9/11 murders in perspective

The attacks of September 11, 2001 were horrible, nearly 3,000 people perished in the planes and on the ground. The memorials made yesterday on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy to the familys’ loss and the individual’s untimely passing were both heart breaking and moving. While the attacks on the trade center were horrific, it was the catastrophic failure of the buildings that killed most of the people involved. A fire in a high rise building is terrible, but the absolute and complete collapse of these immense structures was much worse than could have been expected. I don’t think the criminals who planned the attacks could have imagined or hoped for such an outcome, so in some sense the complete and utter disaster that unfolded was more a result of poor engineering than their criminal behavior. The Pentagon, another building that took a direct hit for instance, took damage but is still in use today. In some sense, by attributing all of those deaths to the action of the terrorists we give them more credit than they deserve. All of the loss of life on that day can be classified as murder, however, because the deaths were the result of a criminal act intended to cause harm even if the criminals didn’t plan to kill as many as they did.

So lets put that murder in a bit of perspective. The murder rate in the US according to the FBI is a horrific 16,000 deaths per year. It fluctuates, and has gone higher and lower since the 2001 attacks, but at that rate in the ten years that have passed, approximately 160,000 Americans have been killed by other Americans. Thats more than 50 times the number that died in the attacks, yet I do not see a four hour chunk of airtime dedicated to all these folks (OK, I guess if the victim is pretty and white you might hear about it on Nancy Grace). For some reason, what is essentially a gang of international thugs managed to pull off one horrific crime which killed a lot of people and destroyed a couple very important buildings (completely accidentally) and those crimes are still in the news every year, while five times as many Americans are killed by other Americans every year and we should just accept that as normal?

Terrorists or criminals?

I watched a great ireport wherein the question is posed why it is that the guy who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum and the the guy who shot the abortion doctor recently weren’t on a terrorist watch list since they had both committed similar acts in the past. It seems like we’ll send in the marines if the terrorists are muslim, but when they’re old white guys we don’t care?
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Defending torture!?

The recent release of CIA memos detailing the harsh interrogation methods authorized by the Bush administration has brought forward a seemingly unending stream of formerly influential mucky-mucks to decry the release as a terrible move that will make the US less safe. I’m not surprised by their attitude at all – if the public were to find out about all the terrible things that were done in their name, they might actually start calling to prosecute some of these criminals. How dare I say such things?
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I kept hearing the word ‘sureal’, and I suppose that pretty much sums it up. I had been in one of the twin towers and looked out over the city. The thought of a terrorist attack wasn’t much in the public consciousness then, although there had been a (failed) attack on the building in 1993 and I’m not too sure about the date, but I believe a madman with an axe was running rampant in the observation deck around that time as well. It was pretty ‘sureal’ then, when word came at work that a plane had crashed into the building. I was in a sales meeting with Toh, Peggy, Mike Leek and Deven when we heard about it. Jack’s satellite TV, so much an un-nessessary excess at the time, certainly came in handy. Then there was word of other tragedies. The pentagon (not a tragedy, really?), a downed plane in PA, camp david, rumours of an attack on the state dept (later found to be false?). The horror of those poor souls on board the fated flights. Just when you thought, “well, thats it, now to deal with it”, another shock would come. The United States was not supposed to be susceptible to terror like this. I fear now that this may force us into a war that no-one really wants but that we’ll have to support just the same. I fear for my friends that may be missing in the rubble of those massive towers of steel (and coworkers like Joe Beltrani who may be among the missing 200 firefighters). I fear for Emily.