Why isn't this day a holiday? It seems a bit more important than most of the bank holidays.
Constitution Day, Sept. 17, commemorates the date in 1787 on which the United States Constitution was approved by the state delegations to the Constitutional Convention and signed by 39 of its framers.
Two hundred and twenty-two years later, many have noted an alarming lack of knowledge about the Constitution and our system of government. A recent national survey found that more American teenagers could name The Three Stooges than could name the three branches of our government.
That kind of ignorance can hurt more than Moe poking you in the eye. If you have kids, read some of the Constitution to them, explain it's unique historical importance and how the Founders risked thier very lives to provide us with the freedoms we so often take for granted. Ask them to imagine how cruel life must seem to those who are denied the basic freedoms we enjoy and the kinds of risks these unfree people take to obtain our freedoms.
Fast facts about the Constitution.
Nickname: Bundle of Compromises
Chief Draftsmen of the U S Constitution:James Madison and Gouverneur Morris
Ratification of the U S Constitution: 1789 with the agreement of 9 out of 13 states. Eventually all 13 would ratify the US Constitution.
John P O' Neill was born on February 6, 1952, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. At an early age, he professed a desire to become an FBI agent. Staying true to his dream, O' Neill obtains a master's degree in forensics and starts out as a fingerprint clerk for the FBI. While in his first year of college, John marries his high school sweetheart, Christine O' Neill. By 1976 , O' Neill is a full fledged FBI agent.
After 15 years of experience, O' Neill is promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Chicago field office. O' Neill established the Fugitive Task Force in an effort to increase communication skills between the FBI and local agencies.
In 1995 he returned to the Nation's capital and took charge of counter-terrorism. The World Trade Center had been bombed a few years before and the man behind the attack, Ramzi Yousef, was the most wanted terrorist of the time. O'Neill continued to gather information on Islamic terrorists and was noted for his communication skills.
""In a (11/96) speech at the Explosives Detection Symposium and Aviation Security Technology Conference in New Jersey, O'Neill tells the audience that "interesting times lie ahead" and that the main terrorist threat now comes from transnational groups not backed by national governments. He also warns, "We see the intent is for a large number of casualties.""" But his style and personal frustration with officials who didn't seem receptive to the idea of a growing threat of Islamic terror may have cost O' Neill in the eyes of some.
Barry Mawn; ""Probably it would be his James Bond-type style, as opposed to the substance. The sharp elbows and being abrasive, this didn't particularly bother me. But I think it bothered some people. John liked to be viewed as the guy in charge. I had heard stories, probably before I got there, that he was "Mr. New York." He was the FBI in New York. If you needed anything or wanted anything, you had to go through John. I think he also enjoyed having the contacts, liaison, being a power broker, the Elaine's.""
O'Neill continued to warn of growing threats of terrorism, saying that modern groups are not supported by governments and that there are terrorist cells operating within the United States. He also complained that Soviet war in Afghanistan had unwittingly produced a security threat, and cautioned that the millinium had left the agency with too few resources to cover the threats.
After the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, O' Neill has the forsight to warn the agency of domestic threats and reccomends that New York be named the lead office of the investigation. Three years before 9/11, O' Neill was obsessed with Osama Bin Laden, three US embasssy's are attacked in 1998
Fran Townshend: """John completely throws himself into this. He's reading everything he can get his hands on about radical fundamentalism. So I think it was probably before World Trade Center that this issue of radical fundamentalism sort of raises itself on his scope. He's already beginning to focus on it before the first World Trade Center, and think about it and look at the implications of it.
By the time the first World Trade Center bombing happens, from things he said to me, he's already got in his mind this is a major and long-term problem for us that we are ill-equipped to deal with. Not because we lack the commitment to deal with it, but because it's a mindset he's now read, he's studied it. He really believes this is a mindset that will be so difficult to us to counter because it's so alien to us, the whole thinking of it, that he's not sure we're well prepared to deal with it. ...""
Dr Janet Parker; ""One of John O’Neill’s most important contributions to counter terrorism investigation was his wonderful ability to maintain communication with a wide range of contacts. I was, just one, of these seemingly inconsequential contacts. This extensive network of personal contacts contributed to his full understanding of the evil he faced. Through my contact with John O’Neill I gained a more fuller appreciation of the hard work and sacrifices of those who gather intelligence about terrorists.""
In July of 2001, O' Neill hears that the World Trade Center needs a new security chief and retires from the FBI, knowing full well what he was getting into;
""According to Chris Isham, O'Neill recognized the threat still posed to the World Trade Center. "When he had first gotten the job at the World Trade Center, he told me, 'I've got this great job. I'm head of security at the World Trade Center.' And I joked with him and said, 'Well, that will be an easy job. They're not going to bomb that place again.' And he said, 'Well actually -- he immediately came back and he said, 'actually they've always wanted to finish that job. I think they're going to try again.""
John P O' Neill was a visionary investigator who's dedication to the security of his fellow Americans cost him his life on September 11, 2001.
O'Neill is in his 34th floor office in the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into it. Among others, O'Neill calls Valerie James once he is outside the building. He asks her what hit the building and tells her, "Val, it's horrible. There are body parts everywhere." A few seconds later he tells her, "Okay, I'll call you in a little bit." O'Neill also sends a text message to Fran Townsend to report that he is okay.
In the minutes after the attack, O'Neill makes his way to the command center that had been set up. There he sees FBI agent Wesley Wong. Wong would tell Esquire magazine later, "He was in FBI mode. Then he turned and kind of looked at me and went toward the interior of the complex. From the time John walked away to the time the building collapsed was certainly not more than a half hour or 20 minutes." Wong is the last person to see him alive.
A week after his body is found in the debris of the South Tower, about a thousand mourners attend John O'Neill's service in Atlantic City. Barry Mawn, one of the speakers, tells the gathering that O'Neill didn't resign from the FBI because of the briefcase incident. Mawn says that he felt it was important to clear up some of the things people were saying about O'Neill's departure. "He didn't run from a fight. He didn't retire because this was a serious matter. He retired because circumstances were right and it was a good job," Mawn tells FRONTLINE.
Following the service, John O'Neill is buried in the churchyard of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, the church where he once served as an altar boy.
“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones wrote. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”
Jones said that he had “been inundated with calls - from across the political spectrum - urging me to “stay and fight.
Reeeally? Across the political spectum? Name one conservative who wants you to stay Mr Jones, just one.
“It all started with their difference in philosophy over healthcare reform,” said Senior Deputy Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident occurred about 7 p.m. Wednesday at a “We Can’t Afford to Wait Vigil” organized by affiliates of the activist group MoveOn.org, which drew supporters of President Obama’s healthcare plan, Buschow said. The rally also attracted several counter-protesters, he said.
During the rally at Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive, near the Oaks Mall, the two men got into a heated argument and began fighting.
“At which point, one man bit off the left pinky of the other,” Buschow said.
The injured demonstrator then drove himself to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center about a mile away, he said.
Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy and communications for MoveOn.org, called the incident “a regrettable act of violence” in a statement released this morning.
“While we do not have any more facts about what happened than what we saw in press accounts, MoveOn condemns violence in all forms,” Hogue said. “We support the Ventura County sheriff’s investigation into the situation. It is in our firm hope that this event does not detract from the tens of thousands who were out peacefully making their voices heard for health care reform and a public option.” Authorities said they are looking for a white male in his late 40s or 50s who was last seen wearing black shorts and a black shirt.
“We’re still trying to figure out who was the aggressor,” Buschow said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Ventura Sheriff’s Department at (805) 494-8201.
The finger-biting incident occurred after a member of the group protesting health care reform, William Rice, 65, of Newbury Park, became involved in a heated discussion with a member of Code Pink, sheriffs Capt. Ross Bonfiglio said.
After the argument, Rice returned to where his own group was standing.
A man from Moveon.orgs area then walked over to the opponents and verbally confronted Rice, allegedly calling him names and acting aggressively, Bonfiglio said.
Rice later told investigators he felt threatened by the man and punched him in the nose, Bonfiglio said.
The punch set off a fist fight between the two men, during which the tip of Rices left pinky finger was bitten off, Bonfiglio said.
I guess you could say that Rice struck first, but only after the biter went well out of his way to target him. The fact that Rice lost part of a finger indicates something very disturbing about the unknown attacker.