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Where Were You That Summer of 2001?

Old 02-26-07, 12:15 PM
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Where Were You That Summer of 2001?

<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<b>Where Were You That Summer of 2001?</b>
<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;By Frank Rich
<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The New York Times
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sunday 25 February 2007
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"United 93," Hollywood's highly praised but indifferently attended 9/11 docudrama, will be only a blip on tonight's Oscar telecast. The ratings rise of "24" has stalled as <a href=http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/02/19/8400166/index.htm target="_blank">audiences defect</a> from the downer of terrorists to the supernatural uplift of "Heroes." Cable surfers have tuned out Iraq for a war with laughs: <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/us/23smith.html target="_blank">the battle over Anna Nicole's decomposing corpse</a>. Set this cultural backdrop against last week's terrifying but little-heeded <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/19/world/asia/19intel.html target="_blank">front-page Times account</a> of American "intelligence and counterterrorism officials" leaking urgent warnings about Al Qaeda's comeback, and ask yourself: Haven't we been here before?</p>
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;If so, that would be the summer of 2001, when America pigged out on a 24/7 buffet of Gary Condit and <a href=http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F50A16FA3B550C768EDDA10894D9404482 target="_blank">shark attacks</a>. The intelligence and counterterrorism officials back then were privately sounding urgent warnings like those in last week's Times, culminating in the President's Daily Brief titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The system "<a href=http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch8.htm target="_blank">was blinking red</a>," as the C.I.A. chief George Tenet would later tell the 9/11 commission. But no one, from the White House on down, wanted to hear it.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The White House doesn't want to hear it now, either. That's why terrorism experts are trying to get its attention by going public, and not just through The Times. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A. bin Laden unit, <a href=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17240518/ target="_blank">told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann last week</a> that the Taliban and Al Qaeda, having regrouped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, "are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States" (the real United States, that is, not the fictional stand-in where this same scenario can be found on "24"). Al Qaeda is "on the march" rather than on the run, the Georgetown University and <a href=http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/TUTC021407/Hoffman_Testimony021407.pdf target="_blank">West Point terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman told Congress</a>. Tony Blair is <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/22/world/middleeast/22blair.html target="_blank">pulling troops out of Iraq</a> not because Basra is calm enough to be entrusted to Iraqi forces - it's "not ready for transition," according to the <a href=http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/9010Quarterly-Report-20061216.pdf target="_blank">Pentagon's last report</a> - but to shift some British resources to the losing battle against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;This is why the entire debate about the Iraq "surge" is as much a sideshow as Britney's scalp. More troops in Baghdad are irrelevant to what's going down in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The surge supporters who accuse the Iraq war's critics of emboldening the enemy are trying to deflect attention from their own complicity in losing a bigger battle: the one against the enemy that actually did attack us on 9/11. Who lost Iraq? is but a distraction from the more damning question, Who is losing the war on terrorism?
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The record so far suggests that this White House has done so twice. The first defeat, of course, began in early December 2001, when we <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/magazine/11TORABORA.html target="_blank">lost Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora</a>. The public would not learn about that failure <a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A62618-2002Apr16 target="_blank">until April 2002</a> (when it was uncovered by The Washington Post), but it's revealing that the administration started its bait-and-switch trick to relocate the enemy in Iraq just as bin Laden slipped away. It was on Dec. 9, 2001, that Dick Cheney first floated the idea on "Meet the Press" that <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/vicepresident/news-speeches/speeches/vp20011209.html target="_blank">Saddam had something to do with 9/11</a>. It was "pretty well confirmed," he said (though it was not), that bin Laden's operative Mohamed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague months before Atta flew a hijacked plane into the World Trade Center.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;In the Scooter Libby trial, Mr. Cheney's former communications aide, Catherine Martin, said that delivering a message on "Meet the Press" was "<a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012501951.html target="_blank">a tactic we often used</a>." No kidding. That mention of the nonexistent Prague meeting was the first of five times that the vice president would imply an Iraq-Qaeda collaboration on that NBC show before the war began in March 2003. This bogus innuendo was an essential tool for selling the war precisely because we had lost bin Laden in Afghanistan. If we could fight Al Qaeda by going to war in Iraq instead, the administration could claim it didn't matter where bin Laden was. (Mr. Bush pointedly stopped mentioning him altogether in public.)
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The president now says his government <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060821.html target="_blank">never hyped any 9/11-Iraq links</a>. "Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq," he said last August after finally conceding that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact everyone in the administration insinuated it constantly, including him. Mr. Bush told of "high-level" Iraq-Qaeda contacts "that go back a decade" in the same <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html target="_blank">notorious October 2002 speech</a> that gave us Saddam's imminent mushroom clouds. So effective was this propaganda that by 2003 some <a href=http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0314/p02s01-woiq.html target="_blank">44 percent of Americans</a> believed (incorrectly) that the 9/11 hijackers had been Iraqis; only 3 percent had seen an Iraq link right after 9/11.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Though the nonexistent connection was even more specious than the nonexistent nuclear W.M.D., Mr. Bush still leans on it today even while denying that he does so. He has to. His litanies that we are "on the offense" by pursuing the war in Iraq and "fighting terrorists over there, so that we don't have to fight them here" depend on the premise that we went into that country in the first place to vanquish Al Qaeda and that it is still the "central front" in the war on terror. In January's <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/01/20070123-2.html target="_blank">State of the Union address</a> hawking the so-called surge, Mr. Bush did it again, warning that to leave Iraq "would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy."
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;But now more than ever, the opposite is true. It is precisely by pouring still more of our finite military and intelligence resources down the drain in Iraq that we are tragically ignoring the lessons of 9/11. Instead of showing resolve, as Mr. Bush supposes, his botch of the Iraq war has revealed American weakness. Our catastrophic occupation spawned terrorists in a country where they didn't used to be, and to pretend that Iraq is now their central front only adds to the disaster. As Mr. Scheuer, the former C.I.A. official, reiterated last week: "Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you want to address the threat to America, that's where it is." It's typical of Mr. Bush's self-righteousness, however, that he would rather punt on that threat than own up to a mistake.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;That mistake - dropping the ball on Al Qaeda - was compounded last fall when Mr. Bush committed his second major blunder in the war on terror. The occasion was the September revelation that our supposed ally, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, had <a href=http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F20B13FA3D550C758CDDA00894DE404482 target="_blank">negotiated a "truce" with the Taliban</a> in North Waziristan, a tribal region in his country at the Afghanistan border. This truce was actually a retreat by Pakistan, which even released Qaeda prisoners in its custody. Yet the Bush White House <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060922.html target="_blank">denied any of this was happening</a>. "This deal is not at all with the Taliban," the president said, claiming that "this is against the Taliban, actually." When Dana Priest and Ann Scott Tyson of The Washington Post reported that same month that the <a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/09/AR2006090901105.html target="_blank">bin Laden trail was "stone cold</a>" and had been since Mr. Bush diverted special operations troops from that hunt to Iraq in 2003, the White House branded the story <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060910-1.html target="_blank">flat wrong</a>. "We're on the hunt," <a href=http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0609/20/sitroom.01.html target="_blank">Mr. Bush said</a>. "We'll get him."
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Far from getting him or any of his top operatives dead or alive, the president has sat idly by, showering praise on General Musharraf while <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/world/asia/16cnd-gates.html target="_blank">Taliban attacks from Pakistan into Afghanistan have increased threefold</a>. As The Times reported last week, now both bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be "steadily building an operations hub" in North Waziristan. We know that last year's London plot to bomb airliners, like the bus-and-subway bombings of 2005, was not just the work of home-grown jihadists in Britain, but also of Qaeda operatives. Some of the would-be bombers were trained in Qaeda's Pakistan camps much as their 9/11 predecessors had been trained in Afghanistan.
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;All of this was already going on when Mr. Bush said just before the election that "<a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061025.html target="_blank">absolutely, we're winning</a>" and that "Al Qaeda is on the run." What's changed in the few months since his lie is that even more American troops are tied down in Iraq, that even more lethal weapons are being used against them, that even more of the coalition of the unwilling are fleeing, and that even more Americans are tuning out both the administration and the war they voted down in November to savor a referendum that at least offers tangible results, "American Idol."
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Yet Mr. Bush still denies reality. Ten days ago <a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/02/20070215-1.html target="_blank">he told the American Enterprise Institute</a> that "the Taliban have been driven from power" and proposed that America help stabilize the Pakistan border by setting up "Reconstruction Opportunity Zones" (remember that "<a href=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/09/20050915-8.html target="_blank">Gulf Opportunity Zone</a>" he promised after Katrina?) to "give residents the chance to export locally made products to the United States, duty-free." In other words, let's fight terrorism not by shifting America's focus from Iraq to the central front, but by shopping for Taliban souvenirs!
<p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Five years after 9/11, the terrorists would seem to have us just where they want us - asleep - even as the system is blinking red once again.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022507C.shtml

Good column from Frank Rich. I think it sums up much of what is wrong with the way this administration has approached the war on terror. It's not just that they make bad policy decisions -- it's that they insist they are correct even when they are demonstrably wrong. I mean, how obtuse do you have to be to say that the Taliban are out of power in Afghanistan? Sure, they don't control the central government, but so what -- they control roughly half the countryside. Meanwhile, Pakistan is in bed with our enemies while we just smile and clap Pervez Musharaf on the back.

It's depressing, and I'm afraid that the worst predictions of guys like Scheur are going to come true.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:22 PM
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I was at my mom's house most of that summer.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:27 PM
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I spent all summer (I had just graduated from college) lining up interviews with film companies in NYC. Then 9/11 happened and there were hiring freezes. I've been with the same litigation support company since then.

As a mater of fact, everything feels like the "bad 1985" from Back to the Future II since 9/11. Everything is controlled by Biff and nothing is turning out the way it was supposed to.

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Old 02-26-07, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dick_grayson
I spent all summer (I had just graduated from college) lining up interviews with film companies in NYC. Then 9/11 happened and there were hiring freezes.
Sounds similar to me. I believe I sent out demo reels and resumes on September 9th. Oops.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:32 PM
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In college.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:32 PM
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I was in New York, still using the WTC to navigate downtown.
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Old 02-26-07, 02:04 PM
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Same place I always am, <strike>trying to take over the world</strike> at work.
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Old 02-26-07, 02:19 PM
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Egads, so Bush is all to blame for terrorism.
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Old 02-26-07, 02:26 PM
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Here was my last DVDTalk post before 9/11:
Originally Posted by Groucho
The problem with this poll is that it assumes one must either love or hate Blockbuster. I don't go there, and I don't care either way.
If only I'd done more to prevent the tragedy. Perhaps even taking a side in the Blockbuster controversy would have been enough. We'll never know.
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Old 02-26-07, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Egads, so Bush is all to blame for terrorism.
It's Frank Rich. He seems to think Bush is to blame for everything bad that's ever happened in the history of mankind.
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Old 02-26-07, 02:35 PM
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I was signing up for DVD Talk...
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Old 02-26-07, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Egads, so Bush is all to blame for terrorism.
Don't worry, I'm sure people will eventually realize that he's never been responsible for anything. Ever.
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Old 02-26-07, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason
Don't worry, I'm sure people will eventually realize that he's never been responsible for anything. Ever.
Or......ORRRRRRR there is some middle ground. Obviously not for Mr. Rich, but the rest of us might cling to that.
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Old 02-26-07, 03:22 PM
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Same place I always am, <s>waiting to backstab wendersfan after he takes over the world</s> at work
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Old 02-26-07, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Or......ORRRRRRR there is some middle ground. Obviously not for Mr. Rich, but the rest of us might cling to that.
If I were as desperately wrong as the right-wing has been about this entire fiasco, I'd be looking for something to cling to as well. Hope that works out for you.
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Old 02-26-07, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
If I were as desperately wrong as the right-wing has been about this entire fiasco, I'd be looking for something to cling to as well. Hope that works out for you.
Good point. 9/11 was conceived on the night of the election, and thus started terrorism.
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Old 02-26-07, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Good point. 9/11 was conceived on the night of the election, and thus started terrorism.
Which night exactly, because that election night seemed a month long.
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Old 02-27-07, 03:17 AM
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I don't remember. I think I was at the beach.
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Old 02-27-07, 12:42 PM
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I'm glad we were able to find some common ground here kids.
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Old 02-27-07, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
I'm glad we were able to find some common ground here kids.
Who knew everyone would take Frank Rich's column title so literally?

Last edited by JasonF; 02-27-07 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 02-27-07, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Who knew everyone would take Frank Rich's column title so literally?
To be fair, it's Frank Rich, and if you're not going to use his columns as toilet paper, you may as well have a little fun and take them completely literally.
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Old 02-27-07, 01:34 PM
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Old 02-27-07, 02:20 PM
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Blowing out my knee in a basketball game. On 9/11, I heard they were pulling a new Dream Theater album because it had the twin towers on it, so I bought a few and made quite a profit on eBay.
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Old 02-27-07, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Who knew everyone would take Frank Rich's column title so literally?
There was an article? I was just responding to the thread title.

Okay, let me go read it now.
...
...
...

Boooooring.

I just remembered... I met my wife that summer too. Good times.
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Old 02-27-07, 03:13 PM
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I met my wife that summer too.
Wow... that must have been kind of awkward. You hadn't known her before then but you were married anyway. Good luck to you on that one

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