Trust falls with two towers

By Tyler Vincent

This is the end. Those of us with a classic rock vernacular could not avoid the apocalyptic musing of Jim Morrison and company’s 11-minute opus from the late ‘60s, as we were greeted with the images of destruction and helplessness that poured out of New York City Tuesday morning.

It is the end of our assurance that our government not only is aware of every terrorist group’s plot to damage our soil and kill our citizens, but will take monumental action to prevent those acts from occurring.

It is the end of our perception that because the United States is the world’s dominant superpower, we have the tools and the ability to know where our enemies are and how they may attack.

It is the end of taking flights in the U.S. without worrying that the plane you are flying may be hijacked and flown into the side of a building.

The terrorist acts that occurred Tuesday were nothing short of a staggering work of diabolical genius. Four planes, all flying to the West Coast, were hijacked at roughly the same time and diverted to different locations with one thing in common: They were major centers of American commerce and American security.

One of the hijacked planes hit one of the towers at the World Trade Center just before 9 a.m. Just as members of the media began their coverage of the first attack, a second hijacked plane smashed into the second tower. Both towers, which stood as a mighty symbol of American excellence that we hold in the same regard as our beloved Sears Tower, collapsed within an hour. An hour later, another hijacked commercial flight flew into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

A fourth plane, that was reportedly headed for Camp David in Maryland, crashed in western Pennsylvania.

No emergency signals were sent. No warning was given. The only confirmations that the flights were hijacked were made by those on the flights who phoned loved ones or 911 on their cellular phones.

President George W. Bush attempted to comfort the nation Tuesday night with the usual political rhetoric.

“Today our nation saw evil,” he said. “These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve … We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”

Didn’t we hear the same thing from our elected officials after the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995? Or the military base and embassy bombings that littered the last half of the ‘90s? The empty rhetoric of “our spirit is unbroken,” “justice will be served” and “we will take measures so that nothing like this ever happens again” was given to us back then, and we believed it.

We wanted to believe that all terrorist threats against us would not come to fruition after the atrocious murders of 168 innocent people. We wanted to think they would take more precaution.

We believed. And this is what we get. More promises and scenes of elected officials singing “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps.

Tuesday morning’s action in New York and Washington, D.C., has reduced the Oklahoma City bombing, which still leaves a huge scar on our national psyche, to nothing more than a 7-11 robbery.

The rhetoric of Bush and other elected officials falls like a house of cards. The leading suspect in this case is known terrorist Osama Bin Laden. He has attacked us before. He threatened widespread damage against us a few weeks ago, and every indication says that if he is not caught, he will strike us again.

Bush and other elected officials must be sincerely hoping that this was the work of Bin Laden. That way, they can tell the country that they are “stepping up their efforts” to stop both him and his organization.

But if it was him, it begs the question: Why hasn’t the lone world superpower in all its might brought him to justice? Why didn’t those who make security policy decisions for this country heed his warnings from a few weeks ago, in which Bin Laden indicated his intention to launch an attack of this scale, and take precautions?

But what if it isn’t Bin Laden? If it isn’t, then some terrifying hypotheses have to be made.

For if it is not Bin Laden, then we are dealing with another enemy or organization that we did not know existed.

We don’t know who this person is or what this organization is. We don’t know how many co-conspirators or persons are associated with him/her/it.

We don’t know where they are. They could be based in this country for all we know. We don’t know what they want, what weapons they will use or where they will strike again.

If there is one lesson of today, it is summed up in three words: We don’t know.

We don’t know how to get Bin Laden, and we sure as hell don’t know who the conspirators are if it isn’t Bin Laden.

And that is the most terrifying thought of all.