memories of 9/11

today is a good day to look back and reflect. 9/11 seems like a long time ago to me … much more than five years. yet it also seems like yesterday.

a few days after 9/11, i had an odd and somewhat humorous experience … i was visited by the FBI. the agent was extremely professional and curteous and i’m glad we have people like him helping our country.

back in october 2001 when i was still doing Summation push-style (in an old-school email newsletter), i sent out this summary of my one and only FBI encounter [see original here]:

MY VISIT FROM THE FBI (published October 1, 2001)

On Friday, September 15, just three days after the horrible terrorist attacks, I got an e-mail from my roommate.

“Subject: You had a visitor.”

“A FBI agent just stopped by the house and would like to talk with you. He said he was following up a lead where your name was referenced. I don’t think it is a big deal – he was alone and not super pressed to talk with you.”

“I have his card. His name is XXXX XXXX. His phone number is ####. He will need to talk with you face to face and said he would meet you anywhere in the city.”

I got the e-mail at 2:47 pm and wanting to help in any way I could, I immediately called the FBI agent and left a message. By 3:30 pm he was in my office interviewing me.

He flashed a badge. I’ve never seen an FBI badge before, but this one looked legitimate. He gave me his card. His title: “Special Agent.” He took a seat on my couch. I sat back in my chair.

My first inclination was that this was about one of the many security references I’ve done for former employees of mine that went on to work in sensitive areas of the government. The FBI does background checks on anyone who gets an offer for a sensitive job. Was my friend who used to work for the NSA in trouble? Unlikely. What about the quiet woman who now works for the Justice Department? Who could it be?

Then he pulled out a copy of an e-mail I sent on Sunday, September 9, just two days before the horrible attack. The e-mail was an advanced copy of a future Summation article (will be in next month’s Summation) comparing the Israeli terrorist situation to a fictional scenario in America.

Also, you might remember in the last issue of Summation (see letters below) I wrote a column entitled “U.S. Homeland Security Agency is Unavoidable” (see I wrote this column in July and wrote the paragraph:

“The occurrence of a major terrorist act on U.S. soil within the next ten years is almost a certainty. I’m not just talking about the bombing of the Twin Towers. I’m talking about something more serious, something that would result in the killing of thousands of people, is inevitable. This is the dangerous world we live in.”

I have never been more sad that one of my predictions came true. Of course, my ten year time horizon was far too optimistic. Turns out it was more like 10 weeks.

Read the last Summation — my thoughts which were released just eight weeks before the event seem like they were written today. I guess that’s why I was visited by the FBI Special Agent.

Agent: “Did you have any prior knowledge to Tuesday’s actions?”

Auren: “Absolutely not.”

Agent: “Do you know or have any connection to Osama bin Laden?”

Auren: “No. I’m Jewish.”

Agent: “Do you have a criminal record?”

Auren: “I don’t think so.”

Agent: “Correct — I checked your criminal record. You don’t have a record.”

The interview only lasted 20 minutes and the agent was only following-up on a lead. Normally I’d be mad at someone taking time out of my day to interview me. But I understand he had to interview me that Friday. I’m glad he did — we should follow-up on every lead possible.

I hope we never have a day like September 11th again. Unfortunately, I know another day of terror is going to be extremely difficult to prevent.

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