Today’s Number of the Day from pollster Scott Rasmussen is a poignant 9/11 memorial: 204 New York City firefighters have died due to illnesses from that fateful day. That’s in addition to the 343 NYFD firefighters who gave their lives on September 11, 2001 (the NYFD maintains a list of “line of duty deaths” dating back to 1865; deaths 809 through 1151 were the result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks). Rasmussen also notes that 2977 people died in the attacks.
The first responders at Ground Zero have been back in the news lately due to some controversy over the funding of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky halted funding back in July, arguing that any spending should be offset with cuts elsewhere. As I’ve read and heard elsewhere, Senator Paul is fiscally correct—there are, apparently, multiple plans and funds, not to mention generous taxpayer-funded pensions, for NYFD firefighters—but politically inept on this issue. If people aren’t going to accept reasonable Social Security reform without pulsating with conniption fits, they’re definitely not going to appreciate the nuance of funding aid for 9/11 victims.
But I digress. We forget, because the long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem so distant and abstract to most Americans, how much September 11th changed our country. Take those wars: they’ve bogged us down further in two very difficult parts of the world, both awash in a murderous, totalitarian death cult. Targeted strikes against terrorist cells turned into nation-building, which looks like it will tie up American forces and treasure in two distant, hostile, and alien countries for at least two decades, and possibly longer.
More and more power has arrogated to the executive branch, though I’m not sure how much of this concentration can be blamed on the aftermath of 9/11. We have seen the implementation of a surveillance state that would put the Chinese government to shame. Collecting phone metadata doesn’t violate the “envelope principle” of the Fourth Amendment, but giving the perfidy of the Deep State, can we really trust that the government isn’t wiretapping phones without warrants?
The liberty lost after 9/11 may yet be recovered, but the lives lost cannot be. For all the neoconnery 9/11 wrought, the Bush Administration’s robust response to those attacks was swift and decisive. Gordon Scheaffer’s post today is a transcript of Bush’s 9/11 speech, one of the most powerful speeches delivered in twenty-first-century America.
May we never forget the men and women who gave their lives for our country that day. God Bless America!