September 12, 2001
5:03 PM   Subscribe

"Lawmakers [have been] told in classified briefings that additional attacks are 'possible if not probable' and they should not assume a false sense of security. This message has been conveyed with a very deliberate and serious level of magnitude." I've been worried about this from the beginning. Who knows if there aren't more terrorists cooling their heels in some airport somewhere because the FAA grounded all the planes so fast? Or that they don't have some evil plan to freak us all out first, get us worked up into a "yeah, we're gonna get 'em!" frenzy, and then do something else just as bad to make us feel helpless?
posted by aaron (23 comments total)
I don't know. No one knows. This is unprecedented. The best we can do as people is watch out for this kind of stuff.

I'm not going to feel secure for a long time. I'm just happy I live nowhere near anything all too important to the US people. I live in fucking Iowa, for christ's sake.
posted by trioperative at 5:11 PM on September 12, 2001

That's what people in Oklahoma City used to say.
posted by aaron at 5:13 PM on September 12, 2001

They probably said "I'm in fucking Oklahoma, for christ's sake" instead of Iowa. ;)
posted by Johannahh at 5:15 PM on September 12, 2001

Honestly, for the next few weeks, this is not an unreasonable assumption. My personal belief is that the attacks yesterday were a single coordinated event and not part of a series of attacks, but for now no one really knows either way, and it would be better to err on the side of caution.

This is not to say that the government should all hunker down in hardened mountain war rooms or that airports should be turned into search-and-seizure zones. Caution implies watchfulness and care, not overreaction.
posted by briank at 5:19 PM on September 12, 2001

...not to be an alarmist or anything...
posted by palegirl at 5:19 PM on September 12, 2001

Quote from (bottom in "Latest Developments"):

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld taped a message to U.S. troops, and the reference to an upcoming conflict was almost explicit. 'More -- much more -- will be asked of you in the weeks and months ahead. This is especially true of those who are in the field.'"

.....not to be alarmist or anything.
posted by elfgirl at 5:23 PM on September 12, 2001

Heh, probably. I still feel better than if I lived in Chicago, or even in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

No skyscrapers. :)
posted by trioperative at 5:24 PM on September 12, 2001

Living in Pittsburgh has me nervous (the skyscraper thing, again). I think I'll move to lovely rural Somerset County...

Oh. Wait.

sorry. at least i'm able to attempt a joke, which is more than I could do yesterday...
posted by arco at 5:38 PM on September 12, 2001

It took Bin Laden ten years to figure out how to take down the World Trade Center. I think he blew both of his braincells accomplishing that. He's shot his wad.

...Not that we shouldn't be extra careful anyway. Just in case. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 5:39 PM on September 12, 2001

Oh great, and I just got to college in the Twin Cities from rural Iowa.

There's one kid here who just came in Monday night from Pakistan.... That's gotta be scary for him hearing rumors about possible attacks on Pakistan.
posted by stopgap at 5:43 PM on September 12, 2001

triop - well, you're in a center for agriculture, so if the nukes come raining down..

No, really, I don't think this is going to escalate to war, honestly. I think there will be some retaliatory strikes, either by air or spec ops, or something like that, but that it will be relatively low key.

As far as terrorism goes, nowhere is ever safe from that. We just have to be as vigilant as we can.
posted by SiW at 5:46 PM on September 12, 2001

My precise thoughts exactly aaron. Last night I and some friends discussed, the "garden variety" suitcase nuclear weapon and how plausible that there is one (or a sinister something) laying in wait, to presumably break our backs as we rebuild our sense of security.

Vast sums of money, planning and energy went into the attacks we've seen so far. Why would they give up now when it is assured they will lose as the great global shakedown starts to roll? I find it inconcievable that there wouldn't be at least an attempted second wave.
posted by crasspastor at 5:55 PM on September 12, 2001

I'm not so worried that there's some cadre of hurry-up-and-wait suicide bombers out there. Sure, the scale of this audacious plan was far beyond anything anyone ever expected, but it has the air of grandiose punctuation, rather than the low-level sustained attacks that have characterized the terror against Israel or various European nations (IRA vs. London, Red Army Faction vs. Italy, etc.). Doing stuff like this isn't something that lets you escape notice, and thus isn't in character for that sort of conflict. bin Laden -- assuming that this is his doing -- probably feels safe in his mountain hideaway, and bringing the battle there -- as he has done to us -- is going to mean a change in tactics: smaller pinprick operations, carried off on the run. The crew in the US who put this together are already being rousted, and won't be able to pull off another nearly as easily.

My main worry is that this will mark a new escalation in terror attacks simply because it's been shown to be possible. Maybe it won't happen to the US, but it may easily become a hallmark attack MO of the 21st century.

SF geeks have argued for years that future conflicts would use cheap kinetic energy to do damage. It's clear that these guys did their physics homework: whether they knew that the floors they hit were the perfect point or not, they surely realized that having the ready-made potential energy of a million gallons of jet fuel was more easily assembled if an airport did it for you. It's a kind of terrorist judo.

Up till last week, there was a movement among air carriers to increase "business efficiency" by giving pilots so-called "free flight" -- the authority to take their jets on a great circle route from NY to LA, for instance, rather than following the carefully monitored "streets" of the air traffic system. (One of my friends monitors a block of those streets in Indiana. It's not like Pushing Tin with airplane blips coming from all directions; they enter on one edge of his zone and leave the other, all in an orderly row. Yesterday was the first day in his career that he ordered pilots to do anything -- the FAA flight ban.) I think such ideals will disappear like a will o'the wisp in the face of increased security requirements. We've built our buildings for "best case" disasters; perhaps that will change.
posted by dhartung at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2001

To Those Not in New York City: You can walk down the streets of Manhattan and see handbills taped to the streetlights with the pictures of loved ones, their names, a sentence saying they were last seen in one of the WTC towers and, lastly, contact information just in case anyone has seen them. (I don't have a link for this but this describes the one I saw at Lafayette and Astor).
posted by leo at 6:49 PM on September 12, 2001 [1 favorite]

I live a mile from downtown Minneapolis. I've always admired the skyscrapers, but since yesterday all I've seen are targets.
posted by mrbula at 7:17 PM on September 12, 2001

...and now we all learn what it is like to live in a time of war. This won't be a conventional war with borders or even Good Guys & Bad Guys. This is gonna be a Jews & Christians vs. Muslims evil, despicable, terrorizing time. We'll be hit again and we'll hit back. It's gonna get a whole lot uglier than we could ever imagine (Pakistan has Nuclear weapons remember...) before it gets pretty and peaceful again.

If you have any friends or relatives who've lived through Vietnam, Korea, or WWII ask them what it was like and then multiply that feeling of terror, panic & fear by about 20 and you'll probably be just getting there.

I wish I believed, deep down, that cooler heads will prevail and that the Smart People will rule the world, but it seems like the Lunatics have taken over the asylum and we're just going to have to wait them out...
posted by bhmwks at 7:43 PM on September 12, 2001

I live near Ft Bragg....I am hearing stories of people stuck in traffic for 8 HOURS trying to get on base for work or whatever....the base was on lockdown yesterday meaning no one was allowed in or out-today they were making everyone go thru checkpoints....strangely enough it has only been very recently that checkpoints have been instituted on Bragg(before all this happened)-before that it was an open base-anybody could drive right on in.

Makes me wonder if they knew something they weren't telling us....
posted by bunnyfire at 7:51 PM on September 12, 2001

bhmwks - as scared as I am, you dishonor those who lived through those other wars to assume that this is "worse." it's not a competition. it's just all very, very bad.
posted by Sinner at 7:52 PM on September 12, 2001

A coworker is supposed to get on a flight tomorrow morning to LA. She's nervous about flying anyway, but she's terrified about this one. I've tried to reassure her that this will probably be the safest flight she ever took, given the heightened security. Make sense? Like Jack in the Box was the safest fast food to eat after the e.coli scare a few years back.
posted by jaustinspace at 9:30 PM on September 12, 2001

At first the government had us believe that the terrorists had carried out the full extent of their mission. At the time, I was thinking to myself "they didn't know that this attack was coming, how can they possibly know if it is over?" and I will stick with that line of thinking. Although security is now tight as a noose and 7,000 FBI agents are combing America with a fine-toothed comb, I just can't quite believe that this is definitely over.
posted by raintea at 9:58 PM on September 12, 2001

bhmwks -- just a note: Pakistan has pledged it cooperation to the US.

Looking at this as a religion vs. religion fight simplifies it absurdly.
posted by elfgirl at 5:29 AM on September 13, 2001

Elfgirl - I'm sorry for the gross oversimplification...I only meant to convey that the impetus for this conflict runs much deeper than Nationalistic Sentiment. Human beings have done absurd things in the name of (or at the excuse of) Religion - The Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, WWII, The Balkans Wars. There is something about Holy Wars that brings out the darkness in people and knee-jerk reactions become de rigeur. That's what scares me about all this. And just because Pakistan is "on our side" still doesn't mean that they wouldn't use their Nuclear ability. Remember all that posturing with India?

Sinner - No competition with earlier conflicts was intended. In most earlier conflicts there was a clear separation of Good Guys & Bad Guys (On the ground in Vietnam is an exception), in this conflict we seem be hungering for a fight but who do we direct it against? When you can put a face on your enemy you at least have a direction for your hostility.

Again my apologies for offense. Tensions are high and when typing extemporaneously I get a little over-the-top-ish...I'll reel myself in. Let cooler heads prevail.
posted by bhmwks at 7:47 AM on September 13, 2001

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