9/11

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It was painful and haunting to go through old photos and find the World Trade Towers.

It was painful and haunting to go through old photos and find the World Trade Towers.

It’s been a very sad week in America. I don’t need an anniversary date on the calendar to remind me of one of the worst days in American history. There hasn’t been a day that’s passed since September 11, 2001 in which I haven’t thought and gotten angry about how our country and the world have been changed since our nation was attacked by radical Islamists and thousands of citizens died violent, horrible deaths. I did not lose any family members or friends that day, so I can only imagine the pain and emptiness that victims’ loved ones have had to endure this past decade.

It was with some trepidation that I waited to see how this eleventh anniversary would be marked, now that there was the distance of ten plus one years since that infamous attack on our shores. It didn’t take long to be disappointed in how 9/11 perceptions are changing. Good friend and client Wayne Hayward forwarded me two tone-deaf marketing e-mails he’d received, both of which purported to honor those affected by 9/11, but quickly followed those words with a commercial sales pitch. Ugh! What next? 9/11 mattress sales and car dealership discounts?

Later, in the day, we took out-of-town client Secure Wireless (in-town for the ASIS security show) to the Phillies-Marlins game. A few rows below our section was an energetic young lady in a string bikini  top and body paint with the message 9/11 and “Always Remember” on her back. Mostly, she was posing in hopes of appearing on the scoreboard cam. Given that she was probably 10 when the planes hit the twin towers, I don’t think she intended disrespect, but there was a profound disconnect between the event and her freestyle attempt at commemoration.

As for the ASIS show in Philadelphia,  aimed at corporate, academic, governmental, institutional security, I was amazed at some of the latest advances in everything from CCTV analytics to armored bulletproof vehicles, guard houses, and much more. And then came the news about the mob attacks at our embassies in Egypt and Libya and how the latter in Benghazi was a makeshift affair with contracted security and no Marines assigned. The world is still a dangerous place and the bad actors are always poking for signs of weakness.

This explosion of Islamic rage and anti-American hatred should be a wake-up call to those who look at 9/11 as some sort of historical event in the past. Who delude themselves that a continually expanding TSA will protect us from global conflicts such as a nuclear Iran.

The murders of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans at the Libyan embassy, and the anti-American hate mobs in a growing list of Muslim nations should be enough to remind Americans that we are still engaged in a War on Terror. We are being told that a pathetic, badly made YouTube video incited the carefully planned and coordinated attacks on our embassies. This common sense article hammers home the point that this is about Islamists trying to undermine our most basic freedom — freedom of speech.  The fact that Americans aren’t united about an act of war — the outrageous murders of Ambassador Stevens and his associates — represents a terrible way to mark the anniversary of 9/11. On some matters, we should NEVER be a nation divided. And yet, we are.

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Osama bin Laden out of Time

Osama bin Laden out of Time

By now, you have heard the terrific news that Osama bin Laden is no more, unless of course you’ve been living in a cave. Late Sunday evening, not only did we learn that the Al Qaeda leader had himself been living in comfort in a fortified compound in Abbottobad, Pakistan, but that he had been dispatched in dramatic fashion by an elite team of Navy SEALs and CIA officers. Bravo to all who made this possible, including President Obama for making some difficult decisions about this raid, and President Bush for laying a solid foundation for our war on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

If anyone needs a moral clarity reminder of why this is a moment of great triumph for America and Western Civilization, I suggest they watch or rewatch Paul Greengrass’s excellent  film, United 93, which chronicles the events of September 11, 2001 as a real time dramatization.

Not easy viewing, but an amazing account of arguably the worst day in our nation’s history (and how it brought out the best in so many — from the brave passengers on Flight 93 to NYC’s exceptional first responders) 9/11 was a day that changed our world and although it took a decade to eradicate the mastermind of evil behind this terror plot, it was critical to do so. Evidently from data recovered in the raid, he has been involved in other terror plots since, including one involving our railways planned but not executed  this past September 11 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.  As long as bin Laden lived, he remained a national security threat.

But this is a marketing/communications arts blog, and the events of this week serve as an excellent punctuation point to last week’s post about the limits of digital proofing. You can read all about the questions raised by layers in the PDF of President Obama’s birth certificate — its release spawned another round of conspiracy theories, but it really underscored the ease with which files can be manipulated.

So, when the President decided it would not be appropriate or necessary to release photos confirming the death of Osama bin Laden, we would have to agree purely on the latter point.  Photoshop makes it possible to manipulate the hell out of imagery, so how does a digital photo file in any way allay the doubts of those who will continue to believe bin Laden is alive?

As if on cue, even before the President announced his decision to withhold release of these photos, grisly Photoshop fakes purporting to be the real McCoys overran the Internet and social media sites. I saw one of these in a forwarded e-mail. Convincing digital imaging of head wounds. Some, maybe all, of these fakes were reported to contain viruses or worms to collect and transmit people’s personal data files. Great, so bin Laden remains a security threat, even beyond the grave.

Here is a reassuring headline. If Al Qaeda believes bin Laden is dead, for once, their word is good enough for me.

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