The horrible events of September 11, 2001 left a mark on the American psyche that will never be forgotten. It was a tragedy that brought the nation together in grief, but the Bush administration’s response to it quickly divided us again. I still find it unbelievable that the Al-Qaeda attack was used as justification for W. to “get” Saddam Hussein. The invasion of Iraq may have been the most blatant example of the government using 9/11 as an excuse to lie to the public, but it is by no means the only one. In his new book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, author Trevor Aaronson details the agency’s woeful record on anti-terrorism since that fateful day.
Through a series of interviews with FBI informants, former and current agents, and other reliable sources, Aaronson has done his homework. It seems that the goal has not been to actually make the nation safer, but to appear to be making it safer. Good press trumps everything. What the author has discovered is a situation in which cases are invented, and people are routinely set up. Resources are squandered on chasing paper tigers, with the end result being that the nation remains dangerously vulnerable to attack.
To discover that our anti-terrorism professionals are more concerned with achieving quotas and getting good publicity, rather than making the U.S. safe is a little hard to swallow. Yet it is all right here, and the facts are hard to argue with.
I was outraged after reading this book, and in trying to make sense of it, I thought about the way things were in airports prior to 9/11. You may remember that before the attacks, airport security was pretty lax. You went through a metal detector, and your bags were checked. There was also a sign stating that everything a person said would be taken seriously. This was a way of letting the tipsy guy in line know that a “joke” such as “Oh yes, I have an AK-47 in my luggage” was not a good idea. Best to just keep your mouth shut.