Archive for the ‘9/11’ Category

During the second segment of last night’s All Star Panel of Special Report, George Will made some news about Scott Walker. First, it’s important to preface Mr. Will’s information by saying he said, as he always does, that his wife works for Gov. Walker’s campaign. Second, A.B. Stoddard preceded Mr. Will’s opinions by saying she thought Gov. Walker was all but finished.

With that out of the way, Mr. Will said “Beyond that, because I’m sleeping with the campaign, I might as well give inside information. They have polls showing the following: among those in Iowa who have voted in the last caucus — these are actually people who don’t just talk to pollsters — he is ahead of Trump and with those real Republicans who’ve been to the last 2 Iowa caucuses, he’s in the lead.”

That doesn’t mean Gov. Walker will win the Iowa Caucuses. It doesn’t mean that Gov. Walker is leading outright, either. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out moments later, we don’t know if Trump will bring out a new batch of activists to the caucuses. That’s a distinct possibility, though it isn’t a certainty for Trump, either.

Still, the Iowa Caucuses aren’t like other presidential nominating events. Often times, these caucuses are held in people’s homes or at the local fire station or public school. Each of the caucus-goers has the potential to be called on to defend their upcoming vote. Theoretically speaking, if there’s a pair of caucus-goers who like Lindsey Graham, that might not meet the threshold of that precinct. That’s when those caucus-goers have the option to support another candidate.

Theoretically speaking again, if there’s a pair of caucus-goers who support Gov. Huckabee but there aren’t enough Huckabee supporters to meet the threshold, those 4 caucus-goers might support Gov. Walker. It’s possible that those 4 ‘second-choice’ supporters of Gov. Walker might tip things in Gov. Walker’s favor, helping him win the most delegates from that precinct.

That’s why it’s important to be people’s second choice if they’re supporting lower tier candidates initially. Those ‘second-choice’ voters might be the margin of victory in lots of precincts.

But I digress.

It’s quite possible that the Trump effect isn’t that big as the national polls suggest. I’m not disputing whether Trump is supported by lots of people. It’s apparent that he is. Still, national polls of adults that finally screen 350-375 likely GOP voters nationwide aren’t great predictors of electoral success. It’s one thing to show up at a Trump rally. It’s another thing to volunteer for Trump as a precinct captain, then organize call operations for Trump.

Gov. Walker’s GOTV operation knows this. They’ve been at his side for 3 elections in the last 4 years. Gov. Walker’s supporters will turn out.

That’s why I’m skeptical of Mr. Trump’s staying power.

A former supervisor of mine occasionally sends out videos or pictures to a group of friends. I’m fortunate to be part of that group. The videos and pictures are frequently about principles that this great nation was founded on. Sometimes, they’re about mocking trendy things that tear at the fabric of this great nation. This video doesn’t fit neatly into either of those categories. It fits into a category all its own:

This video fits into the category of ‘When America was great, America was good, too.’ In the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen a handful of people that I consider great Americans. Ronald Reagan sits atop that group. He isn’t alone. He’s joined by Billy Graham, Bob Hope, Red Skelton and John Wayne.

These men shared a compelling set of traits that’s in short supply these days. That set of traits are humility, modesty and a willingness to work together. It’s important to note that these heroes didn’t tolerate big egos or mean-spiritedness.

That’s why America was good when it was a great and prospering nation.

In a startling event, President Obama said that the US had eliminated Afghanistan as a source of terrorism:

In addition to his Alice-in-Wonderland declaration, President Obama said that US combat missions have finished. This is additional proof that the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. Regardless of President Obama’s sunny talk, the reality is that the terrorists have adapted. They haven’t given up the mission of creating a worldwide caliphate. They’ve just moved their training and planning bases from Afghanistan to another location.

In the days after 9/11, someone stated publicly that 9/11 was the day that terrorists had declared war on the United States. Rudy Giuliani corrected the person, saying that the terrorists had been at war with us for years, possibly decades, and that 9/11 was just the day that we joined that fight.

Similarly, the terrorists’ threat hasn’t ended just because President Obama held a press conference saying that the terrorists no longer posed a threat. The terrorists have a say in the matter, too. In fact, they’ll have a bigger say in the matter than President Obama will have.

That isn’t meant as disrespectful. It’s just that President Obama leaves office in 2 years. At that point, he won’t play the role of principle decision maker. That said, many of the terrorists will still be around 3 years from now. They’ll still have a say in the matter.

President Obama’s statements are either proof that he’s exceptionally arrogant or they’re proof that he’s buried his head in the sand on this issue. That isn’t good. We need a commander-in-chief who is tuned into reality. We need a commander-in-chief who isn’t afraid to see what he sees.

Right now, we don’t have that type of commander-in-chief.

Dianne Feinstein’s op-ed is a tortured attempt to rationalize the Democrats’ last attempt to throw mud at President Bush. It’s time to expose Sen. Feinstein’s tortured logic.

In the wake of 9/11, we were desperate to bring those responsible for the brutal attacks to justice. But even that urgency did not justify torture. The United States must be held to a higher standard than our enemies, yet some of our actions did not clear that bar.

When people’s lives are at stake, every tactic must be on the table. Protecting people’s lives must always be a higher priority than living up to an imaginary international standard for polite societies. What Sen. Feinstein and the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee just said is that protecting people is less important than living up to an imaginary international image.

Thank God the president’s oath doesn’t give him that luxury. His oath is to protect the United States. Period.

Thankfully, Ralph Peters’ op-ed sets Sen. Feinstein and the Democrats serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee straight:

As for those supposedly horrendous actions taken by CIA personnel to convince blood-encrusted terrorists that cooperation might be the wisest course, they may have been harsh, but the times and our enemies were and are immeasurably harsher. But torture? What the Islamic State and its ilk do to their captives is torture. They shrink from nothing. We shrink from the thought of a terrorist gasping for breath.

Harsh interrogation techniques don’t equal torture. Any nation that’s squeamish about making life a living hell for terrorists won’t live a peaceful existence. Democrats insist that ‘we’re better than that.’ Here’s a question for Sen. Feinstein and her fellow Democrats: What’s better than protecting American lives?

Here’s how Col. Peters took Sen. Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats to the woodshed:

Senator Feinstein and her supporters argue that the American people have a “right to know,” but they don’t know the American people. Living too long in a bubble with fellow members of the cultural elite, they have no sense of how the average American feels about terrorists who fly passenger aircraft into skyscrapers or who gleefully behead innocent captives in video clips.

Far from being mortified by water-boarding or sleep deprivation (for working Americans sleep deprivation is a normal state of affairs from holding down two jobs and multiple shifts to feed their families during the Reign of Obama), the folks I know back home in the Pennsylvania coal towns would skin terrorists alive then get out the salt shaker. My people weren’t upset by water-boarding. They were upset—infuriated—by the collapse of the Twin Towers and the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

The Pennsylvanians Col. Peters described in his op-ed are clear-thinking people living in the real world. These Pennsylvanians have their priorities straight. As I said earlier, protecting people’s lives must always be America’s highest priority. Sen. Feinstein and the other Democrats serving on the Intelligence Committee apparently think that we’re living in a peaceful world. When barbarians with a seventh century mindset attacked the United States, they gave the United States permission to be more barbaric than the terrorists were. (Think fighting fire with fire or all’s fair in love and war.)

It’s time for the Democrats to recognize that the barbarians haven’t stopped thinking barbaric thoughts. They’ve changed tactics but they’re still just as barbaric as al-Qa’ida was. That’s just the cold, hard truth.

This transcript from Sunday’s Fox News Sundays shows how Chris Wallace caught Xavier Becerra’s spin. Here’s a perfect example of that:

WALLACE: Congressman Becerra, you have been talking about the committee as a kangaroo court, your words. First of all, how do you know that before it even begins meeting? And do you really believe that all the questions about Benghazi have been answered?

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIF.: Well, what leads us to believe it could be a kangaroo court or a smokescreen from having to deal with the real issues Americans want to deal with like job creation and so forth, is that we’ve done these investigations some seven times, five of the investigations coming out of five of the House Republican committees.

Rep. Becerra’s logic is that the Select Committee on Benghazi is a kangaroo court because Republicans won’t change the subject to the topics Democrats prefer talking about. Wallace called Becerra and the Democrats out for this spin because Democrats want people to be prejudiced against the committee before the committee has met.

This exchange is telling:

WALLACE: Let me ask you a question and maybe you can answer it for me. Where was the president? And what did he do the night of the attack?

BECERRA: I believe the president was at the White House and he was in communication with some of the folks with his administration in and around time of the attacks.

Becerra insisted earlier that we knew everything we needed to know because there’d been in his words, 7 different investigations. Clearly, those investigations weren’t proficient because the best Becerra could do when asked about President Obama’s actions during the terrorist attack was say what he believed, not what he knew. That’s rather instructive. Compare Becerra’s answer with Chairman Gowdy’s reply:

WALLACE: Do you — do you know, Congressman Gowdy, where the president was and what he was doing during the seven hours of the attack?

GOWDY: No, sir, I do not. Nor do I know what communication if any he had with Secretary of State Clinton, nor can I tell you why we were still in Benghazi despite the fact that there was an escalation in violence in the months leading up, nor do I know whether or not the president called any of our allies in the region and said, can you get any assets to Benghazi? We’re under attack. I have more questions than answers despite the fact that committees of Congress have looked at this attack for 19 months now.

Chairman Gowdy’s honest response highlights the important things we still don’t know about the Obama administration’s decisions. Still, no exchange caught Rep. Becerra than this one:

WALLACE: Wait. Wait. You keep pointing to that. We didn’t find out. and they have subpoenaed all the State Department documents — excuse me, sir — they had subpoenaed all the State Department documents, and it took until last week for the administration finally to release the Ben Rhodes e-mail in which two days before Susan Rice appeared on this show, he was suggesting that she’d say that it was because of the video, not because of a policy failure.

BECERRA: You got juiced (ph). You know that that email shows nothing new. It simply — WALLACE: I don’t agree with that. I think it shows something dramatically new. It shows that despite what the White House — it shows despite what the White House has been saying for the last year and a half, it shows that inside the White House, they were telling Susan Rice what to say.

That’s what I’d call a classic slapdown. Saying that the email didn’t showing anything new is Democrat spin. Saying that the email showed “something dramatically new” is the truth. This ‘closing argument’ by Chairman Gowdy must’ve stung, too:

GOWDY: Yes, which is exactly why I said I will never and have never sent out any fund-raising literature trying to raise money in the grief and tragedy of four dead Americans. I have asked my colleagues to follow suit.

But my friends and colleague Tommy Cotton from Arkansas did a magnificent job on the House floor of pointing out the duplicity and hypocrisy of Democrats all of a sudden concluding that certain things are above politics. They raise money on Sandy Hook. They raise money on Katrina. They raise money on Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, for me, I will not raise money on Benghazi just like I never raised money using crime victims when I was a prosecutor and I’ve asked my colleagues to follow suit. But it would be helpful, it would be helpful if our colleagues on other side of the aisle did not have selective amnesia when it comes to what’s appropriate to raise money off of and what is not.

After watching that closing argument, I’m reminded of G. Gordon Liddy’s comment that he “wouldn’t fight a battle of wits with an unarmed man.” Clearly, Becerra was outmatched against Chairman Gowdy.

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Bret Baier’s interview with Tommy Vietor, the former spokesman for the NSA, is feisty but it’s more informative than feisty. Here’s a brief clip of the interview:

This sentence jumps off the page:

VIETOR: He told Tom Donnilon and his joint chiefs and his SecDef to begin moving all military assets into the region.

This is significant because of what was happening throughout northern Africa, which Andy McCarthy highlights beautifully in this article:

As we have covered here before (see, e.g., here), the release and return to Egypt of the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman (whom I prosecuted in the Nineties), has been a cause célèbre in Egypt for many years. On September 10, 2012, the day before rioting at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, an Egyptian weekly, El Fagr, reported that several jihadist organizations, including the Blind Sheik’s group (Gamaat al-Islamia, or the Islamic Group) and al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri’s group (Egyptian Islamic Jihad), were threatening to burn the American embassy in Cairo to the ground. The promised action against the embassy was an effort to extort the release of Abdel Rahman and other jihadists jailed by the United States.

Apparently, the administration didn’t take the Blind Sheikh’s son’s threat seriously. That’s apparent because, according to Mr. Vietor, more than 24 hours later, President Obama still hadn’t moved military assets into the region.

That’s incredible for multiple reasons. First, it’s the anniversary of 9/11. That alone is reason to preposition troops and put them on high alert. Second, the Blind Sheikh’s sone threatened to raid the Cairo embassy and take hostages in an attempt to free his terrorist father. Third, the riots at the Cairo Embassy happened as predicted, with the hostage-taking the only thing that didn’t happen. Fourth, the distance between Cairo and Benghazi is only 400 miles by air. A flight that distance takes less than an hour in the Navy’s and Air Force’s fastest jets.

This begs a totally new set of questions that haven’t been asked yet.

First, why didn’t President Obama and Secretary Clinton take threats seriously enough to preposition troops in the eastern Mediterranean Sea? Second, why didn’t President Obama order military assets be moved into the Mediterranean when the Cairo attacks happened as predicted? They started 4 hours before the initial attack on Benghazi. Third, why didn’t President Obama head to the Situation Room the minute the first reports of the Cairo riots happened? According to Mr. Vietor, President Obama never went to the Situation Room.

President Obama and his administration spent an entire convention bragging about what a great national security president he was. Vice President Biden said that “bin Laden is dead and Detroit is alive.” Then-Sen. Kerry said “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was 4 years ago.”

The reality is that President Obama, Secretary of Defense Panetta and Secretary Clinton didn’t position military assets in the Mediterranean. Thanks to their inaction and inattentiveness, 4 American patriots were murdered by an emboldened group of terrorists. Those terrorists still haven’t been brought to justice.

It’s time we got a real commander-in-chief who worries more about Las Vegas fundraisers than he worried about 4 American patriots who were murdered.

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Catherine Herridge’s reporting in this video is the smoking gun that the Left’s apologists say doesn’t exist:

Here’s part of Herridge’s article:

Several Al Qaeda members emerged as “leaders of the pack” in last year’s Benghazi attack, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News following release of a bipartisan report blowing apart claims the assault was the work of local extremists with no formal terrorist connections.

The former Guantanamo detainee Sufian bin Qumu, first identified by Fox’s Bret Baier as a suspect 16 months ago, at the very least helped lay the groundwork for the operation.

“Certainly Qumu was involved in planning in this…he is a member of a group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda so in my mind that makes him Al Qaeda,” said Chambliss, R-Ga.

According to the timeline that’s been put together from the House Armed Services Committee testimony, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama knew that Benghazi was a terrorist attack within fifteen minutes of the start of the attack. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report said that there were direct ties to a former Gitmo detainee who was part of al-Qa’ida’s network. That’s proof that President Obama and Hillary Clinton lied about the origin of the attack. We know this because Hillary accused an obscure filmmaker of triggering the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

This information from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report doesn’t help the administration either:

It concludes that the Benghazi attackers came from two official Al Qaeda affiliates, bin Qumu’s Ansar al-Sharia, and a fourth group, the Jamal network, whose leader is connected to the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP and the Mohammad Jamal Network participated in the September 11, 2012 attacks,” the report said.

That doesn’t leave the administration any wiggle room on whether this was a professionally coordinated terrorist attack. This information mocks the State Department’s spin that “core al-Qa’ida” wasn’t involved in planning the Benghazi assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens. People in New York, at the Pentagon and across the country don’t care whether “core al-Qa’ida” planned Stevens’ assassination. They’re just worried that Detroit is bankrupt and al-Qa’ida is alive and well in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Asia.

People are worried that the terrorists are gaining more sanctuaries where they can plan and train for their next major terrorist attack. People don’t care whether the State Department’s narrative is spin. They care about whether their families are safe. Based on what we’ve seen happening during this administration’s time in office, people have a right to be worried that another terrorist attack is right around the corner.

The Obama/Hillary/Panetta national security team has been close to worthless. They killed bin Laden, the leader of a psychotic movement. Then they let that movement grow and flourish. Al-Qa’ida in Iraq had been demolished. Their training bases in Afghanistan had been demolished. Then President Obama and Secretary Clinton abandoned Iraq to appease their nutjob anti-war supporters. Now al-Qa’ida is alive and well in north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and southwest Asia.

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Sunday St. Cloud Times includes an Our View editorial that demands Michele Bachmann prove a connection exists between the Muslim Brotherhood and Keith Ellison. The reality is that Michele Bachmann could provide boxes of documentation proving that connection and the Times wouldn’t believe it.

It isn’t that the evidence doesn’t exist. In fact, this Strib article ties Rep. Ellison to the Muslim Brotherhood:

Tax records show the group that paid Ellison’s expenses, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, received nearly $900,000 in taxpayer money in 2006 and 2007 from a rental arrangement for Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TiZA), an Inver Grove Heights charter school.

MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood:

In May 2005, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reported in The Weekly Standard that MAS is a U.S. front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, a claim supported by a September 19, 2004 Chicago Tribune story that stated: “In recent years, the U.S. Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation’s major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members.”

It took me less than 5 minutes to find that information. You can’t get more convincing than official documents filed with the State of Illinois saying that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Rep. Ellison argued that his trip was paid for by this charter school. He can’t hide behind that because they’re inextricably linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

What’s more is that Rep. Ellison is the subject of an ethics investigation as a direct result of that trip. Isn’t it amazing that Mr. Krebs trusts someone who’s the subject of an ethics investigation? The only thing more amazing is that Mr. Krebs doesn’t trust Rep. Bachmann even after terrorism experts like Andrew McCarthy and Walid Shoebat said Rep. Bachmann was justified in asking tough questions?

That’s just the beginning of Rep. Ellison’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Over the Memorial Day weekend of 2007, Keith Ellison delivered the keynote speech at a MAS-Minnesota event. At the time of Ellison’s speech, MAS-MN’s website was littered with this anti-semitic filth:

  • “The Holy Prophet (and through him the Muslims) has been reassured that he should not mind the enmity, the evil designs and the machinations of the Jews, but continue exerting his utmost to establish the Right Way in accordance with the Guidance of the Quran.”
  • “In view of the degenerate moral condition of the Jews and the Christians, the Believers have been warned not to make them their friends and confidants.”
  • “If you gain victory over the men of Jews, kill them.”
  • “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’”
  • “May Allah destroy the Jews, because they used the graves of their prophets as places of worship.”

It’s sickening to think that Rep. Ellison didn’t criticize MAS-Minnesota’s anti-semitic bigotry. Why does Mr. Krebs ignore this information about Rep. Ellison? Rep. Ellison didn’t speak out against this vile bigotry. What does that say about Rep. Ellison’s lack of character?

Shouldn’t Mr. Krebs and the Times’ insist that Rep. Ellison distance himself from this anti-semitic organization? They won’t insist on that because it isn’t the PC thing to do. Krebs and the Times will ignore Rep. Ellison’s questionable connections. We know this because they’re ignoring Rep. Ellison’s questionable connections.

Instead of questioning Rep. Ellison, they’re insisting that Rep. Bachmann is conducting a witch hunt based on conspiracy theories. It’s sad that their ideological blinders prevent them from recognizing how biased they are.

This week, I attempted to submit an LTE defending Michele Bachmann. I tried highlighting the fact that the questions Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks, Lynn Westmoreland and Tom Rooney asked were both legitimate and substantive. I used information from Andrew McCarthy’s article to show that Huma Abedin’s parents had significant ties to radical Islam, including to the Wahhabist movement that produced 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists.

Despite quoting Mr. McCarthy’s impeccable documentation for the LTE, Mr. Krebs told me that they wouldn’t publish an LTE based on “unsubstantiated allegations.” It’s insulting that Mr. Krebs would argue about “unsubstantiated allegations,” especially considering this research by Walid Shoebat. Shoebat’s research is detailed, on topic and damning. Mr. Shoebat was a “radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of Jihad” until his conversion to Christianity. Here’s what he said about the Muslim Brotherhood:

We focus on Al-Qaeda, yet the danger is not only from Al-Qaeda but also other Islamic terror groups. Our administration, however, focuses on a narrow tunnel. Let’s look at some examples: Abu Mezer, during 2007, intended to blow up a subway system. He was a member of Hamas, not Al-Qaeda. Najibullah Zazi was a member of Al-Qaeda, Shahzad belonged to the Taliban and Abu-Mezer was a member of Hamas; which one is a greater threat? All of these terrorists were influenced in one way or another by the Muslim Brotherhood, the cartel and mother umbrella of all terror organizations.

That isn’t the only thing Mr. Shoebat said that people need to hear. Here’s the other thing he said that people should know:

It is understandable that many want to get to the bottom of this story regarding Huma herself. Many even demanded that Bachmann offer a public apology to Huma Abedin. Others watch the media and listen to politicians that provide short, nondescript arguments. 

An apology by Bachmann in this case is unnecessary since we have established what is probably the most extensive research done to date on the matter; the readers can decide for themselves by examining the overwhelming evidence to see that, in reality, that it is Bachmann who is owed an apology and has a valid point to demand the vetting of Huma Abedin, the aid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann’s focus was hardly on Huma Abedin, but the infiltration of extremist Muslims into government. An issue that was completely ignored is the level of importance that should be given to vetting government employees.

Walid Shoebat didn’t mince words in saying that Rep. Bachmann asked legitimate questions. Likewise, he didn’t mince words in saying that Republicans like Sen. McCain and Speaker Boehner spoke out against Michele and her colleagues because they wanted the media’s adoration more than they worried about doing the right thing.

Mr. Krebs admitted that Rep. Bachmann “literally does not accuse her of being a terrorist. But using her as an example has the same effect.” That’s a first. Mr. Krebs is accusing Rep. Bachmann of speaking in code. That’s a joke.

Michele Bachmann says what she means and means what she says. There’s no pussyfooting around with Michele. It’s what endears her to voters. It’s what gets her in trouble from time to time, too.

The St. Cloud Times’ credibility has been hurt. It’ll take time to regain their credibility. It’ll take a change in their practices, too, starting with eliminating Mr. Krebs’ bias.

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During Monday night’s debate, Ron Paul was asked a foreign policy question about the Middle East. Paraphrasing him, he said that “America is bombing all these countries. Is it any wonder why they’re attacking us?”

There’s just one problem with Paul’s theory: it isn’t accurate. 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, as was Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden’s second in command at the time was Ayman al-Zawahiri. al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian national.

Call me crazy but I don’t recall the United States or its allies bombing either Saudi Arabia or Egypt recently.

The reality is that Ron Paul’s foreign policy isn’t based on reality. It’s based on unicorns and pixie dust.

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Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of participating in a magnificent celebration of America’s resilience. I was privileged to attend a 9/11 fundraiser for a great organization called Building Homes for Heroes. The fundraiser’s chief sponsors were John and AJ Kern, Henry Gruber and KNSI.
First, the story behind Building Homes for Heroes, like most aspects of the organization, is an inspirational story:

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Andy joined thousands of New Yorkers who volunteered in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center site. While it turns out that this event was one of the underlying reasons for the formation of Building Homes for Heroes, it wasn’t until a few years down the line that the idea of helping severely wounded men and women of the United States Military became his passion. After a couple years of volunteering and contributing to a similar group, Andy decided to form his own charitable organization, Building Homes for Heroes.

Like many stories about that day, the backstory to Andy’s story is awe-inspiring. After volunteering in the rescue effort at Ground Zero, Andy was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors think it’s a direct result of the toxic fumes at Ground Zero. Thankfully, Andy’s cancer is in remission. Andy says that he’ll keep working to build homes for America’s heroes until he draws his last breath.

Staff Sergeant William Castillo also spoke at the event. Here’s an abridged version of Sgt. Castillo’s story:

In 2007, while on a mission to rescue Marines who were under attack, Army SSG Castillo’s vehicle was struck by an IED. Despite head trauma and numbing throughout his body, he courageously continued to fight. While under heavy enemy fire, he fought his way back to the vehicle in an attempt to save fellow soldiers.

During the battle, SSG Castillo was shot five times; twice in the chest, once on the top of his head and once in the right leg. Still struggling to get back to the Humvee, he was struck again. This round struck him under the chin and exited out his mouth. As he reached the driver of the burning vehicle, an RPG struck the Humvee and severed his left leg above the knee. William was the only survivor.

For his courage and bravery, he was awarded The Purple Heart. Castillo has dedicated himself to help other wounded soldiers. William and his wife Katherine have four children. The Castillo family will be the recipient of a home provided by Building Homes for Heroes.

Here’s a picture of SSG Castillo with Rep. King Banaian:

Another impressive aspect of Building Homes for Heroes is their commitment to transparency and honor. Here’s a brief review of their financials:
Andy Pujol, founder and president of Building Homes for Heroes, doesn’t take a salary. In 2011, 94 cents of each dollar that comes in will go to building homes or retrofitting homes for these heroes. Just 2 cents of each dollar goes to fundraising expenses, with another 4 cents going for management and general expenses.

This event wouldn’t have happened without the work of John and AJ Kern, pictured here:

I can attest to the fact that John and AJ worked tirelessly to make the event a success. And what a success it was. A major tip of the hat for John and AJ for pulling this all together and introducing us to heroes like Andy Pujol and Staff Sergeant Castillo.

The last of the guest speakers was Rep. King Banaian, who did a great job of putting things in perspective. Here’s a picture of Rep. Banaian giving his presentation:

I won’t forget where I was when the terrorist attacks were first reported. Thanks to Andy Pujol, SSG Castillo and John and AJ Kern, I won’t forget how I commemorated the 10th anniversary of the terrorists’ attacks.

Thanks to Andy Pujol’s labor of love and SSG Castillo’s sacrifice, the dark cloud of 9/11 has its silver lining.

For that, I will always be grateful.

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