Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Decade Later...

On 2 May 2011, we finally killed the mastermind behind 9/11. Most of us rejoiced, while simultaneously wondering if it was finally a reality. Had we really killed Osama bin Laden? We took the word of the President. He was dead. And the nation breathed a sigh of relief...until 6 May 2011, when Al-Qaeda confirmed it and vowed to retaliate.

Today, we're on high alert. There's rumor of a credible threat on this 10-year anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center. Like I needed something else on my mind this day. Hopefully, the appropriate security officials have it in hand, and we won't have further reason to mourn this day.

What else is on my mind? Well, I've considered turning this into "Punch a 9/11 Truther in the Head Day." Really, their list of "evidence that 9/11 was an American conspiracy" is absurd. They point to quotes by people who've said the Towers could withstand the impact of a Boeing 707...and, oddly, THEY DID! What they couldn't withstand was a sustained fire that burned away the floors holding the building up. In know it's hard to grasp, but the floors were engineered to be the things that kept the walls up. That which gave the buildings their square-ish shape was turned to cinder, and so it was that the structure collapsed in on itself. Maybe they would have toppled like dominoes had the plane struck at the base. But because it was higher up, it came down almost as though a demolition crew had set it up.

Just because it APPEARS that way doesn't mean it WAS that way.

Then there's the infamous footage of Building 7, which was heavily damaged on its south face and its southwest corner after the North Tower collapsed. Bulging on the SW corner and perpetual creaking indicated that the building might come down, and so it was evacuated of all rescuers around 3:30 PM. At 5:20:33 PM, the east mechanical penthouse crumbled. At 5:21:10, just 37 seconds later, the whole structure came down. The footage shows a vertical line of windows shattering as the building collapsed, and this has given rise to the Truthers' claim that it was planned.

"Open your eyes!" "Face the truth!" "Those who don't believe are 'sheeple!'" And let's not forget their questioning battle cry, "What about Building 7?"

The problem with a conspiracy is that often there are too many people who are "in the know" about it. If more than one person knows about a secret, it's really not a secret anymore. Someone else has already been told. In order to pull off something as large and horrific as the destruction of the WTC, A LOT of people would have to be in on it. And many of them would not be "trained" to keep secrets. Had there been a conspiracy, it would be leaking in so many places that the whole idea of keeping a secret would be a sinking ship by now, and plenty of people would be on the hook for it.

And my final thought on it: Americans would NOT slaughter Americans wholesale like that. I refuse to believe it. I'll buy into the conspiracy theories surrounding JFK because, as I said, secrets can't be kept in Washington D.C., and the leaks started almost immediately. One man killed for what appears to be a laundry list of reasons. I've been sold on it specifically because there are documents sealed away that won't be released to the public until all possibly involved parties are dead. But 11 September 2001 was the work of terrorists, not the U.S. government.

This year, the Truthers were given another reason to start crying foul. Video was leaked years ago of the execution of Saddam Hussein. We knew he was dead. But no one saw the killing of bin Laden except those soldiers who carried out the execution. And pictures of Osama shot/blown to pieces were never released. And to top it all off, he was buried at sea. So now, (aside from giving me cause to start a number of sentences with a conjunction), the Truthers don't believe Osama bin Laden is actually dead. If he is, they decry that he was killed for no good reason, as they believe there's nothing that connects him to the destruction of the Twin Towers. This is despite the fact that he was quoted as saying, "G-d knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers, but after the situation became unbearable - and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon - I thought about it. And the events that affected me were that of 1982 and the events that followed - when the Americans allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we were tasting and to stop killing our children and women."

Yeah...nothing to connect him to the attacks, besides that quote and the fact that he proudly announced that Al-Qaeda was responsible.

And then there are the rumors that firefighters and police charged up the stairs of the towers to steal all they could. I've actually heard them. Perhaps they should sit down and watch the documentary I've been recommending the last couple of years. I found it on DVD last week and bought it. (Now I can watch and weep from the comfort of my bed.) And perhaps I should explain in a bit more detail what it is.

James Hanlon, along with Jules and Gedeon Naudet, set out to make a documentary about a rookie firefighter going from being a "probie," or probationary fireman, to "becoming a man." So they auditioned several candidates at the academy and found Antonio "Tony" Benetatos. Amongst the superstitious men of Ladder 1 and Engine 7, Tony was what they called "a white cloud." A "black cloud" is a probie who comes out of the academy and brings every fire in the city with him. But a "white cloud"...? There seems to be nothing that happens after his arrival, which leads the men to believe that the mother of all fires is on its way.

The film sticks to its original purpose, showing Tony as he learns his job, as well as how to laugh under the comedic hazing of his fellow firefighters. After weeks of filming, Gedeon Naudet claimed that they had a great cooking documentary, showing various men at the station whipping up meals to feed at least a dozen guys at a time. But no fires. Not any serious ones, anyway.

On the morning of 11 September 2001, Jules Naudet, still learning how to do camera work, went along with Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer on a call about an odor of gas on the streets. It was a routine run, not very exciting. And then at 8:46 AM, the day became anything BUT routine.

It would seem that there are only two shots of the first plane hitting the Towers. Jules Naudet unintentionally caught the first, clearest, and most horrific one. There's the sound of a plane flying entirely too low. He aims his camera at the WTC...and there's the collision, with a ball of fire and debris exploding into the air...one of the firemen shouts, "Holy shit!"...then comes the sound of the impact.

From that moment, it would seem that the documentary changes its focus. It's no longer about a probie working his way into the role of fireman, but about the day our nation was forever changed by an act of terror. And yet it doesn't quite lose its focus entirely. It's still about Tony and the day his aspect as "white cloud" came back to bite him in the butt...HARD! At the same time, it shows what REALLY went on inside the towers. Yes, INSIDE the towers.

It's not an "all hail America" propaganda. It is, however, probably the most honest telling of what went on that day. If you haven't watched it, it's worth it...and I believe I read that it will be aired again at 8:00 PM tonight on CBS.

I've rambled on enough for one day. Be well, and DFTBA!

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