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Thwarting the 9/11 AttacksIn the wake of shows like Quantum Leap and movies like The...

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ms-charleston... | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:31 PM via web

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Thwarting the 9/11 Attacks

In the wake of shows like Quantum Leap and movies like The Time Traveler's Wife and Groundhog Day, I would like to know how you would thwart the 9/11 attacks.  You are brought back to the morning of 9/10 with nothing but the information you remember.

Recently, I've been trying to brainstorm as to how best to thwart these attacks.  Would I even remember the flight numbers and cities of the plane flights?  Would I try to kill the hijackers before they got on the planes?  If I managed to thwart the plane flights, wouldn't the hijackers simply try again?  Would I try to get the people OUT of the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings?  Would I try to alert the FAA?  Would I alert the White House?  The air force?  The local police?  The fire department?  Would ANY of these methods actually work?  Would I waste time trying to convince others to help me with my quest?  HOW would I get anyone to listen to me?!?  The more I think on strategy here, the more I feel powerless to stop these attacks.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 18, 2011 at 2:03 PM (Answer #2)

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You do make a really good point here about how powerless an individual would be in this sort of a situation.  I would think that on the morning of 9/10 or even 9/11, what happened that day would be so unthinkable that you would be dismissed as a lunatic.

If all you had was what you remembered, I think you'd really be unable to do anything.  There's no way you'd convince authorities to do anything so you'd have to take matters into your own hands.  Here's what I think your best change would be.  Let's say you lived close enough to get to Boston to try to stop the terrorists.  Bring a gun to the airport and shoot as many of the terrorists as you can find.  Try not to kill them.  Hope that the government would (given your claims) be able to shake the truth out of them.  With luck, the other terrorists would have heard about what you'd done and would call off the initial attack.  With luck, the government would find out enough from the ones you shot to find the other terrorists.

But that's a real thought-provoker.  It's not enough for one person to know, is it?  Enough people have to believe...

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:23 PM (Answer #3)

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Well, if I was the only one who knew, and time travel was indeed possible, I guess I would phone in bomb threats to Boston's Logan Airport, where all of the hijacked flights originated from.  (desperate times call for...) This would shut down the airport automatically as well as heighten security in general.  Then I would email a declaration of jihad on the United States with photos of the hijackers to each of the major networks, the airport, the Pentagon and the White House.  If only it were possible, the loss, pain, expense, sacrifice and national horror we could have averted.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:17 PM (Answer #4)

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Your discussion post points towards the difficulties of trying to prevent something that took everybody by surprise and was so astonishing because of its completely unexpected nature. What would you have done? Walked around outside the World Trade Centre bearing a cardboard sign with the words "The End is Nigh?" Trying to get others to believe in the truth of what was going to happen would be your biggest challenge, and you would probably only find yourself locked up, I think. Could you have raised suspicions with an anonymous e-mail? This is a very difficult question to answer...

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:34 AM (Answer #5)

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I agree with post 4 that it would be difficult to convince people since 9-11 took everyone by surprise. You might be seen as a threat yourself. You might be arrested or held for questioning if you called in the threat to a government agency. This poses another question. Would it be worth it to you to be locked up in order to try to prevent the tragedy? If the attacks succeeded and you knew about them, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to convince people that you were not a part of the plot. Of course, saving the lives of the people who were lost would certainly be a worthy task. Surely the government would take the threat seriously and try to protect its people, but would they be able to? We have so much more interagency communication because of 9-11. It would be very difficult to get the same results we might see today in a pre9-11 world.
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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 19, 2011 at 3:00 AM (Answer #6)

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I would have tried to notify authorities with as much information as I could remember, but considering government red tape and the delays in sanctioning any kind of action, I'm sure my words would have had little effect. My knowledge would probably gotten me arrested for being a part of the plan, and I would still be imprisoned, assuming I survived the multiple waterboardings and other tortures that would have been inflicted upon me.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted September 19, 2011 at 4:37 AM (Answer #7)

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If anyone was told about an attack that was going to happen in the future they would think one of two things. Either you are crazy, or you are planning an attack yourself. This would most likely end up with you locked up behind bars. When the attack actually happened the folowing day there would be fingers pointed straight in your direction. I especially liked the third post. Remaining anonymous would be the way to go here. I would do the same and I would be as specific as I possibly could in hopes that they could figure out exactly who the terrorists were.
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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 19, 2011 at 7:56 AM (Answer #8)

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I have to agree with all of the points made by the other posters. Many people would think that you were crazy or planted the bombs yourself. Now, after the attacks, life changed dramatically. People would be much more likely to believe you or take your warnings seriously.

So...let us get imaginative: As for time travel, I would become a rogue assassin and kill the people responsible. I think that would be the only way to try to insure that 9-11 would not happen. (So not me, but fun to imagine!)

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted September 20, 2011 at 1:21 AM (Answer #9)

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I'm just as stymied as everyone else by this question, because no matter what you did, it would probably not be enough, and it would probably get you arrested, or worse. I have to say I thought #3's suggestion of calling in a bomb threat to Logan airport was a stroke of genius. However I was talking this whole thing over with a friend from the Boston area, and she said the last time she flew out of Logan, while she was standing in the security line the fire alarms started to go off, and no one moved. Having worked in a school for years, my friend is used to evacuating when fire alarms go off, and she said "We really should get out of here" to her traveling companion. Her companion and others in line around them all said they had no intention of moving and losing their places in line!

That being said, I'd still give it a shot, and I'd call in bomb threats to the Trade Center and the Pentagon as well.

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM (Answer #10)

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The TV show Seven Days addressed exactly this concept in each episode. The premise was that the government got hold of a small amount of alien fuel that allowed them to send a man back in time, but only seven days. In each episode the protagonist finds himself seven days in the past, with only his knowledge of future events and with all other people, naturally, not remembering a future they haven't yet experienced.

However, he had the advantage of working for a government supergroup with all the money and gadgets he could need; more importantly, they implanted a chip in his body that they had set up years earlier, so they could independently verify his claims. After the first episode, there was no worry that they'd disbelieve him.

If sent back on the morning of 9/11, I don't think there is any real way a single person could make a significant difference. It is possible, though unlikely, that you could get a plane ticket on one of the flights -- if you remembered the number -- and do your best to thwart the hijackers from the inside. Remember, rules were more lax, and you could bring all the liquid and shoes you wanted. On the other hand, that wouldn't guarantee any sort of success. The gun method mentioned in #2 would certainly have an effect, but again, it would only take one plane out of commission -- possibly two if they took off from the same terminal (see? I can't even remember if they did.) Personally, this would be my choice. With what I know about their methods (box-cutters, no guns) and what I know about self-defense, I think I could make serious headway in the narrow aisles of a plane and at least keep them from getting into the cockpit. I might die in the process, and I might accidentally injure some of the other passengers... but you know what, they died. Injury would be preferable.

Bomb threats would be very useful, but only if you could make them believable. Just calling in a threat would not be enough back then -- now, yes, but not before. You would have to know specifics about the buildings, their structure, the people on staff and how fast authorities could arrive. You'd have to be the most trustworthy bomb threat they'd ever received, and even then, the best you could hope for is shutting one terminal down and maybe, just maybe, evacuating the Towers earlier.

With so little time to waste, spending hours on the phone might not be the best option. You could steal a taxi and ram it into the front gates of the Towers, or try to run security at the Pentagon; unlikely to cause a major evacuation, but it would get emergency help there faster, and they would be in a better position for the inevitable attacks.

#s 5 & 6 are absolutely correct; imagine phoning 911 with all the details you can remember, only to have the recorded tape used as testimony at your trial. No one would believe you were anything other than a part of the plan; even if you could convince the government that you were from the future, they'd keep you locked up forever anyway. And they'd make you invent the iPod, iPad, Kindle, Wii, and SD card for them. (Can you imagine? "I don't know, it's a little chip of plastic, the size of my thumbnail! It holds eight gigabytes of information! I know computers only hold five hundred megabytes!"

With all that said, I cannot imagine anyone in that position simply giving up and living through it all over again. I'd hope, for the sake of humanity, that the unlucky time traveler would have the nerve and the courage to stand up and be thought a lunatic or worse. To try and fail is better by far than to not try at all.

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted September 25, 2011 at 3:54 AM (Answer #11)

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The TV show Seven Days addressed exactly this concept in each episode. The premise was that the government got hold of a small amount of alien fuel that allowed them to send a man back in time, but only seven days. In each episode the protagonist finds himself seven days in the past, with only his knowledge of future events and with all other people, naturally, not remembering a future they haven't yet experienced.

However, he had the advantage of working for a government supergroup with all the money and gadgets he could need; more importantly, they implanted a chip in his body that they had set up years earlier, so they could independently verify his claims. After the first episode, there was no worry that they'd disbelieve him.

If sent back on the morning of 9/11, I don't think there is any real way a single person could make a significant difference. It is possible, though unlikely, that you could get a plane ticket on one of the flights -- if you remembered the number -- and do your best to thwart the hijackers from the inside. Remember, rules were more lax, and you could bring all the liquid and shoes you wanted. On the other hand, that wouldn't guarantee any sort of success. The gun method mentioned in #2 would certainly have an effect, but again, it would only take one plane out of commission -- possibly two if they took off from the same terminal (see? I can't even remember if they did.) Personally, this would be my choice. With what I know about their methods (box-cutters, no guns) and what I know about self-defense, I think I could make serious headway in the narrow aisles of a plane and at least keep them from getting into the cockpit. I might die in the process, and I might accidentally injure some of the other passengers... but you know what, they died. Injury would be preferable.

Bomb threats would be very useful, but only if you could make them believable. Just calling in a threat would not be enough back then -- now, yes, but not before. You would have to know specifics about the buildings, their structure, the people on staff and how fast authorities could arrive. You'd have to be the most trustworthy bomb threat they'd ever received, and even then, the best you could hope for is shutting one terminal down and maybe, just maybe, evacuating the Towers earlier.

With so little time to waste, spending hours on the phone might not be the best option. You could steal a taxi and ram it into the front gates of the Towers, or try to run security at the Pentagon; unlikely to cause a major evacuation, but it would get emergency help there faster, and they would be in a better position for the inevitable attacks.

#s 5 & 6 are absolutely correct; imagine phoning 911 with all the details you can remember, only to have the recorded tape used as testimony at your trial. No one would believe you were anything other than a part of the plan; even if you could convince the government that you were from the future, they'd keep you locked up forever anyway. And they'd make you invent the iPod, iPad, Kindle, Wii, and SD card for them. (Can you imagine? "I don't know, it's a little chip of plastic, the size of my thumbnail! It holds eight gigabytes of information! I know computers only hold five hundred megabytes!"

With all that said, I cannot imagine anyone in that position simply giving up and living through it all over again. I'd hope, for the sake of humanity, that the unlucky time traveler would have the nerve and the courage to stand up and be thought a lunatic or worse. To try and fail is better by far than to not try at all.

This says it all--what else is there to day? Ever consider Science Fiction writing? Maybe one of the surest ways would be set off an explosion with messages proliferating the area saying this is but the first with the other upcoming sites listed.

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ferdy33 | Student , Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted January 4, 2012 at 10:56 AM (Answer #12)

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