On Native Soil

Published: 2021-07-20 01:05:06
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The documentary “On Native Soil” opens with a 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden, and goes into detail precisely how the traumatic events of that fateful day unfolded. He said we would “hear about his future plans in the newspaper and in the media, God willing”. Condoleezza Rice goes on to say no one could have predicted what happened, but all the signs were there. The government knew about the Bojinka Plot, they knew about the Phoenix memo, numerous people knew about terrorists being in America and they let Moussaoui walk away without even searching his home.
I found this very troubling; I was also disturbed by the way the U. S handled the information regarding the hijackings and terrorist actions. Had such guidelines been put in place before 9-11-01 and if they had been followed, the attacks would have been much harder to pull off. I was frustrated by the incredibly high number of incomplete applications for the terrorist entering the United States that were granted visas and taking flight lessons.
The FBI knew that two of the hijackers were in the United States taking flying lessons and nothing was done, and in August of 2001 Moussaoui was in the United States and got arrested by a field agent and when they requested a warrant to search his computer, the request was moved to the bottom of the pile. I was dismayed and outraged at how much miscommunication went on between government agencies. With the terrorist attacks already taking place against the USS Cole there should have been a heightened awareness and more focus placed on national security.
The documentary explained the heartbreaking and fatal lapses in our country’s emergency response system and the misguided communications that led to the Tower 2 workers being directed back to work because “everything was safe” and ultimately ending with tragic results. There were no interdepartmental communications capabilities between EMS, Fire, New York City Police and Port Authority Police. This lack of communication put the lives of emergency personnel in jeopardy and contributed to the high casualty rate amongst rescue workers.
Another misfortune attributed to communications is the amount of people who were directed to proceed to the top of the tower for helicopter rescue, not knowing that a helicopter was unable to conduct a rescue due to the high concentration of smoke. I wanted to help the people trapped in the planes and buildings, but all I could do is sit there while I heard about how our country failed all of them. The worst part for me was listening to the old couple recall their son’s last words. I had to sit through a movie, but they had to sit by and listen to their son’s last words.
Hearing the recording of the unskilled and unconcerned FAA agent and other responders charged with protecting American citizens was painful. The FAA failed to update their “no-fly list” with the new information containing the most recent terrorist US “TIPOFF” list. The FAA‘s feeble response to this was that the list contained far too many names. The 9-11 commission quickly reminded them they did not have any problems tracking their frequent flyer’s miles. At the time, it was not standard protocol to secure cock pit doors.
The FAA knew about hijackers in training, they sent reports to numerous airports with the possibility of hijacker’s with in the terrorist sight and nobody told the citizens of the United States. The FAA never took a proactive approach on the potential for a commercial airliner to be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Security standards and policies, while in place across the country, were not adhered to or monitored for compliance as they should have been. Security checkpoints in airports were managed as an unwelcome expense rather than a required element for public safety.
The United States airspace depended on the FAA and NORAD; the protocols at the time were not designed for four airplanes to be used as weapons for mass destructions. The fighter jets at Otis and Langley did not get the shoot down order until 28 minutes after flight 93 crashed into the field in Pennsylvania, by then it was too late. I put blame on both President Bush and President Clinton’s administrations because national security was not a big concern at the time for them.
Both presidents in my opinion did not even think that a terrorist attack of this magnitude could even happen on U.S. soil, why didn’t they even discuss it or look at the warning signs? In the summer of 2001, the Bush administration knew from the U. S Intelligence that something was very big in the works from Al Qaeda. The system was “Blinking Red” and nobody told the U. S. citizens, but Bush had new strategy to wipe out Al Qaeda in 3 to 5 years, that plan was a little too late. The victims’ families of 9-11 wanted answers; they fought the Bush administration for a full investigation in the September 11th terrorist attacks and won!
The families finally got the 9-11 commission report approval on 11-27-02, with the help of Senators Lieberman and McCain. Why did they even have to fight for an investigation? The images and personal stories and the 9-11 commission report that were presented in the movie made me more aware of the fact that 9-11 was more than just a terrorist attack, it was an attack on our security and crisis departments, and the ways in which different agencies communicate and account for their actions.
There was no standard protocol for an event of this magnitude. In my opinion, no one took accountability or the responsibility for the lack of communication that went on, nobody wanted to believe that this kind of terrorist attack could ever have happened on US soil. The U. S. government had piles of information but failed to keep the public up-to-date as to what Al-Qaeda was and what kind of threat it presented to national security.

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