Opinion » Ted Rall

We Learned Nothing

Americans still stupid and vulnerable

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They say everything changed on 9/11. No one can dispute that. But we didn't learn anything.

Like other events that forced Americans to reassess national priorities, the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., were a traumatic, teachable moment. The collective attention of the nation was finally focused on problems that had gone neglected for many years. 9/11 was a chance to get smart--but we blew it.

The attacks gave the United States a rare opportunity to reset its reputation. Even countries known for anti-Americanism offered their support. "We are all Americans," ran the headline of the French newspaper Le Monde.

The century of U.S. foreign policy that led to 9/11 should and could have been put on hold and reassessed in the wake of 9/11.

It wasn't time to act. It was time to think, to lick our wounds and play the victim. It was time, for once, to take the high road. The Bush administration ought to have treated 9/11 as a police investigation, demanding that Pakistan extradite Osama bin Laden and others wanted in connection with the attacks for prosecution by an international court.

By 2003 the world hated us more than ever. A BBC poll showed that people in Jordan and Indonesia--moderate Muslim countries where al-Qaida had killed locals with bombs--considered the United States a bigger security threat than the terrorist group.

In fairness to Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld and George W. Bush's other leading war criminals, everyone else went along with them. The media refused to question them. Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, cast votes in favor of Bush's wars. Democrats and leftist activists ought to have pushed for Bush's impeachment.

Ten years later, a "Democratic" president is fighting Bush's wars, as well as new ones against Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Now he's saber-rattling against Syria.

American officials correctly inferred from 9/11 that security, particularly at airports but also in ports where container ships arrive daily from around the world, had been lax. Rather than act proactively to close gaps, however, bureaucrats for the new Department of Homeland Security created a gauntlet of police-state harassment so onerous that it has threatened the financial health of the aviation industry.

"Aviation security is a joke, and it's only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers," wrote Barbara Hollingsworth of The Washington Examiner after the 2009 "underwear bomber" scare.

Ten years later there is still no real security when you board a train or bus. Perhaps the sheer quantity of goods arriving at American ports makes it impossible to screen them all, but we've basically given up on port security.

On 9/11 hundreds of firefighters and policemen died because they couldn't communicate on antiquated, segregated bandwidth. "Only one month away from the 10th anniversary of 9/11," admits FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, "our first responders still don't have an interoperable mobile broadband network for public safety."

Because the masters of the Democratic and Republican parties love the low wage/weak labor created by illegal immigration, American land borders are intentionally left unguarded.

A lot changed on 9/11 but not everything. We're still governed by corrupt idiots. What does that say about us?

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