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Crime of the Century

If you ask anyone you come across in your day to day travels most people will tell you that the crime of the century was the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. The crime that is considered a “crime of the century” historically varies from person to person as well as the channel that covers said crime in a historical documentary. In 20th century I have seen documentaries that call the holocaust the crime of the century, some say it was the great train robbery, others the Lufthansa heist. I don’t know what the true definition is, is it the body count, the cost, the emotional impact, the daring action or is just the thing the media hypes the most? I thought about this for a while and decided to crunch some numbers on the two events of this century that I consider potential candidates for the title.

First let’s start with 9/11, it covers all the criteria above and its impact will be felt for years to come, it truly changed the shape and direction of the world for everyone living on this planet. Sounds like a strong candidate to me, lets look at some numbers.

Number of people killed in the attack: 2,823
Estimated cost of attacks to US (property loss and insurance costs): $21 Billion
Estimated number of jobs lost in lower Manhattan as a result: 100,000
Number of jobs to be lost in the US as a result of attack: 1.8 million
Estimated number of New Yorkers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder: 422,000
(Source: Tom Templeton and Tom Lumley from The Observer, a newspaper out of the UK)

Holy shit it, sounds like we have a strong contender here. These attacks were deadly, traumatic, daring, expensive and got wall to wall news coverage. They were predicated out of fear, hate and fanaticism. They lead to a world wide feeling of compassion that has never been witnessed before in a species that rose through violence and greed to a position of power in the natural world. The world was connected as one in a way that the masterminds of the attack never could have predicted or wanted. Luckily for the terrorist, the powers that be were prepared to fight back this feeling of good will. They had a slow Texan in the white house and they were prepared to use him. This brings us to our second contender.

Enter Iraq. The leader of this oil rich country had been a thorn in the side of powerful leaders for some time. He had lots of oil and had been a good friend in the past but he just didn’t seem to understand public relations. He had made many of these powerful men look bad and they were fed up. They set up the PR campaign to end all PR campaigns, when one lie was challenged another was issued until finally they had to settle on “He’s evil”, which he was but he wasn’t the worst just the loudest and most embarrassing. Enough of my opinion lets look at some numbers.

American troops killed as of 4/18/05: 1,511
American troops wounded as of 4/18/05: 11,285
Non- US troops killed (coalition) as of 4/18/05: 176
Number of Iraqi troops killed: unknown
Estimated Iraqi civilians killed: 21,000 – 39,300
Total killed (not including Iraqi soldiers): 24,198 – 40,987
Lowest estimated US tax dollars spent: $200 Billion
Amount Halliburton overcharged: $108 Million
Amount coalition Provisional Authority can’t account for: $9 Billion
(source: Harpers Index, numbers are from 2 year anniversary of the war and have only increased )

Well I think we have a strong contender here, we have mass destruction of life and property, a huge expense and the people who had the balls to pull it off. All of this was predicated on a series of lies to fulfill an agenda we still don’t and may never understand. We even have separate thefts within the crime itself. We are defiantly looking at a strong contender for the win.

Though the invasion of Iraq wins in all the numbers does it equal 9/11 in the emotional impact category, I guess that comes down to a point of view. If you live in New York, and watched the towers come down you probably feel that 9/11’s emotional impact was greater. What if you lived in Mosul?

I started writing this to make a point in numbers that the invasion of Iraq was the true “Crime of the Century” but after writing this I don’t think the crime matters at all, it really comes down to the point of view of the victim.

May 23rd, 2005