9/11: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and the duties of a president

**Posted by Phineas

Today is the eleventh anniversary of al Qaeda’s attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, in which Muslims waging jihad fi sabil Allah –war for the sake of Allah– killed nearly 3,000 Americans and foreign guests.

On that day, the federal government failed in its primary duty: protecting the United States and her people.

Since then, one would like to believe the men in the Oval Office have taken that duty, assigned to them by the Constitution as Commander in Chief, damned seriously; that they would bend every effort to making sure it never happened again.

We know that was true of George W. Bush. He not only ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to destroy the regime that sheltered al Qaeda, but he received bipartisan congressional approval for the liberation of Iraq (rightly perceiving Saddam’s monstrous regime as a strategic threat that couldn’t be allowed to continue) and he set in motion the intelligence operations that eventually lead to Osama bin Laden’s death under Barack Obama.

Agree or disagree with what he did, there’s no doubt George W. Bush took to heart the national security of the United States.

But, after reading Marc Thiessen’s column in the Washington Post, can we same thing about Barack Obama when he skips out on half of his national security briefings?

President Obama is touting his foreign policy experience on the campaign trail, but startling new statistics suggest that national security has not necessarily been the personal priority the president makes it out to be. It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting.

The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

Thiessen questioned a NSC official, who argued that attending the meetings isn’t important and that Obama learns what he needs to know from reading the daily briefings, which he receives wherever he is. Other “former officials” (Bush administration?) disagreed, saying it’s very important for the president to attend these briefings, so that he can clarify his own understanding, question assumptions, and let his advisers know what he thinks is important. The interchange is a vital part of the process leading to national security decisions.

And before anyone can say “Well, he’s got a lot on his plate,” Thiessen relates how Obama’s predecessor handled his briefings:

While the Bush records are not yet available electronically for analysis, officials tell me the former president held his intelligence meeting six days a week, no exceptions — usually with the vice president, the White House chief of staff, the national security adviser, the director of National Intelligence, or their deputies, and CIA briefers in attendance. Once a week, he held an expanded Homeland Security briefing that included the Homeland Security adviser, the FBI director and other homeland security officials. Bush also did more than 100 hour-long “deep dives” in which he invited intelligence analysts into the Oval Office to get their unvarnished and sometimes differing views. Such meetings deepened the president’s understanding of the issues and helped analysts better understand the problems with which he was wrestling.

(Emphases added)

That schedule included President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. When he was on the campaign trail, they were probably held by secure conference call. He always made time, always put his duty ahead of his campaign.

In 2012, we’re still at war. The jihad didn’t end when SEAL Team 6 put a couple of bullets into Osama. While al Qaeda has seemingly been savaged to the point that they cannot launch catastrophic attacks against us (we hope), they and other jihad groups haven’t given up trying.

They’re still trying to kill us.

And yet President Obama thinks it’s sufficient to read the morning memo and get on to other things. Not only does he pass on face to face briefings, but his Defense Secretary all but admitted that the President himself (1) authorized the recent national security leaks. There’s only one real conclusion to take from this:

The current President of the United States does not have as his first priority the security of the United States.

Remember that when you vote on November 6th.

via Bryan Preston and NRO

PS: Romney-Ryan 2012, because I want a Commander in Chief, not a campaigner in chief.

Footnote:
1) As he is allowed to do under law, so there’s no criminal violation. Because it’s legal doesn’t make it right, smart, or ethical, though.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#NeverForget 9-11: Remembering 9-11, and victim Peter Edward Mardikian

**Reposting.  God bless, and never forget.  -ST**

———————————————————-

Longtime readers of this blog will recognize this post, as I have published it here every 9-11 since 2006 in honor of Mr. Mardikian, and all victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, as part of DC Roe’s 9-11 remembrance project. I thought this year about doing another post for another victim, but decided it would be too painful, as the memories of what happened that day are still so fresh and raw for many, myself included. I didn’t know anyone in the WTC towers, the Pentagon, or on any of the planes, but I was in NYC on that day – scheduled to fly back home that evening. I remember just like it was yesterday what I was doing and where I was when I found out what was going on, and the shock and numbness that washed over me as it slowly started to sink in that we were under attack. When my friend Sharon and I checked back into the Times Square hotel we had only checked out of about 2 hours earlier, the first thing we did was turn on the TV to get updates. At that time, news channels were showing unedited coverage, & raw eyewitness footage as all news at that point was “breaking,” so we saw what the rest of America was seeing – like people screaming for help from the top floors of the towers, some of them jumping. Also, like many other Americans, we watched on TV as the towers collapsed. And, again, like the rest of America, she and I couldn’t stop crying at the senseless losses of so many innocent lives, as the victim count piled up from NYC, to the Pentagon, to a field in Shanksville, PA.

It’s still hard to believe even today that something as horrifying as 9-11 happened on our soil. But it did, and we must never, ever forget it. Time passes on and life goes on, but for the victims, their families, and for the future of America, we must always remember – and always remain vigilant against the Islamofascists who would like nothing more than to commit many more 9-11s.

For an extensive archive of TV coverage of 9-11 as it happened, click here.

Here, once again, is Peter Edward Mardikian’s story. Note: Some links may no longer work, but they were valid at the time of the original writing.

———————————–

(Originally posted 9/10/06 7:55 pm)

Imagine you are 29 years old. You’ve been married for six weeks to your college sweetheart, someone whom friends would later say that you wouldn’t have been “complete” without. You’re beginning to realize your personal and professional dreams. The world looks to be your oyster, and you believe that you and your spouse have the rest of your lives to explore it, all the while enjoying the comfort of knowing that you have not only each other, but the enduring love of family and friends surrounding you.

Peter Edward MardikianAnd then imagine those hopes being snatched away from you in the blink of an eye, without warning, without provocation. Imagine the chilling, horrifying realization that you will never see your spouse again, your family, your friends. That you will be leaving this earth much sooner than you ever thought you would be.

Such was the case for Peter Edward Mardikian, one of 2,996 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.

As it was for most of us, September 11, 2001 started off as an average day for Mr. Mardikian. Peter worked for a company called “Imagine Software” in Manhattan. That morning Peter was on business, preparing a software exhibit for a trade show in the World Trade Center at Windows on The World, which was a popular restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower. As you can see from the picture, it had a spectacular view of the city. It was a city Peter Mardikian, who grew up in Princeton, NJ, had dreamed of living and working in. Here is what the morning started out like at Windows on the World:

Windows on the World restaurant“Good morning, Ms. Thompson.”

Doris Eng’s greeting was particularly sunny, like the day, as Liz Thompson arrived for breakfast atop the tallest building in the city, Ms. Thompson remembers thinking. Perhaps Ms. Eng had matched her mood to the glorious weather, the rich blue September sky that filled every window. Or perhaps it was the company.

Familiar faces occupied many of the tables in Wild Blue, the intimate aerie to Windows that Ms. Eng helped manage, according to two people who ate there that morning. As much as any one place, that single room captured the sweep of humanity who worked and played at the trade center.

Ms. Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, was eating with Geoffrey Wharton, an executive with Silverstein Properties, which had just leased the towers. At the next table sat Michael Nestor, the deputy inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of his investigators, Richard Tierney.

At a third table were six stockbrokers, several of whom came every Tuesday. Ms. Eng had a treat for one of them, Emeric Harvey. The night before, one of the restaurant’s managers, Jules Roinnel, gave Ms. Eng two impossibly-hard-to-get tickets to “The Producers.” Mr. Roinnel says he asked Ms. Eng to give them to Mr. Harvey.

Sitting by himself at a window table overlooking the Statue of Liberty was a relative newcomer, Neil D. Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority. He had never joined them for breakfast before. But his secretary requested a table days earlier and now he sat waiting for a banker friend, said Mr. Levin’s wife, Christy Ferer.

Every other minute or so, a waiter, Jan Maciejewski, swept through the room, refilling coffee cups and taking orders, Mr. Nestor recalls. Mr. Maciejewski was one of several restaurant workers on the 107th floor. Most of the 72 Windows employees were on the 106th floor, where Risk Waters Group was holding a conference on information technology.

Already 87 people had arrived, including top executives from Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg, according to the conference sponsors. Many were enjoying coffee and sliced smoked salmon in the restaurant’s ballroom. Some exhibitors were already tending to their booths, set up in the Horizon Suite just across the hallway.

A picture taken that morning showed two exhibitors, Peter Alderman and William Kelly, salesmen for Bloomberg L.P., chatting with a colleague beside a table filled with a multi-screened computer display. Stuart Lee and Garth Feeney, two vice presidents of Data Synapse, ran displays of their company’s software.

Down in the lobby, 107 floors below, an assistant to Mr. Levin waited for his breakfast guest. But when the guest arrived, he and Mr. Levin’s aide luckily boarded the wrong elevator, Ms. Ferer would learn, and so they had to return to the lobby to wait for another one.

Upstairs, Mr. Levin read his newspaper, Mr. Nestor recalled. He and Mr. Tierney were a little curious to see whom Mr. Levin, their boss, was meeting for breakfast. But Mr. Nestor had a meeting downstairs, so they headed for the elevators, stopping at Mr. Levin’s table to say goodbye. Behind them came Ms. Thompson and Mr. Wharton. Mr. Nestor held the elevator, so they hopped in quickly, Ms. Thompson recalled.

Then the doors closed and the last people ever to leave Windows on the World began their descent. It was 8:44 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower, slicing through floors 94 through 98. Those in the direct path of the Boeing 767 aircraft that had been used as a weapon were likely killed instantly. No one in the floors above floor 91 would survive, because they had no way out, and firefighters could not reach them.

According to Peter Mardikian’s wife Corine, he called her at 9:05 a.m. using a landline phone, one that was miraculously still working, on the 106th floor. Here is her recollection of the conversation:

“He said it was very, very smoky,” Ms. Mardikian said, “and he was worried about his breathing. He was talking about going up to the roof. I think he was trying to shelter me. He said he couldn’t talk longer because there were a lot of people standing in line to use the phone.”

His in-laws quoted him as saying this as well to his wife:

“We think a bomb hit here. I’m having a hard time breathing. I probably won’t make it out of here. I just want you to know I love you.”

Here’s what was happening on the top floors of the North Tower at 9:35 that morning:

So urgent was the need for air that people piled four and five high in window after window, their upper bodies hanging out, 1,300 feet above the ground.

They were in an unforgiving place.

Elsewhere, two men, one of them shirtless, stood on the windowsills, leaning their bodies so far outside that they could peer around a big intervening column and see each other, an analysis of photographs and videos reveals.

On the 103rd floor, a man stared straight out a broken window toward the northwest, bracing himself against a window frame with one hand. He wrapped his other arm around a woman, seemingly to keep her from tumbling to the ground.

Behind the unbroken windows, the desperate had assembled. “About five floors from the top you have about 50 people with their faces pressed against the window trying to breathe,” a police officer in a helicopter reported.

Now it was unmistakable. The office of Cantor Fitzgerald, and just above it, Windows on the World, would become the landmark for this doomed moment. Nearly 900 would die on floors 101 through 107.

In the restaurant, at least 70 people crowded near office windows at the northwest corner of the 106th floor, according to accounts they gave relatives and co-workers. “Everywhere else is smoked out,” Stuart Lee, a Data Synapse vice president, e-mailed his office in Greenwich Village. “Currently an argument going on as whether we should break a window,” Mr. Lee continued a few moments later. “Consensus is no for the time being.”

Soon, though, a dozen people appeared through broken windows along the west face of the restaurant. Mr. Vogt, the general manager of Windows, said he could see them from the ground, silhouetted against the gray smoke that billowed out from his own office and others.

By now, the videotapes show, fires were rampaging through the impact floors, darting across the north face of the tower. Coils of smoke lashed the people braced around the broken windows.

In the northwest conference room on the 104th floor, Andrew Rosenblum and 50 other people temporarily managed to ward off the smoke and heat by plugging vents with jackets. “We smashed the computers into the windows to get some air,” Mr. Rosenblum reported by cellphone to his golf partner, Barry Kornblum.

But there was no hiding.

As people began falling from above the conference room, Mr. Rosenblum broke his preternatural calm, his wife, Jill, recalled. In the midst of speaking to her, he suddenly interjected, without elaboration, “Oh my God.”

Imagine what it would feel like to be Peter Mardikian in that crowd, knowing that each moment may be your last. What would you think? How would you feel? How would you act?

The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 that morning. Collapsing along with it were the lives of everyone in floors 92 and above, including Peter Mardikian.

Destroyed with it were the hopes and dreams of everyone on those floors who were murdered that day in an act of extraordinary cruelty and viciousness perpetrated by Islamofascists in an act of war against America.

Mr. Mardikian’s life was snatched from him in a way that no one should ever have to experience. He will never get to feel sunlight on his face again, nor get a kiss from his wife after he’s come home from a hard day at the office. Any plans they’d made for the future? Gone.

A September 11 Memorial Endowment was established by Ohio State University in 2002 in honor of Peter Mardikian, who was an alumnus – graduating from OSU’s Fisher College of Business in 1995 with a B.A. in marketing and business. It’s also where he met the woman who would be his wife.

The online guestbook for Peter Mardikian has many pages of messages from family, friends, and strangers – their lives all touched by either knowing and loving Peter Mardikian or learning about him after Sept. 11.

At some point in your day, please say a prayer or a kind word for Mr. Mardikian’s family, as well as all other families who lost loved ones that day. They may be gone, but they are most definitely not forgotten.

Thanks to D.C. Roe for coordinating the 9-11 victims tribute. Click here read other tributes to 9-11 victims (some links may no longer work).

Arguments against the President “Valerie, may I?” story

**Posted by Phineas

Yesterday I posted an article about the assertion in a forthcoming book by journalist Richard Miniter that President Obama let himself be talked out of the bin Laden assassination mission three times, before finally okaying it, by long-time close adviser Valerie Jarrett, a corrupt slum-lord. Now that I’ve had 24 hours to calm down (1), there are reasonable arguments for questioning the story. I’ll present them here and let you decide:

Anonymous sources: Miniter cites “an unnamed source with Joint Special Operations Command who had direct knowledge of the operation and its planning.” The trouble with an unnamed source is that you have no way of verifying what the source is saying, because you don’t know who he or she is. You have to take the intermediary’s word (in this case, Miniter’s) that the source is credible, telling the truth.

What if the anonymous source was really in no place to know the things he claims? What if he’s making it all up to inflate his own importance? What if he observed things, but misinterpreted them? What if Miniter’s source and Ulsterman’s are one in the same? Then, instead of Miniter confirming the earlier piece, he’s merely repeating the same uncorroborated gossip. And (candy for the conspiracy buffs out there) what if the whole story is a Republican plant meant to embarrass Obama? It wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened in American politics, that is, the press being used to bring down an opponent. From the reasonable to the wild, all these doubts show why we should be very careful of “anonymous insiders.”

In the end, it was his call, after all: The story paints a picture of Obama as indecisive, weak. As I put it, he ran to his political nursemaid to ask if launching the raid was a good idea, and she told him “no.”

But there’s another way to look at it. Obama is naturally cautious and diffident when faced with having to make a real decision, and invading the territory of an ally unannounced was darned risky — an act of war, without a doubt. And he is entitled to ask advice of anyone he chooses. Perhaps he felt the intel wasn’t solid enough and Jarrett’s arguments were enough to convince him of “not yet.” In other words, he sought advice, not permission. And he did, in the end, make the final decision to go.

Finally, Jim Geraghty at The Campaign Spot makes the following argument:

Put another way: apparently Valerie Jarrett made enemies like Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs at times. You don’t think guys like that would leak something like that if they knew, in an effort to undermine her influence?

Point taken.

(Geraghty also makes a political observation we should keep in mind: the Obama administration would love to argue about Osama’s death from now until election day, because the discussion always ends with “and then we got him.”)

For what it’s worth, the White House has denied and denounced the report, while Miniter has dared them to prove him wrong:

The author of a new book describing presidential paralysis prior to the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout is demanding the White House back up its vehement denials with documentation.

“I call on them to release the full [planning] timeline, starting in October 2010, of each of the major decisions that the president made relating to the bin Laden mission,” author Richard Miniter told The Daily Caller.

TheDC asked Miniter if his inside sources might go public with their accounts of presidential indecision. “Yes, yes,” he replied. “There is a chance.”

(via Nice Deb)

I hope the source does go public, since we, then, will be in a better position to make our own judgement. October surprise, anyone?

So, what do I think? At this point, I think it’s more likely true than not. Not because of Miniter’s or Ulsterman’s source(s), about whom we know nothing, but because it seems to fit with Obama and his long relationship with Jarrett. She has been a close patron and key counselor for Barack and Michelle Obama for many, many years. Close enough that the account in “Leading from Behind” is, I suspect, closer to the truth than not.

We’ll see.

Footnote:
(1) I freely and cheerily admit to having a “hot button” about 9/11, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and a president’s proper response. Said response being “Hunt them down like rabid dogs and kill every last one of them!” And I get angry at any hint of softness on this issue. I doubt I’ll ever change.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

We did the right thing

**Posted by Phineas

Nine years ago today, the United States invaded Iraq at the head of a coalition including Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other nations with the goal of toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein and, perhaps, healing the poisoned tree of Arab Middle East politics by helping foster the growth of a stable democracy in the heart of the Islamic world.

Two goals born of the danger inherent in the status quo that was revealed to us one horrible morning in September, 2001.

One was brilliantly achieved: after the usual predictions from the Left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) of stalemate and a bloodbath, Coalition forces rolled over Saddam armies in a matter of weeks and liberated (1) the people of that country from one of the worst, most brutal tyrannies of the late 20th century. (For just one example) One of the enduring images in my mind from the Battle of Baghdad is this one, from Firdos Square just before Saddam’s statue was torn down:

(That’s Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch, USMC (ret), btw, who later lost an eye at the First Battle of Fallujah. He’s running for Congress against Democrat incumbent Susan Davis in California’s 53rd district. His campaign site is here. Go, now, and donate.)

The question ever since (and from the fringe Left, even before) has been “Was this the right thing to do?”

I argued then that it was and, to this day, I do.

It’s my belief that the commitment of American military force to any major combat operation (absent a direct attack on the United States) requires a convergence of the strategic and moral imperatives that have shaped American foreign policy for centuries. In Iraq, those interests came together — see, for example, Pollack’s “The Threatening Storm” (pre-war) and Feith’s “War and Decision” (post-war). See also this excellent article in Australia’s National Observer, which asked last year “Will Bush Be Vindicated?” The whole article is worth your time, but let me quote the portion about the international consensus among intelligence agencies about Iraq at that time:

Pre-war intelligence consensus

The pre-war intelligence consensus concerning Iraqi WMD extended beyond both sides of the political divide in Congress. It reached the external intelligence agencies of the world’s six major or regional powers. All of these agencies had come to similar, and mostly independent, conclusions about the presence of WMDs and Saddam’s propensity to use them.

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — United States.
  • Security Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) — United Kingdom.
  • Mossad — Israel.
  • Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) — Germany.
  • Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) — France.
  • Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) — Russia.

This is the German BND’s intelligence summary:[13]

 “Iraq has resumed its nuclear program and may be capable of producing an atomic bomb in three years;

Iraq is developing its Al Samoud and Ababil 100/Al Fatah short-range rockets, which can deliver a 300kg payload 150km. Medium-range rockets capable of carrying a warhead 3,000km could be built by 2005 — far enough to reach Europe;

Iraq is capable of manufacturing solid rocket fuel;

A Delhi-based company has acted as a buyer on Iraq’s behalf. Deliveries have been made via Malaysia and Dubai. Indian companies have copied German machine tools down to the smallest detail and such equipment has been installed in numerous chemicals projects.

Since the departure of the UN inspectors, the number of Iraqi sites involved in chemicals production has increased from 20 to 80. Of that total, a quarter could be involved in weapons production.”

Regarding Britain: after it became apparent that there were no discoverable WMDs in Iraq, the British House of Commons Intelligence Services Committee (ISC) conducted a thorough investigation into the failures of British intelligence to predict accurately the true state of Iraq’s situation. It is significant that this committee and the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee concluded, along with Lord Hutton’s independent inquiry, that no undue or inappropriate pressure was brought to bear upon the Joint Intelligence Chiefs (JIC) to shape their assessments according to a particular, pre-existing policy construct. Such a finding was contrary to persistent media reports, and to the repeated claims of opponents of Tony Blair’s position.

This is a key quote from the September 2003 House of Commons ISC report on its investigation into the JIC’s Iraq Assessment:[14]

“It was clear to all that Saddam Hussein was defying the international community, ignoring UNSCRs, breaking embargoes and engaging in an extensive programme of concealment. Based on the intelligence and the JIC assessments that we have seen, we accept that there was convincing intelligence that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear programmes and the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons. Iraq was also continuing to develop ballistic missiles. All these activities were prohibited under UNSCRs.”

I put it to you that no President of the United States (2) could look at the intelligence he was receiving, which was supported by other services, and not be lead to the conclusion that liberating Iraq was very much in our interests — especially so soon after the catastrophe of September 11th.

(Fair and balanced: an alternate view from the UK’s Guardian paper.)

Regardless of what happened since and the uncertainties of the future — the poorly run occupation, the incorrect early counterinsurgency strategy, the Left’s revision of history and the Democrats’ subordination of the national interests to their party’s political goals, Obama’s decision to put all our gains at risk by pulling out too soon, the very real risk of Iraqi backsliding in our absence, and the possible failure of our second goal, fostering constitutional government in the Arab Middle East — in spite of all that, I believe George W. Bush made the right choice when he gave the order to liberate Iraq.

I still do.

Footnotes:
(1) Yes, “liberated.” Setting oppressed people free. That’s exactly what we did. It’s been a specialty of the United States military since, oh, 1775. We’re really quite good at it.
(2) Okay, okay. No adult, mature, non-callow president.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

It’s official: Congressman Ron Paul makes me sick

His bumbling and rambling at the debates has mostly been comical.  But his solidarity with 9-11 Truthers is deeply troubling and believe it or not  it doesn’t stop there:

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul said Thursday evening that Bush administration officials were gleeful after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because it gave them a pretext to invade Iraq.

“Just think of what happened after 9/11. Immediately before there was any assessment there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq,” the Texas Republican told a group of mostly young backers in Iowa. He went on to suggest officials are now setting the stage for an invasion of Iran.

“GLEEFUL” over the murder of 3,000 innocents, just because it meant they could “invade Iraq”?

In response to Paul’s comments Thursday evening, former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleisher Tweeted: “The man is nuts.”

On “Face the Nation” last month, Paul said that while the average American didn’t cause the Sept. 11 attacks, ” if you have a flawed policy it may influence it.”

“I think there’s an influence and that’s exactly what the 9/11 commission said that’s what the DOD has said and that’s also what the CIA has said and that’s what a lot of researchers have said,” said Paul. “…our policies definitely had an influence and you talk to the people who committed it and those individuals who would like to do us harm. They say yes we don’t like American bombs to be falling on our country and we don’t like the intervention that we do in their nation so to deny this I think is very dangerous. But to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we’re free and prosperous is very dangerous notion because it’s not true.”

Let’s face it:  Right now, if you’re still a staunch supporter of Ron Paul after this, you’re no better than he is.  What a despicable Congressman.

Don Surber agrees, and adds:

Ron Paul has peddled this bullcrap for years. Recall this exchange during the 2008 presidential debate season:

Ron Paul: “They attack us because we’ve been over there, we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics.”

Rudy Giuliani: “That’s an extraordinary statement of someone who lived through the attack of Sept. 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.”

Ron Paul is a perennial presidential candidate whose first bid was in 1988. He has figured out how to make a buck or two off paranoid rubes who buy this swill. It is a cottage industry that others such as Lyndon LaRouche work quite well.

I defend his right to lie about honorable men because I trust that most people have the wisdom to understand how ignorant he is.

And God help any who don’t.

UPDATE – 11:21 AM: The more rabid  Paulbots and Truthers, be warned: I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to blaming America for 9-11.  Please don’t try my patience, because on this issue, I have none.

Pearl Harbors then and now

**Posted by Phineas

In the last surprise attack on American soil before 9/11, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor:

The end of the USS Arizona

(Credit: Aviation History)

My grandfather was a Petty Officer aboard the USS Nevada during the battle. Below are a couple of pictures of his ship under attack, the only battleship to get underway that day:

…and…

Grandpa was having a bad day

(Both photos credit: Naval Historical Center)

As you can see, they had been hit pretty hard. Thankfully, Grandpa survived.

Ten years ago, we were hit by another fascist enemy, with casualties 25% higher than Pearl Harbor:

(credit: September 11th News)

…and…

(Credit: Aspersions)

…and…

(Scene at the Pentagon. Credit: US Navy via Wikimedia)

Our grandfathers finished their job. Let’s not do any less, shall we?

RELATED: The story of Lt. John William Finn, the last surviving Medal of Honor winner from Pearl Harbor.

NOTE: This is a republishing of post I make every Pearl Harbor Day.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Bill Whittle: What we did right in Afghanistan and Iraq, and my qualified disagreement

**Posted by Phineas

Bill Whittle returns with another episode of Afterburner, this time with his own retrospective on the ten years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001. In it, he looks at what has happened since in Afghanistan, Iraq, and America and looks at the things we got right, a needed corrective to the constant drumbeat of failure played for us by the MSM:

I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Bill. We did indeed liberate over 60,000,000 people from two of the worst tyrannies on Earth, and we did indeed maul Al Qaeda, killing thousands of fighters who might otherwise have found there way to America or Europe. The removal of Saddam’s regime ended a serious strategic threat that would surely have returned once the sanctions regime had finally failed (which it was already doing). And Iraq has a realistic chance to establish the first genuine Arab representative, constitutional democracy, though Obama is endangering that by pulling out too fast and too soon. And we have been very successful at preventing further catastrophic attacks against us.

None of that is to be dismissed lightly.

But I can’t wholly agree with Whittle. While he’s right that the fall of Saddam and it’s replacement with a democratic regime (albeit flawed) inspired the recent Arab revolts against dictators, much as the French Revolution inspired the liberal rebellions in Europe in 1848, I’m much less sanguine than Bill about the prospects for those revolts. Unlike mid-19th century Europe, the Arab “liberal class” (1) is small and likely to be overwhelmed by Islamist factions, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied Salafi groups in Egypt or the Islamists among the rebels in Libya. I can more easily see this “Arab Spring” turning into a bloody winter.

And while I too take great joy from the killing of bin Laden, unlike Bill (and assuming I’m not misunderstanding him), I don’t see this as the end of anything, except perhaps the end of the beginning. Al Qaeda “central” may be broken and reduced in influence, but it has dangerous franchises around the globe. And beyond Al Qaeda, the broader jihadist movement, one of the keystones of which is Iran, remains a menacing, perhaps even existential threat.

So, yes, while we’ve ravaged Al Qaeda, the struggle with the problem of jihad and the conflict created by the matter/antimatter incompatibility of Western liberalism and Islamic Sharia remain.

RELATED: Commentary’s Abe Greenwald on “What We Got Right in the War on Terror.”

Footnote:
(1) “Liberal” as in the constitutionalist, limited government and free market philosophy that evolved from the 17th-19th centuries, not the progressivism that hijacked the word “liberal” in the 1930s.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Such classy people — not

**Posted by Phineas

As part of yesterday’s observance of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th atrocities, the US Embassy in London held its own services. Also present were a group of Muslims who held their own commemoration:

A small group of Islamist demonstrators staged a protest outside the US embassy in London Sunday during a ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Around 50 people brandished anti-US banners, chanted slogans and burnt a small piece of paper with a picture of the US flag on it, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

Britain’s Press Association news agency reported that the protesters were from a group called Muslims Against Crusades.

They were there to disrupt a moment of silence scheduled for the time that the first plane struck the World Trade Center. When these religious fascists started their fire, the police formed a line to keep them away. Regrettably, no police dogs were loosed on these jerks.

Such classy people.

via Big Government

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

9-11: George W. Bush and his bullhorn

**Posted by Phineas

Lots of people have written today about that terrible morning: where they were, what they remember, maybe honoring the victims or the many valiant heroes of the battle and its aftermath. I wondered what I would write. I decided that, rather than focus on the day itself, something others have done much more eloquently than I ever could, I wanted to share video of what has become one of my strongest memories from that time: the moment, when, three days later, George W. Bush stood amidst the smoldering ruins from which the dead were still being recovered and rallied a stunned and bloodied nation:

That was the day a man who won a disputed, contentious election truly became President of the United States of America, and I’ll forever be grateful for him.

Note: This is a re-posting, slightly updated, of something I wrote for last year’s anniversary; I think it’s a moment that needs recalling.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

10 Years Later: Remembering 9-11, and victim Peter Edward Mardikian

Never Forget

**Reposting last year’s post.  God bless, and never forget.  -ST**

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Longtime readers of this blog will recognize this post, as I have published it here every 9-11 since 2006 in honor of Mr. Mardikian, and all victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, as part of DC Roe’s 9-11 remembrance project. I thought this year about doing another post for another victim, but decided it would be too painful, as the memories of what happened that day are still so fresh and raw for many, myself included. I didn’t know anyone in the WTC towers, the Pentagon, or on any of the planes, but I was in NYC on that day – scheduled to fly back home that evening. I remember just like it was yesterday what I was doing and where I was when I found out what was going on, and the shock and numbness that washed over me as it slowly started to sink in that we were under attack. When my friend Sharon and I checked back into the Times Square hotel we had only checked out of about 2 hours earlier, the first thing we did was turn on the TV to get updates. At that time, news channels were showing unedited coverage, & raw eyewitness footage as all news at that point was “breaking,” so we saw what the rest of America was seeing – like people screaming for help from the top floors of the towers, some of them jumping. Also, like many other Americans, we watched on TV as the towers collapsed. And, again, like the rest of America, she and I couldn’t stop crying at the senseless losses of so many innocent lives, as the victim count piled up from NYC, to the Pentagon, to a field in Shanksville, PA.

It’s still hard to believe even today that something as horrifying as 9-11 happened on our soil. But it did, and we must never, ever forget it. Time passes on and life goes on, but for the victims, their families, and for the future of America, we must always remember – and always remain vigilant against the Islamofascists who would like nothing more than to commit many more 9-11s.

For an extensive archive of TV coverage of 9-11 as it happened, click here.

Here, once again, is Peter Edward Mardikian’s story. Note: Some links may no longer work, but they were valid at the time of the original writing.

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(Originally posted 9/10/06 7:55 pm)

Imagine you are 29 years old. You’ve been married for six weeks to your college sweetheart, someone whom friends would later say that you wouldn’t have been “complete” without. You’re beginning to realize your personal and professional dreams. The world looks to be your oyster, and you believe that you and your spouse have the rest of your lives to explore it, all the while enjoying the comfort of knowing that you have not only each other, but the enduring love of family and friends surrounding you.

Peter Edward MardikianAnd then imagine those hopes being snatched away from you in the blink of an eye, without warning, without provocation. Imagine the chilling, horrifying realization that you will never see your spouse again, your family, your friends. That you will be leaving this earth much sooner than you ever thought you would be.

Such was the case for Peter Edward Mardikian, one of 2,996 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.

As it was for most of us, September 11, 2001 started off as an average day for Mr. Mardikian. Peter worked for a company called “Imagine Software” in Manhattan. That morning Peter was on business, preparing a software exhibit for a trade show in the World Trade Center at Windows on The World, which was a popular restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower. As you can see from the picture, it had a spectacular view of the city. It was a city Peter Mardikian, who grew up in Princeton, NJ, had dreamed of living and working in. Here is what the morning started out like at Windows on the World:

Windows on the World restaurant“Good morning, Ms. Thompson.”

Doris Eng’s greeting was particularly sunny, like the day, as Liz Thompson arrived for breakfast atop the tallest building in the city, Ms. Thompson remembers thinking. Perhaps Ms. Eng had matched her mood to the glorious weather, the rich blue September sky that filled every window. Or perhaps it was the company.

Familiar faces occupied many of the tables in Wild Blue, the intimate aerie to Windows that Ms. Eng helped manage, according to two people who ate there that morning. As much as any one place, that single room captured the sweep of humanity who worked and played at the trade center.

Ms. Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, was eating with Geoffrey Wharton, an executive with Silverstein Properties, which had just leased the towers. At the next table sat Michael Nestor, the deputy inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of his investigators, Richard Tierney.

At a third table were six stockbrokers, several of whom came every Tuesday. Ms. Eng had a treat for one of them, Emeric Harvey. The night before, one of the restaurant’s managers, Jules Roinnel, gave Ms. Eng two impossibly-hard-to-get tickets to “The Producers.” Mr. Roinnel says he asked Ms. Eng to give them to Mr. Harvey.

Sitting by himself at a window table overlooking the Statue of Liberty was a relative newcomer, Neil D. Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority. He had never joined them for breakfast before. But his secretary requested a table days earlier and now he sat waiting for a banker friend, said Mr. Levin’s wife, Christy Ferer.

Every other minute or so, a waiter, Jan Maciejewski, swept through the room, refilling coffee cups and taking orders, Mr. Nestor recalls. Mr. Maciejewski was one of several restaurant workers on the 107th floor. Most of the 72 Windows employees were on the 106th floor, where Risk Waters Group was holding a conference on information technology.

Already 87 people had arrived, including top executives from Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg, according to the conference sponsors. Many were enjoying coffee and sliced smoked salmon in the restaurant’s ballroom. Some exhibitors were already tending to their booths, set up in the Horizon Suite just across the hallway.

A picture taken that morning showed two exhibitors, Peter Alderman and William Kelly, salesmen for Bloomberg L.P., chatting with a colleague beside a table filled with a multi-screened computer display. Stuart Lee and Garth Feeney, two vice presidents of Data Synapse, ran displays of their company’s software.

Down in the lobby, 107 floors below, an assistant to Mr. Levin waited for his breakfast guest. But when the guest arrived, he and Mr. Levin’s aide luckily boarded the wrong elevator, Ms. Ferer would learn, and so they had to return to the lobby to wait for another one.

Upstairs, Mr. Levin read his newspaper, Mr. Nestor recalled. He and Mr. Tierney were a little curious to see whom Mr. Levin, their boss, was meeting for breakfast. But Mr. Nestor had a meeting downstairs, so they headed for the elevators, stopping at Mr. Levin’s table to say goodbye. Behind them came Ms. Thompson and Mr. Wharton. Mr. Nestor held the elevator, so they hopped in quickly, Ms. Thompson recalled.

Then the doors closed and the last people ever to leave Windows on the World began their descent. It was 8:44 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower, slicing through floors 94 through 98. Those in the direct path of the Boeing 767 aircraft that had been used as a weapon were likely killed instantly. No one in the floors above floor 91 would survive, because they had no way out, and firefighters could not reach them.

According to Peter Mardikian’s wife Corine, he called her at 9:05 a.m. using a landline phone, one that was miraculously still working, on the 106th floor. Here is her recollection of the conversation:

“He said it was very, very smoky,” Ms. Mardikian said, “and he was worried about his breathing. He was talking about going up to the roof. I think he was trying to shelter me. He said he couldn’t talk longer because there were a lot of people standing in line to use the phone.”

His in-laws quoted him as saying this as well to his wife:

“We think a bomb hit here. I’m having a hard time breathing. I probably won’t make it out of here. I just want you to know I love you.”

Here’s what was happening on the top floors of the North Tower at 9:35 that morning:

So urgent was the need for air that people piled four and five high in window after window, their upper bodies hanging out, 1,300 feet above the ground.

They were in an unforgiving place.

Elsewhere, two men, one of them shirtless, stood on the windowsills, leaning their bodies so far outside that they could peer around a big intervening column and see each other, an analysis of photographs and videos reveals.

On the 103rd floor, a man stared straight out a broken window toward the northwest, bracing himself against a window frame with one hand. He wrapped his other arm around a woman, seemingly to keep her from tumbling to the ground.

Behind the unbroken windows, the desperate had assembled. “About five floors from the top you have about 50 people with their faces pressed against the window trying to breathe,” a police officer in a helicopter reported.

Now it was unmistakable. The office of Cantor Fitzgerald, and just above it, Windows on the World, would become the landmark for this doomed moment. Nearly 900 would die on floors 101 through 107.

In the restaurant, at least 70 people crowded near office windows at the northwest corner of the 106th floor, according to accounts they gave relatives and co-workers. “Everywhere else is smoked out,” Stuart Lee, a Data Synapse vice president, e-mailed his office in Greenwich Village. “Currently an argument going on as whether we should break a window,” Mr. Lee continued a few moments later. “Consensus is no for the time being.”

Soon, though, a dozen people appeared through broken windows along the west face of the restaurant. Mr. Vogt, the general manager of Windows, said he could see them from the ground, silhouetted against the gray smoke that billowed out from his own office and others.

By now, the videotapes show, fires were rampaging through the impact floors, darting across the north face of the tower. Coils of smoke lashed the people braced around the broken windows.

In the northwest conference room on the 104th floor, Andrew Rosenblum and 50 other people temporarily managed to ward off the smoke and heat by plugging vents with jackets. “We smashed the computers into the windows to get some air,” Mr. Rosenblum reported by cellphone to his golf partner, Barry Kornblum.

But there was no hiding.

As people began falling from above the conference room, Mr. Rosenblum broke his preternatural calm, his wife, Jill, recalled. In the midst of speaking to her, he suddenly interjected, without elaboration, “Oh my God.”

Imagine what it would feel like to be Peter Mardikian in that crowd, knowing that each moment may be your last. What would you think? How would you feel? How would you act?

The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 that morning. Collapsing along with it were the lives of everyone in floors 92 and above, including Peter Mardikian.

Destroyed with it were the hopes and dreams of everyone on those floors who were murdered that day in an act of extraordinary cruelty and viciousness perpetrated by Islamofascists in an act of war against America.

Mr. Mardikian’s life was snatched from him in a way that no one should ever have to experience. He will never get to feel sunlight on his face again, nor get a kiss from his wife after he’s come home from a hard day at the office. Any plans they’d made for the future? Gone.

A September 11 Memorial Endowment was established by Ohio State University in 2002 in honor of Peter Mardikian, who was an alumnus – graduating from OSU’s Fisher College of Business in 1995 with a B.A. in marketing and business. It’s also where he met the woman who would be his wife.

The online guestbook for Peter Mardikian has five 16 pages of messages from family, friends, and strangers – their lives all touched by either knowing and loving Peter Mardikian or learning about him after Sept. 11.

At some point in your day, please say a prayer or a kind word for Mr. Mardikian’s family, as well as all other families who lost loved ones that day. They may be gone, but they are most definitely not forgotten.

Thanks to D.C. Roe for coordinating the 9-11 victims tribute. Click here read other tributes to 9-11 victims (some links may no longer work).