From Barack Obama’s blog today (emphasis mine):

Today, we honor the memory of the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, and grieve with the families and friends who lost someone they loved in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget those who died. We will always remember the extraordinary efforts of our firefighters, police and emergency responders, and those who sacrificed their own lives on Flight 93 to protect their fellow Americans. And we give thanks for the Americans defending us every day in our communities at home, and in our military abroad.

On 9/11, Americans across our great country came together to stand with the families of the victims, to donate blood, to give to charity, and to say a prayer for our country. Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose. Let us remember that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 are still at large, and must be brought to justice. Let us resolve to defeat terrorist networks, defend the American homeland, stand up for the enduring American values that we cherish, and seek a new birth of freedom at home and around the world.

On Sept 11, 2001, I joined the rest of everyone working downtown in DC in running as fast as I could away from any large monuments that a giant plane might fly into. I was one of the first to leave my office after receiving scary instant messages from friends and colleagues from different parts of the city – news that was more current than what we were seeing on the tiny office tv. When I got out onto the street, it was obvious something was not right. M Street was spookily silent. There were no taxicabs on M Street headed to Georgetown. Many of the cabbies in DC listen to NPR and other news/talk radio all day long. They are probably some of the best informed people in town minute-to-minute. Furthermore, there are always cabs in DC even on Christmas and when it’s snowing. If the city’s cabdrivers saw what was happening as not an opportunity to pick up lots of fares but an emergency that suggested they be the first to hightail it out of town back home to their families, thus dodging the hours-long traffic jams to come, I knew we were all in big trouble.

The day went downhill from there as I walked several miles on foot home past buildings that were being evacuated by the Secret Service etc. It was a just a big ol’ mess and terrifying. It was obvious that our nation’s capital was sorely lacking in emergency preparedness — ah…and I’m being euphemistic. All that week, it was tough to sleep because of the fighter jets flying over the city all night. On the way to work each morning, commuters walked and drove through streets and parks filled with humvees, tanks and soldiers for weeks.

What’s shocking is what changed in DC after 9/11 — and what didn’t. What changed was that 9/11 combined with the sniper and anthrax attacks left the city gripped in a permanent, white-knuckle state of fear and tension that persists today. What changed was that we went to war but not with the people who attacked us. What changed was that the Constitution and the Geneva Convention were suddenly “old-fashioned” and irrelevant.

What didn’t change was the administration’s opportunism, cynicism, greed & hypocrisy in staging security theater that kept people distracted, busy and fearful while actual security conditions on the ground and in the air changed little in America. Because one guy tried — unsuccessfully — to blow up his shoe 7 years ago, now all Americans are treated like suspects and forced through a humiliating and unnecessary security gauntlet at the airport that involves partial public undressing including our shoes. I mean, after going through this, do you ever feel safer? Does it make you feel safer knowing that flight cockpit doors are now re-inforced yet large shipments of toxic chemicals still go by train right through the center of DC. Residents of DC, do you feel safer seeing the large LCD screens on the highway each morning and each night that urge you in bright lights and big letters to “Report Suspicious Activity” while large cargo shipments by plane and ship still remain largely uninspected and we still endure regular scares of contaminated fruits and vegetables?

What hasn’t changed are that the people who attacked my home — a city that I left last year in part because I just couldn’t live my life in fear any longer — are still free to attack us again. Osama bin Laden and his friends appear to be living large over in Pakistan and occasionally send us warm, fuzzy, “wish you was here so we could kill you!” postcards in the form of threatening videos and audio recordings that mock America’s  will.

The Taliban — Al Qaeda’s supporters — are resurgent and like Osama bin Laden’s friends — remain a dangerous and influential force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are no safer today than we were seven long years ago. Meanwhile, our economy and the health of our financial system is in peril due to a ballooning deficit spent not to benefit Americans for issues that matter to them such as energy independence, infrastructure, conservation, education or healthcare. No, it was spent on a war that ultimately went to enrich a few of Bush and Cheney’s friends while killing or displacing many more people than were originally impacted on Sept 11 here in the United States.

We need new vision in the United States like nobody’s business. My fervent hope is that more Americans than not will choose Barack Obama in November over a man who can’t get his priorities straight and thinks we continue occupying Iraq for 100 years rather than acting in the true interests of the American homeland. McCain would just mean more of the same. And we can’t afford that approach any longer.

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