Sitting on my home office desk is one of my most treasured possessions. It's a silver medallion inscribed "United in Memory: September 11, 2001," with a proud American eagle on one side. On the other side, the memento depicts workers at the Pentagon saluting as they unfurl a large U.S. flag from the Pentagon rooftop.
The medal was given to me by Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77. Jihadi hijackers who exploited our joke of an immigration system crashed the plane into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, while screaming "Allahu Akbar!" I look at the keepsake every day before I write to be reminded of this nation's strength, courage and perseverance.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released video images of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the military headquarters building. The Defense Department released the images, recorded by a Pentagon security camera, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch.
I know the White House didn't intend it, but the Pentagon 9/11 video release underscores why President Bush's push for a massive "guest worker"/enforcement-later approach to border security is such a betrayal of the memory of those who died in the attacks.
When Sept. 11 hijackers Hani Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar needed help getting fraudulent government-issued photo IDs before embarking on their suicide mission, they hopped into a van and headed to the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store in Falls Church, Va. That's where scores of illegal alien day laborers ply bogus identity documents to other illegal aliens from around the world.
As I've noted many times, I visited this 7-Eleven while reporting on the national security-immigration nexus. It is a stone's throw from the Pentagon, where Hanjour and Almihdhar deliberately drove Flight 77 into the ground. The parking lot is still to this day often filled with "undocumented" day laborers whom President Bush never fails to extol for doing the jobs Americans won't do (or "aren't doing," as he now hedges). Local cops I have interviewed suspect that most of these men are here illegally and that they continue to facilitate trade in fake identification documents. But nobody arrests them. We are, as the Million Illegal Alien Marches have demonstrated, a de facto sanctuary nation.
One of the illegal aliens at that 7-Eleven was Luis Alonso Martinez-Flores, a 28-year-old Salvadoran who had been in the United States illegally since 1994. He got in the van and directed the jihadis to a DMV Express office nearby; they obtained photo IDs using bogus residential info supplied by Martinez-Flores. That info was also used on ID forms for two other hijackers.
The illegal alien earned $100. One hundred and eighty-four people paid with their lives.
Three other hijackers showed up at a different Arlington DMV the same day Hanjour and Almihdhar stopped by the 7-11 illegal alien magnet. As with many DMVs across the country, illegal aliens congregated out in the open. Victor M. Lopez-Flores, who had been previously deported after a felony conviction but returned illegally, was one of them. He and another illegal immigrant led the hijackers to an open-borders attorney's office, where they helped the terrorists fraudulently obtain Virginia ID cards.
While some states have tightened ID requirements, many others still allow illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. The Bush Treasury Department approves the use of foreign consular ID cards exclusively for illegal aliens from Mexico. Peru, the Philippines, and Guatemala are clamoring for the United States to recognize their phony ID as well. Nearly five years later, illegal alien day laborers like the ones who unwittingly assisted the 9/11 hijackers have virtually no fear of being arrested. Instead, they await their new "temporary" guest worker cards and eventual American citizenship in a land that has lost its memory. And its mind.