The VigilanceVoice
Tuesday- May 21, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 252

Stop Pointing The Finger Of Terrorism At Government & Look Where It Really Points!
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

        GROUND ZERO, New York City, May 21-- America is cannibalizing its energy, seeking to lay blame on the President, the FBI, the CIA, and anyone it can tag who should have known, might have known, or could have known about the September 11th Terrorist attacks.
        The energy going into the hindsight investigation is exactly what the Terrorists want--they want to create confusion and turmoil in the head of American government, twisting the energy of Vigilance from a straight line into a pretzel.  And, they are succeeding.
         Laying blame on America's political system is a great diversion.   It puts the government on a defensive rather than offensive state of readiness, forcing its forward momentum to stop and tie its shoes rather than run headlong toward defending the nation from future attacks.
          Accusations of Complacency--i.e.., that the government knew about the impending attacks and let them slip by--fuel the Terrorist's fires.   Such sniping at the credibility of authority weakens the confidence of the people.  It implies their leaders are not Vigilant, and erodes confidence that America is ready for the next attack.
          It all goes back to the "Phoenix Memorandum," a document issued by an FBI agent alerting those who read it that terrorists might be training in flight schools.   The document was sent up the FBI terrorism chain in July, 2001, two months prior to the attack.
         Political pundits are arguing that the suggestion alleged Terrorists were undergoing flight training somehow is directly linked to knowledge of the September 11 attacks, and had America acted on that information, the disaster could have been avoided.
        The political carping is exactly what Terrorists want.   They want the Democrats and Republicans to sling mud at each other, accusing and finger pointing at one another so that the true work of Terrorism--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--can grip American society.
        Each headline and newscast on the issue attacks the foundations of America's leadership authority.   Recently, Vice President Dick Cheney
issued a vague public warning about the likelihood of new terrorist strikes, saying that another attack by Al Qaeda was "almost certain" but that it could happen "tomorrow or next week or next year."
       The lack of definition in the warning makes his words hollow--"could happen tomorrow, next week, or next year," is like saying, "the sky will fall...perhaps tomorrow or next year."    It makes the government look foolish, and its prediction appear as an attempt to cover all bases in case of an attack.  Once stated, the government can use its soft-shelled statement to tell the world it warned others such an event "might happen," thus protecting itself from criticism.
       As I watched the infighting on television and read about it in newspapers and magazines, I was struck by the waste of effort and energy we, as Americans,  employ to make someone else liable, someone else wrong for tragic events.
       Time Magazine's May 27 Special Edition focuses the entire magazine on the issue of finger pointing.   Article by article, the U.S. security systems and leadership is put to question, striking among its readers a sense of helplessness from the top down.
       As a journalist, I understand the importance of the press to act as the Fourth Estate, bringing to question the effectiveness of government, and to dig up secrets that need to be aired so a society can be open to the Truth.
       However, I see another role, much more important than muckraking, that the media could and should assume--and that is as a Sentinel of Vigilance.
      I don't believe the United States government should be held responsible for the security of a nation.   I believe the individuals within it should be the first line of resistance, not the last.
      A Terrorism War is fought with guerrilla tactics.   In the recent HBO three-hour show, Paths To War, we see the "behind-the-scenes" troubles of  President Lyndon B. Johnson being pulled into the quagmire of the Vietnam War.   His major critic of expanding the war, George Bundy, is constantly telling the President that it requires a minimum of 10 to one Americans versus guerrillas.  If there are 50,000 guerillas (Viet Cong), America will need 500,000 fighting men to counter them.   The reason, they do not fight a conventional war.   They hit and run.   He tells the President over and over we cannot win the war, for like a Celtic Knot, there is no beginning or end to the enemy.
       Terrorism is like Vietnam.   There is no beginning or end to them.   They hit and run.   They are willing to blow themselves up for their cause, and their children, and have no "Rules Of Engagement" other than to invoke Terror into a society in hopes it will finally crumble under its own Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
        That's why Americans who are seeking to lay blame on government are playing into the Terrorists' hands.   Somewhere in a dark cavern, Osama bin Laden is laughing.  He is enjoying the fallout of Terror that is ripping through the halls of Washington as Democrats seek to turn the War On Terrorism into a War On Authority, a War For A Vote, a War Against George Bush.
        In the beginning, there was a pact of solidarity formed between the two opposing parties against Terrorism.  Now, the sides have been cleaved by politics, and the chasm between them has widened as blame is being used to corrupt our political, military, intelligence and leadership systems.
        The new hero of Terrorism is FBI agent Kenneth Williams (see below) who wrote a memo in July of last year that Osama bin Laden's foot soldiers might be training in American flight schools.   There was little comment made about the hundreds of other memos written by hundreds of other counterintelligence agents in the various intelligence communities pouring into FBI, CIA, NSA and other data collecting agencies.   One might be led to believe that one memo versus hundreds should have stood out of the crowd, should have filtered upward to the President's eyes, and every foreign national in flight training be put under 24-hour watch.
        I am frustrated that the real message isn't being told.   And that message is that we, the citizens of America, are the real intelligence gatherers, that we are the true Sentinels of Vigilance.
        I believe that when America embraces the concept and supports the responsibility to become a grass roots nation of Vigilance, we will build the defenses necessary to ward off Terrorism at all levels.
        When each American takes the Pledge of Vigilance, on that day, America will signal current and future Terrorist that the tactic of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will not work.  
        When Time Magazine and other news agencies promote Vigilance among the citizenry, rather than trying to heap all the responsibility for it on government, then and only then will we be truly protected from harm.
        The reason I believe this is because Terrorism is aimed not at governments but at the people who comprise those governments.  The targets are not military or government institutions, but public targets--innocent women and children.    Terrorism is not an attempt to sterilize a government, but rather an effort to shock and frighten a population by making them fell impotent in the presence of Terrorism.   When a nation expects its government to protect it from Terrorism, then Terrorism wins.   Governments are at the bottom of the Terrorism feeding chain, civilians are at the bottom.  Civilians are eaten first, governments last.
       That's why the government and press are fighting in the wrong arena.  Instead of seeking political blame for the flaws in protecting the population, America should be inspiring its citizens to take the Pledge of Vigilance, to assume the responsibility to stand tall in the face of Terrorism.
       We are fighting ants not elephants.
       Our enemies are Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, not suicide bombers.  And instead of whisking these enemies away, we fuel and feed them with backbiting and finger pointing, rather than rallying the citizens of America to defend America at the community level where Terrorism fights its greatest and most productive battles.
        Perhaps Americans should look at the way they point a finger at others.  Pointing one finger at someone requires that that three fingers point back to the source--to the self.  
        Take a look at yourself after pointing fingers at others.   Who can really stop Terrorism?   Is it the government or the citizens?
        To answer this question, I look in the mirror.  Do you?

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