(10:15PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11. Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption. It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts. But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Which of us has not remained prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone? ~Thomas Wolfe
All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.
The morning was already hot and muggy, today was going to be like most summer days in Washington–a day of brutal, unrelenting heat. Waiting for Travis, Shannon walked along the black marble wall of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, looking at all the names, thinking of a passage from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried that had always haunted her . . .
Grief, terror, love, longing–these were intangibles, but the intangibles
had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They
carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice . . .
Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.
It was heartbreaking, it was beyond comprehension. Refusing to kill other human beings would have been too embarrassing, so 50,000 young Americans heeded their draft notices, went to Vietnam, and came back in body bags from the Ia Drang Valley, the Central Highlands, the streets of Hue, or a sandbagged bunker at Khe Sanh. The killing went on and on, because losing that killing contest was a consequence craven politicians in Washington wanted to avoid as long as possible.
And the killing will go on and on in Iraq, and the shameful memories will get heavier and heavier for the soldiers, and craven politicians will avoid the consequences of losing that killing contest in the Cradle of Civilization for as long as possible, and will keep funding it and funding it and funding it.
“Oh . . . hi Travis . . . I didn’t see you.”
Travis smiled. “It’s been a long time, how are you?”
“I’m angry, Travis, that’s how I am.”
His smile faded. “Uncle Riley is angry too, he didn’t appreciate your middle of the night visit.”
“Well I don’t appreciate his fascist hackery.”
“Protecting the American people from foreign enemies isn’t fascist hackery, Shannon.”
“He isn’t protecting Americans from foreign enemies, he’s protecting the political and corporate criminals who exploit them.”
“No one’s being exploited.”
“Take off your sunglasses so I can look you in the eyes.”
Travis took them off.
“Everyone’s being exploited, Travis. It never stops, and no one’s being exploited more than soldiers like you. Why can’t you see that?”
“Why can’t you see that being a soldier is honorable?”
“There’s nothing honorable about war, Travis. It’s savage, it’s brutal, it’s killing incited by lies. The glory of war is an old and terrible lie. The border lines drawn on maps are an old and terrible lie. Patriotism is an old and terrible lie. Leaders peddle these lies to divide humanity into us against them. They incite fear of other human beings who look different, or say goodnight to their children in a different language, or look up at the stars at night from a different land.”
“Muslim extremists want to kill us all, Shannon, they want to destroy America. We have to defend ourselves.”
“Listen to me, Travis. Please. You’re being lied to, you’re being exploited. Bush is a liar, Cheney’s a liar, they’re the ones who should be under surveillance, not Americans like me.”
“They’re giving this country the conservative leadership it needs.”
Shannon saw no doubt in Travis’s eyes, only the same rigid obedience to authority she’d always seen in them. “They’re giving this country fascism, Travis, there’s no other word for it. They’ve been on a fascist rampage ever since they let 9/11 happen.”
“Let 9/11 happen? That’s crazy.”
“No it’s not crazy. It’s the truth. There’s-”
“Listen to me!”
Travis sighed. “OK, I’m listening.”
“The intelligence community knew by the summer of 2001 that an attack
was coming, Travis. They didn’t know precisely when, but by the end of August multiple intelligence data indicated an attack was imminent. All of this intelligence data, all of these warnings of an imminent attack were sent to the White House, every analysis from the CIA, every report from the FBI, every communications intercept from the NSA went to Cheney’s office in the White House. He’s the only one who saw all the warning signs, he could have connected all the dots, they were pulsing like strobe lights, but he ignored them. He wanted al Qaeda to attack the United States.”
“You can’t possibly believe that.”
“Do you think radical Islam as a grave threat to the United States?”
“I don’t think it is, I know it is.”
“Do you think Cheney believes radical Islam is a grave threat to the United States?”
“Of course he does. It’s obvious.”
“That belief was his motivation for letting 9/11 happen, Travis. He believed letting all those Americans die was a national security necessity. A few thousand American dead on 9/11 would justify U.S. attacks on Iraq, and then Syria, and then Iran. Taking down those regimes would demonstrate the invincibility of American military power, it would discredit Bin Laden and al Qaeda. He was convinced that in the aftermath of that kind of humiliation no one in the Muslim world would support terrorism. Muslim extremism would be eliminated, and along with it, the threat of a nuclear 9/11 and millions of casualties.”
“We took Saddam down, and the regimes in Syria and Iran are going down next. It’s justified. But Vice President Cheney didn’t let thousands of Americans get killed . . . no American leader would.”
Cheney’s not an American leader, he’s a psychopath. Three-thousand Americans died so the benefits could be reaped-an American empire in the resource rich Middle East, a booming stock market, absolute executive branch power during a war on terror without end, permanent Republican control of Congress, Patriot Act suppression of civil liberties and massive NSA spying to gather blackmail info on political opponents and media critics. 9/11 gave the Bush White House that power. Nothing else ever could have. Nothing.”
“I suppose you also believe that tinfoil hat stuff that there were explosives in the Twin Towers.”
“Tinfoil hat stuff? I saw the owner of the entire WTC complex admit on television on 9/11 that Building 7 was pulled, Travis. So did thousands of New Yorkers. That building couldn’t have been rigged for demolition in only a few hours on the afternoon of 9/11, it would have had to have already been rigged for demolition.”
“Why would that have been done, Travis? Why put demolition charges in a New York City skyscraper? It makes no sense. Unless someone knows airliners are going to slam into the WTC, unless they know the WTC towers won’t collapse simply because of burning jet fuel, unless they want a high death toll that would traumatize Americans and generate nationwide support for whatever the Bush White House said would be necessary to prevent more attacks.”
“It didn’t happen that way.”
“I don’t know for sure what really happened that day, neither do you, no one does. But I know the 9/11 Commission is a travesty, just like the Warren Commission was a travesty.”
“People would have noticed demolition charges being placed in those buildings.”
“Not if it was done at night by ‘WTC maintenance crews’ performing ‘routine building maintenance’. Who would have paid any attention to them? No one.”
“Shannon, everyone knows the Twin Towers collapsed because of the intense fires, and everyone knows Building 7 collapsed because it was damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers.”
“So what was Larry Silverstein talking about when he said Building 7 was pulled?”
Travis shrugged. “How would I know? Maybe you should knock on his door in the middle of the night and ask him.”
“Someone should! The 9/11 Commission didn’t ask him, they didn’t investigate anything about Building 7. That’s either glaring incompetence or glaring complicity in a cover up.”
“9/11 was glaring terrorism, Shannon. The Twin Towers were hit, they burned and collapsed. Building 7 was damaged, it burned and collapsed.”
“I’ll tell you what burned and collapsed, Travis. The Constitution burned and democracy collapsed. Three-thousand Americans died, the 9/11 Commission investigation was a disgrace, a whitewash, Cheney got his wars and his Patriot Act and billions of dollars for his Halliburton, Exxon/Mobil, and war profiteering cronies.”
“Shannon . . . please . . . . don’t waste your life, you can’t win this fight.”
“Then I’ll go down fighting.”
“I’ve gone down fighting, I don’t recommend it.”
“You infuriate me, Travis, but I’m thankful you weren’t killed.”
“I love you, just give me a chance, we could–”
“Give yourself a chance. Think, Travis. Open your eyes before it’s too late. How many more soldiers are going to be sacrificed in Iraq so Republican chickenhawks can strut around as warriors and criminals can reap the profits? A thousand more? Two-thousand more? More and more and more for ten years? For twenty years? For fifty years? Will you be one of the dead? Will your name be on a Wall someday, a Wall for the dead pawns of corporate America’s Oil Wars?”
“I’m not a pawn, I’m a soldier, it’s my–”
“You’re a dead man walking.” Shannon blinked back tears of frustration. “There should be another Wall, but it shouldn’t have the names of the dead on it, it should have the names of their killers on it. White House names. Pentagon names. CIA names. Your uncle’s name, your father’s name, your grandfather’s name. The names of every craven politician who keeps voting to fund this atrocity in Iraq, the names of every greedy CEO and stockholder who profits from it, the names of every corporate media hack who lied us into it and is lying to keep us there, the names of every idiot from Idaho to Alabama who’s proud of that bloodbath and wants another one in Iran.”
“Anger’s a destructive emotion, Shannon. It’s consuming you, it’s–”
“Anger is the foundation of political change, Travis. It’s going to intensify in this country, it’s going to be stoked by one outrage after another until it’s white hot, and then you’ll see some consuming you won’t ever forget. Those thugs you admire so much will steal the election again, they’ll get four more years to lie and spy and kill, but a day of reckoning is coming, and when it comes there won’t be anything left of the Republican Party but ashes.”