GetReligion links to a reporter’s notebook from the morning of the 9/11 attacks.
Then, seconds later, the crown of the south tower did a little twist, and there was that horrible, horrible roar, which I can hear inside my head as I type this, as the south tower collapsed. You can see on the image below the precise moment this happened, because I had my pen to my paper. At the top of the page were quotes from bystanders gathered just before the tower went down (âThis is Tom Clancy. This is unbelievable.â âPlain and simple and act of war.â âThis isnât a pizzeria w/10 employees.â) But look under the line I drew â youâll see a shaky line falling away toward the bottom of the page. Thatâs where my pen was on the paper as my knees went weak and I literally began to fall down. I reached out and grabbed Jessie to keep from going down.
Then I wrote, in a crazy scrawl:
explosion, fell to ground people on bridge sobbing,
Itâs not there anymore!
A short, stout young black woman in front of me threw her head back and her arms open. She looked at the sky and bellowed an apocalyptic line from Scripture: âAnd every knew shall bow, and every tongue confess!â She added: âIt ainât over, people!â
For the six-years-later, what-has-it-done-to-us approach, The LA Times runs an editorial titled “What we’ve lost.”
In the years since terrorists struck New York and Washington, we can point to one significant achievement: We have avoided another attack on American soil. Given the ferocity and cunning of Al Qaeda, that is no small feat. For this, we give thanks and credit to the diligence of U.S. and foreign intelligence services, homeland security and law enforcement officials, brave counter-terrorist fighters and wily strategists in every branch of the U.S. military, and alert citizens who have helped authorities foil attacks by would-be mass murderers.
By contrast, the decision to invade Iraq has proved, in our view, a distraction from the struggle against radical Islamist terrorism, and it has cost us dearly. More than 3,700 American soldiers have lost their lives on foreign sands. Another 27,000 have returned home with injuries, many of them life-altering. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or wounded and about 4 million forced to flee, half of them to uncertain foreign refuge. Their scars will mar the future as anger over the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and its injustices at Guantanamo Bay breedsnew enemies.
Those are harrowing consequences of a war waged by an administration that has misunderstood its enemy and its place in history. But the price of thispresident’smilitary and domestic overreach has been highest in the loss of faith in America itself, in the values and institutions that have historically defined this nation.
This editorial reminds me of a less-than-stellar piece I wrote (overwrote, no doubt) at my first paper in 2004 about how the war on terror was whittling away American freedoms. Check out the guest appearance by presidential candidate Ron Paul.