Sunday, September 11, 2011

Part Two, Andy Martin, the only presidential candidate in New York on 9/11/01

Republican Presidential Candidate Andy Martin has a long history of involvement with the World Trade Center, terrorism and 9/11. In a two-part report he provides insights from his decades of experience and assesses how 9/11 made him a different presidential candidate. Andy was the only presidential candidate in New York on 9/11. This is Part Two of two parts.



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Andy Martin, in New York on 9/11, Part Two (of two parts)


(NEW YORK) (September 11, 2011) For me, 9/11/01 began two days earlier, on 9/09/2001.

I was having brunch after church on Sunday when I started chatting with the steward in our dining room. A friend and I were planning to go on a Sunday ride and he suggested a drive along the New Jersey Palisades.

We took off and kept on driving. Eventually we were back in New York state, and arrived at West Point. It was a quiet, lazy Sunday in September and the U. S. Military Academy was sleepy. We drove around and saw West Point up close. Then I think we crossed the Hudson at the Bear Mountain Bridge and headed south to Ossining.

Years before I had taught in Ossining for a semester and I suggested we stop off at a local restaurant for dinner. The day continued peacefully and I don’t remember when we made it back to Manhattan. The trip had been soft and gentle, the kind of excursion you wish for on a fall Sunday afternoon.

Monday I made plans to go downtown on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. We were going to take care of business and then head for the World Trade Center, maybe lunch at the Center, and then who knows?

The phone rang Tuesday morning. London calling. “Turn on the television.”

The World Trade Center had been hit. America was under attack.

I took the elevator to the 78th floor and went out on the roof. The World Trade Center was burning.

By now a pattern of attacks had emerged. Washington was also targeted. And then the buildings started to collapse.

I alternated between the roof and the TV. My inclination was not to head downtown right away. My first thought was to organize all of this “information” in a way that made sense.

As the reality of the World Trade Center attacks sunk in, the City of New York began to shut down.

Some people have criticized Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s performance on 9/11 and thereafter. I want to be clear about my feelings: I believe Mayor Giuliani’s performance was outstanding. In a nation that could not yet contemplate the possibility of mass terrorism, and in a city that had only a “King Kong” version of total terror as a backdrop, Giuliani had his staff will be vindicated by history for their magnificent performance.

Going between the roof and the office I tried to keep matters in perspective. In the back of my mind I remembered how the Port Authority Police station was located several levels below the surface. Possibly the police station had survived?

I went downstairs for dinner. There was no food. Truck traffic had been blocked. The cook had cut up leftover bread and cheese and put out a simple spread. The staff was gone. The “island” of Manhattan was cut off from the world. (It’s hard to believe, but most of Manhattan operates on virtually no inventory when it comes to foodstuffs and perishables. Truck traffic every day keeps the flow of goods coming. When the trucks stop, Manhattan stops.)

Broadway was closed. Midtown was empty. People were fleeing on foot. Darkness fell and the city’s lights also went dark. I tried to ride my bike but could not get close to the World Trade Center. The security cordon had tightened.

Since 9/11 I have come to interact with other lives that were changed on that day. We are still changing.

Almost every Sunday now I walk past the World Trade Center. I have witnessed the rebuilding fiasco and the way politicians corrupted and manipulated the process of remembrance. I was a “rebuilder,” who felt the World Trade Center should have been rebuilt as it was (they still have the old blueprints and could have updated them quickly). I think the billion-dollar “memorial” is over-the-top. I would have preferred a more subdued memorial.

Today, ten years later, only part of the World Trade Center is being rebuilt, and efforts are under way to endlessly delay complete reconstruction. The Twin Towers will be no more. Instead we have a mismatch of different styles and structures. It wasn’t until a few months ago, with the tenth “anniversary” approaching, that managers began to hustle on reconstruction.

I have mixed feelings emotionally as well. My parish priests like to breast beat about “reconciliation” and “forgiveness.” In my opinion, the time for reconciliation and forgiveness is after the war is over, not while the war is going on. So I respectfully disagree with my priests. We ought to kill Al-Qaeda down to the last man, and ensure this gang of religious fanatics will never rise again. Anywhere, anyhow. And then we can forgive them and “reconcile” with the reality of evil.

We have killed people that we initially captured, held at Guantanamo, released and who then returned to the battlefield. That’s reality; that’s the real world. You can’t “reconcile” with someone who is doing his darnedest to kill you.

In reading the Washington Post over the weekend I was surprised by the negativity of the newspaper’s columnists. Some writers felt we had “lost” something in the wake of 9/11. I have the same criticism of that attitude that I have of the fundamentally decent Rep. Ron Paul who mistakenly wants to return us to an earlier, agrarian era. The world is constantly changing. Falsely accusing TSA officiers of “mauling” passengers, when no one has come up with a better way to move millions of passengers quickly, is unfair and unreasonable.

Yes, I am irritated by the endless security measures. What’s not to irritate? But I have come to accept we must trust the people we elect to exercise their best judgment. Even if we elect Clintons and Bushes and Obamas (that's our fault, not theirs.) I can write lovingly of the “old” World Trade Center, which was wide open when I became a tenant in 1974 (see part one of this two-part series). But the “old” world is not coming back. The last time I was in Honolulu there was an Al-Qaeda in Hawai’i wannabe under arrest. When I return to Honolulu in a few days the state is still a prime terrorist target, but no one there takes the risk seriously.

People were quick to point the finger of blame after 9/11.

Former President Clinton was at fault because he didn’t “get” Osama bin Laden when he could have. But I didn’t think Clinton was to blame. Others said President Bush was to blame. He had ignored warnings. I didn’t blame Bush either. The reality was more painful: we were to blame. Presidents lead us where we want to go. On 9/10/2001 the American people had no stomach for an all-out war against terrorism so the government was engaging in stopgap measures. And on 9/11 the stopgap measures permitted a national tragedy to occur.

On 9/11 the American people lost their innocence. “Foreign policy” was no longer foreign. Whether we liked it or not, we had been forced to join the real world. America was on the front lines.

I didn’t think that I would ever see another overseas war in my lifetime. And yet two years later I would be living in Baghdad. I strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq. No one in the White House was listening. In his memoirs published a few days ago, former Vice President Cheney indicates he still is not listening. September 11th unfortunately became the pretext for both good policy and bad policy. Pursuing Al-Qaeda was good. Launching a “war of choice” against Iraq was a mistake.

A world that is constantly connected for good is also constantly connected for evil. The New York Police department has also come under criticism for operating a global anti-terrorism operation. Well I say, “Thank God for the NYPD.” If “competition” is good in business and economics, it is also good in politics and law enforcement. The NYPD keeps other anti-terror operators on their toes. Now that we know the extent of the potential damage evil people can inflict on the United States, I do not see an alternative to vigorous and pro-active anti-terror operations.

Please forgive me if I close these columns with a “commercial” for my presidential campaign. I am not in the “top five” presidential candidates, but I am certainly in the top ten. So I am a dark horse or a long shot or whatever. But I do not think that anyone can deny my qualifications and experience for a place on the national ticket. I believe we can and should strike a proper balance between civil liberties and national security, but the balance must be slanted towards national security, not abstract principles of law.

We must avoid unnecessary wars such as the invasion of Iraq. But we can never hesitate to strike back at terrorist sanctuaries. Without disparaging any other presidential candidate, I have the experience and temperament to make the best decisions. The answers are never obvious and the decisions are never easy. And we battle in a complex and interconnected world where politics, economics, warfare and international rivalries intersect. But then that’s what I’ve spent my life working with and analyzing. And that’s also why you don’t see me pandering and giving in to “rah, rah” tactics on complex foreign policy issues that some candidates use to arouse emotions. I know what the stakes are: the survival of the American people and the American dream.


© Copyright by Andy Martin 2011 – All Rights Reserved


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