It has been 18 years, and for those Americans who watched the horror of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on every major news market, the images are indelibly burned into their minds. Who could forget the day that changed the way US citizens lived as confident and secure to immediately afraid as high-value targets of terrorists, all in the name of Allah?
Most Americans had not experienced that level of hate in their lifetime. Our free capitalist society – heralded around the globe – lost the easiness of hard-earned independence with the minutes-long hijacking of four jetliners, fueled to capacity and weaponized into killing machines.
Nearly 3,000 died that day, more than 6,000 others were injured.
Among the victims were first responders – 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers. Sadly, thousands of people who worked and lived in and around Ground Zero during the attacks and shortly thereafter are being diagnosed with cancer and other chronic diseases even to this day.
How Did They Get So Far in the US?
The Center for Immigrant Studies published a report one year after the attacks to enlighten the public on how the events were allowed to unfold:
“They have come as students, tourists, and business visitors. They have also been lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and naturalized US citizens. They have sneaked across the border illegally, arrived as stowaways on ships, used false passports, or been granted amnesty. Terrorists have even exploited America’s humanitarian tradition of welcoming those seeking asylum.”
Imagine! This country once experienced national security shortcomings that opened the door to the worst terrorist attack on US soil. And is America on the brink of yet another act of war from our enemies?
The Used and Abused Patriot Act
Democrats and Republicans – all Americans – demanded that 9/11 never be allowed to happen again. The late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was interviewed on Sept. 12 and warned the terrorists behind the downing of the four airliners: “May God have mercy on your souls because we won’t.”
The 107th Congress went into protective mode and drafted legislation – based on then Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-DE) 1995 Omnibus Counterterrorism Act. It labeled the legislation “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” – commonly known as the USA
Patriot Act – which passed easily with a vote of 357-66 in the House and 98-1 in the Senate.
In a nutshell, the Patriot Act provided federal agents the right to:
- Surveil and wiretap to investigate terror-related crimes.
- Request court permission for roving wiretaps in tracking a specific terrorist suspect.
- Seek federal court permission to obtain bank records and business records to aid in national security terror investigations and prevent money laundering for terrorism financing.
Sounds a bit more like former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s last two years of hunting Halloween characters and less like seeking the next suicide bombers’ whereabouts. And Mueller loves the Patriot Act. In his 2004 testimony before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, he declared:
“The Patriot Act has proved extraordinarily beneficial in the war on terrorism and has changed the way the FBI does business. Many of our counterterrorism successes, in fact, are the direct results of provisions included in the Act …”
He certainly called that right.
The legislation has helped keep the country safe. The Heritage Foundation recently reported 50 terrorist attacks have been thwarted since 9/11, with 47 being the direct result of the investigative work of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
As Mrs. Clinton Said, What Happened?
Why have Americans fallen so far from the sentiments, patriotism, strength, and courage of Sept. 11 in the mere 18 years since this nation was attacked so brutally?
We went from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) making an impassioned speech on the House floor for the first anniversary on Sept. 11, 2002:
“We have learned we are a vulnerable nation … what we learned on that day is that we could be attacked and that thousands of men and women could be killed. And we also have learned we must lead an international coalition against bigoted religious fanatics … who believe they have the right to kill innocent people in order to impose their reactionary ideology on others.”
To our frumpy senator and his open friendships with known friends of terrorist sympathizers today.
How do you reconcile McCain’s sentiments with those of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who recently discussed the attacks of 9/11 by coyly stating, “Some people did some things.”
Where did America go?
During the attacks, the now bag-packing National Security Advisor John Bolton reminisced about his experience on 9/11. He was at the State Department across the Potomac facing the iconic Pentagon building’s western side when American Airlines Flight 77 hit. Whether or not one is a fan of the man, his words today should be heeded: “After 9/11, proliferation and terrorism were not problems to be managed. They were mortal threats to be stopped. They still are.”