Wednesday, March 26, 2014


'2013 Security Officer of the Year': One World Trade Center guard Abdul Basher
 'exercises' his eyes while on duty at the nation's tallest skyscraper
 and site of the 9/11 terror atrocity

Updated Sunday March 30, 2014


(Wednesday March 26, 2014 Reade & Church St., NYC)  From this corner in Lower Manhattan almost equidistant from the New York State Supreme Courthouse and One World Trade Center, two stories were playing out each oddly linked to the other.  It was, however, a case of good news and bad news; very bad news indeed.  In the Courthouse Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, the highest ranking al-Qaeda member to be tried in an American court, was convicted on all counts related to the conspiracy to kill Americans and the actual attack of September 11, 2001 itself.

A few blocks to the south at the site of 1 World Trade Center, just a week after a 16 year old high school student from New Jersey managed to gain access to the spire atop this new imposing structure, the lack of vigilant security and ineptitude was again illustrated in a cell phone camera captured picture of a security guard, a “half-blind” security guard at that, was photographed while asleep at the main entrance to the site.  Apparently security at the site is not a high priority but rather a matter of contracting the lowest bidder.

The bad news side of the equation really began to tip the scale downward as it was revealed that three members of the Secret Service contingent assigned to, the once thought to be elite, Counter Assault Team (CAT) who had been sent to The Netherlands prior to President Obama’s visit to The Hague, had been on a drinking binge that ended with one Agent passed out in a hotel hallway a mere six hours before they were to report for duty.  This is the third such incident of blatantly indiscriminate behavior by those tasked with providing security from the President of the United States; a task that has been exponentially more challenging from the earliest days of Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007.  No other candidate or president has ever received more death threats and required more proactive measures from the Secret Service than the first African American to run for the highest Office in our land and become President.

While in The Hague President Obama participated in the Nuclear Security Summit along with 24 other heads of state.  It was after one of these sessions that President Obama dismissed the recent incursion of Russian troops into Crimea stating that his most immediate threat was a “nuclear bomb going off in Manhattan”, not the Russia/Ukraine/Crimea situation.

Concerning nuclear weapons we learned this week that the men and women serving in isolated bunkers deep beneath the topsoil of military bases in Montana and North Dakota and elsewhere, had regularly cheated on monthly proficiency exams, that one top Commander, while on a visit to Russia last year was seen in the company of young Russian women while he was obviously extremely intoxicated and speaking about the physics of our nuclear arsenal.  By the end of the week he, along with nine other Commanders and 34 junior Officers were dismissed, resigned or reassigned.  The moral and competency of the men and women who literally have access to our over 19,000 ICBM nuclear tipped missiles has now become of great concern.  Endemic among those who serve in these highly technical and dreadfully monotonous posts is a sense that their “mission” is “useless”; that they are kept on a constant state of high alert while no threat is present.  As one Air Force Colonel who asked to speak anonymously stated, “We are fairly certain that there will not ever come a time when we will be called upon to carry out the specifics of our well-defined mission.  Year after year we train and train and have come to recognize that we perform a function, that we represent a segment of our Military arsenal that is highly unlikely ever going to be called upon.  This fact alone saps the morale from all of us living underground.”


If there is one common thread linking the last five paragraphs it is systemic failures of an egregious nature.  As our troops continue to die in remote corners of Afghanistan, the threat of “home grown” terrorists increases, and we work with other governments to secure the various stockpiles of nuclear material around the world, we are confronted with an alarming reality to say the least.  Anyone of the episodes above is cause for serious concern; collectively they represent a complete lack of respect for the perils in the real world, in real time, affecting real people.  Just as Americans awoke to a new reality on September 12, 2001 with stunned disbelief that a small band of terrorists were able to pull such a diabolically calculated attack, we would learn in the weeks, months and years after that, essentially, no one was “minding the store”.  For all the untold trillions of dollars the federal government has invested in the bottomless pits of the Intelligence and Law Enforcement Community from the CIA. DIA, NSA, NRO, and all the other “alphabet agencies”, the post 9-11 era revealed ineptitude of such a profound nature in the all the federal Agencies and Departments including those mentioned above, that the entire apparatus of securing our country was fatally flawed. 

Once the raging stallions of non-state sponsored terrorism, asymmetrical warfare and the complexities of waging a guerrilla war with radical insurgents were already out of the proverbial barnyard there was no coaxing them back.  We were in a new age indeed.  As is typical of modern day Congress, they exercised their knee-jerk reactions and passed with staggering haste bills and legislation that created new Agencies and rounded up an array of 22 existing diverse Agencies and created the Department of Homeland Security, a Cabinet level post as well as the Director of National Intelligence.  This Hodge-podge shotgun marriage among Agencies so institutionally ossified and vehemently territorial proved to be an awkward, cumbersome beast.  But as the years have come and gone since that immediate post 9-11-01 period when all of America was attuned to the sense of hyper-awareness and appeared ready to do whatever was asked of them, soon the security measures became nuisances; time consuming wastes of time.  Once the threat of another strike on our own soil by some terrorist group began to seem less plausible, slowly but surely we let our guard down, we dropped our hands as quickly as a winded boxer in the last round.


As has become glaringly evident since 9-11-01 is that we, our government, military, diplomatic corps and intelligence machinery, for all its hi-tech sophistication and capabilities never did and continues to not have any practical knowledge of those with whom we are engaged in this “war on terror”.  We have scant understanding of the vast societal, cultural and historical differences between us and, when it comes to a theater of combat such as the notoriously ungovernable land of Afghanistan were tribal and familiar alliances are centuries old, we are at a loss.  When we finally remove the last of our troops from Afghanistan after a13 years of military engagement, in short order there will be no evidence that we had ever been there aside from the billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware and infrastructure that is too costly for us to remove. 

Even in the much more familiarly comfortable conventional methods of combat and defense we have over six decades of experience with, the failures of those charged with overseeing our huge stockpile of nuclear tipped bombs, was another stunner of epic proportions.  Beginning with the creation of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Strategic Air Command (SAC) we have maintained underground silos, subterranean military bases carved into the deep bedrock of the west and Midwest of the United States tasked with being able to deliver nuclear Armageddon   within minutes of a Presidential directive.  Learning of the systemic corruption employed in these still active but, in reality, more relics of our Cold War past, in light of global instability and the Russian annexation of Crimea, was chilling.

As Joseph Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation said last week on MSNBC, “The men and women in those bunkers have a thankless job.  Their commanders know and they know they are preparing for a mission they will never be called upon to fulfill.  Morale is poor all the way down the line. The entire nuclear stockpile should be decommissioned and significantly reduced.  Nuclear war is so unlikely to happen.”  While it is true that the United States may never engage an enemy in conventional warfare such as in World War II, there is no imperative at any level of the federal government, the Department of Defense and other vested interests to relinquish our nuclear superiority as part of a pact or treaty.  We’ll keep our nukes, thank you.


From the day in 1966 that the first demolitions of existing structures began to clear a 16 acre of Lowe Manhattan for the World Trade Center, that plot of NYC has been high value real estate.  As the Twin Towers climbed ever higher for years many said no one will be willing to work in an office so high in the sky.  The architect, Minoru Yamasaki, himself uncomfortable with height, designed two building with exterior cladding interspersed by window no larger than 22 inches.  This was an ingenious solution in that the very narrow windows enabled workers to be more comfortable and less distracted in the highest stories of those Towers than other architectural proposals had specified.  Yamasaki found a kindred spirit and an intellectual peer in the young structural engineer from Worthington, Skilling, Helle, and Jackson (WSHJ), Leslie Robertson who brought Yamasaki’s grand vision to fruition while advancing constructing and engineering techniques that revolutionized how engineers thought about building big.  Within 14 months of the Twin Towers opening over 78% of its office space was leased. 

In a wrenchingly sad twist of fate Leslie Robertson observed the fully fueled passenger jets deliberately smash into the towers he had built.  As the steel warped from the lack of protective fire resistant foam, thousands of gallons of highly flammable aviation fuel, the fire stressed infrastructure succumbed to the elements and with an almost diabolically directed “pancaking effect” both of the Towers were reduced to 16 acres of smoldering rubble and the 7 subterranean levels had turned into a hell on earth for those trapped there when the Towers above them collapsed and sealed their fates.

One would think that almost a full 13 years later, after 11 years of constructing a new soaring structure, this time a single sublimely angular tower, that this 16 acre construction site would be among the most vigilantly guarded and secure as any of the other numerous and symbolic structures in our City.  But, incomprehensively, one would be mistaken; astonishingly mistaken.

A photograph appeared in our NYC local newspapers and on the TV news late last week of a security guard, Abdul Basher, 65, an employee of the subcontractor, Durst Organization Property Management, who is tasked with providing security for this hallowed site.  Basher, leaning back wearing sunglasses was apparently sound asleep at his post; a post that was in fact the primary entry to the building itself.  By his own admission he is “half blind” and has difficulties seeing “people and sometimes stairs.”  So this is what it has all devolved to?  As much as 1 World Trade Center is a 1776 foot testament to our New Yorker Pride, our strength and defiance in the faces of the cowards who brought our old Giant 11 down, it is for many holy, blood soaked ground.   To learn that the security of this site had been outsourced by billionaires to the lowest bidder was just another worm in the apple. 


On a cold overcast February 26, 1993, the first attack on our Twin Towers was perpetrated.  Fortunately the terrorists responsible for this act were not as ambitious in their plot nor as astute in their planning as the attackers of September 11, 2001.  However, what they were, what their crime was did little to rattled the cages of those in the federal government to pay attention to an increasingly looming threat.  That ragtag band of terrorists lead by a master bomb maker, Ramzi Yousef, whose uncle is the admitted mastermind behind the 9-11-01 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), were unable to bring our Towers down but eight years later they witnessed success beyond their wildest dreams. 

As any domestic security expert or analysts will say for the public record, 1 World Trade Center will be a choice target for this new generation of terrorists.  Given the dynamics within unstable nations and simmering anti-American tension across the globe, it is safe to say that someone, at this very minute, in a city or rural enclave is already plotting the next attack on NYC and certainly, the defiant middle finger to the rest of the world that is 1 World Trade Center, as their primary target. 

As has been reported in the local media recently there was a contentious turf battle for jurisdiction over the task of providing security for 1 WTC between the Port Authority Police (PAPD) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  The Port Authority eventually won that territorial dispute and now, in light of recent gross lapses in securing the site, there may in fact be a jurisdictional review to access what Agency or Agencies will be the primary Law Enforcement Agency at the site, the memorial plaza and surrounding surface streets.  Since the PATH trains that connect New York City to New Jersey have historically been the sole domain of the PAPD, that mission will be continued.   

The PAPD currently are the lone providers to much of the infrastructure of the NYC – North Jersey metropolitan area including, side from the PATH trains, all three major airports, two huge bus terminals and the tunnels and bridges that link NYC to NJ over or under the Hudson River.  It seems obvious that the PAPD should retain the jurisdictional imperative at all the sites they have historically presided including the new 1 WTC.  How they had somehow ceded security control from the site to some half-assed rent-a-cop outfit is beyond comprehension.


So, in the time elapsed in one seven day period we have learned about extremely distressing realities; we now know our President is in danger due to drunken Secret Service Agents, that our nuclear stockpile is staffed by unqualified, disillusioned, over stressed airmen and women, that a partially blind security guard was the first line of defense at the most sacred ground in NYC if not all of the USA and, by the way, our CIA had completely once again failed to connect the dots as Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a sham referendum in Crimea wresting that peninsular on the southern border of  the sovereign state of  Ukraine back to Russian control.   

Iraq remains a dystopian state with warring religious and ethnic factions hell-bent on the annihilation of each other.  On another front our puppet drug lord, corrupt, anti-American so called “leader” of Afghanistan continues to poke his wicked fingers into the eyes of the American Military and other Agencies that sacrificed so much to bring some sense of order to his land.  There is not a hot spot in the world where the USA has any leverage or clout and that is the direct result of the war-mongering, imperialist, neo-conservatives of the Cheney/Bush administration.  Despite the armed conflicts we’ve engaged in over all these years, none of them have served to make us any safer than we were on September 11, 2001.


Without any doubt or hint of exaggeration, one solid fact of Americana is that New York City is the premier City on the planet.  The number one destination of worldwide tourists, and, as Howard Cosell once said, “The City whose landmarks are known all over the world.  The center of shipping, transportation, communications, finance, fashion and, of course entertainment”, will always be the preeminent target in the evil eyes of those seeking to bring us death and destruction.  It is for this reason and this reason alone that the entire spectrum of homeland security, intelligence gathering and analysis, signal intelligence and constant vigilance must be maintained.

Ask any terrorism expert, any talking head from a think tank or, for that matter, any NYPD member, and they will to a person tell you their most earnest and frightful belief is that al Qaeda or some derivative thereof is patiently biding their time; watching and waiting for their next opportunity to bring their jihad to American soil.

Until we shore up our security efforts at every level of government we will remain an open target.  Having lived through the hours, days and weeks after our Twin Towers where toppled, it is an ominous reality that so many Agencies and their personnel can be asleep at the wheel at the same time.

The stakes are very high; the threat level while difficult to assess day to day is omnipresent and the consequences could be far worse than all we lived through on September 11, 2001 and since.

Lest we forget; lest our government forget.

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