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September 11th Clearly Remembered

According to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, there have been 11 known threats against New York City since September 11th. There are constant on-going threats, some that are real, and others that are not. Not all of the threats are against U.S. soil, but some are. On the one hand there are arguments that al Qaeda central has become diffused and less influential. Yet there is the alternative belief that a decentralized al Qaeda unified by the singular belief and urgency to execute bin Laden's fatwa is as dangerous and vile as those who flew the planes in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the flight that crashed in Shanksville on the morning of September 11th.

On September 10th, 2001, none knew what would happen the next day. We had gone to bed, never imagining what would occur or how our lives would change. Few, if any people, knew the names al-Zawahiri or bin Laden or Zarqawi or Ghadan or others. Most people never gave it a thought. Most people had never heard of the Hart-Rudman Commission and even fewer had read or even glanced at the reports in which the attacks were presaged.

I had overslept that morning of September 11th and was getting ready for work watching CNBC as I did every morning when the first plane hit at 8:49am. Joe Kiernan was at first incredulous that a small plane could "run into" the World Trade Center Towers. But it was worse.

We knew it for sure when people began leaping from the windows a hundred stories up to escape death by fire.

I dressed hurriedly and left for my office just after the second plane hit and drove north toward my office. In the "Carolina blue sky" just 30 miles to my west I saw the smoke rising. All airplanes had been banned from the NYC skies. It was eerie driving with the top down in my convertible seeing and hearing nothing overhead. I got to my office and on the side street dozens of fire trucks were lined up preparing to go to Manhattan. How many of those firefighters never came home, I will never know.

Then, the buildings fell crumbling to the ground and spreading acrid smoke along with burning and pulverized humanity. From the smoke rose tears, and a new America was born, for some more than others. Since that day, tears stream from my eyes whenever I think of those moments or hear any of the American anthems.

On Saturday, September 15th, the smoke rising from the rubble pile was visible for miles; but my wife and I had gone to our favorite spot at Jones Beach where on a normal day, you could see the Lower Manhattan skyline with the Towers rising majestically in the near distance. That morning, it was just smoke from where the Towers had stood, and Battleships patrolling off the coast. Six months later on March 11, 2002 thousands of NY'ers ventured out in the cold to see the 1st Memorial, the Towers of Light, soar to the sky.

It has been said that a failure of imagination was a factor leading to September 11th. Who could have ever imagined those attacks? Yet, some believe that our inability to imagine things even worse, could lead to events even more unimaginable.

No amount of time and no volume of tears can ever clear my eyes of the memories of what happened that day or cleanse my vision. As time has passed, my emotions have heightened, not abated. It is in the solemn memory of those who died that day and for everyone who now defends our Country that we can never forget what happened that day.

And for that reason, in response to an article by CNN's Fareed Zakaria posing that today we continue an overreaction to the attacks, it is important to wonder how anyone can come to that conclusion .

Pardon me while I clear my eyes, scratch my head and wonder the motivation of a journalist taking the position that our responses to September 11th were excessive and have sustained for too long. How has the U.S. overreacted to the attacks and to al Qaeda? Zakaria says:

I mean it in two senses. We didn't spend a lot of time in the year after 9/11 -- once we had taken it on, once we had started chasing these people around the world, measures which I strongly supported then and still strongly support -- whether that had been effective and whether we had broken up the organization and made it far more difficult for them to operate. And therefore, what was the real nature of the threat going forward? I think it's clear that al Qaeda is a much-diminished force. Yet, it still has the power to inspire a series of local organizations around the world, but it has very little power to direct these high-profile terrorist attacks itself. The reaction to my point that al Qaeda is weaker than we think has surprised me only because I've made this point since 2004, and I've made it repeatedly.

He speaks of over response, "over this" and "over that." Were it not an asymmetric war, were it not an elusive enemy, were it not so hard to "reach out and touch someone" in the sense having direct contact and access to "certain high value targets," there are many people who would argue that we have not yet reacted enough.

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