Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Every Day is September 12th"

It's frightening to wake up, shower, turn on NPR and hear "We'll have details about that terrorist plot in London when the Homeland Security Secretary has a press conference in a few moments." Americans (and the world) are still jumpy after 9/11; Londoners (and the world) are still jumpy after their terrorist attacks a little more than a year ago. And while Hollywood would like me to pay $10.50 to relive the stress, anxiety, and sheer panic I felt five years ago, this latest terror threat just goes to show that we don't need a movie to remind us to be vigilant.

(In an aside: Have you seen that the World Trade Center movie has a damn MySpace page? That's sick.)

I don't know what to think. I want to believe that the government is on top of this, that they foiled this plot completely, and that it's a legitimate threat. On the other hand, I remember the powers that be toying with the alert level around the elections two years ago, and there's the ugly idea that this may have been in the surveillance pipeline for a while and they just now chose to bust it open, with pro-war Lieberman's defeat in Connecticut and the news that 60% of Americans disapprove of the Iraq war. It's a conspiracy theory, and it's completely unfounded. But I don't trust this administration to do the right thing. At all.

I do believe that our activities in Iraq, Iran, and now the entire Israel/Hezbollah fighting has turned more extremists against America. That entire region of the world is a giant hornet's nest and we can't get rid of it. We poke it with a stick, we spray it with chemicals, we put on a beekeeper suit and try to remove it, but nothing is working. Lord knows I haven't studied international relations very much, but I personally think we need to make good on our promise to actually rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq. We need to foster some goodwill so the extremists can't play to the desperation and misery of the people in Iraq and blame it all on America. The US government needs to stop with the special interests, stop giving Bechtel all the reconstruction projects, hire Iraqis and make life better in the mideast. If other countries see us doing right by the Iraqis, then it will be harder to recruit terrorists. We need to lighten our steps and stop swinging the big stick at that hornet's nest like it's a candy-filled pinata.

The thing that haunts me most from the press conference this morning was Chertoff describing the viewpoint of the security agencies as "Everyday is September 12th for us." That's a depressing thought. Both because we must be hyper-vigilant all the time, but also that on September 12, 2001, I felt like the entire world didn't make sense. We didn't know why the attacks happened, for sure who was responsible, if any other attacks would happen, and how life would be in America from then on. I remember going to a prayer service/memorial type thing at Emerson on September 12, my heathen attitudes having dropped for a while, looking just to be with other people who were as confused and scared as I was. The entire Majestic was full of nervous college kids looking for some kind of relief. I don't want to spend the rest of my life as afraid and confused about America's place in the world as I did on September 12, and I certainly don't want the US government feeling that way. We need to shift our viewpoint from foiling terrorists before they can execute a plan to making a stable environment in the mideast so there will be fewer terrorists in the long run.

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