It's remarkable to think that most Americans have now lived through two major terrorist attacks on the US Capitol: one on September 11, 2001, and the other on January 6, 2021.

One attack was planned by foreign actors overseas, but the other was incited by a former American president and his most deluded supporters at home, including in the White House and in the conservative news media, all of whom foolishly conspired with Donald Trump's bogus plot to overturn the election that he had already soundly lost.

It's obviously enraging to watch the United States attacked by a hostile foreign enemy after being inspired by a foreign dictator, but isn't it worse when it's attacked by some of our own citizens, acting on behalf of a homegrown dictator?

I was in New York on 9/11. I saw the unforgettable scale of the destruction unleashed. Later, I sat on the couches of the bereaved families as they described the grief that was coursing through them all like a storm. Each time it was over a lost loved one, taken too soon.

It's never easy to lose someone so dear to you, but to have them disappear without trace is cruel beyond words. One morning they leave the house after breakfast to go to work and you just never see them again. They vanish into thin air. They're suddenly not here, they're not anywhere. How do you cope with that?

Thousands of people had to contend with that kind of suffering in the aftermath of 9/11. I still often think about all the courage and heartbreak I witnessed sitting down to hear them go over their stories in those Irish American living rooms.

The nation was traumatized by that attack, but nowhere was this more true than in New York City itself. Life dramatically changed here in the aftermath of 9/11. Airport lines got longer and more thorough, security cameras became ubiquitous, public spaces became places of growing unease. Freedom was lost, at the cost of its own protection, so we were told.

I believe that we are still being traumatized by the violence of January 6 now too, but the threat is even more insidious because it has not yet been fully addressed.

Attacking the Capitol Building was undeniable terrorism, but this time of the white nationalist kind (instead of the kind that back in 2001 was commonly, if erroneously, referred to as Islamic extremism).

The George W. Bush administration was loudly and repeatedly warned of Osama bin Laden's “determination to attack the United States” in a series of top secret national security briefings, even a week before the 2001 attack. 

But his administration did not respond with the urgency necessary to protect American lives and the mostly Saudi attackers on the day got through all of our defenses to commit atrocities.

Now our justice department has been slow to respond to Trump's outrageous heist of some of the nation's most top secret documents and files, allowing him to abscond to his Florida golf resort, where they have languished in his personal safe and in open boxes in easily accessible rooms for almost 600 days.

What other person in America could purloin some of the nation's most sensitive and valuable secrets without an immediate visit from the FBI?

How would the average person escape a pair of handcuffs and a year of deep interrogation at an undisclosed facility had they done the same? 

Trump is now a regular citizen and he was a regular citizen when he took those secret files from the White House. What possible justification can there be for allowing him to evade the justice that would come for every other American citizen for an act like that?

Until we see justice finally done in this shocking case, where our nation's security was compromised and carried off by an unapologetic man, to do who knows what with who knows whom, we can not be sure that another terrorist attack like the ones on 9/11 and January 6 are not currently being plotted and planned by our enemies – with help perhaps from the most unlikely and damning of sources.