Tracking the Psychological Effects of the 9/11 Attacks

Interesting research from 2012: "The Dynamics of Evolving Beliefs, Concerns, Emotions, and Behavioral Avoidance Following 9/11: A Longitudinal Analysis of Representative Archival Samples":

Abstract: September 11 created a natural experiment that enables us to track the psychological effects of a large-scale terror event over time. The archival data came from 8,070 participants of 10 ABC and CBS News polls collected from September 2001 until September 2006. Six questions investigated emotional, behavioral, and cognitive responses to the events of September 11 over a five-year period. We found that heightened responses after September 11 dissipated and reached a plateau at various points in time over a five-year period. We also found that emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions were moderated by age, sex, political affiliation, and proximity to the attack. Both emotional and behavioral responses returned to a normal state after one year, whereas cognitively-based perceptions of risk were still diminishing as late as September 2006. These results provide insight into how individuals will perceive and respond to future similar attacks.

Posted on June 30, 2015 at 6:27 AM • 33 Comments

Comments

Bob S.June 30, 2015 6:46 AM

I wonder how much purposeful government fear propaganda impacts personal perceptions and behavior?

For decades media and police dutifully warned parents and kids about needles and razor blades in apples/candy on Halloween, only to find out no such risk ever existed.

Of course, we have had various real attacks by deranged criminals over the years, but not that many.

What would be a fair and reasonable estimation of the risk of such an attack? My estimate would be less than getting hit by lightning.

Many high officials are using the media to beat the fear drum for the upcoming holiday. I'll just say it, it makes me want to puke. If there's some specific and legitimate threat, the government should deal with it rather than deliberately trying to ruin the holiday with fears of bogeymen lurking behind every bush.

Happy Independence Day all!

chuckJune 30, 2015 7:17 AM

"Although most of the correlations are significantly different from zero (alpha = 0.01), none of the correlations indicate a strong relationship
among any of the six response variables."

In other words, the data presented are a Rorschach test.

65535June 30, 2015 7:56 AM

“However, over time, as security measures became more intrusive (such as with the implementation of the Patriot Act), the public became less tolerant of such policies [That is an understatement of the year! –Ed]. Over time confidence in government decreased [drastically! – Ed], mirrored by a shift in public attitudes regarding the sacrifice of various civil liberties to allow for more effective investigation of potential terrorist activities. Even in recent years there has been much debate over the legitimacy and potential violation of personal privacy through the use of full body scanners and other invasive TSA measures [Enormous debate, irritation, loss of time, loss of income, and a number legal battles!]” –USC

See page 13 of pdf:
http://create.usc.edu/sites/default/files/publications//thedynamicsofevolvingbeliefsconcernsemotionsandbehavior.pdf

I have added a few editorial remarks to the text to better reflect reality.

In a sense, the Terrorist have won by causing the huge invasive TSA Cattle lines at airports, extensive waste of billions of tax dollars spent on “Security Theater,” shredding of the Fourth Amendment and other parts of the US Constitution with little or no actual improvement in security – as demonstrated by the Boston terror attack!

The terrorists did huge damage to the USA with lasting effects to its citizens via manipulating the US government to over-react with measures only hurting its own citizens and its economy.

jonesJune 30, 2015 10:14 AM

But this isn't just measuring the psychoogical effects of the attack: most Americans don't live in New York City. This is measuring the psychological effects of the media, since most people saw the attacks -- over and over and over again -- on the TV.

albertJune 30, 2015 10:21 AM

@65535, (are you a 16, 32, or 64 -bit number, signed or unsigned?)
.
"...The terrorists did huge damage to the USA with lasting effects to its citizens via manipulating the US government to over-react with measures only hurting its own citizens and its economy. ..."
.
And the worst is yet to come. 911 was a boon to the IC and DOD contractors. They continue to rake in billions. With a permanent Terror Threat now in place, other benefits include the militarization of police forces, access and control of all citizens personal information, the ability to squash protest and criticism....
.
Real change in the US system will come from without, totally as the result of failed US foreign policy, and the US-controlled Ponzi banking system.
.
Does anyone wonder why there are so many conspiracy theories regarding the 2 WTC attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the anthrax attack...?
.
...

Gerard van VoorenJune 30, 2015 10:32 AM

@ 65535

"In a sense, the Terrorist have won..."

The problem with the polarization politics in the US is that they just said: the terrorist. Like with the communist or whatever. It is a thought terminating cliché.

If you mean with the terrorist Al Qaida I don't think they have 'won' at all.

But who did win? Like with every war the War Against Terror was/is a racket. Who won were the suppliers of this war. The rest, as usual, lost.

d33tJune 30, 2015 10:40 AM

The other day while in a "Target" store pharmacy (only pharmacy for miles), I read a big sign on the wall alerting me to the blanket of Patriot Act provisions that cover the pharmacy under the guise of "terrorism". I instantly had the same physical / emotional response I had when I realized that anthrax was being used in the US to forcibly pass the Patriot Act as a group response to "terrorism" in 2001. My feeling of overall dread, nausea and repulsion returned immediately. I remember realizing that it was the beginning of the end to paper civil rights in the US in 2001. This sign called out the seeking of pseudoephedrine by fraud as an act of terrorism specifically and all of the huge financial fines and jail time possible for being involved in such a crime. Pseudoephedrine of course being one of the components that is commonly used in the manufacture of "Crystal Meth". "Crystal Meth", a favorite replacement drug for many of the poor, chemically altered people who were subjected to "Ritalin" and "Adderall" experiments by physicians for the last several decades. I've met many Bipolar, Borderline, ADD / ADHD (other), patients who started their journey down the spiraled rabbit hole with drugs used to "treat" hyper activity in children. Many of the others I've met got there by exposure to things like nasal sprays manufactured by a huge drug company that were used as post nasal drip remedies in the 1970's. Some of those remedies used speed as a main ingredient too.

I still find it odd to see a public misinterpretation of an illegal act of congress pasted to the wall of a generic pharmacy naming a precursor substance used to manufacture a drug that is commonly sought out by people who have been chemically altered by big pharma. I mentioned that to the pharmacist and he smiled.

Ever since 9/11 to this day, still living thousands of miles away from ground zero, I feel like I've been making the best of living in a novel written secretly by Kafka, Burroughs, Thompson, Bernays and Orwell while tapping away at a machine designed by Turing in an attempt to reanimate his dead friend funded by WWII. Sometimes when I hit the right combination of keys with the right timing, digital biosurvival tickets appear in my federal reserve account. I feel lucky to at least realize my situation, and that I haven't been subjected to any kind of irreversible chemical alteration myself yet. Big pharma won the US elections fair and square in 2008 though, so it's likely just a matter of time before all of those bad feelings about 9/11, the Patriot Act, and the loss of my paper civil rights get "treated" and I too can go on my happy way down the rabbit hole toward what ever it is we're doing to ourselves right now.

It is amazing how a sign about 9/11 and "terrorism" can trigger such a deep response in a person as jaded as me.

albertJune 30, 2015 10:43 AM

@chuck,
.
Indeed!
.
"...
Although the management of terrorism events certainly in-
volves risk assessment, it is equally important to un-
derstand how both actual terrorist attacks and threats
are perceived by the general public. This understand-
ing can help governments guide societal responses to
terrorism as well as develop optimal policies for mit-
igating and responding to the threat...." - from the paper.
.
What a feeble attempt at justifying this waste of time and trees (or electrons).
.
This should be a clue of upcoming BS from the social 'scientists'. Populations are "guided" by the US governments pronouncements, and their lapdogs, the MSM. The "optimal policies for mitigating and responding to the threat" are, and have been well known, and ignored.
.
Please, can someone find useful employment for these people? Maybe they could go to the ME, and research the feelings of folks who are homeless, hungry, sick, or blown up and shot.
.
Come to think of it, maybe they could do that right here.
.
...

Rufo Guerreschi June 30, 2015 10:48 AM

to be fair we cannot exclude that some of the post 9/11 security measures have had a very substantial effect in preventing major terrorist attacks.

In fact, the atrocities committed by the US in Muslim states and the huge funds potentially available in oil-rich muslim states should have in theory increased radically the number of terrorist acts, which did not happen.

NSA capabilities in open sourced data mining, bulk surveillance and non-scalable targeted surveillance may have actually delivered, at least technically and at least so far.

CJJune 30, 2015 11:02 AM

It took me less than a week. I took my cue from the fourth plane. The one big security innovation was the folks on the Pennsylvania plane that fought back. This pretty much ended / transformed hijacking. Prior to this, you had a passive plane load of people flying to Cuba. I am still ready to jump someone, if necessary.

ArthurJune 30, 2015 11:14 AM

It is hard for me to even begin reading a paper where the very first sentence includes a typo:

Terrorism did not become a significant public
concern in the United States until the attacks of
September 11, 2011.

albertJune 30, 2015 11:51 AM

@Rufo Guerreschi, @CJ,
Your naivete is disappointing. The only reason we haven't been targeted is that no one is willing to target us at this time. ISIS is doing quite well with US weapons, and there's plenty of cash for their efforts. 911 was a brilliant tactical move, but there are many other avenues of attack that you haven't even considered, and won't read about until afterwards.
.
@CJ,
Good catch!
.
...

newkidtownJune 30, 2015 1:53 PM

@Rufo Guerreschi,

NSA's success has been to catch a couple of dumbwitts who wired a few hundred $ and went to take a plane to go to AQ or ISIS areas. As for failures suffice to say that China has the personnel records on tens of millions of USG employees and contractors.

John BJune 30, 2015 2:05 PM

If you look at things separately it makes little sense, only when you look at our troubles as parts of a greater whole does the picture become clear.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960

Michael And Ingrid HerouxJune 30, 2015 3:31 PM

@d33t

Yeah, actually allowing people to purchase Pseudoephedrine from the drug stores cuts down on terrorism because the users don't have to rely on the Mexican cartels to smuggle speed into North America and we all know the terror the cartels create.

copynotmoveJune 30, 2015 3:43 PM

I just finished the EdX MOOC on security, privacy, and cyberwar (for which Mr. Schneier was interviewed). The interviewed government reps never quantified the magnitude of the terror threat. They spoke about the terror threat as if it was a given that the terror threat is large enough to justify mass surveillance, backdoors, and so forth--as if the question of need for mass surveillance, backdoors, etc. is already a settled question and does not need further scrutiny. It's a clever approach: Say it often enough and people (even academics and the media) will accept it as the truth. Even people who are trying to argue for a balance between security and privacy seem to have accepted that there is a need for the particular security practices in the first place.

One of the governments reps in the MOOC doubled down on this and claimed that the metadata program has been effective in disrupting terror plots. He cited perhaps 2 or 3 events worldwide. Were these viable terror plots in the first place? Possibly not: Keith Alexander lied about the 54 he claimed were stopped using metadata analysis in the US, after all, and can we really trust a report about an agency's effectiveness when the report was generated by the agency in question and facts are not available for independent review? But let's assume that there were, in fact, 3 viable terror plots disrupted by metadata analysis. Does that actually justify the costs of the metadata program? Are the resources spent on the metadata program saving more lives than spending those resources on, say, suicide prevention, gun safety, and finding a cure for Alzheimer's? According to Table 10 of the CDC report available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_02.pdf, those 3 terror plots would have to have killed 41,000 in 2013 to match the number of American suicides that year. There were 85,000 American deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease that year; has the metadata program saved so many? The CDC data do not include terror events as a cause, but 1,600 Americans died due to air and water transport deaths in 2013; has metadata analysis saved even that many people? I don't know the answer--but I think the government is obligated to provide the answer and make available the facts to support independent review of the answer rather than expect the public to trust that the need is there and taxpayer funds are being spent cost-effectively.

tyrJune 30, 2015 3:46 PM

@albert

Check out the Zuboff paper link is in the Friday squid.

While the immediate psychic damage was extreme the idea
a terrorist can do something here is ridiculous unless
we depend on the government theatre troupe to take care
of it.

Even a Sikh isn't safe from the average citizen.

LessThanObviousJune 30, 2015 3:49 PM

I hope what I'm going to say doesn't seem unsympathetic to anyone who was directly affected by the events of 9/11. Anyone who was affected by loss of family or friends, the hearts of every American and much of the world were there hurting along with you that day.

One of the lessons I feel we haven't really vetted publicly is the degree of over-reaction we were a party to as a society. The event was one of the most significant in American history. Did that mean the stock market had to get crushed for a long period? Did that mean masses of people had to lose their jobs nationwide? Did that mean we had to be made blinded by fear and and anger that allowed us to dragged into war with Iraq under false pretenses? Did that mean we had to sacrifice liberty in order to tend to our fears of insecurity?

The impact of the events could have been limited to mourning our dead, focusing only on direct impact and seeking vengeance only on those directly responsible. We paid a terrible price in lives, in our economy and in our bloated public dept that will punish future generations for our errors.

I hope next time we face a crisis in America or elsewhere, we as a society are able to absorb the pain and carry on without paying such a terrible price on top of the actual tragedy before us.

d33tJune 30, 2015 6:08 PM

@Michael And Ingrid Heroux

Yeah, the true irony for me is in the fact that to the north of here, one can buy Pseudoephedrine legally in drug stores (as I've heard recently). There is immense value in propagandizing the tying together of the "War on Drugs" (institutional opium and other drug exploitation / control / imprisonment / psychiatric experiments) and the holy grail of wars, "The Global War On Terrorism" (Oil and other petro chems, drugs (psychotropics), and fertilizers et al.), no definable enemy, as well as state sanctioned torture and public desensitization of long term martial law based incarceration.

Psychotropic drug dependency is up %400 now though (will certainly dull the long term effects of terrorism on the populace), and they've even seen the side effects manifest in gratuitous gun violence that is only paralleled in video games and war zones. Which of course makes the further erosion of civil rights a moral imperative. Politicians continue to endorse "ultraviolent" video games (campaign contributions in California at least) so realistic, that they are recycled as war simulators for combat training. Often times as both "recreational fun" for soldiers as well as training from cradle to grave if positioned properly starting in toddler / civilian life and ending in military operations later (late teens).

The upside to all of this is a much longer life span. Maximized, drug fueled consumers full of emptiness, despair and a prolonged, slow and terrible death while reflecting on the loss of loved ones, liberty and youth.

"There's also a negative side."

65535June 30, 2015 9:10 PM

@ albert

Hex. I used to run a site at the Top of the Dial, so to speak [well, close to the top]. Waving at our Fort Meade friends.

@ Gerard van Vooren

“But who did win? Like with every war the War Against Terror was/is a racket. Who won were the suppliers of this war. The rest, as usual, lost.”

I just use the T word by force of habit. I did not have a better term.

Al Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL, Hezbollah and so on, are usually disaffected unemployed young men under arms [or wishing to have arms] with a lot of free time on their hands who frequently change allegiance like the changing winds. Some are organized and others are not. This is the kind of person I describe.

The Twin Towers are gone and the sky line of NY is changed for the worse.

It’s true that Bin laden is gone [probably because of our military and our reward put on his head – but where his body was dumped is in dispute] - but this country has also changed for the worse.

Until, the quasi Martial laws are revoked, the massive tax spending on surveillance stopped [suppliers of this war], civilian spying halted, the TSA dismantled and the Twin Towers rebuilt [or their equivalent] I believe in a sense the “Terrorists” or what ever you want to call them, have achieved some/most of their goals.

Gerard van VoorenJuly 1, 2015 1:23 AM

@ 65535

Let's be specific. 9/11 was an operation by Al Qaida. It's not the IRA, ETA, RAF, PLO, FARC or whatever.

Yes, the terrorists of Al Qaida changed the skyline of NY. That's what you get when you piss people off. The IRA did the same in London, except they usually warned an hour in advance.

The reaction of USG to 9/11 made things a lot worse. They changed the skylines of lots of places in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. How do you think the people who live there are gonna think about the US?

With the eye-for-an-eye mentality this will not end. A five year old understands that. What they should have done is locate the guys who were involved and bring them to justice.

It's not Al Qaida who has won, it's USG, to be precise, the G.W.Bush administration with their terrible politics of fear, who has won. Because of the politics of fear (and many, many lies) they could do whatever they wanted to do and fill their and their buddies pockets at the cost of a massive increase of US dept.

Clive RobinsonJuly 1, 2015 5:41 AM

@ Gerard van Vooren,

Let's be specific. 9/11 was an operation by Al Qaida.

Err no.

AQ can be shown to be an invention of the US Govt, it needed to "invent" a conspiracy to go to court to get a judgment against OBL in his abscence. That is they had no credible evidence, so conspiracy was their only route to solve a political problem (some indicate that it was done for the House of Saud).

The eventual result --as expected by the law of "unexpected consequences"-- was OBL became a "figure head in Western Media" which actually gave him a great deal of "political power" he did not formaly have.

It's been indicated by others that OBL not claiming responsability at the time was because he actually had little or nothing to do with 9/11. Further it was apparently only after the US administration pointed the finger in his direction that he "jumped on the band wagon".

It is this that has added fuel to the fire that the neo-cons either aranged 9/11 or new of it but ignored it because it suited their plans.

Whilst it's fairly clear that the neo-cons had fairly despicable plans for the Middle East, evidence for arranged or knew of 9/11 is decidedly thin on the ground (which as some argue is exactly what you would expect for "High Treason").

As others have repeatedly pointed out "why did the US take so long to get him?" Well there might be many reasons for this the primary one being compleate incompetence in the US IC... which we might now give credence to post Snowden Revelations. Another is the "assasination / myrta" bad publicity for US reputation etc, which would appear contradicted by the behaviour against Sadam H. Thus many have indicated that OBL was a very useful "bogie man" for the administration. This appears likely because OBL was only assasinated after he had effectivly retired from the public eye. He had also effectivly retired from any terrorist activity, the talk of "high quality intel" from the raid on the OBL compound appears to be from the fevered imaginings of PR and Press. With the "Gay Porn" aspect and couriers supposadly hiding USB drives up their back passages etc, whilst it is vaguely possible it does appear more "salacious imagining" than "practical security". Look at it this way "Homosexual" behaviour is a capital crime in many places the couriers would go through...

If and when the truth of the matter comes out I don't know, but what is true is so far we have been fed "a crock of sh1t" by the US govt.

Gerard van VoorenJuly 1, 2015 8:05 AM

@ Clive Robinson

"AQ can be shown to be an invention of the US Govt..."

I am aware of that. Maybe I should have mentioned it as well, but it is, like the word terrorist, a more generally known indicator and I wanted to keep my post short to avoid derailing (which I usually do, and I still have problems with English when it comes to writing large pieces of text. Reading is good, but writing in a second language is quite hard. In Dutch I can express myself a lot better).

"Whilst it's fairly clear that the neo-cons had fairly despicable plans for the Middle East, evidence for arranged or knew of 9/11 is decidedly thin on the ground (which as some argue is exactly what you would expect for "High Treason")."

Yes, I agree. That's why I (usually) stay away from speculating about what happened. The actions that followed after 9/11 coming from the G.W.Bush administration, that's where I do have an opinion about and I have mentioned that more than once ;-)

albertJuly 1, 2015 10:41 AM

@Clive, @Gerard, @415029,

The first requirement for a war is an 'enemy'. It's better to have a 'face' for the enemy. Looking at WWII propaganda, we had Hitler vs. Uncle Sam (a psychopath vs. a cartoon character, if you will). Aryan Superiority vs. American exceptionalism. Deutschland Uber Alles vs. The Star-Spangled Banner

Life was simpler back then. Now we have a 'War On Terror', a concept war, like the War On Drugs. Never let absurdity stand in the way of Propaganda.

OBL was a convenient face; with that long beard and alien garb, he could represent the whole Middle East. (for a warped view, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPvxYdG7cVw)
OBL turned up a lot in the series.

Every war has a face for the bogeyman. OBL was the poster boy for ME terrorism. Now that the fires are started, he's not needed any more.

One thing we learned for sure: There's a fine line between incompetence theory and conspiracy theory.

.
...

SkepticalJuly 1, 2015 5:24 PM


@Clive: AQ can be shown to be an invention of the US Govt,

There is no sense in which that statement is true.

@Gerard: Yes, the terrorists of Al Qaida changed the skyline of NY. That's what you get when you piss people off.

Which people did AQ speak for, Gerard? They were, and in their forms today are, an organization seeking power. UBL's ultimate objective, his desired end-state, was the establishment of a caliphate in the Middle East, which required the defeat of the various governments of the Middle East (or at least their collapse). UBL believed that those governments relied upon the United States to exist - remember that, in 1990, he offered to raise a force of volunteers to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraq (the Saudi Government declined and went with the US coalition instead). He also believed that the US could easily be defeated (an incorrect lesson drawn from Somalia), as the US would not accept casualties while his personnel would be highly committed.

So, UBL's path in broad strokes was: attack the US, and ultimately sever its support for governments in the Middle East; then undermine and topple those governments, re-establishing a caliphate in the process.

It's an incredibly bad strategy, as its various premises are simply false. But it fit with his worldview, and so he and others took it.

The reaction of USG to 9/11 made things a lot worse. They changed the skylines of lots of places in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. How do you think the people who live there are gonna think about the US?

Be nice and the threats will stop. That's your strategy in a nutshell. That's a good strategy in many social circumstances, but it's a very bad strategy in others. Getting a society to effectively oppose terrorist organizations that operate in its midst (e.g. AQ in Taliban controlled Afghanistan) requires much more than simply encouraging members of that society to take a positive view of you. For example, a Yemeni villager might kindle warm feelings in his heart if the US sent nothing but aid packages to his village, but that villager isn't going to do anything about the AQ cell building bombs in his village because they'll kill him if he tries. Worse, that cell or its supporters can use the aid packages (which they will acquire and control before it can be distributed to the populace) to exert further control over the village and to support its own operations.

You're taking an incredibly complex problem and reducing it to the framework we use in our personal relationships with others. Unfortunately this isn't that simple a problem.

Put differently: you're using the wrong metaphor to think about this. Map out the various entities involved in the problem, describe how you want the system to look as your objective, and then think about actions that can be taken to produce that objective, given the likely courses of actions taken by those other entities in pursuit of their own interests and in response to, or in anticipation of, your actions.

Debris_FieldJuly 1, 2015 9:26 PM

@gerard "The reaction of USG to 9/11 made things a lot worse."

Ya think?

http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-intro/
http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-3/
http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-4/
http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-7/
http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-8/
http://www.consensus911.org/point-mc-9/

The US government replaced a Brigadier General with a Captain as DDO and kept the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in a holding pattern while Eberhart and NORAD sat on their thumb in compliance with Cheney's stand-down order.

Gerard van VoorenJuly 2, 2015 12:13 AM

@ Skeptical

"Which people did AQ speak for, Gerard?"

I wonder how far Hitler would have come in todays Germany (or in the US). I think a true fanatic like he would end up speaking in parks where no-one listened. But in the early 1920's Germany people did listen because there was a lot of anger, right after WW1 and the (stupid and shortsighted) treaty of Versailles.

Which people AQ did speak for, I don't know. However, such an 'organization' could only flourish in a placed that allowed them to flourish, and of course with rich sponsors.

"Be nice and the threats will stop. That's your strategy in a nutshell."

Being nice would help, but IMO not that much. I replied to @65535 when he said "The Twin Towers are gone and the sky line of NY is changed for the worse." If you put other people in a similar situation, you will create a feeding ground for anger.

"You're taking an incredibly complex problem and reducing it to the framework we use in our personal relationships with others. Unfortunately this isn't that simple a problem."

I probably am. But I do believe that 9/11 could have been prevented if Afghanistan was rebuild after the war with the Soviets. Unfortunately we will never know because we can't rewind history.

Clive RobinsonJuly 2, 2015 4:09 AM

@ Skeptical,

There is no sense in which that statement is true.

Ahh one of your "personal" opinions I guess that unfortunatly did not make it to the edge of the nest let alone fly.

The idea of a "global conspiracy" by muslims that the US Govt put to the court and then publicaly pushed is ludicrous for several reasons. Thus the idea of AQ failed the "sniff test" that investagative journalists use.

Think about this idea of muslims from various sects getting together, they hate each other with a hate inbred from infancy, even on the "enemies enemy" theory they would not start a collaboration. Under that theory as history shows they will collaborate with the US not each other.

Secondly history shows us that terrorists that grew up together don't trust each other let alone those a town away, it's why they form cells and use peasonal contact. So the idea of halfway around the globe as the US Govt indicated is extreamly suspect, especialy as there was no know communications paths between them.

The few times terrorist groups got together was under the protective umbrella of "state sponsorship" one of the biggest offenders of which was the US Govt during the proxie wars towards the end of the cold war. And as we now know OBL just happened to have been part of the house of Saud and received CIA etc training to attack the Russians. It was through this he realised that the biggest threat to the Middle East was the cosy relationship between US politicos and neo-cons and the house of Saud. History shows that untill the invention of AQ his primary, almost sole interest was breaking the house of Saud - US link...

I'll let others go and do their own searching for historical information, several historians have and importantly produced their work in paper form and listed the "paper based" primary sources which in most cases you can get to.

Why paper records, well aside from my usuall mantra of "paper paper never data" the recent correction of the online history by a UK Sunday newspaper of the Rupert "the bare faced lier" Murdoch stable ought to give you the reason...

SkepticalJuly 3, 2015 8:33 AM


@Clive : The idea of a "global conspiracy" by muslims that the US Govt put to the court and then publicaly pushed is ludicrous for several reasons. Thus the idea of AQ failed the "sniff test" that investagative journalists use.

It's highly misleading to call AQ a "global conspiracy by muslims". AQ members account for an extraordinarily small percentage of the total population of Muslims in the world. It's like someone in 1941 describing the Nazis as a "global conspiracy of Europeans."

Think about this idea of muslims from various sects getting together, they hate each other with a hate inbred from infancy, even on the "enemies enemy" theory they would not start a collaboration.

Who said anything about "Muslims from various sects getting together"?

Secondly history shows us that terrorists that grew up together don't trust each other let alone those a town away, it's why they form cells and use peasonal contact. So the idea of halfway around the globe as the US Govt indicated is extreamly suspect, especialy as there was no know communications paths between them.

Read up on collaborations between the IRA, FARC, ETA, or between the JRA and the PFLP, or a dozen other links between various international terrorist organizations. Read some of the correspondence between al Qaeda in Iraq and AQ-Central.

And as we now know OBL just happened to have been part of the house of Saud and received CIA etc training to attack the Russians. It was through this he realised that the biggest threat to the Middle East was the cosy relationship between US politicos and neo-cons and the house of Saud.

No, the Arabs in Afghanistan were small in number for much of the 1980s - the CIA did not train Bin Laden. It had developed relationships with much larger, indigenous groups in that area.

Clive RobinsonJuly 3, 2015 4:22 PM

@ Skeptical,

I will quote the words of someone who knew (as he is now dead) far more about OBL, AQ, foreign relations in the Middle East and the goings on of the Five EYES than you appear to do,

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden's organisation would turn its attention to the west.
    Robin Cook MP, UK Foreign Secretary, 8th July 2005

Although it's not been "publicaly acknowledged" --because these things never are in the UK-- it is well known that Robin Cook's knowledge on this came through the UK IC working out of Hanslop Park. Who at one point had considerably more Intel on OBL than by far the majority of the US IC. This came about due to the usuall US IC turf wars and the fact the CIA hushed up the real status of Ahmed Shah Massoud and that many of those on their AQ "database" list had become anti-american. Unfortunatly anti-american factions in Pakistan's ISI released the information on the real status of Massoud to some of those anti-americans on the AQ list who were involved in 9/11 planning, and on 9/10 they removed Massoud with suicide bombers disguised as journalists. It was the same ISI faction that later provided OBL with protection. I'm guessing this information was not released by US news sources because of the long running fiction of the US and Pakistan being good friends, after the usual callow US behaviour to any nation that develops deployable nuclear weapons.

And by the way if you have doubts on the Pakistan anti-american sentiment go study what Pakistan's ISI encoraged "The Father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, A.Q.Khan" to do... Which was to sell the secrets of the Pakistani nuclear bomb to Iran, North Korea, and other members of the US "Axis of evil". All of which came to light from UK IC investigations that eventually resulted in the prototype equipment shiped out of Switzerland by Khan Associates and destined for Libya being intercepted.

At some point in the not to distant future the most likely outcome of the internal tensions in Pakistan between pro/anti West factions is going to be to either to cause it to explode into Kashmir in war against India or implode and become a terrorist haven as Afghanistan once was. Either way it will not be good for the West and specificaly the US, which is probably why various Western agencies are trying desperatly to support the pro faction without further strengthening or antagonizing the anti faction. However with Putin "fealing his oats" and with Russia historicaly being a friend of India, Pakistan / Kashmir / India has a high chance of becoming another "proxie" war as Afghanistan did before it. Such a war would also be benificial to China, as it would keep the US out of the South China Seas, but after Stalin and Korea in the 50's I suspect they will be very cautious and circumspect.

SkepticalJuly 4, 2015 3:13 PM


@Clive: You quote Robin Cook from an op-ed he wrote shortly before his death:

Throughout the 80s he [UBL] was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.

To put the op-ed in context, it was written in 2005; Cook's last day as Foreign Secretary was in June 2001. There is almost nothing in those sentences which is true. Even his bizarre theory as to the origin of the name "al Qaeda" is incorrect - unless you think Robin Cook knows more about the name than Bin Laden.

Every reputable researcher to have looked at this issue, including Peter Bergen (who interviewed Bin Laden) and Stephen Coll (who wrote one of the best books on CIA support of Afghan rebels in the 1980s), have found no evidence that CIA had any contact with Bin Laden or that CIA was funding Arab volunteers in Afghanistan. Apart from independent researchers, the CIA chiefs of station involved in the program have denied it, and Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have denied it.

You can however find the claim repeated ad nauseam on various conspiracy-theory sites. That's about the extent of support for it.

Look, you have to understand that there were hundreds of thousands of Afghans willing to fight against the Soviets, and who already were fighting by the time CIA became involved. By comparison, at their peak, there were perhaps a thousand or two Arab volunteers in Afghanistan, and those volunteers were funded by Bin Laden and the Saudis. The major players in the fight were the native Afghans, and the primary concerns of CIA and the USG were ethnic divisions among the Afghans and the control exerted, and choices made by, the ISI, through which US funds and supplies frequently went. Arab volunteer forces were a strategic non-factor in the overall fight, were a source of friction with the native Afghans, and would be a source of sensitivity with the Israelis. So I wouldn't expect CIA to have had any contact with Bin Laden, much less to have played any role in the formation of his forces.

It is possible, however, to view US funding/supplies as enabling factors for the creation of Bin Laden's forces, insofar as the ISI controlled where that funding/supplies was directed, and insofar as the ISI-preferred destinations were frequently Islamist groups with more ideological points in common with Bin Laden than other native Afghan groups.

As to your comments about ISI, who has any illusions? When President Clinton launched cruise missiles against an AQ complex in 1998, which were unfortunately on target hours after Bin Laden had departed, the casualties included numerous ISI personnel who were apparently at the compound as well. I doubt that discovery contributed to US-Pakistani relations.

@Gerard: But I do believe that 9/11 could have been prevented if Afghanistan was rebuild after the war with the Soviets. Unfortunately we will never know because we can't rewind history.

I suspect AQ would simply have used a different haven, perhaps somewhere in Africa.

As to rebuilding Afghanistan... a nation riven by stark ethnic divisions, stark tribal divisions, and in which other nations have undertaken strategies at odds with that? I think it would have required a commitment of money and troops, over a long period of time, that would exceed the political will of any country who could do so.

I certainly don't deny the humanitarian reasons for doing so, but as we've surely learned by now, state-building requires enormous time and resources. That's especially the case when the state in question lacks a natural unity.

Failed states, and the horrible circumstances they entail, are often difficult problems to solve without a steadfast willingness to invest enormous military, diplomatic, social, and economic resources - and over a long period of time, despite any casualties, and with a great deal of care and expertise. NGOs and nations have learned the hard way that merely shipping aid into such areas often results in either the enrichment of groups at odds with a desirable end-state and in the prolonging of suffering, or in the creation of a system that cannot be self-sustaining.

What Bin Laden missed, and what ISIS seems to be missing as well, is that while the US is generally much less willing to sacrifice American lives for the sake of nation-building, the US is willing to sustain casualties in the course of an effort to destroy a violent enemy. I'm not sure ISIS leadership realizes that a major terrorist attack on the US, undertaken on behalf of ISIS, will rapidly expedite the death of their organization.

number 6July 6, 2015 10:33 AM

The more interesting cognitive and psychological topic that doesn't seem to have been researched is in how logical thinking and reason is thrown out the window by a population while keeping that population in a state of fear.

We know when a population is subjected to terror events they stop thinking rationally and are easier to control. The question is who benefits to a greater degree from terror events (small terrorist groups or governments)? It appears the governments actually benefit to a far greater degree. Secondly, can the level of control easiness be measured? The third question and the most important: How do you inoculate a population en masse against being controlled by fear and governments gone rogue?

This is highly important and I wish someone with an appropriate background would take this project up. We know NATO and the US government have used these tactics to do just that. For example, check out Operation Gladio (NATO's Secret Armies).

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