TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Amnesia, Anyone?

Do you still remember Sept. 11, 2001? That’s the day four planes were hijacked. Two were flown into the Twin Towers in New York and another into the Pentagon. The last crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania when its passengers overcame the terrorists who had planned to take out a fourth target.

The hijackers were 19 men affiliated with al-Qaeda. Do you remember that 15 of the 19 were citizens of Saudi Arabia? Two others were from the United Arab Emirates; one each came from Egypt and Lebanon.

In its infinite wisdom, the United States military was unleashed upon … Afghanistan. You know, a country that had nothing to do with the bombings. You figure that one out because I can’t.

The Trump administration has looked with favor upon the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. Do you think it’s because, shortly after a meeting with the Saudis and the Emirates, U.S. firms signed enormous military contracts were signed with them? Do you also suppose it could also be because lucrative and much-needed financing was suddenly made available to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to bail his family real estate company out of substantial, pressing debt?

We still have a large troop presence in Afghanistan. We talk about the serious opioid crisis in our country; what seems even more serious is that Afghanistan is the greatest supplier of opioids. Why isn’t our country attacking the supplier-growers on their own ground, rather than only concentrating on the cure for overdoses? With all of our electronic surveillance capabilities, including the use of drones, the military could greatly diminish the drug pipeline. They are already there. Why hasn’t their mission changed?

Perhaps if we were constantly reminded that 115 people die every single day from drug overdose, we would focus more clearly on the source of the supply.

In Syria, we have troops in harm’s way. The president has said we should get out “quickly.” No sooner had he said that when Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad authorized the use of chlorine gas against his own people.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Russians benefit if we leave or are thrown out of Syria.

As we view situations such as the one in Syria, it reminds me of the days before and during World War II as the world, including this country, stood by and did little as the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. If you believe we didn’t know what was taking place in Europe during those times, I have some hot air to sell you from my backyard.

We all see the same news reports of the slaughter of men, women and children in Syria. Bombs, rockets and artillery shells are not selective when it comes to death.

To bring the bad news closer to home, think about Puerto Rico and Michigan. Puerto Rico has endured months without essential infrastructure, including electricity, because for some reason our leadership can’t or won’t make use of the National Guard or active-duty military and their combat engineers to assist them. Restoration would make a wonderful peacetime practice for war. Where else could they get better on-the-job training.

More than three years have gone by, and people in Flint, Mich., still can’t drink their lead-tainted water. Engineers from the military or the Guard could come in with supplies right now, but that hasn’t happened. The government talks a lot but the talk is not matched by action.

We need thinking men and women in Congress who can get it through their heads that they represent we, the people. That is not happening now. It’s hard to argue with that fact, notwithstanding your political affiliation.

The world is in turmoil. That includes our own country. We need meaningful, considered, thoughtful discussion. Then comes the hard part: prioritizing and acting first upon our actual needs, then upon our wants.

When so many people with so much money are running the country, the regular people are shortchanged. The rich get gigantic tax cuts, while the average person gets a pittance … and often thinks that’s just great.

If the wealthy were taxed like the average citizen, and if we stopped spending on military items we don’t need (as Dwight David Eisenhower warned us so long ago), we could develop a balanced budget. Some of these problems do predate the current administration, but the worst can be laid at its feet. Amen.

CLAY JENKINSON: Time To Get It Over With

Donald Trump is almost certainly going to have to resign. His behavior in the Flynn-Comey affair is nothing short of obstruction of justice. Even Republicans who have defended his hijinks until now are beginning to understand the gravity of the President’s misbehavior.

Richard Nixon waves farewell. He was a crook, it turns out, but he loved this country and he understood its place in the world.
Richard Nixon waves farewell. He was a crook, it turns out, but he loved this country and he understood its place in the world.

We need to swallow hard and get this over with.

I knew long before the election that President Trump was going to be bombastic, crude, impulsive and that he would play fast and loose with constitutional and political niceties.

He flirted with an unapologetically extra-constitutional presidency, or at least Know Nothingism, openly declaring that he would profile Muslims, shake up long-established foreign policy norms and alliances, undo hard-fought environmental regulations, and undermine the credibility of some of our most important institutions, inlcuding the judiciary.  He made all of that clear in his two-year campaign to become the Republican nominee and then president of the United States.

Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Elections matter. He had a right to try to change America in the ways he outlined. Millions of Americans voted for him because he told them he would fix what was wrong with the United States.

We can’t afford a prolonged (and predictable) constitutional crisis.
We can’t afford a prolonged (and predictable) constitutional crisis.

But what none of us could really know was that he would permit his closest cronies to commit treason against the United States by egging on Russian interference in our national election. We could not know that he would divulge state secrets to the Russians, demand loyalty vows from key figures in his administration or attempt to obstruct justice by first undermining the credibility of the FBI investigations, then trying to coerce FBI director James Comey and — when that failed — firing Comey, the national officer investigating the crimes of Trump’s cronies, and perhaps his own.

We are edging toward an impeachment crisis. Whether we have the national will to see it through will be a test of our genuine patriotism and our love of the American Constitution. It will also be a test of the Republican Party.

It seems to me that this can only end one way: Sometime in then next year, Donald Trump is going to leave the presidency one way or the other. Mike Pence is going to be the next president of the United States. If you try to construct a scenario in which Trump survives this crisis, you will find it impossible to see a reasonably plausible path.

A man wholly unfit for the presidency. His wounds are all self-inflicted.
A man wholly unfit for the presidency. His wounds are all self-inflicted.

The only way Trump can survive is to go on national television, admit everything, apologize in plain and unmistakably sincere terms, throw himself on the mercy of the American people, ask for a final opportunity to redeem his presidency and pray publicly for forgiveness. If he did this, he would probably survive. The American people believe in second chances.

The likelihood of Trump facing his limitations in an unmistakable and humble way approaches zero. Hubris is his brand. He does not have the right stuff to confess to his inadequacies and his crimes.

Here’s why we need to get this over with sooner rather than later. While we spend months processing these increasingly damaging revelations, with Trump’s diehards blaming the Democrats, the establishment and the media, our true enemies are plotting destruction to America and its vital interests. Their capacities for mayhem are equal to their appalling anti-American rhetoric.

Remember the Condit-Levy madness of 2001? For months, that summer the American people wallowed in sexual prurience after Chandra Levy was killed in the District of Columbia, and her boss, Gary Condit, denied, then admitted, he was having an affair with her at the time of her disappearance. Condit did not kill Levy. But his sexual predations distracted an entire nation at a critical moment in our history.

During those wild and crazy months, former senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman were warning us that al-Qaida was planning a major attack on the United States. They cried out plaintively using every tool in their possession. They were right about the threats.

But the American people would not listen because they were drunk with intrigue and innuendo, and they preferred to obsess over a tawdry D.C. sex scandal than attend to the urgent security crisis that was unfolding just on the other side of the National Enquirer. Think of the price we paid for our prurience.

We know that our Islamist enemies are now intending a major attack on the United States. Probably it will come in the form of a series of airline bombings, using laptop computers or other electronic devices that can be slipped through airport security inspections. National security officials have said recently that the current threat is the greatest since September 11, 2001.

Two things are critically important now:

  •  First, we need to get this political-constitutional farce over as soon as possible. Almost everyone now has a sense of how it is going to end, even many of the diehards.
  • Second, when the real crisis comes something catastrophic, perhaps on the scale of 9-11 — we are going to need to have a president in place who can lead us through dark times to national survival and recovery. A stable president might even be able to prevent the attack.

I take no joy in the collapse of the Trump presidency. We are the most important nation on Earth. The stakes could not be higher. We don’t have the luxury of a protracted national comedy of political ineptitude and malfeasance. Who wants to hear the last defenders defend the indefensible as things spiral into collapse? We need to attend to the urgent issues of our time: energy policy, health care, immigration, natural resource conservation, education and above all, national security.

As in the summer of 2001, we have once again taken our eyes off of the ball. I am terrified by what is undoubtedly taking place behind the gaudy and sensational scenery as the fifth month of the Trump presidency begins.

Let’s just get it over with.

Clay Jenkinson

RUSS HONS: Photo Gallery — 9/11 Memorial, Museum And Freedom Tower

Photographer Russ Hons recently was in New York City, where he had a chance to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed 2,977 victims, and the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 in which six were killed. One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, which was completely destroyed in the 9/11 terrorists attacks. Here are some of the images that caught his eye. Check out more photos from Russ Hons here.

RON SCHALOW: Sorry To Break This To You …

… but, our president lied to us on the very night of 9/11. On a sacred day in American history, George W. Bush decided that politics were more important than telling the truth, and this is where his re-election campaign started. Luckily, he wasn’t under oath.

Here are his words, when the commander-in-chief uses his photographic imagination to recall the days events:

8:30 p.m. on 9/11/2001
“Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington, D.C., to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight, and will be open for business tomorrow.” — GEORGE BUSH
Lie: Bush didn’t implement emergency response plans immediately, or at any other time. All actions took place without input by the president.By his own admission, which also served as an alibi, the president claimed not to have a single notion, “no alarm bells,” after being told that the first airliner hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, that it was terrorism.
The FAA, NEADS, the Air Force, the Secret Service, and others knew, but the information didn’t make it to Mr. Bush.

A few heard bells.

“I think when information came in about the first crash, I think the natural reaction was, was it a plane that went off course, what could this be, is this terrorism?” — ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, TO REPORTERS ON 9/11/2001 (His story changed.)

“This has bin Laden all over it. I’ve got to go.” — CIA CHIEF GEORGE TENET’S REACTION, AFTER HEARING ABOUT THE FIRST ATTACK.

8:19 a.m.

8:37:52 a.m.
The military — Northeast Air Defense Sector is notified of the hijacking by the FAA.
FAA: Hi. Boston Center TMU [Traffic Management Unit], we have a problem here. We have a hijacked headed toward New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16’s or something up there, help us out.
NEADS: Is this real-world or exercise?
FAA: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.

8:46 a.m.
Two fighter jets are scrambled from Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts to track down Flight 11, as is the protocol, soon after the FAA determined that the airliner had been hijacked.
Even if the jets can get to the airliner before it reaches New York, the pilots will have few options, since the president is the only person who can order the shoot-down of a commercial airliner,and he’s unaware of the situation, and for some reason, he can’t be reached.

8:46:40 a.m.
American Airlines Flight 11 Smashes Into The North Tower Of The World Trade Center

8:47:50 a.m.
In New York City — “We have a number of floors on fire. It looked like the plane was aiming toward the building.” — BATTALION FIRE CHIEF JOSEPH PFEIFER “102 MINUTES”

8:55 a.m.
Before entering the classroom, the president spoke to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who was at the White House. She recalled first telling the president it was a twin-engine aircraft, then that it was commercial, saying “that’s all we know right now, Mr. President.” — 9/11 COMMISSION

It wasn’t until the second plane hit the south World Trade Center tower — and Andy Card came into the classroom. And whispered into his ear, “America is under attack,” when Bush was sitting in the Sarasota, Fla., classroom listening to children reading, when his mind, but not his body, began to stir.

“I was thinking about what the heck we were going to do. I’m an action-oriented guy. And I am thinking to myself: What is it I need to do?” — GEORGE BUSH
“I have nobody to talk to. My God, I’m commander-in-chief and the country has just come under attack!”— GEORGE BUSH

“In the Dec. 4, 2001, town-hall meeting, the president said he didn’t begin to make major decisions about the emergency until he was back aboard his plane. “I got on the phone from Air Force One, asking to find out the facts,” he said. — WALL STREET JOURNAL MARCH 22, 2004
“… and so, I got on the phone from Air Force One, asking to find out the facts. You’ve got to understand, Jordan, during this period of time, there were all kinds of rumors floating around. Some of them were erroneous. Obviously — for example, there was a news report saying that the State Department had been attacked. I needed to know what the facts were. But I knew I needed to act. I knew that if the nation’s under attack, the role of the commander-in-chief is to respond forcefully to prevent other attacks from happening. And so, I’ve talked to the Secretary of Defense; one of the first acts I did was to put our military on alert.” — GEORGE BUSH AT TOWNHALL MEETING

The problem with that story, is that the president didn’t get back to Air Force One until three planes had hit their targets, and he didn’t talk to the clueless Secretary of Defense. Minutes later, passengers forced Flight 93 to crash into a Pennsylvania field at 10 a.m., and the four attacks were over.

“Secretary Rumsfeld told us he was just gaining situational awareness when he spoke to the vice president at 10:39.” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
Lie: The commander-in-chief didn’t have the military prepared to protect people on THIS continent.
“The nation was unprepared.” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT

“I remember very well that the president was aware that there were issues inside the United States. He talked to people about this. But I don’t remember the al Qaida cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about. ”— CONDI RICE TO 9/11 COMMISSION
Rumsfeld covering his own butt. Always amusing.
“Under our Constitution, under our laws, the United States military’s task is to defend against foreign invasion and foreign threats. The threat we saw recently was from a person in our country in one of our airplanes filled with our citizens. This is a law enforcement job. It is a job for the FBI. It is a job for the police.” —DONALD RUMSFELD INTERVIEW FOR ABC NEWS “THIS WEEK” WITH SAM DONALDSON SEPTEMBER 16, 2001
“The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn’t intended to be going, not to fly it into buildings.” — DONALD RUMSFELD TO 9/11 PANEL MARCH 23, 2004
“Prior to 9/11, it was understood that an order to shoot down a commercial aircraft would have to be issued by the National Command Authority (the president and secretary of Defense).” — 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT
“The mission of the Air National Guard at the time was to protect the American coast. We were trained to shoot down other airplanes.” — GEORGE BUSH, “A CHARGE TO KEEP”

Lie: Bush’s first priority should have been to protect the country from further attacks …
… but it wasn’t. The commander-in-chief wasted many a minute, sat through a photo-op, made a TV appearance, showed no evidence of knowing his duties and vamoosed to Louisiana and Nebraska.

But after a day of failure, the president’s approval ratings soared over the 90 percent mark, his staff got the stories straight, and he rode 9/11 into a war of choice and a second term. Slick.

Conversely, when four Americans were tragically killed by terrorists at a CIA compound in Libya, the response of a certain sector of U.S. citizens was totally unforgiving.

“At any rate, I knew I had a job to do. And I was quoted in the press the other day as saying I haven’t regretted one thing I’ve decided. And that’s the truth. Every decision I made, I stand by. And I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made.” — GEORGE BUSH DECEMBER 4, 2001

RON SCHALOW: Of Belts, Bush, Socks And Glass

“Is it your contention, Orv, that the sock cartel is behind this taking off your shoes nonsense at the airport? I think you’re on to something.”

“What?” screeches Orville. “No! I never said a word, about anything. I just want to sit here quietly and enjoy my drink.”

“Good luck with that,” says Stanley. “So, that wasn’t you? Huh. I suppose it could have been another ugly guy. Imagine what he goes through every morning, when the mirror sneaks up on him. Oh, you would …”

“Go shout at some parked cars, you @$$hat, or drink your Coke in silence. You’re no goddamn prize hog, either, you stupid defeatocrat.”

Stan ignores Orv’s outburst. “Now that you mention it, it makes sense though, doesn’t it? Who wants a bunch of strangers to see you strolling along in a pair of ratty old socks? I sure wouldn’t. If I ever go anywhere, I’m buying new socks. You know how the media would spin it, if I wore old socks. And some slip-ons. Laces might be an invite to get the taser. Can you see any other reason, Orv? I imagine the ordeal would be tough on your nylons?”

“Perhaps, the threat of terrorism, you traitorous America hater!”

“No, I think you are right about the socks. Our president lied about 9/11 dozens of times and we get all weak-kneed when one moron tries to set his shoes on fire? Puleeze. It’s the socks — and perhaps Johnson & Johnson. Everyone has to buy a new bottle of shampoo — and whatever else is banned — at Hector International Airport. I take the train so that I can keep my hair looking lustrous — and my boots on. I suppose you would need a vat of Turtle Wax. Is that still a thing?”

“Did you just smear George W. Bush, you terrorist coddling @^&*$$%? He is a good God-fearing man.”

“You didn’t know, Orv? That’s surprising. It was right in the 9/11 Commission Report. They managed to publish a few worthwhile historical facts. Not a word about socks. Or God.”

“I didn’t read it,” growls Orville. “What a waste of time and money. It was sneak attack, and that’s all there’s to it. What could Bush have done? Are you one of those weird truther guys?”

“Attackzzz. Four of them. I don’t think Georgie boy could conspire his way out a walk-in closet — with a neon exit sign above the door. You know, we spend a zillion dollars to defend against terrorism, but cops are getting executed while they sit in their squad cars. One of the last ones was writing out a ticket, and some @$$hole walks up to the driver side window and kills him. George was probably painting pictures of his toes at the time. No socks in the tub.”

“Wait, what?”

“Who knows what the poor man was painting, but why don’t police cars have bullet-proof glass — and Coke on tap? We have the technology. Don’t expect George to lie your way out of this one. All of his cars have it, plus armor, all the way around.”

“Bullet-proof glass is very expensive,” explains Orv.

“I don’t care.”

Orville’s face is getting redder. “Don’t care? You tyranny loving idiot! You have to care!”

“George told the Commission that nobody told him that sock-wearing terrorists were in the country. Did he think they wouldn’t read his daily reports? Fargo cops were wearing helmets that wouldn’t wouldn’t stop a bullet from rifle, and I don’t care how much they cost.”

“Where was the city supposed to get the money, you lib#@&% socialist?”

“Not from Trump, that’s for sure. A private bank stepped up with the cash, to pay a bill that belonged to the citizens. The UK has more land than should fit on that little island. I’m beginning to doubt the maps. Downtown Abbey took up half of the country. Do they have school buses over there, Orv? Did you notice any during the war?”

“I was in Vietnam, you screwball. So were you. I assume they have school buses in England. Why wouldn’t they, Stan?” Orv asks, as his voice rises.

“I didn’t see George during our war. Did you? But if he had known about al-Qaeda cells in the United States, he would have done something, he said. Maybe he would have gone to his hobby campaign ranch to clear some brush. Unusual hobby. George is one funny dude. Our hats weren’t of much use, were they, those metal ones?”

“Quit besmirching GW!”

“I don’t know how Al-Qaeda does it, but most of our school buses don’t have seat belts. Astronauts aren’t strapped in as well as toddlers going to the grocery store, but as soon as they hit the age for kindergarten, we just toss them in a cargo container and send them off like scrap metal. It’s criminal. Six little kids died just this last week, when the bus flipped.”

“Accidents happen.”

“One of the genius news announcers on the WDAY radio said we don’t KNOW if the lack of seat belts made any difference in the outcome. Sure, our kids are durable. They can take a good bouncing around the inside of a rolling bus. I don’t KNOW if WDAY Pokemon dude can dress himself in the morning. I’ll need proof. Then, he wondered how we would be able to make sure the kids stayed buckled in. Figure it out! We can remotely keep felons from leaving their yards, but this is an unsolvable problem, for crissakes? Tell me why we don’t have seat belts on school buses, Orv? Is this Obama’s fault?”

“It’s expensive.”

“I don’t care,” shouts Stan. “Let the jamokes pay. The ones using this country like an ATM. At least the bus driver over in Moorhead stopped — before losing it. Even FOX News reported that there were terrorist cells in this country, and they’re usually as reliable as an inebriated goat. Good gawd. England is smaller than North Dakota. Where did all of the Royals live? The aristocrats needed elbow room for jousting. I do get startled when I walk by a mirror. Even if I don’t look.”

“All of you lazy dopey hippies think that somebody else will pay for these things. Why don’t you pass the hat among your Marxist buddies; then buy some safe cop car and school buses. You’re all like children. I’m not paying any more taxes, if that’s where you pea brain is headed.”

“I didn’t know we had a choice whether to pay, but I suppose I could use that steel hat I got from somebody. It’s dented up, but I don’t think anyone will mind. Boy, those little guys were mad at us. I don’t know who instigated the hostilities, but we, I assume, bombed the $#%&@!$ out of that humid, bug-infested place. Were you there when that @$$hole of a sneaky croc pulled Dusty under the water? Maybe we could do fewer of those futile excursions and spend the extra loot on useful things.”

“Not going to happen, you naive sushi-eating nut case. The politicians, and their bosses decide that stuff, and terrorism scares the #&*%%$ out of people; not buses and cop cars. It’s good for business. Grow up!”

“Did you know that Denmark gets all of its electricity from wind power?”

“No,” says Orv. “and I don’t care. What’s your point, Moonbat?”

“We should be able to figure out how to get bulletproof glass and seat belts. Damn Danes, with their fancy socks.”

# # #

“He (President George W. Bush) said that if his advisers had told him there was a (terrorist) cell in the United States, they would have moved to take care of it.” —GEORGE BUSH TO 9/11 COMMISSION

Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief
Al0-Qaeda members — including some who are U.S. citizens — have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.

“Intelligence officials tell FOX NEWS they have information that in the past two months hundreds of bin Laden’s operatives have left his training camps in Afghanistan and elsewhere to various locations around the globe, including the U.S.”  — RITA COSBY FOX NEWS DECEMBER 28, 1999

Aug. 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief
Nevertheless, FBI information since (1998) that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

RON SCHALOW: Do You Remember This About 9/11? Part 2

(For those who missed Part 1, the first seven paragraphs are repeats.)

Every year around 9/11, Facebook and other mediums are filled with flags and images from that tragic day and calls to “NEVER FORGET,” as is proper. The day should never be forgotten.

Except many people in this country don’t know many of the details of that day, or choose to ignore them, so they don’t have much to forget. You can’t “not forget” what you “don’t know.”

Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On one plane, passengers fought back in a suicide mission and succeeded in saving another target and lives. Thousands died. Maybe that’s enough to know, but I don’t think so.

Just for record; I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe now, or ever, that our government had anything to do with the attacks on 9/11. I’m not a truther, as a bulbous and dense Forum Communication blogger concluded and published after zero research.

My contention has always been that general incompetence, compounded with the unwillingness (perhaps laziness) to learn the basics of a job, mostly on the part of the president, made any of the four terrorist acts less likely to be thwarted before or during the 102 minutes.

But it’s been 15 years since 9/11, and the day will always be an important date in American history, and some things bear repeating, especially facts that were obscure within days, but shouldn’t have been. Plus, most people born in the early ’90s, or later, have no specific memories of that day.

I’ll write about one fact at a time, in no particular order or importance. This one is pretty odd.

No. 2: Did you remember this?

Twelve minutes after leaving the classroom in Sarasota, Fla., where he spent seven minutes thinking about what Chief of Staff Andy Card told him, “America is under attack” (after the second WTC Tower was hit), the president gave a short speech to the nation at 9:30 a.m., while an airliner bore down on Washington, D.C., which ended up hitting the Pentagon.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America. I, unfortunately, will be going back to Washington after my remarks. Secretary Rod Paige and the lieutenant governor will take the podium and discuss education. I do want to thank the folks here at Booker Elementary School for their hospitality. Today, we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country. I have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of New York, to the director of the FBI and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families and to conduct a full-scale investigation to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. Terrorism against our nation will not stand. And now if you would join me in a moment of silence. May God bless the victims, their families and America. Thank you very much.” — GEORGE BUSH, EXPLAINING EVENTS TO TELEVISION VIEWERS.

That’s the fact, but I have no idea why Bush chose to do it.

There were still two passenger planes in the air that were considered hijacked.

The president spoke as though the attacks were over.

The FAA and the Secret Service knew there were more hijacked planes in the air. Did the Secret Service not tell the president? Did no one think to call the FAA? Most agencies in the defense sector were aware.

“The Secret Service has an arrangement with the FAA. They had open lines after the World Trade Center was…” — Vice President Dick Cheney, “Meet The Press,” September 16, 2001.

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon at 9:43 a.m., but obviously, people working in the outer ring, and above ground, weren’t warned. Why?

“At 9:16, NORAD was notified that Flight 93 had been hijacked, and at 9:24 it was notified that Flight 77 had also been hijacked and was heading toward Washington.” —NORAD, 9/18/01.

Does it matter that the president gave a speech in the middle of the attacks? There is no evidence that Bush made any defensive decisions, or gave any orders, while the action was transpiring, so, in that context, no.
Ponder on all of that. Part 3 coming soon.

RON SCHALOW: Did You Know This About 9/11? Part 1

Every year around 9/11, Facebook and other mediums are filled with flags and images from that tragic day and calls to “NEVER FORGET,” as is proper. The day should never be forgotten.

Except, many people in this country, don’t know many of the details of that day, or choose to ignore them, so they don’t have much to forget. You can’t “not forget” what you “don’t know.”

Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On one plane, passengers fought back in a suicide mission and succeeded in saving another target and lives. Thousands died. Maybe that’s enough to know, but I don’t think so.

Just for record; I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe now, or ever, that our government had anything to do with the attacks on 9/11. I’m not a truther, as a bulbous and dense Forum Communication blogger concluded and published after zero research. Skipping the investigation part is a big time saver and if lying isn’t a blotch on ones ones record like it used to be, less scrupulous types will make things up more often. Not a healthy trend.

My contention has always been that general incompetence, compounded with the unwillingness (perhaps laziness) to learn the basics of a job, mostly on the part of the president, made any of the four terrorist acts less likely to be thwarted before, or during, the 102 minutes.

But it’s been 15 years since 9/11, and the day will always be an important date in American history, and some things bear repeating, especially facts that were obscure within days, but shouldn’t have been. Plus, most people born in the early ’90s, or later, have no specific memories of that day.

I’ll write about one fact at a time, in no particular order or importance. This one is pretty important, to my mind.

Number 1: Did you know this?

Evidently, the upper echelon of our government was willing to accept a hijacking, since there is no evidence that any measures were taken to stop a predicted hijacking. Why did they do nothing?

For those who may not recall, Condoleezza “Condi” Rice was George W. Bush’s National Security adviser on 9/11.

“It mentioned hijacking, but hijacking in the traditional sense, and in a sense, said that the most important and most likely thing was that they would take over an airliner, holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives.” — DR. RICE, TALKING ABOUT THE PRESIDENT’S AUGUST 6, 2001 DAILY BRIEF.

“I think it’s a little strong to actually call it intelligence — the interpretation that was there that these were people who might try hijacking.”  — CONDI RICE, SPEAKING OF THE AUGUST 6, 2001 PDB.

“All of this reporting about hijacking was about traditional hijacking. You take a plane — people were worried they might blow one up, but they were mostly worried that they might try to take a plane and use it for release of the blind sheikh or some of their own people.”  — CONDI RICE, PRESS BRIEFING MAY 16, 2002.

“But, you know, again, that terrorism and hijacking might be associated is not rocket science.” — CONDI RICE, MAY 16, 2002

“The purpose of a hijack is to take the plane from one place to another place where it wasn’t intended to be going, not to fly it into buildings.”  — DONALD RUMSFELD TO 9/11 PANEL MARCH 23, 2004

And Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was irritated that the hijackers didn’t follow proper protocol. Stupid terrorists! They never do anything right.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — With Allies Like These …

The following is the definition of an Ally: “a country that supports and helps another country in a war.”

Saudi Arabia is considered an ally of the United States. We basically support that country in every way possible, but let’s examine their support of the United States.

(Please note that my comments are directed at an intense dislike of the government of the Kingdom of Saud … not of its people. To attack the citizens of Saudi Arabia themselves feeds into racial hatred and bigotry, and there is already more than enough of that in our country.)

Recently in the news, you may have heard of the censoring of 28 pages of our government’s final investigative report of the attacks of 9/11. The censored section appears to implicate the Saudi government in the attack

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (oh, how I wish I could use the term “current North Dakota senator”!) was given access to the redacted (censored) pages and was recently interviewed on the air. While he could say nothing about the classified pages, he suggested plenty.

Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who also read the classified report, has been more candid. Speaking about who financed the hijackers who killed thousands by flying airliners in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, he stated that the trail of evidence leads directly to the Saudis.

It’s amazing how much information is available online when you research the subject yourself. For example, case agents interviewed by the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington, D.C., and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County, Va., Police Department (who also investigated several 9/11 leads) say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.

Just like in the movies — only this was no movie — the authorities were prevented from following leads. The common excuse was “diplomatic immunity.”

Leaked information disclosed supposedly “incontrovertible” evidence that at least two of the hijackers who settled in San Diego received financial assistance from the Saudis.

Other leaked information referred to the redacted section of the report, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi contacts in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, as well as the transfer of $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.

Investigators said that instead of investigating Bandar, “our Government literally protected him” by providing personal security at the embassy and at his Vermont mansion. The task force wanted to arrest a number of embassy employees, but they complained to the U.S. attorney. As a compromise, their visas were revoked, and they were sent home.

In my world, that compromise would be spelled c-o-v-e-r u-p. Bandar should have been a key subject of the probe. The subject of diplomatic immunity needs to be thoroughly reviewed.

The more I researched this subject, the more surprises I found. Anwar al-Awlaki, the spiritual adviser to the hijackers, was detained in 2002 at JFK Airport on passport fraud charges — only to be ordered released to a “Saudi representative.” It took until 2011 for Awlaki to be brought to justice, by way of a CIA drone strike. You see, if he’s dead, he can’t talk … and he certainly is dead.

One of my sources indicates the 9/11 Commission Report that followed the congressional inquiry never cites the catch and release of Awlaki. Bandar is listed only in the footnotes.

Right now, our Senate is taking aim at arms sales to Saudi Arabia. That follows reports that the kingdom has killed civilians in Yemen … using U.S. weapons. Human Rights Watch urged stopping arms sales to the Saudis after an on-site investigation that found remnants of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which is made up of a U.S.-supplied MK-84 1-ton bomb mated to a JDAM satellite guidance kit, both supplied by (you guessed it) the United States.

Sens. Rand Paul and Chris Murphy are proposing legislation limiting the Saudis’ uses of weapons we supply; they also note the price we will pay for the Saudis’ indiscriminate bombing in Yemen. Here’s hoping they succeed. But the current White House doesn’t seem to be taking action to undo the protection racket originally set up by the former White House and its occupants.

Who was George W. Bush’s chief adviser? Oh, yes: It was that honorable Dick Cheney!

What else have our allies the Saudis been up to?

King Abdullah, who died in January 2015, forbade all forms of political dissent and protests that could harm “public order.” Among other things, his decree criminalized participating in hostilities outside the kingdom with a penalty of three to 20 years in jail. The list of of terrorist organizations include the Muslim Brotherhood, along with any atheist thought anything that calls into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion. In other words, any critical expressions or independent associations now are defined as crimes of terrorism.

Human Rights Watch has published the seven-page “World Report, Saudi Arabia Events of 2014.” Google it. You’ll read a horrible account of how our ally treats its citizens. It describes a criminal justice system that makes our worst courts look good by comparison. Considering what has been happening in our own country, that is not complimentary.

Space prohibits me from including all of the Saudi Kingdom’s human rights violations, but I must comment on women’s and girls’ rights.

Saudi has promised to abolish its total male-domination system but has done nothing at all. In 2016, women are still forbidden from obtaining a passport, marrying, traveling or accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian, usually a husband, father, brother or son. A fatwa has been issued stating women are not allowed to visit a male doctor without their male guardians. All women are still banned from driving in Saudi Arabia.

I could go on for pages about what’s terribly wrong in the human rights department in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have more money than any other nation and yet provide no troops to fight in regional wars beyond a little occasional air power. They pay for nothing. They expect the United States to carry the entire load of war from which they benefit. They fund ISIS activities. We know it, and somehow we accept it.

I hope that those senators and representatives pushing for the release of the 28 censored pages manage to get it done. When the full story is finally disclosed, perhaps we will redefine what we will expect from our so-called ally, Saudi Arabia.

With allies like the Saudis, who needs enemies? Amen.