9/11/01 – I was preparing that morning to fly from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Listening this morning to the re-broadcasst of the news, the confusion of that morning comes right back. It’s weird that through all the warning signs (World Trade Center 1993 bombing, Oklahoma City, the Unabomber) that we really didn’t view ourselves as a target; 9/11 made us aware. Five years later it doesn’t seem as if we’ve addressed our problems.
It has always been easier in the U.S. to get money to clean up after a disaster than it is to get money to prevent one. We’re in a “war” the President says; a war that is unlike any other war. “We must remain vigilant”. Yet I can ride Amtrak from Washington, D.C. through Baltimore, Philadelphia and into New York City without my baggage and ID being checked. New York City subways are monitored, but trains outside of NYC are not a concern. There are concerns about our ports.
To effectively protect this country, it will cost money, a whole lot of money. And politicians, loathe to raise taxes, with an expensive war to pay for, and an American city to rebuild, don’t have the will power that it takes to make the changes necessary to fix the problems. We’ve spent so much time focusing on the threat of Muslim fundementalists we forget that the last major terrorist attack on this country prior to 9/11 was Oklahoma City in 1995. We focus on air travel as a threat, but forget that most travel and commerce is down over land and sea and present a much greater target.
Over 3,000 people were killed that day. What we’ve learned from 9/11 is that our government is not good at planning and protecting – and what Hurriane Katrina showed us is that we haven’t gotten any better.
What will it take for our leaders to finally step up?