This day Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I was too young to remember the events of December 7th 1941, but it is also there, burned into my brain. They were both days of national tragedy and crisis. Days when our nation’s very foundations were threatened. The assassination of President Kennedy and the Oklahoma City bombing were also terrible events, but not in the same way, or on the same scale. This is an attack on every person in this country. Not just on our government and its officials. Bin Laden, or whoever is responsible, is committed to the destruction of the United States. We are at war, just as surely as we were in 1941. This time, the enemy is a small group of religious fanatics, willing to sacrifice themselves to fulfill their ends. As an open society, we are extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks. We abhor the curtailment of human rights which would be necessary to totally eliminate the possibility of such attacks. Only a police state which could invade every person’s personal privacy at any time could guarantee it. The cure might be worse than the disease. Easy for me to say. I did not lose any family members or friends in New York today. I could have, but fortunately son-in-law Frank and his brother Paul are safe. Paul’s office was close to the World Trade Center.
I believe today will be the catalyst for major changes in the world. I cannot predict what the changes will be, but it is clear that modern society cannot tolerate acts of this kind. The damage that a few fanatics can cause is too great. The cost, in human lives and property is unacceptable. What can be done? Obviously, we had a major intelligence failure and a major security failure. Why did our elaborate international intelligence network pick up nothing? How were the weapons smuggled onto the aircraft? Why were the hijackers not identified? Whatever the answers to those questions are, if they are ever found, the result will be an inevitable curtailment in personal privacy of every person on this planet. I see no other solution.
This is a sad day for the United States in many ways. Possibly as many as ten thousand people died in the tragedy. Billions in property losses. A huge blow to our national prestige. But, the aftermath, and the corrective measures taken will be draconian, and we will all suffer for it.
(Unfortunately, I was right on most of my predictions.)