Don’t tell me I’m going to die

President George Bush knew that the world’s most prolific terrorist was planning to hijack an airliner. Attorney General John Ashcroft was advised to stop flying commercial airlines for the rest of his term. The FBI knew that several Muslims were taking flying lessons.

And for some reason we’re all supposed to be angry that they didn’t do something to stop the most horrific thing that has ever happened to our United States.

Am I supposed to believe that because the people in our federal government had intelligence reports indicating something horrible was about to happen…they are in some way responsible for the loss of lives in my country?

It seems like quite a leap to me.

Of course, the swells of patriotism couldn’t last more than a few months. As guilty Americans we were sure to start internalizing our rage and finding something about ourselves that is obviously to blame. Forget that the September 11th attacks were one of the finest planned terrorists attacks in recent memory. Forget that we live in a country where we value our freedom…in part because we have more than most any country in the world. Forget that it is the same intelligence we are currently blaming that allowed us to track down some of the people responsible and bring them to justice. Forget it all. We’ve got to blame ourselves, especially when it is politically beneficial to do so.

Let us imagine the scene in mid-Summer 2001 if our government had acted differently:

July 26, 2001

CNN is reporting tonight that government officials are acknowledging 200 Muslim extemists have made their way into the United States. President George Bush said earlier today that the world’s richest and most vituperative terrorist is planning to hijack a domestic airliner. As a result, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is now traveling by leased jets on trips back home to Missouri. The FBI announced this morning that several men of Middle Eastern descent have been spotted taking flying lessons and one is actively trying to learn how to steer a jumbo jet. Government officials believe all of these combined could spell doom for the American people.

July 27, 2001

As a result of yesterday’s revelations, more than half of America’s flying public has canceled its flights. Domestic airlines are already talking about bankruptcy. Democrats are accusing President Bush of using alarmist rhetoric to bolster his perceived necessity to the American public and boost an already bulging military budget. In related news, several Middle Eastern men were beaten outside a New York eatery last night and Middle Eastern advocates are accusing the American government of racial profiling.

Do I believe the FBI is in the best shape? No. There is probably some need for reform, at least in the area of interagency and intra-agency communication. Do I believe our government is doing EVERYTHING right? By all means…nuh-uh.

But there is a reason secret intelligence is called secret intelligence. It’s a secret. And my guess is most Americans don’t want to be told they are about to die. How many people have your heard complain about the constant government warnings since September 11th that result in nothing. The general cry: “Tell me something when you know something. Otherwise, let me eat my barbeque, take my kids to soccer, and watch Star Wars.”

About the only thing America could’ve done to stop the Setember 11th attacks was stop being America. Start discriminating against people for who they are and where they come from. Start restricting fine Americans freedom of movement.

And I don’t think it’s a big leap to suggest that Americans just don’t like that kind of thing.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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