On Sunday Huffington Post posted an essay written by General Charles Boyd and me the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.  Out credentials were based on our service on the United States Commission on National Security for the 21st Century (1998-2001), General Boyd as the Commission’s Executive Director and I as its co-chair with the late United States Senator Warren Rudman.  Most notable among our 50 recommendations to the new George W. Bush administration was the urgent need to create a Cabinet-level Department of National Security uniting the Border Patrol, Customs, and Coast Guard with a common data base and communications system.  We did so because, by 1999, we had become convinced, as we publicly reported, that “America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and Americans will die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.”

Our essay was to remind Americans, yet again, that we had been warned and that our Government literally did nothing to prepare and to show the costs of neglect, ignorance, and failure to prepare.  And we wished to remind those too young to remember and those who wished to forget that history repeats itself and we suffer when we fail to learn and to remember.  There are new threats for which we are not prepared, especially in the areas of cyber attacks and biological (viral) outbreaks.

Educational surveys show how woefully ignorant too many Americans, students as well as their parents, are of American history, including our recent history, global geography, and current affairs.

The national media paid little attention to our interim reports and warning in 1999 and 200 and our final report on January 31, 2001, eight months before 9/11.  How are the American people to know of such dire warnings if the press does not do its job as the First Amendment intended.  That Amendment was not simply to protect the press’s independence but to insure that it carried out its duties to inform the American people about important information concerning public business.

General Boyd and I submitted our essay and its lessons to the New York Times.  It was rejected.  The editor said the paper already had a piece (ONE PIECE) reminding readers of the 9/11 anniversary.  I responded by suggesting the occasion and the lessons it held might deserve more than one opinion piece.  One might suppose that, having missed the original story and its warnings when issued in early 2001, leading media outlets didn’t want their failure remembered.

What has America learned from the loss of more than 3000 lives, not just our citizens but also our media?  Are we more aware of the world in which we live?  Are our security services, and our elected officials, on a higher degree of awareness and alertness?  If we are warned again, will we find it out through a media (whose own collective memory seems roughly 24 hours), and will we demand greater attention, alertness, and foresight from our president and leaders than we saw in 2001?

We owe no less to those who perished, in the minds of a few of us unnecessarily.

11 Responses to “On a Day of Solemn Remembrance and Reflection”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    A link to the piece would be nice. 🙂

  2. Gary Hart Says:

    I have been holding my breath until someone in our hardy band requested a link to the essay, and my bet was on Ms. Miller. Fact is, Huffington Post took the piece down while I was writing this blog. So, for those who request it, the original essay will be sent by email, including first of all to the intrepid Ms. Miller.
    Thank you for your indulgence.. GH

  3. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    I read it and was surprised that HuffPost would censor it. Either they didn’t or thought better of it. In any event, it’s there (or should I say “here”?): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-hart/on-a-day-of-solemn-rememb_b_11955070.html?

  4. Gary Hart Says:

    Thanks to Eric Jacobson for achieving what I could not by finding the link to the essay on 9/11. When I wrote that Huffington Post took the piece down I did not mean they censored it but merely that they moved it aside for other stories. Many thanks. GH

  5. Chris R. Says:

    I am glad to see Senator Hart return to his strong points on this blog. (I am also not surprised that he did not offer this piece to the Washington Post, considering its past and present history of defending the Washington, D.C., establishment.) We must never forget that 9-11 was predicted, and preventable by those in power. (Something that was not noted by major media outlets in the coverage which I saw.) That fact leads some people to even darker conclusions than simple negligence and ignorance from the Bush II administration.

  6. Tyler Healey Says:


    The transformation of America since 9/11 really has been something to behold. I think you were right to write the following last year:

    “[T]he greatest service our nation’s young people could provide is to lead an army of outraged young Americans armed with brooms on a crusade to sweep out the rascals and rid our capital of the money changers, rent seekers, revolving door dancers, and special interest deal makers and power brokers …”

    Tyler Healey

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>I have been holding my breath until someone in our hardy band requested a link to the essay, and my bet was on Ms. Miller.

    Well, I do love to click on a link. Ahem. Of course, it’s always nice to have a little commentary or explanation as to what is contained within said link but, I digress.

    Thanks for sending a copy of your piece … and, for the very kind word. Heh.

    After reading your essay I was left feeling a bit perplexed by the focus on what was and what could and should have been. I was thinking that, 15 years on from the devastating 9/11 attacks, it may be time, at long last considering where we are today, for something more than reflection on the past.

    The past is prologue, especially so if important lessons are not learned and put into practice.

    But, we need a future-oriented discussion, facilitated by up-wing leaders, on how the US will put its national patience and global leadership to the test and begin to look at the problem of violently deranged Islamist ideology comprehensively, from its deepest roots to its smallest branches, and implement an effective response to and defense against this generational challenge.

    That the NYTimes would reject your piece is disappointing but, not all that surprising, given the depressingly ADD-afflicted and otherwise largely incompetent media culture.

    I wonder, though, if you were to submit a revised piece with a focus on the complex nature of the problem, a detailed enumeration of the lessons learned (or that should have been learned) over the course of the last 15 years, and an outline of a coordinated set of actions that must be taken, internationally and domestically, to tackle this generational challenge, then that piece (or series of pieces) just might be taken more seriously by your national paper of record.

    One can hope …

  8. Gary Hart Says:

    The point of the Huffington Post-linked essay was that failure to learn from history is to guarantee its repetition. Apparently, that point could have been made more clearly. And reference to the NYTimes rejection was to show how little the media have learned about future possible warnings of the kind contained in the original reports in 1999 and 2001. Thus, this was meant to be a “future-oriented discussion.”

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I agree. My point was just that I’d like to see more of your future-oriented discussion in the NYTimes and I hope you try again to get your pieces published there.

    I would hope they’d be open to an ongoing series of your pieces on this subject … wishful thinking, maybe, but if you keep harping … who knows? 🙂

  10. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    You know and I know, Senator Hart, as any informed citizen knows, that the media does not excel in learning, funnily enough.

    In fact, I’d wager that the editors who made the decision not to run your piece were completely oblivious to the point you were making about their profession. I often hear members of the media jokingly talk about how low in the polls they find themselves but I’m convinced that they have no idea why they suffer from such low public opinion.

    Making a point with the media entails a hit to the head with a two-by-four – metaphorically speaking, of course! Which is why you have to persist in trying to get your point across with them, over and over again …

  11. Eric C. Jacobson Says:


    The scourge of terrorism by Islamist militants struck again over the weekend, this time mercifully non-lethally although many were injured.

    Every time there is a terrorist attack in Europe and now in the U.S. (which have horrifically become “the new normal” in what I call our current “mad mad mad mad mad world”) a version of the argument made in the article linked above, from a writer for the arch-libertarian Cato Institute (which evidently seeks at all costs to keep the spigot of cheap labor flowing to America’s employer class) is published forthwith. The argument goes (in sum): “One’s chance of becoming a casualty of such an attack is infinitesimal”.

    To which the first thing to say is: “Tell it to the victims and their families.” To call such “statistical data” “cold comfort” to the slain, those who mourn them, and the injured and their loved ones, is an vast understatement.

    One reason to appreciate the host’s arduous (I believe essentially uncompensated) Commission work in the 1990s is that it recognized that determined terrorists can employ far more sophisticated weapons than the maniacal perpetrators have yet employed — with the exception of the 9/11 hijackers who diabolically converted passenger planes into piloted jet fuel bombs.

    As was typical (then and now), the power structure and its institutions, including the NY Times, whose reporter walked out on Sen. Hart’s and Sen. Rudman’s press conference announcing its findings, ignored the Commission’s work. Recently (as the host reports in his blog post) the NY Times spurned Sen. Hart’s and General Boyd’s retrospective op-ed. Some things never change!

    The NY Times’ rejection is a back-handed compliment to the co-authors. As I pointed out in a 2015 comment on their ombudsman’s page, the NY Times disgraced itself for generations to come (if the once honorable “newspaper of record” even survives that long) and disillusioned myself and legions of other Americans of conscience when it carried water for the authors of the illegal Iraq War. See: http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/secrets-the-c-i-a-and-the-new-york-times/#permid=15049694?smid=tw-share

    I myself once thought Sen. Hart was being a “Cassandra” (of sorts) with his and his fellow Commission members’ nightmare scenarios of terrorists employing radiological, chemical and biological weapons, etc., but no longer. Alas, the amateur pressure cookers and shoe bombs of the past and present in no way preclude- and may very well presage a dirty bomb or plague in the future.

    These deaths and injuries at the hands of domestic terrorists then, are NOT (as the professional minimizers would have it) “simple twists of fate” in Bob Dylan’s phrase, or the ultimate examples of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

    Where I may differ with the host and his Commission colleagues from the 1990s (depending upon whether there was a difference between what they learned and what they were willing and able to tell the public) is in their possible failure to delve trenchantly enough into the origins of modern terrorism by Islamist militants.

    In my view, these latest injuries over the weekend, along with all the deaths and lesser harms done to victims of the terrorist attacks in Europe and here in the U.S. in recent years, were caused by American elites who implemented policies (beginning in the 1970s) that betrayed the public interest in favor of the financial interests of business owners and shareholders of companies who comprise what President Eisenhower aptly called in his 1960 farewell address “the military-industrial complex” (the “military-industrial-Congressional complex” in his original draft) and which should be updated today to refer to the military-industrial-intelligence-Congressional complex.

    On June 20th on my Facebook page dedicated to political commentary, following the terrorist attack on the nightclub in Orlando, Florida by a man pledging allegiance to ISIS (as the stabber in a St. Cloud, Minnesota mall just did over the weekend), I wrote the preface that appears below to a column I had self-published online (the link to which is below) following the terrorist attacks in Paris last November. I repeat that preface here in case it may be of interest.

    The import of my analysis is this: 2016 is the 25th year of a planned century-long conspiracy by the CIA and other nefarious American elites to promote — I said promote — Islamist militancy as “the new red menace”. That conspiracy was hatched and perpetuated during the late-1980s-1990s Bush-Clinton Dynasty and has continued to literally the present day. Witness the Administration’s latest (seemingly harebrained) proclaimed intention to conquer ISIS by liberating Mosul with Iraqi military forces comprised of pro-Iranian Shiite troops (instead of say an all-Arab multinational force of Sunni troops and technocrats): http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/obama_ending_terrrorism_new_york_destroying_islamic_state_mosul_20160920 . This is a formula for prolonging indefinitely Islamist militancy in the historically Sunni regions of Iraq and in turn the militants’ sponsorship of terrorism abroad until their appropriate social and economic status in post-Saddam Iraq restored. And (strange as it may seem given that it implies an almost unthinkable betrayal of the public trust by incumbent office-holders) it is now impossible for any thinking person to avoid the conclusion that promoting such endless terrorism (necessitating a correspondingly endless war thereon) is the intended consequence of such a move!

    What is most needed now is the election of a U.S. president (someone made of far sterner stuff than the incumbent president who is essentially “putty in the hands” of the military-industrial-intelligence complex and associated elites) who is NOT part of the conspiracy, and who will END it, and end it FAST.

    That is why, while I still haven’t decided whether I can personally vote in the November election for Donald Trump (although I am now leaning towards doing so), I can, do and will hope for the election of Donald Trump — unless, as is still theoretically possible (though unlikely) due to Mrs. Clinton’s obvious health crisis the Democratic Party reconsiders the viability of her candidacy and substitutes-in Sen. Sanders.
    From my June 20th Facebook post:

    President Kennedy famously said (at a speech in North Dakota about 2 months before his death) “things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” That is true of the terrorism that has now twice struck home. But what is most galling is who and what is making these atrocities to happen.

    This is literally a case of Pogo’s (that is, political cartoonist Walt Kelly’s) 1971 Vietnam War era maxim: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/54/4a/37/544a37057f1e4402e89f2ae21bf93d40.jpg

    WE allied with Islamic militants beginning in the late 1970s in order to eject the (then still Communist) Russians from Afghanistan. Is there a single American, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brezinski who authored the policy, who now wouldn’t give their eye-teeth to turn back the clock and leave Russians to their own devices in Afghanistan?

    The world world be an infinitely better place today. (And the American people wouldn’t have been deprived of a chance to get to know the Russian people at the 1980 Olympics, which we foolishly boycotted, again due to Carter and Brezinski’s Russophobia and anti-Communism.)

    In 1979, no normal Americans in their right minds cared about “liberating” Afghanistan from the regime of the Russian Communist puppet in power there. There was no Cold War imperative to do so. Communism in Russia was already “falling of its own weight” and sclerosis without a poke in the eye from the U.S..

    And even if it did accelerate the departure of the Russian Communists from the stage of history, underwriting an Islamic militant insurgency there would still go down in history as one of the greatest acts of folly a world power has ever engaged-in. For, then as now, the issue isn’t JUST whether a regime meets all the standards of legitimacy and human rights, it’s whether the likely successor regime will be better or worse.

    Who now thinks choosing to empower the Taliban instead of a Russia-friendly Afghan Communist officials was a good idea? Crickets (I presume). Else get thee to a rubber room. Come to think of it that’s where most of the America’s elected leaders who authored and doubled-down on our nation’s Russophobic embrace of Islamic militants as erstwhile anti-Communist allies belong.

    This goes double for the leaders who followed Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. I’m referring to the ones who, after the USSR dissolved itself in December 1991, had the bright idea of replacing the “red menace” with “Islamic militancy” as THE movement which had to be both promoted and then “contained” by America’s military-industrial-intelligence complex at all costs in taxpaying citizens’ lives and treasure that might be necessary.

    It is sick irrational public policy at its worst, and those conducting it are Shakespearian-level knaves. Lincoln had a word for lawyers who stirred up conflict in search of fees. He called them “fiends”. Meet America’s incumbent governmental leaders:

    “None Dare Call It Conspiracy:” How U.S. Elites Made Islamist Militants the New Red Menace
    by Eric C. Jacobson, Public Interest Lawyer idVe Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 at 5:05 AM

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