Trade Center site, still just a hole in the ground]. Half a lifetime
ago, I worked in this now-empty space.
And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make
sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.
And all the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the
remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in
the planes and — as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared
still into my soul — two more in the Towers.
And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York
policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or
more, as our ancestors.
I belabor this to emphasize that, for me… this was, and is, and always
shall be, personal.
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft", or have
"forgotten" the lessons of what happened here — is at best a grasping,
opportunistic, dilettante — and at worst, an idiot — whether he is a
commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.
However. Of all the things those of us who were here five years ago
could have forecast — of all the nightmares that unfolded before our
eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds… none of us could
have predicted… this.
Five years later this space… is still empty.
Five years later there is no Memorial to the dead.
Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud
defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards
Five years later this country’s wound is still open.
Five years… later this country’s mass grave is still unmarked.
Five years later… this is still… just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.
At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial — barely four months
after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field,
Mr. Lincoln said "we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate — we can
not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add
Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.
Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their
reprehensible inaction. "We can not dedicate — we can not consecrate —
we can not hallow — this ground." So we won’t.
Instead they bicker and buck-pass. They thwart private efforts, and
jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the
money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and
buying off columnists to write how good a job they’re doing — instead
of doing any job at all.
Five years later, Mr. Bush… we are still fighting the terrorists on
these streets. And look carefully, sir — on these 16 empty acres, the
terrorists… are clearly, still winning.
And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic
sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about
And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this
city, and in the fabric of our nation.
There is, its symbolism — of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath,
reduced to lazy execution.
The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and
painfully followed it… was the unanimous humanity, here, and
throughout the country. The government, the President in particular,
was given every possible measure of support.
Those who did not belong to his party — tabled that.
Those who doubted the mechanics of his election — ignored that.
Those who wondered of his qualifications — forgot that.
History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government
cannot be taken away from that government, by its critics.
It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation’s
wounds, but to take political advantage.
Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being
American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor
did the media. Nor did the people.
The President — and those around him — did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them,
"bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would
have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as
morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the
Vice President’s words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the
They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection"
meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken… a
despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee,
hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.
The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a
war, on the false premise that it had ’something to do’ with 9/11, is
"lying by implication." The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."
Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume
responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space… and to
this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.
Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect
and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he
alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.
Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated,
that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible — for
anything — in his own administration.
Yet what is happening this very night?
A mini-series, created, influenced — possibly financed by — the most
radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be
televised into our homes.
The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by
bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted;
the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of
office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem
like the only option.
How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the
unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and
needless death… after monstrously transforming it into fear and
suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three
elections… how dare you or those around you… ever "spin" 9/11.
Just as the terrorists have succeeded — are still succeeding — as long
as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero…
So too have they succeeded, and are still succeeding — as long as this
government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.
This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from
March of 1960. But as Disney’s continuing sell-out of the truth (and
this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful
And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting
episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."
In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials
disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for
Suddenly his car — and only his car — starts. Someone suggests he must
be the alien. Then another man’s lights go on.
As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are
An "alien" is shot — but he turns out to be just another neighbor,
returning from going for help.
The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials
areseen, manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The
veteran tells his novice that there’s no need to actually attack, that
you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the
most dangerous enemy they can find, and it’s themselves."
And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it
up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and
explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts,
attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a
thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its
own — for the children, and the children yet unborn."
When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be,
if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public
chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of
it, we are somehow un-American…
When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten
the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the
bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
May this country forgive you.
(This text was borrowed from http://www.crooksandliars.com.)