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Remembering Some Forgotten Lessons Of 9/11

9/11 Memorial
When the inevitable question, “What were you doing or where were you on 9/11?” is posed, like most Americans I could answer “I was at work,” except that my workplace was the U.S. Capitol complex, one of the targets of the Muslim hijackers who perpetrated the attack and my then-employer, former Representative Adam Putnam (FL-12), was on Air Force One with then-President George W. Bush.

With the Congressman on a trip to Florida with the President it looked to be a busy day of soft media – nice pictures of the President and Mr. Putnam visiting a school and other positive national press coverage few freshman Congressmen could even dream of, let alone obtain less than nine months after taking the oath of office.

However, that all changed after the first plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center in what seemed at first like a terrible accident.

Indeed, even though Congressman Putnam was Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and I had studied and knew well the threat of Islamic supremacy, the scale of the attack was beyond immediate comprehension as an intentional act.

I even suggested my colleagues mute the TV so I could get back to work fielding the growing volume of media inquiries that were beginning to imply that the crash was no accident.

And then it became crystal clear that it was no accident, and the first lesson of 9/11 was made evident: Islamic supremacism had brought its war on the West to our American homeland, and whether we admitted it or wanted it we were in a war for the survival of our civilization.

Much as many Americans wish it were otherwise, and as much as the Fifth Column of Muslims and Leftists of the Red – Green Axis, including the millions of Muslims we have admitted to America since 9/11, might try to convince us otherwise, we are still in that war, and quite frankly we are not fighting it very effectively and certainly not winning it.

Another lesson that became clear to me that day was that many of the people running our government are abject cowards.

When word began to spread that the plane crashes were a coordinated attack and that the U.S. Capitol might be a target, many of those working in the Capitol Complex, including some Members of Congress still in office, literally ran out of their shoes to get out the doors and away from the buildings.

Who was left?

A few, like me, who felt obligated to stay on the phone trying to answer questions and to get in touch with the Congressman on Air Force One and the Capitol Hill police officers; working guys who didn’t run but who calmly and methodically without any apparent concern about the threat went through the building floor by floor, room by room telling us to leave – and that was an order.

The same kind of working guys manning the New York Fire Department and New York Police Department and the Pentagon rescue teams who, despite the unimaginable horror of those three infernos, ran into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon to help get people out.

And therein was another lesson of 9/11 not just forgotten, but actively disrespected by the NFL kneelers, the police and military-hating Left and their Soros-backed enablers: When the battle comes to you, it will be the working guys in blue and camo who will come to save you; don’t look for a Member of Congress to pull you out of the fire.

Finally, there are two much-maligned figures of the George W. Bush era whose personal conduct on that day is worth remembering: Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

With the President out of Washington and temporarily incommunicado and communications with the Secretary of Defense disrupted by the attack on the Pentagon, Vice President Cheney was asked what to do about Flight 93, the plane headed for Washington and any other hijacked aircraft.

As Navy Commander Anthony Barnes, the deputy director of Presidential Contingency Programs, recalled to Garrett M. Graff,  author of The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, “A moment of truth arrived sometime shortly thereafter, around 10 a.m., likely between 10:12 a.m. and 10:18 a.m., according to the best reconstruction later. As Barnes, who has never before spoken publicly about the morning, explains, ‘The Pentagon thought there was another hijacked airplane, and they were asking for permission to shoot down an identified hijacked commercial aircraft. I asked the Vice President that question and he answered it in the affirmative. I asked again to be sure. ‘Sir, I am confirming that you have given permission?’ For me, being a military member and an aviator—understanding the absolute depth of what that question was and what that answer was—I wanted to make sure that there was no mistake whatsoever about what was being asked. Without hesitation, in the affirmative, he said any confirmed hijacked airplane may be engaged and shot down’.”

“Cheney didn’t blink at the order. Scooter Libby, his chief of staff, recalled that the vice president decided ‘in about the time it takes a batter to decide to swing.’ As Cheney himself explained later, ‘It had to be done. Once the plane became hijacked—even if it had a load of passengers on board who, obviously, weren’t part of any hijacking attempt—having seen what had happened in New York and the Pentagon, you really didn’t have any choice. It wasn’t a close call’.”

Say what you will about Dick Cheney’s role in American political life before and after 9/11. On that day Dick Cheney made the hard decision without blinking.

In an interview with the UK’s The Daily Telegraph, Donald Rumsfeld described how he was in his office on September 11, 2001 having just been briefed by the CIA about the two planes that had flown into the World Trade Center, when he felt the building shake and his table tremble.

Unlike the Members of Congress and their staff who went scrambling out of the Capitol, Donald Rumsfeld headed instinctively towards where the explosion appeared to have taken place.

"I went down the hall until the smoke was so bad that I had to go outside," he told Toby Harnden. "I went down, down the hall and then downstairs when the smoke got bad and people said you just can't go any farther.”

"I went outside and there were little pieces of metal spread all over the grass, and the smoke was billowing up, and the flame was very visible and leaping out of the building.

Mr. Rumsfeld grabbed a stretcher and helped carry survivors to where they could receive medical attention. "I was trying to get a sense of what had happened. And I confirmed what had happened. And then your immediate reaction is to try to be helpful.”

Once back inside the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld declined to be evacuated as the "continuity of government" guidelines laid down. He and his staff had to keep evacuating rooms. "When a room got too full of smoke we'd move to a different command center."

Being at the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building made Donald Rumsfeld the most senior member of the US government to survive the attacks, it also made him the only senior member of the US government to directly minister to those injured in the attacks.

Rumsfeld was later criticized for ignoring the continuity of government plan and for being out of touch in the crucial minutes after the Pentagon was hit, and his mismanagement of the occupation of Iraq caused the unnecessary loss of many American lives, but his instinct to run to the aid of the injured and to stay with his troops were a display of humanity and old fashioned command loyalty long missing from the personalities of today’s Washington political class.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks popular culture celebrated the working guys in the ladder companies and the precinct houses and the news was filled with examples of the people who showed their humanity and love for their fellow American on that fateful day. However, in today’s “woke” political climate cops are now the enemies, politicians who hate those they aspire to govern are heroes and Muslims who despise America are media darlings. That means it is up to us to make sure the most important lessons of 9/11 have not been forgotten.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ.com. A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for former Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was in Rep. Adam Putnam’s office on the fifth floor of the Cannon House Office Building on September 11, 2001.

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