On this day 20 years ago, the United States experienced the worst attack since December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Since 911, the country has changed profoundly. There is still much that is not known about what happened on that terrible day, which cost 3,000 innocent lives.

The most important outstanding question involves the degree to which the Saudi Arabian government was involved. Did any element of that government know about the attacks before they happened? If so, was it complicity by silence or was there state support?

Another unanswered question is why Building 7, which was not attacked, suddenly imploded. The way the building fell makes it virtually certain that it was a controlled demolition.

There have also been questions about who profited from stock manipulation, particularly in airline stocks, in the weeks before the attack, and there was evidence that somebody within the FBI may have had an awareness of the attack before it happened. On May 25, 2002, Unknowncountry published an article about these questions, which you can read here. The questions remain unanswered.

The Biden administration has promised to release still classified materials, including grand jury testimony and other files. The documents are now being reviewed by the Justice Department.

The event caused a sea-change in US foreign policy and a tremendous increase in domestic control. The Patriot Act, since amended numerous times, allowed methods of surveillance an investigation that had previously been illegal. In March of 2020, US lawmakers declined to extend controversial Section 215, which allows for warrantless monitoring of such things as web browsing, and provides for the seizure of business records and documents without warning.

Whether or not the end of these provisions will undermine the FBI’s ability to detect and track terrorists in unclear.

At the foreign policy level, the George W. Bush administration responded by attempting large scale nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq was invaded in 2003 and its government, the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, was overthrown. Immediately following the attack in 2001, the administration attacked Afghanistan, drove the existing government from power, and established a new leadership system that guaranteed rights to Afghan citizens, most notably women, who had been oppressed under the Taliban.

In 2020, the Donald Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban that called for the withdrawal of US forces from the country in 2021. The Afghan government was not allowed to participate in the negotiations. Beginning in May of 2021, the US began a withdrawal, which ended in September. It was poorly planned by the Biden administration and resulted in collapse of the pro-western Afghan government and the return of the Taliban to power, which has led to the release of terrorist leaders.

This release of terrorists began in May of 2020, when the Trump administration released 5000 extremist prisoners in exchange for the settlement it then negotiated with the Taliban. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new apparent leader of the Taliban, was among the prisoners released.

There has not been an incident of foreign based terrorism on US soil in many years. May those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001 not have died in vain.

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  1. I think given the predicate activity – the Biden Admin did a relatively good job as they did have contingency plans in place. Many more visas could have been given in the trump era. Negotiations were with the Taliban, as you point out. The war cost 300 million a day- one could wish that Biden could step in and function. Only wish. It was a nasty train wreck to end. How did YOU think that the Afghan Government could have been supported? Was the date too early?

  2. Author

    I think we failed there for two reasons. Militarily, we tied our hands by allowing the Taliban safe haven in Pakistan. This is also why we failed in Vietnam. We established a demilitarized zone and said we would never cross it and didn’t. Therefore, in both cases, we slowly bled ourselves to death. You either fight a war to win or you decide that it’s all right to throw away the lives of your young people. We chose the latter in both cases. And shame on us.

    As to the timing of the withdrawal, it always would have been like this, I think. The reason is that the most important tribalism group in Afghanistan, the Pashtun, were never really engaged in such a way that they would feel safe from the Taliban, who themselves are Pashtun.

    The Trump administration should have started issuing visas the day after they sign the agreement with the Taliban. The Biden administration should’ve understood that, without a guarantee of US air support, the Afghan army would immediately fail, which it did.

    Biden is right about one thing: we should not engage in nation building. Our long history of failure in this regard means that we don’t know how.

  3. Something that has always been disturbing to me is the civil war still haunts the nation like a bell that won’t stop ringing dark tones through the culture. And of course Vietnam is even more immediate and still confuses and divides. Let’s hope the last 20 years of these strange and misguided adventures don’t haunt the national spirit for as long.

    1. Vietnam has large reserves of oil, titanium,, and chromium.
      Thius the reason for the War.
      When Nixon negotiated the end, he demanded that the oil companies could still do business after we leave. He also demanded that no takeover could happen until our draw down had let a year pass,
      The North’s generals were surprised that no B-52s were trying to blow then to smithereens as they made their way South a year later.

  4. There appear to be vast mineral reserves and rare earth metals that will be mined in Afghanistan – and China is poised for exploitation of these resources

    The Brits , Russians and now USA have all been defeated by the various strong willed Afghan “ freedom fighters “ that predated and include the Taliban – our 20 years of mis guided attempted “ nation building “ and senseless blood shed have resulted in a society without a unified vision and lead by hyper corrupt govt officials – as per your point of us allowing a safe haven in Pakistan that’s another story but the Shia vs Sunni , (Iran and Saudi Arabia ) conflict continues to inflict tremendous collateral damage to all on the surrounding states and the opportunistic fundamentalists have stayed the course and will continue to wreak havoc – irrespective of America’s vision

  5. I don’t think anything was poorly planned by the Biden administration. The evacuation proceeded as best as it could possibly could with over 120,000 evacuated.

  6. What happened to building 4?
    Why is there no debris?
    What are the dimensions of a 757?
    How big was the hole in the Pentagon?
    How many bodies were in the debris in Shanksville?
    How much debris was there.
    How many Gs did the plane pull setting up for the attack on the Pentagon?
    Just a few questions not answered by the report on the attack.

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