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Why Didn't We Learn Anything from 9-11?

September 14, 2015

This week much of the writing I have seen about 9-11 has been focused on what we will not forget – namely the victims and the heroes. And that is appropriate. America responded bravely and selflessly to the cowardly acts of the Muslim terrorists on 9-11-2001. The self-sacrifice and courage displayed by the first responders in New York; by the soldiers and civilian personnel at the Pentagon; and by the incredibly brave passengers on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania continue to amaze me. I have written extensively about the fact that we as a nation must never forget the innocent lives tragically lost nor the brave men and women who acted quickly to save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.
But today I feel I should focus on what we have learned – what we must remember forever in order to keep our nation safe from further acts of terrorism. As I did my research for this article, it became readily apparent that some learned nothing; some learned a little, and then promptly forgot what they had learned; but some learned a lot, and have used it to make us safer.
Let’s start at the top. We have had two Commanders-in-Chief since 9-11. One lived through it and responded appropriately (more on this in a moment). The other, elected 7 years later, seems to be in one of the first two categories above: either he learned nothing, or he has forgotten what he learned in the aftermath of The Day that Changed America.
George W. Bush either already fully understood, or he very quickly learned, that you cannot negotiate with terrorists, and that you can’t send the cops after them. He learned that the only thing these savages understand is massive, terrible force. He swiftly determined the source of the attack, and he sent the Marines after them. (They did have some help from the Army, Navy and Air Force, but I am understandably prejudiced towards Marines.)
I shudder to think what would have happened if Al Gore had been successful in stealing the election from George Bush in the courts. The “Apology Tour” would have started seven years earlier. Instead of sending troops, planes and armor to Afghanistan, he would have sent a letter that might sound something like this:

“Dear Taliban: First of all, I would like to apologize to you for whatever we as a nation have done to offend you. Second, I know that the only reason you killed thousands of our citizens is because you are frustrated that you don’t have the lifestyle we have. So I am ordering the immediate shipment of six ships full of wide-screen TVs, blue jeans, and iPods to Afghanistan to ease your terrible pain. Finally, there will be no reprisals. Americans are understanding people. Instead, we will show you more respect as a sovereign nation, and in turn I just know you will respect us and be nice in the future.”
Obama completely changed the way we do business with terrorists. From his first day in office he made it clear that he would use diplomacy and the legal system to fight the war on terror. No other president in history has opted to indict enemy combatants in courts and read them their “rights” as if they were US citizens.
In his first two days in office he filled millions of terrorists with joy. He forbade the use of enhanced interrogation (ET) techniques, calling them “torture.” He signed an Executive Order to close down Guantanamo Bay; banned CIA detention facilities overseas; and ordered the halt of military tribunals for terrorists. He made Osama bin Laden very proud.
The enhanced interrogation techniques, which included sleep deprivation, loud rock music (now that really IS torture!) and water boarding (which gives one the sensation of drowning) are not torture. Here are some important facts to note in regard to ET techniques:
  • While definitely uncomfortable, they cause no physical harm.
  • When Obama would later brag that he had killed Osama bin Laden, he neglected to mention that the intelligence that allowed us to find him came from ET.
  • US Military personnel have been subjected to every ET technique in training.
  • No ET technique is as harsh as going through Marine Corps boot camp. In addition to many other things that Liberal Politicians (who act like little girls) would define as “torture” we had to go inside a small hot building and breathe tear gas for 5 minutes. (It felt like an hour, and I literally thought I was dying.)
  • The techniques were approved by Congress, the Justice Department and the White House. Yet Obama threatened to prosecute CIA officers who used ET techniques that were legally authorized. Vice President Dick Cheney memorably – and bravely – told Obama that he would have to first prosecute the high US officials who approved the techniques. Obama backed down. 
The order to close Guantanamo has mercifully been delayed due to public pressure (you may have noticed that Obama rules by polls). But now that he has signed up to be best buddies with Communist Cuba, he is using that as an excuse to give up the naval base at Guantanamo to which we have legal right, and move the hardened terrorists left there to your back yard. If you live in Kansas or South Carolina you may soon have some very dangerous neighbors.
Halting military tribunals means that terrorists get the same type of trials (and privileges) as US citizens. There’s a reason why nations have always kept war crimes in military courts or tribunals: public safety. Early in his administration Obama wanted to try all terrorists in New York City! As if New Yorkers had not already been through enough, he wanted the public spectacle – and danger – of trying terrorists in the middle of our largest city.
The security issues involved were horrendous, and the costs in the millions of dollars. The trials became a platform for terrorists to spew their propaganda and recruit others. And what about the jurors? If they convicted a terrorist, they could become assassination targets for every radical Muslim in the US. The worst aspect of this is that the lawyers for terrorists could subpoena secret documents that would endanger individuals and programs that could thwart further terror attacks. The result could be the forcing of a decision to let a known terrorist murderer go free, or giving documents to terrorists that would help their cause.
Apparently the only thing Obama learned from 9-11 was to treat terrorists as equals; give them better treatment than US citizens; and bow down to Muslim leaders.
What about the people who protect us? What have they learned? Except in cases where the Administration has tied their hands and not allowed them to do their jobs, they generally get high marks in my book.
The FBI, the CIA, local law enforcement and military personnel, unlike many of the politicians who give them orders, are deeply committed to protecting the citizens of this nation. They can’t do anything about the politicians allowing thousands of dangerous individuals to enter our country every week. But they do their best to monitor them and they have prevented hundreds, perhaps thousands of attacks on Americans here and abroad.
There hasn’t been another large-scale 9-11 style attack since 2001. But there have been Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil. One of the most prominent was when U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people in 2009 and injured dozens more as he opened fire at the Army base in Fort Hood, Texas. This was inconvenient for Obama who was telling everyone who would listen at the time that terrorism had been all but defeated. So even though Hasan was screaming “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) as he attacked, Obama classified the event as “workplace violence.”
There have been additional Muslim attacks committed on various military installations and recruiting stations, but none as deadly as Fort Hood. These events have had the effect of forcing the military to rethink its ludicrous policy of making our bases “gun free zones.” It is difficult to conjure up any reason why highly trained military personnel should have only poorly trained civilian rent-a-cops to protect them. Hopefully the military will abolish this foolish policy. That would be one good lesson learned from 9-11 – never underestimate your enemy.
The TSA has a checkered history in the field of airline security. Since 9-11 no airliner has been used as a missile. But I believe that in many cases this is in spite of, rather than because of, the TSA. Government inspectors have repeatedly allowed replica knives, guns, bombs and hand grenades to slip through screening checkpoints. It would make me nervous if I found that the TSA had failed to detect 5% of these. But in fact, on average they failed to detect HALF of the dangerous items in these tests.
One of two things needs to happen. If the TSA continues as constituted, it should hire only military combat veterans and retired police. These people have experience at looking at people rather than things. Good instinct, honed by street experience or battlefield experience where life or death can be a matter of split-second decision making would keep us far safer than a bunch of civilians peering into their little boxes.
Better yet, the TSA should be taken over by the military. Like it or not, the TSA is on the front lines of the war on terror. And it has proven itself inept, ill-trained and not motivated to do this important job. I’m not saying that there aren’t some good TSA agents – I’ve met a few. But I’m sure most of the good ones are ex-military or police – you can tell by their eyes. They’re always surveying the entire area, watching for threats. You can’t learn that in the TSA’s weekend classes. You learn it solely by experience.
I travel all over the country and the world on speaking engagements, so I spend a lot of time in airports. I often take the time to talk to TSA agents. Some are jerks who are overly impressed by their badges and the fact that they can boss people around. But most are nice people who are simply in over their heads. They have an extremely important mission, and they are not trained or equipped to execute it. Of all the agencies tasked with protecting America, the TSA gets the lowest grades.
The FBI and the CIA seem to have finally gotten over their decades-long childish antipathy toward one another. Perhaps the public school system has finally produced a positive result, with its constant emphasis on playing well with others. Before 9-11 these spy agencies kept vital information from one another. In fact, the 9-11 Commission Report stated that Presidents Clinton and Bush were “not well served” by the FBI & CIA. It recommended the establishment of a National Intelligence Director who would oversee both the CIA and the FBI. Since then they have been playing better together. This is another lesson learned from 9-11.
And what about us – we, the people? What have we learned? In my opinion, not much. We are a country at war, under constant threat of attack. Yet our apparent apathy continues to prevail.
I certainly do not advocate walking in fear. The Bible is very clear that God has not given His kids a “spirit of fear,” and I refuse to allow Satan or his followers (including Muslims and other terrorists) to instill fear in me. And, other than being watchful and vigilant as civilians, or joining the military or the police, there is not a whole lot the average citizen can do to protect our nation.
But there is one HUGE thing we can do as citizens to keep America safe – and that is to elect people who will make it a priority to protect America. After all, that is the first – and most important – function of government. At this we have failed miserably.
We have twice elected a pathological narcissist who believes that his job is to run the country as he sees fit – because, after all, he is much smarter and more highly developed than the masses. Climate change, income inequality, and marriage equality – these are all higher on his list than national security (that is, if national security is even on his top ten list).
The day after he took office Obama released dozens of secret documents that endangered the lives of many field intelligences as well as the viability of numerous intelligence programs that had kept us safe throughout the Bush administration. He did this for self-serving political reasons. He did this against the advice of almost all his security and military advisors. He did this in spite of the fact that Leon Panetta, his own Democrat Defense Secretary, rushed over to the White House when he learned of it, in a vain attempt to stop the Narcissist-in-Chief from performing the treasonous act.
I blame you – and myself – for this. We learned nothing from 9-11. If we had, we would never have elected an ungodly socialist who promised to cut our military by 50% - and who has done so. I blame anyone reading this who voted for him. And I blame all of us who did not vote for him even more. Obama’s supporters were under the influence of the Kool Aid. He was a masterful talker, a snake charmer. And they believed him. Some of them have since repented – too late.
But those of us who knew full well of his treacherous capabilities bear more blame, aware of his propensity for potentially dangerous decisions. And we should have worked harder. We should have donated more. We should have knocked on doors. We should have had the courage to tell foolish people who said they were going to vote for this man – twice! – that they were making a huge mistake.
By and large, America learned little from 9-11, and we are not safer. Only 26% of Americans think we are safer; a similar figure think little has changed since 9-11. But 50% of us believe we are less safe. So what can we do?
We need to elect an anti-Obama. We need to get involved, and choose a godly man or woman to lead us – one who will dismantle Obama’s dangerous policies as quickly as possible. I pray it comes to pass.

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Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

He has written thousands of articles that have been republished in national newspapers and on hundreds of websites, and is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. His weekly Conservative Truth article (which is read by 250,000) offers a unique viewpoint on social, moral and political issues from a Biblical worldview. This has resulted in invitations to speak internationally at churches, conferences, Money Shows, universities, and on TV (including the 700 Club).

“Dr. Tom,” as his readers and followers affectionately refer to him, has a passion for teaching, as you can see from his ministry website (www.ChristianFinancialConcepts.com); his patriotic site (www.ConservativeTruth.org); and his business site (www.GoldenArtTreasures.com). Tom's friend Dr. Lance Wallnau wrote of him, "Tom Barrett is a Renaissance man with a passion for subject matter ranging from finance to theology and American history."
Visit Dr. Tom Barrett's website at www.DrTom.TV