I remember watching the towers fall.
My sister called early in the morning to tell me to turn on the television. My husband and I, who had been working closely with Afghan women organizing against the Taliban, stared at the screen, aghast as the buildings crumbled.
Like everyone else the world over, we realized it was a moment that was going to change history. We also realized that ordinary people, including our friends in Afghanistan, were going to pay the price for something they likely had nothing to do with. And sure enough, on Oct. 7, 2001, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, the U.S. went to war with Afghanistan. That war, the longest in U.S. history, remains a bloody weight on our collective conscience.
But as soon as the towers fell and Congress rushed to hand over blanket authority to President Bush to wantonly bomb, whispers of “an inside job” began circulating on the Internet.
Those whispers snowballed as the war expanded from Afghanistan to Iraq. Many anti-war activists, eager to undermine the flawed rationale for the Iraq War, insisted ever more shrilly that Bush and company were likely behind the attacks or knew ahead of time that the attacks were coming and failed to act purposefully. Complex and convoluted arguments about the temperatures at which the towers’ beams melted were vociferously trotted out on public radio and in Internet chat rooms.
Secretary of State John Kerry, center, poses with his Arab counterparts after a meeting in Saudi Arabia on Sept. 11, 2014. Kerry’s visit was aimed at pinning down Middle Eastern allies on what support they were willing to give to U.S. plans to beat back Islamic State, which had seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria. (Brendan Smialowski / AP)