Photo by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Dillon Taylor: "The feeling was ‘We need to find these people and take care of this.’ "
“I see water and buildings. Oh my God! Oh my God!” Flight attendant Madeline Sweeney, 35, mother of two, on board American Airlines Flight 11 as it collided into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:48 a.m., EDT, September 11, 2001.
“The people who know the most about it are the people who are the most scared.” Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of theWashington Post, on the likelihood of additional biological attacks upon the United States.
“…many call germ weapons the ‘poor man’s atom bomb.’ A nation that obtains plans for a crude nuclear device is at the beginning of a complex technical challenge.… But scientists like Bill Patrick or Ken Ailbek say they could teach a terrorist group how to make devastating germ weapons from a few handfuls of backyard dirt and some widely available lab equipment.” Judith Miller, New York Times correspondent and coauthor of Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War.
- Damon Meeker
- Job: Bonds Department, Salomon Smith Barney
- San Diego Neighborhood: Little Italy
- Single, 26 years old
“Where were you when the World Trade Center was hit?”
“And you happened to have the TV on?”
“No, my little sister called. She woke me up and said, ‘Turn on the television. We’re under attack.’ I yelled, ‘No, we’re not.’ But she kept telling me, so I turned on the TV and watched the plane go into the building, and then the building fell down.”
“Nice way to get up in the morning.”
“I was in shock. I wondered what it meant, because I own an online travel agency [on September 11, 2001, Mr. Meeker was part-owner of InstaTix, which can be found at www.instatix.com on your Internet dial].”
“How long did it take before you knew your business was in big trouble?”
“About a day. After getting over the shock of it, I logged on to our site to see what was going on. The government had shut down all air travel, and I knew for sure our clients would be calling.”
Our first national shelter in place. “How many clients called?”
“Quite a few. We spent the next two weeks trying to reroute people and explain what the airlines were telling us, which was changing every five minutes.”
“What were the airlines saying?” We had nothing to do with it.
“Some were offering refunds, and some were allowing people to cancel their flights if ticket-holders felt they were in danger, and some were not doing anything. They were saying, ‘We’ll have to see how it works out. We’re not going to refund your money, but we’ll give you a ticket at a later date.’ ”
“I assume some of your clients got stuck away from their homes?”
“Most of them were understanding. They understood why they were stuck. They didn’t like it, but nobody got terribly upset at us.”
“Did the airlines finally make it right?” Do pigs share food?
“A lot of airlines, in my opinion, handled it very poorly. They were handed billions of dollars by the government, then turned around and said to the public, ‘Screw you.’ ”
“Which airlines were the best?”
“Southwest was the only good one.” Meeker sounds disgusted.
“Did you go to work on September 11th?”
“I remember closing down our phone-in center because the airlines couldn’t make up their minds about what they were going to do. We put a message on the recorder that said when air travel resumed, we’d begin answering the phone again and apologized for what was going on. There was nothing we could do.
“But some clients got through anyway. One woman called from New York. She broke into tears because her mother needed to cancel her flight. Her mother’s sister was on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. They couldn’t leave New York until they knew what happened to her. After that call, I had to go home.”
Meeker heaves a melancholy sigh. I wait a moment, then ask, “Looking back, what effect did the attack have on you?”
“I ended up losing everything. My company still exists, but I no longer work there on a day-to-day basis because the business can’t afford to pay me.”
“How big was the business before 9/11?”
“We processed over $100,000 a week in ticket sales. It wasn’t a huge company by any means, but it sustained me, my two business partners, and three employees. My partners are still there, and they work two employees.”
“What’s the weekly gross now?”
“That’s a tremendous hit.” The twin towers and a chunk of the Pentagon were destroyed. Within 72 hours, from Seattle to San Diego to Chicago to Atlanta, tens of thousands of people lost their jobs.
“I went from $100,000 to zero. Any time we refund a ticket, we have to give back the commission. So for two weeks after the attack, we were giving back everything. Business dropped probably 80 percent for the entire travel-agency industry. A lot of agencies have gone out of business.”
“Has business come back, or is $30,000 a week the new normal?”
“Everybody is afraid to travel. I’ve gotten another job in another industry. I hope travel comes back — I think it will, but I think it will be two or three years before it gets back to where it was.”
For weeks after September 11th, the odor of burned human flesh saturated lower Manhattan. “It’s like a barbecue, except the meat is rotten,” said a New York friend.
“Do you watch more TV than you used to?”
“I did for a while. Now I don’t watch TV. I’m very tired of hearing about it.”
“Have you noticed anything different about your dreams since the attack?”
“I didn’t sleep well at all for two weeks. I feel a little more secure now that I have an income.”
As of today, December 4, 2001, fires continue to burn beneath the World Trade Center rubble. “How are you dealing with the anthrax attacks?”
“I don’t necessarily think the people who sent anthrax through the mail are the same people who were involved with September 11th.”
“Do you expect a major anthrax attack in the U.S.?”
“I’m expecting to hear they’re sending anthrax to individuals — mass mailings — but I continue opening my mail. If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”
On November 26th, 2001, Patrick Leahy, U.S. senator from Vermont, said the anthrax letter sent to his office had enough anthrax in it to kill 100,000 people.
“Have you changed any personal habits since September 11th? For instance, do you take a second look when you get into your car or have a second thought before entering shopping centers, movie theaters, or crowded places in general?”
“Not really. Actually, I go out more often now.”
“It’s exceedingly strange to say this, but we could have nuclear, biological, chemical, or who knows what other kinds of attacks on the United States. Which one is the most likely?”
“The biological, simply because it’s easier to get the bacteria to somewhere. It’s hard for the government or postal system to track that.”
“Have you done anything to deal with a biological attack, like storing additional food and water in your home?”
“The only thing I’ve done is make sure I have cash, in case the banking system goes down.”
“In general, do you feel pretty secure?”
Over 15,000 postal employees have taken anthrax antibiotics. “Do you think the government has been doing a pretty good job?”
“I do. The only part I’ve been upset about is the press and their ‘Well, we should have known this was going to happen.’ The government was probably more shocked about September 11th than it will ever admit.” Meeker is quiet. “If somebody wants to kill himself, it’s impossible to stop that person from causing havoc.”
“What would it take to make you think, ‘Whoa, I’d better figure out how to defend myself’? What would have to happen to get you to that point?”
“I don’t know. There’s not a whole lot an individual can do, other than support the people I’ve elected. If I lived near the airport, if I saw an airplane blow up, or if something happened downtown, I would get very frightened. If I saw something happen in front of me, or to the city, I would become worried, very worried.”
“How long have you lived in your neighborhood?”
“Almost two years.”
“Do you know all the neighbors?”
“I know most of them.”
“What do they say?”
“I haven’t talked to them about it.”
From a November 6, 2001, hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
Senator John Edwards of North Carolina: “The bottom line is this: as of now you don’t know where the anthrax came from, and you have not been able to identify all the people who may have access to it. Is that fair?”
FBI Deputy Assistant Director James Caruso: “That’s correct.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California: “How many labs in the United States handle anthrax?”
Deputy Director Caruso: “We do not know that at this time.”
Senator Feinstein: “Could you possibly tell me why you do not know that?”
Deputy Director Caruso: “The research capabilities of thousands of researchers is something that we are just continuing to run down.”
Job: Front desk, Aqua Café Water Store
San Diego Neighborhood: Bay Park
Single, 25 years old
“Are you getting more orders for bottled water, more than you had prior to September 11th?”
“Not right now. Right after it happened, we had people come in and buy a whole bunch of stuff. But it’s been pretty slow lately.”
“Did the rush happen right after the attack, on the 12th, 13th of September?”
“Yeah. All the way through the weekend we had a lot of people. One gentleman came in and bought ten five-gallon containers.”
“About how many people in all?”
“Three to four hundred.”
“Three to four hundred new people!”
“No, maybe 30 new people came in — the rest were our regular customers.”
“I see, they were customers, but they came in ahead of their regular schedule, made a special trip to get water?”
“Right, everybody was panic-shopping.”
“Everyone has a story. Everyone here has a story. It’s driving me crazy.” Anonymous Internet posting from a New York City teenager, September 13, 2001.
“Have you purchased more water?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Did customers say ‘I want water’ and go about their business, or did they talk about why they were buying more water?”
“Everybody wanted to talk about it. I tried not to mention it. Everybody in their own mind is an expert on things. In this business, business comes in waves. You’ll be really busy one minute, and the next minute you’ll be sitting there doing nothing. Hearing that all day would…”
“Drive you nuts?”
“What did you hear? ‘I’m getting this water because…’ ”
“’Cause ‘we’re going to war,’ and they’re afraid people are going to poison the water supply, stuff like that.”
Reuters, October 10, 2001. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Wednesday US water supplies can be considered a ‘logical target for a possible terrorist attack.’ ”
“What did you think when you saw that first rush of people on September 12th?”
“I thought, ‘Here comes the nuts.’ Everybody does things a certain way. If a person feels they need to buy a large amount of water because they think war is coming, by all means he should do it. He might have the last laugh on everybody else. But I’m not worried about poisoning the water supply. I know if I was going to plan something, I wouldn’t go for the obvious.”
What follows is a portion of the poem “Sorrow” by Tannaz Ebadollahi. Originally published in the Iranian, an online magazine and the most visited Iranian site on the Internet.
- “My birds are all alone at home…”
- “My dogs…”
- “My cat…” I heard while running.
- “Just run,” said the cop!
- I walked over the Manhattan Bridge
- to Brooklyn, with thousands of people.
- People were covered with ash, dust, and some blood.
- The sun was shining; it was so hot.
- The sky was gray on the right side.
- Kept walking and walking.
- Some cars were passing by,
- Giving rides to older people, the tired, the injured.
- Cops were blocking the way;
- no cars allowed into Manhattan.
- Some Jewish men and women were waiting for us:
- “Take this cup dear. Here’s some Sprite and spring water.
- Drink it, you’ll feel better.”
- “Thank you lady!” I said.
- Cecily Kelly
- Job: Executive Director, Coronado Safe Foundation
- Residence: Coronado
- Married, two children, Amanda and Colby
“Our alarm went off. Peter Jennings was on the radio in place of the normal radio talk-show host. We immediately got up and turned on the TV in time to watch the second plane go into the tower. When the second plane went in, we realized it was purposeful. I had two friends who were killed.”
“One was the pilot of the plane that went into the Pentagon. He was a college classmate of my husband’s.”
“Did you know he was flying that plane?”
“No. Not until later, when we saw some of Chip’s family members on television [Charles Burlingame, captain, American Airlines Flight 77].”
“Who was the other friend?”
“He was at work at his desk in the Pentagon. He was an Army general [Lt. General Timothy J. Maude, deputy chief of staff for personnel, United States Army]. My husband is retired Navy, so we know lots of people in the Pentagon.”
“Staggering that you knew two people who died that day. One friend was pilot of the plane that killed the other.” All is quiet. One heartbeat. Two heartbeats. “When did you hear about your Pentagon friend?”
“A few days later, when the list came out.”
The hijacked Boeing 757 killed 189 people, 125 at the Pentagon and 64 on board the airplane. “Did you know at the moment the airliner struck the Pentagon that your friends might be killed?”
“No. But we knew that there was a chance we would know someone.”
Biological weapons are defined as any infectious agent, such as a bacterium or virus, that is used intentionally to inflict harm upon others. What follows is a short list of biological agents available to terrorists. Anthrax, cryptococcosis, Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae, brucellosis (undulant fever), coccidioidomycosis (San Joaquin Valley or desert fever), psittacosis (parrot fever), tularemia (rabbit fever), malaria, cholera, typhoid, bubonic plague, cobra venom, shellfish toxin, botulinal toxin, saxitoxin, ricin, smallpox, Shigella flexneri, Shigella dysenteriae, salmonella, Staphylococcus enterotoxin B, hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Histoplasma capsulatum, pneumonic plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, diphtheria, melioidosis, glanders, tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis, encephalitis, blastomycosis, nocardiosis, yellow fever, typhus, tricothecene mycotoxin, aflatoxin, and Q fever. This list ignores genetically engineered agents, which are far more potent.
“Have you taken any steps to protect yourself in case there is an attack in San Diego?”
“I have an earthquake kit. I made sure it’s up to date, that nothing has expired.”
“I have two daughters who are away at college. There was an urge that they come home. One daughter will be commissioned as an Air Force officer in May. So of course I’m concerned about what she’ll be doing in the Air Force.”
“Is she learning to fly?”
“She won’t be a pilot. She’ll be in mass communications. She may end up flying, but she won’t be the pilot.”
“We had hoped that the $1 million reward would encourage many more citizens to help. We have not received as many tips or leads as we would like.” FBI director Robert Mueller, lamenting that there were still no leads in the government’s anthrax investigation.
“How are you dealing with the anthrax attacks?”
“That does concern me. In my job, I get mail from Washington, D.C., nearly every day. Makes me think, ‘Hmmm, do I want to open this or not?’
“I was a little annoyed with my congressperson, who sent us mail from the Congressional post office in Washington to tell us what Congress was doing to prevent the spread of anthrax. I thought, ‘You might be spreading anthrax by sending this letter to me.’ My office is considering microwaving the mail.”
“I’m afraid that there will eventually be a bioterrorism attack — it’s just a question of when. After September 11th, the temptation to use weapons of mass destruction will become more and more attractive. The technology is a surmountable problem. It is not easy, but it is not that hard.” Dr. Donald Henderson, director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
“How did September 11th affect you?”
“In the beginning, it made me very angry. It made me frustrated that there wasn’t something I could do right away. I’m pleased with the way President Bush is handling things so far. I thought it was wonderful when he threw the first pitch in Yankee Stadium during the World Series. He stood on the pitcher’s mound, by himself, and threw a fastball over the plate. He didn’t walk five feet in front of the mound and toss the ball underhanded. He went out there and threw it and said, ‘Hey, we’re going on.’ I liked that.”
“People I’ve talked to have said, in one way or another, they felt a vast sadness because America was no longer safe. Do you share that feeling?”
“I suppose, to a certain extent. On some level, we knew that a day like this was coming because we lived overseas several times.”
“When you think ahead 12 months, what frightens you the most?”
“The first concern is the economy.” Kelly pauses. “I’m worried there will be more attacks. I’m flying into Reagan Airport [Washington, D.C.] next month, and I’m certain I will be watching everyone who stands up on that plane. I’m hoping the country can remain united and focused on the means to capture the terrorists.”
“How long have you been living in Coronado?”
“You’ve talked to your neighbors about this?”
“What do they tell you?”
“Coronado is a small town. People who don’t look like they belong might be stopped and questioned. Last year we had 180 trick-or-treaters for Halloween. This year we had 10. If I come home and find a parcel on my porch, I’m going to look at it very carefully. People look for cars that are places they shouldn’t be, those kinds of things. I think everyone is more vigilant.”
“We want to tell the American children that Afghanistan feels your pain. We hope the courts find justice.” Remarks of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, September 12, 2001.
Dr. Dre, a best-selling artist whose musical hits include “Fuck Wit Dre Day,” “She Swallowed It,” and “Findum Fuckum & Flee,” “is reported to be recording an all-out diss track targeted at Osama bin Laden, responsible for the terrorist attack against America. There’s currently no word as to when the track will be recorded or released, but profits are likely to be donated to funds for the victims of the tragedy.” Courtesy 2Pac fan resource and guide.
- Merrilee Boyack
- Job: Attorney-at-Law
- Residence: Poway
- Married, four sons
“Yes, I usually keep a full year’s worth of food and water. In fact, I was just looking at it, and I’m probably a couple of months short.” I can feel Boyack’s mind turn. “Yeah, I’m pretty close to a year.”
“Let’s say I’m your neighbor and I wanted to store a year’s worth of food and water. How would I start?”
“There are two components. One is what I call your basic supply: sugar and salt and wheat and beans — your basics. The other element is the type of food you regularly eat. Fruits and canned green beans, your box of rice, or whatever. Food you eat all the time.
“I always recommend you start with the foods you normally eat, because if you’re going to have a disaster, like an earthquake or your husband gets laid off, it’s unlikely you’re going to break out the raw wheat and start pounding.”
“The idea is to ease your way into a disaster?”
“You’re normally going to have a fairly short-term emergency, typically two months or less. So prepare for that first. I tell people to sit down and write a list of foods they eat in a month, just write it down. Do you eat chili, do you eat cereal, do you eat pasta? Make a very detailed list of everything you normally eat. Then multiply by 12. Bingo, you have a basic list of what you eat in a year. Now, it’s not going to be complete, because there’s things that are harder to store, like milk and…”
“If bioterrorists attack the United States with smallpox virus, health authorities could impose measures as drastic as banning public events, halting regional transport, and placing entire cities under quarantine, according to a draft federal plan released yesterday.” Washington Post, November 27, 2001.
“I was going to ask you about that. Say there’s a disaster and electricity goes out and stays out. What do you do about milk and fruits and vegetables and meats?”
“That’s harder. You have to have protein sources. That’s why people store beans and wheat. You may not have enough meat to last a year — most of us don’t — but you can store a year’s worth of a protein source. If there was a complete breakdown in society, you would have beans, you would have wheat, you would have canned tuna, you would have corn — you would have enough protein.”
“All right, what do I do first?”
“One method, you start buying double each week. Pretty soon, you work your way up. Another method, the method my sister uses, is to go out and buy a month’s worth of groceries. Then she puts that month’s worth of food in a box and writes the month she bought it on the box top. She stores her January box in the pantry and pulls out last year’s January box and puts that on the shelf in her kitchen. That way, you’re always rotating your year’s supply.”
“Which method do you use?”
“I have a giant pantry. I buy according to sales. When Ragú goes on sale — you know, when it’s dirt cheap — I buy 48 bottles of Ragú. If tuna goes on sale, I’ll buy three cases of tuna.
“I put the new stuff on the back of the shelf and eat from the front. I used to mark the tops of the cans, but I got too lazy. Then, about four times a year, I go shopping and bring everything up to snuff. You know what I mean? I fill in the gaps that haven’t gone on sale. I buy the wheat and the rice and the beans and all that. I keep it under my staircase in buckets. I tuck stuff everywhere.”
“They have to love you at the grocery store.” Unfortunately, for the rest of us, grocery stores will be closed during quarantine.
Clip and Save. Smallpox symptoms begin 12 to 14 days after exposure, with the onset of high fever, malaise, and exhaustion, coupled with severe headache and backache, followed by a maculopapular rash. Smallpox patients are most infectious during the first week of the rash. A victim is no longer infectious after all the scabs on his skin have separated, approximately three to four weeks after the onset of the maculopapular rash. Smallpox quarantines generally last two to four weeks.
“I’m a firm believer in this. I’m Mormon, and we are encouraged to be prepared and have a year’s supply of groceries. I’ve done it since I got married.
“My husband lost his job in ’94 and was out of work for an entire year. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s like to tell your four kids that Daddy’s lost his job. They all panic. I told them not to worry, walked them over to the pantry, and said, ‘We have a year’s supply.’ I had a year’s supply of everything, including thread, vacuum belts — I buy them the same way. When they go on clearance, I buy 20.
“We didn’t lose our house, we didn’t lose anything, and he was out of work for a whole year. We just ate all year long. In fact, we had some left over at the end. We hadn’t dug into much of our basic stuff — we got into some of it, but not much.”
“Nice going.” I mean that.
“It’s so easy. We tuck it in. I have water in two-liter plastic containers, the ones you get when you buy pop. I just wash them out and fill them with water. I tuck them everywhere. I tuck them in closets, in the backs of cupboards, all over the house. Outside, we have three 50-gallon drums and a swimming pool.”
“Isn’t pool water laced with chlorine?”
“Yes, but you could use it for washing.”
“Remember when we had the drought and we were only flushing once a day? It would be the same kind of thing.”
“We have four, five stoves. We’re campers, big campers. We have butane and a barbecue in the back. And we have a Dutch oven; all you need for that is a box, foil, and some coals.”
“Elegant solution. Prepare for the worst and save.” Catchy jingle too.
“I just read an article on investing for the future. Let’s say you buy a can of tuna for 75 cents. If you wait until it goes on sale for 40 cents, the return on your investment every year — if you shop that way — is better than the stock market.
“My food bill is probably half of what a normal family of six would be. Because rather than going out and buying a cake mix for $1.50, I wait until it goes on sale for 50 cents and I buy 50. So I just saved 50 bucks.”
“How many square feet do you need to store a year’s worth of food for a family of six?”
“Probably a four- by four-foot area.”
During the winter of 1897–98, the Royal Canadian North West Mounted Police set up a border crossing at the summit of Chilkoot Pass, the primary entry point into Yukon Territory. The Mounties ordered every Klondike stampeder to show a year’s worth of food before any man was allowed to continue into the interior, and thence the gold fields of Dawson. What follows is such a list, courtesy of the Center of the Study of the Pacific Northwest.
“One year’s supply [of groceries] for one man: 400 lbs. Flour, 20 lbs. Corn Meal, 40 lbs. Rolled Oats, 25 lbs. Rice, 100 lbs. Beans, 40 lbs. Candles, 25 lbs. Dry Salt Pork, 5 lbs. Sugar — granulated, 8 lbs. Baking Powder, 150 lbs. Bacon, 25 lbs. Dried Beef, 2 lbs. Soda, 6 packages of Yeast Cakes, 50 lbs. Salt, 1 lb. Pepper, 0.5 lb. Mustard, 0.25 lb. Ginger, 20 lbs. Apples — evaporated, 20 lbs. Peaches — evaporated, 20 lbs. Apricots — evaporated, 10 lbs. Pitted Plums, 5 lbs. Raisins, 5 lbs. Onions —- evaporated, 25 lbs. Potatoes — evaporated, 25 lbs. Coffee, 10 lbs. Tea, 2 dozen Condensed Milk, 3 bars Tar Soap, 5 bars Laundry Soap, 1 Can Matches, 3 lbs. Soup Vegetables, 1 bottle Jamaica Ginger, Butter, Tobacco, 6 pots Extract of Beef (4 oz.), 1 qt. evaporated Vinegar. YOU MUST BE SUPPLIED WITH MEDICINES.”
“How long can you keep canned food?” I have cans in my kitchen that have rusted.
“It depends. Some canned foods should be stored for one year only, some will go three years, and some will go up to five. It depends on the food.”
“Long time, almost indefinitely. You can always boil water. I rotate my water about once a year.”
“Spurred on by the anthrax attacks, I’ve finally gotten around to putting together a California earthquake kit for my pathetic habitat. I acquired first-aid gear, blankets, flashlights, matches, and so on. Then I decided, what the hell, and packed my truck with some food and water in case I had to leave quickly.
“I realized, as I went about my business, that I could take being prepared as far as I had the time and money to go. I could keep at it, one logical step after the other, until I was living on a mountaintop in central Nevada, stoking the wood cookstove, and oiling my guns. Where did you stop?”
“Where did I stop? When I had enough for a year — enough cooker ovens, enough freezing bags, enough of everything.”
- There are strange things done in the midnight sun
- By the men who moil for gold;
- The Arctic trails have their secret tales
- That would make your blood run cold;
- The northern lights have seen queer sights,
- But the queerest they ever did see
- Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
- I cremated Sam McGee.
“Do you own firearms?”
“My husband grew up in an area that loves guns. We have many locked in a gun safe. We have ammo, and everyone, except for me, knows how to use what we have.”
“Antibiotics, in case of an anthrax attack?”
“I have not done antibiotics. None of us are on medicine. I haven’t gotten anything. I thought about it, but I haven’t done it.”
“How did the WTC attacks affect you?”
“A little bit sad, of course. It’s a tragic thing, but I didn’t react with the great fear I see a lot of people reacting with.”
“Because you’re prepared?”
“I attribute part of it to that. We know that we could withstand a lot in our family. But I think, greater than that, I have a great deal of faith, and my religious belief keeps me grounded.
“We’ve been living here 14 years. I have a couple of neighbors who are very, very fearful, very upset about things. I find that often happens in families who don’t have a religious faith.” Boyack laughs. “I do have a lot more people who say they will be on my doorstep if there’s an attack.”
“Well, add one more to the list.”
What follows is a course description as posted on UCLA’s website, www.college.ucla.edu/hnrs98.
Course: Navigating Between Blithesome Optimism and Cultural Despair
Instructor’s description: I intend to share the sense of crisis about my teaching mission that I experienced on September 11, and examine the context of Enlightenment values that have given meaning to my life’s work. My faith in the unlimited creativity of human beings in solving the problems of their environment, in the capacity of the imagination to invent new solutions to economic, physical and psychological dilemmas, in the liberation of mental energy and fresh ideas from the fetters of dogma and fear, was sorely tested on that fateful Tuesday.
- Lois Olson
- Job: Assistant Professor of Marketing, San Diego State University
- San Diego Neighborhood: La Jolla
- Married, 49 years old
- Three children: Ted, Tom, Mary
“I was getting out of the shower and heard on the radio that the first tower had been attacked. I quickly got dressed, turned on the TV, and saw the second one get hit.
“I wrote a note for my husband and son and left the TV on so they would see it when they came downstairs. And then I had to pack up my daughter and drop her off. I went to work — I teach at San Diego State.”
“What was your first response?”
“I felt sick and thought, ‘Is this really real?’ ”
“Did you think the attack was planned?”
“The first one, no. The first one, I figured it could have been a strange accident. But when the second tower was hit…”
“The Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 that slammed into the WTC were carrying a combined total of about 200,000 pounds of jet fuel, and the combined power of the explosions was about 1,000 tons of TNT, a kiloton.” United States Senate Republican Policy Committee.
“How about the anthrax attacks? Do they worry you?”
“I’m inclined to think it’s probably not Osama’s boys, but some militia-type person. But I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m not a super-alarmist about it, although smallpox does concern me.”
“Do you have a plan to get out — to escape the city — if something happens here?”
“What would it take to get you studying road maps?”
“I suppose a pretty dramatic attack on the West Coast, in Southern California. I’m certainly not blasé about it. I feel like, ‘It’s okay, as long as I’m aware of what’s going on.’ But if something happened here, I suppose that would change things.”
“No one arrested has been charged with a crime directly related to the attacks. On Friday, Robert Mueller, the FBI’s director, was forced to release photos of the suspected suicide hijackers and beg citizens to help his agents identify them.” The Observer, September 30, 2001.
“…hundreds of people of Middle Eastern origin are behind bars in the US, thousands more are being interrogated. None has yet been directly charged with terrorist offences.” ABC News [Australia], November 29, 2001.
“How do you think the FBI’s anthrax investigation is going?”
“Pretty well. No one could be an expert on anthrax — we haven’t had that before. In terms of how things are going with Osama, I understand we can’t know everything, and we shouldn’t know everything, because they can watch CNN too.
“Americans think everything should be fast. For instance, there’s no government that could take over in Afghanistan right now. They’ve got to get all that put together; it’s going to take a little bit of manipulation.”
“When you think about another attack on the United States, what kind of an attack do you fear the most, and what kind do you think is most likely?”
“It could be horrible, because they’re very insidious, especially Osama and the boys. Life means nothing to them. They don’t care about getting killed. There are so many things they could do to us economically. They could do something pretty dramatic.
“What do I think will happen? I think winter in Afghanistan is going to make a very, very different war. We’ll probably lose a few people, and it will be very difficult for our soldiers as they go into bunkers.”
“Do you think terrorist activity in America will slow, stop, or speed up?”
“I don’t know. Most of the people who have been trained under Osama have no planning and organization skills. You can tell I teach in the school of business. What these terrorists have learned is very simple: it’s ‘We hate America, we love Islam, we will kill,’ but they don’t know how.
“So if they lose a couple of their really organized people, like Mohamed Atta, they won’t have planners and organizers to replace him. Atta probably masterminded the majority of what went on here. Most of them are not very good at planning and achieving goals.”
Atta was a pro. “I am impressed with the patience and planning that went into the 911 attacks. Some of the airline terrorists lived in this country — a foreign country to them — for years. Nobody got arrested, nobody got drunk and revealed their plans, nobody ratted on anyone else, and nobody, apparently, quit the project. The group’s discipline was remarkable.
“They follow orders well. But again, there are only a certain number who can plan and organize, usually those who have been trained in foreign universities, people who understand the concept of planning.
“There are a lot of drones in this organization, and a lot of them can follow orders well, but they cannot think of what to do or how to make it happen. That part is a little bit reassuring. They have a lot of guys who have been trained, but most of them haven’t been trained on how to set a goal and achieve it.”
“The Sept. 11 attacks on the United States left 9 out of 10 Americans showing signs of stress, Rand researchers reported in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
“Sleeplessness, nightmares, stomach aches, irritability and an inability to concentrate plagued American adults in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks that killed about 4,600 people, researchers said.”
Reuters, November 15, 2001
- Carol Locken
- Job: Controller, Johnson-Kinsey, Inc.
- Residence: La Mesa
- Married, 45 years old
- Three children: Coral, Carly, Kaj
“We were watching television.”
“Did you think it was an attack, or a mistake, or something else?”
“I didn’t think that it was an attack. I thought it was an explosion.”
“And then the second plane crashed.”
“I was in shock. I knew it was done with intent and purpose.”
“Do you find yourself watching television more often lately?”
“Do you find yourself doing anything different in your daily life, anything that you’re doing now that you didn’t do before September 11th?”
“That’s a heavy question. I’m working more on myself, trying to be a better person. That comes from the belief that people need to be more caring and loving.”
“Have you found yourself crying now and then?”
“Do you talk with your neighbors about this?”
“I haven’t discussed it with my neighbors.”
“Do you feel endangered?”
“I don’t feel like I’m personally in danger, no. The human race is in danger, but I don’t have fear or anxiety that someone is going to attack me. I have begun to watch the news more. When I’m online, I read news stories about what’s going on more than I ever have in my life. I think everything changed on September 11th. Our way of life changed.”
“In what way?”
“Poor people in other countries, people who are oppressed and have wars — it’s been brought home.”
“How do you think the war is going, domestically and in Afghanistan?”
“I don’t think we’ll suffer many casualties in this war, but others will. I know we suffered the first casualties, but I think the war will not be short and will definitely escalate.”
“Do you think there’ll be more attacks in the United States?”
“Yes. I don’t believe it’s done yet. But the U.S. military has greater firepower, and the more terrorism strikes fear in the States, the more serious it will get overseas.”
“How are your children taking this? Is there any difference in the way they see events versus the way you see them?”
“Yes, they have a lot of anger, almost to the point of racism.”
“Round up all the Arabs, send them back home, that sort of thing?”
“How do you differ?”
“Well, the child of the ’60s that I am, I want to give peace a chance and strive to be rid of my own prejudice. We are all one.”
“Versus your children’s ‘they hit us, let’s hit them back hard’?”
certainly the attack was brilliant, planned for years, a trail both open, swollen like a carapace, and closed/foreclosed, just with/before the proper name: bin Laden…the nomadic seizes the empire; viral organisms move from one motel to another, one city to another, one plane to another. the empire remains in the grid, situates itself at the cartesian origin (its own form of violent foreclosure); the empire is the grid.
Alan Sondheim, “originator and owner of Cyberculture, an electronic forum [on the Web], for the discussion of the implications of subjectivity and community in Cyberspace.”
You are a piece of inbred shit and we are going to kill you. All of you thinking that the USA is down? You are wrong. We have never been stronger. The USA is the best country in the whole world and we will prevail. You have just pissed us off, that’s all. We will find you, Bin Laden, and all of you homosexual followers and slowly sodomize and kill you all. Prepare to regret your birth.
Letter to the editor from “Russ” to the Yemen Times, Yemen’s sole English-language newspaper, October 1, 2001.
- Patricia L. Page
- Job: Retired
- San Diego Neighborhood: Pacific Beach
- 72 years old
“I was at home, in a state of shock. I really didn’t do anything eventful.”
“What room were you in?”
“I was in the living room. I got up and had to leave twice, because I couldn’t stand seeing those buildings go down. I never in my life imagined a building collapsing like that.
“That’s what really scared me. The idea that a building you never thought…would…you know…fall down…in a cloud of dust. That threw me, it really did. It was so unreal. It was so unreal.”
“Are you watching more TV since September 11th?”
“No. I’ve always followed current events pretty well, but I’m so worn out with all the TV stations pounding the same thing 24 hours a day. It wears me out, so I look for old movies. You know, anything to break the intensity of the situation.”
The president of ABC News has ordered the network to stop showing footage of hijacked jetliners slamming into the World Trade Center, saying that repeated broadcast of the images had become gratuitous, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Reuters, September 18, 2001
“I’ve seen those buildings fall down one billion fucking times.” Stephen Robinson, real estate agent, New York City. September 18, 2001.
“How did you react when the anthrax attacks started?”
“I didn’t pick up on that when it first happened. I was still tuning out all of this 24-hour-a-day brainwashing. But probably after the first day, I got serious about it.”
“Have you bought extra water or canned goods?”
“No, I haven’t. I don’t live in fear. You keep canned goods and so forth on hand in case there’s an earthquake or something. That has always been built into me.”
“Anthrax has gotten my attention in a way the twin towers didn’t. Not for the few people it’s killed, but the potential of what that grade of anthrax can do. What would it take for you to say to yourself, ‘I’d better take some steps to defend myself’?”
“I don’t know what I could do. Basically, I don’t have a family to worry about. I …just…don’t know what I could do, because I’m not going to go out and buy gas masks.”
“Do you think San Diego is prepared for an attack?”
“No, but I don’t think anybody is. God knows where it’s going to come from, the next trip around.”
“How have the attacks affected you?”
“I’ve been melancholy. It made me very sad. Deep-down sad. I realized immediately that our lives would never be the same again.
“We’ve never had war on our shores. And I’ve always felt that’s a lot of what we’re resented for. War has always been on someone else’s shores, and we’ve been safe.
“But it’s deeper than that. The sadness, to me, is that a lot of joy was taken away from us. I mean daily happiness, something we’ve taken for granted. I am pretty much of a patriot, and it made me very angry.”
“Did you cry?”
“Oh yeah. I tear up easily when someone who’s had a hard experience with the attack says something. My eyes fill with tears.”
“Over the next 12 months, what do you fear the most?”
“I fear nuclear. I have a great respect for smallpox, and all the potential victims of smallpox, but I really, really am in fear of a worldwide nuclear war. I think there are too many countries with access to nuclear weapons, and the people who run those countries are too emotional.
“I’m up in my 70s. Most of my friends are very concerned because of their grandkids and so forth. I’ve got nieces and nephews, but I don’t think in those terms.
“I think about someone who comes over here and uses our nation and then wants to destroy us, rather than go back and try to make their nation better. It’s something that baffles me, because I wouldn’t wish poverty on anybody. And it makes me angry.
“I have a friend — we’ve been friends for 30 or 40 years. She’s a very liberal Democrat. They travel a lot. They’ve been in almost every country in the world. She doesn’t like Bush. She started out on how uneducated he is and so forth. She said the people in Holland dislike us intensely. I finally came unglued and told her, ‘We sent our soldiers over there for two world wars, you know, supported everybody, and no one paid a penny back. I don’t care how they feel.’
“I retired from the City in ’93. I worked in water reclamation, and we did a lot of tours. Every foreign student from a Mideast country would tell me exactly how much America was giving to the Israelis. They knew more about our history than we do.
“I remember asking one young man from Saudi Arabia something and he said, ‘Well, I can’t say anything because they’re paying for my education. My life could be in danger if I said anything bad about my country.’ Maybe we take too much for granted in America.”
Well, chew on this: a first-year pilot on American Eagle (the commuter arm of American Airlines) receives around $15,000 a year in annual pay.
That’s right — $15,000 for the person who has your life in his hands. Until recently, Continental Express paid a little over $13,000 a year. There was one guy, an American Eagle pilot, who had four kids, so he went down to the welfare office and applied for food stamps — and he was eligible!
Someone on welfare is flying my plane? Is this for real? Yes, it is.
Michael Moore, author/filmmaker, September 12, 2001.
- George Metze
- Job: Captain USN (Retired)
- Residence: Coronado
- Married, 82 years old
- Two children: George, Gayle
“We’ve followed all the stories, but beyond that, life goes on as usual. No changes. We’ve been back and forth over the Coronado bridge. Doesn’t bother us any.”
“Did you see the attack on TV?”
“Oh, sure. At first, it was beyond comprehension — you couldn’t believe what you saw. The thing got more concrete when the second airplane came around and went into the second tower.
“At first, I thought the fire was going to be confined to five floors. I didn’t think the whole thing was going to collapse the way it did. I didn’t think the carnage would be nearly as bad as it eventually became.”
“I’ve talked to people who’ve said they’ve had trouble sleeping after the attack. For weeks. Has your sleep been disturbed since September 11th?”
“No. Not to hark back to anything, but I’ve had a few experiences with the kamikaze. So maybe I was a little bit more tuned in, a little more used to it.”
“Okinawa proved to be the single costliest battle of the Pacific war, for both sides. There, the United States suffered close to 70,000 casualties, as the Japanese intensified devastating kamikaze air attacks against the Navy. Between April 1, and July 1, 1945, 36 U.S. ships were sunk and 368 were damaged. During the battle, almost 40 percent of all American deaths resulted as a consequence of Japanese kamikaze attacks.”
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, August 30, 1995.
“I see. You were in the Pacific during World War II. What ship were you on?”
“I was on a destroyer.”
“Did kamikazes attack your ship?”
“One came so close. There was a theory back then that the kamikaze pilot never had a parachute. Well,” Captain Metze laughs, “this one came so close that when he crashed, he blew his parachute up on our deck.
“I’ve seen a number of planes crash on ships, and in many cases, the scenes were horrible, but sometimes there wasn’t the great loss of life or enormous damage that you expected. In the World Trade Center, I had no idea that there was going to be that much loss of life. We’re talking five, six thousand people.”
“It’s still hard to take in, isn’t it? That much damage.”
“Amazing. I fell back on the standard definition. If you don’t have any money and you don’t have any forces, this is the way you go: you terrorize people. I’m convinced they never thought they would cause that much damage. I’m convinced they were satisfied as hell when they saw what the results were.”
White House press briefing, October 4, 2001, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson
Secretary Thompson [replying to a question on how Bob Stevens, 63, contracted inhalation anthrax]: “We don’t know that at this point in time. We do know that he drank water out of a stream when he was traveling to North Carolina last week.”
It’s The Anthrax, Stupid
Headline in the Guardian, October 27, 2001
- Dillon Taylor
- Job: Sales, Southern California Gun
- San Diego Neighborhood: Loma Portal
- Single, 22 years old
“…for directions and store hours, press 1; for sales, press 3; for consignments, press 5; for…” I press 3.
“Sales, Dillon, how can I help you?”
Dillon Taylor has worked in sales at Southern California Gun for two years. He was born in Connecticut, raised in Montana, joined the Marine Corps Reserves, moved to San Diego, and attends SDSU. I introduce myself and explain why I’m calling. “Did you see the attack on the World Trade Center?”
“I did. I was at Camp Pendleton doing some training. I’m in the Marine Corps Reserve. Someone said, ‘Go look at the TV.’ The TV was on and the World Trade Center was on fire, and then it fell down.”
“What was the talk?”
“Everybody was upset — nobody knew if it was a terrorist attack. When it was announced that it was a terrorist attack, the feeling was ‘We need to find these people and take care of this.’ There was a lot of payback in the minds of the people there.”
“Do you think San Diego will be attacked?”
“I don’t think these terrorists want to attack a military target, because if they attack a military target, it’s going to incite the military. We have special forces over there, which is good and dandy, but if you want to totally get rid of these people, you’re going to have to use a full-scale military assault. That would include myself.”
- I quit that job, and Mister, I ain’t goin’ back
- Got me a knife and she’s a long and bad
- I’ll tell you how I make the peace with that man
- Down in the alley of the big payback
- Bruce Springsteen,
- “The Big Payback”
“Did you see an increase in business following September 11th?”
“There were a few extra people coming in because of that, but business was good before the attack.”
“Do the new people purchase any item in particular?”
“Home defense, shotguns mostly.”
“But nothing unusual?”
“A bunch of new people rushing in to buy a bunch of guns.”
“I’ll tell you what we did get, we did get a lot of people asking if they could take classes on personal protection and home defense.”
Sign me up. “Imagine a smallpox outbreak in San Diego or a small nuclear bomb detonated in San Diego Harbor. The fantasy is, power goes out and stays out. Police protection, water, grocery stores, service stations, everything stops working and everybody starts looting. If that actually happened, what would you want in your home for home defense?”
“A shotgun rather than a handgun?”
“Oh, by far.”
“Because the ammunition in a handgun tends to penetrate through walls. If you’re not an accurate shot — if you live in a drywall apartment, bullets can travel next door. A shotgun isn’t something you have to aim — all you have to do is point it in the general direction of your target. It shoots pellets, and those pellets expand into a pattern. If you’re within eight feet of an intruder and shoot him with a shotgun, you’re going to tear that person in half.
“There is nothing like the sound of a pump-action shotgun. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world know what that sound is. You may have never seen a gun, heard a gun, but there is no sound like the sound of a shell being chambered into a shotgun, chuh-CHING. When you hear that, you think, ‘I’m in trouble.’ ”
“What do you say to people who hate guns?”
“I have people who come in and say, ‘Oh, guns are so bad. I hate guns.’ I ask, ‘Have you learned about them?’ ‘No.’ One of my friends is a perfect example. He hated guns. We used to get in the biggest arguments about whether or not people should own guns. Finally, I got him to go to a range and go shooting. He enjoyed it. He’s bought three weapons since.”
“When you take a nonbeliever to a shooting range, when is the moment he says, ‘Oh, this is fun!’?”
“When they pull the trigger the first time.”
Speech by President Fidel Castro regarding President Bush’s address to Congress:
“Finally, an unheard-of confession in a political speech on the eve of a war, and no less than in times of apocalyptic risks: ‘The course of this conflict is not known; yet its outcome is certain. And we know that God is not neutral.’
“This is an amazing assertion. When I think about the real or imagined parties involved in that bizarre holy war that is about to begin, I find it difficult to make a distinction about where fanaticism is stronger.
“As for Cubans, this is the right time to proclaim more proud and resolute than ever:
- “Socialism or death!
- “Homeland or death!
- “We will overcome!”
Pravda, September 25, 2001
- Bill Rabe
- Job: Manager, Apollo Depot Military Surplus
- Residence: Oceanside
- Single, one child
“Did you walk into work on September 12th and see a gang of new people in the store?”
“Oh, sure.” Rabe, 54, was born in Washington, D.C., and moved to San Diego in 1956. He was drafted into the Army in 1968, spent the next 11 years overseas, returning to San Diego in 1979, and then on to Oceanside to care for his mother.
“What did they want?”
“Gas masks and flags.”
“What kind of gas masks do you sell?”
“The only ones we carry are Israeli. We had 25 German masks, but they were gone in no time.”
“Which mask is the best?”
“Oh, the Americans are the best, but it’s against the law to sell them. The Israeli masks, they’re fine; they’re issued by the government to their people.”
The Infant Protector consists of a head and body covering made of strong impermeable and transparent plastic laminate, which allows unobscured view of the infant. Assembled in the cover are two strong and secure plastic zippers for quick and easy positioning, or removal of the infant and an integrated feeding nipple (a feeding bottle is supplied with the system).
Israeli Gas Mask for Infant
Offered by Platinum Defense, Miami, Florida
“Did you see the attacks on TV?”
“I don’t know what made me turn on the TV that day, but, yeah, and it scared the hell out of me. Sickening.”
“Do you remember what new customers were talking about while they were ordering gas masks?”
“They were scared, saying stuff like, ‘You never know what a fanatic is going to do.’ I suppose I see their point.”
“More men in the store than women?”
“No, more females.”
“I’m surprised. I’d have thought women would be uncomfortable going into a military-surplus store alone.”
“They weren’t this time. I’d say 90, 95 percent of our customers are male. But that hasn’t been so since the attack.”
“When women came in to buy gas masks, did they buy one or buy for the family?”
“Usually for the whole family.”
“So they’d come in and say, ‘I want four, five, six…’ ”
“You got it. We’ve always sold gas masks. We’ll sell maybe one a month. After the attack, our stock was gone in one day — took us a long while to get resupplied.”
Protective [gas] masks for every House Member and floor staffer were placed in an area readily accessible to lawmakers in the Capitol roughly a year ago to guard against a chemical or germ warfare assault, according to senior House staffers.
Roll Call, September 24, 2001
“How long have you been working there?”
“This time, since ’97. I worked for her before. I started in ’91 and after a while got another job. She’s a good friend of mine. She had people stealing from her, so she fired them, asked me to come back, and I did.”
“What’s fun about the military-surplus business?”
“Fun? I don’t like any of it. I hate it,” Rabe laughs.
Okay. “What’s horrible about military surplus?”
“Everything. This particular business, it’s the people I work with. Most of them are pretty well useless.”
“Is it a hassle dealing with the public?”
“No, the public is nice. This is the first time I’ve ever liked them more than the people I work with. Usually, it’s the other way around. The public is cool.”
“You’re the manager. Can’t you fire these people?”
“I went to the owner and she won’t do it. I don’t know why. One day I’ll have enough and I’ll just say ‘Adios.’ ”
“To get back to the terrorists. What’s the worst attack that could happen in the next 12 months?”
“I’m afraid they’re going to get ahold of a nuclear weapon. Then we’re in big trouble. Then you’re getting scary. I’m right up here by a power plant, Number 1. I’m right by Pendleton Number 2. Two good