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History > 2011 > USA > Terrorism (IV)





President Obama Marks 10th Anniversary of 9/11


The President and First Lady

attended ceremonies at the three memorial sites,

paid their respects at Section 60,

and attended the Concert for Hope.

HD / CC version.


YouTube > White House




















President Obama Reads Psalm 46 at 9/11 Memorial

Part of the 10th Anniversary Ceremony in New York City.


YouTube > White House




















By Garry Trudeau


September 11, 2011
















Judging a Long, Deadly Reach


September 30, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen struck on Friday by a missile fired from a drone aircraft operated by his own government, instantly reignited a difficult debate over terrorism, civil liberties and the law.

For the Obama administration, Mr. Awlaki, 40, had joined the enemy in wartime, shifting from propaganda to an operational role in plots devised in Yemen by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula against the United States. Early last year, officials quietly decided that his actions justified making him a target for capture or death like any other Qaeda leader.

But a range of civil libertarians and Muslim-American advocates questioned how the government could take an American citizen’s life based on secret intelligence and without a trial. They said that killing him amounted to summary execution without the due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution.

That argument was pressed unsuccessfully in federal court last year by the American Civil Liberties Union and Mr. Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, a former agriculture minister and university chancellor in Yemen. A federal judge threw out their lawsuit, noting that the younger Mr. Awlaki had shown no interest in pursuing a claim in an American justice system he despised.

On Friday, Jameel Jaffer, the A.C.L.U.’s deputy legal director, said that the drone strike, which killed Mr. Awlaki and another American, Samir Khan, violated United States and international law. “As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public, but from the courts,” Mr. Jaffer said.

Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas who specializes in national security law, said he believed that the killings were legal. But he said it was “plenty controversial” among legal specialists, with experts on the left and on the libertarian right deeply opposed to such targeted killings of Americans.

The administration’s legal argument in the case of Mr. Awlaki appeared to have three elements. First, he posed an imminent threat to the lives of Americans, having participated in plots to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and to bomb two cargo planes last year. Second, he was fighting alongside the enemy in the armed conflict with Al Qaeda. And finally, in the chaos of Yemen, there was no feasible way to arrest him.

Critics noted that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In ordinary circumstances, a trial and conviction would be required before government officials could order an execution.

No public legal process led to Mr. Awlaki’s becoming the first American citizen to be placed on the C.I.A.’s list of Qaeda-linked terrorists to be captured or killed. Officials said that every name added to the list underwent a careful, if secret, legal review. Because of Mr. Awlaki’s citizenship, the decision to add him to the target list was approved by the National Security Council as well.

The legal debate is complicated by the fact that precedents involve the military detention of Americans who sided with the enemy during World War II — not the killing of Americans in a highly unconventional war against terrorists.

“What’s tricky here is that many people don’t accept that this is a war,” Professor Chesney said. “I don’t think there has ever been a case quite like this.”

It was, of course, Mr. Awlaki’s very American qualities — his fluency in the language and culture of the country where he spent half his life — that made him such a dangerous radicalizing force.

The American-educated son of an American-educated Yemeni technocrat, Mr. Awlaki embodied the puzzle of radicalization: How could an American citizen reach the point of calling in eloquent English, via the megaphone of the Internet, for the mass murder of his fellow citizens?

His eerily calm religious justifications for violence, recycled across the Web for years, had a profound impact on a small number of young Muslims in the United States, Canada and Britain. In a score of plots since 2006, investigators discerned Mr. Awlaki as an important influence — his written, audio and video sermons stored on hard drives, e-mailed among conspirators and treated as a clerical imprimatur for their deeds.

Mr. Awlaki was born in 1971 in Las Cruces, N.M., where his father was a graduate student in agricultural science. He moved to Yemen with his parents at the age of 7 and attended school in the conservative Muslim country, where he later told friends he had been thrilled by tales of Yemeni men fighting the Russians in Afghanistan.

At 19, he was sent back to the United States to attend Colorado State University. He completed an engineering degree, but by then had discovered his knack for preaching. He became the imam in mosques in Denver, San Diego and the Virginia suburbs of Washington, and collections of his sermons became best sellers on CD. He showed a moderate face to the public; the nature of his contacts with at least two of the future Sept. 11 hijackers remains a mystery.

Though Mr. Awlaki denounced the Sept. 11 attacks, he was angered by the government investigations of Muslim organizations that followed. He moved to London in 2002 and eventually to Yemen, where he was imprisoned in 2006 and 2007.

After his release, he created an English-language Web site, blog and Facebook page that drew tens of thousands of visitors, putting out a message that grew steadily more approving of anti-Western violence. He first came to broad public attention in November 2009, after he praised as a hero Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army major accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas.

Unlike Osama bin Laden, whose convoluted Arabic-language Web messages struck many Western Muslims as foreign and strange, Mr. Awlaki’s unaccented English, sprinkled with colloquial Americanisms, often hit its mark. He leaves an ineradicable electronic legacy, on CD and on the Web, and for those drawn to jihad, his death in an American missile strike may give his story a new gloss of martyrdom.

    Judging a Long, Deadly Reach, NYT, 30.9.2011,






Drone Victim Went From American Middle Class

to Waging a Media War for Al Qaeda


September 30, 2011
The New York Times


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — From his parents’ basement in a part of town where homes have lots of bedrooms and most children go to college, Samir Khan blogged his way into the highest circles of Al Qaeda, waging a media war he believed was as important as the battles with guns on the ground.

His parents — by all accounts a low-key, respected couple who had moved south from Queens in 2004 — were worried about the increasingly radical nature of their son’s philosophy and the increasing media reports that exposed it.

They turned more than once to members of their religious communities to impress upon their college-aged son the perils of such thinking and behavior.

It did not work. In 2009, he left his comfortable life in Charlotte for Yemen, started a slick magazine for jihadists called Inspire that featured political and how-to articles written in a comfortable American vernacular and continued to digitally dodge government and civilian efforts to stop his self-described “media jihad.”

His life ended in Yemen on Friday, when Mr. Khan, 25, was killed in a drone strike that also took the life of the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and two other men, according to both American and Yemeni officials.

At the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, few of the several hundred Muslims gathered for Friday Prayer wanted to talk about Mr. Khan.

“This is a very dangerous road when you go and kill someone like this,” said Ayeb Suleiman, 25, a medical resident. “He was just an editor. He was just writing.”

Others felt grief for a family who had lost a son, no matter the nature of the son’s activities.

Mr. Khan’s father, Zafar Khan, is an information technology executive and a respected, regular worshiper who bought his family a two-story brick house near a golf course. He often talked cricket with Yasin Raja, a fellow Pakistani-American.

“If Samir got caught up with something, that was on his own,” Mr. Raja said.

Steve Glocke, who lives across the street from the family, watched Mr. Khan grow from a cordial teenager who played basketball with his brother in the street into a quiet, but radical, young man. When Mr. Khan moved to Yemen, he said, “I would ask if he was O.K., and they would say they didn’t know.”

His parents were worried even before the family moved from Queens. Mustapha Elturk, the imam and president of the Islamic Organization of North America, met the family in the mid-1990s during an educational program at a mosque in Flushing, Queens. Mr. Khan was interested in Islam as a way to “stay away from the peer pressure of his teenage days,” he said.

But after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Khan’s attraction to militant sites on the Internet and his radical views grew to the point where his father intervened.

“He tried his best to make his son meet all sorts of imams and scholars to dissuade him from those views,” said Mr. Elturk, who spoke with Mr. Khan’s father on Friday to offer condolences. “He would give you the impression that he would change.”

Early intervention by members of the local community is key to preventing the radicalization of Islamic youth, said Sue Myrick, the member of Congress who represents the part of Charlotte where Mr. Khan lived.

Mr. Khan’s last issue of Inspire came out this week. It was 20 pages, smaller than the rest, and dedicated largely to the Sept. 11 attacks. It has lost some of the cheekiness of early editions, which outlined what to expect on a jihad and had headlines like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

In this edition, he made clear the role he believed he played in the war. “While America was focused on battling mujahedeen in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq,” he wrote, “the jihadi media and its supporters were in fifth gear.”


Robbie Brown reported from Charlotte, and Kim Severson from Atlanta. Matt Flegenheimer contributed reporting from New York.

    Drone Victim Went From American Middle Class to Waging a Media War for Al Qaeda, NYT, 30.9.2011,






Two-Year Manhunt Led to Awlaki Death


September 30, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Anwar al-Awlaki did not leave much of a trail, frustrating the American and Yemeni intelligence officials pursuing him over the last two years.

They believed they finally had found him in a village in southern Yemen last year. Yemeni commandos, equipped with tanks and heavy weapons, surrounded the hamlet, but he slipped away, according to a Yemeni official. In May, his pursuers targeted him in a drone attack, but narrowly missed him and other members of his entourage as they drove across a desert.

The search for Mr. Awlaki, the American-born cleric whose fiery sermons made him a larger-than-life figure in the shadowy world of jihad, finally ended on Friday. After several days of surveillance of Mr. Awlaki, armed drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency took off from a new, secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, crossed into northern Yemen and unleashed a barrage of Hellfire missiles at a car carrying him and other top operatives from Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, including another American militant who had run the group’s English-language Internet magazine.

The strike was the culmination of a desperate manhunt marked not only by near misses and dead ends, but also by a wrenching legal debate in Washington about the legality — and morality — of putting an American citizen on a list of top militants marked for death. It also represented the latest killing of a senior terrorist figure in an escalated campaign by the Obama administration.

“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate,” President Obama said in remarks at a swearing-in ceremony for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, outside Washington. Mr. Obama said the cleric had taken “the lead role in planning and directing the efforts to murder innocent Americans.”

Mr. Obama also called Mr. Awlaki “the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” — the first time the United States has publicly used that description of him. American officials say he inspired militants around the world and helped plan a number of terrorist plots, including the December 2009 attempt to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit.

The drone strike was the first C.I.A. strike in Yemen since 2002 — there have been others since then by the military’s Special Operations forces — and was part of an effort by the spy agency to duplicate in Yemen the covert war the it has been running in Pakistan. Friday’s operation was the first time the agency had carried out a deadly strike from a new base in the region. The agency began constructing the base this year, officials said, when it became apparent to intelligence and counterterrorism officials that the threat from Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen had eclipsed that coming from its core group of operatives hiding in Pakistan.

American officials said that the missile strike also killed Samir Khan, an American citizen of Pakistani origin who was an editor of Inspire, Al Qaeda’s English-language online magazine. Mr. Khan, who grew up in Queens and North Carolina, proclaimed in the magazine last year that he was “proud to be a traitor to America,” and edited articles with titles like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

United States officials said that Friday’s strike may also have killed Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a Saudi bomb maker responsible for the weapon carried by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber in the jetliner plot. He is also thought to have built the printer-cartridge bombs that, 10 months later, were intended to be put on cargo planes headed to the United States. Neither of those plots were successful.

A high-ranking Yemeni security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Awlaki was killed while traveling between Marib and Jawf Provinces in northern Yemen — areas known for having a Qaeda presence and where there is very little central government control.

A tribal sheik from Jawf Province, Abdullah al-Jumaili, said he had seen the place where Mr. Awlaki was killed. Reached by phone in Jawf, Mr. Jumaili said that the car Mr. Awlaki and two or three companions had been traveling in was nearly destroyed, and that it might be difficult to recognize bodies. But he said he had also spoken to other tribesmen in the area and was “100 percent sure” that Mr. Awlaki had been killed.

There had been an intense debate among lawyers in the months before the Obama administration decided to put Mr. Awlaki on a target list in early 2010, and officials said that Mr. Khan was never on the list. The decision to make Mr. Awlaki a priority to be sought and killed was controversial, given his American citizenship. The American Civil Liberties Union, which fought unsuccessfully in the American court system to challenge the decision to target Mr. Awlaki, condemned the killing.

Mr. Awlaki’s death comes in the midst of a deepening political crisis in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been resisting repeated calls to relinquish power. Mr. Saleh has argued that he is essential to the American efforts to battle Al Qaeda in Yemen, but American officials said there was no connection between Mr. Saleh’s abrupt return this week from Saudi Arabia, where he had been recovering from injuries sustained in an assassination attempt, and the timing of Friday’s airstrikes.

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Mr. Awlaki, 40, began preaching in mosques while a college student in the United States. During that time, as a preacher in San Diego, he met two of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. He returned to Yemen in 2004 and his English-language sermons became ever more stridently anti-American.

American counterterrorism officials said his Internet lectures and sermons inspired would-be militants and led to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before the shootings. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.

Many ordinary Yemenis — schooled in the cynicism of Yemeni politics — believe that their government could have killed or even captured Mr. Awlaki at any time, and chose to do so only now for political reasons.

But in fact, the Yemeni security services, many trained by American Special Forces soldiers, appear to have pursued Mr. Awlaki for almost two years in a hunt that was often hindered by the shifting allegiances of Yemen’s tribes and the deep unpopularity of Mr. Saleh’s government.

In 2009 and 2010, Mr. Awlaki seems to have been mostly in the southern heartland of his own powerful tribe, the Awaliq, where killing him would have been politically costly for the government, and capturing him nearly impossible. The area where Mr. Awlaki was finally killed, in the remote north, did not afford him the same tribal protection. There are also many tribal leaders in the far north who receive stipends from Saudi Arabia — the terrorist group’s chief target — and who would therefore have had more motive to assist in killing him.

The hunt for Mr. Awlaki has involved some close calls, including the failed American drone strike in May, and the previously unreported operation in the Yemeni village. Yemen’s elite counterterrorism commandos, backed by weapons from Yemen’s regular armed forces, formed a ring around the town as commanders began negotiating with local leaders to hand Mr. Awlaki over, said one member of the unit.

“We stayed a whole week, but the villagers were supporting him,” said the counterterrorism officer, who is not authorized to speak on the record. “The local people began firing on us, and we fired back, and while it was happening, they helped him to escape.”

Yemen’s political crisis has seriously hampered counterterrorism efforts, and may have slowed down the hunt for Mr. Awlaki. In May and June, armed jihadists overran two towns in southern Yemen, beating back the army brigades in the area and penning one of them behind the walls of its base for two months.

The elite counterterrorism unit was not deployed until August, because of fears of civil war in the capital. Eventually, the unit regained control of the city of Zinjibar, but the counterterrorism officer, who took part in the fight, said the militant forces appeared to have expanded during Yemen’s crisis, with recruits from Somalia and several Arab countries.

Fresh information about Mr. Awlaki’s location surfaced about three weeks ago, allowing the C.I.A. to track him in earnest, waiting for an opportunity to strike with minimal risks to civilians, American officials said.

A senior American military official who monitors Yemen closely said Mr. Awlaki’s death would send an important message to the surviving leaders and foot soldiers in the Qaeda affiliate. “It’s critically important,” the senior official said. “It sets a sense of doom for the rest of them. Getting Awlaki, given his tight operational security, increases the sense of fear. It’s hard for them to attack when they’re trying to protect their own back side.”

But some Islamist figures said Mr. Awlaki’s status could be elevated to that of a martyr. Anjem Choudhry, an Islamic scholar in London, said, “The death of Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki will merely motivate the Muslim youth to struggle harder against the enemies of Islam and Muslims.”

He added, “I would say his death has made him more popular.”


Reporting was contributed by Laura Kasinof from Sana, Yemen; Alan Cowell from London; and Souad Mekhennet and Rick Gladstone from New York.



This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 30, 2011

An earlier version of this article said that Yemeni forces had carried out the attack.

    Two-Year Manhunt Led to Awlaki Death, NYT, 30.9.2011,






U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen


September 30, 2011
The New York Times


SANA, Yemen — A missile fired from an American drone aircraft in Yemen on Friday killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s affiliate there, according to an official in Washington.

Many of the details of the strike were unclear, but the official said that the drone fired a Hellfire missile and killed Mr. Awlaki, whom the United States had been hunting in Yemen for more than two years.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed Mr. Awlaki’s death, and both Yemeni and American officials hailed the strike as a significant success in the campaign to weaken Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group American officials believe to be the most dangerous Qaeda affiliate.

The Obama administration has escalated military and intelligence operations in Yemen, and the White House decision to make Mr. Awlaki a top priority to be hunted down and killed was controversial, given his American citizenship.

Born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, Mr. Awlaki, 40, began preaching in mosques while a college student in the United States. During that time, as a preacher in San Diego, he met two of the Sept. 11, 2001 attackers. He returned to Yemen in 2004 and his English-language sermons became ever more stridently anti-American.

His Internet lectures and sermons were linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009, had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before the shootings. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.

A Defense Ministry statement said that a number of Mr. Awlaki’s bodyguards were also killed.

A high-ranking Yemeni security official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Mr. Awlaki was killed while traveling between Marib and al-Jawf provinces in northern Yemen — areas known for having a Qaeda presence and where there is very little central government control.

A senior administration official in Washington said the killing of Mr. Awlaki was important because he had become Al Qaeda’s greatest English-language propagandist and one of its top operational planners.

“First and foremost, we’ve been looking at his important operational role,” the official said. “To the extent he’s no longer playing that role it’s all to the good.”

President Obama’s top national security and counterterrorism officials held a video teleconference at 6:30 a.m. Washington time to discuss details of Mr. Awlaki’s death as well as its impact on the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen and the group’s broader organization.

Mr. Awlaki’s name has been associated with many plots in the United States and elsewhere after individuals planning violence were drawn to his engaging lectures broadcast over the Internet.

Those individuals included Major Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the shootings at Fort Hood in which 13 people were killed; the young men who planned to attack Fort Dix, N.J.; and a 21-year-old British student who told the police she stabbed a member of Parliament after watching 100 hours of Awlaki videos.

But his death could also play into the tangled politics of Yemen, where beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been resisting months of protests against his 30-year rule, arguing in part that he is a critical American ally in the war against Al Qaeda.

In early September, the Obama administration’s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, said recent cooperation with Yemen was better than it has ever been despite the prolonged absence of Mr. Saleh, who returned recently after four months in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds he suffered in a bomb attack on his presidential palace.

President Saleh’s family controls the armed forces responsible for counterterrorism, and the killing of Mr. Awlaki seemed likely to be used to further the argument that the current government is the best ally for the United States when it comes to combating Mr. Awlaki’s affiliate group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Awlaki may not matter much to Yemenis, but his presence in Yemen has influenced U.S. counter terrorism policy, which in turn has influenced transition politics,” said Ginny Hill, the head of the Yemen Forum at Chatham House in London.

A senior American military official in Washington said Mr. Awlaki’s death will send an important message to the surviving leaders and foot soldiers in Al Qaeda, both in Yemen and elsewhere. “It’s critically important,” the senior official said. “It sets a sense of doom for the rest of them. Getting Awlaki, given his tight operational security, increases the sense of fear. It’s hard for them to attack when they’re trying to protect their own back side.”

“You take out someone like this, it sends a message,” the military official continued. “Now they have to go into a succession effort that will cause a movement of people, of messages, which makes them more vulnerable. Bottom line, they’ve taken a severe impact.”

But some Islamist figures said Mr. Awlaki’s status could be elevated to that of a martyr. Anjem Choudhury, an outspoken Islamic scholar in London, said: “The death of Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki will merely motivate the Muslim youth to struggle harder against the enemies of Islam and Muslims.” He added: “I would say his death has made him more popular.”

Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a telephone interview: “In many ways, Awlaki was, operationally, more important than Bin Laden.”

“Clearly, he was one of the most motivated to attack the United States.”

Mr. King warned that the United States would need to guard against retaliatory attacks from Al Qaeda’s arm in Yemen, but other senior American military and counterterrorism officials said that, unless a plot was already well under way, the Qaeda affiliate is likely to be in too much disarray right now to launch an immediate counterstrike.

Earlier this year, the American military renewed its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen, using drone aircraft and fighter jets to attack Qaeda militants. One of the attacks was aimed at Mr. Awlaki. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in July that two of his top goals were to remove Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s new leader after the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, and Mr. Awlaki.

Word of the killing came after months of sustained American efforts to seriously weaken the terrorist group.

In August an American official said a drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner after Bin Laden was killed.

In July, Mr. Panetta said during a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda” and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

A month earlier, an American official said the Central Intelligence Agency was building a secret air base in the Middle East to serve as a launching pad for strikes in Yemen using armed drones.

The construction of the base was seen at the time a sign that the Obama administration was planning an extended war in Yemen against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has repeatedly tried to carry out terrorist plots against the United States.

The American official would not disclose the country where the C.I.A. base was being built, but the official said that it would most likely be completed by the end of the year.

Last year, the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen sought to install Mr. Awlaki as the leader of the group, which apparently thought Mr. Awlaki’s knowledge of the United States and his status as an Internet celebrity might help the group’s operations and fund-raising efforts.

Mr. Awlaki, who came from a prestigious Yemeni family, was accused of having connections to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian former engineering student at University College London, who is awaiting trial in the United States for his attempt to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it landed in Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. The bomb did not explode.

Mr. Awlaki has been linked to numerous plots against the United States, including the botched underwear bombing.

He has taken to the Internet with stirring battle cries directed at young American Muslims. “Many of your scholars,” Mr. Awlaki warned last year, are “standing between you and your duty of jihad.”

In Yemen, there was a muted reaction to the news of the death of Mr. Awlaki, who derived his importance from his ability to reach out to the Western, English-speaking world but was of little consequence to the Yemeni population.

Many saw the killing as confirmation of their belief that the United States becomes involved in Yemen only for counterterrorism. Mr. Awlaki’s death comes at a time when Yemeni protesters, who have been demonstrating against their government for eight months, are angry at the United States for not doing more to push President Saleh out of office.

Further, if it is confirmed that Mr. Awlaki was killed by a American drone strike, it will likely further harm the image of the United States among average Yemenis, who are staunchly against outside military intervention in their country.


Laura Kasinof reported from Sana, Yemen, Mark Mazzetti from Washington, and Alan Cowell from London. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Souad Mekhennet from New York.



This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 30, 2011

An earlier version of this article said that Yemeni forces had carried out the attack. The circumstances of the operation remain unclear.

    U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen, NYT, 30.9.2011,






Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington


September 28, 2011
The New York Times


BOSTON — A 26-year-old man from a town west of Boston was charged Wednesday with plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the United States Capitol using remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives.

The suspect, Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, is an American citizen and has a physics degree from Northeastern University in Boston, according to an F.B.I. affidavit. Mr. Ferdaus also tried to provide detonation devices, weapons and other resources to Al Qaeda to carry out attacks on American soldiers stationed overseas, law enforcement officials said.

The arrest was the result of an undercover F.B.I. operation that included a cooperating witness with a criminal record, according to Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I. office in Boston. According to the affidavit, Mr. Ferdaus began planning to commit “violent jihad” against the United States in 2010, modifying cellphones to act as detonators and supplying them to undercover agents who he thought were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

His alleged plan to attack the Pentagon — detailed on two thumb drives that he delivered to the undercover agents, the affidavit said — involved using three remote-controlled planes, similar to military drones, guided by GPS equipment.

Mr. Ferdaus went to Washington in May to take photographs of the Pentagon, the Capitol and places in Potomac Park from where he planned to launch the explosives-filled aircraft. According to the affidavit, he described Americans as “enemies of Allah” and told undercover agents that his desire to attack the United States was so strong that “I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me.”

In what seems an elaborate operation, undercover F.B.I. agents who had been talking to Mr. Ferdaus for months provided him with some of the necessary components for his planned attack, including six assault rifles, three grenades, 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives and even an F-86 remote-controlled aircraft. The explosives and guns were provided on Wednesday just before his arrest, law enforcement officials said.

“The public was never in danger from the explosive devices,” Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Boston, said in a statement.

Catherine Byrne, a lawyer for Mr. Ferdaus, did not return a call seeking comment. Mr. Ferdaus is charged with attempting to destroy federal government buildings using an explosive, attempting to destroy national defense premises and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

    Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington, NYT, 28.9.2011,






Even Those Cleared of Crimes

Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List


September 27, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents.

The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.

Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops.

The database now has about 420,000 names, including about 8,000 Americans, according to the statistics released in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 16,000 people, including about 500 Americans, are barred from flying.

Timothy J. Healy, the director of the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, which vets requests to add or remove names from the list, said the documents showed that the government was balancing civil liberties with a careful, multilayered process for vetting who goes on it — and for making sure that names that no longer need to be on it came off.

“There has been a lot of criticism about the watch list,” claiming that it is “haphazard,” he said. “But what this illustrates is that there is a very detailed process that the F.B.I. follows in terms of nominations of watch-listed people.”

Still, some of the procedures drew fire from civil liberties advocates, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which made the original request and provided the documents to The New York Times.

The 91 pages of newly disclosed files include a December 2010 guidance memorandum to F.B.I. field offices showing that even a not-guilty verdict may not always be enough to get someone off the list, if agents maintain they still have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties to terrorism.

“If an individual is acquitted or charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism, the individual must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list,” the once-classified memorandum says.

Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said: “In the United States, you are supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case.”

But Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, argued that even if the intelligence about someone’s possible terrorism ties fell short of the courtroom standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it could still be appropriate to keep the person on the watch list as having attracted suspicion.

Mr. Baker noted that being subjected to extra questioning — or even kept off flights — was different than going to prison.

The guidance memo to F.B.I. field offices says someone may be deemed a “known or suspected terrorist” if officials have “particularized derogatory information” to support their suspicions.

That standard may be met by an allegation that the suspect has terrorism ties if the claim is corroborated by at least one other source, it said, but “mere guesses or ‘hunches’ are not enough.”

Normally, it says, if agents close the investigation without charges, they should remove the subject’s name — as they should also normally do in the case of an acquittal. But for exceptions, the F.B.I. maintains a special file for people whose names it is keeping in the database because it has decided they pose a national security risk even they are not the subject any active investigation.

The F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center shares the data with other federal agencies for screening aircraft passengers, people who are crossing the border and people who apply for visas. The data is also used by local police officers to check names during traffic stops.

The December memorandum lays out procedures for police officers to follow when they encounter people who are listed. For example, officers are never to tell the suspects that they might be on the watch list, and they must immediately call the federal government for instructions.

In addition, it says, police officers and border agents are to treat suspects differently based on which “handling codes” are in the system.

Some people, with outstanding warrants, are to be arrested; others are to be questioned while officers check with the Department of Homeland Security to see whether it has or will issue a “detainer” request; and others should be allowed to proceed without delay.

The documents show that the F.B.I. is developing a system to automatically notify regional “fusion centers,” where law enforcement agencies share information, if officers nearby have encountered someone on the list. The bureau also requires F.B.I. supervisors to sign off before an advisory would warn the police that a subject is “armed and dangerous” or has “violent tendencies.”

The F.B.I. procedures encourage agents to renominate suspects for the watch list even if they were already put on it by another agency — meaning multiple agencies would have to be involved in any attempt to later remove that person.

The procedures offer no way for people who are on the watch list to be notified of that fact or given an opportunity to see and challenge the specific allegations against them.

Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber” — “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you are a terrorist. Once that determination is made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it.”

But Mr. Healy said the government could not reveal who was on the list, or why, because that would risk revealing intelligence sources. He also defended the idea of the watch list, saying the government would be blamed if, after a terrorist attack, it turned out the perpetrator had attracted the suspicions of one agency but it had not warned other agencies to scrutinize the person.

Mr. Healy also suggested that fears of the watch list were exaggerated, in part because there are many other reasons that people are subjected to extra screening at airports. He said more than 200,000 people have complained to the Department of Homeland Security about their belief that they were wrongly on the list, but fewer than 1 percent of them were actually on it.

    Even Those Cleared of Crimes Can Stay on F.B.I.’s Watch List, NYT, 27.9.2011,






Pakistanis Tied to 2007 Border Ambush on Americans


September 26, 2011
The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan — A group of American military officers and Afghan officials had just finished a five-hour meeting with their Pakistani hosts in a village schoolhouse settling a border dispute when they were ambushed — by the Pakistanis.

An American major was killed and three American officers were wounded, along with their Afghan interpreter, in what fresh accounts from the Afghan and American officers who were there reveal was a complex, calculated assault by a nominal ally. The Pakistanis opened fire on the Americans, who returned fire before escaping in a blood-soaked Black Hawk helicopter.

The attack, in Teri Mangal on May 14, 2007, was kept quiet by Washington, which for much of a decade has seemed to play down or ignore signals that Pakistan would pursue its own interests, or even sometimes behave as an enemy.

The reconstruction of the attack, which several officials suggested was revenge for Afghan or Pakistani deaths at American hands, takes on new relevance given the worsening rupture in relations between Washington and Islamabad, which has often been restrained by Pakistan’s strategic importance.

The details of the ambush indicate that Americans were keenly aware of Pakistan’s sometimes duplicitous role long before Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate last week that Pakistan’s intelligence service was undermining efforts in Afghanistan and had supported insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul this month.

Though both sides kept any deeper investigations of the ambush under wraps, even at the time it was seen as a turning point by officials managing day-to-day relations with Pakistan.

Pakistani officials first attributed the attack to militants, then, when pressed to investigate, to a single rogue soldier from the Frontier Corps, the poorly controlled tribal militia that guards the border region. To this day, none of the governments have publicly clarified what happened, hoping to limit damage to relations. Both the American and Pakistani military investigations remain classified.

“The official line covered over the details in the interests of keeping the relationship with Pakistan intact,” said a former United Nations official who served in eastern Afghanistan and was briefed on the events immediately after they occurred.

“At that time in May 2007, you had a lot of analysis pointing to the role of Pakistan in destabilizing that part of Afghanistan, and here you had a case in point, and for whatever reason it was glossed over,” he said. The official did not want to be named for fear of alienating the Pakistanis, with whom he must still work.

Exactly why the Pakistanis might have chosen Teri Mangal to make a stand, and at what level the decision was made, remain unclear. Requests to the Pakistani military for information and interviews for this article were not answered. One Pakistani official who was present at the meeting indicated that the issue was too sensitive to be discussed with a journalist. Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, the American commander in eastern Afghanistan at the time, whose troops were involved, also declined to be interviewed.

At first, the meeting to resolve the border dispute seemed a success. Despite some tense moments, the delegations ate lunch together, exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet again. Then, as the Americans and Afghans prepared to leave, the Pakistanis opened fire without warning. The assault involved multiple gunmen, Pakistani intelligence agents and military officers, and an attempt to kidnap or draw away the senior American and Afghan officials.

American officials familiar with Pakistan say that the attack fit a pattern. The Pakistanis often seemed to retaliate for losses they had suffered in an accidental attack by United States forces with a deliberate assault on American troops, most probably to maintain morale among their own troops or to make a point to the Americans that they could not be pushed around, said a former American military officer who served in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Looking back, there were always these attacks that could possibly be attributed to deliberate retaliation,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because his job does not permit him to talk to journalists. Pakistani forces had suffered losses before the May 14 attack, he added.

As with so many problems with Pakistan, the case was left to fester. It has since become an enduring emblem of the distrust that has poisoned relations but that is bared only at critical junctures, like Teri Mangal, or the foray by American commandos into Pakistan in May to kill Osama bin Laden, an operation deliberately kept secret from Pakistani officials.

The attack in 2007 came after some of the worst skirmishes along the ill-marked border. By 2007 Taliban insurgents, who used Pakistan as a haven with the support of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment, were crossing the border, frequently in sight of Pakistani border posts, and challenging the Afghan government with increasing boldness. American and Afghan forces had just fought and killed a group of 25 militants near the border in early May.

To stem the flow of militants, the Afghan government was building more border posts, including one at Gawi, in Jaji District, one of the insurgents’ main crossing points, according to Rahmatullah Rahmat, then the governor of Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan.

Pakistani forces objected to the new post, claiming it was on Pakistani land, and occupied it by force, killing 13 Afghans. Over the following days dozens were killed as Afghan and Pakistani forces traded mortar rounds and moved troops and artillery up to the border. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, began to talk of defending the border at all costs, said Gen. Dan K. McNeill, the senior American general in Afghanistan at the time.

The border meeting was called, and a small group of Americans and Afghans — 12 men in total — flew by helicopters to Teri Mangal, just inside Pakistan, to try to resolve the dispute. They included Mr. Rahmat. The Afghans remember the meeting as difficult but ending in agreement. The Pakistanis described it as cordial, said Mahmood Shah, a retired brigadier and a military analyst who has spoken to some of those present at the meeting.

The Americans say the experience was like refereeing children, but after five hours of back and forth the Pakistanis agreed to withdraw from the post, and the Afghans also agreed to abandon it.

Then, just as the American and Afghan officials were climbing into vehicles provided to take them the short distance to a helicopter landing zone, a Pakistani soldier opened fire with an automatic rifle, pumping multiple rounds from just 5 or 10 yards away into an American officer, Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr., killing him almost instantly. An operations officer with the 82nd Airborne Division from North Carolina, Major Bauguess, 36, was married and the father of two girls, ages 4 and 6.

An American soldier immediately shot and killed the attacker, but at the same instant several other Pakistanis opened fire from inside the classrooms, riddling the group and the cars with gunfire, according to the two senior Afghan commanders who were there. Both escaped injury by throwing themselves out of their car onto the ground.

“I saw the American falling and the Americans taking positions and firing,” said Brig. Gen. Muhammad Akram Same, the Afghan Army commander in eastern Afghanistan at the time. “We were not fired on from one side, but from two, probably three sides.”

Col. Sher Ahmed Kuchai, the Afghan border guard commander, was showered with glass as the car windows shattered. “It did not last more than 20 seconds, but this was a moment of life and death,” Colonel Kuchai said.

As he looked around, he said, he saw at least two Pakistanis firing from the open windows of the classrooms and another running across the veranda toward a machine gun mounted on a vehicle before he was brought down by American fire. He also saw a Pakistani shot as he fired from the back seat of a car, he said. The rapid American reaction saved their lives, the two Afghan commanders said.

The senior American and Afghan commanders had been driven out of the compound and well past the helicopter landing zone when a Pakistani post opened fire on them, recalled Mr. Rahmat, the former governor. The Pakistani colonel in the front seat ignored their protests to stop until the American commander drew his pistol and demanded that the car halt. The group had to abandon the cars and run back across fields to reach the helicopters, Mr. Rahmat said.

His account was confirmed by the former United Nations official who talked to the unit’s members on their return that evening.

Those who came under fire that day remain bitter about the duplicity of the Pakistanis. Colonel Kuchai remembers the way the senior Pakistani officers left the yard minutes before the shooting without saying goodbye, behavior that he now interprets as a sign that they knew what was coming.

He insists that at least some of the attackers were intelligence officers in plain clothes.

Mr. Rahmat remains incensed that back in Kabul an attack on a provincial governor by Pakistan was quietly smothered. There was never any Afghan investigation into the ambush, for fear of further souring relations.

Official statements from Kabul and NATO went along with the first Pakistani claim that insurgents were behind the attack. NATO did not call for an investigation by Pakistan until two days later.

General McNeill, who is retired, remembers the episode as the worst moment of his second tour as commander in Afghanistan, not only because he knew Major Bauguess and his family, but also because he never received satisfactory explanations in meetings with his counterpart, the Pakistani vice chief of army staff, Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hyat.

“Ahsan Hyat did not take it as seriously as me in asking, ‘Have we done as much as we could, and how could we have done it differently?’ ” he said.

Lt. Gen. Ron Helmly, who led the Office of the Defense Representative at the American Embassy in Pakistan at the time, was told that the Pakistani soldier who opened fire was unbalanced and was acting alone, yet he was left acutely aware of the systemic shortcomings of Pakistani investigations.

“They do not have a roster of who was there,” said General Helmly, who is retired. “It was all done from mental recollection.” The Pakistani soldiers who fired from the windows consistently claimed that they were firing at the Pakistani gunman, he said.

Both Generals Helmly and McNeill accept as plausible that a lone member of the Frontier Corps, whether connected to the militants or pressured by them, was responsible, but they also said it was possible that a larger group of soldiers was acting in concert. The two generals said there was no evidence that senior Pakistani officials had planned the attack.

As for the Afghans, they still want answers. “Why did the Pakistanis do it?” General Same of the Afghan Army said. “They have to answer this question.”


Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed reporting.

    Pakistanis Tied to 2007 Border Ambush on Americans, NYT, 26.9.2011,






Pakistan Scorns U.S. Scolding on Terrorism


September 23, 2011
The New York Times


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The public assault by the Obama administration on the Pakistani intelligence agency as a facilitator of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan has been met with scorn in Pakistan, a signal that the country has little intention of changing its ways, even perhaps at the price of the crumpled alliance.

In injured tones similar to those used after the Navy Seals raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, Pakistani officials insisted on Friday that theirs was a sovereign state that could not be pushed by America’s most senior military officials, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Leon E. Panetta, the secretary of defense.

The two Americans told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, worked hand-in-glove with the Haqqani network, a potent militant outfit sheltering in the Pakistani tribal areas, to subvert American war aims.

Admiral Mullen accused the spy agency of supporting Haqqani militants who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul last week, and he called the Haqqanis a “veritable arm” of the ISI. Mr. Panetta threatened “operational steps” against Pakistan, shorthand for possible American raids against the Haqqani bases in North Waziristan.

The connection between the spy agency and the militants has been at the center of American complaints about Pakistan since the start of the war in Afghanistan, but never before has the United States chosen to expose its grievances in such unvarnished language in the most public of forums.

In his public reply, the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said Mr. Mullen’s accusations were “not based on facts,” and suggested that they were unfair given “a rather constructive” recent meeting. The ISI did not support the Haqqanis, General Kayani said.

Similarly, the country’s defense minister, Ahmad Mukhtar, said Pakistan was a sovereign nation “which cannot be threatened.”

The foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, said it was “unacceptable” for one ally, the United States, to “humiliate” another, Pakistan. “If they are choosing to do so, it will be at their own cost,” Ms. Khar said.

Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States who is close to the military, underscored that point. “Relations are headed towards a breakdown if the U.S. continues its coercive approach of threats and public accusations,” Ms. Lodhi said. “What is its plan B if there is an open rupture with Pakistan?”

The anti-American feeling in Pakistan, and within the army, surged after the raid that killed Bin Laden, which was kept secret from Pakistan’s leadership. It remains intense, making the idea of bowing to American demands to take on the Haqqanis almost unthinkable, Pakistani politicians, businessmen and analysts said.

They said General Kayani, who was under great pressure from his troops after the humiliation of the Bin Laden raid, had recovered some ground and recouped some prestige. He has no intention of giving in to the Americans now because he is betting that they still need Pakistan as the supply route for the Afghanistan war, they said.

But the larger reason is a divergence of strategic interests with the United States. The Haqqani network is seen as an important anti-India tool for the Pakistani military as it assesses the future of an Afghanistan without the Americans, a situation Pakistan sees as not far off.

General Kayani has said he fears that as the Americans exit, India will be allowed to have influence in Afghanistan, squeezing Pakistan on both its eastern and western borders, Pakistani analysts say.

Thus, the Haqqani fighters who hold sway over Paktika, Paktia and Khost Provinces in Afghanistan, and who are also strong in the capital, Kabul, and in the provinces around it, present a valuable hedge against the perceived India threat, which American officials say is overblown.

The precise relationship between the Pakistani military and spy agency on the one hand and the Haqqani network on the other remains murky, American officials say.

In talks with the Americans, the leader of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has said he has “contact” with the Haqqanis, a senior American official said. “But he denies he has command and control.” The official said it appeared that the Haqqanis had developed into such skilled fighters over several decades that they had the Pakistani Army cowed.

According to American officials and Pakistani analysts, it appeared that the Pakistani Army had struck a bargain with the Haqqanis: The Haqqanis would be free to fight in Afghanistan, in part looking after Pakistan’s interests, and in return, the Haqqanis would not attack Pakistan.

If the Pakistani army attacked Haqqani fighters in their bases in North Waziristan, the blowback in the form of terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities and towns could be overwhelming, Pakistani military analysts say.

In a startling image of the apparent symbiosis between the Pakistani military — which controls the ISI — and the Haqqani fighters, both forces have bases in Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan.

Five brigades of the Pakistani Army, about 15,000 soldiers, and the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force of about 10,000 men, have never touched the Haqqanis, American officials familiar with the situation say. Visitors to Miram Shah have said the army facilities are within sight of the Haqqani compounds.

Estimates of the Haqqani fighting strength in North Waziristan vary from 10,000 to 15,000. Technically, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who runs the group, is a member of the Afghan Taliban leadership headed by Mullah Muhammad Omar and based in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in southwest Pakistan.

The Pakistani Army struggled to defeat the Pakistani Taliban in battles in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan in 2009 and 2010, but the Taliban are still present in both places, a senior American military official said. “So why would they take on the Haqqanis, who are world class fighters?” the official asked.

As much as the Americans criticize the Pakistanis for not taking on the Haqqanis, the Pakistanis scoff at the inability of the Americans to deal with the Haqqanis on the war front in Afghanistan.

In a sarcastic column in the English-language newspaper The News on Thursday, Farrukh Saleem wrote, “If over the past decade the lone superpower has failed to tame 10,000 to 15,000 tribesmen, then the American military-intelligence complex has really failed and should be heading home.”

Pakistani military officers have contended that it is up to the American troops in Afghanistan to prevent the Haqqanis from launching terrorist attacks in Kabul and elsewhere.

In order to get to Kabul, the Haqqani fighters pass through provinces with large American bases, they say. Mr. Haqqani is believed to spend much of his time in Afghanistan, organizing his fighters.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Mr. Haqqani said he was working solely in Afghanistan. It is the same argument that Pakistani officials have been making this week as a way to rebut the American accusations that the Haqqanis live in Pakistan at all.

    Pakistan Scorns U.S. Scolding on Terrorism, NYT, 23.9.2011,






The Latest Ugly Truth About Pakistan


September 23, 2011
The New York Times


Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a truth teller. He led the way among senior uniformed officers in urging repeal of the unconscionable “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military and pressed to shift more troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Now, as he prepares to retire next week after a 43-year career, he is telling another hard truth. On Thursday, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan’s spy agency — Inter-Services Intelligence — played a direct role in supporting insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul last week, killing 16 people. He also said that with ISI support, the Haqqani network of terrorists planned and conducted an earlier truck bombing on a NATO outpost that killed 5 people and wounded 77 coalition troops, and other recent attacks.

This was a calculated revelation after Admiral Mullen and other top officials made countless pleas and remonstrances to Pakistan trying to get it to sever all support and ties with the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other extremists who are killing American troops and spreading mayhem on both sides of the border.

Pakistan’s military was unapologetic. According to the Pakistani Army’s Web site, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of staff, dismissed the charge as “very unfortunate and not based on facts.” Pakistan’s foreign minister warned that Washington “could lose an ally” if it keeps humiliating Pakistan with unsubstantiated allegations.

The Pentagon hopes public exposure will shame the Pakistanis — who receive billions of dollars in aid — into changing their behavior. That didn’t happen after Osama bin Laden was discovered hiding in plain sight next door to Pakistan’s top military academy. But Washington needs to keep pushing and keep reminding the Pakistanis that the extremists pose a mortal threat to their own country.

We agree with Admiral Mullen and others who say the United States should keep trying to work with Pakistan. It has little choice. The Americans need access and on the ground intelligence to be able to go after Al Qaeda and Taliban forces on both sides of the border. They also need Pakistani routes to deliver military supplies to Afghanistan, although there are less attractive alternatives that may have to be looked at more seriously. And walking away could make the nuclear-armed government even more unstable — a chilling prospect.

But Washington needs to ratchet up the pressure as well. The Obama administration has already suspended or canceled $800 million in military aid this year, and more could be at risk. Without provoking war with Pakistan, the Americans are also going to have go after the Haqqanis whenever and wherever they can.

    The Latest Ugly Truth About Pakistan, NYT, 23.9.2011,






Public Said to Be Misled on Use of the Patriot Act


September 21, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Two United States senators on Wednesday accused the Justice Department of making misleading statements about the legal justification of secret domestic surveillance activities that the government is apparently carrying out under the Patriot Act.

The lawmakers — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both of whom are Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. calling for him to “correct the public record” and to ensure that future department statements about the authority the government believes is conveyed by the surveillance law would not be misleading.

“We believe that the best way to avoid a negative public reaction and an erosion of confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies is to initiate an informed public debate about these authorities today,” the two wrote. “However, if the executive branch is unwilling to do that, then it is particularly important for government officials to avoid compounding that problem by making misleading statements.”

The Justice Department denied being misleading about the Patriot Act, saying it has acknowledged that a secret, sensitive intelligence program is based on the law and that its statements about the matter have been accurate.

Mr. Wyden and Mr. Udall have for months been raising concerns that the government has secretly interpreted a part of the Patriot Act in a way that they portray as twisted, allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct some kind of unspecified domestic surveillance that they say does not dovetail with a plain reading of the statute.

The dispute has focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It allows a secret national security court to issue an order allowing the F.B.I. to obtain “any tangible things” in connection with a national security investigation. It is sometimes referred to as the “business records” section because public discussion around it has centered on using it to obtain customer information like hotel or credit card records.

But in addition to that kind of collection, the senators contend that the government has also interpreted the provision, based on rulings by the secret national security court, as allowing some other kind of activity that allows the government to obtain private information about people who have no link to a terrorism or espionage case.

Justice Department officials have sought to play down such concerns, saying that both the court and the intelligence committees know about the program. But the two lawmakers contended in their letter that officials have been misleading in their descriptions of the issue to the public.

First, the senators noted that Justice Department officials, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, had described Section 215 orders as allowing the F.B.I. to obtain the same types of records for national security investigations that they could get using a grand jury subpoena for an ordinary criminal investigation. But the two senators said that analogy does not fit with the secret interpretation.

The senators also criticized a recent statement by a department spokesman that “Section 215 is not a secret law, nor has it been implemented under secret legal opinions by the Justice Department.” This was “extremely misleading,” they said, because there are secret legal opinions controlling how Patriot Act is being interpreted — it’s just that they were issued by the national security court.

“In our judgment, when the legal interpretations of public statutes that are kept secret from the American public, the government is effectively relying on secret law,” they wrote.

That part of the dispute appeared to turn on semantics. The department said that while the national security court’s opinions interpreting the Patriot Act are classified, the law itself is public.

    Public Said to Be Misled on Use of the Patriot Act, NYT, 21.9.2011,






Sentence for Terrorist Is Too Short, Court Rules


September 19, 2011
The New York Times


MIAMI — A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the 17-year prison sentence imposed on Jose Padilla, who was convicted of terrorism conspiracy in 2007, was too lenient and sent the case back to the district court here for a new hearing.

In a 2-to-1 opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled that the sentence was “substantively unreasonable” and did not take into account Mr. Padilla’s violent criminal history as a former gang member in Chicago. It also said the lower court did not take seriously enough Mr. Padilla’s time at a Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, where he was trained to kill.

“Padilla poses a heightened risk of future dangerousness due to his Al Qaeda training,” the court said. “He is far more sophisticated than an individual convicted of an ordinary street crime.”

The appellate court also affirmed Mr. Padilla’s conviction and that of his two co-defendants.

The government had appealed Mr. Padilla’s sentence, which was 17 years and 4 months, seeing it as too great a departure from federal sentencing guidelines.

After a four-month trial in 2007, Mr. Padilla, a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who grew up in Chicago, and two co-defendants were convicted of conspiring to murder, kidnap and maim people in foreign countries. Prosecutors said the three helped foster jihad as part of a North American cell that provided money, recruits and supplies to Islamic extremists. The sentences of Mr. Padilla’s co-defendants stand.

Mr. Padilla, now 40, was first arrested in 2002 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on suspicion that he was planning to set off a radioactive dirty bomb. He was held in military detention in South Carolina as an enemy combatant for more than three years. Subsequently, he was transferred to civilian custody and was tried in federal court. His case became a focus of the debate over the Bush administration’s approach to prosecuting terrorism.

The dirty-bomb accusation was eventually dropped and not raised in court.

Judge Marcia G. Cooke of Federal District Court, who presided over the trial, said at the sentencing in January 2008 that while she understood the gravity of the crimes, no evidence linked Mr. Padilla and his co-defendants to specific acts of terrorism. She also took into account his age, the sentences of other people convicted on terrorism-related charges and his time in the naval brig in South Carolina.

But the federal appeals court said Judge Cooke made several errors in calculating Mr. Padilla’s sentence. For one, she “unreasonably discounted” his troubled past, which included 17 prior arrests and participation as a juvenile in an armed robbery that ended in the victim’s death. Mr. Padilla served four years in juvenile detention.

The trial judge also overestimated Mr. Padilla’s potential for turning his life around upon release from prison, the court stated. Mr. Padilla’s terrorist training sets him apart from an ordinary street thug, the court argued. And while the appeals court said it was permissible to reduce a sentence on account of harsh conditions during pretrial confinement, Judge Cooke went too far when she shaved off more than nine years.

Mr. Padilla’s lawyer presented evidence that Mr. Padilla spent long periods in isolation while in military detention and said he was subjected to interrogation, sleep and sensory deprivation, and temperature variations, among other things.

In her dissenting opinion, Judge Rosemary Barkett said Judge Cooke had properly weighed all of these factors, including Mr. Padilla’s time in the brig, and did not abuse her discretion. Instead, Judge Barkett said, the appellate court was overstepping its bounds.

Both sides can ask the full appeals court to rehear the case or petition the Supreme Court to review the decision.

    Sentence for Terrorist Is Too Short, Court Rules, NYT, 19.9.2011,






Court Filing Details

Shortcomings of Airport Screeners on 9/11


September 16, 2011
The New York Times


The five terrorists who boarded United Airlines Flight 175 in Boston on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, passed through a security checkpoint that was staffed by some screeners who could not speak or understand English, did not know who Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda were, and, in one case, could not identify what Mace was, according to new court documents.

The documents, which include details not previously made public, were filed on Friday by lawyers for the family of Mark Bavis, a 31-year-old passenger on Flight 175, in the only remaining wrongful-death lawsuit out of nearly 100 filed after the attacks.

The documents, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, offer the most comprehensive look yet at what the lawsuit contends were failures by United and a security firm that ran the checkpoint used by the terrorists at Logan International Airport.

“This document demonstrates that 9/11 was completely preventable at the checkpoint for this flight, and that United did not live up to its responsibilities for security,” Donald A. Migliori, a lawyer for the family, said.

To be sure, airport screening is far different today, but the documents released Friday offer a behind-the-scenes look at the state of security measures before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The case against United and the security firm, Huntleigh USA, is scheduled for trial in November, and the presiding judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein, has said that he will probably allow Mr. Bavis’s mother, Mary, the plaintiff, to seek damages for her son’s pain and suffering — what the judge called “terror damages” — during the final 21 minutes of the flight.

It was during those minutes that the hijackers used knives, Mace and the threat of a bomb to take control of the plane, killing the pilots, stabbing a flight attendant, and flying the plane erratically as it headed for the World Trade Center, the suit says.

The new filing, which includes, for example, excerpts of confidential depositions of screeners, responds to a defense motion last month that asked Judge Hellerstein to dismiss the case.

“Neither United nor Huntleigh can be held liable under either federal or state law for not stopping an attack that the entire federal government was unable to predict, plan against or prevent,” the defense lawyers wrote.

They contended that the security system United had in place on Sept. 11, which was established at the direction of the government, was “neither intended to stop, nor capable of stopping, what happened that day.”

“The terrorists who perpetrated these attacks,” they said, “clearly studied and exploited the government’s design of this system. Their plot did not require any element of the system to ‘fail.’ ”

A United spokeswoman said Friday, “We’re actively working to resolve this case.” A Huntleigh lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The Bavis lawyers, in their filing, contended that United had “a long history of failing to substantially comply with the federal aviation security regulations.” They cited a former United security executive retained as an expert by the plaintiffs, who contended that the airline had failed to heed warnings in the years before Sept. 11 about the need for greater staffing and training.

In focusing on the Logan checkpoint where the terrorists boarded Flight 175, the lawyers’ filing argues that the screeners lacked the necessary training and experience to do their jobs.

“Many of United and Huntleigh’s security screeners on duty on 9/11 were unable to speak or understand English,” the lawyers wrote. “One pre-board screener had such a poor grasp of the English language that she required an interpreter during her deposition,” they added.

Other screeners’ training records “failed to show their ability to read airline tickets and marking labels,” they said.

One supervisor was a 19-year-old employee with about three months of experience, the lawyers said.

Citing deposition testimony, they said at least nine screeners on duty on Sept. 11 had never heard of Bin Laden or Al Qaeda. “Astoundingly,” they added, nor had several Huntleigh officials.

Citing the terrorists’ use of Mace against the passengers, the lawyers argued that the screeners should have been able to identify the product in order to prevent it from being carried onboard the plane.

“Four screeners working the Flight 175 checkpoint did not even know what Mace was,” they wrote. “One of the screeners was still unable to identify Mace when handed the Mace canister.”

The lawyers attributed the inadequacies to the defendants’ failure to hire and retain qualified screeners “and to adequately train and prepare them to face mounting threats to civil aviation.”

“While the hijackers may have passed through screening checkpoints operated by individuals,” the lawyers wrote, “those screeners were decent people who were set up by United and Huntleigh to fail.”

    Court Filing Details Shortcomings of Airport Screeners on 9/11, NYT, 16.9.2011,






White House Weighs Limits of Terror Fight


September 15, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s legal team is split over how much latitude the United States has to kill Islamist militants in Yemen and Somalia, a question that could define the limits of the war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to administration and Congressional officials.

The debate, according to officials familiar with the deliberations, centers on whether the United States may take aim at only a handful of high-level leaders of militant groups who are personally linked to plots to attack the United States or whether it may also attack the thousands of low-level foot soldiers focused on parochial concerns: controlling the essentially ungoverned lands near the Gulf of Aden, which separates the countries.

The dispute over limits on the use of lethal force in the region — whether from drone strikes, cruise missiles or commando raids — has divided the State Department and the Pentagon for months, although to date it remains a merely theoretical disagreement. Current administration policy is to attack only “high-value individuals” in the region, as it has tried to do about a dozen times.

But the unresolved question is whether the administration can escalate attacks if it wants to against rank-and-file members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, and the Somalia-based Shabab. The answer could lay the groundwork for a shift in the fight against terrorists as the original Al Qaeda, operating out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, grows weaker. That organization has been crippled by the killing of Osama bin Laden and by a fierce campaign of drone strikes in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where the legal authority to attack militants who are battling United States forces in adjoining Afghanistan is not disputed inside the administration.

One senior official played down the disagreement on Thursday, characterizing it as a difference in policy emphasis, not legal views. Defense Department lawyers are trying to maintain maximum theoretical flexibility, while State Department lawyers are trying to reach out to European allies who think that there is no armed conflict, for legal purposes, outside of Afghanistan, and that the United States has a right to take action elsewhere only in self-defense, the official said.

But other officials insisted that the administration lawyers disagreed on the underlying legal authority of the United States to carry out such strikes.

Robert Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in the laws of war, said the dispute reflected widespread disagreement about how to apply rules written for traditional wars to a conflict against a splintered network of terrorists — and fears that it could lead to an unending and unconstrained “global” war.

“It’s a tangled mess because the law is unsettled,” Professor Chesney said. “Do the rules vary from location to location? Does the armed conflict exist only in the current combat zone, such as Afghanistan, or does it follow wherever participants may go? Who counts as a party to the conflict? There’s a lot at stake in these debates.”

Counterterrorism officials have portrayed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — which was responsible for the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009 — as an affiliate of Al Qaeda that may be more dangerous now than the remnants of the original group. Such officials have also expressed worry about the Shabab, though that group is generally more focused on local issues and has not been accused of attacking the United States.

In Pakistan, the United States has struck at Al Qaeda in part through “signature” strikes — those that are aimed at killing clusters of people whose identities are not known, but who are deemed likely members of a militant group based on patterns like training in terrorist camps. The dispute over targeting could affect whether that tactic might someday be used in Yemen and Somalia, too.

The Defense Department’s general counsel, Jeh C. Johnson, has argued that the United States could significantly widen its targeting, officials said. His view, they explained, is that if a group has aligned itself with Al Qaeda against Americans, the United States can take aim at any of its combatants, especially in a country that is unable or unwilling to suppress them.

The State Department’s top lawyer, Harold H. Koh, has agreed that the armed conflict with Al Qaeda is not limited to the battlefield theater of Afghanistan and adjoining parts of Pakistan. But, officials say, he has also contended that international law imposes additional constraints on the use of force elsewhere. To kill people elsewhere, he has said, the United States must be able to justify the act as necessary for its self-defense — meaning it should focus only on individuals plotting to attack the United States.

The fate of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, hangs heavily over the targeting debate, officials said. In several habeas corpus lawsuits, judges have approved the detention of Qaeda suspects who were captured far from the Afghan battlefield, as well as detainees who were deemed members of a force that was merely “associated” with Al Qaeda. One part of the dispute is the extent to which rulings about detention are relevant to the targeting law.

Congress, too, may influence the outcome of the debate. It is considering, as part of a pending defense bill, a new authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its associates. A version of the provision proposed by the House Armed Forces Committee would establish an expansive standard for the categories of groups that the United States may single out for military action, potentially making it easier for the United States to kill large numbers of low-level militants in places like Somalia.

In an interview, Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said that he supported the House version and that he would go further. He said he would offer an amendment that would explicitly authorize the use of force against a list of specific groups including the Shabab, as well as set up a mechanism to add further groups to the list if they take certain “overt acts.”

“This is a worldwide conflict without borders,” Mr. Graham argued. “Restricting the definition of the battlefield and restricting the definition of the enemy allows the enemy to regenerate and doesn’t deter people who are on the fence.”

    White House Weighs Limits of Terror Fight, NYT, 15.9.2011,






Three Terrorist Groups in Africa Pose Threat to U.S.,

American Commander Says


September 14, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The senior American military commander for Africa warned Wednesday that three violent extremist organizations on the continent were trying to forge an alliance to coordinate attacks on the United States and Western interests.

The commander, Gen. Carter F. Ham, the top officer at Africa Command, said terrorist organizations in East Africa, in the deserts of northern Africa and in Nigeria “have very explicitly and publicly voiced an intent to target Westerners, and the U.S. specifically.”

General Ham made clear that the three militant organizations — the Shabab in Somalia, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb across the Sahel region of northern Africa and Boko Haram in northern Nigeria — had not yet shown the capability to mount significant attacks outside their homelands, though the Shabab bombed and killed dozens of people in Uganda during the World Cup last year.

“I have questions about their capability to do so,” General Ham told a group of correspondents, adding that he was worried about “the voiced intent of the three organizations to more closely collaborate and synchronize their efforts.”

“Each of those three independently presents a significant threat not only in the nations in which they primarily operate, but regionally — and I think they present a threat to the United States,” General Ham said.

Defense Department officials confirmed later on Wednesday that a large car bomb detonated in August by Boko Haram militants bore signature elements of the improvised explosives used by the Qaeda offshoot in the Sahel; those forensics are leading analysts to suggest that the group had shared its tactics and techniques with the Nigerian terrorist organization.

Defense Department officials noted that the three African terrorist groups had traditionally hit local government targets, and that they differed in ideology. But one Defense Department official said they were believed to be working toward “an alliance of convenience.”

Government experts consider the ascendancy of regional affiliates of Al Qaeda as especially worrisome. Al Qaeda’s traditional leadership in Pakistan is deemed less capable of planning and carrying out significant attacks, especially since the death of Osama bin Laden in May. But Pentagon and intelligence officials hold that regional affiliates — in particular the Qaeda branch in Yemen — pose increasing threats to American interests today.

Wary of committing a large number of troops, the United States has sought to use more diplomatic and development tools than military force in Africa. For example, small numbers of American Green Berets are training African armies to guard their borders and patrol vast, desolate expanses against infiltration by Al Qaeda’s militants, so the United States does not have to.

In the Sahel part of northern Africa, the Pentagon is playing a supporting role to United States embassies, acting quickly before terrorism becomes as entrenched there as it is in Somalia, an East African nation where there is a heightened militant threat.

Unlike Somalia, countries like Mali and Mauritania are willing and able to have dozens of American and European military trainers conduct exercises there, and the nations’ leaders are clearly worried about militants who have taken refuge in their vast Saharan north.

Citing the current mission to train and equip forces in Mali to counter extremists operating there, General Ham said, “We think we are contributing in a meaningful way to increasing Mali’s capability.”

The fight against the Shabab, a group that United States officials fear could someday carry out strikes against the West, has mostly been outsourced to African soldiers and private companies out of reluctance to send American troops back into Somalia, a country they hastily exited nearly two decades ago. After years of turmoil, there are indicators that the strategy may be gaining some traction.

In early August, the Shabab abruptly pulled out of Mogadishu, the bullet-ridden capital, leaving it in the hands of the government for the first time in years.

In a separate interview later on Wednesday, General Ham said that a 9,000-soldier African Union peacekeeping force had steadily improved its urban fighting operations in recent years. Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, an important Shabab commander and a wanted Qaeda agent, was killed in June in a shootout at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, dealing the group what General Ham said was a serious setback. “It’s far too early to say Shabab is on the run, but they’re certainly unsettled,” he said.

General Ham also told reporters that the pending withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and the reductions in American forces in Afghanistan might make larger numbers of Special Operations forces available to Africa Command. These could be deployed as trainers to nations on the continent.

“What we seek to enable are African solutions to African security challenges,” he said.

General Ham also expressed concerns that the current upheaval in Libya might allow extremist groups to make inroads there, and he warned that missiles, explosives and even poisonous chemicals held by the Qaddafi government might fall into terrorists’ hands.

“The presence of extremist organizations in Libya, and expanding their influence, is a concern not only of the U.S. but certainly of the regional states, as well,” he said.

Three types of Libyan government weapons appeared to be on the loose amid the upheaval: shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles, military ordnance that could be converted into improvised roadside bombs and the precursor components of chemical weapons.

Libya was subject to a program to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpiles, General Ham said, but that program was not completed before fighting broke out this year.

“Some of those materials remain,” he said. “It is not weaponized — it is not easily weaponized.”

But the United States, NATO and nations in the region want to assure the complete destruction of those materials, he said.

    Three Terrorist Groups in Africa Pose Threat to U.S., American Commander Says, NYT, 14.9.2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/world/africa/three-terrorist-groups-in-africa-pose-threat-to-us-general-ham-says.html






After the Anniversary: Touched by 9/11


September 12, 2011
The New York Times


To the Editor:

Re “The Reckoning: America and the World a Decade After 9/11” (special section, Sept. 11):

Thank you for providing a sensitive history of 9/11.

I come away with a new sadness on top of the horror of 10 years ago. Is it possible that this country could spend $3.3 trillion as a result of that horrible day, including questionable wars that killed even more, and yet we can’t assure all the first responders and their families that we stand to support them if a result of their sacrifice is a life-taking cancer?

If we don’t stand with them, that is the ultimate shame.

Ridgefield, Conn., Sept. 11, 2011

To the Editor:

Deep in the heart of Texas is one very grateful Texan.

You are to be applauded for your very informative and sensitive special section, “The Reckoning.” The photos, timeline, statistics and eyewitness accounts touched my heart.

I am saving this section to show to my grandchildren someday. I want them to know. I want to remember. I don’t ever want to forget.

Laredo, Tex., Sept. 12, 2011

To the Editor:

I was impressed by all the stories of tragedy and heroism in your 9/11 special section, “The Reckoning.” In “The Price of Lost Chances,” I was struck by Osama bin Laden’s gloating comment about his plan for “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”

Although our plan to get him finally worked, his plan to get us also seems to be working.

Doylestown, Pa., Sept. 11, 2011

To the Editor:

First, there was the eternal flame at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery. Now it’s the endless cascade of water at the 9/11 Memorial pools in New York City.

To this sixty-something father of three, both are heartbreaking; both are forever.

Laguna Beach, Calif., Sept. 11, 2011

To the Editor:

I feel compelled to record my most heartfelt congratulations to the organizers of the 9/11 memorials, wherever they occurred.

I spent Sunday watching as much as possible, and never once noticed a flaw or an error or misstep.

I cried often, listened intently to all of it and learned a lot more about 9/11 and its aftermath.

This year, the many stories about the ordinary people seemed to be especially touching.

Weston, Mass., Sept. 12, 2011

    After the Anniversary: Touched by 9/11, NYT, 12.9.2011,





On 9/11, the View From the Train


September 12, 2011
The New York Times


I’d been away for a few days, just me and my dog, but Sunday morning I rose early and drove the 100 miles to New York City. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I felt a deep need to be with my family. As I began to cross the Triborough Bridge into Manhattan, I could hear the whoosh of police helicopters overhead. I looked up. There were five of them.

Though I had been avoiding most of the television programming around the anniversary, the sound of the helicopters caused the memories to come flooding back. Ten years ago, as an editor at Fortune, my routine was to take the Amtrak every Tuesday from Massachusetts, where I then lived, into Manhattan, and then go back to Massachusetts at the end of the week. At 8:46 a.m. that Tuesday, my train had already left Stamford, Conn., the last stop before Manhattan.

A few miles from Penn Station, with the Manhattan skyline in sight, the train groaned to a stop. From my seat, I could see huge billows of smoke in the distance. I couldn’t see one of the Twin Towers. I assumed that it was hidden by the smoke.

Passengers began making calls to find out what was going on. We had no television on the train, no Internet access, no radios. Soon we stopped making calls and simply watched, in horror, as the World Trade Center disappeared before our eyes.

I have always considered myself lucky to have made it into the city that day. Most people trying to get into New York were turned back, but at around 1:30 p.m. we rumbled into Penn Station where we were escorted off the train and out of the building by heavily armed National Guardsmen.

There were some elderly women whose final destination was Norfolk, Va. Standing outside Penn Station, seeing all the shell-shocked New Yorkers trudging uptown, they looked bewildered, utterly lost. I’ve always wondered what happened to them.

I joined the parade walking uptown. When I arrived at Fortune in Midtown, the editors had just begun a meeting to figure out how we, a business magazine, were going to cover the terrorist attack. I spent the next three days working furiously on that issue and have rarely felt so happy to be at work. In some small way, it allowed me to feel useful.

I didn’t know anyone who died that day. But I can’t think of another national tragedy in my lifetime that has affected me as powerfully; this must be how our parents felt when Kennedy was killed — a searing, awful memory that never completely goes away.

On Sunday, New York was a somber city — “solemn” an out-of-town friend said that night over dinner. People went about their business, but we could all hear the helicopters and see the armed police, just like in the days after 9/11. Everyone had their own memories of where they had been, what they had done. I called my three older children, who had been so worried about me that day. My fiancé and I took our baby and our dog to the park. It was filled with parents and children. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to spend the day with his family.

I remember something else about those initial days after the terrorist attack. I’d bump into friends, liberals like me — or so I thought — who were suddenly railing about Muslims, or how the police needed to start racial-profiling and locking up people who “looked suspicious.”

After 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan — justifiably — to take the fight to our enemies. But we also invaded Iraq, an unjustified war for which 9/11 provided the cover. We have killed Osama bin Laden and many other Al Qaeda leaders, but 9/11 has also given us waterboarding, Guantánamo, and the gradual erosion of some of our civil liberties, which we foolishly accept in the name of security.

It has given us a new vigilance and important security measures aimed at keeping us safe. But it also put some 400,000 people on no-fly lists, most of them falsely, with no way of getting off. It has given us the Patriot Act — the implication being that anyone who opposes it is unpatriotic. As important as it is to honor the memory of those who died — and to continue the battle against those who would do us harm — we should also acknowledge that we’ve lost something, as a country, because of 9/11.

On Monday, I took the Acela to Washington. The security was clearly beefed up, with police and police dogs patrolling the train. As we left Penn Station, the conductor came on the intercom. “Please have your ID ready,” he said. “We will be checking them.”

The person across from me said, “I’ve been on this train a million times, and they’ve never checked IDs.” The person sitting next to me said, “It’s fine by me.”

When the conductor took our tickets, he didn’t ask to see our IDs. I was glad he didn’t.

    On 9/11, the View From the Train, NYT, 12.9.2011,






On 9/11, Vows of Remembrance


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


They played the bagpipes again and recited the names of the dead like poetry. Bells tolled, and requiems by President Obama and other dignitaries filled the amphitheater of ground zero on Sunday as America looked back upon a contagion of terrorism and war and renewed its vows of remembrance.

On the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, as the nation reflected on its losses, thousands of families gathered at the new World Trade Center rising in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and on a field of wildflowers in Pennsylvania to commemorate nearly 3,000 killed on that infamous morning when jetliners were turned into missiles and a new age of terrorism was born.

The day’s centerpiece unfolded at ground zero, where more than 10,000 members of the victims’ families, and some dignitaries and their wives, gathered in a parklike setting of swamp white oaks and emerald lawns — a strangely futuristic plaza with precisely spaced trees rising from a five-acre granite floor, surrounded by a gouged wasteland of unfinished skyscrapers and silent construction cranes.

In that panorama of resurrection, with the skyline in the background and the skirmishing harbor and the Statue of Liberty in the distance, the families choked back tears, sobbed and cast flowers into the spillways of sunken granite pools set in the footprints of the fallen towers, and crowded around the bronze parapets of the “voids” where the names of the dead are etched.

Amid the sounds of waterfalls, family members bent low to touch or kiss the names, and to weep. Many made paper tracings of the names, or inserted flowers or American flags into the crevices, and the parapets were soon thick with the colors and with red and yellow roses.

“It was real inspirational to come here after all these years and finally see his name,” Dennis Baxter, 65, of King of Prussia, Pa., said of his brother, Jasper, who died in the south tower. “I touched it. I didn’t know what else to do.”

It seemed like only yesterday: the indelible images of the twin towers smoking and disintegrating, of people falling as if in a dream. Yet a decade had gone, thousands more had died in wars, America had endured economic hardships and natural disasters, had learned to live with terrorist threats and had at last killed Osama bin Laden.

“Yes, we are more vigilant against those who threaten us, and there are inconveniences that come with our common defense,” Mr. Obama said Sunday night during a commemoration at the Kennedy Center in Washington. “Debates about war and peace, about security and civil liberties, have often been fierce these last 10 years. But it is precisely the rigor of these debates, and our ability to resolve them in a way that honors our values and our democracy, that is a measure of our strength.”

For most Americans, the catastrophe of Sept. 11, though still vivid, has acquired the perspective of tragic history. But for the families and friends of those who died, the milestone anniversary meant only that the haunting memories of broken lives and shattered dreams had receded hardly at all.

“It’s still unbelievable — it still seems like a nightmare,” said Trisha Scudder of Paoli, Pa., whose brother, Christopher R. Clarke, a bond salesman, was killed at the trade center. At ground zero ceremonies, she found small comfort in his name etched on the rolls of the victims.

The commemorations Sunday were the culmination of weeks of cultural and civic events that revisited 9/11 and its global consequences, a national outpouring of music, films, plays, visual arts, books, television documentaries and symposiums that reflected America’s rich diversity and grew into an avalanche of introspection and analyses unrivaled since the turn of the millennium.

In cities and towns across America, the anniversary was marked with solemn and patriotic ceremonies, religious rites, tributes to the dead and even a political hiatus, as major Republican presidential candidates stepped off the campaign trail.

Giant flags were unfurled at football and baseball games, and in Queens at the United States Open tennis tournament, a clip shown on a giant scoreboard had Spike Lee, Mary Carillo, John McEnroe and Pete Hamill speaking of New Yorkers’ resilience.

The attacks were recalled in concerts, vigils, public forums and millions of homes, where people watched televised memorial events and talked of the painful things they had witnessed.

Around the world, smaller commemorations were held in many capitals, with political and religious leaders voicing renewed commitments to democracy and the fight against terrorism. The global scope was a stark reminder that the victims of 9/11 had come from more than 90 countries.

On a resplendent morning in New York, with cool breezes and a blue sky brush-stroked by clouds that thickened into an overcast as the day wore on, many houses of worship, at the city’s behest, tolled bells in an interfaith gesture of solidarity at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the north tower.

In New Jersey, which lost more than 700 residents on Sept. 11, nearly every town, it seemed, had someone to mourn. Churches held special services, American flags flew on numerous homes and ceremonies were conducted in communities across the state.

On an elaborately choreographed morning, bells rang for silence six times: at 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower; at 9:03, when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower; at 9:37, when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon; at 9:59, when the south tower fell; at 10:03, when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania; and at 10:28, when the north tower came down.

And in an emotional catharsis that continued for more than three hours, family members recited the names of the dead, this time including those killed in Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as in the attacks on the trade center in 1993 and 2001.

The names have become central to the ceremonies, read over the years by first responders, children, siblings, parents and others. This year any family member could participate, and many of the 3,000 children who lost a parent joined in.

The recitation of 2,983 names was no dry ritual. Indeed, it became an extraordinarily powerful drama, a kind of epic poem that forcefully and relentlessly conveyed vivid memories of the dead, and touched upon the implications of children growing up without a parent, of the emptiness of a home without a companion, of years of shared dreams and poignant hopes destroyed.

Stepping to microphones in pairs, carrying flowers and photos of the dead or wearing T-shirts bearing their likenesses, many added personal messages, speaking intimately to their loved ones, saying, in effect, we love you, we miss you, and renewing pledges of fidelity, telling of the births of grandchildren or other family events.

Voices quavered and faltered, rang with force and hope.

And when it was over, the silence was profound. You could hear only the wind sighing off the Hudson.

There were no religious services or formal prayers, not even a representative clerical contingent. On an occasion deemed too solemn for speeches, dignitaries led by President Obama and former President George W. Bush turned to poems and passages of literature to address the nation and the families whose sacrifices, they acknowledged, could hardly be assuaged with words.

Quoting from the 46th Psalm, Mr. Obama intoned: “Come behold the works of the Lord, who’s made desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in two; he burns the chariot in fire.”

Mr. Bush quoted an 1864 letter by Abraham Lincoln to a Massachusetts mother of two sons killed in the Civil War: “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.”

Other readings were given by former Govs. George E. Pataki of New York and Donald T. DiFrancesco of New Jersey and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who were in office at the time of the attacks; by Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey; and by relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who oversaw the arrangements, was master of ceremonies, and firefighters, police officers, first responders and members of the armed forces served as honor guards.

Musical selections captured the solemnity — Yo-Yo Ma performing “Sarabande” from Bach’s First Suite for Cello Solo, James Taylor singing “Close Your Eyes,” the flautist Emi Ferguson performing “Amazing Grace,” and Paul Simon intoning “The Sounds of Silence.” The Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang the national anthem and “I Will Remember You,” and 60 firefighters and police officers played the bagpipes.

The National September 11 Memorial Plaza was opened and dedicated on Sunday. It is to be open to the public starting Monday, though there is a long backlog of reservations.

While it has become a national shrine, like Pearl Harbor or Gettysburg, ground zero is still a 16-acre construction site. One World Trade Center has 82 of 104 stories built, and 4 World Trade Center has 50 of 64 stories up. More towers, a transportation hub and the National September 11 Museum are in various stages of construction.

In a whirlwind day, Mr. Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, flew to Shanksville, Pa., and to the Pentagon to lay wreaths and exchange words and hugs with the families of Sept. 11 victims, before his speech at the Kennedy Center in the evening. In Pennsylvania, thousands met in a field of goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace to honor the 40 passengers and crew members who are believed to have saved the White House or the Capitol from destruction by rising up against the hijackers.

The nation commemorated the day in myriad ways.

In Mississippi, the Rev. Jon Shonebarger, a chaplain at a prison near Natchez, chose the occasion to open a new church. Faith Independent Baptist Church was nothing fancy — just a hotel meeting room, coffee, muffins and a stack of Bibles. But a dozen people attended, and the pastor called it a new beginning.

At the Lincoln County Fair in Fayetteville, Tenn., alongside mule races and carnival rides, crowds doffed cowboy hats and saluted as two girls rode horseback carrying the American and Tennessee flags in honor of the anniversary.

In Dallas, Christina Rancke, 21, a student at Southern Methodist University whose father, Alfred Todd Rancke, an investment banker, was killed in the south tower, attended church with Paige McInerney, a cousin who had been in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and escaped.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him,” Ms. Rancke said.

The commemorations were hardly free of controversy. In New York-area firehouses and police stations, where the sense of loss ran deep for comrades lost on 9/11, anger over Mr. Bloomberg’s refusal to invite a large contingent of first responders was palpable. His decision to de-emphasize religion at the ground zero events generated more discreet criticism.

Even as the anniversary unfolded, a nation that had not experienced a major terrorist attack in a decade had the jitters. Intelligence officials in recent days had rushed to assess a tip suggesting that two or three operatives of Al Qaeda had slipped into the country to set off a car bomb in New York or Washington to disrupt the ceremonies. Security at the trade center and other sites was heavy.

As peace prevailed, the ground zero proceedings closed in the early afternoon with trumpeters of the city and the Port Authority police, the Fire Department and the military services playing taps, the hauntingly beautiful refrain that closes the military day.

And as the sun went down and a rising full moon cast a silvery darkness over the city, two powerful searchlight beams shot skyward from near ground zero, creating likenesses of the fallen towers in a “Tribute in Light.” The illuminations, it was said, would be seen for 50 miles until dawn.

Reporting was contributed by James Barron, Karen Crouse and Andy Newman from New York; Robbie Brown from Fayetteville, Tenn.; Elisabeth Bumiller from Washington; Manny Fernandez from Dallas; Campbell Robertson from Natchez, Miss.; and Katharine Q. Seelye from Shanksville, Pa.




This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 11, 2011

An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that plans for the memorial and museum at ground zero call for 8.151 tons of steel.

    On 9/11, Vows of Remembrance, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Connecting With Lost Loved Ones,

if Only by the Tips of Fingers


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


They clutched slips of paper bearing letters and numbers, trying to navigate a strange new map created by computer algorithm that was designed to place people next to other people whom, in life, they had cared about. The visitors looked hopeful, dazed, afraid.

One family made a beeline for Mark Louis Rosenberg, Tablet 7 of the north pool, or N-7 for short. The three teenage Berry brothers searched for their father, David Shelby Berry, at S-36. They touched the sharp edges of his name, carved into the cool metal in austere capital letters. They left their fingerprints and became connected to the families of 2,982 others in a way that they had not felt before.

“You go your whole life thinking you’re always the one in the classroom who’s affected by 9/11,” said Nile Berry, 19, a student at Hamilton College. “And then you come here and you’re just another face in the crowd. You get a lot of perspective.”

Ten years later, it had come down to this: a quick caress of hands on bronze, an electric sense of connection to the past, a hope that this anniversary would become a turning point toward a better future.

For at least a few moments, the newly built Sept. 11 memorial, which opened to victims’ families on Sunday and opens to the public, via reservation, on Monday, triumphed after a decade of battles over cost, designs, fund-raising, how to order the names and whether to include ranks, places of business and other identifying details.

“This is now a place, not a construction site, not a design,” Alice M. Greenwald, the director of the memorial museum, said. “It’s now a place in New York, and I think that’s transformational.”

Most of the families pronounced the memorial beautiful, and they were moved, they said, just to have the names of their loved ones permanently displayed. For the more than 1,100 families who have never received a trace of remains, not even a fragment of bone, the memorial is a kind of graveyard.

After the first moment of silence, at 8:46 a.m., they began filtering into the plaza. They wore blue ribbons on their lapels as their entry credentials and as a symbol of the clear blue sky that preceded the moment everything changed.

In twos, in threes and even in 10s, they followed the hard stone sidewalks to the memorial’s salient feature, two giant pools in the footprints of the twin towers; arrayed around them were the names of 2,983 victims of the attacks in the twin towers, at the Pentagon, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The pools were black and a little intimidating, and the cascading water was as deafening as Niagara Falls.

But as the families grew more comfortable, they began to relax.

“They did a fantastic job,” said Bernard Monaghan, known as Brian, whose son Brian Patrick Monaghan, 21, a carpenter, died at the World Trade Center. “To me it’s very peaceful.”

Children tumbled in the grass. “I guess it’s not as maybe morbid or morose as it normally is,” said Stacy Cooke, watching her daughter, Caitlin, 4, turning somersaults with her cousins on the strips of lawn.

Ms. Cooke lost her father, Capt. David T. Wooley of Ladder Company 4 in Midtown Manhattan. “They never found him,” she said. “This is kind of where we think is his resting place.”

Families began to personalize the site, leaving their own memorials on top of the official one. Ingeniously, they used the cut-out names as holders for a raft of mementoes: Small American flags, roses, hydrangeas and sunflowers sprouted from the letters.

A rolled-up note was stuck in the final ‘o’ of Nobuhiro Hayatsu’s first name, as if at the wailing wall.

A small, ordinary-looking gray stone had been placed over the middle name of Jane Eileen Josiah.

Blue entrance ribbons had been stuck by their safety pins into name after name.

Over the name of Gary Jay Frank, someone had taped his photograph and these handwritten details: “11-5-65 to 9-11-01. AON Corp — WTC #2-92nd FL We will never forget you!!!”

Some people made ink rubbings of their loved ones’ names, often on the official event program. Staff members of the memorial distributed crayons, pencils and spare programs.

One flag stuck out of the name Charles F. Burlingame III. Mr. Burlingame, known as Chic, was a pilot on American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon.

“These are all his crew,” his sister, Debra Burlingame, said, pointing to the surrounding names. “These people are real people to me. It’s very touching to see all these people here together.”

She pointed to the legend, “Renee A. May and her unborn child.” Ms. May was a flight attendant. Nearby were the names Jennifer Lewis and Kenneth Lewis, flight attendants who always flew together. “The D.C. base called them Kennifer,” Ms. Burlingame said. “This was before the Brad Pitt stuff.”

Ms. Burlingame had American Airlines pilot’s wings pinned to her chest. Other families wore T-shirts printed with photographs of their loved ones, or medallions showing their pictures. “All these tokens and totems, it’s part of what we do,” Ms. Burlingame said. “We do it to have some tangible thing we can touch, given we can’t touch them.”

But now, she touched her brother’s name and burst into tears.

    Connecting With Lost Loved Ones, if Only by the Tips of Fingers, NYT, 11.9.2011,






‘Plane People’ From 9/11

Return to Newfoundland to Give Thanks


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


GANDER, Newfoundland — They’re called “the plane people” here because on Sept. 11, 2001, some 6,700 passengers on 38 planes descended on this piney little town of about 10,000 people on the northeastern end of Newfoundland.

When the United States airspace was closed that day, Canadian air traffic landed as many flights as possible as quickly as possible. Gander, as the first sizable airport on the continent, received more than their share.

In Gander, buildings were hastily converted into makeshift shelters and townspeople opened up their homes, came out with food and gave up their own beds to strangers from almost 100 countries.

Many of those “plane people” returned here on Sunday to reflect on that day and to thank the residents for their hospitality.

Elaine Caiazzo and Jennie Asmussen, friends from Bethpage, N.Y., were on their way home from Germany on Sept. 11 when their flight was diverted to Gander.

Ms. Caiazzo said she was given more than just a place to sleep.

“I had no medication because I was going home,” she said on Sunday. “I had nothing left. They said, ‘You can go into this room and tell them what you need.’ And they gave it to me. And they didn’t charge me a thing.”

Ms. Asmussen said she appreciated how the residents made them feel comfortable. She said she went to get her hair done in Gander on Sept. 12, the next day. The woman who did her hair said, “ ‘I have a friend. Let me call her up and see if she can take you in,’ ” Ms. Asmussen recalled on Sunday. “Her friend said, ‘Sure, bring her over.’ She took a complete stranger in, let me take a shower, use her bed.”

The Long Island residents were carrying a carefully wrapped gift for Helen Ansley, who had helped them in Gander.

“That’s why we came back,” said Ms. Caiazzo. “Because we wanted to say thank you.”

Maureen Murray and Sue Riccardelli of Morris Plains, N.J., were returning from Paris on Sept. 11, 2001, when their flight was diverted. “We were the fourth plane to land,” Ms. Murray said Sunday. They were visiting with Mac Moss, a former administrator at the Gander campus of the College of the North Atlantic, a trade school. He had taken care of them for three days back then. “This is our fifth trip back,” Ms. Murray said. “We feel like it’s our second home.”

It’s not clear how many “plane people” returned to Gander for the 10th anniversary of those days. The town is an intimate place, a scattering of houses, a few hotels, five stoplights, one high school and a strip of chain stores. This weekend, the hotels were booked up, and a ceremony held in a small auditorium in the town’s community center Sunday afternoon was nearly full.

“I had to pick a place to be on 9/11,” said David C. Jacobson, the American ambassador to Canada, who had flown into town for the occasion. “I picked the best place to thank the Canadian people for what they did.”

For some, being in Gander for the anniversary of the attacks was one more way of coming to terms with the attacks.

“We feel like we’ve healed a little bit more,” Ms. Riccardelli said, “because we’ve had Gander.”

    ‘Plane People’ From 9/11 Return to Newfoundland to Give Thanks, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Across the Nation, Tragedy Spawned Inspiration


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


FRISCO, Colo. — The Sunday after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, several dozen friends climbed a mountain to make a declaration, and to do something to work off their anxieties and terrible energy. It was partly a statement of brawn and youth. They carried a 10-by-16-foot American flag, along with 20 feet of steel pipe for a pole, up 10 miles of trail to a nearly 13,000-foot summit. There, they gathered thousands of pounds of rocks to anchor the flag against the ferocious winds that can scour the peaks here. And then it was done.

On Sunday morning, many of the same friends — older and definitely in a different spirit — gathered at the trailhead to Peak 1 of the Ten Mile Range and headed up once more.

They again carried a flag, but there would be no attempt this time to mount a grand declaration visible for miles about America and its determination, grit and resilience. In the parking lot near the trailhead just after sunrise, there was talk of a moment of silence at the top, and maybe some songs.

“Whether we have a big pole and flag is irrelevant,” said Dave Simmons, 40, a master brewer at a local beer hall who was on the first trek. “We’re going to look out over these beautiful mountains for all the people who can’t.”

The saga of the flag-bearers of Frisco — their plan scrawled on a cocktail napkin on the night of the attacks in 2001, to hike, raise money for the Red Cross, plant a flag — created its own web of healing, loss and anger in this ski town 90 minutes west of Denver.

In 2003, after the group had climbed twice more near the anniversary of the attacks to replace the weather-shredded flag, it was found burned, the pole bent and trashed, with a note attached condemning the United States invasion of Iraq that year.

A criminal investigation went nowhere.

“I know all the usual suspects — I talked to them, and they swore they didn’t do it,” said Gary Lindstrom, a former police officer, who was a Summit County commissioner at the time. Mr. Lindstrom said in an interview last week that he has puzzled over the flag attack, and the local political passions it stirred, ever since.

Things changed after the flag burning. The United States Forest Service, which had tolerated the presence of a technically illegal monument on public land, pulled back its support and threatened new flag-raisers with arrest. Kurt Kizer, a landscaper and self-described ski bum who also was on the first hike — it was his scrawl on the napkin that sketched out the plan — was also back again on Sunday. He said the time for anger and retribution was over.

“They know what they did, and they have to live with it,” he said.

And so in the early morning chill, under brilliant blue skies — some hikers using trekking poles they did not need a decade ago to bolster creaky knees — they headed up together, making a declaration of a different kind in a different time: that perseverance and keeping on were statements worth making too. KIRK JOHNSON

Downsized Dreams

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. — Like so much else in Florida these days, the ambitious and touching 9/11 memorial unveiled in this small town on a broiling Sunday was jolted hard by the recession.

It began small, with a request in 2004 for a chunk of steel from the remnants of the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the idea of a small but fitting tribute. It grew large, with 11 tons of marble for one sculpture and sheets of steel for four others. Then it got even bigger, with requests for a $1 million glass building to house the sculptures.

But reality — as well as the few choice words of a Pembroke Pines commissioner and the reluctance of taxpayers who balked at the cost — took hold. In the end, the memorial is a testament to tragedy, courage and perseverance. But also to compromise and common sense: the steel and marble sculptures stand outside under a gazebo at a cost of $167,000, which it is hoped will be repaid through donations.

“This was designed to be delivered to the residents of Pembroke Pines at no cost to them,” said Angelo Castillo, a city commissioner here and New York City transplant who asked Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for a piece of steel. “And my original concept was much more modest.”

“Sometimes it was difficult, but what we have here, at the end of the day, is something spectacular,” Mr. Castillo said.

The people in the crowd that pushed into the gazebo after the bagpipes grew quiet and the speeches ended could not have agreed more. To them, the cost and controversy are irrelevant.

“It’s a moot point,” said Elizabeth Ennis, 44, a physician’s assistant who lives here. “It’s a statement from the community that we stand together.”

Four towering steel sculptures ring the gazebo. One depicts a larger-than-life New York City firefighter, his jacket flapping in the wind. He is straddled by jagged towers of steel, representing the trade center’s north and south towers. A child stares resolutely from the top of a pile of steel.

The city could not afford bronze, so Felix Gonzalez, the sculptor and a retired Miami-Dade County firefighter, welded the steel. The materials were donated or came from discretionary county funds. The artists, who spent years on the project, donated their time (Mr. Gonzalez receive a $20,000 stipend).

“People came out to watch me make these at an abandoned firehouse on the edge of the Everglades,” he said. “Firefighters from New York City stood there and cried and hugged me. It kept me going.”

In the center of the gazebo lies the four-sided marble sculpture, which represents shock, grief, acceptance and rebuilding. Faceless forms cower, fall from the sky, pray, protect each other and then rise toward the sky. At the top, rests the chunk of steel from the twin towers.

“These people who died were bigger than life,” said Benoit Menasche, the 74-year-old sculptor. “How can I not give them something bigger than life.” LIZETTE ALVAREZ

Search for Renewal

NATCHEZ, Miss. — “This date is a sign.”

So began the Rev. Jon Shonebarger, and so began the Faith Independent Baptist Church, which as of Sunday morning consisted of a Facebook page, a stack of Bibles and brochures and a dozen people in a meeting room at a Hampton Inn.

Here there was nothing of the solemn grandeur of ground zero in New York, nothing remotely evocative of the sepulchral concrete hollows, the towers that surround them and the sense of world-altering catastrophe that lingers over them. Here there was coffee and muffins and hotel carpeting, and mostly empty rows of chairs.

Pastor Shonebarger had no particular connection to the tragedy himself. He was at a church in Oakley, Kan., at the time of the terrorist attacks, moved to Colorado for a few years afterward and since January 2010 has been the chaplain at the correctional facility outside of town here, ministering to “2,600 inmates from 71 nations of the world,” he says with a little pride.

“I deal with people from third world nations,” he said. And then, leading into his reasons for starting this church, he added, “I’m seeing America turn into something it doesn’t want to be.”

“I believe that there was something that happened in this country, a coming together,” he said of those first few days after the attacks. “There was, if I can say this, an awakening.”

Pastor Shonebarger was speaking not only, or even primarily, of the political and patriotic unity of that time. Churches were full, he said. Prayer groups were crowded.

But something went wrong. He spoke of poverty and unemployment, of natural disasters, and of spiritual drift. “Ten years later, America is in bad shape,” he said. “Why did I choose this date? I chose this date for a reason.”

His prologue finished, Pastor Shonebarger announced the day’s Scripture reading. The congregation turned to Philippians and they set off on the reawakening.


    Across the Nation, Tragedy Spawned Inspiration, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Events Commemorating 9/11


September 11, 2007
The New York Times


Events are planned throughout the day in New York City and elsewhere to commemorate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Here is a partial list of 9/11-related ceremonies in the city.

ZUCCOTTI PARK The city’s official 9/11 memorial service will take place at Zuccotti Park, on Liberty Street between Broadway and Church Street, from 8:40 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Workers who responded to the attacks and those involved in the cleanup and recovery will read the names of the victims. The ceremony will pause at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. to mark the times that the World Trade Center towers were hit and at 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m. to mark when the towers fell. During the reading, family members will be able to descend a ramp, single file, to an area at the lowest level of the ground zero construction site, where they may lay flowers.

TRIBUTE IN LIGHT The Tribute in Light will return to ground zero, West and Morris Streets, for one night, beginning at sunset and fading at dawn tomorrow. There will be no formal program. The lights are best seen when it is completely dark; sunset is expected at 7:12 tonight and sunrise is expected at 6:33 a.m. tomorrow.

ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL At 8:46 a.m., the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, the rector of Trinity Church, will ring the Bell of Hope, given to the city by the lord mayor of London a year after the attacks, in the chapel yard, at Broadway and Fulton Street. At the same time, the bells at Trinity Church, a few blocks away, will ring 3,018 times, once for each life lost. St. Paul’s will also hold a civic service of remembrance at 1:30 p.m. The Rev. Dr. Stuart H. Hoke, the Trinity chaplain and St. Paul’s missioner, will offer a sermon of reflection, remembrance and hope.

TRINITY CHURCH At 12:05 p.m., Dr. Cooper will lead a Holy Eucharist service, joined by Sir David Manning, the British ambassador to the United States. The church is at Broadway and Wall Street.

ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL A Mass to honor the 9/11 victims from the Fire Department will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the cathedral, at 460 Madison Avenue. At 7 p.m., there will be a memorial concert.

ST. PETER’S CHURCH At 2 p.m., the church at Church and Barclay Streets will hold an interfaith service to honor the 84 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who were killed, as well as victims of the 1993 trade center bombing.

NEW YORK BUDDHIST CHURCH The church is holding its fourth annual Floating Lanterns Ceremony on the south side of Pier 40, along the Hudson River at West Houston Street. The service will be led by the Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, the head minister at the church. At 6 p.m., participants will be able to write loved ones’ names or messages for peace on the lanterns. At 6:30, the ceremony will begin with music, followed by meditation and prayers by religious leaders. Floated lighted lanterns will be released at 8 on the Hudson just north of ground zero.

For more events, visit www.nytimes.com/cityroom

    Events Commemorating 9/11, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Sept. 11: A Decade Later, a Day of Reflection


September 10, 2011
The New York Times

For the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, we invited readers to offer their thoughts.

To the Editor:

For one brief moment on Sept. 11, 2001, time seemed to stand still. People sought family members and recognized the importance of family. Acts of charity were plentiful. There was an assessment of life and what is really important. Places of worship were full. People unashamedly prayed.

There was a strong feeling of patriotism, and a desire to show the flag. Crime, and even the thought of it, was absent. We were all in support of our president. Congress and all our elected leaders worked together for the good of our country. Nations across the world expressed concern, sadness and unity with the United States.

For one brief moment ...

Chicopee, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011

Sept. 11, 2001, marks the last day of my life that I did not own a cellphone. I was a college junior in Sarasota, Fla., and heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. My father was supposed to be giving a briefing at the Pentagon that morning, and I had no way to get in touch with him.

Hours passed before a message made its way through family channels that my dad’s briefing had been canceled and that he was several miles away when the plane struck the Pentagon.

The heroic images and stories of the day, the ignorance and blind hate of the days that followed and the military and political quagmires of the subsequent years, though they are with me every day, will never overwhelm the biggest part of 9/11 for me: for several hours, I didn’t know if my dad was alive or dead.

The next day I went and bought a cellphone and called my dad.

South Bend, Ind., Sept. 7, 2011

After 10 years, and this week’s necessary memorials, I am hopeful that America will finally move beyond 9/11. Not to forget it — no, we shall never forget. But can we finally become more than a nation of victims and vengeance?

Can we return again to a pre-9/11 era, when Americans listened more to reason than to rage? Can we, like every nation in Europe that has been targeted by terrorists, acquire the confidence to walk beside our fears and not let fear consume any more of our defense dollars, our civil liberties, our ability to listen to one another and to world opinion?

Ten long and difficult years have passed. It’s time to move on.

Leverett, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011

In a letter published in The Times on Sept. 12, 2001, I wrote that “we can only hope” that the response to the 9/11 outrage will be “prudent, measured, rational, and within the parameters of the law,” and that “the inevitable temptation to change fundamentally the nature of our society, by attacking the civil rights and civil liberties of any individual or group, must be resisted.”

Unfortunately, this admonition was not heeded, and in the 10 years since the attacks we have betrayed our core values and undermined our credibility, both domestically and internationally.

On the home front, we have compromised our basic commitment to civil rights and civil liberties through devices such as the Patriot Act, the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and “national security letters” — in the process creating an enormous surveillance apparatus worthy of a police state.

Internationally, our response remains one of unbridled militarism and imperialism, as we continue to wage two wars, occupying Muslim nations with tens of thousands of troops and seeking to impose our will on those lands by force — and now even working to undo our pledge to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. We have employed torture as an instrument of policy, in flagrant violation of the rule of law, and declined to punish or prosecute the policymakers who authorized it. And Guantánamo is still open, despite President Obama’s promise to close it by Jan. 21, 2010.

In the long run, this unprincipled reaction does not make us safer, but simply invites more terrorism and repression. But most important, it is a national disgrace.

Bethesda, Md., Sept. 7, 2011

I experienced 9/11 first as an American mother, then as a “Muslim other.” For the first three hours, I didn’t know whether my son, who worked for one of the banks at the World Trade Center, was in New York or in London on that fateful Tuesday; when he finally called me with a terse “Mom, I’m all right,” I thought of all the mothers who didn’t get that reassuring phone call.

My second thought was to pray that the perpetrators of the horror would have no connection to the Middle East. When that prayer was not answered, I understood that, after 20 years of believing myself and my family to be completely integrated in American society, we were now perceived differently.

In the weeks that followed, I volunteered to speak wherever I was invited, to try to distance the religion I had grown up with in Egypt from the atrocity perpetrated in its name. The first time my neighbor of eight years heard me speak at a church, she burst out, “I didn’t know we had Muslims in the cul-de-sac!”

Today, 10 years later, it seems evident that efforts to distance Islam from terrorism have proved futile; an unapologetic Islamophobia is the last allowable prejudice in America. The only hope of reversing that alarming trend lies in the Arab Spring; if it succeeds, it might open the eyes of the world to a different image of Arabs and Muslims — not as an undifferentiated horde of potential terrorist recruits but as peaceful young protesters aspiring to dignity and democracy.

Chapel Hill, N.C., Sept. 8, 2011

On that fateful morning I was in the South Tower above the 90th floor. I escaped without injury, but 13 of my colleagues lost their lives. I have been living with the memories of that day, just as I have been living with memories of the Holocaust. But enough is enough!

When will we stop this nonstop memorializing? Ten years have passed and the reconstruction on the World Trade Center site has barely begun. Ten years after World War II Europe was largely rebuilt.

I know families who lost loved ones, and all they ask for is that they stop being reminded constantly about what happened. A quiet and tasteful memorial for first responders and victims should be enough. It is time to close the door on the event and let the survivors live our normal lives.

New York, Sept. 7, 2011

I was at Stanford in California; it was a little before 6 a.m., local time. I was preparing to go for a walk with a friend and turned on the radio — something I rarely do in the morning. Then I heard the shocking news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I quickly turned on the television.

When my friend arrived, we watched in horror as the second plane hit. I did not immediately think “war.” President Bush was much too quick to announce that we were at war.

I was even more shocked when he decided to send troops to Iraq. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. That was a mistake from the beginning and has made me very suspicious about decisions politicians make and about those who are influencing them.

That war and the one in Afghanistan have cost us too many lives and too much money. They have also cost us our once-noble standing in the world. Instead of making us safer, they have increased Muslim hostility toward us. I see no end in sight until we get out of the wars and focus on rebuilding our own declining country.

Providence, R.I., Sept. 7, 2011

Of all the stories I’ve read in the days and years after 9/11, the ones most vividly recalled have to do with people’s desire for connection until their very last moments — the jumpers who clung to one another as they stepped off the towers or the final phone calls made to loved ones to say goodbye.

In this post-9/11 world where connections seem more superficial, where the only way some people keep up with loved ones is by following Facebook and Twitter feeds, this 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a reminder to me to really connect to the people around me.

For all those we lost on 9/11, I hope those personal connections provided some comfort in their final moments.

New York, Sept. 7, 2011

    Sept. 11: A Decade Later, a Day of Reflection, NYT, 11.9.2011






Recalling That Day, and How It Changed Us


September 10, 2011
The New York Times

To the Editor:

My wife and I turned around and looked back after debarking from the police boat that ferried us and other terrified Battery Park City residents to Liberty State Park in New Jersey after the twin towers collapsed. We were covered with fine granular white dust and had to be hosed down as we looked for transportation to get us away from the nightmare surrounding our home.

We were met with incredible kindness and sympathy, the good of human nature contradicting the evil played out across the Hudson River.

Low-flying planes still frighten us, and this Sunday I will keep the window blinds drawn. We know that we and the world will never be the same.

New York, Sept. 7, 2011

To the Editor:

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was eight months pregnant and on the way to a 9 a.m. doctor’s appointment within a few blocks of the World Trade Center. Absorbed in a book, I boarded the wrong train and bypassed the World Trade Center stop, ending up farther east. By that time, both towers were on fire, my water had broken from the shock and the world had changed forever.

Every September since then has brought on a wide range of emotions and memories. I remember the kindness of strangers who, like me, were frightened and confused, but who helped me exit the train and find a taxi. I remember the Pakistani cabdriver praying to Allah for my baby and me. I remember seeing just one smoking tower standing as I was driven home, a sight so disorienting that it’s difficult to imagine even now.

And of course I remember the birth of my beautiful daughter a few days later. Within a short time, we were given assurances that the air in Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe, and so I returned to work at my office near South Ferry, sometimes with my daughter in tow. Within 24 months, she received a diagnosis of autism. While I’ll probably never know if it was related to 9/11, I can’t help thinking it might be.

My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones on 9/11. A few days after Sept. 11, we’ll celebrate my daughter’s 10th birthday, wondering how our own lives might have turned out differently, but for that fateful day.

New York, Sept. 8, 2011

To the Editor:

I was in the Pentagon on 9/11 and was lucky to escape unharmed. When I left my office after feeling the impact, I grabbed my briefcase, which had, among other things, my keys in it. Most of us who worked there had no idea what had happened, even though we knew about the planes hitting the twin towers. I thought it was a bomb.

A group of us gathered in the parking lot. When we were told that we could not go back into the building, I prepared to leave in my car, thankful that I had my keys with me.

I still work at the Pentagon. It is a small thing, but immediately after we returned to the building, and every day thereafter, I carry my car and house keys with me on a clip on my belt, along with a police whistle. It is a constant reminder to me of that day — I think of it as my 9/11 emergency kit.

Falls Church, Va., Sept. 7, 2011

To the Editor:

I lived in New York City on 9/11 — I was 23 and had just moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn. I recall the homemade posters with photos of the lost that were plastered everywhere. I didn’t know any of the people on those posters, but after seeing their faces over and over, I started to feel as if I did. I wondered where they were, if they’d made it out in time. They haunted me.

I think we learned to be fearful on 9/11, and fear — in a very primal sense — does strange things to people. It makes us less open, more suspicious, less willing to take risks. It steals our sense of innocence and wonder. Fear is what made way for the war in Iraq and misguided laws like the Patriot Act; it made permissible a deep mistrust of anyone who’s different.

In 10 years, on the 20th anniversary of this day, I hope that we’ll be less fearful. I hope that we’ll heal.

Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 7, 2011

To the Editor:

I was an emergency room nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan on that day and those that followed. Here are some of the things that have stuck with me:

¶The faces of the surviving firefighters, frozen in catatonic shock, revealing so much more than words ever could.

¶Police officers and paramedics frantically looking for lost partners, some of whom were found and some of whom perished.

¶People who showed up looking for loved ones who weren’t answering phone calls, handing us pieces of paper with a name and a physical description, sometimes a photo, the first of the missing-person posters that became common.

¶Yankees team members walking around, shaking hands and revitalizing everyone, patients and staff, telling us that we were heroes.

The rain that fell later in the week was torrential, but not enough to wash away the heartache of loss or the stench of the burning wreckage that wafted through the air of Greenwich Village for many months to come.

New York, Sept. 8, 2011

    Recalling That Day, and How It Changed Us, NYT, 10.9.2011,






Downtown’s Rebirth, 10 Years and $24 Billion Later


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


A DECADE after the Sept. 11 attack, downtown Manhattan is resurgent. The residential population has doubled. Two skyscrapers — 1 and 4 World Trade Center — are rising at ground zero, due to open in 2013. The next year, the exuberant PATH transit hub is scheduled to come online. The national memorial is open; two streets have been built. A far more diverse array of businesses call downtown home today, including a large cluster of media companies, law firms and nonprofit organizations. And just last week, both the northbound and southbound platforms of the Cortlandt Street subway station were open.

That is not what most people expected.

“I had a lot of skepticism about whether the World Trade Center area could be recreated as a vibrant, 24-hour place,” said John H. Mollenkopf, director of the City University of New York’s Center for Urban Research. “But I have to say that despite much botched planning, the delays, posturing and bureaucratic politics, things are actually coming along very well.”

But progress does not come cheap. The cost of rebuilding the trade center, several related projects and the downtown public transportation system will run close to $24 billion — probably not all that surprising given the institutional rivalries, the political squabbling and the complexity of building 26 interdependent projects on a cramped 16-acre site next to a river and with two transit lines running underneath.

Financing the reconstruction has been equally complex. After the terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush promised more than $20 billion in federal aid for New York. But slightly more than $6 billion was spent on the clean-up and emergency aid. Of the remaining $14 billion, only $8 billion was actual cash for rebuilding — the rest came in the form of tax incentives. The insurance proceeds from the site itself came to $4.5 billion.

The state provided tens of millions of dollars in additional tax breaks for downtown tenants and employers.

One World Trade Center (the former Freedom Tower) alone cost $3.2 billion to build. New security concerns in the post-Sept. 11 world contributed to the building’s being redesigned three times over the past decade. Still, this year, that building landed a glamorous lead tenant, the media company Condé Nast Publications. But it cost taxpayers plenty: $47.5 million in rent rebates and millions more in sales tax and commercial rent tax exemptions.

Goldman Sachs’s new tower across West Street from the World Trade Center site, a relative bargain at $2.4 billion, received $1.65 billion in tax-free Liberty Bonds, which saved the bank millions in financing costs. Goldman threatened to abandon the project after the state botched negotiations for the tower. That led the state to enlarge its incentive package to include $115 million in tax breaks and cash grants, in what critics described as the most egregious example of corporate welfare in city history.

Goldman’s share of the Liberty Bonds illustrates the size of its taxpayer bounty. The bonds accounted for 69 percent of the project’s cost. But the developer Larry Silverstein got only $2.6 billion in Liberty Bonds, or 41 percent of the $6.3 billion projected cost of building three towers on the trade center site itself.

Other developers, meanwhile, got a total of $1.6 billion of the tax-free bonds for 15 luxury buildings containing a total of 5,700 apartments to repopulate Lower Manhattan. Fewer than 5 percent of those units were set aside for poor and working-class New Yorkers.

Fearing the loss of businesses in Lower Manhattan, the Pataki administration provided dozens of companies with $313 million in cash grants for staying downtown, although there was little chance that the American Stock Exchange, Century 21 or the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan would leave.

But nothing in the area can compare with the transit hub, with its white-winged super-structure designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The hub’s cost has swelled to $3.44 billion from $1.9 billion over the past decade, though it will serve only 80,000 PATH riders daily. Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan serves seven times that number, and yet its planned renovation has largely stalled.

Still, given the area’s remarkable rebirth, people may be willing to overlook that. “If you had told me the day after 9/11 that downtown would be doing as well as it’s now doing in attracting businesses and so many residential tenants, I would have said, ‘Get out of here,’ ” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, who was instrumental in getting the $20 billion in federal aid.

    Downtown’s Rebirth, 10 Years and $24 Billion Later, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Bush and Obama: Side by Side at Ground Zero


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


The presidents stood next to each other, with their wives, listening as the families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks read the names of lost loved ones. Behind them a vast American flag billowed from One World Trade Center, the tower that is rising where two fell a decade ago.

It was the first time President Obama and former President George W. Bush had stood together at ground zero. Mr. Bush declined Mr. Obama’s invitation to join him at the site last spring, days after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

But on this bright morning, they stood shoulder to shoulder behind a bulletproof screen — two commanders in chief whose terms in office are bookends for considering how the United States has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, particularly in its response to terrorism.

Mr. Obama read from Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength.” Mr. Bush read a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Lydia Bixby, a widow in Massachusetts who was believed to have lost five sons in the Civil War.

Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush drew a brief cheer from the crowd before his reading. Applause also followed Mr. Bush as he left the stage.

The tableau was striking: the president who spent years hunting Bin Laden next to the one who finally got him. The president defined by his response to Sept. 11 standing alongside the one who has tried to take America beyond the lingering, complicated legacy of that day.

For Mr. Obama, Sept. 11 underpins what has become one of the great paradoxes of his presidency. A Democratic leader who opposed the Iraq war and is pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan has, at the same time, notched up a record as a lethal, relentless hunter of terrorists.

Mr. Obama, a president who banned torture in the interrogation of suspected terrorists and pledged (unsuccessfully, so far) to close the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, carried out more drone strikes in Pakistan in his first year in office than Mr. Bush did in his eight years.

In the process, the White House said, it has killed more Al Qaeda officials in the last two-and-a-half years than were eliminated by the Bush administration in all the preceding years. Among the big names: two top Qaeda managers, Sheik Saeed al-Masri and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, and one of its most feared field commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri.

“We have taken the fight to Al Qaeda like never before,” Mr. Obama said Saturday in his weekly address.

The administration points to this success as validation of the different counterterrorism strategy it put in place in January 2009. And there is no question that in its intense use of drones and its laser focus on Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, Mr. Obama did depart from the Bush administration’s broader “global war on terrorism.”

But there has been as much continuity as change in the Obama method, according to terrorism experts.

Mr. Obama, for example, has continued the whole-of-government response to terrorism that the Bush administration eventually adopted. This approach — with the C.I.A. and F.B.I. working more collaboratively with agencies like the Treasury and State departments, especially in the field — culminated in the raid that killed Bin Laden.

“What you’ve seen from the Obama administration is fundamental continuity in the counterterrorism policies handed over in 2009, while sharpening the campaign to eliminate core Al Qaeda leadership and disrupt safe havens in Western Pakistan and Yemen,” said Juan Zarate, a top counterterrorism adviser in the Bush administration.

To be sure, Mr. Obama made important refinements and changes. Most notably, and perhaps most surprising to his supporters, he has dramatically increased the use of covert and clandestine operations by C.I.A. paramilitary and Special Operations forces from the United States military.

In Mr. Obama’s first year in office, the Central Intelligence Agency carried out 53 drone strikes in Pakistan. The next year, it more than doubled that figure, to 117, according to The Long War Journal, a Web site that follows the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pace is off a bit this year — 49 through late August — but the drone campaign is spreading to other countries.

The C.I.A. now plans to carry out armed drone missions against Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, and the military has conducted drone strikes to kill insurgents in Somalia.

“Stepping up the drone strikes has been a game changer,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. “It is frustrating Al Qaeda’s movements enormously.”

Still, while Mr. Hoffman said that Al Qaeda’s core network had been crippled, its offshoots in Yemen and North Africa continue to put down roots, posing a potentially greater threat to the United States than Bin Laden’s surviving lieutenants.

“We can say we turned a corner with Al Qaeda, but we can’t say we turned a corner in the war on terrorism,” he said.

And this is where the administration’s wide-ranging counterterrorism strategy — relying on often-unreliable allies, sometimes sketchy intelligence and a clandestine American force already strained by a decade of secretive wars — runs into its limitations.

The administration is working with countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to help build up their counterterrorism units so that they do not require United States intervention. But these countries have proved so erratic in going after militants that the administration has often had to resort to unilateral operations, as with the Bin Laden raid, which opened a rift with the Pakistanis that has only recently begun to heal.

More worrying, some experts say, the administration has yet to figure out how to effectively counter Al Qaeda’s propaganda. It has failed to prevent a small but growing number of Americans from becoming radicalized, often by listening to online videos by militants like the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now in hiding in Yemen.

“Our weakest area is combating Al Qaeda’s ideology,” Michael E. Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center in both the Bush and Obama administrations, said last week.

For all its achievements, the administration has also been lucky. A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, almost blew up a Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day in 2009 with explosives sewn into his underwear. A Pakistani-American man, Faisal Shahzad, parked an S.U.V. with a bomb that failed to detonate near Times Square.

“Obama is rightly proud of his counterterrorism record, but had Umar Abdulmutallab not lost his cool on that plane, he wouldn’t have had much of a record to point to,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former intelligence officer who has advised the White House. “His presidency would have been transformed that Christmas.”

    Bush and Obama: Side by Side at Ground Zero, NYT, 11.9.2011,






In a Pennsylvania Field, Memories of Loved Ones


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — The sun rose brightly here Sunday morning, warming the mist that hovered over the field where United Airlines Flight 93, hurtling through the air at more than 575 miles an hour, crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. At the moment of impact, 10:03 a.m., no one was in the field.

On Sunday, by contrast, thousands of people gathered by this same field. And at 10:03 a.m., instead of the roar of a jet and a thunderous explosion, they paused for a moment of silence.

Earlier, visitors remembered the attacks at the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York that killed nearly 2,700 people and at the Pentagon that killed 184, pausing for moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., 9:03 a.m. and 9:37 a.m., respectively. President Obama will arrive here around 12:30 p.m. to lay a wreath at the site.

The event here, marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks, was very much a memorial service for the 40 passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 who, in an extraordinary rebellion, organized within minutes and after a democratic vote, stormed the cockpit and sought to wrest control of the plane from their captors. The passengers and crew failed to take control, but they forced the plane to crash in the field, preventing it from hitting its likely target, the United States Capitol building, just 20 minutes flying time away.

More than 700 members of the families of the passengers and crew have been here for several days of memorials. On Sunday morning, after their moment of silence at 10:03, they walked across the stage, one or two at a time, and read the names of each of their loved ones — sons, daughters, sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers. Bells tolled for each name.

An emotional Wallace Miller, the Somerset County coroner, one of the first responders to the plane crash who established a morgue and has led the families through much of their grief over the last 10 years, read a litany in which the audience responded repeatedly, “we remember them.” They clapped for him, and later in the service, the mention of his name drew a standing ovation and sustained applause.

Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania said the crash site and field here, part of a 2,200-acre national park in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania, is like no other place.

“There is nothing with which to compare the passenger uprising of 10 years ago,” he said. “It has no companion in history in my mind.” He added: “Their uprising marks the moment in history when Americans showed what makes us different. We refuse to be victims. We refuse to settle for the term ‘survivor.’ Captivity will not suit us.”

Former Gov. Tom Ridge, the former director of Homeland Security, told the crowd, “Your very presence is a powerful message of comfort and understanding and love to this incredible group of assembled families.” At that point, the families rose from their seats in front of the podium and turned around to applaud the thousands of people behind them.

John Hendricks, founder and chairman of Discovery Communications, was to deliver the keynote speech. One of his employees, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, 27, was on Flight 93. She had quickly worked her way up from retail sales to become district manager for New York and New Jersey, and was heading that day for a business meeting in San Francisco for Discovery Channel Stores. During the hijacking, she called her stepmother and told her, “It hurts me that this is going to be so much harder for you all than it is for me.”

After the service, family members had another chance to view the marble wall of names, the new memorial that was dedicated here on Saturday. Family members are holding a private funeral service on Monday to bury three coffins containing some human remains at the crash site, formally turning it into a cemetery.

Terry L. Shaffer, chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, said that every time he sees the field, which is now blanketed with wildflowers, he cannot but help remember what it looked like the day of the crash.

He said that he and other firefighters often ask themselves the same question today that they asked 10 years ago: Could they have made the same decisions in 30 minutes and acted as bravely as the passengers and crew of Flight 93?

    In a Pennsylvania Field, Memories of Loved Ones, NYT, 11.9.2011,






A Day That Stands Alone


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


Just as Sept. 11 was unthinkable, Sunday was inevitable: the 10th anniversary of a day that stands alone. In history. In memory.

Three-thousand six-hundred fifty-two days have now passed. At 8:46 a.m. — the time when the first plane slammed into 1 World Trade Center — 87,648 hours will have gone by. Another 5,258,880 minutes. Another 315,532,800 seconds.

Once more, the families gathered at ground zero, where 2,749 died, and in Washington and in Pennsylvania to pay tribute to the 224 who died there.

Once more, there was an outpouring of grief. Once more, there was the sound of bells tolling sadly. Once more, there were speeches. Once more, the names were recited.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the attacks had turned “a perfect blue-sky morning” into “the blackest of nights."

He added, “We can never unsee what happened here.”

President Obama read Psalm 46, which talks about God as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York read from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, the famous “four freedoms” speech — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear “anywhere in the world.”

The 10th anniversary dawned on a city and a nation that has changed immutably, with continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and persistent security worries at home. And no longer is ground zero a scarred reminder of what was, but a symbol of resurgence, with the National September 11 Memorial about to open and a not-yet-finished skyscraper. It now stands 961 feet above the street where thousands fell.

This Sept. 11 began with the towers that will take their place of the ones that were destroyed a decade ago illuminated in red, white and blue stripes.

What was then the site of the World Trade Center is surrounded by construction fences, and evidence of what happened is everywhere: There are flags on the new Tower One, the “Freedom Tower.” The subway station nearby has exit sign that identify it as the “Rector Street 9/11 Memorial,” with the “11” written to look like the twin towers.

Ten years ago, it was just another morning — a Tuesday, a day when ordinary people did the most ordinary of things: Scrambling to work, hurriedly kissing their families goodbye, running for the train. And then there was the dark gash and the ball of fire high up in one of the buildings, and a few minutes later, a second gash, a second ball of fire and a plume of smoke visible for miles.

On Sunday, President and Mrs. Obama arrived and shook hands with former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, with state and city officials and with relatives of those who died. Then the President and the former president and their wives walked to the 30-foot waterfalls that are part of the new memorial. In the moments they stood there, the 16 big pumps sent 52,000 gallons of water flowing over the edge.

One measure of how Sept. 11 changed everything was how little grumbling there was last week as motorists waited to crawl through police checkpoints. Sept. 11 redefined the bridges and tunnels beyond those checkpoints as something that generations of commuters had never imagined: potential targets.

Sept. 11 redefined so much more.

Sept. 11 put New York, a city that had not faced combat in more than 200 years, on the front lines in a global war on terrorism. Sept. 11 made slogans created by Madison Avenue like “If you see something, say something” as widespread as “Loose lips sink ships” once was.

Sept. 11 brought color-coded threat levels (though the Department of Homeland Security, itself a post-Sept. 11 creation, phased them out several months ago).

Still travelers worry: Is it safe to fly? Since Sept. 11, airline passengers have had to pull off their shoes and empty their pockets, and they felt embarrassed when they forgot they had a too-big bottle of shampoo or mouthwash in their carry-on.

And still there were episodes when terrorists on international flights tried to set off plastic explosives hidden in their shoes or sewn into their underwear.

Is it safe to open the mail? A week after the Sept. 11 attacks, letters containing anthrax killed 5 people and infected 17 others. It took the F.B.I. five years to conclude that an Army microbiologist had been responsible. In the confusion at first, people hoarded antibiotics, and officials briefly grounded crop-dusting airplanes.

But this anniversary played out against a different backdrop than the first anniversary, in 2002, or the fifth, in 2006. For the first time, Osama bin Laden was dead. “We’ve taken the fight to Al Qaeda like never before,” Mr. Obama declared Saturday in his weekly radio address.

For the first time, too, there was tangible progress toward fulfilling the promise to rebuild — a promise made in the aftermath of the attacks but delayed by squabbling over architects, plans and finances. Buildings are rising between Church and West Streets in Lower Manhattan, and the National September 11 Memorial will open to the public on Monday. Relatives of those who died at the World Trade Center will get a first look on Sunday.

If they were to measure it, they would see that the memorial covers about half of the 16-acre World Trade Center site. They will see that the names of the dead have been inscribed on the walls of two reflecting pools that now fill the footprints of the old towers — pools that hold 550,000 gallons of water and are lined with 3,968 panels of granite, each weighing 420 pounds. A museum is to open nearby next year. For the memorial and the museum together, the plans called for some 8.151 tons of steel and 49,900 cubic yards of concrete.

This time, there will be other reminders. The U.S.S. New York, commissioned in 2009 and made with seven-and-a-half tons of steel from the twin towers, spent the weekend at anchor in the Hudson River. On Sunday morning it was to cruise to Lower Manhattan, stopping within sight of the new tower at the trade center site.

Other ceremonies and services were planned. The New York City Fire Museum will honor the 343 firefighters who died with the dedication of the bunker coat and helmet that a Fire Department chaplain, Mychal Judge, was wearing on Sept. 11 when he died. Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan will have a “trialogue,” a three-way discussion with Shamsi Ali, the imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York; Rabbi Michael S. Friedman, the associate rabbi of Central Synagogue in Manhattan; and Michael B. Brown, the church’s senior minister.

At night, an interfaith ceremony on the south side of Pier 40, a park at the west end of Houston Street, will be led by the Rev. Alfonso Wyatt, the vice president of the Fund for the City of New York.

The ceremony at ground zero brought together the officials who were in office 10 years ago — Mr. Bush, Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco of New Jersey and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — with their successors: Mr. Obama, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mr. Bloomberg.

As at past observances, there will be music. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performed at the one-year anniversary ceremony, played the slow Sarabande movement from Bach’s Suite for Cello No. 1. James Taylor sang “You Can Close Your Eyes,” and Paul Simon sang “The Sound of Silence.”

The ceremony is to pause six times: twice to remember the planes that hit the towers, twice to remember when the towers collapsed, once for the attack on the Pentagon and once the plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania. The first moment of silence was at 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 sliced into 1 World Trade Center — the north tower — 17 minutes before United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower.

And still what happened on that morning seems as impossible as it did in those first few minutes, when one friend called another and said something like, “Go turn on the television. A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center.”

Or when, in the seconds before the picture came on, an anchor was heard saying something like, “Wait. These are live pictures, not the tape? So that was a different plane, and it hit the other one?”

Like the day when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, or the day when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986 or the day when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, Sept. 11 was one of those days that divided things into “before” and “after.”

New Yorkers still talk about what a bright morning that was, after a thunder-and-lightning show in the sky the night before. They talk about how late-summer days are forever different. They talk about how the foreboding that has replaced the promise in the pink of the sunrise and so much joy in the deep blue of the midmorning sky.

And they talk about what the World Trade Center was, a city-within-the-city that dominated the skyline. Below 14th Street, it was a direction-finder as sure as the “N” on any compass. It had been bombed in 1993. The damage had been repaired, but the two buildings remained a target for Al Qaeda.

    A Day That Stands Alone, NYT, 11.9.2011,






At Pentagon, No Words Will Fill Void


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday told the families of the 184 men, women and children killed at the Pentagon a decade ago that “I know what it is like to receive that call out of the blue when the dearest thing in your life is gone.”

Mr. Biden, who was referring to the call he got when his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car crash decades ago, presided over the 10th anniversary service commemorating the horrific morning when an American Airlines Boeing 757, Flight 77, crashed into the seemingly impregnable headquarters of the world’s most powerful military.

“No memorial, no ceremony, no words will ever fill the void left in your hearts by their loss,” Mr. Biden said.

“My prayer for you is that 10 years later,” he said, “when you think of them, that it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who introduced Mr. Biden at the ceremony, told the crowd that “no words can ease the pain you still feel.” He said that the country would never forget the human cost paid by this generation — including “the more than 6,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines lost in the line of duty” since 9/11.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “Today, we stand on this hallowed ground to honor those who still live on in our hearts.”

He was in the building when the plane hit and has said that it felt like an earthquake. “Two of my aides looked out the window and saw a 757 fly in under their feet,” Admiral Mullen told American Forces Press Service in a recent interview.

Mr. Panetta, who was not in government service at the time but was in Washington when the attack occurred, recalled last week how he rented a car to drive across the country to his home in California after all commercial planes were grounded.

“It was a drive I will never forget, not only because I made it back in record time, but more importantly because of what I witnessed across this nation,” Mr. Panetta said in a speech on Thursday night at the Newseum in Washington.

“Communities throughout the heartland of America had come together, were posting signs on storefronts, in front of motels: ‘God bless America.’ They were raising flags. They were gathering in churches. They were holding hands. You could sense that great spirit of America reacting to the tragedy that had happened.”

Mr. Panetta continued: “And out of that terrible tragedy, I suddenly recalled the statement that Admiral Yamamoto made following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when he looked at his subordinates and said that, ‘I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant.’ 9/11 awoke a sleeping giant.”

The west side of the Pentagon has long since been repaired, and a memorial to the victims opened three years ago, well ahead of the 9/11 memorial in New York, and with little of the argument that accompanied the design and planning of the two waterfall pools at the World Trade Center. The Pentagon memorial is nearly two acres outdoors with 184 benches, each inscribed with the name of a victim, shaded by 85 paperbark maple trees.

It was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2008, by President George W. Bush, who said at the time that the anniversary brought to mind a specific number: 2,557, or the number of days that had passed since Sept. 11, 2001, without another attack on American soil. On Saturday, Mr. Bush, along with the defense secretary he fired, Donald H. Rumsfeld, was at the Pentagon to lay a wreath of white flowers by a 9/11 memorial stone embedded in the Pentagon wall near the site of the plane crash.

On Friday, Mr. Panetta spoke to Pentagon employees in a memorial service in the building’s inner courtyard.

“For the Pentagon family, the events of that morning will never be forgotten,” Mr. Panetta said. “Today, we come together as a family, as a community, to take some time out of our working day just to reaffirm that commitment to remember our fallen friends, our fallen colleagues.”

President Obama is expected to pay his respects at the Pentagon later on Sunday, after he dedicates the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan.

    At Pentagon, No Words Will Fill Void, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Pope Prays for 9/11 Victims and Loved Ones


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


ANCONA, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is praying for the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and calling on world leaders and others to resist what he calls the "temptation toward hatred."

The pontiff noted the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks during remarks to the faithful at the end of an outdoor Mass he was celebrating in the Italian seacoast town of Ancona Sunday.

Benedict says he is urging leaders and "men of good will" to swear off violence forever as a way to solve problems and instead work for solidarity, justice and peace.

Benedict sent a letter Saturday to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan insisting that violence never be carried out in God's name.

    Pope Prays for 9/11 Victims and Loved Ones, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Separating the Moment From What Came After


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


A few days after Sept. 11, 2001, I received a stack of drawings and poems in the mail. They were by schoolchildren whose teacher had given them the lead article from The New York Times about the attacks and told them to write and illustrate a poem. Because I wrote the piece, she sent them to me. Many of the children picked up on my description of the planes as “gorged” with fuel, and their jets were huge and red, dwarfing the doomed black towers before them. Some of the drawings also had disproportionately huge stick figures falling from the towers.

I thought it was wise of the teacher to help the children come to grips with horror this way. That’s how we all struggle with sudden and enormous terror, searching for images and words that might help us fit the event into a framework we can understand. From the time the first hijacked jet ripped into the north tower of the World Trade Center, we had to find ways to explain and describe an event whose enormity and evil were almost beyond understanding. Crisis focuses the mind on the immediate tasks at hand, but it was hard that day to fend off thoughts of the final, horrifying moments of those people in the planes and the buildings before they died.

I had covered several suicide bombings in Israel before 9/11, and I always admired the way Israelis rushed to clear away the carnage and reimpose “normal” life, as if to say you can hurt us, but you will not change us. And I had always wondered how Americans would react if it happened to us.

We can certainly be proud of the dignity with which New Yorkers, and Americans, and much (alas, not all) of the world responded that day, whether it was the police and firefighters who rushed to the scene, or Mayor Rudolph Giuliani taking charge, or the thousands of people who lined up to give blood until the hospitals could accept no more. At The Times, several reporters commuted to ground zero by bicycle, showing up in the newsroom covered with ash and sweat to file a report and then heading back into the hell. Yet I also remember, monitoring the rush of information in the newsroom, a sense of shame that our president chose to fly around in silence all day, as if his safety was more important than standing with his badly wounded nation.

And how should we assess our actions since? Millions of words are being written around this 10th anniversary about the meaning and the legacy of that day; on its consequences for America and the world; on whether Americans rose to the challenge; on whether we got suckered into needless wars and, worse, into betraying our values; on whether we have become nobler or meaner.

There is a lot to criticize and regret. But can we really determine at this stage to what degree 9/11 was a cause, a symptom or a harbinger of all that has come to pass over the last decade? Perhaps if it had not happened, Americans would not have consented so readily to the erosion of their cherished liberties, and we might not have become so obsessed with homeland security. But in many other ways the world was already in flux since the end of the cold war a decade earlier. The Bush administration was already beginning to irritate the world, and already plotting a war in Iraq; the Middle East, as usual, was smoldering.

The fact is that that single day soon became associated in our national narrative with all that has happened — the military quagmires in the Middle East, the resentment of the Islamists, the decline of American global authority, the erosion of American self-confidence. Like “the fall of the Berlin Wall” a decade earlier, “9/11” has become shorthand for a momentous shift in geopolitical tectonics.

But this is not what comes to my mind when I think back on that day. I see the long river of ashen, dazed people flowing up 11th Avenue as I made my way down to Times Square. I recall the brilliant clarity of that morning, which must have made it easier for those murdering pilots.

Most often, I don’t know why, I recall the subway ride home in the small hours of the morning. A woman sitting near me began humming loudly. My first, shameful reaction was damn, who needs this? But then a man across the aisle, slumped in his seat in exhaustion, began humming along. Someone else joined in, and soon I, too, closed my eyes and let the music take over. Drained of emotion and thought, we surrendered to the refuge of sweet harmony.

Within days, the first massive cranes were rumbling past my windows on their way to ground zero. Acrid fumes from the smoking ruins moved through the city with the shifting winds. American flags appeared in windows. From Washington there came talk of war. We were in a new era, which 10 years later we are still trying to define.

    Separating the Moment From What Came After, NYT, 10.9.2011,






Loss and Hope


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


It is painful and puzzling to look back to that day, to the chasm after the second tower fell, when we knew nothing except that fires were burning, an untold number of lives had been lost, and Lower Manhattan was gasping in a cloud of what looked like Pompeian ash. That morning’s terrible events marked a border between one realm and another, a boundary none of us would ever wish to have crossed. Everything had changed — that was how it seemed.

We tried, almost immediately, to understand how the morning of 9/11 would change our future. A decade later, we’re still trying to understand, looking back and looking ahead. It is not enough simply to remember and grieve.

At first, there was only shock, grief and fear. But by the next evening there was something surprising in the air. Do you remember? It was an enormous, heartfelt desire to be changed. People wanted to be enlarged, to be called on to do more for country and community than ordinary life usually requires, to make this senseless horror count for something. It was also a public desire, a wish to be absorbed in some greater good, a reimagining of the possibilities in our national life. There was courage and unity on the streets of the city and all across the country, for we were all witnesses of that turning point.

But America has not been enlarged in the years that have passed. Based on false pretexts, we were drawn into a misdirected war that has exacted enormous costs in lives and money. Our civic life is tainted by a rise in xenophobia that betrays our best ideals. As we prepared for a war on terrorism, we gave in to a weakening of the civil liberties that have been the foundation of our culture.

It seemed, in the days after 9/11, as though we stood at the juncture of many possible futures. There was as much hope as grief, as much love as anger, and a powerful sense of resilience. We still stand at the juncture of many possible futures. They are occasioned not by what terrorists in four airliners did to us, but by what we have done in the decade since. As a nation, we have done a better job of living with our fears, sadly, than nurturing the expansive spirit of community that arose in those early days.

We are still learning about the events of 9/11, and in truth, 10 years is a short window to assess the consequences of those attacks. Perhaps in time we will realize that the full meaning of what happened on 9/11 resides in the surge of compassion and hope that accompanied the shock and mourning of that September day.

    Loss and Hope, NYT, 10.9.2011,






Ahmadinejad: US Used 9/11 as Excuse to Start Wars


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Iranian president says the United States used the Sept. 11 attacks as an excuse for launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the attacks were a "complicated, designed game" to affect people's emotions and pave way for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also says U.S. launched those wars to solve its own economic problems. Ahmadinejad's remarks appeared on Iranian state TV's website on Sunday.

The Iranian leader has repeatedly questioned the official version of the events surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks, calling it a "big lie."

In 2010, New York turned down his request to visit the World Trade Center site to pay respects to the victims of the terrorist attacks.

    Ahmadinejad: US Used 9/11 as Excuse to Start Wars, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Today in History


The New York Times
September 11, 2011


Today is Sunday, Sept. 11, the 254th day of 2011. There are 111 days left in the year. This is Patriot Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

Ten years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, America saw its worst day of terrorism as 19 al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger jetliners. Two smashed into New York's World Trade Center, causing the twin towers to fall; one jetliner plowed into the Pentagon; and the fourth was crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania. In all, nearly 3,000 people were killed.

On this date:

In 1777, during the American Revolution, forces under Gen. George Washington were defeated by the British in the Battle of Brandywine.

In 1814, an American fleet scored a decisive victory over the British in the Battle of Lake Champlain in the War of 1812.

In 1857, the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place in present-day southern Utah as a 120-member Arkansas immigrant party was slaughtered by Mormon militiamen aided by Paiute Indians.

In 1911, California State University, Fresno, was established as Fresno State Normal School.

In 1936, Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) began operation as President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a key in Washington to signal the startup of the dam's first hydroelectric generator.

In 1941, groundbreaking took place for the Pentagon, now headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. In a speech that drew accusations of anti-Semitism, Charles A. Lindbergh told an America First rally in Des Moines, Iowa, that "the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration" were pushing the United States toward war.

In 1961, Hurricane Carla struck the coast of Texas as a Category 4 storm; Carla was blamed for 46 deaths in Texas, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri.

In 1971, former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev died at age 77.

In 1973, Chilean President Salvador Allende (ah-YEN'-day) died in a violent military coup.

In 2003, actor John Ritter died six days before his 55th birthday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. — the same hospital where he was born in 1948.

Five years ago: The nation paused to remember the victims of 9/11 on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. In a prime-time address, President George W. Bush invoked the memory of the victims as he staunchly defended the war in Iraq, though he acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

One year ago: Speaking at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama appealed to the nation to honor the memory of the Sept. 11 victims by hewing to the values of diversity and tolerance. In New York, a morning ceremony of remembrance gave way to an afternoon of protests and counter-protests over a proposed Islamic center near ground zero. A gunman in rural eastern Kentucky killed five people before turning the shotgun on himself. Kim Clijsters won a second consecutive U.S. Open championship and third overall, easily beating Vera Zvonareva (zvahn-uh-RAY'-vuh) 6-2, 6-1. Actor Kevin McCarthy, 96, died in Hyannis, Mass.

Today's Birthdays: Actress Betsy Drake is 88. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is 87. Actor Earl Holliman is 83. Comedian Tom Dreesen is 72. Movie director Brian De Palma is 71. Rock singer-musician Jack Ely (The Kingsmen) is 68. Rock musician Mickey Hart (The Dead) is 68. Singer-musician Leo Kottke is 66. Actor Phillip Alford is 63. Actress Amy Madigan is 61. Rock singer-musician Tommy Shaw (Styx) is 58. Sports reporter Lesley Visser is 58. Actor Reed Birney is 57. Singer-songwriter Diane Warren is 55. Musician Jon Moss (Culture Club) is 54. Actor Scott Patterson is 53. Rock musician Mick Talbot (The Style Council) is 53. Actress Roxann Dawson is 53. Actor John Hawkes is 52. Actress Anne Ramsay is 51. Actress Virginia Madsen is 50. Actress Kristy McNichol is 49. Musician-composer Moby is 46. Business reporter Maria Bartiromo is 44. Singer Harry Connick Jr. is 44. Rock musician Bart Van Der Zeeuw is 43. Actress Taraji (tuh-RAH'-jee) P. Henson is 41. Actress Laura Wright is 41. Rock musician Jeremy Popoff (Lit) is 40. Blogger Markos Moulitsas is 40. Singer Brad Fischetti (LFO) is 36. Rapper Mr. Black is 34. Rock musician Jon Buckland (Coldplay) is 34. Rapper Ludacris is 34. Rock singer Ben Lee is 33. Actor Ryan Slattery is 33. Actor Tyler Hoechlin (HEK'-lihn) is 24. Country singer Charles Kelley (Lady Antebellum) is 30.

Thought for Today: "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer." — Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and essayist (1803-1882).

(Above Advance for Use Sunday, Sept. 11)

Copyright 2011, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

    Today in History, 11.9.2011,






A Changed America: Marking 10 Years Since 9/11


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


NEW YORK (AP) — Ten years. Of longing for loved ones lost in the worst terrorist attacks to happen on American soil. Of sending sons, daughters, fathers and mothers off to war in foreign lands. Of redefining what safety means and worrying about another 9/11 — or something even worse.

Ten years has arrived. And with it, memories. Of that September morning, when terrorists crashed hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed into a field in rural western Pennsylvania. Of heroism and Samaritans and unthinkable fear.

And of nearly 3,000 killed at the hands of a global terror network led by Osama bin Laden, himself now dead.

On Sunday, people across America gather to pray at cathedrals in their greatest cities and to lay roses before fire stations in their smallest towns. Around the world, many others will do something similar because so much changed for them on that day, too.

Bells will toll. Americans will see new memorials in lower Manhattan, rural Pennsylvania and elsewhere, symbols of a resolve to remember and rebuild.

But much of the weight of this year's ceremonies lies in what will largely go unspoken. There's the anniversary's role in prompting Americans to consider how the attacks affected them and the larger world and the continuing struggle to understand 9/11's place in the lore of the nation.

"A lot's going on in the background," said Ken Foote, author of "Shadowed Ground: America's Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy," examining the role that veneration of sites of death and disaster plays in modern life. "These anniversaries are particularly critical in figuring out what story to tell, in figuring out what this all means. It forces people to figure out what happened to us."

On Saturday in rural western Pennsylvania, more than 4,000 people began to tell the story again.

At the dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial near the town of Shanksville, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden joined the families of the 40 passengers and crew aboard the jet who fought back against their hijackers.

"The moment America's democracy was under attack our citizens defied their captors by holding a vote," Bush said. Their choice cost them their lives.

The passengers and crew gave "the entire country an incalculable gift: They saved the Capitol from attack," an untold amount of lives and denied al-Qaida the symbolic victory of "smashing the center of American government," Clinton said.

They were "ordinary people given no time at all to decide and they did the right thing," he said.

"And 2,500 years from now, I hope and pray to God that people will still remember this."

The Pennsylvania memorial park is years from completion. But the dedication and a service to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks are critical milestones, said Sally Ware, one of the volunteer "ambassadors" who has worked as a guide at the site since the disaster.

Ware, whose home was rocked when the jet crashed two miles away, recalled how hundreds of people flocked to the site in the days afterward to leave their own mementos and memorials. She began volunteering after finding one along the roadside — a red rose placed atop a flight attendant's uniform.

"It really bothered me. I thought someone has to take care of this," said Ware, whose daughter is a flight attendant.

Now, a decade later, she said the memorial may do little to ease the grief of the families of those who died in the crash.

But the weekend's ceremonies recall a story with far broader reach. The ceremonies honor those who "fought the first battle against terrorism — and they won," Ware said. "It's something I don't want to miss. It's become a part of my life."

On Sunday, the focus turns to ceremonies at the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C., and in lower Manhattan for the dedication of the national Sept. 11 memorial. President Barack Obama planned to attend events at the sites and was to speak at a Sunday evening service at the Kennedy Center.

The New York ceremony begins at 8:30 a.m., with a moment of silence 16 minutes later — coinciding with the exact time when the first tower of the trade center was struck by a hijacked jet.

And then, one by one, the reading of the names of the 2,977 killed on Sept. 11 — in New York, at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania.

They include the names of 37 of Lt. Patrick Lim's fellow officers from the police department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Lim, assigned to patrol the trade center with an explosives detection dog, rushed in to the north tower after it was hit to help evacuate workers. He and a few others survived despite still being inside a fifth-floor stairwell when the building fell.

In the years since, Lim said he has wrestled with survivor's guilt. He took shelter in selective memory, visualizing the ground covered with women's shoes amid the destruction. "That's how I got through that because what was attached to the shoes was a lot worse," Lim said.

The 10th anniversary has forced Lim to revisit an experience he's worried too many people have pushed from their minds. But the approach of Sunday's ceremonies has convinced him of the value of revisiting Sept.11, both for himself and others.

When it happened, talking about the events of that day "wasn't easy for me. This was very difficult. But it became ... a catharsis," he said. "What I want is for people to remember what happened."

And so arrives a Sunday dedicated to remembrance, with hundreds of ceremonies across the country and around the globe — from a memorial Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to a ceremony featuring nine-stories-tall replicas of the twin towers on a plaza in Paris.

But some of the most powerful ceremonies will likely be the smallest and most personal.

In Newtown, Conn., retired American Stock Exchange floor broker Howard Lasher planned a ceremony Sunday morning under the canopy of six maple trees standing alongside his gravel driveway; their trunks are painted to resemble an American flag.

Lasher commissioned the painting as a tribute to nine colleagues and the son of another who died inside the trade center.

"I wanted something that would reach out to people, that people would not forget," Lasher said.

And in tiny Brown City, Mich. — with no direct connection to the attacks — firefighters plan to lay 343 roses on a 15,000-pound steel beam salvaged from the World Trade Center, in honor of their New York City brethren who perished. It has already become a local shrine, Chief Jim Groat said.

A few days ago, a couple from St. Joseph, Mich. who happened to be driving through, pulled into the fire station lot when they spotted a sign for the memorial. The woman explained to Groat that she was an American Airlines flight attendant on Sept. 11.

Then she turned to face the steel beam from the trade center and cried. "She said she was just honored that somebody still cares," Groat recalled.

The chief observed silently, before offering an invitation.

"Will I see you here on Sept. 11?" he asked.

"I'll be here," she answered.


Associated Press writers Adam Geller in New York and Joe Mandak in Shanksville, Pa., contributed to this report.

    A Changed America: Marking 10 Years Since 9/11, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Generation Goes From Sept. 11 Classrooms to War


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


PATROL BASE FULOD, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. Marine swings his metal detector, scanning debris, rocks and swirls of soil for any hints of concealed bombs as he leads the single-file patrol. Alert, pausing often, the troops act like ambassadors too, lobbing smiles and candy at Afghan children in adobe-lined alleyways.

The 24-year-old sweeper, Lance Cpl. Patrick Hawco, was a child when the planes struck the Twin Towers. His school, near New York City, canceled classes — "everyone was freaking out," he remembers — and he went home. His parents were out. He sat and ate some cereal.

The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 shaped a swathe of young Americans who were on their way to their middle or elementary schools or were already there when the first reports, bewildering and then horrifying, filtered into classrooms across the United States. They lived their adolescence in a nation at war, and now they are in the midst of the combat.

Those who were in their early teens largely missed the fighting in Iraq, where the U.S. role has been winding down. But still awaiting them was the longer conflict in Afghanistan, one whose end still seems distant.

"I'm more of the Afghan generation," said Hawco, who lives with about 30 other Marines and an Afghan army unit at Patrol Base Fulod in Sangin, a southern Afghan district where U.S. forces and Taliban insurgents have fought hard for control. The base is austere, ringed by wire, adobe walls and earth-filled berms. Sentries stand at reinforced posts, surveying lush cornfields in the river valley below.

By one measure, for these troops, Sept. 11 is an abstraction, as remote to their mission as their hill-top redoubt is from their homes in the United States.

For combatants on the ground, the Afghan war is cyclical, seasonal for insurgents and framed by deployments for NATO forces. Hawco belongs to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, the third Marine battalion to deploy in Sangin since British forces pulled out in 2010. Sixteen men in the battalion of about 1,000 have died. About 160 have been wounded; roughly one-quarter of those suffered loss of limb or eyesight.

The unit ends a seven-month tour in October, handing over to another Marine battalion. President Barack Obama has ordered the gradual withdrawal of 33,000 troops by the end of next summer and all U.S. and international combat forces will have left by the end of 2014, winding down a war launched by his predecessor, George W. Bush, against the perpetrators and enablers of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ten years on, it is a muddy affair, marked by success, notably the killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan, but saddled by doubt about Afghan governance and uncertainty over the war's ultimate goals.

The Marines in Sangin think in finite terms, of completing a mission to the best of their abilities in their alloted time. But back home, the long war is hard to grasp for many Americans: the waste and corruption in Afghanistan, the powerbrokers with insurgent ties, the disparate Taliban groups, the tenuous alliance between the United States and Pakistan, where Taliban leaders operate.

"It's really overlooked now. If you go home, a lot of people don't really know that Afghanistan exists," said Hawco.

He recalled how, a decade ago, people in his hometown of Tivoli went down to the Hudson River to gaze at the distant smoke rising from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Many young men joined the military in a "big rush" spurred by patriotism, Hawco said, though family tradition — a grandfather who served in World War II and an ancestor who fought in the Spanish-American war — played a big part in his decision to sign up years later. He wants to deploy to Afghanistan again next year.

Other Marines in Charlie Company's 2nd platoon at Fulod also associate Sept. 11, 2001 with school days. Lance Cpl. Jorge Pedroza of Long Beach, Calif., 20, was living in Florida at the time. He was in the principal's office, waiting to read announcements over the sound system to students at the start of the day. Instead, he watched television news of the attacks on the towers, which he had had visited as a tourist two years earlier.

"The school kept going. A lot of parents took their kids away. My parents didn't come and get me," Pedroza said before heading out on a patrol. As a young man, he joined the Marines: "I didn't have a lot going on in my life at the time. I wanted to do something with my life."

Men like Pedroza have a childlike aura. They grouse, but they are earnest, still new to life as adults. Yet they labor in an environment that inflicts experience hard or impossible for most civilians to grasp. All know Marines who died or lost limbs to bombs laid on routes they walk or drive. At the same time, they engage in complex diplomacy, a form of nation-building at the local level.

Around Fulod and nearby Patrol Base Mateen, this involves constant patrols in full body armor through arid landscapes and dense crop fields close to the river, encouraging farmers and elders to work with the fragile, American-funded district government. The Marines have pushed the Taliban out of parts of Sangin, once an insurgent stronghold. The military success is measurable, but civic efforts are in their infancy, reflecting the wider challenge facing the national government in a country without a deep tradition of statehood.

Pedroza, though, sees progress in his small piece of Afghanistan, for now. When he deployed, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, were plentiful.

"It was kind of like a minefield," he said. "We've seen a drastic change to the point where there's not a lot of IEDs anymore."

His platoon leader, 1st Lt. Mark Batey of Denton, Texas, said he will probably stare at the ground a lot when he returns to the United States, conditioned by months of trying to spot a tell-tale wire or soil patterns that might give away an IED. But Batey said that, unlike past generations of Americans at war, Marine "grunts" at a patrol base have access to comforts at nearby support bases. At Fulod, his Marines can call home on a satellite telephone once every one or two weeks.

"This isn't our grandfathers' Korea," said 26-year-old Batey. "It's a different war in the sense that we're in the frontlines but we can get our laundry done and check our email. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Marine at Iwo Jima who could get his laundry done."

He said: "Sometimes, I feel almost undeserving of all the luxuries."

He referred to the divisive experience of the war in Vietnam, when anti-war protesters denigrated returning veterans, and said the United States had learned from that experience because veterans of this generation were treated with respect, regardless of controversy over military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Heather Sedam of Carbondale, Kansas, who turns 22 in October, was sitting in school on Sept. 11, 2001 when a teacher entered the room and whispered to her classroom teacher. They wheeled in a big television on a roller cart, and by the time they got it into the room, the children were watching the second tower plummet.

"We could grasp that something was happening to our country, but we couldn't grasp who was doing it or why," said Sedam, who talks to Afghan women and children as part of the military's community outreach. On that momentous day, she said, a few children cried, but most were silent.

Sedam, who comes from a military family, joined the military right out of high school. She wanted to do something different, in the bigger world — "I went to high school in a cornfield, basically" — but Sept. 11 was on her mind as the 10th anniversary approached.

"It definitely hits home," she said. "You hear your parents talk about how they remember when JFK died, or our grandparents talk about Pearl Harbor. Sept. 11, it's our generation. We'll remember where we were and what we were doing."

    Generation Goes From Sept. 11 Classrooms to War, NYT, 11.9.2011,






De Niro Back to NYC From Toronto Premiere for 9/11


September 11, 2011
The New York Times


TORONTO (AP) — Robert De Niro helped revitalize lower Manhattan after the 9/11 terror attacks but says he has no plans to go to ground zero on the 10th anniversary.

The New York resident was in Toronto on Saturday for the premiere for his film, "The Killer Elite." He says he feels the ground zero ceremony is "for certain dignitaries and the families."

He returned home to New York for Sunday's anniversary.

A resident of the Tribeca neighborhood that housed the World Trade Center, De Niro was instrumental in starting the Tribeca Film Festival, which brought business back to the devastated area.

De Niro produced a prerecorded address commemorating the day that will be played at halftime when the New York Jets open their season against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night.

    De Niro Back to NYC From Toronto Premiere for 9/11, NYT, 11.9.2011,






Sweeping Security Effort Planned for 9/11 Events


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


To fortify New York and Washington on Sunday, federal and local law enforcement officials are piling security plans atop security plans, making it not just the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but also a milestone in a decade-long state of alert.

The defense portfolio includes thousands of New York and District of Columbia police officers, including divers, bomb technicians and counter-snipers; National Guardsmen; and F.B.I. intelligence analysts. The commemoration Sunday at the site where the World Trade Center was destroyed, and where a new memorial will be unveiled, will be attended by President Obama, former President George W. Bush and other dignitaries. President Obama will visit the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial later Sunday.

Plans for the show of force stretch back at least to May, when a notebook filled with Osama bin Laden’s musings about a possible terror strike on the anniversary of the attacks was discovered in his compound.

But they intensified last week upon word of a new threat. Intelligence analysts on Saturday were poring over aviation and other travel records in an attempt to identify two men, both American citizens, whom a Central Intelligence Agency informant heard had been dispatched by Al Qaeda to mount car bomb attacks in New York or Washington, officials said.

In the jargon of threat assessment, the report was called “credible” because the source has been reliable in the past, and “specific” because it described a mode of attack and geographic targets. But it was also labeled “unconfirmed” because it came from one source whose information was second- or third-hand.

On Saturday afternoon, federal officials said they had found no evidence that a Qaeda operative had entered the United States.

Still, the security measures were unmistakable: checkpoints at bridges and tunnels; police and Coast Guard boats around Manhattan; and heavily armed officers at transportation hubs like Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station.

Overhead, the whir of police helicopter rotors was heard. And military combat aircraft, under orders given well before the newest threat emerged, began their patrols in the skies above New York and Washington.

In Lower Manhattan, an officer working with others at a checkpoint — asking random drivers to step out of their vehicles, open their trunks and describe the contents — said the security mission had, in a way, become almost routine, given previous threats over the past 10 years. “We’ve done this before,” the officer said, shrugging.

Near City Hall, metal barricades lined sidewalks, and a roadside message board warned approaching vehicles with flashing orange letters: “Avoid Downtown.” A team of bomb squad officers with a German shepherd and two Labrador retrievers patrolled the north end of the World Trade Center memorial site.

In Washington, too, the police threw a formidable blanket over the city, towing unattended cars and trucks, sending bomb-sniffing dogs into the subway and deploying several hundred extra officers on the streets. Cathy Lanier, the police chief, said there had been a surge of calls to report suspicious vehicles and behavior, and police were checking every tip.

As Sunday drew closer, local and federal officials stepped up their less-visible safeguards, too. Agents and police detectives from the F.B.I. Joint Terrorism Task Force were working around the clock to run down leads; police officers from the Intelligence Division were visiting suppliers of goods and services that may be sought by terrorists, like ammonium nitrate for a bomb and rental agencies to deliver it.

At New York police headquarters, a new Joint Operations Center was activated, so officials from 30 agencies, including the Secret Service, could work face to face with police commanders and officials from other city agencies.

In addition, the police were giving extra scrutiny to reports of stolen trucks and vans, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman. Specifically, investigators were working to find a Budget rental van, with Oklahoma license plates, that was taken from a lot in Jersey City on Aug. 21 by thieves who cut lines to the phone and alarm systems and tampered with the security cameras. They were also trying to find two dark-colored vans that were loaded with expensive tools and stolen this month from a construction company with a contract to do road work on the West Side Highway, near ground zero.

“These may be nothing more than industry-savvy thieves with an appetite for expensive construction tools,” Mr. Browne said. “But they’re receiving greater scrutiny in order to eliminate the possibility of something more sinister.”

As the hours ticked by, top officials huddled to assess the latest information and gauge the efforts to prevent any attack. On Friday, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly took progress reports around a visit to a mosque in upper Manhattan, where he spoke of interfaith understanding. On Saturday, he briefed the Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, at police headquarters, and Mr. Obama, in Washington, met with his national security team, the White House said.

Stewart A. Baker, a top Homeland Security official from 2005 to 2009, said that despite the frustrating nature of the vague threat report, panic had not seemed to set in. “No one’s staying home in dread,” he said. ”I think there’s sort of a mental toughness now.”


Matt Flegenheimer and Tim Stelloh contributed reporting.

    Sweeping Security Effort Planned for 9/11 Events, NYT, 10.11.2011,






Courage of Flight 93 Victims Lauded at Dedication


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — The 40 passengers and crew who fought back against their hijackers aboard Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, performed one of the most courageous acts in U.S. history, former President George W. Bush said Saturday at a ceremony dedicating the first phase of a memorial at the nation's newest national park.

The two-hour ceremony also kicked off a bipartisan effort conceived backstage to raise about $10 million to finish the memorial's first phase and maintain it in the future.

The hijackers likely intended to crash the plane into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., where the House and Senate were both in session, said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. But the plane "never made it because of the determination and valor of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, that plane crashed in this field, less than 20 minutes by air" from the target, Jarvis said.

Bush said the storming of the cockpit "ranks among the most courageous acts in American history."

Former President Bill Clinton likened the actions of those aboard Flight 93 to the defenders of the Alamo in Texas or the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae some 2,500 years ago who knew they were going to die. But Flight 93 was "something different" because those past heroes were "soldiers. They knew what they had to do."

The passengers and crew were, by contrast, "ordinary people given no time at all to decide, and they did the right thing. And 2,500 years from now, I hope and pray to God that people will still remember this," Clinton said.

"They gave the entire country an incalculable gift: They saved the Capitol from attack," Clinton said, along with an untold number of lives and denied al-Qaida the symbolic victory of "smashing the center of American government."

Clinton, a Democrat, pledged to work with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on a bipartisan effort to fund the remainder of the memorial, a promise that caused Calvin Wilson, brother-in-law of co-pilot LeRoy Homer, to burst into tears after the ceremony.

"I can't put that into words. But to ... have the people whose lives were saved recognize that, that was extremely important," Wilson said, as sobs choked off his words.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. said it's possible the bipartisan support could result in special legislation to fund the memorial, though Neil Mulholland, president and chief executive officer of the National Parks Foundation, said it's more likely the effort will result in an influx of money from corporations and other private sources to finish the memorial and then, hopefully, create an endowment to sustain it.

"Today we got a huge lift," Mulholland said of the agreement he said was struck backstage by Clinton, Bush, Boehner, Vice President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The National Park Foundation, the park service's fundraising arm, also announced a $2 million matching grant to spur donations.

The remarks by Bush and Clinton, in particular, drew standing ovations and loud cheers from the ceremony, which drew about 5,000 people: 4,000 invited guests including the crash victims' families, and about 1,000 other people who sat or stood on the surrounding grounds.

Biden, on hand to unveil the Wall of Names at the memorial — a set of 40 marble slabs, each inscribed with the name of a passenger or crew member who died — said those victims quickly realized they were involved in more than a hijacking, but rather the opening battle of a new war. Biden said the "citizen patriots" echoed the sentiments of Revolutionary War Capt. John Parker who said in April 1775 that if war is what they want, "then let it begin here."

Bush also seized on the citizen patriot theme, referring to the group's decision to hold a vote to decide to try to overpower the hijackers.

"The moment America's democracy was under attack our citizens defied their captors by holding a vote," he said. "The choice they made would cost them their lives."

The Rev. Daniel Coughlin, who was the U.S. House chaplain at the time of the attacks, gave the invocation and called the sacrifices made by the passengers and crew "willing seed for freedom's harvest."

Coughlin's invocation was followed by a long moment of silence as the U.S. flag was brought in, then a singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The names of the victims were also read as bells tolled, and Grammy Award-winning musician Sarah McLachlan performed the song, "I Will Remember You."

Ahead of the dedication, crowds getting there were slowed by weather-related traffic jams as heavy overnight rains turned temporary parking facilities into mud bogs, and tight security rules but remained undeterred.

Among them was Butch Stevens, 69, of Carlyle, Ill., who stopped on his way back from a visit to Washington, D.C.

Stevens said he had no connection to anyone aboard the flight, except, as he said, as an American.

"This kind of makes you realize where you live," Stevens said.

Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, whose brother Edward participated in the revolt by passengers and crew, afterward called the memorial, "a huge accomplishment. It's one that brings so much comfort to the families knowing, finally, that the sacred ground, the site where the flight came down and our loved ones rest in perpetuity, is finally protected and under the stewardship and care of the National Park Service."


Flight 93 National Memorial: http://www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm

    Courage of Flight 93 Victims Lauded at Dedication, NYT, 10.9.2011,






9/11 Heroes Soothed and Inspired a Wounded Nation


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — When volunteer John House shows people around the National Infantry Museum, he pauses next to an exhibit in the Vietnam-era section and points to one of the lifelike mannequins posed in a combat stance.

A hero fought in this battle, House tells the visitors. His name was Rick Rescorla, an Army platoon leader who saved many of his men in Vietnam.

A bronze statue of Rescorla looms just outside the National Infantry Museum. The bronze monument depicts Rescorla fighting in Vietnam — but the pedestal describes Rescorla's final battle on Sept. 11, 2001.

As the head of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Rescorla evacuated 2,700 of his company's employees from the World Trade Center. After everyone in his company got out safely, he rushed back inside to help more people. He died when the south tower collapsed.

"He was a patriot," House tells people, "a hero, until the end."

On Sept. 11, 2001, most of the men and women who saved the lives of others on that day were ordinary citizens thrust into the role of a soldier — of a hero — without direction or orders. And in the decade following the terror attacks, Americans have draped those men and women with praise normally reserved for soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor. Sept. 11 produced many heroes, and stories about their lifesaving deeds have been inspirational during a decade that's been haunted by terrorism, wars and recession.

"The hero was a key part of the Sept. 11 narrative," said Brian Monahan, a sociology professor at Iowa State University who has written a book about media coverage of the terror attacks.

The stories of heroism have played a role in our understanding of the attacks, Monahan said. Reducing the stories to snippets and slogans — for instance, "Let's Roll," which was the rallying cry of a man on the hijacked Flight 93 that day — have imbued many Americans with a sense of patriotism, sacrifice and bravery.

"'Let's Roll' looks so cool on a bumper sticker, doesn't it?" said Monahan. "Remember when President Bush said, 'On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose?' It's like a movie poster."

There were the New York firefighters, police and paramedics who first responded to the burning towers. There were people like Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old equities trader who helped dozens of people to safety in the south tower before dying in the tower's collapse. Construction manager Frank De Martini and construction inspector Pablo Ortiz were also heroes: they saved 77 people on the 88th floor of the north tower.

There were also the 40 passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa. — a group of people whose actions on that day, like Rescorla's, have come to symbolize bravery during the worst possible moment.

"On a grand scale, Sept. 11 provided us with a heroism of humanity," said Al Mascherino, a former Roman Catholic priest who runs a chapel in Shanksville. "It showed that many people are capable of profound qualities of heroism and self-sacrifice. It is really the content of the human spirit."

Mascherino and many others contend that the best of the human spirit was found aboard Flight 93.

According to the 9/11 Commission, the four terrorists who had hijacked the plane likely wanted to crash the Boeing 757-222 into the White House or Capitol building but downed the jet in the bucolic Pennsylvania field as passengers fought back. Tales of the passengers' heroism — culled from transcripts of their in-flight phone calls — fill every Flight 93 memorial found in the small town, from a chapel dedicated to the 40 men and women to the $50 million memorial at the crash site.

"It's not inconsistent with the heroes and bravery that has been woven into the fabric of our country," said Gordon Felt, whose brother Ed perished on Flight 93. "They chose as a group to act. They prayed. They fought. They were not going to go down without a fight. They wanted to survive, and their actions certainly helped avert another great disaster."

Inside the Flight 93 Chapel, visitors look at photos of the 40 men and women aboard the flight, while at the crash site memorial, people read the chilling transcripts of phone recordings and cockpit conversations during the plane's final moments.

Mascherino, who performs non-denominational services at the tiny chapel some three miles from the crash site, thinks that remembering the 40 people who died aboard Flight 93 as heroes also helps the living.

"We are inspired by their courage and we are impressed and in awe of their sacrifice," he said. "Sometimes heroes die. But death is not the earmark of heroism."

Honoring those heroes as a society has also provided a measure of healing for a grieving nation. Take Thomas Ullom, a firefighter in Westerville, Ohio.

He worked for seven years to get a piece of the World Trade Center steel for display outside of his community's firehouse. Ullom didn't know anyone who died in the attacks, yet was profoundly sad afterwards. Bringing the twisted steel to town was his way of saying thank you to the New York heroes.

"This was my therapy," Ullom said.

In the decade that followed the attacks, other heroes emerged, people like the soldiers fighting in the Middle East.

It's at the National Infantry Museum in Georgia where the 9/11 heroes merge with the military.

There's a gallery called "the Hall of Valor," which displays the photos of nearly 1,500 Army infantrymen who have received the medal of honor for their military service. A few steps away, there's a room that includes photos of the burning World Trade Center towers, an explanation that ties the attacks to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and artifacts collected by US soldiers from those wars.

Many of the museum's visitors are Army recruits who are training at nearby Fort Benning, and their families. House, the volunteer and former Army colonel, can spot the newly minted soldiers who visit because they are wearing blue pants and white shirts — and because they have a laser-like focus on the museum's depiction of battle scenes.

Those soldiers may be soon fighting in the war on terror, House said. Which is why he tells them about Rick Rescorla, and about 9/11.

"There were a lot of heroes on 9/11," said House. "And most of us don't even know their names."


EDITOR'S NOTE — Tamara Lush is traveling the country writing about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush.

    9/11 Heroes Soothed and Inspired a Wounded Nation, NYT, 10.9.2011,






9/11 Brings Enhanced Security to US-Canada Border


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


RICHFORD, Vt. (AP) — Just south of the U.S.-Canadian border in the Vermont town of Richford is a giant outpost, an imposing symbol of the changes wrought by the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Built by the Border Patrol on 35 acres of land, the 26,000-square-foot structure is the base of operations for agents patrolling about a 25-mile stretch of the international boundary between Vermont and Quebec. It has state-of-the-art communications, a kennel for law enforcement dogs, a booking area with holding cells and office space for up to 50 agents. Outside there's a helicopter pad.

"This building is perfect, it meets all our needs," said Sean McVey, the agent in charge of the Richford station, who has worked in Vermont since 2004. "This gives us basically all the tools we need to do the job."

The enhanced security along the boundary that has been described as the longest undefended border in the world is probably the most visible change since 9/11 in northern Vermont, New Hampshire and upstate New York. Surveillance from helicopters and airplanes bolsters the border protection on the ground.

On 9/11 there were about 300 Border Patrol agents on the 3,987-mile northern frontier; crossing between the two countries was so casual some people didn't even carry identification.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks it was feared that some of the attackers had entered the U.S. from Canada, a fear that proved to be unfounded.

But security officials recognized that Canada's immigration policies enabled some people to enter that country from other parts of the world who would not be able to enter the U.S. directly or legally. The three states' shared border with Canada had dozens of back roads that crossed away from official ports of entry, potential routes into the U.S., it was feared, for other terrorists.

Within days of the attacks, National Guard soldiers were helping staff border posts. Plans were begun to triple the size of the Border Patrol and provide human and technological resources to the agents and border crossing staffers whose agency is now known as Customs and Border Protection, all part of the Department of Homeland Security. The facility was completed almost two years ago.

Now, a decade later the soldiers are back in their barracks and the process is nearly complete. While the Border Patrol won't provide precise figures, officials agree that the number of agents has about tripled and the technological enhancements are helping agents do their jobs.

The changes in Richford are typical. Since shortly after the Border Patrol was created in 1926 until the attacks, about three agents patrolled the area around Richford, based out of an office in the post office.

A photo in the entryway of the new station shows 14 uniformed agents now. Officials won't say how many are based at the new outpost, but hint there are more than when the picture was taken.

The U.S. now has what is, in effect, a border air force that patrols the region. Customs and Border Protection's office of Air and Marine flies both helicopters and airplanes from Plattsburgh, N.Y., just south of the border.

"We live in a sort of a desolate part of the country," said James Diskin, deputy director of air operations for CBP's Plattsburgh Air Branch. "When you get out into Vermont and New Hampshire, it allows us to do whatever we need to do, to get there as fast as we can to help out."

In addition to border patrols, the aircraft are available to help state and local law enforcement and emergency responders deal with other emergencies. Among the benefits are border reports of suspected drunken drivers trying to enter the U.S. The Border Patrol regularly backs up state law enforcement officers on local emergency calls; officials said the federal agents can reach a crime scene well before state police, in many cases in northern Vermont.

Another benefit post-9/11 is that federal, state and local law enforcement agencies now work much closer together than before the attacks, officials say.

That was evident in 1997 in the North Country town of Colebrook, N.H., when Carl Drega killed two state troopers, a judge and a newspaper editor, then disappeared. Law enforcement officers from four state and federal agencies had to park cruisers side-by-side so officers could retransmit radio broadcasts to make sure everyone knew what was going on. Drega was later killed in a shootout with police on a Vermont back road.

The agency was also involved in July when 11-year-old Celina Cass disappeared in Stewartstown, N.H. A CBP helicopter was used to help search for her shortly after she was reported missing and dozens of federal agents joined before the girl was later found dead. The circumstances of her death have not been determined.

Even before 9/11, efforts were made to improve law enforcement communications along the border. The process accelerated after the attacks.

"We did a pretty good job with the resources we had," said John Pfeifer, head of the Border Patrol's Swanton Sector, who was critically wounded in the Drega shootout. Pfeifer oversaw his agency's efforts in the search for Celina. "There was effort back then, but today there is a much more timely response and a greater response. It's kind of a neat parallel."

    9/11 Brings Enhanced Security to US-Canada Border, NYT, 10.9.2011,






9/11, Minute by Minute: Chaos and 1 Man's Escape


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


NEW YORK (AP) — Close your eyes and picture Sept. 11. The memories are cauterized, familiar forever. The second plane banks and slides in, the fireball blooms, the towers peel away as if unzipped from the top.

Start with the Tuesday morning and the blue sky and walk through the day from two perspectives, inside and out. From that of a man who managed to survive above the impact zone in the south tower and from that of the helpless, watching world.

In those first two hours, before anyone could put together the full, awful picture, chaos filled in the gaps.

No one knew exactly what was happening, or how vast, or at whose hand. No one knew, for a time, that the instruments of destruction were not prop planes but jumbo jets. At the very first, almost no one knew there were planes at all.

Brian Clark was working at Euro Brokers, on the 84th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center. He arrived at about 7:15 a.m., had his cup of coffee, went about the morning's chores.

A "loud double boom" is the first thing he remembers. Then flickering of the lights in his office. Something caught his peripheral vision. He spun around. His view usually looked out over the Hudson River. The river and the sky.

"It was filled with flame," he says. "Two yards from my nose is the window, and it's right against the glass, almost swirling. I can't recall whether there was a flash of heat. But the bright glass — you were in the fire. The flames washed right up."

It was 8:46 a.m.

For reference, Clark sometimes tells people to imagine a three-by-three grid, like the first nine digits on a telephone keypad. The north tower sat where 1 would be, the south tower at 8.

Clark's office faced west, near the southwest corner of the 8 button. American Airlines Flight 11 had crashed into the north face of the north tower, the top of the 1 button.

Since the 1993 bombing of the trade center's underground garage, Clark had volunteered as a fire marshal for his floor. Now, as if on autopilot, he grabbed the flashlight, grabbed the whistle.

He remembers encouraging his colleagues to leave the floor. He also remembers one of them, a woman, spinning around from the window in shock and tears, and telling him that people were jumping.

Clark called his wife. "Something's happened next door," he says he told her, "but we're OK."

Just then, the network television morning shows, where the top stories of the day had included whether Michael Jordan might make a comeback in the NBA, cut for the first time to a live shot of the gashed north tower of the World Trade Center.

The first alert on the national news wire of The Associated Press moved at 33 seconds past 8:53 a.m.:


NEW YORK (AP) — Plane crashes into World Trade Center, according to television reports.


At about 8:55, Clark remembers a voice over the PA system: "Building Two is secure."

Eight minutes later, at 9:03, he was standing outside his office and talking with a coworker, Bobby Coll. They were 2 feet to a yard apart, he thinks, eye to eye.

In an instant, "the room exploded."

The feeling was of tremendous air compression. Then things so secure no one ever gave them a thought, things like the lights and the floor, came loose. For several harrowing, torqueing seconds, it seemed the building itself might go over. The power went out.

"Everything was full of construction dust," Clark says. "Yellow, chalky, gritty air. As if you gave a demolition crew a week to destroy the floor, but it happened in a second. It was like someone had torn open a cement bag and just waved it in the air."

He remembers terrorism crossing his mind. He also thought something that seems ridiculous to him in hindsight. He remembers cursing and saying, "We've got to come back tomorrow and clean up this mess."

To the outside world, at 9:04, went the AP alert: "Explosion rocks second World Trade Center tower."

TV networks were in the middle of interviewing eyewitnesses to the first explosion when United Flight 175 approached, slipped into the south face of the south tower, and sent a mushrooming fireball out the other side.

"That looks like a second plane," Charles Gibson said on ABC.

"And now," Matt Lauer said on NBC's "Today" show, "you have to move from talk about a possible accident to talk about something deliberate that has happened here."

With people around the world now fixed on live pictures of the trade center, the puzzle was slowly coming into focus. The AP reported at 9:12: "FBI investigating reports of plane hijacking before World Trade Center crashes."

In Sarasota, Fla., President George W. Bush was reading to schoolchildren when Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, whispered news of the second crash into his ear. The color appeared to drain from Bush's face.

Inside the south tower, Clark was trying to lead a small, snaking line of people toward a central stairway and down from the 84th floor. Three floors into the trip, they were met by a woman, heading up.

"We've got to go higher," the woman said.

A debate ensued. Up or down. Clark shone his flashlight on whoever was talking. In the middle of the discussion, Clark heard a muffled scream for help coming from the 81st floor. He and a coworker, Ron DiFrancesco, went to investigate.

They squeezed through a crack between drywall and door frame.

"I have this very clear vision of all my coworkers turning around and starting up the stairs," Clark says. "And they all died."

Mid-rescue on the 81st floor, DiFrancesco was overcome by smoke, coughed and sputtered and turned back. Clark continued toward the stranger's voice. It was Stanley Praimnath, an executive with Fuji Bank.

To get to safety, Praimnath had to scale a toppled inside wall. Clark pulled him over on the second try. Clark fell on his back. They introduced themselves and told each other that they would be brothers for life.

They made it down to the 31st floor and called their wives to report that they were OK. It was just after 9:30 a.m. To the outside world, it was about to become clear that the disaster, whatever it was, was not limited to two skyscrapers in New York.

"Today we've had a national tragedy," the president told reporters and young children at the Florida elementary school. " Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country."

ABC showed pictures of smoke rising in the distance behind the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, southwest of the White House. A bewildered correspondent said she could not explain it.

"Want to hold our breath here, it just seems to me for a second," said Peter Jennings, the anchor, "and, and, and — and, and not get into a mode that the country is under attack."

At seven seconds past 9:43, another alert on the AP wire: "An aircraft has crashed into the Pentagon, witnesses say." It was American Flight 77. Seconds later, another alert said that the White House had been evacuated.

When Clark and Praimnath finally made it out of the south tower, they looked out at a moonscape. A plaza between the twin towers, normally brimming with life — a fountain, flowers — was abandoned and gray.

As they started toward Liberty Street, the southern boundary, and out of the trade center complex, a fireman told them to run for it. They saw no debris or falling bodies, and ran for it.

They made it into a deli, where, in one of the day's absurdist touches, a worker handed Clark a platter of sweet rolls and melons, wrapped in cellophane. "Take this," he said. "Nobody's coming for this today."

They wound up at Trinity Church, two blocks downtown. They stood gripping the iron railing around the cemetery, close to what they later learned was the burial site of Alexander Hamilton.

They argued about whether the south tower, burning high above, might collapse. Praimnath thought it would. "No way," Clark said. At 9:59, for no specific reason that Clark can remember, they turned and looked up.

It was, Clark says, as if they had been invited to witness the destruction.

"Floor by floor, it kind of dissolved in front of us," he says. "The white wave."

The south tower came down as if something were pulling on it from the top at a hundred different places. It left a column of gray smoke and sent a ghastly plume shooting through the streets of lower Manhattan.

The AP reported it first as a new explosion, then, having confirmed that the building was simply no longer there, moved the news as a flash, the highest priority: "One World Trade Center tower collapses."

Clark and Praimnath dived into a building on Broadway. Clark was still carrying the breakfast tray. He set it on a reception desk and two dozen people, taking refuge in the building, descended on it.

They stayed in the building for perhaps 45 minutes. Praimnath gave Clark a business card. Later, when they left and walked through lower Manhattan, stepping through ash as though it were new snow, they got separated.

Later, the card was only way Clark knew for sure that Praimnath was real, that it wasn't all some fantastic dream.

In the relative safety of the building's lobby, with the storm of ash swirling outside, they missed what happened next.

At 10:29 a.m., a second flash on the AP wire: "Second World Trade Center tower collapses."

Eight minutes later: "Large plane crashes in western Pennsylvania, officials at Somerset County Airport confirm."

The official times were 10:03, for the crash of United Flight 93 near Shanksville, Pa., and 10:28 a.m., for the collapse of the north tower of the World Trade Center.

In all, it had taken under two hours and almost 3,000 souls. The official count of the dead, adjusted slightly every so often in the years after the attack, including for some deaths from respiratory disease linked to the towers, was 2,977.

The count was 40 in Pennsylvania, 184 at the Pentagon and 2,753 at the World Trade Center.

Clark, who lived then and lives today in Mahwah, N.J., got off the island of Manhattan by ferry. He walked east and found that ferries to Jersey City, which usually leave from the west, along the Hudson River, had been diverted to the East River.

He remembers chugging through the dust of Sept. 11, around the base of Manhattan. He remembers "yammering" on the boat — all these people, trying to make sense of what had happened.

Only when the boat got to the Jersey side did Clark realize that both towers had collapsed.

"We come out of the fog, and now the trade center site is visible," he remembers. "And it's blue sky, and they're gone."

    9/11, Minute by Minute: Chaos and 1 Man's Escape, NYT, 10.9.2011,






ESSAY: In the Pages of a Newspaper, a World Lost


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


On that fine, late summer morning, a New Yorker who sat down to coffee and unfolded the newspaper surveyed a world that was comfortingly familiar — even in its fears.

The front page had key politicians exploring more tax cuts in the face of a deteriorating economy. Palestinians and Israel were locked in an "all-but-declared war." TV networks struggled for morning supremacy. And educators were alarmed by the state of dress (and undress) of their students.

"The boys sometimes look a little sloppy," said one principal. "But the girls ... the girls don't have much in the way of clothing on."

The day was Sept. 11, 2001, and the world was at a precipice. But almost no one knew it.

To page through The New York Times of that day is to revisit the instant before chaos was unleashed, before al-Qaida and terrorism became a daily preoccupation, before we were engulfed by sadness, dread and anger. For many of us, time is divided between Before and After; the 51,583rd edition of the Times is an artifact of Before, seen through the dismal prism of After.

But it is also a lesson in how little we know at any moment — not just about the forces that would do us harm, but about what matters and what does not, about what is really happening in our world and where events will take us.

That Tuesday was supposed to be primary election day in New York City (it would be postponed two weeks); the front page displays pictures of mayoral candidates, among them Democrat Alan G. Hevesi, the widely respected city comptroller who would rise to hold the same job with the state — before going to prison for defrauding the government.

There were two candidates in the Republican primary that year — veteran politician Herman Badillo and a neophyte, businessman Michael Bloomberg. Badillo was struggling to raise cash, but he was confident that Bloomberg's wealth would have no bearing on the outcome.

Republicans "vote on principles," he said. "They are not going to vote for a $30 million commercial."

He was mistaken.

Skip to the sports pages. Roger Clemens, the Yankees' ace, was scheduled to pitch that night; he was going for his 20th win against only one loss, a record. A columnist compares Clemens to the legendary Nolan Ryan: "Ryan's career is on display at the Hall of Fame. Five years after Clemens retires, his will be there, too."

(Clemens did not pitch that night — no games would be played for almost a week. Eventually, he would win his next start and his sixth Cy Young Award. But in light of charges that he used steroids to supplement his singular talents, his enshrinement at Cooperstown in 2013 is in doubt.)

It is hard to read the Times of Sept. 11 without keeping a running count of the things we did and did not know. The paper is full of the kinds of incremental developments that fill most newspapers most days: Barry Bonds, with 63 home runs, was challenging Mark McGwire's season record of 70. Elizabeth Dole was about to announce her candidacy for U.S. Senate from North Carolina. Iran denied that it planned to build nuclear weapons.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., in a speech at the National Press Club, railed at the Bush Administration's proposals for missile defense. The message is "the hell with our treaties, our commitments, our word," said the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Dow was down .34 of a point, to 9,691.51 (a decade later, after a Great Recession, it would stand at 10,992.13). The market for luxury homes was soft, alarming Eric S. Belsky, executive director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies: "The only thing holding up the economy is housing and consumer spending," he said, and he was right, if a bit premature.

Blockbuster reported it would take a $450 million charge to eliminate a quarter of its VHS tapes and replace them with DVDs (Blockbuster would declare bankruptcy by decade's end). Retailer Marshall Field's announced that it would launch a major branding effort, because sales were down 6.3 percent over the year (Marshall Field's would no longer exist by 2006).

Nowhere in the business pages is Apple mentioned — the iPod was two months in the future, the iPhone and iPad mere figments of Steve Jobs' imagination.

Somehow, it comes as a surprise to see all the lighter stories that day — the customer who billed a restaurant $14,641.87 when it lost his satchel; the lighting malfunction that revealed the full monty of the Broadway cast of "The Full Monty"; the Fashion Week review of Lars Neilsson's collection for Bill Blass, appreciating a designer whose clothes "suggest he isn't all that interested in dressing stars or trophy girlfriends with pounds of pave diamonds."

In juxtaposition with what happened next, they seem to reproach our frivolity, like documentaries on the Depression that first show silent films of frantic, bob-haired beauties of the 1920s doing the Charleston.

But in fairness, there is much tragedy, as well. There is the story of the California truck driver beaten severely by a mob after he accidentally ran over and killed a 4-year-old boy on a scooter. There are the death notices for Dale Murray Pentland, Janine Greenburg, Elizabeth Evansohn — "Your husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will carry their love for you to the end of time." These were people no less significant to their loved ones than the thousands who would die more conspicuously that morning.

And if you read very closely, you will find portents of what was to come.

Ten years later, it is easy to forget that the United States was already involved in hostilities in Iraq, enforcing with its allies a no-fly zone over the country. Iraq reported eight civilians were killed and three were wounded in a bombing by British and American planes 100 miles southeast of Baghdad; British officials said they believed six Iraqi soldiers were killed.

And there is the story of an attack on Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the last remaining opposition to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. Two men posing as journalists blew themselves up during an interview with Massoud; it was not clear whether he was killed (in fact, he was).

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs," the Times reported, "... the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing as ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban."

It's a throw-away line in a story on page A15, a mention of a name unfamiliar to many Americans. That would change abruptly.

But the reader who picked up the newspaper in the early morning hours of Sept. 11 knew none of that. There was no foreboding.

Instead, there was an account of the Northeastern Regional Disco Doggie-Dancing Meet in Hershey, Pa., and a listing for the new Fox reality series "Love Cruise: The Maiden Voyage," and the weather report, trumpeted as usual on the top of the front page: "Today, mainly sunny and less humid, high 79."

It was going to be a splendid day.


Jerry Schwartz is the editor of AP Newsfeatures.

He can be reached at features(at)ap.org.

    ESSAY: In the Pages of a Newspaper, a World Lost, NYT, 10.9.2011,






Fighter Pilot Recalls Mission to Stop 9/11 Plane


September 10, 2011
The New York Times


RENO, Nev. (AP) — Fighter pilot Heather "Lucky" Penney didn't have time to be scared. There was a hijacked commercial airliner headed to Washington, D.C., and she was ordered to stop it.

"I was prepared to die for my country," she said. "It's something everyone else would have done if they were in my shoes. I didn't have time to feel fear. We had a mission, and there was a sense of urgency."

On Sept. 11, 2001, Penney and her commanding officer were ordered to stop United Airlines Flight 93 from hitting a target in the nation's capital. But they didn't have any missiles or even ammunition. So Col. Marc Sasseville decided they would use their own planes to bring it down.

He planned to strike the plane's cockpit. She opted to go for its tail, Penney said.

She didn't know it at the time, but the plane had already crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Her mission soon changed to helping defend Washington's airspace and escorting Air Force One, with then-President George W. Bush aboard, to Andrews Air Force Base.

"It was an important mission to bring the president home, but after the beginning of the day, it was rather anticlimactic," she said.

Penney, then a lieutenant with the Air National Guard's 121st fighter squadron, was the only female fighter pilot to be assigned to protecting that airspace.

"It was so surreal because the air space was so quiet," she recalled. "I really didn't have much emotion or time to reflect that day because I was focused on getting the job done."

Penney, 37, of Annapolis, Md., was among a first generation of women to take advantage when the military opened up combat flight training to them. A single mother, she quit as a fighter pilot in 2009 to devote more time to her two young daughters after serving two tours in Iraq.

She doesn't dwell on that day in September 2001, she said.

"I'm not willing to let my life be hijacked, and I don't think we should let our nation be hijacked," she told The Associated Press. "We're a great and resilient country, and there's no reason to react with fear or let that take us off our game plan."

She now works for defense contractor Lockheed Martin, flying a C-38 as a traditional Air Guard member, pursuing a second master's degree and preparing to race a jet in next week's National Championship Air Races in Reno.

Her father, John Penney, is a four-time champion in the event's Unlimited Class and a former military pilot. As a rookie last year, she finished second in her jet class.

"I'm proud to be part of the lineage of women in the jet community," said Penney, who lived in the Reno area when her father worked for William Lear's jet-making company in the 1980s. "But ultimately the jet doesn't care if you are a man or a woman, it only cares that you are a good pilot."

When she thinks about her role on Sept. 11 and how it will be remembered, she said she hoped media attention on the attacks won't make Americans fearful of the future.

"We saw so much of the best of ourselves come out that day, with strangers helping strangers and many courageous acts," she said. "We remembered something more important than ourselves, and that was the community to which we belonged."

    Fighter Pilot Recalls Mission to Stop 9/11 Plane, NYT, 10.9.2011,






At a 9/11 Site, a ‘Last Funeral’


September 9, 2011
The New York Times


SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — Jerry Bingham, whose 31-year-old son was a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed near here a decade ago, has participated in so many memorial services for his son Mark that he can barely remember them all.

Now, he is preparing for one more. Not the 10th anniversary public tributes this weekend that will include President Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, with thousands of onlookers.

But on Monday, when the crowds are gone, the families of the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed when the plane was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, will hold a private service to bury the unidentified remains of all of those who were on board.

Those remains have been kept in an above-ground crypt for the last 10 years by the Somerset County coroner, Wallace Miller, awaiting a final resting place. They will be laid to rest in three steel coffins at the patch of earth — sodden now from endless rains — where the plane rammed into the ground.

“This will be our last funeral,” Mr. Bingham said.

Not much, of course, was left after the crash except debris from the aircraft and some personal belongings. Mr. Miller said that only 8 percent of the human remains were ever recovered because the plane, roaring down at more than 570 miles per hour, exploded when it crashed. “Everything vaporized on impact,” he said.

At least some remains were recovered and matched for all 40 on board (in fact, for all 44, including the four terrorists). But the amounts were tiny — much less, even in total, than those that were unidentified.

The matching of remains for everyone killed here distinguishes this site from the scenes of the two other Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, where not all of the remains have been identified.

At the World Trade Center in New York, the remains of more than 1,100 of the nearly 2,700 victims have still not been identified. They are being stored now in climate-controlled conditions near the medical examiner’s office in Manhattan. There are plans to place them in an underground repository at a new museum at ground zero that is to open next year, but some families have opposed that idea and the dispute is continuing.

At the Pentagon, the remains of five, of 184, could not be identified and were buried in 2002 at Arlington National Cemetery.

With Monday’s service, the crash site here, which is off-limits to the public, will officially become a cemetery. This communal grave occupies one small corner of a 2,200-acre park nestled in the rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands that is now part of the National Park Service. The crash site, renamed the “field of honor,” lies at the edge of an open field near a stand of maples and hemlocks.

Patrick White, vice president of Families of Flight 93, who lost his cousin Louis Nacke II in the crash, said he viewed Monday’s burial as a reunion, of sorts, of “what until now has been a disconnection, a physical separation between the ‘them’ in the three caskets and the ‘those’ who are in the ground.”

“I view it as the first — and last — reuniting of people who have a shared destiny and a now common history,” Mr. White said.

Their destinies merged on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, as they left Newark intending to fly to San Francisco. The plane was hijacked at 9:28 a.m., and air traffic controllers in Cleveland picked up a Mayday call from the pilot. The passengers and crew were forced to the back of the plane, where they began using the Airfones on the seatbacks to report the attack. At that point, they learned that a broader terrorist attack against the United States was under way.

The terrorists had turned the plane toward Washington, and later evidence revealed that their target was probably the United States Capitol. The passengers and crew quickly devised a plan to storm the cockpit; the cockpit voice recorder picked up the screaming and mayhem of the insurrection.

The terrorists tried to disrupt the rebellion by rolling the plane from left to right and pitching its nose up and down. The 9/11 Commission said the terrorists maintained control of the plane and decided to crash rather than risk having the crew and passengers take over. At 10:03 a.m., it crashed here, in the midst of fields that are now covered with goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace. The white blades of windmills churn nearby.

“It’s such a beautiful setting for such a horrible, violent thing,” said Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, whose brother, Edward, was a passenger that day. “This land is healing, but it is not healed. It will never be totally healed.”

The planning of any kind of memorial was stalled for years by a lengthy land-acquisition process, including a dispute with the owner of the 270-acre property where the plane actually crashed.

A public-private partnership has a multipart $62 million memorial here, but it is only partly built. Its marble “wall of names” will be dedicated Saturday, along with a visitors’ shelter. Once they raise a final $10 million, they intend to build an entry portal and a permanent visitors’ center. There are plans later for a 93-foot-high tower with 40 chimes for each of the dead. The visitors’ center for now is a small, rusted, corrugated shed left over from a mining operation here.

It was the approach of the 10th anniversary that helped focus the families on deciding to bury the unidentified remains at the crash site.

The service on Monday will be a full-fledged funeral, Mr. Miller, the coroner said, with at least one military pallbearer.

“There were four American military veterans on the plane, but in my mind there were 36 other veterans on that plane as well,” Mr. Miller said. “These people knew that they were pretty well doomed and for them to pull it together under unbelievable pressure to win the first battle of the war — incredible.”

The adult-size coffins are 6 feet 6 inches long. They will be lowered into three concrete vaults and covered with earth.

“When I walk away from there, the case will be closed on my end,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. White said that a huge boulder that was dug up nearby would become the collective headstone. It will have a small plaque on the back, so only family members — at least for now — can see it.

As for Mr. Brighton, he said he derived comfort from the site, where he feels the presence of his son.

“You get a feeling of belonging,” he said. “There’s a serenity factor. You feel like you are talking to him. That’s the place for the burial.”

    At a 9/11 Site, a ‘Last Funeral’, NYT, 9.9.2011,






Hearing Rumors of a Plot,

Cities Make Their Security Forces Seen


September 9, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Bomb-sniffing dogs were deployed in the Washington subway, and the police searched vehicles at the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday as counterterrorism officials with frustratingly imprecise clues hunted for at least two men reportedly dispatched by Al Qaeda to set off a car or truck bomb in New York or Washington.

Two senior American law enforcement officials said an informer in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region passed word of the plot, intended to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, to American intelligence officers on Wednesday. The informer said two American citizens of Arab ancestry had left Afghanistan, traveled through one or more other countries and reached the United States as recently as last week.

But the informer’s information on the plot was second- or third-hand, another official said. It included only a vague physical description of the two men — one described as 5 feet tall, the other 5-foot-8 — and a first name for one, Suliman, that is common in the Middle East. The tipster also described a third conspirator, but he appeared to have traveled to Europe. “All this information is very, very sketchy,” one of the law enforcement officials said.

While the informer was not specific about targets, officials in both New York and Washington increased scrutiny of bridges and tunnels, long considered potential targets for vehicle bombs.

The increased security came as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. publicly discussed the threat, trying to strike a balance between urging vigilance and preventing panic. “There are specifics — in that sense it was credible,” Mr. Biden said on the ABC News program “Good Morning America,” “but there’s no certitude.”

The increased police presence forced drivers heading toward Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge to squeeze into a single lane and through a gantlet of police officers, who walked around and between the cars, singling out some for a closer look. In Lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from ground zero, police vehicles with flashing lights were positioned in front of the former American Stock Exchange building.

“It’s good,” said Wolfgang Klebe, who runs a shipping business in Lower Manhattan, as he watched the officers on Friday morning. “They have to do this.”

More bomb sweeps of parking garages were planned; ferries were to be given extra police coverage; and cars parked illegally were to be towed quickly, not just ticketed.

Officials briefed on the threat offered varying views of how serious it was, and some suggested that the strong reaction from federal and local agencies reflected heightened wariness around the anniversary. The two senior law enforcement officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, were in the skeptical camp.

“It’s 9/11, baby,” one official said. “We have to have something to get spun up about.” The second official said the reported plot “could all be one big fabrication, but no one wants to take any chances.”

Another official acknowledged that the tip could turn out to be wrong. But the imminent anniversary did not allow much of a window to study its veracity.

“There was no time to sit around and think it over,” the official said. “The appropriate thing to do it is to share the information and provide proper warning.”

In a notebook found in the compound of Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May, the Qaeda leader mused about the possibility of mounting an attack on the 9/11 anniversary, and the police in New York and Washington were already on alert for trouble.

American intelligence analysts said they were examining the possibility that the suspected plot was ordered by Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Bin Laden as Al Qaeda’s leader, and that it was accelerated after an American drone strike last month killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. In their haste to speed up the attack, which may also have been planned to commemorate Mr. Rahman’s death, the plotters may have inadvertently allowed word of the scheme to leak out.

One federal official said the informer reported that the two plotters were told that if tight security made a car or truck bomb impossible, they should try a less complicated attack that would sow panic.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York — who on Thursday night appeared with the city’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, to announce that vehicle checkpoints would be set up in time for the morning rush — went to his office by subway on Friday. Of the latest threat, the mayor said, “It’s serious, but I think the right answer is to go about your business.”

On his weekly radio program on Friday morning, Mr. Bloomberg said, “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let the terrorists take away our rights without any terrorism.”

“If you do lock yourself in your house because you’re scared, they’re winning,” he said. “If you don’t let somebody else pray or say what they want to say or you deny any rights to certain people — that’s exactly what they want. I don’t think we should do that.”

Washington’s mayor, Vincent C. Gray, announced an increased police presence, with officers working 12-hour shifts and leaves restricted.

“We take these threats seriously — as we do all threats to our city — and citizens should know we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure their safety,” Mr. Gray said.

Washington’s police chief, Cathy L. Lanier, advised the public not to focus solely on reporting trucks, noting that smaller explosives like propane tanks can be detonated in smaller vehicles or in buildings.

“I really think over the next 24 hours, with the work that they’re doing, we’ll start to see something one way or the other,” Chief Lanier said after a news briefing.

In a message to United States Senate lawmakers and staff, the office of the Senate sergeant at arms, Terrence Gainer, urged calm, saying a “whiff of a threat” on the anniversary of the attacks was “not unexpected.” He gently criticized the warning as “rather confusing” and “well intentioned, perhaps helpful, but not very well coordinated.”

“In this case, there is no reason to change the way we each conduct our daily business,” he said.


Reporting was contributed by Emmarie Huetteman, Charlie Savage and Ashley Southall from Washington; and Al Baker, James Barron, Colin Moynihan and William K. Rashbaum from New York.

    Hearing Rumors of a Plot, Cities Make Their Security Forces Seen, NYT, 9.9.2011,






The challenge of being a Muslim in post-9/11 America

Watching the twin towers crumble on live television
was the start of my deep bond with America that will endure the hate


Friday 9 September 2011
14.42 BST
Mona Eltahawy
This article was published on guardian.co.uk
at 14.42 BST on Friday 9 September 2011


For most of my life, the US was never anything more than vacation memories. My family visited almost 30 years ago for a vacation that marked the end of our years of living in the UK and which came just before we moved to Saudi Arabia.

New York City dazzled, of course, and a road trip with an uncle and his family from Wyoming through the Rockies to California where Mickey Mouse greeted us in Disneyland, was a lesson in the sheer vastness that is the United States.

But then I fell in love with an American and I flew to NYC to meet him for the millennium celebrations and even though we fought and I gave him back his engagement ring, I agreed to marry him and I did what I vowed I'd never do: I left my job and my home for a man.

The year after I moved to be with him in Seattle, early one Tuesday, his mother called us from her home at the other end of the country – three time zones away in Florida – urging us to turn on the television because something terrible was happening in New York. I rushed to awaken my brother and his wife who were visiting us.

That morning of 11 September 2001 as we watched the twin towers crumble on live television, America and I would develop a bond that has proven deeper and more enduring – for better or worse, through sickness and health – than the one I had with my now ex-husband.

"If this is Muslims, they're going to round us up," I told him. He took the day off work and we didn't leave the apartment for two days, worried that my sister-in-law would be attacked for her headscarf. A drunk unsuccessfully tried to set our local mosque on fire; the neighbourhood stood guard outside the mosque for weeks afterwards holding signs that read "Muslims are Americans".

"What's it like to f**k a terrorist?" a group of young men asked the white American husband of a Pakistani-American woman I knew.

I left my husband a year after 9/11. Not because he was an American and I an Egyptian, nothing to do with culture or religion; nothing to do with 9/11. We brought out the worst in each other. But before we separated we visited NYC one more time together for a friend's engagement and we went to pay our respects at the site of the attacks. I had no words. Just tears and prayers as we took in the gaping hole, the makeshift shrines of teddy bears and notes desperately seeking the whereabouts of loved ones.

Ironically, he now lives in Asia and I've stayed in the US. I stayed to fight. To say that's not my Islam. To yell Muslims weren't invented on 9/11. Those planes crashing again and again into the towers were the first introduction to Islam and Muslims for too many Americans but we – American Muslims – are sick and tired of explaining. None of those men was an American Muslim and we're done explaining and apologising. Enough.

I stayed to give my middle finger to Tea Partiers who tried to intimidate a group of us in 2010 because we supported the right of an Islamic community centre to build near the site of the attacks. They came to bully us and I bullied them right back. I wanted them to know Muslims will not be intimidated so think twice before you try to bully another one.

I became an American in April of this year, almost 11 years after I moved here. I could've become naturalised earlier but I realised soon after I took the oath and we watched a video of President Obama congratulating us that if it had been President Bush I would've probably run out, screaming.

Despite an appearance by Bush at a mosque after 9/11 to show he didn't hold all Muslims responsible, his administration proceeded to do exactly that: military trials for civilians, secret prisons, the detention of hundreds of Muslim men without charge, the torture and harsh interrogation of detainees and the invasions of two Muslim-majority countries.

And the latest stain on the US civil liberties record: an Associated Press expose in August on ways the CIA and the NYPD are combining forces to spy on Muslims in New York City. The thought that someone could be following me to my favourite book shops or night clubs is as pathetic and sinister as when the Mubarak regime tapped my phone and had me followed when I lived in Egypt.

And I will continue to stay in the US for my nieces and nephews. I have chosen not to have children. I am a happy aunt to two girls and two boys between the ages of three and eight. They were the first Americans in our family and the thought that anyone could question either their nationality or faith – or demand they choose between the two – enrages me.

Over the past 10 years, American Muslims have fought not just the hate and stereotypes and the profiling from those outside the community, we've also had major fights within the Muslim community. As a friend described it, 9/11 pushed many Muslims to "come out" as liberals or progressives. For too long, huge, conservative national organisations claimed to speak for all of us but there is a much greater diversity of American Muslim voices now and that benefits everyone. Conservative does not equal authentic.

People think I'm Brazilian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, anything but Muslim because many people equate a Muslim woman with the wearing of a headscarf. So like someone who's gay who might make sure to tell you soon after you meet, I try to include within the first three sentences of a new meeting that I'm a Muslim.

Before 9/11, some Muslims lived quiet, uneventful suburban lives; the dentists and the accountants and the attorneys. 9/11 robbed them of that boring existence. But in struggling to become boring again, American Muslims have over the past 10 years made our community here the most vibrant of any Muslim community in the world, Tea Party and Bush legacy be damned!

We're your friends, lovers and spouses, America. We're your comedians, taxi drivers, chefs, politicians and singers. And we're your doctors, like my brother and his wife who were visiting me from the midwest in Seattle 10 years ago.

My brother, a cardiologist, was visited by special agents from the FBI in November 2001 who asked him if he knew anyone who celebrated the attacks. His wife is an obstetrician/gynaecologist.

One day she and I were watching one of those medical dramas when she told me an anecdote that neatly sums it all up: "I was delivering a baby the other day and the father was watching via Skype cam. He was a soldier in Afghanistan. And I thought, here I am: a Muslim doctor in a headscarf delivering a baby whose father is an American soldier in Afghanistan, a Muslim country."

Let's draw the curtain on 9/11 anniversaries after this 10th one. Every year on 11 September you can taste the grief in NYC. The wound will never heal if every year we scratch the scar off and open the way to hate and prejudice.

Some of the earliest Muslims came to the US across the Atlantic on slave ships from west Africa. Not far from where I live in Harlem, there's a west African community complete with a mosque, restaurants and French-speaking people. 9/11 changed everything and 9/11 changed nothing at all. America – I'm not going anywhere.

    The challenge of being a Muslim in post-9/11 America, G, 9.9.2011,






Factbox: September 11 conspirators: Where are they now?


Fri, Sep 9 2011
By Jessica Dye


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It took 19 men to hijack four airliners and crash them in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

But a much larger network of conspirators was involved in planning, funding and carrying out the attacks, and governments around the world have been after them ever since.

Some have been captured or killed and some remain at large or unidentified. A decade later, more than half of those charged in the United States have yet to stand trial.

The following people have been convicted, charged, investigated or named as co-conspirators in legal proceedings connected directly to the September 11 plot and attacks:



WHO: The leader of al Qaeda at the time of the September 11 attacks. Born in Saudi Arabia, he later moved to Afghanistan and then Pakistan.

WHAT: Bin Laden was never indicted for the plot, but was charged by U.S. authorities with the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as in connection with conspiracies to destroy U.S. property and kill Americans. He was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case against Zacarias Moussaoui. All criminal charges against bin Laden were dismissed following his death.

WHERE: Killed by U.S. forces in a private house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011, and buried at sea.



WHO: Al-Zawahri, who founded and led the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization until its 1998 merger with al Qaeda, is a physician from Egypt. He was a top bin Laden deputy at the time of the attacks and now is al Qaeda's leader.

WHAT: Al-Zawahri was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Moussaoui case. He was never charged over the 9/11 plot, but has been charged with the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

WHERE: Remains at large. The FBI has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture.



WHO: Believed to have originated the idea for the September 11 plot and to have been operational leader of the attacks. Born in Pakistan and raised in Kuwait, he also claimed a role in other attacks, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

WHAT: Charged by U.S. military prosecutors in 2008 in connection with overseeing training, funding and support for the hijackers and coordinating their U.S. meetings from Saudi Arabia. The case months later was handed to the U.S. Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder said in November 2010 the case would be tried in federal court in New York City, but in April he reversed course and sent it back to the military.

The military commission is currently reviewing the charges and will ultimately decide whether the case goes to trial and if so whether the death penalty would be sought.

WHERE: Captured by Pakistani and U.S. officials during a joint operation in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on March 1, 2003. In U.S. military custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.



WHO: The only September 11 suspect thus far convicted of criminal charges in a U.S. civilian court. A French citizen of Moroccan descent, Moussaoui came to the United States in February 2001.

WHAT: Accused of terrorism conspiracy for allegedly receiving from al Qaeda flight training, funding and instructions to kill Americans alongside the 19 hijackers in the months leading up to the attack.

In 2005, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to all charges in federal court in Virginia. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but a jury sentenced him to life in prison without possibility of parole.

WHERE: Detained in August 2001 in Minnesota for violating terms of his visa and charged that December. Serving a life sentence in federal "supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado.




WHO: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's co-defendants, accused of playing various support roles in the attacks. Attash and Al-Shibh are both from Yemen. Al Aziz was born in Kuwait. Al-Hawsawi is from Saudi Arabia.

WHAT: Bin Attash is said to have gathered data on airport and airplane security measures. Al-Shibh allegedly tried to enter the U.S. to become one of the hijackers but failing to obtain a visa, instead helped finance and manage the plot from abroad. Aziz Ali is accused of helping fund the plot. Al-Hawsawi is said to have helped the hijackers enter the U.S. and aided the plot once they arrived.

All were charged, along with Mohammed, by military prosecutors and are now awaiting a ruling on how their cases will proceed. All could face the death penalty if convicted.

WHERE: Bin Attash was captured by Pakistani authorities in Karachi on April 27, 2003. Al-Shibh was arrested by Pakistani officials on September 11, 2002, in Karachi. Al-Hawsawi was arrested on March 1, 2003, in Rawalpindi. Ali was captured by Pakistani authorities on April 29, 2003, in Karachi. All are in U.S. military custody in Guantanamo Bay.



WHO: A Saudi citizen, al-Qahtani was identified in the 9/11 Commission Report as one of at least nine "candidate hijackers" who intended to take part in the September 11 attacks.

WHAT: Federal prosecutors said al-Qahtani tried to travel to the United States to become one of the September 11 hijackers, but was denied entry. Military prosecutors initially announced charges against him, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others in 2008 with involvement in the September 11 plot. But in May 2008, a military commission dismissed the charges against al-Qahtani without prejudice, meaning they could be refiled.

Attorneys representing al-Qahtani said the charges were dismissed because the information he provided was obtained using illegal interrogation methods. Al-Qahtani has filed a civil lawsuit along with other Guantanamo Bay detainees seeking relief from what they allege is unlawful detention.

WHERE: Captured by Pakistani forces on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in December 2001. In U.S. military custody in Guantanamo Bay.



WHO: The men, of Moroccan descent, were linked to the al Qaeda "Hamburg cell" prosecutors call central to the plot.

WHAT: Mzoudi and Motassadeq were accused of providing material support to the Hamburg cell. Both were tried in German courts on charges of being accessories to the September 11 attacks. Motassadeq was convicted in November 2006 and sentenced to 15 years in prison -- making him the first person in the world convicted on charges stemming from the September 11 attacks.

Mzoudi was acquitted after a judge found there was insufficient evidence to tie him to the plot. His acquittal was upheld on appeal. He was ordered to leave Germany.

WHERE: Motassadeq was arrested in Hamburg on November 29, 2001. He is in a German prison. Mzoudi was arrested in Hamburg on October 10, 2002. He returned to Morocco after his acquittal.



WHO: A Muslim cleric with dual U.S. and Yemeni citizenship. U.S. officials say he is a key leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen.

WHAT: Al-Awlaki preached at mosques in northern Virginia and San Diego attended by three of the September 11 hijackers in the 18 months before the attacks. In 2010, U.S. officials designated him an individual who had committed or was likely to commit a terrorist act and froze his assets.

WHERE: Unknown. Believed to be hiding in Yemen.


(Sources: U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Department of Justice; U.S. Department of the Treasury; The 9/11 Commission Report; court records.)

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Eric Walsh).

    Factbox: September 11 conspirators: Where are they now?, NYT, 9.9.2011,






Imagining 9/11


September 8, 2011
The New York Times


BELLAGIO, ITALY — My daughter turned four that day. She was in my arms as my wife and I ran down Remsen Street to the Brooklyn Promenade. Smoke from the towers was thickening into a churning cloud. Papers from incinerated brokerage houses fluttered across the East River beneath that sky I think of now as 9/11 blue.

Journalists are bound to observe which way people are moving and go in the opposite direction. I boarded the No. 2 train at Clark Street. The woman next to me was fighting back tears. Her brother was in the North Tower, she thought. I tried to console her. The subway, one of the last to run, passed beneath the inferno to Times Square.

It was my first day in a new job as an editor. I’d been at my desk 10 minutes when, at 9:59 a.m., the South Tower came down. Adrenalin kicked in: the alchemy of newspapering. Grief suppressed only became irrepressible a couple of days later. A woman searching for her lost husband had tacked to a wall an ultrasound showing an unborn child who would now grow up fatherless. That did it.

The fires burned, fed by molten steel buried deep. They burned for weeks. Sometimes, in certain winds, the acrid-sweet smell below Canal Street carried into Brooklyn, an emetic reminder of what the fires had consumed.

I remember that. One thing 9/11 teaches, a decade on, is that memory is treacherous. It is ever shifting and unscientific, close to imagination, as distinct from history as emotion from form.

How many times since that day have I listened to people around the world expound on their theory of what really happened, based on what they believe they saw. No conspiracy has proved too outlandish or too foul to entertain. I’ve had to restrain myself.

Tell me your 9/11 and I’ll tell you who you are.

Joseph Brodsky once wrote: “If there is any substitute for love, it’s memory. To memorize, then, is to restore intimacy.” That’s not a bad definition of what the best journalism does: restore intimacy. The Portraits of Grief that appeared in The New York Times for months after the attack hit home because they undercut, through the particulars of single lives, Stalin’s formula: Murder en masse and loss becomes a mere statistic.

There followed the nation’s loss — of direction. The early 20th century was a period of giddy American expansion. The early 21st century has been a period of gathering American doubt. The American Century is behind us; this one still seeks its epithet among the emergent powers. What role the attack played in this reshaping of the globe, and what part of it is attributable to the inexorable currents of history, is an open question.

I’d say the power shift was inevitable but accelerated by 9/11 and by chance. Hanging chads contributed. The United States found itself with an accidental president. He took the nation into two wars without preparing the nation for sacrifice. His righteousness brooked no questioning. Irresponsibility was allied to conviction, a heinous marriage. Self-delusion is the mother of perdition. Wars killed. Wall Street made killings. “Whatever” became the watchword of maxed-out Americans; and in time things fell apart.

When they do, extreme ideologies thrive. There must be an enemy within. Scapegoats must be found, compromise crushed. The most devastating effect of 9/11 has been the polarization of America and the incubation of hatred.

The national interest has lost out to settling scores or whipping up bigotry. It is the manipulation of memory — not fit remembrance — that has turned an attack by a band of fanatical Muslims into grounds for the grotesque attempt to ban Shariah law in several U.S. states, and to scurrilous imaginings about President Obama and Islam.

There is a coda to this decade: Hope. Arabs have risen up by the hundreds of millions to claim a dignity and freedom long denied them. The kleptocratic tyrannies they lived under were production lines for the fanaticism behind 9/11; the hypocrisy of Western support for those tyrannies was a great propaganda tool for terrorists. As America has learned of late, change is hard. It will be uneven in the Arab world. But in this transformation a constructive answer to 9/11 is at last being traced.

On one of those scraps of paper that fluttered over the East River I found these words written to my daughter: “I am leaving this world on your birthday. Remember what you see. Write it down. This is what hatred does. Go forth. Embrace love. Seek understanding. Anything can happen. I don’t know if God exists. It might be better for His reputation if He didn’t.”

My little girl is now an adolescent poised on the fulcrum between childhood and womanhood. She used to say her birthday was famous but she’s not. She used to say her birthday is on the day the towers came down. Now she says nothing. That seems wise. There’s enough noise. Silence is remembrance.

I never gave her that note from a departed soul because in fact I imagined it.

    Imagining 9/11, NYT, 8.9.2011,






Newly Published Audio

Provides Real-Time View of 9/11 Attacks


September 7, 2011
The New York Times


For one instant on the morning of Sept. 11, an airliner that had vanished from all the tracking tools of modern aviation suddenly became visible in its final seconds to the people who had been trying to find it.

It was just after 9 a.m., 16 minutes after a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, when a radio transmission came into the New York air traffic control radar center. “Hey, can you look out your window right now?” the caller said.

“Yeah,” the radar control manager said.

“Can you, can you see a guy at about 4,000 feet, about 5 east of the airport right now, looks like he’s —”

“Yeah, I see him,” the manager said.

“Do you see that guy, look, is he descending into the building also?” the caller asked.

“He’s descending really quick too, yeah,” the manager said. “Forty-five hundred right now, he just dropped 800 feet in like, like one, one sweep.”

“What kind of airplane is that, can you guys tell?”

“I don’t know, I’ll read it out in a minute,” the manager said.

There was no time to read it out.

In the background, people can be heard shouting: “Another one just hit the building. Wow. Another one just hit it hard. Another one just hit the World Trade.”

The manager spoke.

“The whole building just came apart,” he said.

That moment is part of a newly published chronicle of the civil and military aviation responses to the hijackings that originally had been prepared by investigators for the 9/11 Commission, but never completed or released.

Threaded into vivid narratives covering each of the four airliners, the multimedia document contains 114 recordings of air traffic controllers, military aviation officers, airline and fighter jet pilots, as well as two of the hijackers, stretching across two hours of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Though some of the audio has emerged over the years, mainly through public hearings and a federal criminal trial, the report provides a rare 360-degree view of events that were unfolding at high speed across the Northeast in the skies and on the ground. This week, the complete document, with recordings, is being published for the first time by the Rutgers Law Review, and selections of it are available online at nytimes.com.

“The story of the day, of 9/11 itself, is best told in the voices of 9/11,” said Miles Kara, a retired Army colonel and an investigator for the commission who studied the events of that morning.

Most of the work on the document — which commission staff members called an “audio monograph” — was finished in 2004, not in time to go through a long legal review before the commission was shut down that August.

Mr. Kara tracked down the original electronic files earlier this year in the National Archives and finished reviewing and transcribing them with help from law students and John J. Farmer Jr., the dean of Rutgers Law School, who served as senior counsel to the commission.

At hearings in 2003 and 2004, the 9/11 Commission played some of the recordings and said civil and military controllers improvised responses to attacks they had never trained for. At 9 a.m., a manager of air traffic control in New York called Federal Aviation Administration headquarters in Herndon, Va., trying to find out if the civil aviation officials were working with the military.

“Do you know if anyone down there has done any coordination to scramble fighter-type airplanes?” the manager asked, continuing: “We have several situations going, going on here, it is escalating big, big time, and we need to get the military involved with us.”

One plane had already crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Another had been hijacked and was seconds from hitting the south tower. At F.A.A. headquarters, not everyone was up to speed.

“Why, what’s going on?” the man in Herndon asked.

“Just get me somebody who has the authority to get military in the air, now,” the manager said.

In its 2004 report, the commission praised front-line aviation officials. But it then thoroughly dismantled the accounts of senior government officials, who in the weeks after Sept. 11, and for more than a year afterward, assured the public that fighter pilots had been in hot pursuit of the suicidal hijackers. During these chases, according to accounts from Vice President Dick Cheney, the F.A.A. and the Defense Department, the pilots were described as ready to carry out a wrenching order from President George W. Bush to shoot down airliners.

The commission discovered that little of that was true: of the four flights, military commanders had nine minutes’ notice on one before it flew into the World Trade Center, and did not learn the other three had been hijacked until after they had crashed. Military commanders, given an order outside the chain of command to shoot down hijacked airliners, did not pass it along to the fighter pilots, but instructed them instead to identify the tail numbers of any suspected rogue planes. That turned out to be a prudent call because by then, there were no longer hijackers in the air for them to shoot.

The newly published multimedia document spells out precisely how the recordings contradicted the accounts of the senior officials.

Throughout the recordings, listeners also get a visceral feeling for the desperate scramble for information, as well as the confusion and lack of coordination between the civil and military aviation authorities. One example is an exchange that began at 9:34 a.m.

A military aviation official contacted the Washington center of the F.A.A. to discuss the situation, and learned, to her surprise, that American Airlines Flight 77 had disappeared more than 30 minutes earlier. No one had told the military.

“They lost radar with him, they lost contact with him, they lost everything, and they don’t have any idea where he is or what happened,” an unidentified F.A.A. official said. The plane was a 767, he said, explaining that he had gotten his information from the F.A.A.’s Indianapolis center.

“All I need is the lat-long, last known position of the 767,” the military officer asked.

“Well, I don’t know,” the F.A.A. official replied. “That was Boston, that was Indy Center. But they said somewhere, it was, last time I talked to them, they said that it was east of York. And I don’t even know what state that is.”

Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon three minutes later.

At almost the same time, a military commander, Maj. Kevin Nasypany, discovered that some of the fighter pilots had been sent east of Washington, over the ocean, in pursuit of American Airlines Flight 11 — which had crashed nearly an hour earlier into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

Major Nasypany ordered them to head toward Washington at high speed. “I don’t care how many windows you break,” he said.

The account published this week is missing two essential pieces that remain restricted or classified, according to Mr. Kara. One is about 30 minutes of the cockpit recording of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into the ground after passengers tried to storm the cockpit as hijackers flew across Pennsylvania toward Washington, D.C. Families of some of those onboard have objected to the release of that recording, Mr. Kara said.

The other still-secret recording is of a high-level conference call that began at 9:28 and grew, over the course of the morning, to include senior figures like Mr. Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers.

The recording was turned over to the National Security Council. The 9/11 Commission was not permitted to keep a copy of it or of the transcript, Mr. Kara said, and investigators were closely monitored when they listened to it. Mr. Kara said he believed that the only truly sensitive material on the recordings were small portions that concerned the provisions being made to continue government operations if the attacks took out some national leadership or facilities.

“There was a staffer who was designated to sit with us, who would stop and start the tape, in my estimation to mask continuity of operations,” Mr. Kara said.

Nevertheless, he noted, the commission ended up with hours and hours of recordings that it initially did not have access to or had been told did not exist, a point Mr. Farmer echoed in the preface to the Rutgers Law Review article.

When the commission began taking testimony, military and civil aviation officials said “that no tapes were made, and we were told at one point that a technical malfunction would prevent us from hearing them,” Mr. Farmer wrote. “If we had not pushed as hard as we did — ultimately persuading the commission to use its subpoena power to obtain the records — many of the critical conversations from that morning may have been lost to history.”

    Newly Published Audio Provides Real-Time View of 9/11 Attacks, NYT, 7.9.2011,






Lessons Maybe Learned


September 7, 2011
9:00 pm
The New York Times

Linda Greenhouse on the Supreme Court and the law.


The Council on Foreign Relations asked its fellows for a page’s worth of thoughts on lessons learned since 9/11. The result was a series of 10 posts on the Council’s Web site late last month on such topics as immigration policy, counterterrorism, intelligence reform, unconventional warfare. There was nothing about the courts.

At first I was surprised, thinking that this was a glaring omission from in an otherwise smart set of essays. On reflection, though, it’s understandable. The judicial legacy of 9/11 is a fuzzy one, and the judicial profile has sunk to near invisibility. It is more than three years since the Supreme Court had anything to say about Guantanamo, not that the justices haven’t been asked.

The lower federal courts in the District of Columbia, reviewing individual detainees’ requests for habeas corpus, have been churning out opinions so fact-bound and fine-grained that reading one is like stumbling into the middle of a conversation among strangers without beginning or end. Elements of the war on terror that strike at least some people as problematic, such as targeted assassinations, seem to lie beyond the judicial ken. And of course we have Congress to thank for shutting the federal courthouse doors entirely for the trials the Obama administration had planned to conduct of the highest profile detainees.

So it’s not terribly surprising that “courts” would not leap to the collective mind of the foreign policy crowd. But the 10th anniversary shouldn’t be allowed to pass without reflecting on the role that federal judges have played during this decade. One way of doing that is to consider the counter-factual: what if the federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court, had been missing in action? Suppose the justices had agreed with the Bush administration back in 2004 that the federal courts had no business at Guantanamo Bay, instead of ruling at because the Navy base, while on Cuban soil, was functionally part of the United States, the federal courts had jurisdiction to hear the detainees’ challenges to being held there indefinitely and without charges? Suppose the court in 2006 had rubber-stamped rather than invalidated President Bush’s unilateral establishment of military commissions or had acquiesced when Congress responded to that ruling by circling back, in a statute the court eventually declared unconstitutional, to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction?

I don’t mean to oversell my counter-factual or wax unduly romantic about the performance of the Supreme Court. The last decision, Boumediene v. Bush, in 2008, was a 5-to-4 snarl fest, with Justice Antonin Scalia warning in apocalyptic dissent that permitting federal judges to grant habeas corpus “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” No wonder the fragile majority has been slow to jump back in. And it’s hard to demonstrate a practical impact from the Supreme Court’s intervention. True, the 2004 decision in Rasul v. Bush caused the Bush administration to set up a system of “combatant status review tribunals” in which detainees could theoretically contest their designation as enemy combatants. But without access either to lawyers or to any evidence the government didn’t care to provide, the detainees’ success rate in this forum was, predictably, not high. Hundreds of Guantanamo detainees have been released, but nearly all as a matter of executive discretion rather than court order. Military commissions are gearing up again. Certainly most Americans would be hard-pressed to believe that the court decisions have made a difference.

And yet I believe deeply that they have. To think back to the fall of 2003 is to remember the extravagant claims of unilateral authority emanating from the White House. The conventional wisdom inside the Beltway was that the lawyers who were seeking the Supreme Court’s attention were on a fool’s errand. Both the World War II-era precedents that the administration’s lawyers relied on, as well as a gung-ho public mood not yet sobered by the images from Abu Ghraib, seemed to cut against the notion that a basically conservative Supreme Court would not defer to the Commander in Chief in wartime.

In 2001, in the weeks after Sept. 11, the law passed through Congress easily. But has it protected us?

The chief justice, William H. Rehnquist, had recently published a book of Supreme Court history about the constraints that war places on civil liberties. Yet, in the 2004 case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which the court ruled that the government could not continue to hold an American-born Saudi, Yaser Esam Hamdi, without some measure of due process, Chief Justice Rehnquist signed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion that declared: “A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.”

Clearly, the court felt motivated — impelled — to stand up for the separation of powers because someone had to. It doesn’t matter that its decisions were institutional rather than civil libertarian. At a time when the fabric of the rule of law was stretched thin – further than we then realized – the court, to its credit, stuck to business. It called both other branches to account. It kept the fabric from fraying further. It merits a place in any 9/11 anniversary reminiscence.

This is a column about judges, not really about 9/11, so I’m not veering off point to make a further observation that at first glance will seem unrelated. The law of Guantanamo and the law of abortion obviously have nothing in common. But there is an emerging dynamic to the judicial responses to the spate of restrictive new anti-abortion laws coming from the state legislatures that reminds me of the Supreme Court’s initial involvement in Guantanamo.

It is almost 20 years since the court, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, opened the door to greater regulation of abortion, declaring that “the state has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child.” Since that time, as abortion opponents pursued an incremental strategy to increase the cost and onus of the procedure, waiting periods and intrusive “informed consent” requirements have become the norm in much of the country, upheld by judges who found that whatever burdens the regulations imposed were not so “undue” as to be unconstitutional.

Now that is starting to change as the opponents and their legislative allies become bolder in imposing regulations that strain credulity. For example, the South Dakota Legislature passed a law requiring doctors to tell patients that abortion is known to increase the risk of suicide. That isn’t true, as the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit observed last week in declaring that this provision of a broader informed-consent law violated the constitutional rights of not only of women but also of doctors, who the court said had a First Amendment right not to be compelled to engage in “untruthful and misleading speech.”

Also last week, a federal district judge in Austin, Sam Sparks, similarly invoked the First Amendment when he blocked enforcement of major portions of a new Texas law requiring doctors to provide and describe sonogram images of the fetus and to have their patients listen to the fetal heartbeat. Women could “opt out” of hearing the description only if they certified in writing that their pregnancy resulted from rape of incest, with the certification form to be kept in their medical records for at least seven years.

“It is difficult,” Judge Sparks wrote, “to avoid the troubling conclusion that the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women.” The law, he continued, “compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant woman wishes to listen.”

The connection I see between these rulings and the Guantanamo cases is that both represent the response of judges who fear that other actors in the political system are driving events dangerously out of balance. Judge Sparks, a 72-year-old appointee of the first President Bush, was clearly pushed to the limit of his patience as the Texas case proceeded. The sponsors of the legislation had filed a motion to intervene in the case in order to provide “assistance” to the state in defending the law. “Much of their ‘assistance’ is nothing more than thinly-veiled rhetoric,” Judge Sparks wrote in denying the motion. He added: “This is a federal lawsuit about the constitutionality of a statute, not a soapbox for politicians or a sounding board for public opinion.”

Among my feelings about the past 10 years is gratitude for a system in which judges, and justices, can and do speak truth to power.

    Lessons Maybe Learned, NYT, 8.9.2011,






Civil Liberties Today


September 7, 2011
The New York Times


There is a place for alarmism when threats to civil liberties are concerned. Too much worry about our freedoms is better than too little, particularly in the face of a government shrouded in wartime secrecy after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But there is also a place, a decade later, for sober reflection. By historic standards, the domestic legal response to 9/11 gave rise to civil liberties tremors, not earthquakes. And even those changes were largely a result of reordered law enforcement priorities rather than fundamental shifts in the law.

Consider the USA Patriot Act, which was short for this Orwellian mouthful: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. The law, more than 300 pages long, sailed through Congress seven weeks after the attacks with scant dissent. It quickly became a sort of shorthand for government abuse and overreaching.

The Patriot Act undeniably expanded the government’s surveillance powers and the scope of some criminal laws. But this was, in truth, tinkering at the margins and nothing compared with the responses of other developed democracies, where preventive detention and limitations on subversive speech became commonplace.

“In comparative perspective, the Patriot Act appears mundane and mild,” Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, writes in a new book, “The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism.”

The story is different as one moves beyond domestic criminal law. Detentions at Guantánamo Bay, extraordinary renditions and brutal interrogations all tested the limits of the appropriate exercise of government power in wartime. The American government held people without charge for almost a decade, engaged in torture as that term is understood in international law, and sent people abroad for questioning to countries known to engage in what everyone must agree is torture.

But criminal law itself changed surprisingly little in the wake of the attacks. What did change was how law enforcement conceived its mission.

Almost immediately after the attacks, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft announced “a new paradigm.” Preventing terrorist acts, he said, was now more important than punishing crimes after the fact. There were echoes here of “Minority Report,” the 1956 Philip K. Dick story (and 2002 movie) that depicted a world in which the police catch criminals before they can act, based on their thoughts rather than their actions.

The new paradigm encouraged the arrests of people thought to be dangerous for, as Mr. Ashcroft put it, “spitting on the sidewalk,” or for immigration offenses, or as material witnesses. It increased surveillance of religious and dissident groups. It ramped up the use of a law barring even benign support for organizations said to engage in terrorism, putting pressure on activities long thought to be protected by the First Amendment. And it inserted informants into Muslim communities, giving rise to a culture of suspicion and charges of entrapment.

The number of people directly affected by these changes was, in the greater scheme of things, small. The indirect chilling effect on free speech, association rights and religious freedom was impossible to measure. But by the standards of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Palmer raids of 1920, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the McCarthy era, the contraction of domestic civil liberties in the last decade was minor.


Arrest Early, Charge Broadly

As they generally have in the past, the courts acquiesced in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism. True, the Supreme Court placed some limits on the executive branch’s ability to hold prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. But decisions in criminal and immigration cases tell a different story.

“The courts have been failing terribly,” said Susan N. Herman, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union and the author of “Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy,” which will be published in October.

The Supreme Court, she said, routinely refuses to hear cases in which lower courts uphold the government’s position in cases involving national security. “They’re not interested in civil liberties challenges,” she said of the justices. “They’re only interested when the government loses.”

The goal of stopping terrorism before it happens caused federal law enforcement officials to make early arrests and then to rely on charges that required little proof of concrete conduct. Prosecutors often charged defendants accused of involvement in terrorism with conspiracy or “material support” of groups said to engage in terrorism.

Those laws were already in place, said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas. “The difference is,” he said, “they just weren’t being used.”

After the Sept. 11 attacks, things changed. In just the first five years, prosecutors charged more than 100 people with providing material support to terrorist groups. That support often took tangible form, like providing weapons, and it generally seemed directly linked to the advancement of violent ends.

But some prosecutions were based on sending money to groups that engaged in both humanitarian work and violence. And last year, in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court ruled that it could also be a serious felony merely to urge terrorist groups to use peaceful means to resolve disputes. Such speech, the court said, amounted to material support and could be made criminal notwithstanding the protections of the First Amendment.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, stressed that the material-support law applied only to speech directed by or coordinated with terrorist groups. People “may say anything they wish on any topic” without running afoul of the law, the chief justice said, so long as they are speaking independently.

Aggressive use of material support and similar laws, critics responded, chipped away at two principles that had been thought settled for about half a century. One was that mere membership in a subversive organization cannot be made a crime. The other is that the abstract advocacy of even the violent overthrow of the government must be tolerated under the First Amendment.

The Humanitarian Law Project decision “is akin to the kind of criminalization in the McCarthy era of speech and guilt by association,” said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown who represented the challengers in the Humanitarian Law Project case as a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

A second law already on the books, this one allowing the arrest and detention of material witnesses — people said to have evidence of others’ crimes — was misused, critics say, as a shadow preventive detention regime. Instead of using the law to make sure people with information about the wrongdoing of others would turn up to testify, these critics said, prosecutors used the law to hold people themselves suspected of links to terrorism.


Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Laws concerning immigration offenses were also used to detain people suspected of terrorism, according to a 2003 report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report said that the usual presumptions of the legal system were turned upside down after the attacks. People detained on immigration charges were considered guilty until proven innocent and were often held for months in harsh conditions after they were ordered released.

In decisions in 2009 and May of this year, the Supreme Court blocked two lawsuits seeking to hold Mr. Ashcroft accountable for what the plaintiffs said were abuses in the use of the material-witness and immigration laws.

“It should come as no surprise,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for a five-justice majority in one of them, “that a legitimate policy directing law enforcement to arrest and detain individuals because of their suspected link to the attacks should produce a disparate, incidental impact on Arab Muslims, even though the purpose of the policy was to target neither Arabs nor Muslims.”

In the decade since the attacks, the government also became notably more aggressive in the use of informants and sting operations, sowing distrust in some parts of Muslim communities. In one such operation, an imam in Albany was ensnared in a fictitious plot involving shoulder-launched missiles and the assassination of a Pakistani diplomat in New York.

Defending the 15-year sentence meted out to the imam, Yassin M. Aref, prosecutors said the new paradigm of prevention justified the tactics. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has an obligation to use all available investigative tools,” prosecutors wrote in a 2007 appeals court brief, “including a sting operation, to remove those ready and willing to help terrorists from our streets.”


Protections ‘Seriously Diluted’

Not all new tactics in combating terrorism in the United States were based on existing laws. “In electronic surveillance, you did have a big change,” said John C. Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who became known for his aggressive legal advice and expansive view of executive power as a Justice Department official in the Bush administration.

In 2002, for instance, a special federal appeals court, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, granted the Justice Department broad new powers to use wiretaps obtained for intelligence operations in criminal cases. “This revolutionizes our ability to investigate terrorists and prosecute terrorist acts,” Mr. Ashcroft said at the time.

After revelations concerning the warrantless wiretapping of international communications, Congress largely endorsed the program. Those legal changes, joined with striking advances in technology, have allowed the government broad ability to gather information.

“The Fourth Amendment has been seriously diluted,” said Professor Herman, who teaches at Brooklyn Law School. She added that she was struck by “the amount of surveillance that’s been unleashed with less and less judicial review and less and less individualized suspicion.”

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been criticized by liberals as employing excessive secrecy and, in particular, for invoking the state secrets privilege to shut down civil litigation challenging things like rendition and surveillance programs. By international standards, though, the public has learned a great deal about secret government activities.

“That so many of the abuses committed by the executive in the wake of 9/11 have come to light is another sign of American exceptionalism,” Professor Roach wrote, “as manifested by the activities of a free press that is unrestrained by official secrets acts found in most other democracies.”

Opinions vary about whether efforts to fight terrorism in the United States have inflicted collateral damage on political dissent, religious liberty and the freedom of association.

“If you look at it historically,” said Professor Yoo, “you might say, ‘I can’t believe we’re at war,’ when you see how much speech is going on. Civil liberties are far more protected than what we’ve seen in past wars.”

Professor Cole was less sanguine.

“Since 9/11, the criminal law has expanded, ensnaring as ‘terrorists’ people who have done no more than provide humanitarian aid to needy families, while privacy and political freedoms have contracted, especially for those in Muslim communities,” he said. “On the one hand, the past 10 years have shown that criminal law can be used effectively to fight terrorism; on the other, it has also demonstrated that the demand for prevention can all too quickly lead to the abuse of innocents.”

    Civil Liberties Today, NYT, 7.9.2011,






For U.S., Caution Is the Word Before 9/11 Commemorations


September 7, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Acting out of caution rather than in response to a concrete threat, the United States is tightening security on military bases and warning Americans traveling abroad to be careful in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Obama administration said it did not have specific evidence of any attack planned to coincide with the commemoration of the anniversary. But a senior official said the administration was acting “out of an abundance of caution,” in part because it had picked up evidence that Osama bin Laden had expressed a desire to exploit the anniversary with a follow-up attack by Al Qaeda.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it had raised the force-protection level at all of its bases, as well as at the Pentagon itself. Last week, the State Department issued a worldwide travel warning, urging Americans to use vigilance abroad because Al Qaeda or its supporters could launch attacks.

“It is no secret that al Qaeda has focused on holidays and milestone events in the past,” said the Pentagon spokesman, George Little. “As you have all seen, the 10th anniversary was mentioned in the documents seized at the Abbottabad compound.”

That evidence, which came from a trove of notebooks and other materials seized by a Navy Seal team in the raid that killed Bin Laden in Pakistan, has focused the minds of officials on the potential for the anniversary to be used by Al Qaeda, its spinoff groups or even terrorists acting alone.

“It seemed more aspirational than real, and given the pressure on the Al Qaeda’s network, maybe not even feasible,” said a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence analysis. “But what it did was affirm for us that, contrary to past analysis, Bin Laden had put some emphasis on the anniversary.”

On Tuesday, President Obama convened his national security team to review the nation’s security preparations for the 9/11 anniversary. The meeting, officials said, covered precautions for the aviation system, as well as the latest threat assessments from the Central Intelligence Agency and the F.B.I.

Mr. Obama, one of his advisors said, pressed the group to discuss potential threats that seemed improbable enough not to warrant additional government resources. The advisors, who included the newly appointed director of the C.I.A., David H. Petraeus, responded that they were comfortable with the planning.

For the Obama administration, the 9/11 anniversary provides an opportunity to highlight one of its greatest successes: counterterrorism operations. In addition to Bin Laden, the United States has eliminated several other top Al Qaeda leaders, largely crippling Al Qaeda’s original network in Pakistan.

Over the weekend, Pakistani intelligence captured a key Al Qaeda operative in a joint operation with the C.I.A., which American and Pakistani officials said went a way toward repairing the rift between the United States and Pakistan over the Bin Laden operation.

At a time when the president is being pummeled by bad economic news, the White House is eager to talk about such achievements, though it is being careful about using the president to do so. Mr. Obama himself is not expected to speak at length during the various memorial services. At ground zero, he will join other officials in reading a poem; at the Pentagon, he will simply lay a wreath.

But other officials are fanning out to make the administration’s case. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta visited the ground zero site in New York on Tuesday, while the president’s chief counterterrorism advisor, John O. Brennan, is speaking about counterterrorism policy at events throughout the week in Washington.

    For U.S., Caution Is the Word Before 9/11 Commemorations, NYT, 7.9.2011,






Pakistan Points to Help From U.S. in Qaeda Arrests


September 5, 2011
The New York Times


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — American and Pakistani officials celebrated their cooperation on Monday as Pakistan announced the arrests of three men they identified as senior operatives of Al Qaeda who had been planning attacks on American and other Western targets.

The shift in tone was particularly noticeable for Pakistan, which has been bitter toward the United States in the four months since its military was surprised, humiliated and infuriated by the Navy Seal raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

“This operation was planned and conducted with technical assistance of United State Intelligence Agencies with whom Inter-Services Intelligence has a strong, historic intelligence relationship,” the Pakistan’s military said in a statement, referring to Pakistan’s top military spy agency. “Both Pakistan and United States intelligence agencies continue to work closely together to enhance security of their respective nations.”

One of the men arrested was identified as Younis al-Mauritani who was captured in southwestern city of Quetta, which has long been thought of as a safe haven for Taliban and Qaeda leadership. American officials said Monday that he had a central role in planning attacks in Europe.

The Pakistan military said he was “responsible for planning and conduct of international operations” for Al Qaeda. “Al Mauritani was tasked personally by Osama bin Laden to focus on hitting targets of economical importance in United States of America, Europe and Australia,” the military said. “He was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive-laden speed boats in international waters.”

In Washington, the deputy White House press secretary, Joshua Earnest, praised his capture and the collaboration behind it.

“This is an example of the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan in fighting terrorism, which has taken many terrorists off the battlefield over the past decade,” Mr. Earnest said. “We applaud the actions of Pakistan’s intelligence and security services that led to the capture of a senior Al Qaeda operative who was involved in planning attacks against the interests of the United States and many other countries.”

The last time Pakistan announced the arrest of a Qaeda operative, in mid-May, the relationship between Pakistan and the United States risked spiraling out of control as the Pakistan Army and NATO helicopters exchanged fire on the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan. Two Pakistani soldiers were wounded in the firefight, which came as some in Washington questioned the $3 billion a year in aid to the country.

Tensions have run high since the May 2 raid on Bin Laden’s compound, which inflamed Pakistani sensitivities over sovereignty while at the same time heightening distrust of Pakistan in the United States.

Monday’s announcement sought to strike a note of respect for a relationship portrayed as important and longstanding. “The intimate cooperation between Pakistan and United States intelligence agencies has resulted into prevention of number of high profile terrorist acts not only inside Pakistan/United States but elsewhere also in world,” the Pakistan Army statement said.


Eric Schmitt and Jackie Calmes contributed reporting from Washington.

    Pakistan Points to Help From U.S. in Qaeda Arrests, NYT, 5.9.2011,






It’s Still the 9/11 Era


September 4, 2011
The New York Times


Osama bin Laden is dead. So is Saddam Hussein, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and too many Qaeda No. 3’s to count. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is awaiting his military tribunal. George W. Bush is home on the ranch, Dick Cheney is on book tour, and even Gen. David Petraeus is a general no more, having traded in his stars for a civilian position atop the Central Intelligence Agency.

But 10 years to the week after the twin towers fell, we are still living in the 9/11 era. The names and faces are different, the White House has changed hands, and the country has turned its gaze from our distant wars to the economic crisis on the home front. But American foreign policy is still defined by the choices our leaders made while ground zero smoldered, and the objectives they set. Our approach to the world was fundamentally altered by 9/11, and nothing that’s happened since has undone that transformation.

Part of this transformation was tactical: a shift from a criminal justice approach to counterterrorism that emphasized investigations, arrests and successful prosecutions, to a wartime approach that emphasized detention, interrogation and assassination. The other part was strategic: a decision that America’s national security required promoting democracy across the Muslim world — by force of arms, if necessary — rather than accepting the kind of stability that various dictators had promised to supply.

Taken together, these two shifts gave us the Bush administration’s most controversial policies, from Guantánamo Bay and “extraordinary rendition” to the invasion of Iraq and the nation-building effort that followed. Some of those policies were walked back in the second Bush term. (The waterboard vanished from our interrogation repertoire, and there were no further wars of choice.) But the overall transformation endured.

It has endured under Barack Obama as well, his campaign promises notwithstanding. We are still fighting a war on terrorist groups, complete with the indefinite detention, drone attacks and covert warfare that infuriated civil libertarians during the Bush presidency. Meanwhile, Obama’s first term has featured an expanded nation-building effort in Afghanistan, a regime-change operation in Libya, a possibly permanent military footprint in Iraq — and the gradual adoption, amid the ferment of the Arab Spring, of Bush’s freedom agenda rhetoric as well.

The question is whether this continuity is evidence of success or an example of the stay-the-course bias to which all governments are prone. Here it’s worth asking a version of Ronald Reagan’s famous question: Are we better off than we were 10 years ago?

The case for answering yes is strongest on the counterterrorism front, where our shadow war has clearly diminished our enemies’ capacity to do us harm in ways that our pre-9/11 efforts never did.

There are significant moral costs to a policy that depends on routinized assassination and detention without trial. But 10 years without a major attack, the death of Osama bin Laden and the steady degradation of Al Qaeda and its affiliates are not achievements to be taken lightly. The United States will always be vulnerable to terrorists, but in the decade since we were blindsided by Mohammed Atta’s team of hijackers, our spies and SEALs and interrogators have dramatically improved our odds.

On the strategic front, though, it is extremely difficult to argue that America’s geopolitical position is stronger today than it was 10 years ago.

Some of this weakening was inevitable: Our extraordinary post-cold-war dominance couldn’t last forever, and the rise of rival powers is a phenomenon to be managed rather than resisted. But our post-9/11 attempts to transform the Muslim world have cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives, and won us — well, what? A liberated Iraq that’s more in Iran’s sphere of influence than ours, an Afghan war in which American casualties keep rising, an Arab Spring that threatens to encircle Israel with enemies, a Middle East where our list of reliable allies grows thin ...

This list doesn’t account for various counterfactuals (how much worse off we might be with Saddam Hussein in power, for instance). Nor does it account for democracy promotion’s long-term benefits.

But after 10 years of conflict, we aren’t exactly in short-term territory anymore. And pointing out that things could have been worse doesn’t change the fact that our post-9/11 grand strategy has been associated with a steady erosion of America’s position in the world.

In this context, the fact that President Obama has kept the United States enmeshed in occupations and interventions across the Muslim world isn’t evidence that our strategy is working. It’s a sign that he doesn’t know how to get us out.

In my Aug. 22 column, I should have said that the Texas-Mexico border is 1,250 miles, not 1,969 miles. Also, Texas’s black eighth graders were tied with their peers in Massachusetts for best score on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress math exam. They did not beat all other states.

    It’s Still the 9/11 Era, NYT, 4.9.2011,






Soldier, Thinker, Hunter, Spy:

Drawing a Bead on Al Qaeda


September 3, 2011
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Every day, Michael G. Vickers gets an update on how many in Al Qaeda’s senior leadership the United States has removed from the battlefield, and lately there has been much to report. Al Qaeda’s No. 2 died in a C.I.A. drone strike late last month, another senior commander was taken out in June, and the Navy Seals made history when they dispatched Osama bin Laden in May.

“I just want to kill those guys,” Mr. Vickers likes to say in meetings at the Pentagon, with a grin.

Mr. Vickers’s preoccupation — “my life,” he says — is dismantling Al Qaeda. Underneath an owlish exterior, he is an ex-Green Beret and former C.I.A. operative with an exotic past. His title is under secretary of defense for intelligence, and he has risen to become one of the top counterterrorism officials in Washington.

As covert American wars — in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — continue in the second decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, so will the questions of legality, morality and risk that go along with them.

Mr. Vickers, a top adviser to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta who has helped shape American military and intelligence policy for three decades, knows the perils well. He bears some responsibility for the unintended consequences of helping arm the Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s, only to have them turn their weapons against United States troops years later.

In recent months, it was Mr. Vickers, an administration official said, who helped persuade a cautious Robert M. Gates, then the defense secretary, to go along with the Bin Laden raid. It was Mr. Vickers who was a driver behind two other covert American military operations, in Syria and Pakistan, which killed more than two dozen militants in late 2008. It was Mr. Vickers who made sure that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal had enough drones at his disposal when he ran the military’s Special Operations Command, which staged secret raids in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We had one Predator available to us, and we built an entire fleet of them,” General McChrystal, now retired, said in a recent interview. “He was a major player.”

Mostly unknown outside of Washington, Mr. Vickers, 58, had a moment of fame in the 2007 movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” based on the book by George Crile. Mr. Vickers was portrayed as a chess-playing nerd from the 1980s C.I.A. who armed the Afghan resistance against the Soviets, still the largest covert operation in the agency’s history.

Although the chess was artistic license (Mr. Vickers recently spent his spare time finishing what his academic adviser, Eliot A. Cohen, calls a 1,000-plus page “cinderblock of a dissertation” for a doctorate), the rest is, for better or for worse, accurate. During the Reagan administration, Mr. Vickers funneled weapons to, among others, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, both now morphed into Afghan insurgent leaders who are fighting the United States.

“Yes, most of my colleagues from those days are now on the dark side,” Mr. Vickers acknowledged in a recent interview in his antiseptic office. “We were well aware that they weren’t the ideal allies.” Nonetheless, he said, “You make a deal with the devil to defeat another devil.”

The devil these days is Al Qaeda, and Mr. Vickers is more cautious than Mr. Panetta in declaring it on the verge of collapse. (The defense secretary said in July that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda.”) In Mr. Vickers’s assessment, there are perhaps four important Qaeda leaders left in Pakistan, and 10 to 20 leaders over all in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Even if the United States kills them all in drone strikes, Mr. Vickers said, “You still have Al Qaeda, the idea.”

“You’re never going to eradicate that, but you want to take away their ability to be this global threat,” he said. “So yes, it is possible. It will take time.”

Mr. Vickers, despite his zeal for hunting terrorists, looks like a buttoned-up tax lawyer, or at least someone unlikely to know a Stinger missile from a Kalashnikov, two weapons he lavished upon the mujahedeen.

Mr. Vickers’s younger brother, Richard, a California health care administrator, said, “Whenever I would introduce him to my friends, they all said he was so mild-mannered, they thought he worked in a library or something.”

But in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Mr. Crile calls Mr. Vickers a romantic at heart, a man transfixed by James Bond movies who dreamed (along with becoming a football or baseball star) of espionage. “It was pretty easy to see it coming, he was interested in all that spy stuff,” Richard Vickers said. The brothers grew up in Hollywood, where their father worked as a master carpenter on movie sets for 20th Century Fox.

Mr. Vickers went to Hollywood High School, failed to make it in professional sports and then signed up for the Green Berets in 1973, at the age of 19. “It sounded cool,” he said.

Over the next 10 years, he learned how to parachute with a small, and simulated, nuclear device strapped to his waist, he submerged himself in the study of Soviet weapons and he helped with two hostage rescues in Honduras. In 1983, he joined a C.I.A. paramilitary unit and was pinned down that same year during the American invasion of Grenada. He was sent to Lebanon to collect intelligence after the United States Marine barracks was blown up in Beirut in 1983 and soon began arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

Mr. Vickers left the C.I.A. in 1986 and spent 20 years in Washington research organizations and academia (he has a master’s degree from the Wharton School and just got his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies). In 2006 he impressed then-President George W. Bush when he was invited to a meeting on Iraq. By the next year Mr. Vickers was working for Mr. Gates as a top adviser on counterterrorism at the Pentagon. President Obama promoted Mr. Vickers to his current job, and the Senate confirmed him in March.

Mr. Vickers was one of a handful of people who worked with Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, now the head of Special Operations Command, on the Bin Laden raid this year. “He was the one person in the room who really understood both sides of the business,” said Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director at the time of the May raid and now the agency’s acting director, until David H. Petraeus is sworn into the top job this week. “There was an intelligence side to this and a military operational side.”

Mr. Vickers’s contribution was overseeing the Pentagon’s collection of intelligence in Pakistan in the months before Bin Laden was killed and working with Admiral McRaven and others on options for the raid. Mr. Vickers favored what eventually happened, sending a Navy Seal team into Bin Laden’s compound. A month before the operation, he went with Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Michele A. Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, to make the argument to a skeptical Mr. Gates that the raid was not too risky. Mr. Gates eventually supported it along with all other top officials.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary at the time, said in an interview that the meeting was “significant” but that it was incorrect to say it convinced Mr. Gates to support the raid. Nonetheless, Mr. Morrell said, getting Bin Laden in Pakistan was Mr. Vickers’s “baby,” and “more than anybody else in the department, he drove this issue.”

Mr. Vickers, who has been mentioned as a possible C.I.A. director someday, is in the meantime focused on the rest of Al Qaeda. Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, he is not predicting its imminent demise. “They’re still very dangerous,” he said.

    Soldier, Thinker, Hunter, Spy: Drawing a Bead on Al Qaeda, NYT, 3.9.2011,



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