By William J. Bratton
SEPT. 11, 2001, primary election day in New York City, began as a picture-perfect day. Early that morning, I'd done a call-in interview with radio show host Don Imus, commenting on the mayoral primary and speculation that, after the election, I might return as New York City police commissioner.
Later, my wife, Rikki, and I walked down Park Avenue to vote. After casting our ballots, we headed back to our apartment. As I walked in, I saw on the TV I'd accidentally left on the now-familiar images of one of the twin towers burning. Rushing to my office, I learned that the second tower had been hit. Later, I noticed a fax from a client at the World Trade Center. He had sent it two minutes before the first plane hit. I did not learn of his survival until several days later. Unfortunately, many other friends and colleagues did not survive.
That day left me feeling helpless and propelled me back into public life. I had gone to work as a consultant, but I simply could no longer stand to be on the sidelines. I needed to get back into policing, the profession I loved and where I knew I could make a difference. And that's why I am in Los Angeles.
Upon my appointment as police chief here four years ago, I created the LAPD's counter-terrorism bureau. L.A. remains a primary target. On 9/11, I was working in the private sector — on the outside looking in. I could grieve, but I couldn't make a difference. Now maybe I can help to prevent another 9/11. I never want to feel as helpless as I did on that day.
William J. Bratton is the police chief of Los Angeles.
The Muslim leader
By Maher Hathout
THE EVENING OF SEPT. 10, 2001, I was preparing for a scheduled meeting with the president of the United States the following morning. Because our group would be the first Muslim Americans to meet with George W. Bush, I wanted my discussion points to be concise and clear, suitable for the rarity of the opportunity at hand.
After a restless night, I went to the hotel lobby in desperate search of a proper dose of caffeine. There, on many television screens, I saw the painful images of the terrorist attacks in New York that I will never forget. Needless to say, I didn't meet the president.
9/11 confirmed my decision to retire as a cardiologist. From that day on, I have worked to clear the name of my religion, done what I could to fight terrorism, lobbied to safeguard Muslim Americans' civil liberties and tried to convince law enforcement that Muslim Americans are an essential part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I have also found myself arguing the case for a Muslim theology of inclusion and life against the false one of exclusion and death. Now more than ever, I'm certain that a huge dose of spirituality must be injected in our lives to make them bearable.