The Brancatelli File

joe 9/11


September 11, 2003 -- This is what I think I know about 9/11:

It is two years now, but it could be two decades or two minutes or two millennia.

Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about it.

I can't remember what life on the road was like on September 10.

Every few months I go down to Ground Zero and just stare into the big pit.

I hate the term "homeland security." Fascists and tin-pot dictators in funny costumes talk about the "homeland." It sounds un-American and paranoid and it makes me cringe.

September 11 should be a national holiday of remembrance.

I don't understand how it all happened. I just don't.

The Transportation Security Administration pulled off a bureaucratic miracle by taking control of security at every airport in the country in just a year. But the skies are no safer now than they were on 9/11 and I see no evidence that the TSA is doing anything about it.

Most business travelers I have met in the last two years have yet to come to terms with what happened on 9/11. Most of them are in denial. So am I.

I live on the Hudson River about 50 miles north of Manhattan and one of the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center flew low over my house as the hijackers dead reckoned their way down the river. I keep thinking there was something I could have done, a call I could have made, if only I was home...

There's no way out of this crisis if responsible Arab leaders and moderate Muslim clerics don't fight back against the thugs who wrap themselves in the Koran and claim to be killing for Allah.

The nation's politicians have broken every promise they made to the American people about the war on terrorism. We're not fighting smart or effectively--or even fighting the right enemy. There isn't a real and inspirational leader in either party.

We're all scared. And the more frightened we get, the more I think of what Benjamin Franklin said in a much more dangerous time: People who give up a little liberty to get a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Three thousand people died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 9/11. They were all innocents. We should never forget that.

I wonder, sometimes, what peace is like. I wonder, sometimes, if human beings are capable of it.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.