I’ve been working on this post for the better part of five years and today I am finally ready to write what should have been very easy to do since we started this little Hell to Terra exchange eight years ago. There have been a lot of people her in Dis who have asked me what the news would have been like on September 11, 2001 had there been no terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Hopefully from examining some of the news in the week that led up to the attacks I can piece that together for you.
We start out with the New York Times, as they have one of the most robust archive systems, on the morning of September 4, 2001. On that day Judith Miller writes about the US germ warfare program that may have been testing the international ban on the development of biological weapons. Here’s an excerpt:
Over the past several years, the United States has embarked on a program of secret research on biological weapons that, some officials say, tests the limits of the global treaty banning such weapons.
The 1972 treaty forbids nations from developing or acquiring weapons that spread disease, but it allows work on vaccines and other protective measures. Government officials said the secret research, which mimicked the major steps a state or terrorist would take to create a biological arsenal, was aimed at better understanding the threat.
The projects, which have not been previously disclosed, were begun under President Clinton and have been embraced by the Bush administration, which intends to expand them.
Earlier this year, administration officials said, the Pentagon drew up plans to engineer genetically a potentially more potent variant of the bacterium that causes anthrax, a deadly disease ideal for germ warfare.
The experiment has been devised to assess whether the vaccine now being given to millions of American soldiers is effective against such a superbug, which was first created by Russian scientists. A Bush administration official said the National Security Council is expected to give the final go-ahead later this month.
Two other projects completed during the Clinton administration focused on the mechanics of making germ weapons.
In a program code-named Clear Vision, the Central Intelligence Agency built and tested a model of a Soviet-designed germ bomb that agency officials feared was being sold on the international market. The C.I.A. device lacked a fuse and other parts that would make it a working bomb, intelligence officials said.
At about the same time, Pentagon experts assembled a germ factory in the Nevada desert from commercially available materials. Pentagon officials said the project demonstrated the ease with which a terrorist or rogue nation could build a plant that could produce pounds of the deadly germs.
Both the mock bomb and the factory were tested with simulants — benign substances with characteristics similar to the germs used in weapons, officials said.
A senior Bush administration official said all the projects were ”fully consistent” with the treaty banning biological weapons and were needed to protect Americans against a growing danger. ”This administration will pursue defenses against the full spectrum of biological threats,” the official said.
The treaty, another administration official said, allows the United States to conduct research on both microbes and germ munitions for ”protective or defensive purposes.”
Some Clinton administration officials worried, however, that the project violated the pact. And others expressed concern that the experiments, if disclosed, might be misunderstood as a clandestine effort to resume work on a class of weapons that President Nixon had relinquished in 1969.
Simultaneous experiments involving a model of a germ bomb, a factory to make biological agents and the developoment of more potent anthrax, these officials said, would draw vociferous protests from Washington if conducted by a country the United States viewed as suspect.
Administration officials said the need to keep such projects secret was a significant reason behind President Bush’s recent rejection of a draft agreement to strengthen the germ-weapons treaty, which has been signed by 143 nations.
I can’t remmeber the last time I heard anyone mention this gray area in the US policy regarding biological weapons. Of course, we all know that 13 days later the first anthrax letter was found in a Florida newsroom and these attacks led to five deaths. The blame for these attacks and the deaths were laid at the feet of one Bruce Edwards Ivins, a researcher in biodefense at the United States Army Medical Institute for Infectious Disease Research [USAMRIID]. To this day neither the Laal Hethri of anyone independent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been able to confirm Ivins’ role in these attacks or have they duplicated the nature of the anthrax and the medium in with it was contained.
From the LA Times letters to the editor there was this from Jay Stevens of Long Beach, CA on September 5, 2011:
Re “A Separation of Church and Hate,” Sept. 1: As I read this article about the Church of the National Knights in Osceola, Ind., and the damage this church is doing to its neighbors’ peace of mind and property values, I couldn’t help wondering if this faith-based organization would be eligible for federal tax dollars to provide social services under President Bush’s proposal.
I would be very much opposed to my tax dollar going to the Church of the National Knights, but if the federal government uses tax dollars to fund faith-based organizations and state and federal prohibitions against discrimination are waived for sectarian groups, what would prevent these hatemongers and followers of Hitler from receiving federal funds?
\o7 Long Beach
I just find that this was a curious reaction the the Bush Faith Based Initiatives idea.
On Spetember 7, 2001 Constance Hays writes this article on the state of the US retail sales market for the month of August 2001:
The federal tax rebates, which were supposed to stimulate demand for consumer goods, failed to transform America’s shoppers into bigger spenders in August, resulting in disappointing sales for many stores and renewing fears that the December holiday shopping season will be one of the most lackluster in years.
Sales over all rose 2.8 percent for the month, according to the Goldman, Sachs retail composite index issued yesterday, but sales at many department stores fell, as expected. Consumers appeared to head instead for discounters like Wal-Mart Stores and T. J. Maxx, a unit of TJX, if they were going to part with their cash. But even Wal-Mart executives, who had offered to cash the rebate checks for shoppers right in their stores, said on Wednesday that there had been no ”overly significant” impact on sales as a result.
”The tax rebates have been a nonevent,” said Shari Schwartzman Eberts, a retail analyst for J. P. Morgan. Even President Bush acknowledged last month that instead of rushing to the nearest mall to spend his own rebate, he had given it away to an unspecified charity.
Wal-Mart’s same-store sales grew 7 percent in August, according to Goldman, Sachs, while Target’s same-store sales increased 2.4 percent. Shares of Wal-Mart fell $1.78, to $47.37.
Kmart, the nation’s second-largest discounter after Wal-Mart, increased same-store sales 0.2 percent, according to the Goldman, Sachs index. Costco Wholesale’s same-store sales rose 4 percent.
Inside the no-frills discounters, customers appear to be cutting back their spending. ”America has become a nation of bargain-hunters, but not only that, they are buying less than they bought last year,” said Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Trend Report.
Continuing worry about the economy, and personal concern about job layoffs, have made many consumers skittish about spending money, Mr. Barnard and others said. Many companies are announcing second rounds of layoffs as the economy continues to falter, and shoppers tend to put off purchases if they do not think they will have the income to pay for them.
”Job layoffs and the news surrounding job layoffs have affected consumer confidence,” said Jeffrey Feiner, a retail analyst with Lehman Brothers. ”The discounters did better, reflecting the fact that people are trading down.”
The last part of this quote from the Hays article is what I find most interesting. Jeffrey Feiner was at Lehman Brothers and you know what happened to Lehman Brothers in mid September 2008. Don’t worry though Feiner is doing just find teaching at Columbia Business School and working for Brett Barrakett’s Tremblant Capital Group. maybe some of the early signs that the housing market was slipping and that the stimulus offer by the Bush administration wasn’t enough might have been bigger news had 9/11 not happened.
In more business news the US unemployment rate rose in August 2001 to 4.9% up sharply from 4.5% the previous month. In David Leonhardt’s article of September 9, 2001, Wall Streeters and economists build a gloomy sand castle that was washed away when America was attacked:
The nation’s unemployment rate jumped sharply in August to 4.9 percent from 4.5 percent in July, the biggest one-month rise since the spring of 1995, dashing hopes that the bleak economic climate was starting to improve.
The 4.9 percent jobless rate in August, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, was the highest since mid-1997. Businesses eliminated more than 100,000 jobs last month, suggesting that the economy remained at risk of falling into a recession. And companies, in an effort to halt steep profit declines, made more cuts this summer in the hours their employees worked.
“The economy is facing bigger threats than we had thought,” said Jim Glassman, a senior economist at J. P. Morgan Chase. “It’s a very weak picture.”
The grim economic news prompted a hastily arranged appearance by President Bush on the White House grounds yesterday, where he sought to assure the public he was aware of the human toll the job losses were taking. [Page A9.]
“I want the American people to know we’re deeply concerned about the unemployment rates and we intend to do something about it,” said Mr. Bush, who has long been aware that the nation’s last recession at least in part caused his father to lose his 1992 bid for re-election.
Mr. Bush called for a “growth plan” to reverse the downturn, but offered no specifics beyond pushing policies that he has advocated before. He urged Congress to move on his proposals for increased energy production and to give him more leeway in negotiating international trade agreements.
The job figures prompted a broad sell-off on Wall Street, and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell to its lowest level in almost three years. The dollar also dropped against the euro, and economists said that the Federal Reserve was now likely to keep cutting interest rates until signs of a rebound emerge. [Page C1.]
A month ago, the Labor Department had offered some reason for optimism, finding that manufacturers in July cut the fewest jobs in almost a year and reporting a rise in the number of people in the labor force — those with a job or actively seeking one. But the August numbers erased nearly all of the hopeful signs.
“Today’s unemployment numbers are obviously higher than expected,” Elaine L. Chao, the secretary of labor, said. “It’s disappointing and sobering.”
Manufacturing companies — hurt badly by the plunge in business investment and by the strong dollar, which makes it harder to compete against foreign goods — accounted for the entire August decline in jobs.
Since early last summer, factories have cut more than one million jobs, or 5.4 percent of their payrolls, and fewer people now work in a manufacturing plant than at any time since 1964. The South and the Midwest have been hardest hit by the manufacturing slump.
This is just a tip of the iceberg from what will be a series of columns. They serve a purpose to inform what could have been “big news” had the really “big news” not happened. I’m not trying, as many have in the Terran and Hellac press have, to show that there were omens foretelling the planes flying into the towers. I’m just trying to show what the other stories were and where America’s head was before all Hell broke loose and the dinosaur realized its tail had been lopped off.
Fredrick Schwartz, D.S.V.J., CS, O.Q.H [Journ.]
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
114 Colnu 2 AS