Tuesday, March 16, 2004


When I first heard about bombs aboard Spanish trains I immediatly assumed that the Basque separatist organization, ETA, was responsible. However, the more I heard the more convinced I became that al-Quaeda or an associated organization had committed the attacks. I also had a terrible fear that it was all preparation for a similar attack in New York, a city that depends heavily on its subways and four other commuter rail systems, Metronorth, the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and PATH. Bridges and tunnels, some of which go under water, are used by all of them. Strategically placed bombs on subways and trains in the New York area might cause even more loss of life than on 9/11.

We should think about how a similar event will effect the U.S. If reactions to Spain are any indication, we are unprepared to speak honestly about the prospect of another terror attack on American soil. Immediately Governor Pataki went to Grand Central station and told us not to worry. Mayor Bloomberg told us to go about our lives. Everyone said that to do otherwise would mean that the terrorists had won.

I have news for all of them. The terrorists already won. They won back on September 11, 2001 and no amount of denial can change that fact. We know we are vulnerable and we know that a determined person who is willing to die can kill thousands of people.

Our denial and our politicians' stupidity have put us all in grave danger. When Connecticut Republican Congressman Christopher Shays recommended cancelling New Year's celebrations in Times Square he was immediately attacked as being insufficiently brave by our Mayor. Having used Shoshana Johnson as a prop Bloomberg suggested asking her about courage. Flag waiving nonsense is not what we need right now.

Shays raised an important question. Are we in danger or not? If yes, we can't cram people into Times Square and make it an inviting target. Bloomberg's true feelings became evident when he wept at midnight. I can imagine his thoughts. "Thank God we didn't get blown up."

The truth is that we can never be completely protected. We can't have bomb sniffing dogs at every rail and subway station in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. That means it can happen here. That means we should be spending as much money as we need to make us safer. That means not getting bogged down in an Iraq side show that only benefits corporations that are using it as a cash cow. That means being honest with the public about the likelihood of another attack.

Already the right wing are criticizing the Spanish people for throwing out the party who went against their wishes and participated in the Iraq invasion. I thought Spain was a democracy. I thought its citizens could elect whomever they like. Apparently I was wrong. They have to check with the American right wing before they can make a decision about their own nation.

New Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is a man after my own heart. He called Bush and Blair liars, diplomatically of course, and repeated his intention to remove Spain's troops from Iraq. Do the American people have the courage to throw out a lying leader? I don't think so.