Follow by Email

Friday, September 9, 2011

9-11 then and now

Mesquite Citizen Journal:

At 8:19 A.M. On September 11, 2001, Bonnie LaJeunese McGreer was settling in to work at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, on the east side of the Pentagon. At the same time, Betty Ong, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11 called the Airlines office from an air-phone.

“The cockpit is not answering,” Ong said continuing with, “somebody’s stabbed in business class and I think there’s Mace. We can’t breathe. I don’t know, I think we’re getting hijacked.” She then tells American Airlines of the stabbings of two flight attendants.

A few minutes later, at 8:20 A.M., American Airlines Flight 77, with 58 passengers and six crew members, departed from Washington Dulles International Airport for Los Angeles. Five hijackers were aboard. Ultimately, Flight 77 would crash into the West side of the Pentagon. Separating the five sides of the Pentagon is a five-acre central plaza known as "ground zero."

The nickname originated during the Cold War and based on the presumption that the Soviet Union would target one or more nuclear missiles at this central location in the outbreak of a nuclear war. It was this separation that would spare the life of my wife and hundreds more.

Twenty-six minutes later, at 8:46 A.M., Flight 11 carrying Ms. Ong, and 96 others along with the hijackers crashed into the north face of the North Tower (1WTC) of the World Trade Center between floors 93 and 99.

Six minutes later, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 called his father and told him, I think they've taken over the cockpit. An attendant has been stabbed. And someone else up front may have been killed. The plane is making strange moves.” It was 8:52 A.M.

Just before 9 A.M., my colleague, Paul C., stood in the doorway of my office.

“A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center”, he said.

As Paul and I discussed airplane crashes in New York, Bonnie called, our morning ritual.

“A plane has crashed into the Trade Center”, I told her.

I was only moderately concerned about the crash. There was nothing new about airplane crashes in the New York area. Planes have crashed into the Empire State Building, the Hudson river, a Riker's Island monument, a Brooklyn apartment, onto Rockaway Blvd, into Cove Neck, Long Island, a home in Shinnecock, Long Island, the East river and helicopters have crashed into the Hudson bay and onto 60th street.

As we were discussing the various plane crashes, Mike K., another colleague, entered the office.

“A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center”, he announced.

“We know”, I said.

“No a second plane”, he answered.

After Bonnie hung up the phone, she went into a kitchen area to watch CNN just as Flight 175 crashed into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85. It was 9:02:59 A.M.

About the same time, Flight 77 had altered its course and headed directly towards the Pentagon.

I picked up the phone to call my wife to see if she knew anything about the second plane crashing into the Trade Center. No answer. I called again. No answer. I was now extremely concerned.

“I'm going to the Command Center,” I told Paul and Mike.

When I entered the Command Center, CNN was broadcasting the crashes of Flight 11 and Flight 175 into the towers.

Between 9:39 and 9:40 all the television stations in the Command Center, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC and MSNBC, came alive with breaking news bulletins reporting fires and explosions at the Pentagon. At 9:53: CNN confirmed that a plane (later identified as Flight 77) had crashed into the western side of the Pentagon and started a violent fire. All 64 people on board are killed, as were 125 Pentagon personnel.

To me, there was nothing unusual about the idea that terrorists might use a fully fueled airliner as a target against high valued targets. Before moving to the U.S. Geological Survey, I had worked in the Department of Defense on a variety of intelligence and counter-intelligence activities where such an idea had been tossed around on a routine basis.

I had just returned to the Survey from a year long tour establishing the Chief Information Office (CIO) for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). As the CIO, I was the highest ranking technology executive responsible for the Agency global information technology and computer systems that support DTRA in its mission of reducing the global threat from weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

During that tour, the bombing of the USS Cole occurred while it was harbored and refueled in the port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured. None of us were surprised when Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attack.

I had been in the Pentagon numerous times while working in Defense and in addition to my wife, I had friends and former colleagues who worked in that building. The Pentagon is a complex building of five sides, several floors and a tangle of basement offices. But as hard as I tried to picture the location of my wife’s office and those of friends and colleagues, I could not get the layout straight in my mind.

As I stood in the Command Center, I heard someone in the background saying, "No, No, No." Then I realized that the someone was me. I went back to my office and tried to again call my wife. No answer on the land-line. No answer on the cell phone. I told Paul that I was going home but before I was able to leave, both my daughter and son called asking about their mother. They were both clearly upset and I could not give them a satisfactory answer. I asked each to come to our townhouse when they could.

It was only a few miles from my Reston office to our townhouse in Centreville but, no matter the time of day or night, traffic is always heavy.The car radio was alive with news of the crashes and breaking news that another airliner, United Airlines Flight 93, had also been hijacked and crashed into a field 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

My son arrived at the townhouse shortly after me. My daughter, who worked in a law office a few blocks from the White House, was essentially trapped in the city because of traffic jams and emergency procedures. It was now impossible to make phone calls. All lines, including cell phones were busy.

It was about 2:30 P.M. When the phone finally rang. It was my wife. A wave of relief caused me to shutter as I heard her voice.

She had been watching the planes crash into the Trade Center, when she heard or felt something.

The Pentagon, is the size of a small city with approximately 23,000 military and civilian employees and about 3,000 non-defense support personnel. It's busy 24-hours a day, with people rushing from one place to another as the echoes of footsteps and a multitude of voices bounce off the walls and through the hallways. But at that moment, on that day, “it suddenly became silent,” Bonnie said. Then screams. Panic and more screams.

She was out of the building and engulfed into an unorganized, chaotic crowd. Then another explosion. They thought it was bombs.

As she was leaving the Pentagon, employees were told to take off their badges to avoid being targeted if it were a terrorist attack. Bonnie and her colleagues walked to the Ritz hotel in Pentagon City. The phone lines were all busy and she could not call out.

“We went directly to the bar,” she said.

Eventually, she was able to get through to me on a pay phone. Then she was picked up by the Credit Union and taken to an office in Alexandria where employees were asked to speak with clinical personnel and later taken home. It was about 6:30 P.M. when she arrived home.


Nineteen Islamic militants, with box cutters, took the lives of 2,877 individuals from 70 countries on September 11, 2001.

In the aftermath of the attack, two wars have been declared, which, to date, have required the deployment of some 2 million soldiers, sailors, airman and an equal number of civilians to the Middle east. Six thousand, five hundred military personnel have been killed. Ten times the number killed have been wounded. An unknown number of military personnel currently, or in the future, will suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTS).

An estimated 655,000 Iraqi civilian and combatants have died. Between 10,960 and 49,600 Afghans have been killed during the Wars, and in Pakistan between 1,467 and 2, 334 were killed in U.S. drone attacks as of May 6, 2011.

Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) have spent $1.3 trillion dollars and currently continue to spend about $120 billion each year on the wars.

For the first time in history, while at war, Congress passed the tax cuts, cutting revenue by an additional $1.7 trillion dollars.

In the final analysis, 9-11 was a terrible, frightening, and bloody day in American history, but political reaction over the past ten years has been even more frightening.

Additional notes:

1. "Complete 911 Time-line", minute by minute, provided by the Center for Cooperative Research.

2. “Final Report of the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers”, published by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology in September 2005, pp. 83-84

3. “The 9-11 Commission Report.” U.S. Government Printing Office. July 22, 2004. p.45. Retrieved 2010-08-15.

4. Iraq death toll: Iraqi civilian and combatant, according to the second Lancet survey of mortality.

5. Afghanistan death toll, numerous sources.

6. Pakistan deaths: Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division.

'via Blog this'

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mesquite Citizen Journal

Mesquite Citizen Journal:
The Marshall Plan
Posting Date: 09/05/2011

Michael McGreer

The race between Democrat Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall and Republican Mark Amodei for Nevada 2nd Congressional District seat means more to Mesquite voters than typical Democrat vs. Republican ideology position taking.

Those voting for Amodei are endorsing a Tea Party aligned candidate. It is the current batch of elected Tea Partiers who pose a huge threat to traditional Republicans by slowing any chance for collaborative solutions to existing economic and international problems.

When the Tea Party Republicans held out for the balanced-budget amendment during the recent deficit debacle an editorial in the conservative Wall Street Journal mocked them as hobbits battling Mordor.“This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees,” the Journal wrote. John McCain, R., Ariz., frivolously quoted the editorial on the Senate floor.

Amodei's has expressed his allegiance to the Tea Party by supporting the “Ryan Budget Plan.” For those unfamiliar with this plan, it was proposed by Tea-Party Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, who argued, incorrectly, that his plan would reduce the national debt.

As Jonathan Chait writes, Ryan's plan includes "a huge tax cut for people who don't really need it." Those supporting Ryan argue that giving more money to rich will trickle down. This, Reagan era trickle-down economics underlies the Ryan plan and has been discredited by virtually every economist over the past 30-years.

Nevada Senator Republican Dean Heller, Amodei's mentor, has voted twice in support of the plan. He supported it as the Congressman for District 2, and again as Senator. Heller was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the Senate seat vacated by John Ensign. It is Heller's congressional seat that is contested in the Sept. 13th special election.

Amodei and Heller are both out of the Republican mainstream. Conservative Republicans Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), actually joined Democrats in opposing the Ryan Plan, when it came to the Senate. Said Snowe: "I am going to vote no on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it."

Amodei's opponent for the 2nd Congressional seat is Democrat Kate Marshall. Marshall is endorsed by several groups including the national Alliance for Retired Americans. They endorsed Marshall for her "leadership on issues such as fighting Social Security and Medicare privatization."

Seniors attending the endorsement event dubbed Amodei "Calamity Amodei" as they expressed their outrage for Amodei's plan to end Medicare while rallying in support of Marshall's pledge to protect Nevada seniors.

In accepting the endorsement, Marshall pledged to “work together to combat Mr. Amodei's reckless plan to turn over our Medicare to private insurance companies, give seniors vouchers and double their out of pocket costs." In discussing both Medicare and Social Security, she said that: “You have paid into it all your lives and you have earned it, plain and simple."

Mesquite veterans stand to benefit from Marshall. As Treasurer, she was successful in safeguarding military artifacts that come into Nevada's Unclaimed Property division until the rightful owners or surviving family members are able to claim them. She also created a college savings matching funds program with USAA to help make obtaining a college degree for returning veterans easier and more affordable.

Marshall is progressive, but not fiscally irresponsible. As Treasurer, she registered a large net gain for Nevada and says she would argue, if elected to Congress, for pay as you go rules, and demand benchmarks and milestones to lower our federal deficit. She is against pay raises until the federal budget is balanced, and argues for cuts in subsidies to the big oil companies and banking conglomerates which she hopes would force Congress to focus on Main Street, not Wall Street.

In contrast, Amodei, as a state legislator, in a moment of anti Tea-Party action, supported a billion dollar tax increase package that taxed everything from car repairs to movie tickets. The bill also taxed job creation initiatives. In addition, he voted for a pay raise for himself and other state legislators.

Marshall approaches legislation in a collaborative manner. In doing so, she was able to gain bi-partisan support in the last session of the Nevada legislature for SB75. This bill creates a private equity investment fund for Nevada. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval to take effect on October 1, 2011. The fund, a first for Nevada, provides that non-tax dollars from the Permanent School Fund may be invested in new businesses in Nevada, including a possible alternative energy non-profit incubation site for Mesquite.

Environmentalists, such as The Toiyabe chapter of the Sierra Club have endorsed Marshall for her advocacy of the use of Nevada's natural resources (wind, solar, and geothermal) to improve the states economic position.

Amodei, The Sierra Club noted, served in the Nevada Legislature while working as head of the Nevada Mining Association.

Those wishing to vote for American Party candidate Tim Fasano or independent Helmuth Lehmann would be throwing a vote away since neither, if elected, would have the political clout to get anything done. Doing nothing is no way to improve the economic condition of the state and its citizens.

Both progressive Democrats and traditional conservative Republicans will gain if Marshall is elected to Congress. Unlike Amodei, she has a fiscally conservative history, and has outlined a plan to potentially create jobs in Mesquite. She also would protect social security and fight against increasing the costs of health-care, through privatization.

Michael M. McGreer writes on public policy. His books: No Harm, No Foul, Bioterrorism in the 21st Century, and All Rivers Flow West, are both available on Amazon. Click here to see his blog

'via Blog this'