Never-before-seen photos reveal the Bush administration’s shocked reactions to the September 11th attacks, moments after the towers were struck.
Each image depicts the crushing gravity of that fateful day, as reflected in the eyes of President George W. Bush, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director George Tenet and many other White House staffers.
The photos were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from journalist Neirouz Hanna of PBS Frontline. The photos were taken by the vice president’s staff photographer.
You can see more of the recently-released photos on Flickr, and our selection of photographs below:
If you believe some reports, or breathless commentators, China is becoming an unstoppable naval juggernaut in the Pacific region. That may be somewhat overstated. Yes, China’s navy has become far more modern in the last ten years, but ironically, a country that is the size of the entire Washington D.C. metropolitan area (District of Columbia, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Alexandria, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County) could bring it to its knees.
Singapore is so small, about 25 percent of its combat planes are based in the United States due to a lack of space for training. In absolute terms, Singapore’s navy is small, with six frigates, six second-hand Swedish submarines, and six guided-missile patrol boats (plus a host of smaller combatants) according to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World.
China’s just in the South China Sea fleet is much larger, and the Luyang-class destroyers outclass Singapore’s Formidable-class frigates. Yet, Singapore has one very big advantage in any conflict – and it’s best summed up in that real-estate maxim: Location, location, location.
Singapore controls the Strait of Malacca, the most critical maritime chokepoint on the Pacific Rim. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) had a notable collision with a merchant ship near this choke point, which contributed to the Pacific fleet’s commander being passed over for a promotion.
While a lot of merchant traffic goes through this chokepoint – so called because those who control it can choke the trade of other countries – the most important are supertankers. With its diesel-electric submarines and frigates, combined with modern F-15 and F-16 fighters, Singapore can shut down traffic in the Strait of Malacca.
China may be a high-tech power, but one resource it doesn’t have a lot of is oil. Cut off the oil supply, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy isn’t going anywhere. Nor will the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force. That is how tiny Singapore could put a stranglehold on China. It’s all about location – and Singapore has prime geo-political real estate.
An epic video featuring the USS Normandy (CG-60) performing sea operation set to dramatic music was posted to the command’s Facebook fan page. The video offers a glimpse at Navy life for the sailors deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
The video starts with the guided-missile cruiser alongside the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) for the first minute before cutting to the five-inch gun for some shots. There’s an F/A-18 Hornet flyby, small boat ops and more.
September 11, 2001 is a day that will always be remembered for the horrific loss of American life. However, it is also a day that can be remembered for extraordinary courage and heroism. A prime example of this can be seen in the actions of the crew of the USCGC Adak (WPB-1333).
On 9/11, Adak arrived in New York Harbor one hour after the Coast Guard tug Hawser and took over On-Scene Commander responsibilities. Amidst the chaos, Adak coordinated the rescue of civilians from Manhattan. She led a makeshift fleet of military, merchant, city, and private vessels. Thanks to her efforts, 500,000 people were evacuated from Lower Manhattan on that fateful day. In recognition of her service, Adak received the Secretary of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award.
After 9/11, Adak was part of the Coast Guard force that reinforced the Navy in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although the Navy’s ships were too large to maneuver well off the Iraqi coast and in the Northern Persian Gulf, Coast Guard Cutters like Adak were able to navigate the waters with relative ease. She famously provided maritime security for the Navy SEAL attack on the Khor al-Amaya and Mina al Bakr Oil Terminals, preventing Iraqi escape or reinforcement from the sea. The attack marked the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003.
Afterwards, Adak was assigned to patrol the Khor Abd Allah Waterway which leads to Iraq’s primary port of Umm Qasr. There, she supported the British and Australian shelling and amphibious assault on the Al-Faw Peninsula. During the landings, an Iraqi PB-90 patrol boat was spotted and destroyed by an AC-130 Spectre gunship. Adak conducted Combat Search and Rescue operations and pulled three hypothermic Iraqis from the water. The men, later identified as warrant officers of the Republican Guard, were the first Iraqi prisoners taken during the operation.
Adak continued to conduct maritime operations throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. In fact, she has patrolled the Arabian Gulf ever since. However, the Coast Guard has announced its intention to decommission to hero ship. In service since 1989, Adak has reached the end of her service life. Tragically, the Coast Guard has determined that the only ways to dispose of the ship are selling her through a GSA auction or giving her to an allied nation through the Foreign Assistance Act. Her location in the Arabian Gulf makes it too expensive for the Coast Guard to bring her home.
Dissatisfied with abandoning such an important vessel, the USCGC Adak Historical Society has started a petition to bring the ship home. At this point, nothing short of an order from the President of the United States will be enough to save her. The USCGC Adak Historical Society is fighting to preserve the historically important ship as a museum and 9/11 memorial in the United States. As of April 19, the petition has received 3,000 signatures of its 5,000 signature goal.
Specifically, you can be a zombie in the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
Omaze and ActivisionBlizzard are holding a contest where the winner will be turned into a zombie featured in the upcoming game. In addition to the zombification, the winner will have their name placed somewhere in the game world.
Entering the contest is done through charitable donations to the Call of Duty Endowment on the contest page at Omaze. Larger donations grant more entries into the contest and all donations come with benefits based on donation size. A lot of great perks are on the table – everything from in-game exclusives to autographed swag to a special lunch and VIP tour of the Treyarch studios, the developer of “Call of Duty: Black Ops III.”
The money raised goes to the Call of Duty Endowment, an organization that finds the best nonprofits helping fight veteran unemployment and then provides them with extra funding and networking opportunities. The endowment estimates that a veteran is employed for every $914 they spend, so even small donations can help put a veteran to work. Also, ActivisionBlizzard will match funds raised in the contest, doubling the impact for veterans.
George W. Bush doesn’t believe the United States should withdraw from Afghanistan. As Taliban fighters begin to make huge gains across large swathes of the country and the Afghan government in Kabul looks more and more endangered, Bush told reporters he disagrees with the drawdown.
When asked if he thought the withdrawal was a mistake, the former U.S. president told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, “I think it is, yeah. Because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad and sad.”
Bush was talking to the German news agency about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s support for sending German troops into Afghanistan when she came to power in 2005. One of the reasons why Merkel supported the troops, Bush surmised, was because she saw the potential for the growth of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Now, the former president believes the progress made by women in the country may soon be all for naught.
“I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” he said. Bush also discussed his concern for translators and other supporters along with the families who aided U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. “They’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart.”
When the U.S. drawdown began in earnest in May 2021, there were 1,100 German troops left, along with forces from 36 other partner countries.
Bush can look back on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, which was launched under his order in October 2001 over the Taliban government’s refusal to extradite Osama bin Laden in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks.
While the current administration remains bizarrely optimistic in many ways about the survival of the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban keep gaining ground.
In the beginning of July, the Taliban had been gaining ground at a furious pace, sometimes unopposed. The Long War Journal keeps a regular weekly time-lapse map of how many of Afghanistan’s 407 districts fall to the Islamist terror group. The first week of July saw the group capture an astonishing 10% of the country in just six days.
Despite the facts on the ground, President Joe Biden denied the Taliban are on track to take over the country, giving a speech at the White House that kept with the message that the Afghan government could hold its own.
“The likelihood that there’s going to be a Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”
Biden’s assessment doesn’t jive with those of Gen. Austin Miller, the war’s final commanding general, or those of the U.S. intelligence community, who believe the Afghan government could fall in as little as six weeks after foreign troops completely withdraw.
Former President George W. Bush had long been known not to publicly criticize successive presidents, keeping mum during the Obama and Trump administrations. Biden said he even consulted with Presidents Bush and Obama. Obama called it the right thing to do but Bush remained concerned with maintaining the progress made in the country.
Upon hearing President Bush’s concerns, critics were quick to criticize Bush and his handling of the war’s early years, which some believe led to the Taliban’s enduring staying power and eventual resurgence.
Feature image: President Bush visits Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, 2008 (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)
Of course, anything made to kill another human being has an element of dubiousness about it; but some designs go above and beyond merely killing and add suffering to the equation. Here are nine of these evil weapons:
1. Boiling Oil/Hot Tar
One of the earliest forms of evil weapons. When defending a castle, use arrows and spears and rocks to simply kill. Use hot tar to terrorize and demoralize the enemy as well as kill him.
2. Mustard Gas
Mustard gas was first used in battle by the Germans in World War I with the expressed intent of demoralizing the enemy rather than kill him. The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. (Source: Wikipedia)
3. V-1 Buzz Bomb
The V-1 rockets were not intended to hit specific targets, but instead, they were designed terrorize the population of England during World War II.
What do you do when you don’t want to crawl into tunnels and pull Japanese soldiers out of their hiding places one-by-one? You strap on your flamethrower and burn them out — a torturous way to go.
Firebombing is an air attack technique that combines blast bombing with incendiaries to yield much more destruction than blast bombs would alone. The Germans firebombed Coventry and London in 1940, and the British paid them back in spades toward the end of the war, most notably at Dresden.
6. Atomic Bomb
Since August of 1945 service academies and war colleges have studied the calculus of using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but regardless of whether the strategy ultimately saved lives that would have been lost during a manned invasion of the Japanese homeland, it inflicted great suffering on the population in the form of destruction on an unprecedented scale and the follow-on radiation poisoning.
7. Anti-personnel Mines
These mines are designed to maim, not necessarily to kill. Stepping on them causes the mechanism to bounce up to pelvis level before exploding, causing maximum suffering before a slow painful death.
8. Punji Sticks
An evil booby trap most notoriously associated with the Vietnam War, Punji Sticks were a low-fi weapon used by the Vietcong to terrorize American forces patrolling the jungle. The sharp sticks were hidden under tarps or trap doors covered with brush, and they inflicted nasty and painful wounds to lower extremities.
A bomb full of a gelling agent and petroleum, Napalm was originally used against buildings but later became an anti-personnel weapon. The flaming goo that erupts when the weapon goes high order sticks to skin and causes severe burns.
America’s biggest hater was born into one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families.
In 2009, the Bin Laden family was listed as the 5th wealthiest Saudis by the Wall Street Journal, with a reported net worth of $7 billion. Yet, despite being born into extreme privilege he used his wealth to fund extreme ideology and terror. The way he lived his life was the key to his charisma, according to the American Heroes Channel video below.
As it turns out, kidnapping is big business. Between 2008 and 2015, terrorist groups have reportedly collected more than $125 million in ransom payments. But terrorists don’t just kidnap to make money, they can make way more selling oil — roughly $3 million per day.
This TestTube News video explains other reasons they abduct people and the pros and cons of negotiating with terrorists:
The military is like an organized play. Everyone who assumes a position is supposed to follow the script to their role. However, some take it too far and continue even after the play has ended. These folks are always in character and they expect the same out of everyone around them.
In the field it’s understandable but if one of these “motards” pulls rank on you during liberty, you may be inclined to react the same way this Marine does.
Popular comedic actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle volunteered his time to star in a new public service announcement to help showcase the strengths of military veterans.
The PSA titled “What to Wear” is the third in a series created by Easter Seals Dixon Center, a non-profit changing the conversation about veterans and military families to highlight their potential and create life-changing opportunities.
The majority of the PSA’s production team were made up of veterans, including actor and Air Force veteran Brice Williams, who co-stars with Riggle, and director Jim Fabio, who currently serves as an Air Force Combat Camera Officer (all three are pictured above). Fabio was selected out of more than 50 directors — all military veterans — and was mentored by Hollywood producer-writer Judd Apatow during the process.
It’s no secret the Soviet Union had trouble keeping up with the United States in terms of heavy weapons during the Cold War. Even though the United States claimed there was a significant so-called “missile gap” between the US and the USSR, the reverse was actually true.
In reality, though the Soviet Union kept a large number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, it preferred to spend on other weapons of mass destruction. The main reason was cost. Until the oil boom of the 1970s, the Soviet Union wasn’t as flush with cash as we tend to believe.
The USSR was looking for ways to be competitive in the arms race, but without the hefty price tag the United States military was paying to develop, build, and maintain its arsenal of nuclear ICBMs.
According to defectors, the Soviets employed tens of thousands of scientists and workers to create alternative weapons of mass destruction, like chemical weapons but especially biological weapons. One Soviet scientist told the New York Times that biological weapons were very cheap, especially compared to nuclear and chemical weapons.
Judging the weapons efficiency by how much it would cost to kill half the population of one square kilometer of the United States, there was just no comparison to biological warfare.
“We calculated to achieve an effect [of killing half the population] in one square kilometer it cost $2,000 with conventional weapons, $800 with a nuclear weapon, and $600 with chemical weapons and $1 with biological weapons,” the scientist said.
The Soviet Union created entire secret cities dedicated to developing biological weapons, often disguised as anti-biological weapons research stations. Even after signing onto the United Nations Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, the USSR continued to experiment with anthrax, tularemia, Q-fever, brucellosis, glanders, the plague, Crimean-Congo fever, typhus, botulism, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and smallpox.
Many of these toxins were engineered to also be resistant to antibiotics and other common treatments for the diseases, forming “super” versions of the strains.
It could also mass produce all of the biological agents on an industrial scale, even though it wasn’t necessary. Biological agents are difficult to weaponize for use against a military target. The Soviets had to keep its own weapons handlers from getting sick and spreading the pathogen, they had to deliver the weapons and then ensure it was resistant to treatment.
By far the most horrifying examples of the effects of biological weapon use comes from the Soviet Union itself. In 1971, a smallpox weapon test accidentally infected the city of Aralsk in what is today Kazakhstan. It was powerful enough to be resistant to the smallpox vaccine and killed six people. In 1979, experimental anthrax spores escaped from a research facility in Sverdlovsk, killing 19 people before the virus was contained.
The Soviets may have even used biological weapons in Afghanistan. In a 1999 book, former Soviet scientist Kenatjan Alibekov charges that the USSR sprayed glanders, bacteria found in horses that can be lethal to humans, on Taliban rebels there.
While weaponization is the most difficult step, it doesn’t take a lot of the pathogen to introduce it to a civilian population. As we have seen throughout the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, just a small introduction can have catastrophic effects on a population. Fallout from the spread of a disease can include hundreds of thousands of deaths, along with crippling production and economic consequences long before the pathogen is contained.
It would’ve taken one launch officer who wasn’t right in the head to trigger a nuclear war and start World War III. For nearly two decades, the nuclear launch code was “000000000000,” according to Dr. Bruce G. Blair in his 2004 article “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark.”
In the documentary Countdown to Zero, Dr. Blair describes the launch sequence and the device into which the code was entered:
When I was serving in the Air Force as a launch officer there was a device in the launch control center into which 12 digits had to be dialed in to unlock the missiles from firing. This had been installed under Robert McNamara over the objections of the Strategic Air Command. Since they couldn’t prevent the panel from being installed the strategic air command in Omaha had set these codes to zero and we all knew it. That was the secret unlock code for firing our missiles, twelve zeros. In fact in our launch checklist we had to ensure that the unlock code was set to all zeros before we completed the launch sequence.