This post is from the JMBzine Blog Vault, which means it is a very old blog post that I wrote at a very different time of my life. My views on religion (I’m now a Humanistic Jew), politics (today I’m a democratic socialist), and many other subjects (LGBTQ+ inclusion, abortion rights, etc.) have drastically changed over the years, so please bear this in mind when reading this post.

September 11, 2001

11:37 pm

11:32 pm

Taken from:

How Come the U.S. Trains All the Terrorists?
By Martin Kelley

I’ve just been reading today’s New York Times article about the conviction of the New York City World Trade Center bombers. With it is a companion piece about the plot leader, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who hoped to kill 250,000 people when the towers collapsed onto the city below. Born in Kuwait to a Pakistani mother and Palestinian father, his life began as an allegory for the social displacements of the Middle East, and he grew up with anger towards the Israelis-and by extensions the Americans-who had forced his father from his homeland. Even so, Yousef came to school in the West, to Wales, where he studied engineering. But in 1989 he left it for another education, fueled by his anger and leading to the death of six in the heat and smoke of the massive underground explosion in downtown Manhattan.

Yousef traveled to Afghanistan to join the Mujahedeen rebels in their fight against Soviet occupiers, and there learned the guerrilla techniques he would later employ in New York. Who supported the Mujahedeen and paid for Yousef’s training in terrorism? The United States Central Intelligence Agency, who funneled the Afghan rebels millions of U.S. taxpayers dollars.

It would seem a simple case of U.S. militarism coming home to roost, but it is not so simple and it is not uncommon. Follow most trails of terrorism and you’ll find United States government funding somewhere in the recent past.

Timothy McVeigh was another angry young man, one who had to drop out of college, couldn’t find a steady job, and moved from trailer park to trailer park as an adult, wondering if the American Dream included him. He did what a lot of economically-disadvantaged young kids do, and enlisted in the U.S. Army (this has been described by some as “the poverty draft”).

In 1988, he met Michael Fortier and Terry Nichols at the U.S. Army base at Ft. Benning, Georgia (coincidentally home of the infamous School of the Americas). There he was taught how to turn his anger into killing and was quickly promoted, getting good reviews and being awarded with the Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge for his service in the Gulf War.

Later he came back to the U.S. with his Ft. Benning friends and turned his anger against the U.S. government. He used his military skills to build a bomb (allegedly with Nichols, now at trial, with the knowledge of Fortier, who turned state’s witness). On a spring day in 1995, he drove the bomb to Oklahoma City’s federal building and set it off, killing 168 people. McVeigh’s mother said, “It was like he traded one Army for another one.” (Washington Post, 7/2/95)

Another terrorist trained by the United States government.

But it doesn’t end there either. This same dynamic happens on the nation-state level as well. Today’s headlines also include stories about the standoff between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and United Nations arms inspectors, a situation which threatens to renew military fighting in the region. Who funded Hussein and gave him millions of dollars worth of weapons to fight the Iranians during the 80s? Why, it’s the U.S. government again.How come the United States is directly involved in training some of the biggest terrorists of the decade? Haven’t we learned that militarism only leads to more militarism? Would Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and Timothy McVeigh just be political unknowns if the United States hadn’t taught them to kill with their anger? Would Saddam Hussein be just another ex-dictator if the U.S. hadn’t funded his military during the 1980s?

We can never know these answers. But we can stop training the next generation of terrorists. Let’s stop funding war, let’s stop solving problems with guns and explosives. Let today’s angry twenty year olds cut people off in traffic and do no more. Let’s stop these undeclared wars.

11:29 pm

Hell keeps getting worse. Now the Washington Post is reporting that up to 800 may be dead at the Pentagon.

11:17 pm

More links on the NYC tragedy…

>Smurphy’s NYC Skyscraper photos

Story from the NY Times on the hellish situation on the ground in NYC.

Also here’s a link on Gas price gouging in Oklahoma

(2022): several broken links, no archive

10:13 pm

Oh my Lord… I was just given the links to these pictures of people falling to their deaths at the WTC…

picture #1
picture #2

Warning these pictures very disturbing.

God, why are you letting these horrible things happen?!

(2022): These photos were originally posted on yahoo news, but were apparently quickly removed as they are not in any of the archives. I did decide to do some further cyber-sleuthing and did find the original images elsewhere, and they are every bit as troubling as I remembered them being.

But I continued to dig in some more, and discovered that one of the images is the disturbing “Falling man” photo shot by Richard Drew of the AP.

10:00 pm

This news item scares the **** out of me. (Taken from

THE SCALE of the attacks and the loss of life — mostly in New York City’s World Trade Center, but also in Pittsburgh and Washington — ensured that “no option has been taken off the table,” senior U.S. officials said. Asked if that included nuclear weapons, one senior official said: “I said no option is out of the question. That’s precisely what I mean.”

(2022:) MSNBC link is broken and I can’t find it archived elsewhere.


It is frightening how quick things are advancing. I wrote a column this afternoon that touches on this, but it looks like its press date (Thursday) might be too late. The final draft will be up at Daily University Star or you can read a rough draft here…

Pacifist Ammo
by James M. Branum (Mass Communications Graduate Student)

At the time of this writing, America has passed the first few hours after hell paid a visit to America. Rescue efforts are beginning, airspace is shutdown, and the government is in exile in Nebraska. Reality has taken on the horror of a Tom Clancy novel gone bad.

As we would expect, President Bush spoke to the nation a short while ago. Most of what he said would be what we would expect of our national leader, but one sentence stuck out for me as being a moment of unintentional brilliance; “The resolve of our great nation is being tested. But make no mistake: We will show the world that we will pass this test.”

I do not know if Bush realized the truth of what he said, but he is right. America is being tested, however, I don’t share Bush’s confidence that we will pass the test.

You see we have failed the test before, when we were bombed in Oklahoma City.

I saw first-hand the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing as a freshman student journalist at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. I will never forget seeing the bombsite lit up by giant halogen lights during the recovery efforts. It was as if every shard of glass, every piece of rubble was frozen in time and space by Timothy McVeigh’s actions.

Later, I did a feature interview with a professor in the Nursing department who volunteered her time at the bombing site. Her stories of caring for the wounded and shell-shocked at the bombsite were so incredibly sad, and I could see that she too had become a victim of Tim’s violence by having to witness such terrible carnage.

A few weeks later I joined thousands of Oklahomans at the mass memorial services to grieve over the incredible loss of life. It was rare to find anyone in Central Oklahoma who didn’t know someone who was either killed, wounded, or who had survived the bombing. It seemed like the entire state went through the grieving process together.

No event compares to a terrorist attack in its level of psychic devastation. It is a natural human reaction to desire vengeance on those responsible. However, when we chose to indulge the urge to execute Timothy McVeigh, we failed the test and consequently perpetuated a tragic cycle of violence that began in Waco with a religious nut who thought that violence was an inevitability and stockpiled weapons to wait for Armageddon.

The cycle then took off as the FBI decided to create a showdown at Koresh’s compound. Instead of arresting Koresh when he was out jogging, they created a siege situation that fulfilled his messianic delusions and resulted in the deaths of 74, including many innocent children.

The cycle rolled on as the militia nuts took up the cause to avenge the massacre of the Branch Davidians. Most of the nuts were all talk, but one was not. Timothy McVeigh, poisoned with the message of hatred and vengeance, launched a terrorist attack that killed 168 including again many children.

America could have stopped the deadly cycle of violence but we did not. We killed Tim to appease our collective rage, and in doing so flunked the test. There is little hope that the nuts will give up their fight, so the cycle will likely continue.

For once, Bush is right. America is being tested again. The easy response will be a barrage of cruise missiles on one of the suspected terrorist strongholds, but I’ll be praying that America spurns the siren calls of jingoism and retaliatory hate.

9:55 pm

picture of rubble at WTC after 9-11 attacks

This shot looks just like the aftermath of the OKC bombing. I just can’t imagine something like this happening in downtown New York. It is so unfathomable. I’m sorry to keep going on and on about this, but it is just so crazy to realize.

(2022:) I don’t know the source of this photo.

7:27 pm

Well I got an email from my friend Sonia. She is thankfully ok. Still no word from Aimee.

MSNBC has a story on the heroic actions of New Yorkers and people across the nation in this tragedy. I as a former Oklahoman empathize greatly with the people of New York in dealing with this tragedy. I am so proud that the people of New York are citizens of this great nation.

OK, enough sappy patriotism. I may think the government is corrupt and corporate america has sold its soul, but I can’t lose hope in the people of this nation and in the powerful vision of demcracy articulated by the founding fathers.

(2022:) Unfortuanately I haven’t yet found this article archived anywhere.

I haven’t heard from my old friend Sonia Gonzalez in years, but I looked her up online and she is now doing amazing stuff in the non-profit sector. My friend Aimee now lives in the UK and still works in the media.

2:46 pm

This tragedy of catastrophic events has changed the very way we view news over the internet. So far, CNN, MSNBC, and the NY Times have transformed their sites to low-bandwidth versions to accomodate the massive internet traffic.

(2022:) I wonder if our news websites could handle this today. Certainly we have better internet capacity now than we had in 2001, but not everywhere.

2:39 pm

My emotions are all mush today. One moment I feel like I’m going to throw up, the next profoundly sad, the next happy, then next guilty for feeling happy. This is one ****ed up world we live in. God where are you? We need you to show Yourself in the midst of this incredibly evil situation. Taking a break from the live newscasts at the present moment to listen to some Cake. I gotta get my mind off of this. I would feel a lot better if I knew that my friends in NYC are ok. Please pray that they are, and for all of the people there. I know New Yorkers have this reputation as being mean and unfriendly, but my experience with them is that while they are different culturally, they are very cool people once you take the time to get to know them. May God be with all of the people of New York.

2:10 pm

I am still in a state of shock over the terrorist attacks on NYC. As I’m watching the news throughout the day I keep seeing places that I visited this summer. No updates today from Joe Pennant’s Itinerant in NY blog. I hope Joe is ok.

Local journalism has been sloppy and irresponsible. I am normally a big fan of the music on KTSW but their live news coverage today is disturbing. The word “cowardly” gets used about ever 3 minutes and the continual stirring of passions of hate and vengeance is shameful.

(2022): I wish I had recording of these broadcasts, but I wasn’t much of a radio geek in those days. — In hindsight, I’m probably little more sympathetic to intemperate things that college radio journalists might have said on that day.

10:22 am

Internet traffic seems to have come to a crawl for many famous news websites… MSNBC, CNN, and NY Times. So far the best source for news that is still up is at The Washington Post

(2022:) The experience of this day with slow internet (especially for news websites) has stuck with me, and I still believe that we would benefit greatly as a society if more websites had low-fi versions that were not so bandwidth heavy.

10:10 am

All hell has broken loose today. What else can you say on a day like this?

I woke up this morning when my father called to tell me to turn on the TV because there had been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

I know I shouldn’t worry, but I can’t help but worry about my friends who live in NYC, my friend Aimee who hopefully was in Greenwich Village and not downtown, and my friend Sonia who just moved there. Then I feel selfish to worry about my friends who are probably safe, when there are likely thousands of dead at WTC.

What can you say on a day like this? The only thing I do know is that it is “the end of the world as we know it” or rather, this is one more step in the rapidly accelarating pace of history. The great American empire is collapsing. Our culture of violence that has wreaked havoc on so much of the world is now turning on itself.

May God have mercy on us all.

(2022:) A few notes from my memories of that day, 20+ years ago… I was living at the time in a duplex in San Marcos, Texas (I’m pretty sure it was at 1008B Columbia Drive, 78666 (the devil’s zip code!). It was a Tuesday morning and the sun was shining bright and clear. Summer was still around in this part of Texas.

I remember later in the riding my bike to campus to use the internet, but obviously I posted this earlier in the day, so maybe we had slow dial-up internet in the duplex? I don’t know.

By jmb

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