To The Terrorist Attacks On The United States

FTLComm - Tisdale / San Jose - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

This morning, a full twenty-four hours since three of the world's largest buildings were attacked by deliberately crashed commercial passenger aircraft, the enormity of the event is just beginning to sink in as we learn of the magnitude of what has happened.

I really couldn't face eating breakfast alone and listening to the radio as the tragic stories unfold and so I went to Hannigans where I found the normal more cheer of our little town seems always to lift us up even when or hockey team loses the folks at breakfast can smile. But not this morning, they talked in the low tones of aware people, aware of the sadness and lose of so many people who had gone to breakfast yesterday and today are statistics.

For me the realisation that as the second aircraft cranked around in a banking turn over the Hudson (above left) the passengers in the left hand window seats all would have seen the massive plume of smoke from the North tower and realise that the fanatic at the controls was heading their aircraft toward the South tower.

I talked to someone who had walked around the huge site on which the buildings stood and then ridden to the top observation location to take pictures of Manhattan looking North toward Times Square up Broadway which you can see stretching toward the top of this picture. Then he told me something that as yet I had heard no one on television discussing simply because they all have been to New York and seen this building and do not think of those of us who have not and assume we all know what lies beneath.

When a documentary film maker explained this morning that the rubble of those two massive building seen above, now covers about ten city blocks it struck me that this is about the size of our little town. Of course that should be no surprise with only a few more than two thousand of us living here there were over fifty-thousand folks who went to work in those two buildings every day. But what about underneath them. This is where the fellow I talked to this morning helped me out and the feeling of despair set in once more.

As you look down on this huge complex your will recall that it is under the jurisdiction of the New York Port Authority and this is because it is under the former World Trade Center that a two level subway station is located, the terminal for passengers getting off or on the subway to board or disembark from the Satten Island Ferry. A massive shopping mall several stories deep sits beneath what is now a monumental pile of rubble. In that vast dark and confused environment there will be survivors, buried alive many still alive in spaces that would have held up under the crumbling one-hundred ten floors of buildings from above.

Yesterday we carried reactions from San Jose, a huge suburb of San Francisco, the destination of one of the four high jacked and crashed planes. Below is what Kevin McIntyre tells us late yesterday:
Today the fastest way to get information is via the web. My wife woke me up at 7:05 and tuned in CNN, The World Trade Center had been hit. During the course of the day I was on CNN, MSNBC and CBC Newsworld International along with the web. At 9 AM PST I called my brother at his home in Hawaii [6 AM] and woke him up: "get out of bed and turn on CNN....". Throughout the morning my emails have spanned 1/4 of the globe: a friend back in N.E. Saskatchewan said local radio reports told of a crash in Colorado. A cousin who works in an office building in Regina couldn't get clear radio broadcasts, had heard that too and a coworker had family in Colorado they couldn't reach. A few mouse clicks took me through Yahoo to which carried no report of that story. From a friend in Delaware, the Dover Air Force Base was on alert to be the designated morgue. Two of my wife's coworkers are New Yorkers: they both were silent and said that given the dense terrain of Manhattan, you wouldn't want to be there. No phone calls were able to be placed to the area. While CNN & MSNBC focused near exclusively on New York, the Pentagon and Pittsburgh were also involved. The web was slow, but reports could be read from there. Our RCA DirectTv system carries CBC Newsworld International, by 2PM I'd tuned to that. They gave a broader report from the American North East along with more global reactions. These terrorists may have bitten off more than they can chew, every other terrorist group out there has disavowed their actions. They are now as marked as a Mafia hit man who took out a Don without family approval. They may be hunted down by their own.

Reports now from those on board the doomed airliners with cell phones say the hijackers were armed with nothing more than knives and box cutters. Three of four were successfully commandeered, the fourth wasn't, and was no doubtlessly targeted for the White House or the Capital Building, just like one of Tom Clancys' novels. While the media says who could carry out such a complex operation, the truth is it was as low tech as one can get. A handful of persons bent on their goal, the element of surprise, basic hand weapons then use the fully fueled aircraft as the tool of destruction. America, Western society, is very open. We demand that as free people. Under those conditions we are vulnerable to those attacks. Our society as we know it will change in the face of what is possibly the largest terrorist attack in history.

Wherever we are, we are connected. Living here in America two people in my wife's office are native New Yorkers. My cousin in Regina, her coworker has family living in Colorado she was unable to reach. A friend in Saskatoon has the connection listed below. Nineteen months ago when living in Carrot River a man who lived 100 yards from me sat in my house and related how he was in JFK Airport watched the doomed Egypt Air airliner as it boarded that fateful day. We now all get around. It may not happen "here", but we are touched by global events. The one instance of the WTC housing many investment houses will have untold impacts on the American and global economy. That will effect me, that will effect you. The roofs of those building held the cell phone towers that covered the city: communications that are now inoperable. The list will go on.

The media clamors to find who had the resources to carry this out. This was extremely well planned and executed, but by extremely low tech means. One can not guard against an attack like that without severe impact to the public at large. My friend from Delaware wrote that obviously there were no Rednecks or Urban dwelling African Americans on board. Well, who knows what went down. My opinion is, the bulkhead separating the crew from the passengers is only a lightly built aluminum framed visual barrier. If those were more solid built with secure doors, hijackings would not occur. We will be calling my father-in law tonight. His opinion will be invaluable: he is a USAF trained pilot, he flew two combat tours in the Korean war. After discharge from the Air Force he joined American Airlines, was among the first to be certified in the 747 and flew it on that very same LAX / Boston route until his retirement in 1980. There is no way that man, or any Captain, would fly into a target like we saw today. The flight crews were overpowered, by men armed with knives carried through "security" checkpoints.

The death toll may go well over ten thousand. Maybe double that. This is going to get very nasty.

From a friend of Kevin's in Saskatoon:
Joni has been on the phone with Rhonda in San Ramon and she is more than a little distraught. Rhonda's significant other is a senior traffic controller at Fremont Center and he went to work at 6:00AM as usual this week. He called home a few minutes later and said he didn't think he would be home for "some time - maybe days". She has been unable to reach anybody in the ATC center since cuz the FAA locked it up tight as a drum - as in Red Alert.

Kinda quiet around here as well. We are just a bit south of the westbound approach to runway 26 and usually see lots of activity out the window. Nil today. Not even a flying farmer or two.

On the real downside, still no word from family in NYC. They're in Queens and should be safe, but they can't be reached. Other family is in the burbs and hopefully did not go into the city today. The pstn is jammed in that corner of America.