FTLComm - Tisdale / San Jose / Kamloops- Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Since the story began to unfold I have been glued to two televisions screens watching the biggest news story in my lifetime unfold. I was surprised when I received several phone calls from people doing surveys, selling products and doing business, somehow I thought everyone would have realised what was going on and devoted their attention to the event that rapidly spread from New York to Washington and eventually touched the whole of the continent.

All three of my sons telephoned me knowing full well that I would be extremely upset at this event, not that it touched me personally, initially, but as it began to sink in, the enormity of this situation is very had to take. No word describes it better than to exclaim that this act is simply not acceptable.

Were the event to have ended a few minutes after it began it would already have been one of the most serious terrorist events in North American history. The highjacking of at least four passenger airliners and the deliberate killing of all those hapless people, who just got on the worng airplane this morning. This alone would have moved our universal concern up to the top of the scale, but then there was more and then more.

As I write this here is what has occured, four US airline aircraft were highjacked and deliberately crashed killing all passengers and crew. Two were flown into the World trade centre towers in New York City and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington. The fourth aircraft was to go down in Pennsylvania with confirmation from that aircraft that it had been highjacked. One of the other aircraft also got a message off from a member of the crew who reported two of the flight attendants stabbed and highjackers in control of the flight deck.

The two massive skyscrapers in Manhatten collapsed one after the other with rescue people crawling through them and unknown numbers of workers trapped in the building. The Pentagon was seriously damaged killing large numbers of people in their offices.

The effects were felt here in Canada almost immediately. The United States with aircraft falling out of the sky quite rightly closed its airspace and put its military aircraft up to guard against further attacks. Sons two and three reported very heavy inbound traffic into Winnipeg International as US aircrafts diverted there and to other Canadian airports as they also button down all departures. Winnipeg International is also a military airport and there were reports that the place was secured by military personell.

Meanwhile back home (to me the Yukon seems like home) two Korean airliners, one a transport and the other a passenger aircraft were forced to land by Canadian military CF-18s and the passenger aircraft was being treated as though it were a highjacked aircraft.

From coast to coast the United States is shut down, schools closed, buslines not operating and commerce ground to a halt, in Canada we will mirror the security precautions and commerical flight is not expected to resume at least until tomorrow or later.

My e-mail began getting reactions to these events almost immediately after they occured as Kevin McIntyre who lives within listening distance to San Francisco Internation sent me his first realisation that things had shut down then he sent me his reactions to the tragedy.
The talking heads keep saying of the resources needed to carry out this attack: I peg it at less than fifteen people. Four airplanes, two, maybe three per makes a dozen people. A couple more that head up that terrorist cell and that's all you need. You need four with ability to fly aircraft, and they only need to know how to do course changes / straight and level. Once the pilot has it off the ground any person with a private ticket could steer it. They need guns that don't set off metal detectors at check points, the NRA assured them ready access to those, and in ten minutes anyone with Internet access anywhere in the world can check departure times at selected airports. They choose cross country flights [going west w/ headwinds] that would have full fuel tanks, and hit highly visible targets. The fourth plane was likely headed for the Capital building [as laid out in detail in one of Tom Clancy's novels] but the flight crew were more successful in their fight.

This is perhaps the largest terrorist attack anywhere. The U.S. will be as frenzied as a wet cat in a sack, no group will claim this and go out of their way to disavow themselves: they may even participate in rooting out the guilty parties. If a country, say Iraq, were involved, that country would be removed from the map by ICBMs'. If a terrorist camp is involved, it will disappear. Boy George will be on a rant. Don't get in his way.

No Plastic explosives were needed, no dynamite, no tanks, L.A.W.S. rockets, no big hoard of arms or bullets. This would be very easy to put together, and with high profile results. The fallout? Enormous.

The investment company Morgan Stanley leased fifty floors of the WTC, if they didn't have off site data backup, the fallout from that alone is huge. So far the NRA has been successful in keeping Nanite tracers out of TNT and held off attempts to outlaw X-Ray safe plastic guns, not to mention the ability for anyone to just walk up and buy one. That'll change. Anytime I've flown the security at Saskatoon was the toughest I saw. Changing planes in Vancouver was a non issue, Toronto was no more strenuous than boarding a city bus and Honolulu was essentially wide open. A terrorist would want to enter thru that point: the staff are Hawaiian or Filipino, and from what I've seen don't have a good command of the English language. Given Hawaii as a tourist destination, you see tail feathers from nearly every country of the world there. Once "in country", blend in. Here in San Jose I've gone months and never interacted let alone seen a white person. A trip to the mall is an exercise of language instruction. Even those who look Caucasian speak in languages one can't identify.

This would be incredibly easy to carry out.

Kevin has thought through the scenario and clearly the kind of results from such planning has been demonstrated and we are all in trouble with this one.

Meanwhile, business education teacher Michael Townsend was getting up in Kamloops when the first news came out, here is his reaction:

I was up at 5:30 am and showered etc. and had the radio on by about ten to 6:00. The first plane had struck the World Trade Center but as it was broadcast, it didn't register for me. But then another plane became involved and I went in and turned on the TV. I then watched this second plane steer toward and crash into the building. I was numbed!! When the numbness cleared I felt sick to my stomach. How could this happen? What could possess someone to do such a thing?

I left the house at 6:40 am to catch the bus and had my Walkman. I then heard about the other two aircraft and then first, the second tower that was struck, then the first collapsed. I tried to imagine the carnage but it was beyond my ability. I thought that despite the huge material loss that occurred at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, this might be more in terms of human loss. I have not listened to a radio or TV since 8:30 this morning so I don't know.

This is a highly emotional event and one cannot be objective about this, at least not right now. You must vent your anger anyway that works for you and look at this objectively later. My chest still holds something in it that I cannot identify. I do not feel well. We, as a part of North America, have lost something today.

Of that Michael I am certain. When the losses become known we are all going to feel even more anguish and it might be good to think through the process of mourning and loss because every person, one way or another, will be touched by this and feel the pain Michael describes.

When confronted with a loss, the first reaction we have is denial. We find it hard to accept that such an event could occur but gradually the reality sinks in and we immediately experience "bargaining" the "What-ifs" come to mind, perhaps if, this or that, or if only this or that, we must have done something to deserve this event and so on, then as sure as winter follows fall, we begin to feel anger, it rages up in us almost uncontrollably and we demand and need some sort of retrobution. After this comes the overwhelming saddness of depression. There are two final stages to this process but most of us have a tough time getting through the preliminaries, but some folks are able to move on to acceptance and a rare group will even go beyond that to hope. Such is the process, everyone must make this journey.
I sincerely feel the most heart felt sympathy for all those (perhaps thousands) who lost their loved ones this morning, for them there can be no consolence at this time, for their's is to great a loss for us to comprehend, but all across North America, people will do what they can to get through this, let us be compassionate and understanding.

Timothy W. Shire