The Nation Reels ; Terrorist Attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon Challenge Aspects of America's Core Identity

By Peter Grier writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, September 12, 2001 | Go to article overview

The Nation Reels ; Terrorist Attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon Challenge Aspects of America's Core Identity


Peter Grier writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


On a Tuesday like any other, with fall coming on and the kids settling into school, the United States of America was struck a series of terror blows so searing they could change the nation's sense of itself as profoundly as did Pearl Harbor or the worst days of the Vietnam War.

The US is used to feeling invulnerable. Bombs, smoke, and a banshee chorus of rescue vehicles were for other, weaker, less prosperous places.

Now the very idea of America, as expressed in its symbolic buildings, has been successfully attacked. Going forward, one overarching debate will likely involve how that idea - of openness, of freedom of movement, of confidence in itself - may change.

"The big issue here is how much we will feel forced to close down our society now," says Stansfield Turner, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The scale of the attacks was such that they were difficult to put into perspective. They created a whole new historical context of their own.

The terrible efficiency with which they were executed astounded even hardened terrorist experts. Two hijacked airliners slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center within minutes of each other. Shortly thereafter, another hijacked craft hit the Pentagon.

"To be able to make these attacks within an hour [of each other] - that shows an incredible degree of organization or skill," says Stanley Bedlington, a retired senior analyst at the CIA counterterrorism center.

The terrorist organization responsible must have been planning the attack for some time. That makes it unlikely the hijackers entered the country recently.

The implication: terrorist cells of long-standing organization are likely at work within the United States.

"They were seeded here and waiting," says a former CIA counterintelligence officer who asked not to be named.

President Bush vowed that whoever carried out the deeds will be punished.

"The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass [the test]," President Bush said.

But in the short run, the explosions shut down the nation's political and economic nerve centers. They accomplished the first task of any terrorist: that of sowing fear and panic among civilians.

The two 110-foot towers, a defining aspect of New York's skyline, collapsed shortly after they were struck. At the time of writing, American Airlines said it was missing two aircraft, carrying a total of 156 people. United Airlines was also missing two jetliners. One had crashed outside Pittsburgh, according to airline officials, and the other had crashed in a location not immediately identified.

Hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 bound for Los Angeles were heard by air-traffic controllers instructing the pilots in English from inside the cockpit, according to a flight controller in the regional air-traffic-control facility handling the flight.

"One of the pilots keyed their mike so the conversation between the pilot and the person in the cockpit could be heard," the controller says. "The person in the cockpit was speaking in English. He was saying something like, don't do anything foolish. You're not going to get hurt."

Also overheard was a request for a flight path to Kennedy - but the controller, who was not controlling the plane himself, is unsure whether the pilot or hijacker made the request. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Nation Reels ; Terrorist Attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon Challenge Aspects of America's Core Identity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.