I am so ticked off!
Mainly at the barbarians who did this to us. But also at some of the Washington, D.C., ignoramuses who, despite warnings from secret services of other countries, repeated aggression by terrorists against our country and extensive studies that literally predicted what would happen in New York, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., did nothing in response to the warnings and therefore allowed it to happen.
I am especially infuriated at those juvenile pencil-pushing theoreticians at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who, with no inkling of an understanding of terrorism, made decisions that were criticized on a wide front from "no sense" to "truly incompetent"--decisions that started marching us to the tune of the terrorists, down the path of financial self-destruction, doing exactly what the terrorists wanted us to do!
I grew up in a time when terrorism was first evolving. I was a NATO officer in the West German Air Force and a platoon leader at the Air Force Academy. Later, while studying biochemistry at the School of Medicine at the University of Munich (with a minor in the University's International Politics Program), it became second nature for me to evaluate a problem logically and from a military point of view. This demanded that you "know your enemy, how he functions and how he plans to achieve his goals." This perspective has served me well in military and civilian aviation (presently glider to multi-engine rated), as a scientist in the health and fitness field, as a reserve member in a local police department, and also as a 1996 candidate for the U.S. Congress.
With over 40 years experience in applying logic to any situation, keeping up with international politics and with the enemies our country faces (especially terrorism), I am appalled, as are so many others (from police oficers and pilots to businessmen), at the indecisiveness, confusion, and often outright incompetence of the FAA.
We have been at war for only a few weeks and already the actions taken by those Washington "experts" suggest a lack of understanding of terrorism, or a lack of coordination with experts who DO understand terrorism. Obviously terrorized, their decisions are fear-based, demonstrating their inability to clearly evaluate priorities. Instead, those decision-making executives are falling into defensive lockstep--a paralysis of sorts--of doing the "right" thing. In reality, they are marching our nation to the drumbeat of the terrorists right into financial self-destruction.
Troubling data that come out of Washington suggest that some of those questionable experts are still making key decisions, gunking things up with their bureaucratic pencil-pushing, and trying to fight this war with water pistols! But there are indications that bureaucrats are playing politics, want to hear themselves talk at eternal government hearings, thus delaying implementation of needed action and putting us at great risk.
First, a quick look at how terrorism works and what the terrorists aim to achieve.
Terrorism's goal is to disrupt and cause damage, with a heavy emphasis on terrorizing; to the terrorists, this is a big stage where they are aiming at impressing--i.e., terrorizing--you. But most important, the terrorists consider it a true success if the damage they cause is so substantial and the people are so frightened and terrorized that the people and their leaders do truly illogical things and thus economically self-destruct. Witness the damage to the infrastructure to our country--damage that penetrated several levels of the business community in a matter of hours. "Count the devastation in terms of monetary value: if the damage is tenfold that of the terrorists' investment, they succeeded, and if it's one hundred fold, they are heroes," a British expert on terrorism told us when we learned about terrorism in officer's school.
After an attack in one area, the terrorists quickly move to another.
While the response to an attack in one area, aviation for example, is to "never let this happen again," and to make things foolproof, the results are overreaction, not knowing when to stop, initiating actions that are truly ludicrous, actions that not only damage the entire aviation industry, but that also have devastating effects on other industries (like the aviation transportation industry), destroy thousands of related businesses like flight schools and general small aviation, spillovers to damage other industries--hotel, tourism, etc., etc.-- in essence doing what the terrorists want us to do, namely self-destructing our infrastructure, which is business on every level.
While this process of ignorance-based self-destruction is going on in one area, terrorists have already moved into another, like biological, chemical or nuclear. What if they explode a car bomb? Should we push this overreaction to the point of absurdity by halting all travel by cars, vans, trucks? What if it turns out that one of those terrorists got a driver's license from a US driving school? Do we shut down all driving schools? Anybody not pushed into hysteria by a terrorist act will recognize the ignorance of such logic. Only certain "experts" in Washington don't appear to see it.
Now, knowing how terrorism works and aims at achieving its goals, let's take a look at the facts and see if the 9-11 terrorists were successful and, most importantly, what degree of their success was self-inflicted because of our "experts" not understanding terrorism.
With the training cost figuring to be no more than a few hundred thousand dollars, and a loss of 18 terrorists' lives, the enemy achieved a major success in:
A. Causing a loss of far in excess of 6,000 lives.
B. Bringing to a halt and to the brink of financial disaster:
1. The commercial airline industry, including the layoff of 100,000 airline employees. 2. The aviation transportation industry. 3. Civilian and small aircraft aviation, including thousands of flight schools. 4. The hotel and tourism industry in general.
C. Bringing to a complete halt:
1. One day--extended in some areas--the entire country, of which the total dollar amount alone is most likely close to the entire New York damage. But who cares! It's carried by the millions of businesses and by us, the taxpayers. 2. Numerous times, in many cities over the days following the initial attack with bomb scares that again disrupted lives and businesses and that cost lots of $$$.Compare the total investment and damage caused on both sides! Estimates suggest a total cost to our country in excess of $40 billion for the first week. That does not include calling up the troops, or the drop (estimated $ 500 billion) on the first day of the reopening of the stock market. Then followed by a $15 billion financial aid package for the aviation industry, a $70 billion aid package to stimulate the economy, $100 billion to rebuild New York, etc. Would you like to calculate the ratio of this terrorism investment to the terrorism payoff? No wonder we see terrorists celebrating success around the world!
Looking at the data presented above, it should be self-explanatory why there was--and still is--so much criticism regarding the FAA.
Michael Boyd, aviation security expert, expressed exactly my sentiment when he suggested that "the indecision at the FAA gave the terrorists what they wanted," and the former FAA security expert, who quit the FAA in disgust, asked that the FAA be taken away from the people who are now in charge and put under Federal jurisdiction. One thing that most critics of the FAA can agree on: namely that a change in the FAA leadership is an absolute must.
"Show the world that we will not live in fear of the dark side," said Alan Croce during the September 16 Philadelphia Tribute Concert.
Did the U.S.A. shut down in response to the Pearl Harbor attack?
NO! The American nation rolled into action full steam!
Past war experiences have made one point crystal clear: decisions MUST be made quickly. There is no time for external discussions in the U.S. House and Senate. Instead of a bureaucratic government agency telling everybody what to do, give major directives only. Like, to the airlines: You can fly as soon as you have made the following (-defined within reasonable range -) security improvements. For a detailed list of all kinds of possible improvements, see below. Let each airline use their brains to find ways to comply with them. The best possible measures will evolve in such a way. Worried that something might go wrong in the meantime? That chance of problems is even higher if some bureaucrats take weeks to work out procedures, like today, when bureaucrats still argue over who should/could fly as air marshal, or if pilots should be allowed to carry guns. Are we at war? Yes, No? Answer: YES. So let the pilots carry guns (a constitutionally guaranteed right anyway), make security changes today (not tomorrow)! End of discussion! There will be casualties; if we keep the numbers to a minimum, we have succeeded.
Applying our basic knowledge about terrorism, how it works, and what it's trying to achieve, let's now look at what should have been done following the 9-11 attacks:
1. Keep the airlines flying. Cancel no more than 10 to 20% of all flights initially to reduce the load. Quickly bring life back to normal.
Effective security measures:
Immediately enhance security. For years, before pilots were made to go through metal detectors themselves, many of them carried guns. This never caused problems! Allow pilots to carry arms (large caliber, but low charge, the type of fragmentation ammunition that will damage an aggressor, but won't puncture an airline hull). Most pilots have a military background and know how to handle weapons. Give pilots who don't want to carry guns, or who are not trained in handgun use, the newer, powerful tasers. There is no time to discuss this matter in Congress, as some would like to do. Are we at war? Yes! End of discussion! For the record: Both houses of Congress voted for arming pilots.
Most flights carry, as passengers, law enforcement or military personnel. Seat them right behind the cockpit door and in strategic locations. If in doubt, a quick phone call can confirm that their identity is real.
Define as a buffer zone, the area right outside the cockpit. In most airplanes, that would be a kitchen area that no passenger is allowed to enter. A light metal fence-type barrier that can be opened only from one side could actually be wired to run 100,000 volts through it if somebody would try to bust through it.
Installing safe cockpit access doors or other barriers to the cockpit can literally be done in hours.
Make it an absolute must for passengers to keep their seat belts tightly on and not have heavy objects with them (like computers and large cameras) that could hurt them if the objects should fly around.
Terrorists CANNOT terrorize from their seats. They must get up to practice their aggression. A good pilot, even in a larger commercial plane, can immediately initiate decompression and then flight maneuvers that will bounce terrorists onto the ceiling or smash them onto the floor, or throw them into the laps of disgruntled passengers. Certainly, people may get hurt, but their chances of survival are much greater than if terrorists succeed in commandeering the plane to use as a bomb to be lobed into a skyscraper.
Decompression of the major cabins can be initiated by the pilot within seconds. See how terrorists would work under those conditions.
Video cameras that allow the pilot to observe what is going on in the cabins would also provide needed surveillance. Challenge an electronics expert and he/she will show you that this can be installed within a mere three hours.
Pay special attention to checked luggage. Airports already have machines that detect explosives in luggage. In Israel, while luggage passes through a safe tunnel, they have a machine that creates a special condition under which explosives would self-ignite.
2. Keep transportation and small aviation flying.
3. Do NOT shut down the entire country in response to a terrorist act.
4. In every decision we make, we must ask ourselves "what would the terrorists want us to do?"
I myself offered to fly (part-time, when needed) as an air marshal. My background is in military aviation, formerly with the Military Police and in charge of handgun training, formerly a boxer, now specializing in fitness strength training. I am all muscle and weigh 204 pounds. I have a degree in karate. As a badge-carrying reserve member of a local police department, I was recently subjected to and passed with flying colors a thorough background check and received full security clearance. An active pilot, I am rated from glider to multi-engine.
The response to my offer to fly as an air marshal: "NO! You are too old." They'd rather hire 27 year olds (maximum age), send them through special training, and in about six months we'll have enough of them, paying each of them $70,000 a year.
Worried about possible terrorist attacks on airport parking structures (which, any security expert will tell you, terrorists could do anyway), they shut down airport parking and mess up longterm parking, with a combined estimated cost (loss) of $1.8 billion for LAX alone. Are they waiting to have trained $70,000 a year parking-lot marshals before they reopen parking? Extrapolate all this to the cost of airline tickets, and you'll recognize that only the richest of the rich will be able to afford airline travel!
Predict what the enemy wants you to do, AND DO THE OPPOSITE. The enemy wants you to be scared, crawl in a hole, and wet your pants. Tell him to go to blazes. Go shopping. Spend some money! Go on a vacation! Volunteer your services! President Bush urges us: "stay cool, don't lose your nerve, go about your daily lives!"
Face reality: This will be a long war. To win it, we can't rely on the military and hired security forces alone. We must all play our part.
Beyond this, there is much more we can and must do.
Impressive efforts and results on an international level and textbook planning and action by the military strategists brought respect for our leaders in Washington, D.C., back into our lives. Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and CIA Director George Tenet are (excuse my old-fashioned military expression) some of the hottest cookies in this business--the best we have. As I see it, the 9-11 terrorist attacks put the wheels in motion and we are moving in the right direction.
October 7, 2001, confirmed my deductions. A good day to be proud of America! Wow!
The way this campaign rolled along demonstrated a combination of brains, perfect planning and execution, strength, Air Force capacity, and coordination with the Northern Alliance. The U.S. and British OPS teams laid the groundwork. I always had a special appreciation for the British. I flew with them during NATO maneuvers many years ago. They always were and are some of the best pilots. What I wouldn't give to be involved in the planning and strategy of this campaign or in the hunt for the terrorists here in the U.S.A.!
I would like to suggest an addition to this campaign: Drop hundreds of radios over populated areas and military installations. Tell people what this is all about! Tell the Afghan soldiers what will happen, and how to join the Northern Alliance, and more. Beam TV programs into Afghanistan. Show them what the free world is all about! Take individuals from many different countries living in America and beam their messages to the Afghan people.
OK, back to earth! Back to the U.S.A.
Adding up all the facts about terrorism, ANYTHING is possible. If the terrorists have it and can use it, they will do it. Blowing up an atomic bomb in a major American city, poisoning a million people, unleashing the most cruel disease on the entire country--if they have the capability, nothing, absolute nothing, will prevent the terrorists from doing it. Those are not people you can reason with. They live by the doctrines of a few printed pages written by--as we would define it--religious lunatic fanatics and psychotic schizos. There is only their religion, and anybody praying to another god must be killed. If you trim your beard, you go to jail. A woman's place is in the house--with no rights, hiding under tent clothing--or in the graveyard. A grandmother can be given 80 lashes with a whip if a lock of hair should slip from under her headgear. You can buy yourself and your relatives a place in heaven by killing as many of the "enemy" (us) as possible. Etc., etc., etc.
Knowing how terrorism functions, the most likely next areas of attack will be either biological (anthrax, others), chemical (Sarin, Tabun, others), or nuclear.
While some newspaper interviews play down the possibility of another attack, real experts suggest that it not a question of "if," but simply of "when." British and German intelligence agencies alerted the U.S.A., telling us that bits and pieces of information point to the coming next round of attacks. This is supported by knowledge regarding how terrorists work. Once they start the first attack, they already have the second, and possibly the third, plan of attack in place and--whatever the size of the first attack was--the follow-up attacks must be a multiple, much bigger than the first!
All we can hope and pray for is that the people who are in charge of winning this war on terrorism fully comprehend what we are up against; that that our defense and intelligence machinery is more than going into overdrive; that we are utilizing every aspect of our high-tech capabilities to try to intercept any planned coming attack--AND THAT THEY FORGET ABOUT BUREAUCRATIC PENCIL-PUSHING AND GET THINGS DONE, GETTING THINGS DONE TODAY, RATHER THAN TOMORROW.
Nuclear weapons: Even though at least 100 atomic bombs--some of them as small as a suitcase--are missing from the former USSR arsenal, the experts in this field appear to agree that terrorists may not have one (at least not yet brought into the U.S.A.) and that exploding an atomic weapon in a Western country is not very likely.
The biological/chemical threat is very real! As reported in the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 2001, Section A, page 25, U.S. reconnaissance satellites recently spotted numerous dead animals near one Bin Laden camp, suggesting that the testing of chemical weapons had already been accomplished. In an unprecedented move, normally only heard from alarmists. the Center for Disease Control (CDC) alerted health professionals to watch out for cases of smallpox, food poisoning, and deadly viruses like Ebola.
What can we do to be prepared? We'd like to know ourselves! So we involved PhDs, MDs, police officers, reserve military people, and scientists who knew about the Gulf War toxins that most likely caused Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) and other diseases and listened to terrorist experts, doctors from the CDC, and others. Check back with us in two or three days. We'll have something under the the title: "If Terror Strikes--Basic Preparedness and What to Do." We are also collecting data on the psychology of fighting back from an international level to using effective Voo-Doo on terrorists, like promising them that we'll bury them with pig scraps, which according to their beliefs would make them impure and ineligible to enter Heaven (who'd let those barbarians into Heaven anyway, but that's what they believe, and those Voo-Doo methods work).
A little terrorist logic. Even though available data are sparce, I'd like to venture another prediction: Any coming attack has a much higher probability of being with a chemical poison, rather than with a biological agent. Previously, from terrorist activities, I concluded that Miami, Florida, and in decreasing risk, Atlanta, San Diego, and Boston were at high risk of being hit; I still believe that Florida (most likely Miami) is at an elevated risk.
Anthrax: As I see it, there is something truly wrong with the anthrax attacks (really only scares). If those were real attacks, one would have to conclude that they were near total failures. But terrorists are not stupid! Let's not underestimate them. The anthrax attempts are either just aimed at rattling our cages, trying to scare and terrorize us--but most likely to take our attention away from other possible coming areas of attack.
Relative to other agents, anthrax is only minor. Some of the anthrax data (re: weapons- grade anthrax from Iraq or stolen from insufficiently protected Russian weapons depots) suggest that another terrorist group is entering the picture (Iraq?). I think that the same is true for the agricultural airplane scares, that they are a smokescreen to mke us focus our attention in the wrong direction.
Trying to prevent a chemical poison attack: If it was up to me, I'd focus antiterrorist forces on trucks big enough to carry two tanks for liquids, chemical trucks or similar vehicles. I'd even equip law enforcement officers with simple chemical tests for checking transported liquids (while wearing breathing equipment or gas masks).
If you have any questions about toxins/biological agents, go to www.immed.org by Professor Garth Nicolson, formerly Chairman of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and expert on Gulf War biological agents.
If the New York reality didn't sink in yet, THINK AGAIN!
One thing is for sure: While lighting candles and showing solidarity are good, this war won't be won with old fashioned cookie bakes to benefit the victims.
War & Peace in the Real World
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
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