Thoughts on 9/11
11 September 2016 Charles Hoskinson 5 mins read
Fallen Memories Each generation has defining events. I remember the morning of 9/11 as a young teenager seeing the iconic footage of smoking towers with the eventual collapses. Much later in life, I had a chance to parse quite a comprehensive set of data points from that day.
Bush's memoir Decision Points contained a fairly indepth blow by blow account that captured the paranoia and helplessness. Many others have published some account of their experiences. Ted Olson- the solicitor general at the time famous for arguing for Bush in Bush v Gore- lost his wife on flight 77. She fatally delayed her travel by a day to wake up next to Ted on his birthday. Seth MacFarlane- the creator of family guy- missed flight 11 by just ten minutes due to a hangover.
There doesn't seem to be an end to the stories of how pervasive 9/11 has been on our collective psychology. There also doesn't seem to be an end to the retrospective analysis of the causes and motives.
The cryptocurrency and liberty movements in particular are extraordinarily skeptical of official government positions (often justifiably so- just look at operation northwoods). The formative lesson I learned from 9/11 is that the United States Government seems perfectly capable of purposely ignoring reality.
There's a wonderful book by the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission Kean and Hamilton entitled without precedent that addresses the frustrations of the commission's members ranging from chronic underfunding, an artificial deadline and Kafkaesque requirements for testimony from top level officials such as Bush and Cheney:
- They would be allowed to testify jointly
- They would not be required to take an oath before testifying
- The testimony would not be recorded electronically or transcribed, and that the only record would be notes taken by one of the commission staffers
- These notes would not be made public
We've now committed ourselves to a 15 year war on terrorism without a clear end in sight. We've now committed ourselves to an intelligence goliath (best described in Bruce Schneier's recent book data and goliath) that is systematically robbing us of our constitutional rights. Perhaps darkest, we've also committed ourselves to giving the US government the legal right to kill its own citizens without due process (Jake Tapper's scathing questioning of Jay Carney is probably the most elegant).
The harsh reality that every American faces is that we were let down by our government and that 9/11 seems to be a symptom of an inconvenient truth to the consequences of empire. A proper investigation would have forced a brutal journey through US foreign policy, the conduct of friend/enemies such as Saudi Arabia (see Bob Grahm's crusade), the dense shadowy web of interconnections amongst politicans and private industry and how the intelligence complex works. Succinctly, it just wasn't going to happen.
I can greatly empathize with those seeking more answers and also harboring deep resentment. It's clear there are abundant lies that we have paid for in much blood and treasure. Some of the most frustrated are veterans who committed to fighting in the ensuing wars after 9/11 to seek retribution against the designated enemies only to find a more nuanced situation alongside TBIs, lost limbs and a general apathy upon returning home.
We didn't even get to see the body (much less an indepedently verified DNA sample) of the architect of the entire attack after spending trillions of dollars finding and killing him. I guess that's too offensive except for the times it's not.
To wear my Viktor Frankl hat, I suppose we can honor the losses and derive meaning from that dark day carrying its terrible 15 year fallout on the world by making a commitment to changing our government. We need to decouple money and politics. We need better channels to communicate ideas because the media is failing us. We need to decentralize the US government with much more power returning to the states. We need to change the way we hold elections and bundle our voting system to something like a blockchain for fidelity. We need to change how the United States commits its military to adventures abroad. Finally, we need to end the two party system.
The American Way
These are enormously challenging tasks and some would say beyond our abilities in the current political system. Yet, the global reinvention of money and ending the Soviet Empire were just as difficult if not more so. What gives me hope is that the American people are pretty special. We seem to have a knack for doing the impossible and then acting as if there was a certainty of success.
For example, our space program was trapped in a hyper-bureaucratic loop of half started missions and low hanging fruit. Now we have SpaceX, Blue Origin and others effectively building a roadmap to Mars and beyond. Tesla has proven battery powered cars are an inevitability. Some of our scientists have even built a star from lasers.
It just takes a bit of courage and also a willingness to experience failure in the process. It also takes an utter rejection of cynicism. Another reality- to paraphrase the late Steve Jobs- all the rules around us are made by people no smarter than you. To treat them as immutable gods is to discount one's own abilities.
On this anniversary of 9/11, I'd like to thank those who fought and those who continue to fight for freedom and truth. And, I'd also like to believe we will evolve as a world beyond the root causes of these events. We just have to be honest, disciplined and resilient.