This is all things that arrived/were published/discovered too late to be included in our Labor Day published September 11th Tenth Anniversary Memorial Issue.
Please remember to display the flag today in support of our troops fighting the war on terrorism we never asked for and out of respect for the memories of all the victims.
10 Years After
9/11 Commission Recommendations On First Responder Network, Civil Liberties Unmet 10 Years After Attacks
Huffington Post 9/9/11 08:55 AM ET Updated: 9/9/11 11:35 AM ET
NEW YORK — On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Glen Klein, an officer with the New York Police Department’s elite Emergency Service Unit, found himself at a command post just down the street from the World Trade Center, engulfed in dust from the collapse of the south tower.
Hundreds of firefighters and police officers remained in the burning north tower as responders on the ground struggled to reach them with urgent warnings to evacuate.
“It was like Armageddon on the radios,” Klein, 53, said in an interview near his home on Long Island. “We couldn’t get through.”
NYPD helicopters hovering over the north tower observed fires raging on its top floors and advised commanders on the ground to immediately evacuate the building. Those transmissions successfully reached police officers in the tower — but not firefighters, whose radios were not linked to the NYPD network. As police officers hurried downward, many firefighters lingered on low floors or continued to climb upward toward certain death.
“I truly believe that if the firemen were able to listen to our frequency, a lot of guys would have got out of the building,” Klein said.
The communication breakdown between the police and fire department cost many firefighters their lives, the bipartisan commission on the terrorist attacks concluded in 2004. Commissioners recommended a major initiative to bolster emergency communications nationwide and called for the creation of a mobile broadband network dedicated exclusively to first responders.
Yet 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the construction of an interoperable wireless network for first responders has not been approved by Congress. The failure to create the network is just one of nine major recommendations by the 9/11 Commission that Congress, the executive branch or federal, state and local authorities have either not acted on at all or only partially implemented, members of the panel said in a report in early September. Among the other outstanding business: streamlining congressional oversight, setting up an effective board to balance civil liberties with security and instituting a standardized national ID system.
“Overall we’re much better off, but we still have glaring vulnerabilities and they need to be addressed,” John Lehman, a 9/11 commissioner and Navy Secretary under President Reagan, said in an interview.
Some of these shortcomings involve security measures to protect Americans from future attack. The failure of foreign terrorists to successfully carry out another significant terror attack on U.S. soil since 2001 — despite repeated attempts — is a clear indication of the nation’s broad success in the battle against al Qaeda and other terrorists, commissioners said.
The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces also represents a major achievement by the country’s intelligence agencies and military in taking the offensive in the fight against terrorism.
But thwarted attacks by homegrown extremists and foreign cells in the past several years indicate that, despite the weakened capabilities of al Qaeda, terrorist threats on American soil will remain a reality for years and decades to come.
Chaos On Capitol Hill
Oversight of security and intelligence policy falls largely to Congress, and in their original report, the 9/11 commissioners found that authority over these concerns was splintered among 88 different committees and subcommittees. The panel recommended streamlining oversight and review under one committee.
Since then, the jurisdictional mess over security and intelligence has only deepened. “We railed against 88 committees. Now it’s up to 106 committees,” Lehman said. “It’s just a terrible plague.”
Commissioners also urged federal agencies to pursue better technology to detect explosives in baggage, cargo and on passengers’ bodies. The threat of explosives on airliners remains a potent one, illustrated by near-miss attacks by the Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber” and the foiled plot by Yemen-based terrorists to plant bombs in the cargo holds of airliners last year.
In the area of disaster response, recommendations by the 9/11 panel to strengthen and streamline command-and-control procedures during major disasters had mixed success, commissioners found.
While no major terror attacks have tested the nation’s first responders since 9/11, several large-scale natural and man-made disasters in intervening years have exposed serious flaws in the coordination of response efforts among local, state and national authorities.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, overwhelmed state and local responders turned for help to the federal government, which was harshly criticized for a slow and disorganized rescue and relief effort.
Communication breakdowns and turf battles over command and control of response efforts — a problem seen in the aftermath of 9/11 — were also repeated during Katrina.
“There should be someone in charge at the site of a disaster,” Lee Hamilton, the commission’s vice chairman, said in an interview. “Someone has to be calling the shots.”
Command-and-control problems resurfaced during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, Hamilton said. Although communication between response agencies and government entities was improved, state and local authorities, particularly in Louisiana, at times bucked centralized control and set up competing command structures.
States Balk At National ID
Hamilton added that many state governments have failed to enact one of the most controversial recommendations of the commission: the creation of federally-approved state driver’s licenses. The commission found that the 9/11 hijackers obtained at least 30 pieces of state-issued identification, including multiple driver’s licenses, which aided them in evading law enforcement scrutiny for traffic violations.
The commission urged Congress to address the vulnerability of state ID systems to fraud by terrorists and other criminals by creating a single national standard for driver’s licenses. The House and Senate mandated these requirements with the passage of the 2005 Real ID Act.
But the prospect of a national ID outraged privacy and civil liberties advocates and raised fiscal concerns, as bringing state IDs in line with national standards would cost states billions of dollars. Its full implementation has been delayed until 2013 by the Obama administration.
Not all the shortcomings identified by the 9/11 commissioners relate to national security or emergency response, however. The aftermath of the terror attacks was marked by an extraordinary growth in data gathering and surveillance powers by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
To protect against the erosion of Americans’ constitutional rights, the commission recommended the formation of a civil liberties and privacy board within the executive branch to act as a counterweight to the expanding powers of the national security state. The board was created by Congress in 2004, but has been ineffectual under both the Bush and Obama administrations, according to 9/11 commissioners.
The civil liberties and privacy board has been “dormant” for the last three years, commissioners wrote in their September 2011 report. During that period, federal authorities continued to exercise powers granted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, such as the use of roving wiretaps against terrorism suspects and special subpoenas compelling businesses to turn over financial records without specifying the nature or subject of the inquiry.
Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, the Republican chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that while Bush appointed a board, “they weren’t, frankly, the best.” While Congress strengthened the board by making it bipartisan and having its be members subject to Senate confirmation, Kean said, Obama has failed to fill its seats. Two members of the five-person board nominated by Obama await confirmation by the Senate, while the other three positions are simply unfilled.
“I don’t know why,” Kean said, adding that whenever he and Hamilton have brought up the issue, “the answer is always, ‘It’s on the way.'”
Proponents of civil liberties and privacy within the government wield little authority in debates over federal policy, Hamilton said. “The security people win every argument,” he said, adding that “the capabilities they have in terms of intrusions into privacy and civil liberties are awesome.”
The issue of terrorist detention and the legal rights of Guantanamo detainees also remains unresolved, despite a campaign promise by Obama to close the detention center and try most detainees in civilian court. Republicans in Congress have bitterly fought the administration’s attempts to transfer detainees to civilian custody and pushed for military commissions for terrorism suspects.
Still A Failure To Communicate
Even some seemingly straightforward tasks proposed by the commission have been delayed by unforeseen complications. The creation of a national mobile broadband network for first responders — dubbed a “no-brainer” by commission members and its boosters in Congress — has proven anything but simple for those attempting to bring it into being.
Few in Congress have argued against the utility of a nationwide system allowing emergency responders from disparate agencies to communicate with each other during a disaster. But questions about cost and squabbles over the network’s design have created a series of stumbling blocks that have so far frustrated its backers’ efforts.
Earlier this year, a bipartisan bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee that would set aside 10 megahertz of broadband spectrum, known as “D Block,” that was voluntarily returned to the government by television broadcasters several years ago for the first responder system. The bill allocates $11.75 billion for the construction of the responder system, which would be paid for through the auction of additional broadband spectrum to the private sector.
The auction of broadband spectrum would generate an additional $6.5 billion in revenue that could be dedicated to deficit reduction, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
In an interview, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of the bill’s strongest advocates, called the failure of Congress to authorize the construction of the broadband network a decade after the terror attacks “unacceptable.”
“Any kid with a Smartphone has better technology to download data than our first responders who are rushing into burning buildings,” Gillibrand said. “That needs to change.”
The Senate bill, authored by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), is co-sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), the committee’s ranking Republican member.
In an August letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, both senators cited the effects of the recent East Coast earthquake on communications networks as a prime example of the need for a dedicated first-responder broadband system. The earthquake caused little structural damage but led to significant disruptions in cell phone service for millions of people, including some emergency workers, the senators noted.
“Our bill addresses one of the last outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, promises to save lives, would create hundreds of thousands of jobs without costing taxpayers a dime, and provides billions for deficit reduction,” the letter concluded.
President Obama has already endorsed the creation of a dedicated first responder network, but whether the Senate bill will find backing among Republicans in the House is unclear. At a hearing in May, Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology indicated voiced opposition to the allocation of the D Block spectrum to first responders.
Several Republican lawmakers observed that the nation’s public safety sector was granted roughly 25 megahertz of broadband spectrum in 2005 that has not been totally utilized and expressed skepticism that apportioning an additional 10 megahertz of spectrum for a dedicated first responders broadband network would be cost-effective.
“We have provided public safety with nearly 100 megahertz of spectrum for their exclusive use,” said Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the subcommittee. “Six years later, that spectrum lays woefully underused. Clearly something in our approach is not working.”
Other Republicans questioned whether the billions required for constructing the public safety broadband network would be spent effectively.
Democrats on the panel, however, argued that the Rockefeller and Hutchinson bill addressed concerns about funding, governance and accountability raised by Republican lawmakers.
“I appreciate the fact that doing this right is complex and challenging,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “But with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, we need to settle on a path forward and move quickly.”
In New York City, the creation of the broadband network is no longer essential to allow police and firefighters to communicate over the same frequency as that problem was largely resolved by city authorities several years ago. Other major cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, have also deployed interoperable networks. But for many other U.S. cities, a critical communications breakdown that costs lives may be just one major disaster away.
It is a thought that troubles men like Glen Klein, whose NYPD unit lost 14 men in the Sept. 11 attacks. “If we did have that system and it saved only one life, it would have been worth every penny,” he said.
Sarasota, Fla., reading students who were with Bush on 9/11 share memories
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — The 16 children who shared modern America’s darkest moment with President George W. Bush are high school seniors now — football players, ROTC members, track athletes, wrestlers and singers.
They remember going over an eight-paragraph story so it would be perfect when they read it to the president on Sept. 11, 2001.
They remember how Bush’s face suddenly clouded as his chief of staff, Andrew Card, bent down and whispered to him that the U.S. had been attacked. They remember how Bush pressed on with the reading as best he could before sharing the devastating news with the nation.
“It was like a blank stare. Like he knew something was going on, but he didn’t want to make it too bad for us to notice by looking different,” said Lenard Rivers, now a 17-year-old football player at Sarasota High.
What the students can’t say for sure is how that moment changed them. They were just second-graders. Their memories were only beginning.
“I think we all matured maybe a little bit,” said Chantal Guerrero, now a 17-year-old senior at Sarasota Military Academy. “But since we were only 7, I’m not sure what kind of impact it had, because we didn’t know how things were before.”
Lazaro Dubrocq, now a 17-year-old senior and captain of the wrestling team at Sarasota’s Riverview High School, said it wouldn’t be until middle school that he started seriously pondering his place in the chaotic events of Sept. 11. “I was too young and naive to fully understand the gravity of the situation,” said Dubrocq, who is headed to Columbia University to study chemical engineering next year. “As I began to age and mature, it helped me gain a new perspective of the world, and it helped me mature faster as I began to understand that there are politics and wars and genocides that occur daily throughout the world. It helped me come to a realization that the world is not a perfect place.”
Sept. 11, 2001, was a steamy Tuesday in southwest Florida. The children were sitting in two neat rows in room 301 of Emma E. Booker Elementary School. Bush planned to sit in the classroom with them before moving to the media center to talk about a national reading initiative.
Booker Elementary, in a low-income area of Sarasota, was chosen for the Bush visit because Principal Gwen Tose’-Rigell had turned it into a high-performing school. As presidential trips go, it was routine, mundane even. The children were chosen because they were some of the best readers.
Tose’-Rigell, who died of cancer in 2007, told The Associated Press in 2002 that Bush knew when he arrived at the school that some kind of plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers in New York. But the news was sketchy, and the decision was made to proceed with the program at Booker.
The moment when Card whispered to the president about the terrorist attack came when the children were reaching under their desks for a book called Reading Mastery II. On Page 153 was “The Pet Goat,” the story the children read aloud as the president followed along with his own copy.
As they began the story, some of the children sensed something was different about the president.
“One kid described his face as (like) he had to use the bathroom,” Guerrero said. “That’s how we saw it in second grade. He just looked like he got the worst news in the world.”
Teacher Kay Daniels was sitting next to Bush and knew something was amiss when Card came out of the adjoining classroom and approached the president. Everything about the day was so choreographed, and that wasn’t supposed to happen.
“I had 16 little ones sitting in front of me, the media in the back of the classroom, and I had to keep going,” said Daniels, now a reading teacher at a Sarasota middle school. “Emotionally, (Bush) left us, but he came back. He did come back into the lesson, and he picked up the book and for a moment he stayed with us.”
Bush dissected those moments recently in an interview with the National Geographic TV channel.
“At the back of the room, reporters were on their cell phones. They were getting the same message I got, which meant a lot of people would be watching my reaction to this crisis,” he said. “So I made a decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom. I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm.”
After the story, Bush quickly shook hands with the children and left each with some M&Ms in a box bearing the presidential seal. Then he disappeared into the adjoining classroom, which had been set up as a command center for the visit. Minutes later in the media center, he stepped up to the podium and told the country about the attacks.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America,” Bush began. Teachers and students standing closest to him could see tears well in his eyes.
Just behind him, visible in most of the photos and video footage of the speech, stood Stevenson Tose’-Rigell, the principal’s son. He was a fifth-grader whose class was chosen to be on the riser with the president during the speech about the reading initiative.
Now a 20-year-old college student, Tose’-Rigell said his mother had staunchly defended Bush against criticism that he didn’t get up and act quickly enough after being told of the attacks. Filmmaker Michael Moore used the classroom footage in 2004 documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” showing Bush continuing to sit after getting the news from Card.
“She knows kids, obviously, and she knows how kids react, and Bush did the best that he could by remaining calm, not going hysterical or anything like that, and really just making a smooth transition,” Tose’-Rigell said. “Overall, she was pretty much content with the way things happened.”
The rest of the day at Booker was a flurry of activity. Frantic parents came and scooped up their children, thinking the school might be a target for an attack because Bush had been there. Daniels, the teacher, made the remaining second-graders sit down and watch news coverage of the attacks and tried to explain what had happened.
“I just remember watching it on TV over and over again and being confused about what was going on,” said Mariah Williams, now a senior at Sarasota Military Academy. “Because, when I first saw it, I thought it was an accident and I thought, ‘How could this happen?’ Then I find out it was done intentionally and that just made me more confused. Like, why would someone do that?”
Today, the media center at Booker bears Gwen Tose’-Rigell’s name. Prominently displayed there are photos and memorabilia from Bush’s visit, including the storybook the president held that day as he listened to the children read. A plaque outside Room 301 recognizes its place in history.
Bush videotaped a greeting for the faculty and students of Booker Elementary for a day of remembrance at the school on the fifth anniversary of the attacks in 2006. “All Americans remember where they were when they first heard about the terrible attack on our nation,” Bush told them, “and I will always remember being with you.”
John Feal, a demolitions supervisor seriously injured during the cleanup of Ground Zero, took a lead role in organizing 9/11 first responders to advocate for the passage of a Ground Zero health care bill, which was signed into law earlier this year. Now he says his top priority is pushing Congress to allocate funds for a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety.
As you can see he is also the founder of the charity that 1/2 the proceeds from our limited run memorial mug sales will benefit.
9/11 from space: Astronaut shares pictures and thoughts
When the towers of the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001, one American was not on the planet.
Astronaut Frank Culbertson had been aboard the International Space Station for a month when the 9/11 attacks occurred, joined only by two Russian cosmonaut crew mates. He could only monitor the events of the day from 300 miles above the Earth.
On Friday, NASA released letters Culbertson wrote and images he took as the space station passed over the New York City area after the 9/11 attacks.
Culbertson wrote that he first heard of the attack via radio from a NASA flight surgeon.
“I was flabbergasted, then horrified. My first thought was that this wasn’t a real conversation, that I was still listening to one of my Tom Clancy tapes,” Culbertson wrote. “It just didn’t seem possible on this scale in our country. I couldn’t even imagine the particulars, even before the news of further destruction began coming in.”
And he closed his letter on that first day:
“Other than the emotional impact of our country being attacked and thousands of our citizens and maybe some friends being killed, the most overwhelming feeling being where I am is one of isolation.”
A day later, after having time to reflect on what was happening below, Culbertson continued his writing.
“It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are,” he wrote.
And he continued to feel his isolation.
“It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be the only American completely off the planet at a time such as this. The feeling that I should be there with all of you, dealing with this, helping in some way, is overwhelming.”
The destruction of 9/11 also became more personal for him that day.
“I learned that the Captain of the American Airlines jet that hit the Pentagon was Chic Burlingame, a classmate of mine” at the U.S. Naval Academy, Culbertson wrote. “What a terrible loss, but I’m sure Chic was fighting bravely to the end. And tears don’t flow the same in space … ”
ESSAY: After 9/11, searching for American optimism
TED ANTHONY AP National Writer Friday, September 09, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — Before the towers crumbled, before the doomed people jumped and the smoke billowed and the planes hit, the collective American memory summoned one fleeting fragment of beauty: a clear blue sky.
So many of those who remember that day invoke that detail. Last week, New York magazine, which has been running a 9/11 “encyclopedia” ahead of the 10th anniversary, added an entry for “Blue: What everyone would remember first.” It chronicled nearly a dozen of the ways that Americans recalling 9/11 anchor their looks back with a reminiscence of blue sky.
No coincidence that the power of such an image endures. Blue sky is a canvas of possibility, and optimistic notions of better tomorrows — futures that deliver endless promise — are fundamental to the American tradition. In the United States, to “blue-sky” something can mean visionary, fanciful thinking unbound by the weedy entanglements of the moment. Off we go into the wild blue yonder.
But the years since 9/11 have dealt a gut punch to four centuries of American optimism. A volley of cataclysmic events — two far-off wars, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and, for the past four years, serious economic downturn — has worn down the national psyche. It’s easy to ask: Is optimism, one of the defining pillars of the American character, on the wane?
“Some of the really big challenges we are facing are really starting to sink in with people,” says Jason Seacat, who teaches about the psychology of optimism and hope at Western New England University. “You talk about that can-do spirit that used to exist, and it still can exist. But what I get a lot of is, ‘This is such a huge problem, and there’s really nothing I can do about it.'”
Welcome to the rest of the human race, some might say. Europeans, who can enjoy their fatalism, have been known to poke fun at American optimism. And why not? You could argue that the virus of optimism was spread to this continent by supplicants beguiled by the vision of a land that promised brighter futures — presuming you left the Old World to pursue them.
Since the 1600s, when one of America’s first Puritan leaders cast the society that would become the United States as a “shining city upon a hill,” the notion that one can will a better future into existence has been a central thread of the American story. The Declaration of Independence enshrined as national mythology not happiness itself, but the pursuit of it — the chasing of a dream alongside life and liberty as the ultimate expression of self-definition.
It took root. This became the nation where getting bigger and better was a right granted by God, where the Optimists Club was founded and “The Power of Positive Thinking” became a bestseller, where you could bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. “Finish each day and be done with it,” American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson exhorted. “Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Old nonsense, alas, has a way of loitering around and gumming up the works.
Last year, as we began a new decade, a Gallup poll found that 34 percent of Americans were pessimistic about the country’s future – the highest number at the start of a decade since the 1980s began. Numbers from Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index late last month were the lowest since March 2009. Most tellingly, perhaps, a majority of Americans — 55 percent — said this year they found it unlikely that today’s youth will have better lives than their parents.
More anecdotally, when was the last time that popular culture produced a strong vision of an optimistic American future? We got those all the time in the mid-20th century, era of the World’s Fair “Futurama” and promises of jet-packing your way to the office in the morning. But the Jetsonian view of tomorrow has become quaint, and today forlorn narratives like “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the zombie apocalypse drama “The Walking Dead” and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” dominate the American futurescape.
In the weeks directly after 9/11, optimism seemed on the rise for a time. The trumpet had summoned us again, and some people expressed a renewed sense of purpose. A high-stakes seriousness settled in. We spun tales of freshly minted heroes, gave blood, held benefits, told each other that hey, don’t worry, things will get better. A national coming together and the accompanying resoluteness were, it seemed, feeding hope.
“In an odd way, for all its tragedy, 9/11 reinvigorated the sources of American optimism at a very particular time,” says Peter J. Kastor, a historian at Washington University in St. Louis. “The problem now is recapturing that.”
Today, politicians struggle to project the all-important optimistic outlook that will help them win elections and govern a cranky citizenry. Yet optimism is a must-have narrative for any politician looking to lead. And the most effective among them – the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan – have built their images around optimism. “Morning in America,” Reagan called it.
Political consultant Bob Shrum, who wrote Ted Kennedy’s famous and optimistic speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention (“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die”), says successful politicians deploy optimism as a tool to “expand America’s vision of itself.” The ones who endure, he says, “are people who help define and enlarge the American spirit.”
The “Audacity of Hope” president used the meme Thursday night in his jobs speech to Congress after cataloguing employment problems and putting forward his solutions. “We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been,” Barack Obama said. “So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and let’s show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.”
Not everyone finds salvation in positive thinking. The cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an entire book in 2009 on the country’s excessive optimism. In “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” she assessed it this way: “Positivity is not so much our condition or our mood as it is part of our ideology — the way we explain the world and think we ought to function within it.”
Ehrenreich identified an important point: There is a big difference between unfettered hope and the American brand of optimism. Hope, she asserts, is an emotion; optimism is “a cognitive stance, a conscious expectation.”
And what, after all, is more American than a conscious, supremely confident expectation that things will turn out OK? That if we visualize the future, and are simply American enough as we forge forward, bright tomorrows will happen.
That may be the central challenge for American optimism at the dawn of the second decade after 9/11: figuring out how much of the dream should be about the clear blue sky, and how much should be about wrestling with the problems that percolate beneath it. A balance, in effect, between the promise of our tomorrows and the reality of our todays.
It’s not like the future is going anywhere, though. It’s been our comforting companion for too long, and blue-sky dreams have a way of clawing to the top of any American story. Even after 9/11 and the uneasy decade that followed it tested the optimism of so many, that’s the thing about tomorrow: No matter what, it’s still always a day away.
With Bowed Head, Heavy Heart and Still Thirsty for Vengeance,