Like most people I vividly remember September 11, 2001. I was in my car, making another long and boring commute, half listening to the radio when I heard about the jetliner crashing into the World Trade Center (WTC). By the time I got into the office the other plane had struck the other tower and the Pentagon had been hit.
I was safe in Indianapolis, but the rumors and misinformation were starting to snowball. A stupid lady in the office I was working in came in and announced that planes had just struck the Sears Tower and they’d collapsed. The Sears Tower? In Chicago? “No”, the idiot replied, “in New York!” This misinformation was quickly cleared up, but the panic had started. Lines at gas stations started forming and gas prices soared. People started blood drives and fund raisers that very day for the victims.
I was still a smoker at that time and I went out to my car many times that day to have a cigarette and to listen to the radio. What I heard had me very concerned, because I was hearing lots of rhetoric that sounded like what I’d heard after the Oklahoma City bombing. On 9/11 I heard the POTUS announce a war on terrorism. That announcement made me worry more than the terrorist acts themselves had, as I knew that in the past previous administrations had labeled various people as terrorists or possible terrorists. Those who were smeared as possible terrorists included homeschoolers, gun owners, Constitutionalists, survivalists, militias and those who distrusted the Federal government. I could see where all this was heading, only I couldn’t have predicted how broad this new War on Terror would turn out to be.
Later I heard that WTC Building 7 had collapsed, even though it had not been struck by a plane. No good reason was given for the collapse of Building 7 on September 11, 2011; no good, rational reason has ever been given for the collapse of Building 7 by the powers that be or their media lapdogs.
At the time of the attacks I had been writing for the now defunct SierraTimes.com (ST), run by J.J. Johnson. ST was geared toward libertarians, members of the patriot movement, constitutionalists and various limited government types. While it was not a perfect match for me, it was a comfortable match and I enjoyed writing for ST. I had previously written a series of articles for ST on the stand off between the Feds and the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, and had been present during much of that dispute and was looking into another stand off, this time in Michigan, at Rainbow Farm, that had ended when Tom Crosslin and Rolland Rohm were shot and killed by the police. This occurred on September 3, 2001. Eight days later the towers came down and nobody cared that a couple of hippy marijuana activists got themselves killed by cops.
It has been said that “everything changed after 9/11”. This is nonsense. Before 9/11 there were bad people willing to do evil, and there were governments and government camp followers who were ready, willing and able to exploit and profit from tragedy, just the same as after 9/11. While it is not true that everything changed, some things did change after 9/11.
Even though libertarians and other noninterventionists had warned that if the U.S. kept meddling in the affairs of other countries and continued to prop up vicious dictators and regional pariahs, that the U.S. was opening itself up to acts of revenge. It has been said that war is the terrorism of the rich and terrorism is the war of the poor. Even though many people knew these things to be true, once the chickens came home to roost on 9/11 all that many could think of was revenge. I quickly found out that many of my friends and associates at ST had forgotten all about noninterventionism and blowback after 9/11 and became obsessed with revenge and war. I used to subscribe to Liberty magazine, but I cancelled my subscription after 9/11 because the post-9/11 issues bore no resemblance to the libertarian periodical that I had subscribed to and which I had previously looked forward to receiving in the mail. Yes, some things did change.
Just like in the aftermath of the OKC bombing, Congress had a large laundry list of special police state powers they wanted to pass in order to give the government more power and authority, at the expense of individual rights and freedoms. Congress called this power grab the Patriot Act. The power grab following the OKC bombing was called the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The Patriot Act, like the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, that was passed following the 9/11 attacks was a collection of laws that further entrenched the growing police state and included many provision that would not normally be passed, but following the 9/11 attacks the bill couldn’t be passed quickly enough. In fact, one of the portions of the Patriot Act was the sneak and peak provision in which the government gave itself the power to issue secret search warrants, break in to a subject’s house or business, and “sneak and peak”. This was previously a part of the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act that was not passed, but when it was cut and pasted into the Frankenstein monster that is the Patriot Act it quickly became law. Yes, some things did change.
Another thing that has changed is that many people in the U.S. now view any person in uniform or with a badge as a hero. In the past, by definition, to be a hero one had to do something heroic. Now if one, to quote Steve Miller, “makes his living off of the people’s taxes”, he is a hero to be swooned over and to be supported, no matter what.
Like scared children, crying out for their mother, many Americans cried and ran to the Federal government, seeking the illusory safety and shelter of the very government whose intelligence and defense infrastructure failed so obviously and miserably on 9/11. After looting the earnings of the American worker for the past six decades the military-industrial complex failed to provide for the defense of the U.S., but its very failure ensured that it would profit handsomely in the coming War on Terrorism. Yes, some things did change.
Bad people do bad things. Government failures are rewarded. Governments use tragedies and fear to separate people from their money and their freedom. No, 9/11 did not change everything, or much at all.