MY CONNECTION with 9/11 is personal. I am a pilot for American Airlines. In September of 2001, I had AA Flight 11 on my flying schedule. As you may recall, AA Flight 11 was the first airplane hijacked. It subsequently impacted the north tower of the World Trade Center. I lost a friend and fellow pilot, Capt. John Ogonowski, that day. I also knew purser Betty Ong and the rest of the cabin crew. I could have been the copilot who perished that day.
On the four-year anniversary of 9/11, I would like to give you my summation as to what progress our leaders have made in ridding the world of terrorism, and in “bringing to justice” the perpetrators of that horrendous terrorist attack on our homeland. And that is — no real progress. The world is now a much more dangerous place and Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida are still “alive and well.”
I remember President George W. Bush standing on the pile of rubble that used to be the WTC, with his bullhorn, his arm over a New York City firefighter, proclaiming to all that the United States will get whoever did this to us and bring them to justice. Instead, it became an opportune moment for him, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz to pursue their own agenda, which they had when they came into office and were dying to execute. George W. Bush used 9/11 as an excuse for his personal war in Iraq; and, as it turns out, is not serious about the “War on Terror” at all.
The reason I say this is because his attempt to capture or kill Osama bin Laden has been lame at best. He delegates the enemy (Pakistan) to hunt for the enemy. Instead, al-Qaida has once again “reared its ugly head,” this time with subway bombings in London. Let’s face it, our President and all his men have failed the world in bringing these terrorists to justice.
As we have subsequently learned, through the 9/11 Commission Report and from sources no longer inside the White House, George W. Bush, upon taking office, simply refused to heed the warnings from the outgoing administration that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida were the greatest threat America faced. According to Paul O’Neill, at Bush’s first National Security Council meeting, the topic of discussion was Saddam Hussein, who had essentially been “contained” ever since the first Gulf War. And, as Richard Clarke said, as summer approached and reports of an imminent attack on the United States became more frequent, no one did anything!
Condoleeza Rice later testified that there were no specifics — “when, where, who.” This is the same person who had the gall to say “we don’t want a smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud” in reference to Saddam Hussein. Not one meeting was held to address the escalation of threats of an attack on our homeland.
As we know now, there was no evidence to back up the “mushroom cloud” statement and proceed with starting the war in Iraq. No WMD, no proof of a purchase of uranium from Niger, no aluminum tubes, no mobile weapons labs, no proof of coordination with al-Qaida, no imminent threat to the United States, and no mission accomplished.
What we are coming to learn, through numerous sources including the “Downing Street Memos,” is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice knew this before they started their war in Iraq. They deliberately misled us all into believing them. We would have been at war with Iraq even if 9/11 did not occur. What the war has become is a waste of U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars and a breeding ground for more and smarter terrorists. Also, U.S. companies in Iraq, with close ties to the Bush administration, are engaged in blatant profiteering. Is it just a coincidence that Iraq is said to possess the second largest oil reserves?
All I can say is that I am tired of being lied to by an administration that has zero credibility. I am hoping that in 2006 Democrats win back control of Congress and open their first session with impeachment proceedings of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, because the Republicans refuse to do so.
Kurt S. Wolz of Bedford is a pilot for American Airlines.