Patterico's Pontifications


September 11, 2016

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:44 pm

I have worked all day, and it’s now late and I still have work to do — but I didn’t want to let the day go without mention. Here are two remarkable pieces, both of which I found on Glenn Reynolds’s Facebook page.

One link is to a Politico Magazine piece containing personal reflections of September 11 from high-level folks from G.W. Bush’s administration, such as Andy Card discussing the decision to interrupt Bush’s reading to the schoolkids. I’ll break my usual taboo and throw Politico the actual link on this one, because it’s a good piece.

The second is The Falling Man, an in-depth piece at Esquire about the famous picture of the upside-down man falling from the World Trade Center. Trust me: read past the initial paragraph; the writer eventually reveals that the description therein is wholly inaccurate and he knows it. Part of the story is about the search for the identity of the man. I won’t give anything away.

23 Responses to “September 11, 2016”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (bcf524)

  2. Hard to believe it’s 15 years.

    Denver Guy (4750ec)

  3. and yet there was no closure, to this act of terrorism, enabled by saudi state officials, in their personal capacity, our attempt to corral these predators at gitmo, was subverted by the levick account with the gulf states, and the seeds of another attack, from one aq wing or another, lie in some european capital, or perhaps one burg closed to home

    narciso (d1f714)

  4. That is a moving article. Haunting may be a better word. We know who the Falling Man is. The Falling Man is us.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  5. he could well be, the lessons of that terrible day, seem obscured, the heroism on flight 93, almost goes without mention,

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. So, I watched a CNN “as it happened” recording on YouTube, and one this I noted was the anchor at CNN spent nearly ten minutes after the second plane hit trying to get an NTSB interviewee to say that it might be some freak double accident. The NTSB guy wasn’t having any of it, eventually resorting to mild sarcasm to get his point across. You just can’t say “NFW!” on TV.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  7. *one thing I noted

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  8. ah that would be aaron brown, who was relegated to the grave yard shift,

    narciso (d1f714)

  9. In the years since 9/11, I’ve found it impossible to convey to anybody who had never actually been to the World Trade Center complex its actual size and scale of the loss. Television did a fine job of documenting the scope of the tragedy, but not really been able to capture the dimensions of the locale.

    Such is the limits of the medium.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  10. @8- If memory serves, 9/11 was his first day or two on the job at CNN.

    ‘Inside baseball’ story goes when he chose to play golf rather than return to the studio to anchor the Columbia loss in 2003, his days were numbered with AC soon to ease him out.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  11. I remember a book store with victor davis hanson, did relay the scope of it, but few did,

    narciso (d1f714)


    I first wrote about Rick Rescorla in 2003 after finishing James Stewart’s Heart of a Soldier, the book based on Stewart’s New Yorker article “The real heroes are dead.” (“The real heroes are dead” is what Rescorla would say in response to recognition of his heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam.)…

    On the upside, given how he died heroically shepherding others to safety (sheepdogs like Rescorla are the people in the military and are the first responders who keep the wolves away so the rest of society can sleep safely in their beds) ever since 9/11/01 we can call him a real hero without offending his sense of honor. Along with many others.

    From the start, though, I hated the comparisons to Pearl Harbor. Yes, it was the largest loss of life in an attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor. Because the United States of 2001 (and of 2016) was not the same patriotic, confident country it was in 1941.

    Pearl Harbor was a despicable atrocity. I don’t intend to minimize the loss of life. But the fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor actually acquitted itself fairly well. According to Imperial Japanese Navy records that US occupying forces examined after the war, Japanese naval aviators reported the ships were putting up effective anti-aircraft fire within fire five minutes of the start of their attack. One of those ships was USS TANGIER (AV-8), a seaplane tender, not intended as a combatant. She was the only ship anchored at Ford Island that wasn’t bombed or torpedoed. Damned lucky thing she wasn’t hit, too. PBY Catalinas carried torpedoes, and TANGIER had a full load. It would have been an inferno.

    From: The Commanding Officer.
    To: The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.

    Subject: Raid, Air, December 7, 1941, USS Tangier (AV8) – Report on.

    Reference: (a) U.S. Navy Regulations, Article 212 (1).

    1. At the time of the surprise air attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, this ship was berthed at F-10, Ford Island, with ship’s head bearing 230° true; U.S.S. Utah moored at F-11 directly astern; U.S.S. Raleigh at F-12. All times local zone times:

    0755 – Japanese dive bombers and torpedo planes commenced surprise attack on Fleet and Base at Pearl Harbor, T.H.

    0758 – General Quarters sounded, the first of the Japanese planes passed along port side of ship headed to Ewa, at about 400 feet, it’s orange sun insignia clear, leaving no uncertainty that this was a real attack. Ship commenced firing as soon as men arrived on gun stations. Ship opened fire at 0800. It was the Commanding Officer’s impression that this ship was the first to open fire or surely among the first…

    I’m picking on TANGIER for a reason. Her skipper was then CAPT. Clifton “Ziggy” Sprague. He was a former Flight Deck Officer and Assistant Air Operations Officer in USS LEXINGTON, and had participated in a successful simulated surprise attack on the Panama Canal in 1929. Some biographers say he was still serving in that capacity when Lady Lex and Sister Sara did the same one quiet Sunday morning at Oahu, using flour bags instead of bombs. But other sources indicate that the simulated sneak attack took place in 1932, long after he left the ship. Either way, he didn’t forget the lesson. Either on 5 December 1941 or the 6th he was drilling his crew, and was unhappy with their performance. He had a meeting with his officers, and from what I gather he uncharacteristically lost his temper. Working from fickle memory, so this may not be an exact quote but it captures the essence, he said, “Dammit we’re not ready. The Japanese could attack tomorrow.”

    So he might have been off by a day. But it turns out he was wrong. His crew was ready. They were caught off guard, but figure it out in three minutes and go to GQ, and his gunners are shooting are shooting as soon as they man their guns. That’s impressive. I guess they were just having an off day when Ziggy Sprague lost his cool. Because they were certainly on their game on 7 December 1941; they were credited with shooting down three planes.

    Not everyone was asleep at the switch, as the Japanese pilot debriefs attest.

    Ziggy Sprague was by all reports a damned fine commander. He proved that again in October 1944 as a Rear Admiral in the Battle Off Samar when in command of Task Unit 77.4.3, call sign Taffy 3. It helped that his subordinate commanders were also damned fine leaders. When Ziggy Sprague threw his screening force of Fletcher class DDs and Butler class DEs, the skippers were chomping at the bit to go into harms way. And for the most part the crews were devoted to their captains and their ships and would have followed them into the gates of h3ll. And as it turns out, they did.

    Destroyers and destroyer escorts had no business getting involved in a surface action Athe force ADM Kurita brought with through the San Bernadino straight. He left Brunei with five battleships, ten heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 15 destroyers. The submarines DARTER and DACE along with Halsey’s air wings had whittled them down a bit, sinking the Musashi, sinking Kurita’s flagship ATAGO, and crippling another heavy cruiser forcing Kurita to detach two destroyers to escort her as she limped home. Still, it was apparent suicide for the destroyers USS HEERMAN (DD 532), USS HOEL (DD 533), USS JOHNSTON (DD 557), and desroyer escorts USS RAYMOND (DE 341), USS DENNIS (DE 405), and USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413) to attack the remaining four battleships, remaining heavy cruisers, two fast light cruisers, and bakers dozen or so destroyers. But attack they did, even though as skipper Earnest Evans of the JOHNSTON announced to his crew over the 1MC, “This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”

    No slam intended toward the crew of the USS JOHN C. BUTLER (DE-339). She didn’t join in the attack on the Japanese force. She was out of position on the wrong side of the screen, so she stayed with the escort carriers and made smoke. And along with the escort carriers, was under the heavy guns of Kurita’s heavy ships. The DEs were only rated for 24 knots. But to be fair, LCDR Robert Copeland, skipper of the Sammy B, told his chief engineer, nicknamed “Lucky,” to give him all the speed he could. So Lucky removed all the safeties that limited the boiliers to 440 psi. And raised pressure to 660 psi, which meant the Sammy B. could make nearly 30 knots. As Copeland later commented, there was no reason to save anything like the boilers or engines for later. Because no one thought that after a few minutes there would be such a thing as “later.”

    If you’re a glutton for punishment like me, there’s a memorial to all 13 ships of Taffy 3 at Seaside Park in San Diego, topped by a bust of Ziggy Sprague, on Harbor Drive close to where the MIDWAY is moored. And a memorial to those Sailors of Taffy 3 who died in the battle at the Rosecrans National Cemetery at Point Loma.

    You can go there, and think to yourself like I do, “I have certainly let you down.”

    The difference between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are staggering. Ziggy Sprague’s war record, and those of the officers and men under his command, is emblematic of the difference. They started the war shooting back, and they continued shooting until the Japanese empire was destroyed. They saw the job through. The whole country saw the job through.

    I supported the invasion of Iraq. Based on the information available at the time it was the right thing to do. Hussein’s Iraq started violating the cease fire agreement within minutes (I exaggerate, but not by much) of signing the Safwan Accords. I still think it was the right call. But I was dismayed by Bush’s over reliance on the threat of Saddam Hussien’s WMD programs. I was, shall we say, unconvinced on that score. But that wasn’t the only beef we had with Saddam’s Iraq. Then I was appalled by the insane desire to turn Iraq into a functioning democracy. I was further dismayed by Bush’s stubborn refusal to make the case, and rebut the unfounded criticism. I knew on 12 September that we had to do the right thing, but we had to do it quickly or the American public would lose heart. We are not America circa 1941. We haven’t been for a long time.

    Had I known, however, that the invasion of Iraq would lead “war weary” Americans who never wore a uniform and simply got irritated by the news and the conversations they had to endure with their Euro friends at cocktail and dinner parties, when they wanted to think of nothing more than going to the mall or watching pro sports on TV, to commit national suicide and vote for an anti-American socialist like Barack Obama, I wouldn’t have supported the invasion of Iraq. Sorry. I don’t have crystal ball.

    Steve57 (9595d5)

  13. never forget in august 2001 bush was given intelligence briefing titled bin ladin determined to attack inside america with airplanes. he told briefers “alright you have covered your ass I am off to the ranch!” never forget.

    justice for none (8af32e)

  14. You’re an effin’ idiot, Perry. Give it up, loser.

    Steve57 (9595d5)

  15. The Nov 98 pdb which was more specific yet razorback chose to engage in kosovo, another aq proving ground.

    narciso (d1f714)

  16. And (from Drudge) at Occidental College a memorial is trashed:

    But hats off to those placed those 2997 flags. To care that much in a place like Occidental is an act of unrequited faith that we should respect.

    As for Occidental College, not so much. Perhaps a Assistant Professor, concerned over an upcoming tenure decision, needed to shore up her resume.

    BobStewartatHome (f2b3a5)

  17. Steve @12: And to think that the Japanese Admiral decided not to press the attack. The transports of MacArthur’s invasion forces we just over the horizon, trapped in a bay. Another hour and they’d have been nothing but scrap.

    As for where we are today, the country was similarly unprepared for WWII. Is it too much to hope that there is cadre of warriors buried somewhere in the Defense establishment who will step forward when the rest of the country finally wakes up? Following Vietnam the armed forces were in a similar state of corruption and political influence, but a few good corrected the problems when Reagan was elected, much to the dismay of the surrender-first Democrats I’m sure.

    BobStewartatHome (f2b3a5)

  18. good men

    BobStewartatHome (f2b3a5)

  19. Steve @12: And to think that the Japanese Admiral decided not to press the attack. The transports of MacArthur’s invasion forces we just over the horizon, trapped in a bay. Another hour and they’d have been nothing but scrap…

    BobStewartatHome (f2b3a5) — 9/12/2016 @ 7:00 am

    Takeo Kurita hadn’t really had any sleep between the time he was fished out of the water after the DARTER sank his flagship ATAGO during the Palawan passage, he transferred his flag to the battleship YAMATO, and he accepted battle with Taffy 3. But he didn’t know it; he thought he was accepting battle with Halsey’s Third Fleet, and those Casablanca class escort carriers were Essex class carriers, and those Fletcher DDs were Baltimore class heavy cruisers. Some of his subordinate commanders realized they were in fact attacking light forces but they never communicated it to Kurita. Kurita was further convinced by the fact he couldn’t catch them, those carriers had to be fast fleet carriers.

    Kurita was at the end of his emotional, mental, and physical rope. He saw what he expected to see. Consequently when he heard Kincaid’s plain language calls for help, Kurita didn’t hear the desperation in them. Kurita thought the units Kincaid were requesting aid from were right at hand, when in reality they were hundreds of miles away and couldn’t have gotten there in time to make a difference. You just can’t expect much in the way of original thought, new ideas, or even the ability to perceive dispassionately in someone who is in something like Kurita’s condition. American commanders made equally damaging mistakes for the same reasons.

    Steve57 (9595d5)

  20. never forget in august 2001 bush was given intelligence briefing titled bin ladin determined to attack inside america with airplanes. he told briefers “alright you have covered your ass I am off to the ranch!” never forget.

    justice for none

    I’m honestly curious and google is too cluttered when I try to find out for myself: Did Hillary ever say anything like this? Did she ever blame Bush for letting 9/11 happen, the way this nasty troll has? It’s one of the most ghoulish exploitations of tragedy, and someone saying such a thing is not fit for dogcatcher.

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  21. there was nothing like that said, strikingly that document was less specific than the 1998 one, the one lead was a brooklyn cell that would have been a dead end, although zubeydah was mentioned at one point in this one, this suggests he had been an asset of various parties going back to bosnia in the mind 90s, hence he would have bandar’s number as a life line,

    narciso (d1f714)

  22. Excellent article. Ingore the comments though.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  23. Did she ever blame Bush for letting 9/11 happen, the way this nasty troll has?

    No, but Trump may have.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

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