I first heard about the planes slamming into the World Trade Center Towers on the radio as I crawled through the massive parking lot that circles Washington DC called the “Beltway” en route to my  wine business office in McLean, Virginia, the richest of the rich suburbs that flank DC on the west and south.  I got to the office in time to see the towers come tumbling down. The entire staff of 8 was glued to the TV when we heard the explosion of the plane that dove into the Pentagon a few miles away. 

The sight of the burning and then tumbling towers was vivid to me since five years before I had been working on the very floor where one of the planes hit.  I could visualize everyone rapidly following the drills and practices that had been put in place following the failed attempt to blow up one of the towers in 1993.  The whole time I watched the towers fall on the TV I kept thinking, what about the thousands of commuters passing through the multi-level transportation hub that lay below the towers?  I imagined thousands buried under a mountain of rubble.  For the grace of God the post 1993 drills worked and every single soul below ground had been evacuated before the towers opened a massive hole where the transport hub had existed. 

I was working in the towers for Dean Witter at its hotshot showcase sales operation connected to headquarters.  Most “Wall Street” brokerages were actually located in the towers.  The attackers had chosen their target as a highly visible symbol but also since it was the very heart of America´s financial industry. 

When I finally got to New York several weeks later I gasped as I came out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and gazed down Seventh Avenue where I had sung on stage with New York´s venerable Village Light Opera Group.  Gone were the towers that punctuated the long avenue like two massive exclamation marks!   The full impact of the dastardly deed hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I went to see a friend who worked in a building two blocks away from the towers.  He took me to the roof from where I had a panoramic view of the entire scene of destruction.  There was a massive hole in the ground filled with mangled metal and varied debris.  I winced at the sight. 

Aftermath.

President Bush responded by soon after toppling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan which had been the base for the Al Qaeda crime.  It was a brilliant exercise since we paid Afghans to overthrow the regime instead of doing it with our boys.  I assume we would then leave the place as we had done in the Gulf War.  I had had a ring side seat for that war since I was running the Turkish operation in Ankara of the company that had the contract from the Kuwaiti Embassy in DC to get the US to save Kuwait from Iraq´s seizure of the country.  We succeeded in getting the US Congress to vote to go to war against Iraq, largely because of the attention we gave, not to Kuwait, but to Iraq having, drum roll please, Weapons of Mass Destruction!   So, as in the Gulf War, I expected the US to go in, beat up the oppressive regime, and leave.  While I was not privy to our thinking and planning for Afghanistan, I suspect the Gulf War was entirely the work of the US Military who saw a war, prepared meticulously for it, and won it handily.  I suspect Afghanistan became the work of a committee of all parties involved including my old colleagues at the State Department, the CIA, NSA, the National Security Council and the US Military.  Part of the thinking was to make sure Afghanistan did not become a haven for terrorists again.  Part was to fill the void left by eliminating the Taliban regime.  In any case we did not follow the highly successful Gulf War model.

When Bush turned his sights on Iraq I thought, well we´ll get rid of another threat from the Middle East.  Saddam had been bleating like a suck pig since the Gulf War and who knows what stunts he was capable of doing.  I cringed, however, when I heard the rationale to attack Iraq - Weapons of Mass Destruction!  The same trick my company had used to get the Congress to declare the Gulf War.  And I knew that this threat was basically “smoke and mirrors” since they were using the same information or lack thereof we had in the Gulf War. 

Oh well, I said, we will once again teach Saddam a lesson and leave.  But, as with Afghanistan, the committee approach  said no, we must stay and insure that Iraq would not supply Weapons of Mass Destruction to terrorists.  The committee also believed we could turn Iraq into a “democracy” that would eschew terrorism. 

Now we are out of Iraq but still deeply entrenched in Afghanistan.  President Obama completed the agreement “W” had made with Iraq to be out by the end of 2011.  But for some unfathomable reason he took a page out of “W´s” play book and ordered a “surge” of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  The jury is still out on whither Iraq, but there is complete agreement that the Taliban will return to power in Afghanistan as soon as we leave which is looking now to be sooner than later. 

And now I see programs claiming that Sept 11 was not the work of Muslim terrorists but an elaborate plot by Israel and Zionists in the USA to force the USA to declare war on Islam.  The proof offered is that the World Trade Towers could not have been brought down by the intense fire caused by jet fuel in the two planes.  There had to have been bombs planted in the buildings set to go off as the planes crashed into the buildings.  The flaw in this theory is that the 1993 plot blew up a van loaded with explosives next to main structural elements of one of the towers.  The bomb failed to bring down the building, in fact it did not even destroy any of the structure.