We have to find out what the root cause of 'this disaster' was!
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Emeritus Faculty in Humanities, Austin College
Sep 15, 2021
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This op-ed title keeps being repeated in 2021 in many of our news media. Sometimes it is about the January 6 attack on our Capitol by domestic juvenile terrorists. Often it is about different border issues with Mexico; or the June 24 disaster in Surfside Florida. This op-ed is about the biggest attack ever on the USA on September 11, 2001—20 years ago. Four civilian airplanes were hijacked. Two crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City with devastating effect. One hit the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in Pennsylvania when the passengers resisted the hijackers. Were it not for the families of the deceased;  families of the many who have died in New York and New Jersey from the toxic fumes; and the many who are still trying to recover from those fumes, our interest after twenty years would be much lower. 

In a course I taught at Austin College on the Middle East, I shared with my class several FBI posters of the ‘Ten Most Wanted Fugitives.’ Osama bin Laden was on the list before 9/11/01—suspected of being involved in the bombings of US embassies in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam) and in Kenya (Nairobi) on August 7, 1998. After the 9/11/01 attacks on the USA, the FBI added that Osama bin Laden “is also a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.” 

President G.W. Bush was in a very distraught situation after the 9/11/2001 attacks. While “Who did it?” was high on the list, most imperative was the urgent need to act quickly, decisively and powerfully. President Bush probably asked the FBI to add the 9/11/01 attack on the USA to the list of acts of Osama bin Laden. In spite of the FBI’s ambivalence of bin Laden being a “suspect in other terrorist attacks around the world,” the decision was made to put the blame on him. He was in Afghanistan, where he had assisted the Taliban in defeating Russia’s occupation. 

Some sources say the USA asked the Taliban to extradite Usama bin Laden and they refused. Others say the Taliban were willing to extradite him and the USA refused, implying that the USA needed to act quickly, decisively and with force, immediately. Even if we had been certain about bin Laden’s leadership in 9/11/01, invasion of another country to seize him was unwise. The shame of failure led to President Bush’s insistence that we get Afghanistan off the headlines by invading Iraq—another mistake.** 

While the need to “retaliate” was real, this quick over-reaction helped in recruiting more terrorists. Indeed, most who sympathized with the 9/11/01 attackers saw the attacks on the USA as “retaliation” for a long history of western impositions on the Middle East, especially after World War One.*** President G. W. Bush did not have the time to organize a committee to determine who attacked us in 2001, and to propose what we should do about it. We do have time now to wait for the January 6 commission appointed by Congress to verify what really happened on January 6 in our Capitol and who was behind it! 


*Several sources allege that Osama bin Laden received assistance and training from the CIA to aid the Mujahideen in this successful  expulsion of Russian troops. When President Biden received a letter from the families of the victims of 9//11/01 that he would not be invited to speak at the 20th memorials in NYC, DC, and Pennsylvania, unless he declassified the documents regarding Saudi Arabia’s involvement, he promised to declassify “some of the documents” –he did.

**Israel’s 1981 bombing of the only nuclear reactor in Iraq ended any ambition Saddam Hussein had for “weapons of mass destruction” which was the reason used by the USA to invade Iraq. After the invasion no WMD were found.

*** These impositions can be divided into misunderstandings about Islam, and the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.