some of us have forgotten the attack on the World
not talking about 9/11, but 2/26. It was on that
day in 1993 that a car bomb exploded in an underground
garage. Six people were killed, a thousand injured.
Yousef, the mastermind of that attack, was eventually
captured and given a life sentence. A wealthy
Saudi businessman was named as an unindicted coconspirator.
His name: Osama bin Laden.
this episode has been largely forgotten seems
obvious when you consider the strained logic some
people are using to defend President Bush against
charges that he blundered in invading Iraq. They
contend the war has kept the country safe by putting
the terrorists on the defense.
an argument I hear often. As a man named John
Nastro put it in a letter to New York Newsday:
"How many terrorist attacks have been made on
our country since 9/11?"
White House has wholeheartedly encouraged that
line of thinking. "We are on the offensive --
striking terrorists abroad -- so we do not have
to face them here at home," President Bush said
this month in New York.
then, there's Vice President Cheney's grotesque
claim that the country will be hit again by terrorists
if the electorate chooses John Kerry.
BEEN HERE BEFORE
here's my question. It has been three years since
al Qaeda struck New York City. Before that, the
last foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil --
not counting a lone Palestinian gunman who killed
a tourist at the Empire State Building -- was
the one in 1993. If three years without an attack
validates George W. Bush's policies, what do eight
years without one do for Bill Clinton's? If a
three-year respite makes Bush a hero, what does
an eight-year respite do for his predecessor?
is fighting terrorism perhaps a little more complicated
than all this? Because if it is, then some of
us are reading way too much into these past three
years. They forget that those who oppose us are
long-term planners. We, unfortunately, are a short-term
while I am appalled at the cynicism the White
House shows in claiming three years without an
attack as proof the president has terrorists on
the run, I'm even more appalled at the naveté
some of us show in buying it. Have the lessons
of Sept. 11 gone unlearned even at the cost of
3,000 lives? Can we really afford to be as oblivious
and smug as we were?
day on the calendar could be the next 9/11. Anyone
who thinks that impossible or even unlikely because
the president has "taken the fight to the terrorists"
is risking a nasty shock.
Bush did was to invade a nation with no known
connection to the terrorist attacks. There are
those who believe that in doing so he only inflamed
Islamic radicals, confirming their most paranoid
fantasies about our evil intent, thereby increasing
rather than decreasing the likelihood of a terrorist
the military and intelligence experts interviewed
in the October issue of The Atlantic. As one tells
reporter James Fallows, "In my view, we are much,
much worse off now than when we went into Iraq.
That is not a partisan position. I voted for these
unsettling to know that some of us have bought
into the fantasy that in toppling a desert tyrant,
we struck some sort of defining blow against terrorism.
IN THE MARCH TO WAR
Afghanistan, indisputably the place from which
we were attacked, recedes from consciousness.
We knocked that nation off en route to a preordained
confrontation with Iraq and never looked back.
The man who directed the Sept. 11 atrocity is
believed to still be there, but our attention
big a mistake that was may become tragically clear
some awful morning yet to come.
one joker put it, Osama bin Forgotten. But this
much I guarantee you: He has not forgotten us.
Posted: September 20, 2004