[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] People in Dust The Day the Truth Came Crashing Down: A decade of wrist-slaps againt terrorists left the U.S. weak and vulnerable.

Photograph by Mario Tama


By Dan Pulcrano

AMIDST the quiet surreal, Californians awoke to the first radio reports, the standing tower, its startling collapse, the replayed images, the email accounts and the server busy messages. We shared the unbelievable by telephone and instant message.

The World Trade Center? The freakin' Pentagon!

A New York fireman turns to the camera and explains that he's going into the one standing tower because he has no choice; his colleagues are in there. Cut to an aide whispering in the ear of a clueless president, before he's spirited away on Air Force One, leaving a cardiac patient in command at the White House.

We all became witnesses to the worst disaster in history, live and in real time. And everyone near a keyboard or cell phone in the world's most densely populated city became a news reporter. Here at the paper, emails from brothers, brother-in-laws, sons and former co-workers were posted and passed. "The city's in total chaos. People wailing on the street, black clouds over lower Manhattan, and just one big tragic mess," one corresponded. "I just got out of the subway to see the towers on fire -- 10 minutes ago. NY is in shock. The building just went down before my eyes. ... Everyone is crying in this building, right down the street -- sirens everywhere. I think I will need to walk home now," a brother wrote. "Yes, he's alive," shared another. "Not sure of condition, but he was able to call my sister, his wife, that he is alive. ... someone rescued him. My sister said he was buried underneath, saying his Hail Marys, thinking he was dying and someone saw him--he's about 6' 5"-- and dug him out and pulled him through to a basement. He called my sister crying. That's all I know. I wanted her phone line to stay open."


The Search For Truth: Writers in the Bay Area and around the world respond to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


"THE BASTARDS!" opined the Village Voice website. The shock, the rage, the enormity of it all became apparent as the obvious questions sprang to mind. How could a country fail so miserably to protect its citizens, maintain safe skies, even protect the nerve center of the earth's most powerful military machine?

Now there's W in Louisiana, looking like a scared deer, assuring the world that America's still in business "We have taken all appropriate security precautions to protect the American people." And he'll punish those responsible, as soon he can figure out who did what. Don't ask the intelligence agency his dad once ran; the CIA failed to warn of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the invasion of Kuwait or countless attacks on U.S. installations worldwide. How about that FBI? The missing McVeigh files, Waco, Robert Philip Hanssen, Wen Ho Lee.

The Federal Reserve's still open, a White House spokeswoman assures. A country with no coherent strategy to protect its citizens can still print greenbacks. Meanwhile, sellers began hiking prices on eBay for World Trade Center souvenirs until it took action and halted the practice.

Workers went home or crowded around TVs at the Mission Ale House. "No one was in a mood to work today and no one was getting anything done," said Jerry Rekko, a high-tech manager.

Like we really needed all this. Suddenly we can't rely on our government, our financial systems, our technology, our security. Electoral democracy broke and gave us the Bush presidency. Then the lights went out. The economy imploded. Now, the images of New Yorkers running through the streets have deepened our sense that we are really not in control of all this great technology we've created.

And instead of building a better, safer world, we're worrying about our portfolios, our cars, our sports heroes, our fashion statements--and our president is passing out $300 refund checks.

They're dancing in the streets of Gaza and Jenin. Collective punishment can only keep the the suicide bombers at bay temporarily--Israel found that out. Yes, security solutions will have to be implemented. Oh, by the way, it will be at the expense of civil liberties. And eventually we will have to look at the roots of political violence anyway.

This was our Tuesday morning wake-up call. They whacked us while the guys in charge were helping Microsoft and the oil companies and buying cheap votes. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden was warning journalists that he would be launching an "unprecedented attack" against U.S. interests. Was it him or not? Let's hope these guys figure it out.


Follow-up articles by Dan Pulcrano:
Follow the Money: Bin Laden, the Taliban and the CIA.
Plane Truth: Intelligence community ignored threats to cities.


[ San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the September 13-19, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate