9/11 at 11: the lost United States of September 10, 2001

Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, writes: September 11, 2001 is a milestone date in history that nearly everyone living at the time will recall in detail for the rest of their lives. I will always remember sitting at my desk in my office at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, eyes fixed on the television in the credenza sitting on the other side of the room. I recall watching the towers fall and wondering how it would change America.

Like this 10 September, 10 September 2001 was a Monday. The only reason I know that is because it was the day before an enormous tragedy that is permanently etched into my mind, and that happened on a Tuesday. I went to the same office and sat at the same desk on Monday as I did on Tuesday, but I have no recollection of one day and a vivid recollection of the other. Even though I do not recall any of the details of Monday 10 September, sometimes I think about how America might be different if we could turn back the clock.

On 10 September, the US economy was strong, although it had begun to slow down after a sustained period of growth. The unemployment rate stood at 4.9%. We were paying down the national debt and there was a $127bn surplus for the fiscal year ending on 30 September. For some, concern about the nation’s debt focused on what might happen in a few years when the debt was completely eliminated and there was no longer a need for US treasuries, a key component in the world’s economy.

Worries about the consequences of a debt-free America evaporated soon thereafter. After tax cuts, two unfunded wars, and a near-collapse of the economy, US treasury department figures show the nation’s debt grew from less than $6tn in 2001 to nearly $16tn today. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate has remained over 8% throughout 2012 after peaking at 10% in October 2009.

Rightly or wrongly, on 10 September 2001, most Americans believed their phone calls and emails were private and did not suspect that the government might be listening in and keeping tabs. If someone fondled your junk at the airport, you would expect to see the person again, this time as you sat on the witness standing testifying in his or her sexual assault trial. If the government was going to execute a citizen, it was assumed that followed after a trial and appeals in the courts of our judicial system, not a unilateral decision by a president that is immune from any review. [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “9/11 at 11: the lost United States of September 10, 2001

  1. DE Teodoru

    As a survivor of 9/11– I coincidentally was at the WTC Borders Bookstore to pick up books I had ordered on the Vietnam War– another catastrophe like the many from which we learned nothing so, as Santayana insisted, we were doomed to repeat– on each of these anniversaries I marvel at how ever more imbecilic become collectively our political and military leaders. Clearly, binLaden won, for we have become much what he hoped to make us with the 9/11 assault. To listen on 60 MINUTES to a member of the Seals Team that rubbed-out Osama binLaden sound like a Mafia hit man, invariably made me wonder what has happened to America’s values. The failure to bring Osama back alive defines the failure of both that mission and America. Many cops see heads pop-up in the place where they go to make an arrest but, at least in the past, were not allowed to kill anyone for popping his head in and out of the door. The boasting that “the job was mission accomplished, well done” in that an unarmed binLaden was deliberately rubbed out made me think of why it was that America was so hospitable to the Causa Nostra. This year, I will spend 9/11 with my illusion and admiration for America once again in taters, wondering fearfully what will become of my AMERICAN children and grandchildren. Will they be called upon to rub out China because we won’t be able to repay the debt it loaned us to buy innumerable “made in China” trinkets by leveraging all our homes? As one American so aptly said way back in the 19th Century, America is a great nation for “entrepreneurs” (French for “takers in the middle”) because here, “THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE.” It is indeed painful to age in despair in a dying nation one loves so much.

  2. Linda J

    “…a dying nation one loves so much.”

    De Teodoru, I am sorry for your pain. After spending the last 25 years publicly objecting to the corrupt policies (I used to say misguided, but no more) of this country, I can’t say I feel any love for it.

    I am still objecting, but have little hope for this country. For humankind, perhaps a bit more.

  3. DE eodoru

    Lina J, our nation is like our parents….the only ones we’ve got!

    Don’t give up, just VOTE for the LEAST EVIL!

    MY best to you and I hope you find strenth and hope.

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