American Complacency and the "Next" Attack
In a few days we will mark the sixth Memorial Day of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Some people may ask, “what complacency?” The fear is that in their minds, many people have returned to September 10, 2001. Others, perhaps many others, will ask, “what next attack?” “They" will say, “There was one attack, and it was horrible, but there hasn’t been another attack since then.” Such reactions would represent the sense that a dangerous complacency has set in.
Recently, an associate of mine stated his belief that it is simply a matter of time before there is another attack on American soil. He is not the only one who is publicly voicing this opinion. Most experts expect an attack. To not expect or anticipate an attack is likely to result in being unprepared and unaware. The recent National Intelligence Estimate suggested that another attack is inevitable; Secretary Michael Chertoff had a “gut feeling” that an attack would occur this summer. Even though his “gut” was wrong and it didn’t happen, who is to say how much longer we can be so lucky?
Part of the problem is that in the six years since that worst day in American history, once the broadcasts of the funerals ended, many if not most Americans went back to their normal lives. Perhaps that was the right thing to do, because elsewise, the terrorists would have won by changing our way of life. And yet, in doing so, many Americans no longer feel that there is a danger of terrorism returning to our shores. It may just be that people like my associates who write about terrorism subjects here, and on other counterterrorism websites, are in the minority.
Most people can’t, or don’t want to see the “dots” let alone connect them in their daily lives.
● People are distracted by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the surrounding controversy
● People are interested in the all-too-early started 2008 Election cycle.
● People are interested in politicians who “tap” their feet
When the Minneapolis I-35 Bridge collapsed, the first impulse response was that terrorists had hit a “soft target.” Of course, it soon became apparent that the bridge fell because of a combination of repair work being performed and a series of infrastructure faults. This conclusion, however, doesn’t diminish the fact that our Nation’s infrastructure continues to be a target of opportunity.
When the steam pipe exploded in New York City back on July 19, 2007, the first reaction of many people was that it was another terrorist attack. But when it was explained as an aged infrastructure giving way to the years, the City relaxed and went back to “normal.”
When the “Caribbean connection” was arrested for conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport, many dismissed their failed attempted by saying “these guys were amateurs.” Perhaps so, and maybe even, they were not at all connected to an organized al Qaeda terror plot. However, the attempt was real.
When New York City went on guard and high alert after the al Qaeda videotape gave warning of a radiological dirty bomb attack, it soon “stood down” and returned to the “normal” hustle and bustle. Step back a second and determine if, in fact, that the “tip” that prompted the “high alert” was calculated to “game” the situation and watch the ways in which the City responded.
Just this week, a plot was uncovered and foiled, with one of the targets considered being Ramstein Air Base, “the largest American air base in Germany and a hub for troops deploying to Eastern Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan.” According to German police, the men, two Germans and a Turkish national, were “core'' members of a local cell of the terrorist group Islamist Jihad Union that comprised more suspects, it said. The Germans are understandably rattled, and at a higher state of alert.
Earlier this week, two Egyptian men, students in at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on federal charges of transporting explosives across state lines, with one of the men accused of offering explosives training with the intent of carrying out violence.
And even today, we hear of the increased “chatter” about a new video that was posted on an Islamic website on September 2nd warning that "there will be a special gift coming on the day of the blessed invasion of Manhattan."
While it is to be expected that we’d see increased “chatter” in the days leading up to September 11, 2007, clearly the potential remains.
The nexus of illegal narcotics and terrorism, if not understood before, has been proven. And if you step beyond the connection of Afghan poppy production and al Qaeda and simply observe the happenings across our Mexican border with drug cartels battling for turf with their “guns for hire” militia, you can see terrorism brewing. Most people recognize that the pathways followed by the human and drug smugglers crossing our border are not different from those that terrorists could take.
The flow of illegal aliens to this country continues, almost unabated. Politicians on both sides argue either for or against stronger immigration rules, and yet, we are no better off than we were on September 10, 2001. Some would argue that we are actually worse off today than we were on September 10th. Between the lack of enforcement by one party and the false charity of the other, the fact of our porous border with Mexico is undeniable.
Why is this important? It is important because the New York Times ran a story over the weekend asking, “As "9/11" Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How much tribute is enough?” For there to be a debate about whether there should be ceremonies commemorating the attacks and remembering those who died is undoubtedly a sign of complacency. I saw the smoke rising from the crumbled buildings that day (and in the weeks afterward). How anyone could forget or wonder why we should pay tribute is beyond me.
Some peoples’ memories are all too short. Other people, unaccountably, still grasp at straws and from some unknown place consider that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were a contrivance of the U.S. government. But most people, innocently enough, have fallen into a dangerous complacency of life as it was on September 10th. We can only hope that it won’t take another devastating attack on our soil to wake us up and make us realize that there are many days of this “Long War” ahead of us, and that we cannot allow our guard to drop. Our enemy has the resolve to see it through. The “dots” are out there to be seen by all. In fact, if you’re paying attention, their frequency is increasing.