The Zazi terror investigation keeps Mike Littwin awake

Najibullah Zazi, the Aurora man at the center of an investigation into an alleged terror plot, may have to start using the local FBI headquarters as his permanent address. He's scheduled to begin a third day of questioning there today, meaning, presumably, that someone else will be manning the shuttle he usually drives to DIA. Local TV stations have been following each development in the story closely -- note this Channel 9 report about the feds checking at local pool supply stores about big chemical purchases -- even as the Denver Post's Mike Littwin argues in his latest column that the current focus on Zazi is frightening whether he's guilty or not. Such opinions are sure to stir the ire of commenters, and one who calls himself Patrick M. took particular umbrage to Littwin's implication that Americans are still trying to figure out how to deal with memories of 9/11 -- and Littwin responded, prompting the type of cranky back-and-forth that sheds more light on this type of story than countless live shots from the parking lot of Zazi's apartment complex, perhaps because it took place between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. At one point, Patrick M. asks Littwin, "Why are you awake at this hour?" -- a good question, albeit one he doesn't pose to himself. Read the exchange below:

Mr. Littwin, when you say "we're still not sure how to deal with either the memory or the reality of that day," who is "we"? Are you suggesting you speak for America and happen to know "we" don't know how to deal with the memory or reality of 9-11? What percentage of Americans have you learned don't know how to deal with the memory or reality of 9-11 and how did you arrive at that figure? I have never met a single American who told me or otherwise made it clear that they don't know how to deal with the memory or reality of 9-11. Not one. Please explain.

Patrick M 1:38 AM on Friday Sep 18

Patrick M,

Gosh, I don't understand your anger. I think it's pretty clear that there is a split in this country in how to react to 9/11, as clear as, say, the difference in thinking between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama. There are different views as to the causes of terrorism, on whether even to call the "war on terror" the "war on terror." There are different views on what some call the clash of civilizations. There are different views on preemptive war. There are certainly different views on how America should approach the post-9/11 Islamic world. There are different views on civil liberties vs. security in the aftermath of 9/11. I could go on and on.

Mike Littwin

mike l 2:30 AM on Friday Sep 18

Mr. Littwin, who told you I am angry? I am not. I simply asked questions of you, all of which you refused to answer. Why is that? I did not ask you about the causes of terrorism, the differences between Obama and Cheney, whether you think we should use the term "war on terror", the clashes of civilizations, preemptive war, etc. You used an old trick called misdirected emphasis to avoid answering my questions directly and honestly. Again, why?

More importantly, why are you awake at this hour?

I agree with you that there is a big difference between Pres. Obama and former VP Cheney. For example, Cheney never belonged to a racist hate group so far as I am aware, he never referred to a black woman as a "typical black woman" (but Obama called his white grandmother a "typical white woman" when describing in his book how she feared all people of a different skin color), Cheney's mentors were not Marxists (Davis [read Obama's book], Alinsky and Ayers), etc. I could go on and on.


Excellent use of the word "gosh", though. I haven't heard that in decades and appreciate you bringing it out and dusting it off.

You owe me nothing, but I suspect many of your readers would have more respect for you if you simply answered my easy questions directly. Give it a shot. I think you will find moral courage liberating.

Patrick M 3:04 AM on Friday Sep 18

Patrick M,

Your questions were, of course, not meant to be answered: (What percentage of people, etc . . .). What you were questioning was my premise that we're still not sure how to deal with the memory or the reality of 9/11, arguing that everyone you know seems to agree. I answered, I thought, directly, showing the many ways in which we disagree on the proper response to that day. I don't see how I could be any more clear.

I do find it funny that you accuse a columnist whom most -- I believe -- find to be, for better or worse, brave enough to post his opinions on a wide variety of topics. I guess it's possible that a person who routinely takes on powerful politicians feels trepidation in having a conversation with an anonymous poster.

Mike Littwin

mike l 3:37 AM on Friday Sep 18

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts