 at 8:43 AM
    I have posted an entry with my personal counterpoint to some of the comments posted here. I welcome any and all to read and respond with their views.
  • TJ Downes #
    Commented on 09-12-2006 at 2:22 PM
    Here's my two cents:

    For all the change that has occured in this country in the last five years it has not changed the inevitable: We will be attacked again and we cannot protect ourselves from it.