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At about 10:30 pm (2230 CDT for my European friends), I arrived for a fourteen-hour shift at KTRK (Channel 13, for those in Houston), talked with the six-am producer about the stories which he had inserted in the show’s rundown and set to work.

 

The fourth–or possibly fifth–story was about a book-signing by Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, who had been in town to promote his novel, Fury.

 

I remember very clearly that as I watched the BetaCam tape from the event, searching for a suitable sound-bite from Mr. Rushdie, I was glad thatHouston’s Muslim community had treated him well.

 

You see; back then, Muslims were considered our friends. My father had spent the two years after my high-school graduation in the Kingdomof Saudi Arabia–he actually walked out of my childhood home without me, three months before graduation day, but that’s another story–and I’d had the opportunity to see that Muslims were ordinary people.
They have the same hopes, dreams and fears as we do, but their religion plays a much greater role in their lives, which is where the trouble starts. By trouble, I mean thousands of ignorant and impressionable people suctioned into radical organisations by chicken-hawks hiding behind clerical titles.

 

Anyhow, I did that story and about twenty-five more without any inkling of what would later happen, stacked the tapes and worked them.
(before non-linear editing directly to digital servers and such, you had a tape, possibly two for each story. These tapes had to be gathered from the editors and passed to the tape-playback person. Invariably, some of the tapes  weren’t ready until seconds before they played and, therefore they had to be run from an editing booth to the playback person. I had a runner’s legs, just like the others who did this sort of thing.)

 

So, after everything settled down at about 6:45 (0645), I sat down at the desk, pulled up the AP ticker and began “stacking” the 8:25 newsbreak which I was due to produce–everyone starts somewhere.
The stories were the usual minutiae, which meant I wouldn’t be grabbing any breaking news–I foolishly thought–so I chose the three most interesting stories of the morning for the newsbreak.

Shortly after I moved back from the tape-desk to my own, I noticed a blip about the Boston ARTCC (AirRouteTrafficControlCenter) losing contact with a plane, which would later be identified as AA Flight 11, the plane which impacted the NorthTower. I pointed this out to my friend and six-am producer, Corin and the five-am producer, Courtney.

Courtney thought it was mildly interesting, but her newsbreak went on-air at 7:25 and Corin’s break at 7:56 was too short, so if anything came of it, it would be my story. I also passed it on to Holly, the midday producer.

 

Now, those who haven’t been in a newsroom might not know that every desk has a television. We not only watched our own show, but some of us were assigned to watch the competition and carefully analyse their newscasts. In fact, while doing this, I once saw a slip at the twentieth floor-level while climbing a building and fall to the pavement. (That station was the only one to not pull away.)

 

I mention the TVs, because at about 7:47, just as Corin was putting the finishing touches on his cut-in, the other associate producer, Andrea screamed “Oh, my God! That plane just hit that building!”

We looked at our TVs as the plane’s impact into theNorthTowerreplayed again. (She had seen a replay, as–to my knowledge– the impact wasn’t carried live.)

 

ABC was in special report, so that meant no newsbreak. That was very good, because we were all much too busy calling the news-director, executive-producers, general manager and everyone but the janitor.

I called my mother, simply said “turn on CNN” and hung up.

 

Shortly after eight-am, while talking to one of the EPs, an Evangelical lady named Robin, the monitor above her head showed a live-feed of another plane hitting the South Tower and before I even thought, I yelled “Goddamn! Motherfucker! Was that a MiG?”

Robin snapped her head around to look at the monitor and promptly forgot the blasphemy. I just kept looking at the replay, trying to make sense of what I had seen. I kept trying to place the aircraft. A Boeing 767, the type used for the Air force One fleet, never once entered my mind.

As stupid as it sounds in 2011, almost no one in 2001–myself included–ever thought about using a jetliner as a missile.

 

Someone recently wrote a newspaper article claiming that September 11th was more important than thePearl Harborattack. That’s a steaming pile of bullshit, but the September 11th attacks did change the way we think and approach things.

 

During the 1990s, I flew 30,000 km to 40,000 km and enjoyed every one of them. I haven’t flown since 1999 and you couldn’t pay me enough to board a plane.

 

Too much crap.

 

Too much idiocy.

 

Too little freedom.

 

I’ve hated the Department of Homeland Security since the beginning. It sounds too much like the “Fatherland.”

 

I’ve supported the Afghan war from the beginning and condemned theIraqwar from day one.

 

On September 12th, we had the world’s sympathy and backing, but the Bush Administration managed to squander that, calling to mind my Grandfather’s saying about a person being able to fuck up a wet dream.

 

In the past ten years, DHS has  gained the power to:

Demand information on which books you’re purchased.

Demand libraries disclose which books you’ve checked-out.

Enter your house without your knowledge, investigate you without anyone’s knowledge and prevent you and your attorney–under penalty of Federal imprisonment–from disclosing said investigation to each other, should one of you accidentally stumble upon it.

 

Torture has also been legitimised and habeas corpus has been suspended. That last one is rather important.

Although prosecutors still honor habeas for more than ninety-nine percent of suspects, it is now possible for the U.S. government to declare anyone, citizen or not, an enemy combatant who can be arrested, detained indefinitely and denied the benefit of counsel.

 

You can be thrown into a deep hole and forgotten. It’s like the old saying about “killing so-and-so and telling God that he/she died.”

 

The terrorists instilled enough terror that we forsook many of our freedoms, therefore they won.

 

Where was I on 11 September, 2001?

 

In the early hours, I was enjoying the last night of a dying world.  A world where elderly women aren’t forced to remove their wet diapers, children aren’t fondled in the name of security and la crise du jour doesn’t necessitate removing yet another article of clothing.

 

I’m just waiting for the “tampon-bomber”, “breast bomber” or “suppository bomber.”  That’s one security line, which I’ll pay just about anything to skip.

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One Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, anyway l love your site layout. Is nice and clean.

    Like


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