Beauty of Gray



Friday, September 13, 2002
 

Anybody awake out there?


I can't believe this isnt' the biggest story in every single newspaper around the country. MSNBC had this quote in their article on the Palermo Senator, the ship that was detained and searched outside New York:

The search of the M/V Palermo Senator was based primarily on intelligence suggesting a ship matching its description could be carrying nuclear material or a nuclear device into the United States, the officials said.

And that's it. That's the only place I've seen this little factoid, and most papers barely covered the searching, if at all. Even if it was just a search triggered by unusual radiation background, it ought to be a huge story. Add in the fact that, apparently, intelligence sources have concrete intelligence (definite enough to finger certain specific ships) that al Qaeda is smuggling radioactive material or even a nuclear bomb into the country. But nobody's picked up this story.

Hello? Any reporters out there? Those of us near the likely blast radius of a nuclear attack would be interested to know a little more about this. Instead, it was 24 hours of wallowing in pathos on 9-11. Fine, but whne there's breaking news, maybe you can spare one of the 285 reporters you had intererviewing survivors to go and, say, maybe pull the string on this whole imminent nuclear attack on the US thing. I'm not a newspaper editor, so God knows I'm not an expert, but it seems to me that this could be a pretty big story here.

And while you're at it, maybe you could have spared more than 5 seconds and 1 column inch to the 2 rumored hijackings and the bomb threat in downtown Columbus. If it wasn't for blogs, I'd have never heard of any of these stories.

Link posted by Doug Turnbull at 7:35 AM



Wednesday, September 11, 2002
 
Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.


Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on the parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that siezed and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.


"Aftermath," Siegfried Sassoon



I was on my way to work, crossing the Wilson bridge when I heard. In the gap between songs I flipped to another station, and the morning show DJ was talking about a collision in New York and a plane. I was confused, but imagined a small plane, an accident, confident in my secure naivete. Then the second plane hit and we all knew it was no accident. Bits and peices came through on the radio, and 10 minutes later when I was at work, I more or less knew what had happened.

The news website were all clogged up, as I tried one after another. I got most of my information from a sports bulletin board, which that day had a more serious topic. Those who were at home watching TV passed info along. I remember instants in time. The first time I was able to get through to a website--I think it was the LA Times, and saw the pictures. The horrible, high definition explosions against the blue sky. I remember when someone posted that the first tower had fallen. It seemed unreal, but I knew then that the second tower was doomed as well, so when the word came that it too had collapsed it was not a shock but the inevitable end act of the tragedy.

Then someone said the Pentagon had been hit, and soon after that it had collapsed. I knew that couldn't be right, since I've been to the Pentagon and I knew it was far too large to destroyed by one airplane. At that point I got a call from my girlfriend, now fiance, who was working up in Baltimore. She was much more frightened that I was, and urged me to go home. I felt safe, though. Not since, but that day, being in a target rich environment like DC was a protection. A terrorist would go for the White House or Capitol or one of the monuments, not my obscure building miles away. I was more worried about my brother, who works in a skyscraper in downton Chicago.

There was one TV in a lobby of my building, and I went and joined the small group there, watching the images--the second plane hitting from 5 different angles, the towers coming down, the fire at the Pentagon. I quickly had my fill of that, but waited, hoping for more information. There were more planes in the air, there were 2, there was 1, there was a crash somewhere in Pennsylvania, but that wasn't related (yeah right), then maybe it was targetted for Camp David (huh?) At this point, the TV was simply passing along rumors, and didn't even seem to be filtering them through common sense. All they could offer was more slow motion horror, and I'd have my fill of that later.

Somone had previously passed around word that the CO of the facility had given everyone leave to go home. I went out and got in my car, but the entire base was in gridlock--I went to the south gate but it had been closed, leaving only one exit, a long wys away. I knew that would take hours to get to , so I parked and went back to my office. I joined a few people from my research group huddled out by the river. No-one wanted to say anything, but neither did anyone want to be alone.

Across the river you could see the cloud of black smoke rising from the Pentagon. What struck me most was the quiet. Usually there is a steady stream of planes taking of and landing at National, but that day there was nothing, except for a lone private jet which took off while we waited. I never did find out who was on that plane.

When I went back to my office, I got another call from my girlfriend, who couldn't believe I was still at work, or that I hadn't called my mother. She demanded my number, so she could call. Her officemate piped up in the background and said *she'd* call my house if I didn't, so I gave in, and promised I'd go home soon. I called my parents and left them a messge letting them know I was fine. Shortly after I returned home and, like the rest of the country, spent the evening in front of the TV.

One of the channels brought on a bicycle messenger who had snuck into Ground Zero (they were already calling it that) and so I saw the first eerie images of the pile, the wrenched facades still standing, like a memorial. There was only that, and the floodlit panorama of Ground Zero, crawled over by lines of workers, cranes and moving equipment, the first and most immediate response.

The anger came later, but that day was one of shock and sadness, the foundation of the resolve that President Bush captured with his speech. A few quiet phone calls to friends and family--no-one had much to say, but it was good to be connected. Then sleep.

Link posted by Doug Turnbull at 7:14 AM



Tuesday, September 10, 2002
 
High threat level


CNN is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security has put out a threat level orange warning, which is the second highest warning level, indivative of a high level of risk of a terrorist attack. This meshes with a series of other incidents which, after a long lull, seem to be coming thick and fast. The arrest of a man trying to bring a gun onto a plane in Sweden. The break-in at the utah weapons facility. The theft of 300+ pounds of ammonium nitrate in Texas. The videotaping and, possibly, scouting of the Washington monument (which happened a few weeks ago but was recently reported.) The increase in network "chatter" reported by intelligence sources. The attempted assasination of President Karzai. The plot to bomb the US Army base at Heidelberg.

None of these are conclusive, and even if it is a true pattern it looks more like a series of smaller, unrelated attacks rather than a big coordinated one like last 9-11. Of course, we wouldn't hear anythign about that until it either happened or the plot was foiled, so that might not mean anything. But there does seem to be a significant uptick in enemy activity going on around now, so be careful if you can.

Link posted by Doug Turnbull at 9:41 AM







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