History Politics Religion

September 11, 2001: What we saw and as it happened

Once again we come to another September 11. It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight years since that horrible day. On this day, traditionally, I do two things. First, I post the following video.

This video was shot by Bob and Bri, who in 2001 lived in a high rise a mere 500 yards from the North Tower. On this eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I think it’s important to post this again. It is the most prolonged and continuous video of the attack that I have seen, and, as such, It is difficult to watch.

That’s why it’s so important to watch.

Second, I either repost or post a link to a post I wrote about 9/11 on its 5th anniversary:

September 11: Five years later

Very likely I will continue to post these two things every year on September 11 while I’m still blogging, so long as I feel the need to do it. Perhaps, if I am still blogging in September 2011, I will make the tenth anniversary of the attacks the last time I post this on a yearly basis. One thing about today that will be especially weird is that I will be chairing an all day program retreat that will start at almost exactly the time the first plane hit. By 9:05 AM we were seeing this:

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

29 replies on “September 11, 2001: What we saw and as it happened”

Still, after 8 years, can’t watch this video. After watching it happen in real life, and learning of the deaths of some friends, it still hurts too much so I avoid it. Maybe one day, Orac.

I was working at NYU and Bellevue on 9/11/01 and saw some of the (relatively…eerily) few injured survivors. By sheer dumb luck no one I knew was in the towers (several were supposed to be but got to work late or scheduled their meetings for later in the day or, in one case, had recently quit.) What can one say? It was horrible. And I hate the way people use it for political gain. Last year when both McCain and Obama came to the WTC site on 9/11 to advance their campaigns I was ready to vote Nader. Or Buchanan even. Just out of disgust at the both of them.

I surprised myself by watching this, not normally something I would do. Somehow, from the vantage point of their living room, this video made the tragedy that much more real for me.

Till today, I haven’t seen any video footage of the attack. I refused to watch any of it. It was just too sickening and I didn’t need to watch the event unfolding or replayed to appreciate the magnitude of what happened.

Today though I thought it was time to see it, and I’m glad it was this version, shot by two people from their place devoid of the vulture journalism that seems to predominate when they’re covering disasters. Thank you, Orac. Thank you, Bob and Bri.

leaford writes:
NO, Marcus. It’s a day to set aside those differences

I’m guessing you feel that way because it’s convenient to you. Those that died were of many different faiths. What unified was them was the stupidy of faith – by no choice of thier own.

Since 9/11 we have seen shocking response in kind. If 9/11 is not a memorial to the victims of faith, I don’t know what is and neither do you.

Yes, they were of many faiths. And it is disrespectful to the victims to denigrate that aspect of their lives. Today is their day. The rest can wait until tomorrow.

In Europe we have a long and terrible history of atrocities committed in the name of religion. We have a more recent history of equally terribe atrocities committed by avowedly atheistic states and organizations.

Most of the time the perpetrators, or their supporters, seek to justify their actions. But, whether they rely on religious or on secular arguments, they are always open to internal challenge from those who ostensibly share the same tenets of faith or reason or philosophy on which they rely.

If we probe beyond the stated reasons for a particular act we often find other reasons. In Britain the bombings on the London Tube were made all the more shocking because the perpetrators were not foreign fanatics but local men, part of our communities. In one sense the reason for the bombings lay in their alienation from society. So much so that they looked for an identity and a purpose on the other side of the world and found it in the madrassas of Pakistan.

The problem we face is how to probe for those reasons, to understand what causes young men and women to act in such ways and address the causes. When we do that we risk being accused of seeking to excuse such behaviour.

In the UK in 1993 two ten year olds abducted and murdered a two year old boy. The prime minister of the day, John Major commented that, “We should condemn a little more, understand a little less.” in response to a public debate about how children could behave in this way. Whatever the circumstances I believe that we should always try to understand a little more. It does not necesarily follow that we should condemn a little less. But condemnation is never enough.

No. Nor will disrespect. I feel for the unknown thousands of friends and family of the victims, lead mourners in our national grief. I don’t have to share their religious beliefs to wish them all the comfort they can find. As I said, let today be about the lost. Leave the rest for tomorrow. The debate will still be there, waiting.

What you appear to be missing is that the faith(s) of the victims was equally irrelevant to their attackers. That was my point. It was a faith-based act of murder and, ultimately, its victims were all equal; it’s about as ecumenical as you can get. Everyone’s faith, on that day, was shown to be less powerful than jet fuel.

I have to question what the hell is wrong with you, leaford, if you’re immediately jumping to the conclusion that someone is mocking the victims. Do you usually see everything backwards? If it’s my words that offend you about what happened, then you’ve got your head screwed on pretty much completely backwards.

I didn’t say you were mocking anyone. You said this is a day to re-assess faith, and I replied that this should be a day to remember the victims. You pointed out that the victims were of many faiths, and I replied that those faiths should be respected. Where did I accuse you of mocking them? I’m just saying today is a day of rememberance. There will be plenty of time to argue over religion tomorrow.

There will be plenty of time to argue over religion tomorrow.

Or plenty of time to shy away from confronting religion and the insanity it breeds. And plenty of time for that eight years after the next comparable attack. And…

3000-odd people murdered because of one man’s hubris and his twisted version of religion. It still pisses me off.

Gil, I reject your analogy on its face. There is an extensive and damning record of Hitler’s decisions and motivations for his attack on Poland, none of which involved a years-long campaign of economic and military dominance of Germany by Poland.

And, while I find Osama bin Laden and all that he stands for repugnant to the core, I am not so naive as to assume that his sole raison pour guerre is a nebulous hatred of our freedoms. Whether we would like to admit it or not, America has been involved in the Middle East in a big way since WWII, tweaking tensions forged over thousands of years. The lunatic religious fringe of Islam, which OBL represents, finds our presence in Mecca and Medina, our support for Israel, and our many, many interferences in the Middle East as nothing less than an outright, if unspoken, declaration of war.

Now, I am inclined to listen to the words of those who attacked us when they outline their reasons. And they put forth the list I enumerated above, with a conspicuous absence of anything about our “freedoms.”

So yes, whether I agree with them or not, whether they’re right or not, the record clearly and for many years shows that OBL and Al Qaida were at war with the US in retaliation for our aggressive policies abroad.

I have no apologies for being a realist when I say this, just as I have no apologies for the majority of said policies; when you are a giant, you’re bound to flatten a few houses as you walk.

But let’s not try to equate someone’s rewriting of what is clearly established and settled historical fact with what is essentially a reiteration of what OBL has stated repeatedly before and after 9/11.

Of course, just as with Pat Buchanan and Hitler there are those who see the Sept. 11 tragedy as an incident in which certain people were merely retaliating against the U.S. for its aggressive policies abroad:

Gil, are you a six-year-old?


“Or plenty of time to shy away from confronting religion…”

Is Memorial day or Veteran’s the right day to protest a war? Is a funeral the right time to complain about the deceased? Or should one “shy away” from that?

I spent yesterday morning watching the ceremony. I listened to every name of every victim, and wept with the presenters. Those victims, and the families and friends they left behind, deserve better than to have their religious faiths lumped in along with thier attackers’ on their own day of rememberance. Give them, and those of us who grieve with them ONE DAY. That’s all I’m saying.

Some incredible film and photos:

Google is part of the launch of Make History, a website created by the National September 11th Memorial & Museum in partnership with design firm Local Projects. Make History is a participatory archive that invites people to share their experiences of 9/11 and its aftermath in an effort to preserve the memories of that time. The Museum has created a collaborative storytelling tool that makes innovative use of Street View through the Google Maps API.

The memorial might mean more if you removed the US bubble of exceptionalism. Where is the memorial and grief for the first 9/11? A country whose social and economic fabric was torn apart and left bleeding for decades deserves no mention?

September 1973, Chile:

(cited from Wikipedia)

“After Gen. Pinochet lost the election in the 1988 plebiscite, the Rettig Commission, a multi-partisan truth commission, in 1991 reported the location of torture and detention centers — Colonia Dignidad, Esmeralda ship and Víctor Jara Stadium — and that some 2,700 people were killed or disappeared by the military régime for seventeen years, from 1973 to 1990. Later, in November 2004, the Valech Report confirmed the number as less than 3,000 killed and reduced the number of cases of forced disappearance; some 28,000 people were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.”

The message sent is that north american dead are much more important than your dead. Exceptionalist thinking fosters the idea that terrorism started in September of 2001; terrorism only becoming real and relevant when it happened to us…

I think that if we had had such an outpouring of sorrow for the first 9/11 and other such occurrences (history is rife with them), recognizing the terrible loss of human life and condemning it regardless of nationality, we may have not had to mourn the second 9/11.

Hey gang. 9/11 was such a sad day. I’m Glad Charlie Sheen just made a video confronting Obama about 9/11 and the flaws of the official theory.

Many other celebrities have spoken out including Jessie Ventura, Willie Nelson, James Brolin, we should all thank Charlie Sheen for his courage.

Oh how could I forget, Speidi aka Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag from the enormously popular MTV show the Hills have come out for 9/11 truth. Spencer Pratt doesn’t fool around when it comes to facts, that is why he is so paid, famous and been with thousands of pretty girls growing up in Malibu. Here is their brilliant interview with Alex Jones. What courage these people have? So much, so much.

very good point. I just came across a news release about ecigs saving people from cancer. Makes me really think about switching to ecigs after analyzing these facts. If all smokers switched to electronic cigarettes the death toll would drop from 400,000 to 4,000 deaths annually! Incredible!

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading