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VOL 3. NO. 36 Monday, September 24 - Sunday, September 30, 2001
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"It is a fact that fish will not live where the water is too clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish will hide under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the lower classes will live in tranquility if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard. This fact should be understood with regard to people's conduct."

---By Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Hagakure, 1716

Only days prior to the rage slamming into New York and DC, two colleagues savored the taste of Sunday brunch eggs overlooking the most picturesque view of Baltimore's Harbor one could ever find. In theatrical and boy-like wonder ("Whoa!") the two men eyed a low flying squad of "tankbusting" A-10 Warthogs blast across the skies of Superbowl city, possibly moments away from a staged National Anthem final note finale'.

"War is definitely in the air," snorted one, the smudge show of military might ruffling the eagerly anticipated cool change of season.

Neither man could smoothen his snarl for the inevitable. War was on its coarsened way, but no one knew when or where. Yet, you could feel it as birds quit chirping before a house-ripping Kansas twister sets down or when old folks claim to smell hard rain. Wars are never sudden, spontaneous snaps of broken peace: wars are always planned. They are designed. Us lowly, unknowing and average citizens may not know just how clandestine these activities are, but we understand and feel when war is in the air.

Through several glasses of pulped O.J. and bites of bran muffins, the two men clenched fists on the brain freeze of speculation. Their friends in the A-10s re-affirmed the worst predictions: this generation's fascination with World War II, personified by Tom Brokaw "Good War" bits and D-Day/Pearl Harbor big screen replays was a spoon feeding social wash prompted by Baby Boomer plans for war. Where would the next Landing Zone be? It was an educated guess that either North Korea would be secretly antagonized to the brink of Communist aggression or the Middle East was soon to flare into the Second Crusades. Was the flippant reversal of initiated U.S. diplomacy towards Pyongyang indicative of an explosive end to fifty years of Asian dÈtente? Or was Bush Administration refusal to meddle in the Mid East melee between Israel and Palestine a sign of thrown fertilizer hitting the spinning fan?

With boxes unchecked, it turned out being the latter two days later - with exceptions, of course, since the Middle East had been flaring for centuries. But, how oddly predictable it all seemed despite the fact it caught us "unaware." But, how unaware is unaware if the FBI suspected Osama bin Laden henchmen were matriculating at American flight schools? "We were unable to marry any information from investigations or the intelligence community that talked to their use of this expertise in the events that we saw unfold on the 11th," a government official told The Washington Post. Common sense should have set in after numerous inquiries of flight school activity since 1995. Was common sense even desired?

There is evidence of lax reasoning or insufficient action on the part of more than one agency, thus leading to "911." Information concerning likely direct involvement by Iraq - in coordination with bin Laden - in earlier U.S. embassy bombings and the 9/11 tragedy, does not surface until after the fact. Is it needed to look at the present crisis beyond a vengeful driven police manhunt for one man? The complicity of Iraq (and other anti-Western nation states) in this affair will lead to a larger conflict - that leads, inevitably, to the question of natural resources in the region. When U.S. troops build up in resource heavy Arab territories and fossil fuel ridden ex-Soviet republics neighboring Afghanistan, tense Russo-Chinese finger pointing may uncover new dangers and the specter of a new war - cold or hot.

What has also occurred is the painful realization that "Fortress America" is probably not as fortified as once postulated. Only now, in the wake of Sept. 11th, do officials speak of organizing specialized paramilitary units or agencies (such as the freshly proposed Office of Homeland Security pending full Congressional approval) with exclusive focus on terrorist motives, when most of us were played into the belief of Hollywood spy scripts and covert diversions. "Our panel's review of the federal bureaucratic structure, spread across numerous agencies and vested with some responsibilities for combating terrorism, revealed a structure that is uncoordinated, complex and confusing," noted Virginia Governor James S. Gilmore III during a recent Senate Governmental Affairs. Chairing the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (established by Congress in 1999) Gilmore's observations speak volumes to the uncomfortable fact that airport metal detectors and sniffing police dogs only reflect an unreliable patchwork of national security.

Yet, that is what rings odd and seems convenient in the face of simultaneous government knowledge and inaction over the past decade. Recent events will now ensure tougher measures and a brick wall in place of knitted fabric - how conveniently perfect that all falls in place. A heightened sense of alert nationwide could gain momentum at the expense of letting cooler, democratic heads prevail. Hence, we can't help but wonder what the civil libertarian deficient catch could or will be? Are there costs we have yet to fully determine?

C.D. Ellison is a contributing writer to Metro Connection. He can be reached at againstthegrain@metroconnection.info.

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