Friday, February 5, 2010

What 6/11 teaches us

On September 11th, everyone remembers where they were when they heard planes had (deliberately) crashed into the World Trade Center Towers. First one, then the other, less than an hour later. It changed the course of our country's history. But there may have been a different date that shall remain as Roosevelt would say, "in infamy."

In Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Looming Tower, he tells a story about a meeting on June 11th, 2001 that could have prevented the events on 9/11. The CIA was meeting with the FBI in New York City in order to share information about the U.S.S Cole bombing. At one point a photo was displayed of suspected terrorists. The FBI asked if anyone in the room knew any of these faces. The CIA members did, but did not have clearance to divulge the information. They did not want to turnover their case to the FBI, afraid they would give up their sources, and ruin their investigation. After yelling and shouting, all parties calmed down, and another name was brought up- Khalid al-Mihdhar. Two months later Mihdhar would be one of the five hijackers, but on June 11th, he was a name the CIA would not turnover. As Wright explains this photo presented "the fact that al-Qaeda was inside the US and planning to strike."

Throughout the last hundred pages of the book, Wright painfully details the sparring between the FBI and CIA that prevented a cohesive solution to handling intelligence that could have prevented 9/11. It is almost too much to bear to think of how different our country would be, and how many lives and dollars would not have been spent in two wars, if all the evidence was made transparent. While 9/11 teaches us about the dangers of religious extremity, 6/11 teaches us about the need for government agencies to work together and not let personalities get in the way of making our country safe.

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