Monday, June 13, 2011

The Fight on Terrorism is Destroying Our Freedom

By Lonerangersilver
The word terrorism has taken a new meaning for Americans and as horrible as the events were on September 11, 2001, we are yet to be as besieged as some other countries. Our way of life has changed dramatically since that day giving away many of our personal liberties. We are not the first country to be hit by terrorism and yet our government has taken it upon itself to change our way of life. We are losing our privacy, freedom of expression, a free press, entering wars without the mandatory declaration of war by congress and spending trillions of dollars interfering with other governments affairs all over the world. We have become the largest debtor country in the history of mankind and all in the name of terrorism. The government and its propaganda machine instills in us the fear of terrorism and uses it as an excuse for these expensive adventures killing thousands of innocent people. If someone told me 20 years ago that someday ordinary people would be personally searched as criminals at the nation’s airports, I would probably say, “Nuts.”

In my travels, I have come across acts of terrorism in Spain from the separatists movement ETA who target Madrid and other cities, in Spain and France. These terrorists target soldiers and policemen by blowing up bombs near any group of soldiers.
In 1986, I was visiting Madrid on business and was staying at a hotel on the Paseo de la Castellana, the largest and most beautiful of Madrid’s great avenues. I was having breakfast in the hotel’s dining room and afterwards I read one of the local newspapers accompanied by some of the strong Spanish coffee. Suddenly, we heard a tremendous explosion that I hadn’t heard since my days as an artillery gunner in the U.S. Army. It was a prolonged series of explosions. I found myself standing among the sprawled bodies of the other guests. Having spent so many years in Mexico City, I am more accustomed to earthquakes during which one stands looking for falling debris. The Spaniards who have become accustomed to car bombs hit the ground when they hear an explosion.

The explosions sounded very close and having knowledge of the restaurant business, I know that most cooks keep radios in the kitchens. I asked one of the waiters to bring a radio from the kitchen and without arguing he went to the kitchen and returned with the radio. He placed it on the counter and the guests and workers gathered around the radio. Soon we started hearing reports of the explosions.

The announcer said that several rockets had been fired at the walls of the Ministry of Defense Building. Someone said, “It is only two blocks away on Paseo de la Castellana.” I took my briefcase and ran to where a large crowd had already gathered. I found room to stand in what appeared to be a circle of around one thousand people. The street had 6 lanes on each side so that the intersection was very wide. There was a small street, which ended at the intersection and the end of the street faced the massive military building.
In the middle of the narrow street a small convertible car was parked. The car had 12 pieces of PCV pipe bundled with rope and were aimed at the building. These innocent looking PCV tubes were used to launch 12 rockets. Most of them hit the granite walls doing little damage. However, one of them went through a window killing an army General in one of the offices. Another rocket hit an empty bus passing by and killing the driver. Another hit one of the trees that line the large avenue.
There were soldiers, police, police detectives, firemen, rescue vehicles and like I said before, over one thousand onlookers. The middle of the circle was empty except for the authorities; I was standing on some muddy ground since the plants had been watered earlier that morning. I could clearly see the car that was used, which was on the opposite side of the circle from where I was standing.
I saw some men in suits approach the car to investigate and when one of them touched it, a booby trap bomb went off sending the car up in the sky. The force of the blast reached me first feeling like a strong puff of wind, then the sound of the explosion and by the time I hit the ground I could feel the vibration in my chest. I was wearing a suit, white shirt and tie and it didn’t matter that I was lying in the mud. I looked up and saw everyone lying on the ground. I couldn’t tell who was dead, who was hurt or who were just like me, scared to death.

 The car or what was left of it, was back in the same spot it had been before the explosion. I got up and ran out of there as fast as I could, jumping over bodies. I didn’t wait to see the massacre and I swore I would never go look at another terrorist act. I found a taxi on the next block that took me to the office where I had my first meeting of the morning. I was a mess and the people I went to see had already heard of the attack. They wanted me to tell them my account of what had happened. My voice and hands were still shaking and judging by the way I looked, muddy and ragged; I think I sounded very convincing. Later, I heard on the news that some police and onlookers that were standing near the car had been killed or hurt.
A few years later, I returned to live in Madrid where I heard and read of several terrorist attacks. I developed a mindset about acts of terrorism and avoided being near groups of soldiers or policemen. I returned to live in the U.S. for a few years only to return to live another three years in Madrid. On my first day, I drove to my new office in a new company car, following a route that I had mapped out. I was not familiar with that part of town. The traffic on the street I was on came to a dead halt just before crossing a bridge over the Paseo de la Castellana Avenue. I got out of the car and walked past a few cars in front of me until someone told me that a car bomb had just gone off on the bridge and had killed and wounded several soldiers in an army truck, traveling during the rush hour traffic. The driver in front of me was saying that we had missed the explosion by seconds.

Somehow I managed to drive over a sidewalk and took a side street. I arrived at my office shaken up. I kept thinking how close I had come to that one and that my angel was watching over me. For the remainder of the three years, I learned to develop a sixth sense. I looked for possible dangerous sites such as walking by a police station or a group of soldiers, just in case, I walked the other way.  However, Spaniards didn’t change their way of life and the government didn’t restrict personal liberty as it has happened in the US. Terrorism from ETA has greatly subsided since then and Spaniards go about their business without their government taking away their freedoms.