Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Real Consequences Of Another 9/11

The Philadelphia Daily News' Stu Bykofsky has written a column which has caused a bit of a stir lately. The title of the column says it all: To save America, we need another 9/11.

I think Mr. Bykofsky is 180 degrees off the mark. Another 9/11 at this point in our history would lead to an America which you an I would find very alien to the America we grew up in, and even the America we now live in.

The proof for my point of view lies in the consequences of the first 9/11. Think about America on 9/10. On that day if a respected pundit had foretold a day coming soon in which American policy would endorse the torture of detainees, that pundit would have been retired to a madhouse. On 9/10, if anyone had predicted that a program would be set up by the President to allow for the warrantless wire tapping of American citizens, and that when the program was disclosed that the President would defiantly proclaim his intention to continue the practice in defiance of the law and constitution, that person would have been labeled a conspiratorial kook.

Both of those unimaginables, and many many more besides, occurred as a direct result of the attacks of 9/11.

In fact it was the lock step loyalty given the President by the nation and the world immediately following the attacks, which unity Bykofsky pines to return, which allowed these changes to be instituted. As a nation we allowed oursleves to be frightened into changing the fundamental meaning of what we once stood for. Over 230 years of military doctrine in governing the treatment of prisoners was over turned. American ideals on the international stage were upended in pursuit of pre-emptive war when a threat is merely perceived, not realized. This new doctrine was even named after President Bush. The thinking of the greatest military minds of our generation was supplanted by the new fangled doctrines of yet another incompetent neoconservative, Donald Rumsfeld.

9/11 was used by the President, the Vice President, and those they surrounded themselves with to consolidate and expand power in blatantly unconstitutional ways. They tarred political opponents as weak on terror in order to consolidate power in Congress. They used the lack of oversight from the legislative branch to turn the Federal government into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party. In doing so they have destroyed the Department of Justice. The President purged the Pentagon and military of officers who would not knuckle under and endorse blatantly wrong headed and disastrous military policy, even as he claimed to be listening to the generals on the ground. Indeed, the Valery Plame debacle is an early example of just this type of insidious purging of those elements who do not toe the administration line, even when that line is a demonstrated falsehood. It was only the rebellion of the electorate in 06 and the sweep of Republicans from Congress that brought much of this to light.

These neocons counted on fear and dread by the populace of being targeted by terrorists in order to lead the nation to a needless war. A war which has cost the nation more blood and treasure than were taken from us by the terrorists in the initial attack for which the wrong headed war is supposedly a response. The neocons are fond of repeatedly saying "but we haven't been hit since 9/11 so we must be doing something right." Try telling that to the family of Spc. Donald M. Young, 19 years old of Helena Montana, who died Monday from an ied in Baghdad. Try telling the family of Spc. Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Florida, killed by an ied in Baghdad, that we have not been hit since 9/11. There are roughly 3,700 families of dead service members who each have a story about how they have been affected by a loved one being killed after 9/11. Tell the tens of thousands of maimed and limbless returning from Iraq and facing lifetimes of pain and suffering that we haven't been hit since 9/11. Or the members of our reserves who signed up for 2 weekends a year but who wake up screaming from the nightmares of what they have seen in this God forsaken war... try telling these people we haven't been hit since 9/11.

So yes... the America I grew up in changed dramatically after 9/11. It is not the America I once lived in. Me and those who hold my opinions are doing our best to get the nation back on track, but I believe another 9/11 would accelerate the downward slide of the nation rather than helping to bring about the restoration of the nation I love.

I actually have no reason to believe that what Bykofsky wishes for would not occur. The nation would unite after another 9/11. We would unite and support the President using that unity to further erode the constitution and fundamental ideals of America. We would allow fear to again stampede us into military adventurism, and into voting for the most bellicose and thoughtless politicians who promise to support the Presidents agenda. All of this is the antithesis of the America you and I once lived in.

I suppose what it boils down to is whether or not you believe all of us running in lemming like fashion over a cliff out of fear is good for America. We may be united as we trash the fundamental ideals of the nation, but is that really saving America? So I think Bykovsky is partly right, in that we would unite, but wrong in thinking it would save America. Another 9/11 would accelerate our destruction.

I pray there is never another terrorist shock in the United States. I rembember my son calling me on his cell from a city bus, where he had hear of the twin towers disaster. He had served four years in the air force. A year later he enlisted in a Wisconsin National Guard field artillery battalion. The Army deployed them last year to guard supply convoys on the roads of Iraq from HUMVEEs. An explosive formed device, placed by the Shia, bored in to my son's up-armored Humvee on his first mission and wounded him. The convoy forged ahead, abandoning the destroyed HUMVEE. He was bleedng and received no first aid for 90 minutes until a medevac helicopter arrived. Though he was bleeding (nobody had applied a tournequet to his leg) his hear and respiration were normal and he was yelling in pain. His condition contintinued to be stable with good vitals during the medevac flight, but 30 seconds before touchdown at the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. The doctors attempted heroic measures to save him, but were unsuccessful. His death certificat says he bled to death.

My goal is to bring justice to the commander of the convoy, who lost command and control and abandoned an impacted HUMVEE and four crew members. I want justice to the officer trhat dispatched them on a daylight mission, when the insurgents are most motivated because they can film the attack. I want justice to every officer who failed to protest the abomonibe pre-deployment training and the wholly unprotective HUMVEEs, whether or not armored. Officers should be busted, pensions should be denied. The message must be sent that yes men will not be tolerated in today's military.

Stephen L. Castner
Father of CPL Stephen W. Castner, 1-121st, Wisconsin National Guard, killed in action, July 24, 2006, MSR Tampa, near Camp Cedar, Tallil, Iraq.
Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Cell: 414-531-4300
I'll do what I can to spread the word Mr. Castner. I feel almost like a pittance of the burden you carry has been transferred to me in a very small way and it is a heavy burden that you bear. I will do what I can from this obscure little blog to bring your story to light. Good luck going forward and God bless and keep you.
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