By John Silveira

September 11, 2001

I was awakened to news about the suicide attacks by my daughter. Quite frankly, I thought it was the beginning of a bad joke she’d heard and I was expecting a punch line. When I realized she wasn’t kidding, I was out of bed in a flash and out on the Internet. (Remember, I don’t have a TV.) This wasn’t the way I would have chosen to start the day.

But was this really unpredictable?

I hate to say this, but I’ve been predicting something like this for at least six years. The view I expressed was never a popular one. Often, I just got blank stares from people, as if I was just some kind of paranoid. And I imagine now, my view of what I think will be the aftermath is going to be even less popular and make me sound even more paranoid.

But before I get to that, I want to say no one is going to want to believe we may have had a hand in bringing this on ourselves. For the last few years I’ve been trying to tell people that, to a significant portion of the world, we are the terrorists. And, while we’ve been smugly sitting in front of our TVs watching our smart bombs hit targets with relative immunity to ourselves, the people who were targeted have been looking for ways to get even. It was just a matter of time.

I’ve got to admit I didn’t see it happening this way. I was afraid terrorists would get their hands on some of the small tactical nuclear bombs that seem to be unaccounted for in the dissolved Soviet Union and set them off in major cities, both here in the U.S. and in Western Europe. And this may as yet happen at some future date.

But this is the way it happened. And what I’ve usually followed the attack prediction with is what I thought we’re going to do to ourselves after such an attack happened. And it isn’t pretty.

I’ve written for years about how we are slowly watching our rights erode, even though the words of the Constitution are never changed. But a terrorist attack, of great enough magnitude, will bring on “emergency measures,” including martial law, to keep us “safe.” They will not only suspend our rights, but those emergency powers will be “welcomed” by the majority of Americans, and they will last indefinitely, until living like this becomes second nature to the American people and, though the Constitution will remain in place, it will become a meaningless document.

Ironically, just before writing this, I heard in one of the most recent reports that security has been tightened around the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the event terrorists decide to attack this symbol of American liberty. But the terrorists don’t have to worry about that. I think we’re going to attack the Liberty Bell ourselves.

So what do I think we, the United States, should do now?

There are two things we’ve got to do. First, and it may seem ironic I would now suggest this, in light of what I’ve said about us bringing this on ourselves, but we have to hunt down the people who did this and kill them.

And second, once we’ve done that, we’ve got to understand what the future consequences are likely to be if we insist on continuing to play world policeman. And we’ve also got to understand that if we do continue, we may not yet have seen the worst of it.


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