9/11 SYNTHETIC TERRORISM MADE IN USA
With the publication of the Report of the Commission to Investigate Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (also known as the Kean-Hamilton Commission after its chairman and vice- chairman), the pattern of coverup and incompetence on the part of the officially constituted investigative agencies of the United States Government is complete. Since September 11, 2001, no part of the United States Government has offered a convincing, coherent, complete explanation of the events of that day, and of other events related to them. Indeed, no US government agency has ever so much as proposed to prove the truth of the official account, even in the way that the Warren Commission attempted to demonstrate the veracity of its version of the Kennedy assassination.
The Kean-Hamilton Commission called no hostile witnesses, no skeptics, no devil’s advocates. It ignored a growing number of book-length studies which have appeared in English, French, German, and other languages around the world. It never invited to its plenum FBI whistle-blowers like Colleen Rowley (who shared Time Magazine’s Person of the Year honors at the end of 2002), nor did it call FBI agent Kenneth Williams, the author of the famous Phoenix memo, to testify in its plenary meetings. The Commission was, by contrast, happy to invite the obsessive anti-Iraq ideologue Laurie Mylroie, a fanatic so notorious that she is dismissed with contempt as “totally discredited” even by Richard Clarke in his book, Against All Enemies. (Clarke 232) As we will show at various points in this study, the Kean-Hamilton Commission represents a cynical and meticulously orchestrated exercise in coverup and obfuscation. The net overall result of the Kean-Hamilton Commission has been to obscure even those few relevant facts which had become well established in the mainstream media prior to its inception.
Before the Kean-Hamilton Commission, the chronology of events regarding the interplay among the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA), the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and other government agencies had been fairly well established by the 9/11 truth movement. The deliberately doctored chronologies offered by the Kean-Hamilton staff have turned that clear picture into chaos. Before the Kean- Hamilton operation went to work, there was an important debate about whether phone calls received at the White House on the morning of September 11 had indicated that unauthorized persons were in possession of top-secret US government code words. The Kean-Hamilton Commission has now assured us that this crucial incident in effect never happened. Before Kean-Hamilton, Congressional Committees and the National Institute of Standards and Technology had been forced to grapple in public with the blatant anomalies of three modern steel skyscrapers collapsing on the same day as the result of fire – something that has happened on no other day of world history. For the Kean- Hamilton Commission, this problem simply does not exist – it has disappeared from the official narrative. No account has been taken of critical or skeptical commentaries, even when these have been the centerpieces of books which have reached the top of the best- seller charts in important countries like France, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, or have been telecast in prime time in these same places. The demands of the bereaved families of 9/11 have been ignored – even though it was because of the persistent lobbying of these families that the Kean-Hamilton Commission ever came into being in the first place. A cruel hoax has been practiced on these families, and those who thought that an attempt to cooperate in good faith with the Kean-Hamilton Commission to guide it toward the truth have received a bitter disappointment. The Kean-Hamilton Commission in short has shown no decent respect for the opinions of mankind, and has submitted no important facts to a candid world.
The Kean-Hamilton Commission has turned out to be nothing more than a colossal exercise in begging the question. Everything that was controversial, everything that was dubious in the eyes of billions around the world has been simply assumed to be true and posited as the starting point for the entire inquiry. As a fallacy this has been around since the medieval schoolmen, who called it petitio principii. In the hands of the Kean- Hamilton Commission, begging the question is meant to work as an arrogant, bureaucratic act of superior power. Believe this, said the Inquisition, or be damned. Believe this, says the Kean-Hamilton Commission, or be vilified as a paranoid obsessed with conspiracies. Thus, when the 9/11 commission was created, it formed nine investigative teams. The first of these was entitled: “Al Qaeda and the Organization of the 9/11 Attack.” That is a clear case of rush to judgment and jumping to conclusions, since such a finding should be the end result of an inquiry, and not its starting point.
For the Kean-Hamilton Commission is not a contribution to scholarly debate. It is just as much a part of the US government’s assault on the world as an F-16 bombing Fallujah. For the Kean- Hamilton Commission is an act of ideological terrorism worthy of Senator Joe McCarthy. Behind it stands the taboo proclaimed by the figurehead of the regime:
We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th, malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty. (UN General Assembly, November 10, 2001)
It is a point of view at variance with the best moments in American history, as we intend to show. But no amount of bureaucratic arrogance has been able to paper over the manifold absurdities, the contradictions, the impossibilities, the outrageous flaws that infest the official version of the 9/11 events. The Kean-Hamilton Commission simply has no answer for questions about how the alleged hijackers were identified, how they were able to operate, why WTC Building 7 collapsed, why air defense was non-existent, what hit the Pentagon, what happened over Shanksville, what happened to the insider trading, and many more. For any serious, intelligent person – and there are many – the Kean- Hamilton pastiche can only be rejected.
The failure of the Kean-Hamilton Commission leaves the world with the imbecilic myth: the four airliners were hijacked by nineteen Arabs, from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Kuwait. Their squad leaders were Atta, Shehhi, Hanjour, and Jarrah. Their “mastermind” was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Their rear echelon was Ramzi Binalshib. Their guru was Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist pope who lives in a cave. From his distant grotto in the mountains of Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden, the diabolical genius of the twenty-first century, directed the worldwide network that attacked the United States.
At a deeper level, closer to the heart of the matter, the Kean-Hamilton has failed to indict the real September criminals. It leaves untouched the network of moles in the US government without whose efforts, both in preparation and in coverup, the events of 9/11 could never have happened. It has not identified the clandestine command center which directed the operation. It has taken not one step towards locating the technocrats of death who actually had the physical and technical capability to make these events happen, in contrast to the supermarket-caliber terrorists who are supposed to have caused them. All of these networks remain in place, and remain anxious to avoid detection. The September criminals and their project, the clash of civilizations in the form of a new Thirty Years War, remain at large, their desperation magnified, but their power undiminished. Think of this when you hear the strident clatter of the Bush regime as it warns the public that a new wave of terror attacks, quite possibly using weapons of mass destruction of the atomic, bacteriological and chemical varieties, is inevitable before the November 2004 elections. The government has failed us, and the Kean-Hamilton Commission has failed us, before, during and after 9/11. The September criminals remain in place, with every intention of striking again, then to take cover behind the shield of martial law.
We are opposed to terrorism. We seek to prevent a new wave of terrorism. We want to identify the September criminals and bring them to justice, because no one has laid a glove on them so far. We have no illusions about the psychotic Arab patsies whose antics are being used to cover up what was in reality a coup d’etat made in the USA, a coup d’etat not against Bush but in favor of a specific policy, that of the clash of civilizations. We condemn terrorism because terrorism is the means used by oligarchs to wage secret war against the people. But the terrorism we fight is the real terrorism of the real world, not the idiotic distortions dished up by the regime and the media.
The official 9/11 account has by now taken on all the characteristics of a myth. In the minds of many, credulousness in regard to the myth has taken on the overtones of religious sanctity. It has taken root deeply in the dark places of the American mind. The myth is a sensitive subject, hedged round with powerful reaction formations and fearful taboos. Challenge these and the subject will often respond with irrational anger and indignation. Nevertheless, the fact remains: the official version has never been proved. It is an unproven assertion, and in the end a myth. Attempts to base an entire world order on unproven assertions and lies did not fare well in the twentieth century: the war guilt clause of the Versailles Treaty of 1919, which assigned exclusive responsibility for the war to Germany and her allies, while completely exonerating the Allies, was intended as a means to extort some 55 billion gold dollars in reparations. But it turned out to be the key to Hitler’s successful demagogy, and generally one of the main causes for fascism, Nazism, and World War II. Let us not build our political house on unproven assertions. Indeed, we should recall that it was the Nazis themselves who avidly embraced myth as the basis for politics: the official chief ideologist of the Nazi movement was Alfred Rosenberg, and his famous work was The Myth of the Twentieth Century. The story of Osama in the distant cave is already the myth of the twenty-first century.
Because of the events of 9/11, the regime proclaims, the world as we knew it has disappeared. We are confronted with a new world of preventive and pre-emptive war, of first use of nuclear weapons, of unilateral aggression, of barbarian racism and hatred, of the glorification of violence and killing, of force and the threat of force. Yet before we go willingly into this monstrous new world, it is our right to demand that the events of 9/11 – precisely because they are said to have caused all this – be more thoroughly examined. Before we accept the neocon death warrant for civilization, culture, and every human value, we demand the right of an appeal to the court of reason.
That project will be undertaken in this book. We will draw on the extensive research completed by the 9/11 truth movement during the time since that catastrophic day. Specific indebtedness and especially meritorious works will be acknowledged in the text, or in the footnotes. Participants in the 9/11 truth movement have almost always been private citizens, more or less isolated, more or less bereft of means, but nevertheless determined to seek the truth. The researchers, writers, scientists, historians, websites, and activists of the 9/11 truth movement have upheld the values of universal intellect – la république des lettres – as these were spurned by the mass media, the US government, and most academics. They have produced what can now be seen as a coherent body of work which is readily accessible to anyone who wants to learn. This field is no more free from aberrant theories, petty squabbles, and crank positions than any other, and not everything can be taken for pure gold, but the difference between this honest research and the corrupt, controlled corporate media and official pronouncements is as day and night. The 9/11 truth movement is a work in progress which has already accomplished much, and which now awaits wider discussion and the further refinement which that greater exposure will undoubtedly bring.
We urge you to grapple with the issues presented in this book. This is important because of the imminent threat of new terrorist attacks, organized in large part by the original September criminals. It is important also because this is a time of aggravated world economic, political, and strategic crisis, wars, depression, and breakdown crisis, as we will have occasion briefly to show as part of our explanation of why the 9/11 attacks happened. We must also be aware of the underlying long waves of American history. As we will outline towards the end of this book, the 2004 election has completed a fateful cycle of that history – the pattern of party re-alignment which has recurred every 36 or so years since the ratification of the federal Constitution, taking place in 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932, and 1968. We are due for a profound shakeup in the party structure and the basic pattern of political life in this country. The reason for sending this book into the world is this: if the 9/11 myth can be dismantled, discredited, and denounced before the masses, there is hope that the party re-alignment may unfold in a progressive direction, perhaps with the collapse of the Republican Party, perhaps with the split of the Democratic Party into factions representing roughly the views of Senator Lieberman and those of Senator Kennedy. Under these conditions, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan can be terminated, and new aggressions warded off. The neocons can be brought to justice. International monetary reform, world reconstruction and economic development, vast projects of infrastructure can be addressed. But if the 9/11 myth is allowed to stand intact as the basis for US national life, the current regime, and the Republican and Democratic Parties, then there is every reason to fear that the likely party re-alignment will represent the transition to fascism in some form whose outlines we can already see.
The dominant oligarchies of the United States and several other countries committed a serious error when they decided to accept the crude conspiracy theory peddled by the Bush regime concerning 9/11. This was a matter where a careful and judicious ruling class would have exercised more restraint, and kept more options open. The wholesale endorsement of the official 9/11 myth by the controlled corporate news media, by the two major political parties, and by large parts of academia has created a situation in which the 9/11 myth is now the indispensable basis of large sectors of American life. Many institutions have in effect wedded their entire credibility to the myth. This was very unwise. We cannot be entirely certain that the truth about 9/11 will ever become generally accepted by the masses, but if such revelations should ever occur, they will now destroy far more than the 9/11 myth. The dismantling of the myth in favor of an account at least closer to reality will have the most profound institutional implications. The Republican Party, because it has presided over the institutionalization and exploitation of the myth, would tend toward extinction. The contradictions inside the Democratic Party would explode. Many careers would go by the boards. Because the entire society is so heavily invested in the myth, the entire social order would be called into question. Even the prevalent property relations, at least in regard to media, defense industries, oil and some other sectors, would inevitably be called into question. The current status of the 9/11 myth as the substratum of so many hegemonic institutions helps to explain the absolute hysteria of the ruling elite whenever substantive critiques of the myth arise, as they must ever tend to do.
Everything depends on intellectual activists like you. The 9/11 myth is the last line of defense of a bankrupt regime. Was the Iraq war based on lies? Do the atrocities of Abu Ghraib violate the laws of war and the Geneva Convention? Is the middle class being crushed? The regime, with its back to the wall, has only one answer, “9/11.” The mantra of 9/11 is the carte blanche for black propaganda, war crimes, a police state, and thievery until the end of time, if we listen to those now in power. And there is an irony: if the regime itself has been able to cite the need for wartime solidarity in regard to Afghanistan, the Democratic Party has had only the litany of 9/11 to fall back on. The Democratic Party has portrayed itself as the true believers in the 9/11 myth, eyes fixed on the quest to find Bin Laden, while the Republicans were going astray in Mesopotamia. Senator Kerry, until he can be convinced to think otherwise, is more married to the 9/11 myth than Bush is. The Democrats are Johnny one note, while Bush has the means to modulate. Result: 9/11 is the lever used by all factions of the oligarchy to keep the masses in submission. This lever we will break before their faces.
Many readers are by now spluttering with indignation. We can hear them expostulating: “The official version of 9/11 is a myth and a lie!” – followed by a string of obscenities worthy of Dick Cheney. But think for a minute: if you think you know all about 9/11, how do you know what you think you know?
The first identification of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda as the perpetrators came during the day on September 11, as various commentators and announcers for cable, broadcast, and public television began floating the charge that Bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind the attacks. Apparently CNN was the first to mention Bin Laden, and the other myth- mongers immediately followed its lead. In retrospect, we know that many of these leaks came from two important functionaries in the Washington bureaucracy. These were George Tenet, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who should have been fired that same day, but who was allowed to resign in disgrace in June 2004, on the eve of the publication of a Senate Intelligence Committee report which pilloried him and his agency for gross incompetence. This was the same Tenet who later assured Bush that the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a pretext for a US invasion was a “slam dunk.” The other prime myth-monger was Richard A. Clarke, the former terror czar of the Clinton administration who had been kept on by Bush. Clarke had a long history, of which many of his gulled victims at those hearings were unaware. He had been dropped from the State Department by James Baker III because he was accused of concealing Israeli exports of US military technology to the People’s Republic of China which were banned under US law, and which the Israelis had agreed in advance not to carry out. In some quarters, Richard Clarke’s name was mentioned at the time of the hunt for MEGA, the Israeli mole thought to be operating in the White House. Clarke is a close friend of Israeli defense officials, among them David Ivry of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
As Clarke recounts in his recently published memoir: “At the outset of the first Gulf War, Ivry and I conspired to get our governments to agree to deploy a US Army Patriot unit in Israel. No foreign troops had ever been stationed before in Israel. We also worked together to sell Patriots to Israel, and to tie in the Kiriat [the Israeli Pentagon] with American satellites that detected Iraqi Scud missile launches towards Israel. After the war, the CIA circulated unfounded rumors that Israel had sold some of the Patriots to China. Many in the State Department who thought I was ‘too close to Israel’ sought to blame me.” (Clarke 46) Clarke was a protégé of Arnold L. Raphael (killed in the same plane crash with Gen. Zia of Pakistan), and worked closely with Morton Abramowitz.
On the morning of Sept. 11, as the White House was being evacuated for fear that it could be hit after the strikes against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the first top official to say “This is Al Qaeda!” had been Richard Clarke. (New York Times, December 30, 2001). When Clarke arrived at the White House a little after 9 AM on 9/11, he found Cheney and Condoleezza Rice alone in Cheney’s office. “What do you think,” asked the horrified Cheney. Clarke’s immediate reply: “It’s an al Qaeda attack and they like simultaneous attacks. This may not be over.” (Clarke 2) This is the moment of conception of the 9/11 myth. At this moment Clarke, as a New Yorker would say, didn’t know from nothing. Had he ever heard of strategic deception? Had he ever heard of diversionary tactics? Had he ever heard of feints?
Clarke tells us in his memoir that he attempted to collect his thoughts about the events going on around him as he walked from the White House Secure Videoconferencing Center just off the Situation Room across the White House to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, which was Cheney’s underground bunker:
In the quiet of the walk, I caught my breath for the first time that day: This was the “Big al Qaeda Attack” we had warned was coming and it was bigger than almost anything we had imagined, short of a nuclear weapon. (Clarke 17)
This is already one of the most fateful snap judgments in world history. Had Clarke utterly forgotten the lessons of Oklahoma City, when leakers had inspired the report that the explosion was the world of Moslems? Clarke had no proof then, and has come forward with none since.
Rushing to overtake Clarke as the leading hipshot in snap strategic diagnosis was CIA Director Tenet. While Bush was cowering in his spider hole at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, he conducted a National Security Council meeting by means of teleconference screens. “Who do you think did this to us?” Bush asked Tenet. Tenet was emphatic: “Sir, I believe it’s al Qaeda. We’re doing the assessment, but it looks like, it feels like, it smells like Al Qaeda.” (Bamford 2004 91) In other words, Tenet also had no proof, no evidence, no case – just his crude Lockean sense certainty.
Later, after World Trade Center 7 had gone through its inexplicable and embarrassing collapse at about 5:20 PM, Clarke addressed a high-level interagency meeting from the Situation Room. Present by video link were Armitage of State, General Meyers of the JCS, and other important officials. Clarke stated: “Okay, we all know this was al Qaeda. FBI and CIA will develop the case and see if I’m right. We want the truth but, in the meantime, let’s go with the assumption it’s al Qaeda. What’s next.?” (Clarke 23) Before he went to bed in the White House, Bush jotted a note to himself: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today. We think it’s Osama Bin Laden.” (Bamford 2004 92)
Given the fecklessness of Bush, Cheney, and Rice, Richard Clarke was running the US government on 9/11, and it was he who made the myth of the exclusive responsibility of al Qaeda/Bin Laden into the official policy of the US. Clarke can thus claim pride of place as the originator of the 9/11 myth. And Clarke was more than a mythograph. Clarke also shared in the responsibility for the bungling and stupid attack on an aspirin factory in Khartoum, Sudan, after the bombing of US embassies in east Africa in the summer of 1998. If there were an Oscar for deception, Clarke’s performance at the Kean-Hamilton Commission hearings in April 2004 would have won it. It was that virtuoso performance which launched Clarke on his current career as a television commentator predicting imminent WMD terrorist attacks on this country and advocating the speedy imposition of martial law. We will hear more about this gentleman later. All we need to note right now is that anyone would be foolish to buy a used car from Clarke or Tenet.
Another early official fingering of Osama Bin Laden as the guilty party came from Secretary of State Colin Powell on September 13. At this point Powell was competing for attention with the fulminations and Schrecklichkeit of neocons like Wolfowitz, who was ranting that the US would “end states harboring terrorism,” and would do so unilaterally, without reference to the collective security of the United Nations. Already voices of caution were being raised about another ill- prepared rush to judgment. Professor Paul Rogers, of Bradford University's peace department, warned against assuming Middle East extremists were behind the tragedy. “We've been here before. With Oklahoma, everybody assumed it was Middle East [terrorists], then it turned out to be home-grown Timothy McVeigh,” he said. “Again with the pipe bomb in Atlanta, it turned out to be domestic.” (Guardian, September 11, 2001) In any event, this was the same Colin Powell, who in February 2003, before the United Nations Security Council, perjured himself on the question of Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. This was the same Colin Powell who alleged mobile biological weapons labs, chemical weapons dispensers, and tubes being used for centrifuges in the process of uranium enrichment. This was the same Colin Powell who committed the most spectacular perjury in the history of the United Nations Security Council.
On September 14, the FBI, which had known nothing about anything before the attacks, published its infamous list of nineteen hijackers. As we will soon see, the mortality rate among those supposed kamikazes was less than 100%, with no less than seven of the suspects named turning up alive and well in the days after this list was published. More importantly, this was a list prepared by the same FBI which had been responsible for the Waco massacre of men, women, and children in 1992, the agency that illegally withheld documents in the capital murder trial of Timothy McVeigh, an abuse which ought to have caused his conviction to be thrown out, but which only caused it to be delayed. This is the agency whose vaunted Crime Lab turned out to be a sewer of incompetence and corruption. This is the same FBI which clumsily attempted to entrap and frame up the innocent Richard Jewel during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, while the real culprit went free. This is the same FBI which persecuted the Chinese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee without any grounds, accusing him of having transferred secrets to the People’s Republic of China. This is the same FBI which permitted the Soviet mole Robert Hanssen to operate inside it for fifteen years. This is the agency which ostracized John O’Neill, and which ignored the Phoenix memorandum and Colleen Rowley’s warnings from Minneapolis. This is the same FBI which could not capture the Unabomber over decades, until his own brother turned him in. This is the same agency which, over the previous months, in the words of Governor Kean of the 9/11 Commission, “failed and failed and failed and failed and failed.” Are we then to believe that on September 14 this troubled and incompetent agency enjoyed a brief interlude of success, as represented by the list of the 19? And if they did succeed that day, they must have soon lapsed back into incompetence again, as seen in their utter failure to prevent the October 2001 anthrax attacks, or ever to identify the perpetrator, perhaps because the anthrax in question was weapons grade material which had come from a US military lab, probably Fort Detrick, Maryland. This was the same FBI whose main activity after 9/11 seemed to consist in confiscating relevant evidence and tampering with witnesses, telling them that had not seen what they knew they had. Anyone familiar with the record will have a very hard time taking seriously such allegations coming from the discredited, dysfunctional FBI.
The definitive identification of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda as the authors of the atrocity came only on September 20, in Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress. Bush stated:
The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole. […] This group and its leader – a person named Osama Bin Laden – are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction. The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda’s vision for the world. […] And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. […] These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share their fate. […] Our war on terror beings with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated. (Bush 10-11)
Here we can see how inextricably the naming of Bin Laden and al Qaeda is bound up with the unilateral preventive war doctrine, the attack on Afghanistan, and the aggression against Iraq. But let us put these remarks into contact. Some months later, delivering his January 2003 State of the Union address from the same podium in the well of the House of Representatives, this same Bush intoned:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. (January 28, 2003)
These infamous sixteen words added up to one Big Lie in Dr. Goebbel’s sense, as has been amply demonstrated. In the same speech this same Bush claimed:
We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States. (January 28, 2003)
No such vehicles ever existed. This same Bush also alleged:
From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. (January 28, 2003)
Mobile labs of the type described by Bush have never been found in Iraq. Experts have speculated that these wildly exaggerated reports were based on vans used for public health purposes, or perhaps on ice cream trucks. On another occasion the very same Bush asserted:
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has had numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahedeen,” his nuclear holy warriors. (October 7, 2002)
But the renewed nuclear program turned out to be a chimera, most likely invented by the neocon darling, convicted bank embezzler, and betrayer of American state secrets, Achmed Chalabi, to justify his $400,000 monthly stipend provided by the American taxpayer. This was the same Bush who had conjured up the specter of an Iraqi nuclear attack on the United States:
Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. (Cincinnati, Ohio, October 2, 2002)
The internet teems with web sites dedicated primarily to keeping up with Bush’s legendary, picaresque mendacity. Bush has lied about the cost of his prescription drug boondoggle, about nonexistent economic reports he claimed had buttressed his economic prognostications, about all spheres of policy. He has lied about funding first responders, grants for port security, payments to children’s hospitals, and veterans’ benefits. The tenant of the White House has a troubled relation to the very concept of truth.
This is the man who has acquired an unparalleled at home and abroad reputation as a liar – at least, in those quarters, like the Office of Canadian Prime Minister Chretien, where he was dismissed as a moron. This is an administration in which blatant lying has become part of the daily routine – in part because of neocon guru Leo Strauss’s theory that truth is dangerous for the masses, and rulers therefore have to be esoteric, that is, lie through their teeth. But whether Bush is a cretin or a liar, his statements offer no sufficient basis for falling in with the neocons in their march towards endless war against the entire world. Knowing what we knew as of late 2004, no person of good judgment could ever accept statements from the current regime at face value. Nevertheless, otherwise intelligent people who would not dream believing Bush about Iraq or other issues are content to swallow his biggest whopper of them all: his 9/11 story. This doublethink must end. The Bush regime is a castle of lies and fabrications, and the keystone of all of them is the 9/11 myth.
It is now proverbial in Washington to remark that there is no proof linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and this is certainly true. But, by the very same token, there is also no proof in the public domain anywhere that adds up to a case against Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. We should point out that we hold no brief for the misfit sheikh and his sociopathic followers. Bin Laden was a creation of the CIA, and his al Qaeda followers, to the extent that they exist at all, are doubtless individuals characterized by a surfeit of criminal intent. But we must not join the anonymous CIA agent author of the recent book Imperial Hubris in portraying the inept and unstable Bin Laden as a genius. Taken by themselves, Bin Laden and his band represent supermarket-caliber terrorists, capable of bombing a shopping center, or of destroying a bus. Any capabilities above and beyond this can only be explained through assistance provided by intelligence agencies, primarily but not limited to the American ones. There is no doubt that Bin Laden and his benighted gaggle would have desired to inflict destruction on the scale of 9/11. What is at issue is their physical and technical capability of doing so on their own in the universe as we otherwise know it to be constituted. From this point of view, Bin Laden and company emerge perhaps as actors in the plot, but playing the parts of patsies, dupes, fall-guys, or useful idiots. The main point remains that Tenet, Clarke, Powell, the FBI, and Bush have produced no convincing evidence to establish the 19 Moslem men, al Qaeda, and Bin Laden as the authors of the crimes.
Another Bush administration mythograph has been Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense. But Rumsfeld as well has a troubled relation to truth. In a press conference, he was asked if he planned to lie in order to protect state secrets. Rumsfeld boasted that he was clever enough to keep secrets in other ways, but that his underlings might have to preserve secrecy any way they could:
Rumsfeld: Of course, this conjures up Winston Churchill’s famous phrase when he said – don’t quote me on this, okay? I don’t want to be quoted on this, so don’t quote me. He said sometimes the truth is so precious that it must be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies…. That is a piece of history, and I bring it up just for the sake of background. I don’t recall that I’ve ever lied to the press, I don’t intend to, and it seems to me that there will not be reason for it. There are dozens of ways to avoid having to put yourself in a position where you’re lying. And I don’t do it.
Reporter: That goes for everybody in the Department of Defense?
Rumsfeld: You’ve got to be kidding. (Laughter.) (September 25, 2001)
Theodore Olson, together with his wife Barbara Olson, had been the host of a salon which served in 1998-1999 as a meeting place for one of the principal cliques supporting the Clinton impeachment. This group included the late Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Federal Appellate Judge Robert Silberman, failed Supreme Court candidate Robert Bork, and other militant reactionaries. Olson had on one occasion lectured the US Supreme Court that “it is easy to imagine an infinite number of situations…where government officials might quite legitimately have reasons to give false information out.” (Yahoo News, March 22, 2001) Mrs. Olson was later counted among the victims of 9/11; we will return to her story.
In neocon philosophy, the art of lying has been raised to a fine art. Let us take the case of William Kristol, a leading Washington Straussian, and founder of the Project for a New American Century, a congeries of warmongers. Kristol told Nina J. Easton, the author of a profile of some top neocon leaders of the 1990s, Gang of Five (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000) that “One of the main teachings [of Strauss] is that all politics are limited and none of them is really based on the truth. So there's a certain philosophic disposition where you have some distance from these political fights....You don't take yourself or your causes as seriously as you would if you thought this was 100% ‘truth.’ Political movements are always full of partisans fighting for their opinion. But that's very different from 'the truth.'” With the help of money from Rupert Murdoch, Kristol has cultivated the art of the Goebbels Big Lie since 1995 in his weekly magazine, the Weekly Standard, the neocon house organ.
But, discredited as Tenet, Clarke, Powell, the FBI, Rumsfeld, Kristol, and Bush may appear, perhaps other proof has been offered since? No.
In the days right after the attacks, Colin Powell promised the world a white paper or white book to set forth the contentions of the United States government about what had happened, with supporting evidence. Powell did this on NBC’s Meet the Press, where the following exchange occurred on September 23, 2001:
Question: Are you absolutely convinced that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for this attack?
Secretary Powell: I am absolutely convinced that the al Qaeda network, which he heads, was responsible for this attack. […]
Question: Will you release publicly a white paper, which links him and his organization to this attack, to put people at ease? Secretary Powell: We are hard at work bringing all the information together, intelligence information, law enforcement information. And I think, in the near future, we will be able to put out a paper, a document, that will describe quite clearly the evidence we have linking him to the attack. And also, remember, he has been linked to previous attacks against US interests and he was already indicated for earlier attacks against the United States. ( www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2001/5012.htm )
The following day, September 24, saw a front page article in the New York Times which bragged that Powell’s evidence “reaches from the southern tip of Manhattan to the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.” However, there was clearly something wrong with the US case, since, in an appearance with Bush at the White House rose garden on September 24, Powell somewhat obliquely retracted his promise. And on that same afternoon, Bush’s spokesman Ari Fleischer, a past master of mendacity, said that Powell had been the victim of a misunderstanding. No white paper would be forthcoming, he suggested. According to Fleischer, much of the information of Bin Laden was classified, and making it public would compromise US intelligence methods and sources. Even the press trollops in the White House briefing room rebelled at this attempted sleight of hand. A reporter challenged Ari, asking if there was in fact “any plan to present public evidence so that the average citizen, not just Americans, but people all over the world can understand the case against Bin Laden.” Fleischer disappeared in a cloud of verbiage: “In a democracy it’s always important to provide the maximum amount of information possible. But I think the American people also understand that there are going to be times when that information cannot immediately be forthcoming.” As of this writing, it still has not been forthcoming.
Bush himself rejected any white paper. He said that any such publication may “make the war more difficult to win.” (AP, September 24, 2001) Amidst much embarrassment, the Bush regime quickly fell back on the following ploy: they would assemble a watertight case against Bin Laden, but this was so sensitive that could only be shown to governments. We must always bear in mind that these assertions were not presented in the manner of a scholarly debate, but as part of brutal pressure on sovereign states to yield to Bush’s manichean Diktat.
Even though Bush did not have enough information on the 9/11 events to put out a credible white paper, he nevertheless ordered the FBI to curtail their investigation of the case. The FBI order to stop probing described the investigation done so far as “the most exhaustive in its history.” A government official said in an understatement that “The investigative staff has to be made to understand that we’re not trying to solve a crime now.”
Not just the impotence, but the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of many US leftists was pitilessly displayed by the events of 9/11. Many who would never dream of believing Bush or the FBI on matters far less important were willing to swallow the entire official story this time around. Noam Chomsky went so far as to issue a lengthy interview in the wake of 9/11; he even had it published as a small book. This passage is at the heart of the matter:
Q: NATO is keeping quiet until they find out whether the attack was internal or external. How do you interpret this?
Chomsky: I do not think that is the reason for NATO’s hesitation. There is no serious doubt that the attack was ‘external.’ […]
Q: Could you say something about connivance and the role of America secret service?
Chomsky: I don’t quite understand the question. This attack was surely an enormous shock and surprise to the intelligence services of the West, including those of the United States.” (Chomsky 17)
This leaves our poor Chomsky far to the right of the 9/11 euroskeptics – and that means foreign ministers, defense ministers, and generals -- in the NATO ministerial council! Michael Parenti’s book on the terrorism trap falls into it, at least as far as the 9/11 official story is concerned. Amy Goodman of the Democracy Now radio program banned all criticism of the official 9/11 story, while proclaiming her own superlative courage in tackling issues like East Timor. When she finally let the dignified academic David Ray Griffin come on her show, she insisted on balancing him with the slimy character assassin Chip Berlet, who knew nothing in particular about 9/11.
The left wing of the Democratic Party, grouped around The Nation magazine, was rudderless. Some time after 9/11 this magazine produced an anthology of its most important post-9/11 articles. A key contributor to this collection was Jonathan Schell, who wrote in his introduction: “It was clear from the start that Islamic fundamentalists were responsible, almost certainly in the service of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, but the magnitude of the force involved remained hazy in the extreme.” (Vanden Heuvel xv) Other articles in the collection, some by very distinguished and well-meaning authors, may have more or less merit, but they do not rise above this inadequate level. The US left might object all it liked to the consequences which Bush derived from his fabricated 9/11 premise, but unless those leftists were willing to attack the premise, it was clear that their efforts would not be effective. Even in the pages of The Nation, it was the neocon bully Christopher Hitchens, billed until only yesterday as the “last Marxist,” who seemed to carry the day, based on the refusal of all the others to challenge the myth he shamelessly used to club them into submission.
Some governments found ways to leak their estimate of Bush’s alleged proof. One was the government of Pakistan, which had been placed under a US war ultimatum to
cooperate in an attack on Afghanistan. Here the distinguished retired military leader General Mirza Aslam Beg told an interviewer some months after the fact that the “evidence” provided to Pakistan's Musharraf government “would not hold in a court of law, because of the inherent weaknesses.” (EIR, December 10, 2001) In a newspaper interview, Gen. Beg insisted that the attacks had been the work of highly-trained experts “who used high technology for destruction. He argued that even ordinary trained pilots could not have carried out the missions observed. (Nawa- Waqt, September 13, 2001) 
Egyptian strategic analyst Tal’at Muslim argued in al-Akhbar of Cairo that the resources available to Arab and Islamic terror organizations were “well below” what was plainly necessary to carry out operations on the scale of 9/11. (September 13, 2001) In the Palestinian paper al-Quds, Hatim Abu Sha’ban found that the US authorities were searching for the perpetrators in entirely the wrong places. “They accused…the least likely to be perpetrators in light of the operation’s nature, which requires great planning capabilities, knowledge of information, and mobility on the part of the criminals who committed this terrorist operation.” (September 18, 2001)
The Saudi government complained that its citizens were being accused of crimes, but that the US had provided no hard evidence. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said that he viewed Osama Bin Laden more “as a tool,” than the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. “He's at the top of the pyramid from the media point of view, but from my personal views and conviction, I don't think he's at the top of the pyramid,” commented Prince Nayef. U.S. officials were claiming that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. But Nayef noted that “until now, we have no evidence that assures us they are related to September 11. We have not received anything in this regard from the United States.” (New York Times, December 10, 2001)
Some indication of the problems being encountered by the US bureaucracy in trying to pin 9/11 on Bin Laden were reflected in a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Faint Trail: It's Surprisingly Tough To Pin Terror Attacks on the ‘Prime Suspect.’” Here the paucity of evidence was the dominant note. Such evidence as did exist was largely circumstantial, the Journal noted, such as ties of suspected hijacker Mohammed Atta to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which allegedly was part of bin Laden's Al Qaeda; the presence of one hijacker in Malaysia in January 2000, meeting with someone linked to the bombing of the USS Cole, which was in turn allegedly linked to bin Laden; communications intercepts showing Al Qaeda operatives had some advanced knowledge of the strikes; or that two of the suspected hijackers were perhaps linked to a suspected bin Laden operative in Boston. The Journal conceded that the issue of proof was a key component of the U.S.'s ability to enlist support of Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and perhaps Syria. “The issue of proof is no small matter,” one Administration official was cited as observing. But the US case was plainly a lame one, with an unidentified intelligence official concluding weakly that “no information has come up that suggests that bin Laden wasn't involved.” None of this could even begin to explain how these ragtag forces could mount such a spectacular action. Here was surely no justification for abandoning the entire edifice of international law, which had been formed in large part as a result of wars in which tens of millions of people had perished.
With the US regime struggling, into the breach rushed Tony Blair, a glib and slippery apologist for war. On October 2, Blair’s office in Number 10 Downing Street released the first of his celebrated dossiers. It was entitled “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States.” Unfortunately, Blair’s dossier was obliged to begin on an uncertain note: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.” Why not, given what is at stake? Answer: “Intelligence often cannot be used evidentially, due both to the strict rules of admissibility and to the need to protect the safety of sources. But on the basis of all the information available HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] is confident of its conclusions as expressed in this document.” Of course, this means that since the proof may be insufficient, we are expected to believe Blair & Co. on the basis of their general integrity and credibility. This is a controversial point, to which we will soon return.
Blair’s main finding:
The clear conclusions reached by the government are: Osama Bin Laden and al- Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001; Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda retain the will and the resources to carry out further atrocities; The United Kingdom, and United Kingdom nationals are potential targets; and Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were able to commit these atrocities because of their close alliance with the Taliban regime, which allowed them to operate with impunity in pursuing their terrorist activity.” (Blair at www.counterpunch.org/dossier1.html , 1)
Blair’s dossier then went on for 16 of its 19 pages reciting the nefarious deeds of which Bin Laden had been accused: Bin Laden has worked with the Taliban, attacked the USS Cole, and bombed the US embassies in East Africa. He had doubtless issued bloodthirsty calls for murder against the US and its citizens. As for his claims of responsibility, they could simply be the ravings of a megalomaniac. But none of this adds up to 9/11 or anything approaching it. If working in favor of the Taliban were a crime, it would have been necessary to indict Henry Kissinger, who lobbied Congress in favor of Unocal’s pipeline project there. And throughout the argument, Blair relied on unnamed intelligence sources for most of his material.
When Blair finally got to 9/11, he proceeded through a chain of unproven assertions, as signaled by a shift into the vagueness of the passive voice: “Nineteen men have been identified as the hijackers from the passenger lists of the four planes hijacked on September 11. At least three of them have already been positively identified as associates of al-Qaeda.” (Blair 21) But all this means is that the FBI is accusing them, which is wholly inadequate.
From intelligence sources, the following facts have been established subsequent to 11 September; for intelligence reasons, the names of associates, though known, are not given. In the run-up to 11 September, bin Laden was mounting a concerted propaganda campaign amongst like- minded groups of people – including videos and documentation – justifying attacks on Jewish and American targets; and claiming that those who died in the course of them were carrying out God’s work. We have learned, subsequent to 11 September, that Bin Laden himself asserted shortly before 11 September that he was preparing a major attack on America. In August and early September close associates of Bin Laden were warned to return to Afghanistan from other parts of the world by 10 September. Immediately prior to 11 September some known associates of Bin Laden were naming the date for action as on or around 11 September. Since 11 September we have learned that one of Bin Laden’s closest and most senior associates was responsible for the detailed planning of the attacks. There is evidence of a very specific nature relating to Bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release. (Blair 22-23, emphasis added)
All we have here is an exercise in check kiting. The CIA had forwarded a bouncing check to MI-6, and MI-6 had sent it back to Washington by simply citing the claims of the CIA as fact, and covering the whole in a mantle of the Official Secrets Act. It is perfectly plausible that Bin Laden and his associates were planning a terror attack on the US which seemed large to them. The issue, once again, is their physical and technical ability to bring about destruction in the places and on the scale observed. Blair’s document brought the central issue to a head when he asserted:
The modus operandi of 11 September was entirely consistent with previous attacks….The attacks of 11 September are entirely consistent with the scale and sophistication which went in to the attacks on the East African Embassies and the USS Cole. (Blair 23)
The problem is that the 9/11 attacks were incomparably larger and more serious than anything attempted by al Qaeda previously – they were in fact several orders of magnitude larger. This is apart from the question, which we will address later, of the degree to which al Qaeda has continued to receive technical assistance from certain rogue elements of US intelligence and others. So Tony Blair’s dossier turned out to be a string of unsubstantiated assertions, and thus a miserable excuse for proof.
In addition, later events taught us more about Tony Blair’s methods in compiling dossiers.
New light on the putative value of intelligence dossiers issued by Tony Blair’s office in Number 10 Downing Street was not long in coming. In September 2002, Blair published amid great fanfare his dossier purporting to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq currently possessed weapons of mass destruction. This was entitled “Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception, and Intimidation,” and it was clearly crafted to provide a pretext for waging unprovoked and aggressive war against Iraq. This dossier was exposed as a fraud in two distinct waves of demystification. The first exposure took place in February 2003, when it emerged that entire sections of this report, which had been billed as the most up-to-date evaluation that could be offered by the very formidable capabilities of MI-6 and the rest of the British intelligence machine, had simply been lifted, plagiarized without attribution, from older documents in the public domain. The Iraq dossier had been concocted by Blair and his media guru Alistair Campbell, a figure who combined the worst of image-mongers like Michael Deaver and Karl Rove, using materials provided by British intelligence. Parts of Blair’s dossier had been stolen from articles written by Sean Boyne of Jane’s Intelligence Review, who was horrified by the nefarious use to which his work had been put. “I don’t like to think that anything I wrote has been used as an argument for war. I am concerned because I am against the war,” complained Boyne. Another source from which Blair had lifted material verbatim was a thesis entitled “Iraq’s Security and Intelligence Network,” published in September 2002 by a graduate student, Ibrahim al-Marashi, a California resident. Al-Marashi was equally indignant, commenting that “this is wholesale deception. How can the British public trust the government if it is up to this sort of tricks? People will treat any other information they publish now with a lot of skepticism from now on.” And not just from now on; it is our contention here that this disbelief in regard to Tony Blair’s work product should also be applied retrospectively.
The British Parliament was appalled by Blair’s mendacity, which was so crude that the coded titles of the Microsoft Word documents that made up the dossier had been allowed to remain visible on the Number 10 Downing Street web site. Many pointed to Alistair Hamilton as the dervish of spin behind the entire sordid operation. Former Labour Party Defense Minister and current Member of Parliament Peter Kilfoyle observed that Blair’s deception merely “adds to the general impression that what we have been treated to is a farrago of half-truths. I am shocked that on such thin evidence that we should be trying to convince the British people that this war is worth fighting. Labour MP Glenda Jackson added “It is another example of how the Government is attempting to mislead the country and Parliament. And of course to mislead is a Parliamentary euphemism for lying.” (Daily Mirror, February 8, 2003)
Blair’s nonchalance in cribbing together dossiers on subjects of vast importance also attracted the barbs of British wits. AheadOfNews.com spoofed Blair’s plagiarized Iraq dossier by writing that “a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged recently that the report, ‘Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception, and Intimidation,’ had been cobbled together from a variety of sources, including old term papers, Readers Digest, and several tabloids. John Miller, Undersecretary for Cutting- and-Pasting, explained that ‘plagiarized’ sections of the report included spelling errors, such as ‘weapons of mass distraction,’ and ‘Untied States’ found in the originals. “Our deceptions might have succeeded,’ he said, ‘except for our bloody incompetent proofreaders.” (February 12, 2003) Blair’s Iraq dossier was an international laughingstock, but that had not prevented Colin Powell from praising it in his infamous speech to the United Nations Security Council.
But Blair’s dossier was in the end no laughing matter: it contributed to the deaths of perhaps 15,000 people in Iraq within a year. It also brought tragedy to one of the British intelligence officials who had collaborated in its creation.
In June, 2003, when the Iraq war had already begun to go badly for the aggressors, BBC News broadcast a story by correspondent Barnaby Mason reporting that Blair and Campbell had personally supervised the concoction of the Iraq WMD dossier, sending proposed drafts back to the Joint Intelligence Committee “six to eight times” to be “sexed up” through the addition of more lurid and sensational details. One of these details was thought to be Blair’s fantastic claim that Iraq had WMD which could be launched within 45 minutes. Blair delivered this warning in such a way as to suggest that Iraq would be capable of striking the UK within 45 minutes, despite the fact that Iraq possessed no delivery systems capable of doling this.
The response of the Blair regime to this report was to promote a witch-hunt to ferret out the source inside the government who had leaked such embarrassing material to Barnaby Mason. Officials of the British Defense Ministry allowed journalists to read them lists of persons suspected of being the leaker, and were willing to confirm the identity of their prime suspect as soon as the journalists mentioned his name. In this way, the Defense Ministry in effect betrayed one of its own employees, Dr. David Kelly. A few days later Kelly was found dead in a forest near his home, with his wrists slashed. His death was quickly ruled a suicide. After Kelly’s death, a UN diplomat recalled that he had asked Kelly back in February 2003 what would happen if Tony Blair went through with his plan to join Bush in attacking Iraq. “I will probably be found dead in the woods,” was Kelly’s prophetic reply.
Blair’s fabrications have been covered up with the help of two devious Lords, Lord Hutton and Lord Butler, both of whom have absolved the Prime Minister and his cohorts of deliberately fabricating intelligence. But the London press has dismissed these two reports as “Whitewash” and “Whitewash II” respectively. Each of them is a politically motivated coverup designed to save the interests of the British oligarchy, which has heavily invested in Blair, the 9/11 myth, and the Iraq war. The probative value of these whitewashes is nil.
In the light of all these facts, anyone interested in truth as distinct from propaganda can hardly accept at face value dossiers issued by the man whom his countrymen have now dubbed “Tony Bliar.” Such skepticism must apply not only to Blair’s Iraq dossier, but also to his earlier Bin Laden dossier, which was an important building block in the Bin Laden myth.
In contrast to the relentless stonewalling of the Bush administration on any serious investigation of 9/11, Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli soon came forward as the most consistent spokesman for a real probe, accompanied by accountability for the nonfeasance or malfeasance of federal officials. Torricelli represented New Jersey, the state where the largest number of victims of 9/11 had lived, and he appeared to take seriously the need for finding out what happened. Torricelli’s fate therefore becomes a case study of the workings of the US regime in the wake of 9/11. On September 26, Torricelli made an address to the Senate in which he began by talking about how much New Jersey had suffered:
There is not a small town or a city in northern New Jersey that has not been touched or changed. At the time the final body has been found and the search has concluded, 2,000 to 3,000 people in New Jersey may have lost their lives. It is estimated there are 1,500 orphans in my State. It struck everywhere.
He then turned to the US intelligence community, which had manifestly failed its citizens in the most grievous way. He talked about the disproportion between the means allocated and the results obtained:
It is reported in the media that the United States, in what would otherwise be a classified figure, may spend $30 billion per year on intelligence services, including the CIA and the NSA. The Washington Post reports the FBI counterterrorism spending grew to $423 million this year, a figure which in the last 8 years has grown by 300 percent. It is not enough to ask for more. It is necessary to assess what went wrong. Did leadership fail? Were the plans inadequate? Did we have the wrong people, or were they on the wrong mission?
This was a challenge to the CIA, FBI, and the other spy agencies. Torricelli then began to enumerate several concrete examples of incompetence by these same agencies:
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that over the past 2 years the Central Intelligence Agency had provided to the FBI the names of 100 suspected associates of Osama bin Laden who were either in or on their way to the United States. Yet the Washington Post concludes that the FBI “was ill equipped and unprepared” to deal with this information.
Some of the allegations reported in the media are stunning and deeply troubling, not simply about what happened but revealing about our inability to deal with the current crisis. Previous terrorist investigations, it is alleged, produced boxes of evidentiary material written in Arabic that remained unanalyzed for lack of translators. During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial, agents discovered that photos and drawings outlining the plot had been in their possession for 3 years, but they had not been analyzed.
Since 1996, the FBI had evidence that international terrorists were learning to fly passenger jets at U.S. flight schools, but that does not seem to have obviously raised sufficient concern, and there was no apparent action.
In August, the FBI received notice from French intelligence that one man who had paid cash to use flight simulators in Minnesota was a “radical Islamic extremist” with ties to Afghani terrorist training camps. Regrettably, this intelligence information was apparently not seen in the greater context of an actual threat that has now been realized. […]
Torricelli then raised his key demand, which was for the immediate convocation of a Board of Inquiry on 9/11, modeled on the boards of inquiry which had been convened after the explosion of the USS Maine, the Pearl Harbor attack, and the losses of the space shuttle Challenger:
On behalf of the people of my State, if I need to return to this Chamber every day of every week of every month, this Senate is going to vote for some board of inquiry. I joined my colleagues after the Challenger accident, recognizing that that loss of life, the failure of technology and leadership, indicated something was wrong in NASA. The board of inquiry reformed NASA and the technology and gave it new leadership, and it served the Nation well.
After Pearl Harbor, we recognized something was wrong militarily. We had a board of inquiry. We found those responsible, we held them accountable, and we instituted the changes.
Torricelli stressed the necessary moment of accountability for the high government officials who had been found wanting:
Indeed, that formula has served this Nation for years in numerous crises. Now I call for it again. First, review the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, the people responsible, the resources that were available, where there was a failure of action, and make recommendations and assign responsibility. Second, develop recommendations or changes of law or resources or personnel so it does not happen again. I cannot imagine we will do less. I call upon us to do more. I will not be satisfied with new assignments of powers or appropriating more money. I want to know what went wrong, and why, and who.
On October 4, Torricelli took the floor again, to repeat his demand for an immediate Board of Inquiry, and to motivate it further:
A number of my colleagues are joining with me in the coming days in introducing legislation to create a board of inquiry regarding the terrorist attacks of September 11. It is my intention to offer it as an amendment to legislation that is currently working its way through the Senate dealing with this tragedy. […]
I cannot predict any of these answers, but what is important is neither can anyone else in this Congress or the administration because without some analysis, as we have done throughout our country's history, we will never know. Indeed, if we fail to have a board of inquiry in the midst of this crisis about these circumstances, I believe history will instruct us it will be the first time in the history of the Republic that the Government did not hold itself accountable and subject to analysis when our American people have faced a crisis of this magnitude.
The people deserve an answer. The Government should hold itself accountable, and only a board of inquiry, independent of the Congress and the Executive, has the credibility to do it.
Torricelli’s proposals had an undeniable power. If a board of inquiry had been possible in desperate days at the beginning of World War II, with a real shooting war being fought against real and formidable enemies, why was it not possible now? Pro-Bush spokesmen were forced into such contortions as arguing that the current situation was infinitely more dangerous than any moment of World War II, or of the Cold War. For those who remembered the Cuban missile crisis, when 100,000,000 million Americans might have died in the first hour of a nuclear exchange, these notions were patently absurd.
Alarmed by the threat of a rapid and credible investigation being raise by the agitation of Torricelli and a small group of like-minded senators, Bush took the highly unusual step of asking House and Senate leaders to allow only two congressional committees to investigate the government's response to the events of September 11, officials said. Bush wanted the inquiry to be limited to the House and Senate intelligence committees, whose proceedings are generally secret. Senate Democratic leaders wanted a broader investigation, involving some committees that would be free to air their findings. But even the Democrats had already narrowed the focus to intelligence failures preceding the terrorist attacks. In ruling out any serious probes, Bush attempted to wrap himself in the banner of military necessity in the prosecution of his alleged war on terror; a senior administration official said “the president thinks it's important for Congress to review events in a way that does not unduly burden the defense and intelligence communities as they are still charged with fighting a war.” Bush made this request of Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D- .D.) during a breakfast meeting with congressional leaders. Daschle told reporters that Cheney had “expressed the concern that a review of what happened on September 11 would take resources and personnel away from the effort in the war on terrorism.” Daschle said he agreed with the demand by Bush and Cheney to “to limit the scope and the overall review of what happened.” In other words, the supposed opposition was agreeing that there was no need to prove the US government’s official version of events. What were they hiding? (“Bush Seeks To Restrict Hill 9/11 Probes, Intelligence Panels' Secrecy Is Favored,” Washington Post, January 30, 2002) The milquetoast Daschle was a poor substitute for a real opposition leader. His capitulation on the board of inquiry issue set the tone for a series of Democratic Party surrenders that lasted for the duration of 2002, and which included abdicating to Bush the constitutional monopoly of the Congress on the power to declare war.
And what happened to Torricelli? He was owed much by his party. As head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he was often given credit for the 2000 election victories that brought Senate Democrats from 45 seats to 50. Soon after that, he became the target of corruption charges regarding his campaign finances and gifts he had allegedly accepted. For years, he had been profiled as a severe critic of the intelligence agencies. In January 2002, Torricelli supporters hailed U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White's decision not to pursue prosecution of Torricelli for accepting illegal gifts as a vindication. But even on that occasion, The New York Times kept up the pressure for Torricelli to be skewered, arguing in an editorial that “the allegations against Mr. Torricelli are serious and cry out for prompt investigation and resolution in a manner worthy of public respect. If the [Senate Ethics] committee will not provide it, it might as well disband.” Torricelli’s seat was up in 2002, and he was headed for almost certain re-election when the Senate Ethics Committee found he had damaged the reputation of that august body by accepting expensive personal gifts from a campaign contributor. At this point, Torricelli dropped to even with his opponent. Then, a federal judge ordered federal prosecutors to release to the press a letter which some thought suggested that Torricelli might have been guilty of more than talking gifts. A furious press campaign against the senator ensued. At this point, in September, Torricelli’s position in the polls collapsed, and he dropped out of contention. The Democratic Party replaced him with former Senator Frank Lautenberg, who won the seat. Most significantly, federal prosecutors have never to this day brought any charges against Torricelli based on the contents of the supposedly incriminating letter, or any other charges. Their interference in Torricelli’s re-election campaign thus appears to have been a political dirty trick at the outer limits of legality, designed to drive him out of political life. A reason for this operation is evident: they were defending the establishment’s omertà, its code of silence, on 9/11.
The initial congressional effort at dealing with the events of 9/11 was the pitiful coverup offered by the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Intelligence Committee. Most of the subcommittee’s work remained cloaked under a veil of secrecy, but a short executive summary containing analysis and a few anodyne recommendations were made available to the public. This simulacrum of a real probe was directed by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, an opportunistic scoundrel who, at the same time he was superintending this superficial report, was conducting one of the most shameful senate campaigns in US history. Chambliss was seeking to unseat Georgia Democrat Max Cleland, a future member of the Kean-Hamilton Commission. Cleland was a war veteran who had left both his legs and one arm on the battlefield – triple amputee. Chambliss, like Cheney and so many other hypocritical Bush backers, had had other priorities during the Vietnam era. But this did not prevent Chambliss from running as a warmonger, while vilifying Cleland, the war hero, as unpatriotic because he refused to support Bush’s Iraq adventure. And it had worked: Chambliss was elected to the Senate a few months after the report was published. This may have represented the oligarchy’s reward to Chambliss for his yeoman service in piloting the first Congressional coverup of 9/11.
Chambliss billed his handiwork as “a very critical report,” but it was nothing of the kind. Starting from a wholly uncritical acceptance of the 9/11 myth as its premises, the report merely attempted to identify shortcomings in US intelligence and to offer helpful hints about how they might be remedied. Although the subcommittee chronicled the well- known failures of FBI, CIA, NSA and others, no disciplinary action against any sitting federal bureaucrat was recommended. According to Rep. Jane Harman, Democrat of California and the ranking member, the report was “designed to give good people better tools, more resources, access to good watch lists, digital technologies, enhanced platforms, better language training, and career support.” The subcommittee was of the opinion that the 9/11 attacks could not have been prevented, even if all the intelligence in the possession of the entire US government had been synthesized and brought to bear – an absurd thesis. However, by virtue of so much ineptitude, the tradition of begging the question had been further solidified. (CNSNEWS.com, July 17, 2002)
The healthy skepticism displayed by world public opinion in response to the fantastic and unsubstantiated stories peddled by the dubious US regime rankled with Paul Wolfowitz, the chief neocon and the number two in the Rumsfeld Pentagon. When a new Bin Laden tape appeared in which Bin Laden was understood by some as claiming responsibility for the attacks, Wolfowitz expressed the wish that this new tape would put an end to “conspiracy theories.” According to Wolfowitz, the new find “confirms everything we've known about him already. There's nothing new or surprising in it. It's just further confirmation and hopefully, maybe, we'll stop hearing anything more about these insane conspiracy theories that somehow that the US has made this up or that somebody else did it.” (Sam Donaldson, ABC, December 9, 2001)
The US Congress mounted an inquiry, which was conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, acting as the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. The history of this committee, known as the JICI, was a troubled one. Three months into the probe, the original staff director suddenly resigned. This was L. Britt Snider, the former inspector general of the CIA. He was known for being a creature of Tenet, and was considered too eager to spare his former colleagues any embarrassment. But on the other hand, Snider had been favored by Democrat Bob Graham of Florida, who wanted to run for president, and was opposed by Republican senators. Snider was replaced temporarily by Rick Cinquegrana, another CIA officer, and then permanently by Eleanor Hill. “Members are trying to say, ‘We've got to get to the bottom of what happened’ while also saying, ‘We don't want to make it into a witch hunt,’” said L. Paul Bremer, who led a previous probe of intelligence agencies after the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Bremer later became notorious as Bush’s proconsul in Mesopotamia. Those impulses, Bremer said, “will be an inherent tension irrespective of who is the staff director.” When this JICI’s report was published in December 2002, the most notable thing about it was that 28 pages were absolutely blank – redacted at the insistence of the administration. Remarks by Graham and others fueled speculation that the 28 blank pages contained information that somehow implicated Saudi Arabia, and the press made much of this. But the general approach of the JICI was that there had been an intelligence failure, and that there ought to be measures to avoid more intelligence failures – nothing more.
The other factor that ought to give any thoughtful citizen cause to reflect is the significant number of dissenting opinions registered in the months after 9/11. We have assembled some of these here for inspection. Naturally, few if any of these critical strictures on 9/11 were ever presented in the US news media. That was unconscionable, since many of those who manifested serious doubts on the main issues of 9/11 were eminently respectable, experienced persons with decades of background in government, politics, academia, and military affairs. There were prime ministers and ministers, generals, professors, and well-established experts. Even in the midst of the shock and trauma experienced by world public opinion in the wake of 9/11, they were able to formulate coherent objections to the official version, objections which in many cases have been ignored and not answered down to the present day.
The European NATO partners were confronted with the need to evaluate the US version of 9/11 in a very direct way: immediately after 9/11, the Bush regime demanded the activation of Article Five of the North Atlantic Pact, calling upon member states to assist the United States in warding off an attack from abroad. The US, however, had never offered any proof that the 9/11 attacks had indeed come from outside of its own borders. Under the shock of the 9/11 events, and fearing the retribution of a crazed regime that was announcing its determination to “end states,” the European allies approved the resolution unanimously, even though no proof had been provided. One who objected to this procedure was Helmut Schmidt, the former Chancellor and Defense Minister of Germany for the Social Democratic Party, Several months after the vote, Schmidt reiterated that the European acquiescence had been a mistake. “For that article to be put into action, proof had to be delivered that the Sept. 11 terror attacks came from abroad. That proof has still not been provided,” Schmidt. (N-TV, December 10, 2001; EIR, December 13, 2001)
Another skeptic was former Italian President, Prime Minister, and Interior Minister Francesco Cossiga, who had been in charge of Italy’s internal security during the 1978 kidnap-murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Cossiga indicated his suspicion that the attacks presupposed some form of complicity within the US security system. The mastermind of the attack, Cossiga observed must have been a “sophisticated mind, provided with ample means not only to recruit fanatic kamikazes, but also highly specialized personnel. I add one thing: it could not be accomplished without infiltrations in the radar and flight security personnel.” As for Bin Laden, Cossiga added that “it is not thinkable that he did everything by himself.” (La Stampa, September 14, 2001; EIR September 15, 2001)
General Heinz Karst was one of the founders of the reconstituted German military forces, or Bundeswehr, in the mid-1950s. Like other experienced military men, Karst found the 9/11 story purveyed by the Bush administration suspiciously incomplete. In an interview, he noted that “British secret service coordinator, Pauline Neville-Jones considers--as most experts do--a Bin Laden co-authorship likely. But as far as the logistical operation is concerned, she is almost sure that the attacks were planned out in America, over the last six months.” Karst put these comments in historical context: “When, in 1995, the Federal building in Oklahoma was blown up and 168 human beings were killed, people first thought of Islamic terrorists. But they were Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two elite soldiers of the Green Berets. The Americans have a long tradition of assassination attacks and of terrorism. Their most famous President, Abraham Lincoln, was shot dead in the theater. Martin Luther King was shot dead. John F. Kennedy was shot dead. His assassin was shot dead. Bob Kennedy was shot dead. Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt. There are rumors that also American ex-military have their hands in many cases.” (Deutschlandmagazin, December 17, 2001; EIR)
Also in Germany, former Technology Minister and deputy Defense Minister Andreas von Bülow developed a broad critique of the official 9/11 story, to which we will have occasion to refer several times. In early January 2002 von Bülow told the Berlin Tagespiegel that “planning the attacks was a masterwork, in technical and organizational terms. To hijack four big airliners within a few minutes and fly them into targets within a single hour and to do so on complicated flight routes! That is unthinkable, without backing from the secret apparatus of state and industry.” He called attention to the fact that covering up the real authorship of a terrorist crime with false tracks for investigators to follow has “been an accompanying feature of covert operations ever since they have been launched by influential agencies.” Von Bülow’s conclusion was that the full truth about September 11 had yet to be told. (Berlin Tagespiegel, January 13, 2002; EIR)
Another critical view of the 9/11 story came from Dr. Johannes B. Koeppl, a former official in the German Defense Ministry, and an advisor to the former NATO General Secretary, Manfred Woerner. Koeppl told Mike Ruppert: “The interests behind the Bush administration, such as the CFR, the Trilateral Commission – founded by Brzezinski for David Rockefeller – and the Bilderberger group, have prepared for and are now moving to implement open world dictatorship within the next five years. They are not fighting against terrorists. They are fighting against citizens.” (From the Wilderness, November 6, 2001)
A well-informed European source interviewed by EIR News Service on September 24, 2001 was of the opinion that 9/11 had been organized by a highly sophisticated operation inside the US. He added that “the Russians are aware of this, and that what is behind the operation, is a “vast geostrategic arrangement,” that touches upon the most sensitive Russian interests. The lack of proof of a foreign role, he thought, “makes all this talk of invoking Article 5 so problematic, because Article 5 is not valid, if the attack emanates from inside a NATO country. But the United States is hugely reluctant, to discuss the internal American factors in this. Yet, the fact is, everything that happened on 9/11, was organized, executed, and raised inside the United States. All this obsession on Osama bin Laden is pure nonsense. In fact, this was all well-organized, the people who did it were geniuses, I wish they were on our side.” He elaborated that, “as far as the Russians are concerned, there are two elements involved in all this: There is the United States as such, and there is the situation in Central Asia. All this talk of Islamic terrorism, is a cover for the fact that there are vast geostrategic rearrangements afoot, in all this.” Asked about how 9/11 came about, this source replied: “This was not primarily Islamic at all. I'm sure there were Islamic elements, but what is behind this, is a deeply embedded conspiratorial and organized operation, that took two-plus years to put together. These were people, who were able to make sophisticated moves on the markets, right before it happened. It was very carefully initiated and carried out, using American dissident groups, of which there are a lot, some quite violent. Probably the militia elements would have been tapped, although you have to keep in mind, they are a cover for something else. In any case, what I can say to you with certainty, this was not done by a handful of Islamic fanatics.”
General Mirza Aslam Beg of Pakistan voiced the doubts of his own government, even as Pakistan was being employed as a staging area for the US invasion of Afghanistan. Beg commented that “Many of us in this region believe that Osama or his al-Qaeda were not responsible for 11 September attacks in New York and Washington, yet the coalition led by United States is busy on ‘Afghan bashing,’ chasing objectives, which go much beyond Osama bin Laden. The information which is now coming up, goes to prove that involvement by the ‘rogue elements’ of the U.S. military and intelligence organization is getting more obvious. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda definitely do not have the know- how and the capability to launch such operations involving such high precision coordination, based on information and expertise.” (EIR, December 10, 2001)
Leading British academics also found the US official version unpalatable. Fred Halliday, London School of Economics Professor of International Relations and a well-known expert on the Middle East, told the BBC on September 11 that he would look for a domestic origin within the US of the September 11 events, along the lines of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He had underlined that it would be a mistake to depend on Bin Laden/Islamist track, since, in the Middle East, bin Laden has often been derided as an American agent. (London Observer, November 25, 2001)
The Arab world in general was not buying Washington’s account, especially in the absence of concrete evidence. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading conservative daily in Germany, lamented towards the end of November that the Arab public preferred its own “conspiracy theories” to the assurances offered by the Bush administration. The Arabs, complained the FAZ, tend to believe that “American intelligence circles planned and executed the Sept. 11 attacks in order to launch a long- prepared general assault against the Arab and Muslim world.” As an example, the FAZ cited the November 3 lead editorial in the semi-official Egyptian newspaper paper Al Ahram, whose author, Dr. Mustafa Mahmud wrote: “History has not ended. Slowly the truth is emerging. American groups planned and executed the attacks of Sept. 11. The anthrax cases in the United States are a further indication for this. We don't know what else will come up in the coming days.... History has not ended yet. There are murderers around, who have not been punished, criminals who have not paid the price for their deeds.” (FAZ, November 23, 2001; EIR)
In a talk show broadcast on the government’s official nation-wide first program of Egyptian television featuring the leading intellectual Professor Mohammed Selim on November 24, all the participants agreed that organizing the 9/11 attacks was simply beyond the ability of Osama bin Laden and company. “No one in Egypt believes that Osama bin Laden did it,” the professor noted. The London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat is generally viewed as the semi-official organ of the Saudi government and the Saudi royal family, and has the largest circulation in the kingdom. This paper carried a commentary by the former Minister of Culture, Farouk Al-Berbir, which attempted to refute the US official account. According to Berbir, “the war on terrorism is an umbrella for the clash of civilizations. Saudi officials suspect that American terrorists were behind the September 11 attacks.” Berbir elaborated that “probably, the statements made by some Saudi officials, who say that they suspect that terrorists from inside the United States itself have been involved in this sophisticated operation, is enough to prove the meaninglessness of accusing bin Laden,...who was financed and armed by the CIA to fight the war against the Soviets.” According to Berbir, the “war against Islamic terrorism” is simply a new cloak for the old familiar American “arrogance of power” and for the powerful Zionist faction in the US administration. In Berbir’s view, the “U.S. has failed to prove or present a single tangible proof for” its official 9/11 story. (Al-Sharq Al- Awsat, November 30, 2001) The Saudi press also accused the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, of complicity in the attacks. Columnist Abd al-Jabbar Adwan wrapped up this paper’s view when he pointed to the numerous Armageddon and Apocalypse cults now operating on the American scene, writing: “Perhaps everyone will be surprised to find that, once again, the operation was ‘Made in the USA,’ as American society is filled with religious groups who consider themselves to be enemies of the state, its mechanisms and its liberal society. (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, September 13, 2001)
Iran’s Siyasat-e Ruz carried a front-page editorial entitled “A Blow From Within,” in which it argued that since the attacks must have been carried out according to “a complicated methodical, technical and intelligence plan, [this] must have been done by a group or organization that has precise intelligence, access to America’s vital and sensitive center, access to high quality weapons and explosives and infiltrators in those organs.” In this paper’s view, the prime suspects were “dissident elements in the American community, especially the American military, who played the main role in the explosions at the Oklahoma federal center.” (September 13, 2001)
Ferdinando Imposimato, one of the most prominent investigating judges in Italy during the years of the Red Brigades, the Moro assassination, and the attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II, also found it impossible to accept the Bush administration account.
Imposimato was also a former senator and television personality. Speaking to students at Rome University on November 8, 2001 concerning the question of the clash of civilizations, Imposimato made clear that his own view of 9/11 centered on “the participation of internal US forces” in the attacks.
Policy elites in western Europe tended towards skepticism, thus prefiguring the clash of many of them with the Bush administration over Iraq and other issues. An influential and well-informed British observer noted that he had “been convinced, that behind the official story, there has been another story that is not being told. But instead of telling the truth, the policymakers are starting new adventures, as a preemptive move, to take our minds off what is really going on, to avoid reality. The dilemma that they face, though, is that they are only creating more and greater problems. It is the famous story of the Chinese box: you solve one crisis in one box, and then another crisis pops up….Instead of honestly facing the implications of that, Washington has hoped to preempt reality, by creating more problems elsewhere, primarily in this Afghanistan-South Asia region.” (EIR, January 9, 2002)
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the US media were gripped by chauvinist hysteria and war psychosis. Two courageous editors, Ron Gutting of the Texas City, Texas City Sun and Dan Guthrie of the Grants Pass, Oregon, Daily Courier, where fired for lèse majesté (or was it Wehrkraftzersetzung?) when they dared to criticize Bush, including for his cowardice on 9/11. Edward Herman, professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, pointed out that “Pravda and Izvestia in the former Soviet Union would have been hard-pressed to surpass the American media in their subservience to the official agenda….They have abandoned the notion of objectivity or even the idea of providing a public space where problems are discussed and debated…. It’s a scandal that reveals the existence of a system of propaganda, not of serious media so essential in a Democratic society.” (Meyssan 2002 87)
Of course, the 9/11 myth could not have been generated and propagated by official leaks, statements, documents and reports alone. These had to be dished up to a gullible public by the corporate press, followed by the electronic media. Richard Bernstein and other New York Times staffers produced an elaboration of the official version entitled Out of the Blue: The Story of September 11, 2001, From Jihad to Ground Zero. Surely this embrace of 9/11 orthodoxy by the newspaper of record ought to give us some confidence that the basic facts have been checked? But of course the fact that one reads something in the New York Times guarantees nothing these days. The problem is not limited to the excesses of Jason Blair, who was terminated. Far more disturbing were the activities of neocon regime stenographer Judith Miller, a crony of the crank author Laurie Mylroie. Miller was responsible for uncritically purveying the lies of the Wolfowitz clique about Iraq’s phantomatic weapons of mass destruction. Partly because of Miller’s excess of neocon zeal, and absolute lack of critical screening, the New York Times was forced to apologize to its readers for its defective coverage. But unlike the hapless Blair, the disingenuous Miller, whose falsifications have contributed to a world tragedy, has continued to scribble. But if the New York Times had to apologize for serving as a megaphone for Bush’s lies of 2002 and 2003, how long will it be before they are forced to apologize for trumpeting Bush’s even bigger lies of 2001? How long will it be before the New York Times has to apologize for its pitiful propaganda piece, Out of the Blue?
A decisive turn in the transatlantic 9/11 debate came in the late summer of 2003, when the dimensions of the Anglo-American fiasco in Iraq were becoming evident. Michael Meacher had been a close associate of Tony Blair and one of the most prominent leaders of New Labour. He was a member of Parliament, and from May 1997 to June 2003, he had been the Environment Minister of Britain. Other members of the Blair cabinet, such as the former Overseas Development Minister, Claire Short, had quit over the Iraq adventure. Meacher was more courageous and more radical: he called into question the heart of the myth which the Bush administration wanted to foist off on the world. Meacher wrote:
First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily Telegraph, September 16, 2001). The list they provided included the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was arrested.
It had been known as early as 1996 that there were plans to hit Washington targets with aeroplanes. Then in 1999 a US national intelligence council report noted that “al-Qaida suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House.”
Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987 the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6, 2001). It seems this operation continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is also reported that five of the hijackers received training at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek, September 15, 2001).
Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up. French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August 2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer, which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times, November 3, 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI. One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May 20, 2002).
All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was suspected at no later than 8.20 AM, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06 AM. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from US Andrews Air Force base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 AM. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13, 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.
Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: “The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence.”
Nor is the US response after 9/11 any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to catch Bin Laden. In late September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan's two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official said, significantly, that “casting our objectives too narrowly” risked “a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr. Bin Laden was captured.” The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that “the goal has never been to get Bin Laden” (AP, April 5, 2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told ABC News (December 19, 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce complained it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been unable to attack because they did not receive permission quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13, 2002). None of this assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a real, determined war on terrorism. (Michael Meacher, “This war on terrorism is bogus.” The Guardian, September 6, 2003)
This is by all odds the most powerful critique of the 9/11 myth to come from an elected official in Britain. One senses the spirit of Tony Benn, the indomitable leader of the Labour left, who gave Meacher moral support. As for Claire Short, when asked in an interview if there was any common ground between Meacher’s critique of Blair and her own, she nervously replied that Meacher had taken himself completely “out of the mainstream.”
Another high-ranking skeptic on the official US account was Paul Hellyer, who had been Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada in three Liberal Party governments of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Because of this, he brought the expertise of a top- ranking NATO insider to the question under consideration. Some years later, in 2004, Hellyer told an interviewer: “Terrorism is a terrible thing, but this was a police problem and an intelligence problem. What was wrong with your intelligence? Why didn't you know this was going to happen? You spend billions and billions with spooks all over the world and surely you should have known what was going on. And, so I began to be concerned about that. And then questions were raised by others. Why did the President just sit in the schoolroom when he heard the news? Why did he not acknowledge that he already knew what was going on? As a former Minister of National Defense, when the news came out I had to wonder. Why did airplanes fly around for an hour and a half without interceptors being scrambled from Andrews [Air Force Base]? Isn’t Andrews right next to the capitol?” “With a quick action alert they should have been there in five minutes or ten minutes. If not, as the Minister of National Defense, which in the United States is the Secretary of Defense, I would want to say “why not?” (911Visibility.org, May 27, 2004)
If ever the world needed voices of reason and wisdom, it was in the traumatized days after 9/11. There were still persons in the world who aspired to the title of philosophers; were they able to provide humanity with any guidance? The picture was bleak. Jürgen Habermas, the most prominent representative of what remains of the Frankfurt School, was interviewed in New York in December 2001 by Giovanna Borradori. Habermas managed a certain veneer of skepticism; he noted that “if the September 11 terror attack is supposed to constitute a caesura in world history, as many think, then it must be able to stand comparison to other events of world historical impact.” (Borradori 26) He realizes that Carl Schmitt was somehow an issue, and he criticized Schmitt as a “fascist.” (Borradori 42) He was against Samuel Huntington; he regarded Bush’s alleged war on terrorism as “a serious mistake.” (Borradori 34) But when we get to the heart of the matter, Habermas remained imprisoned within the Clarke-Tenet-Powell-Blair-Bush official version, although he was clearly uncomfortable in that prison house of the human spirit. “The monstrous act itself was new,” Habermas observed. “And I do not just mean the action of the suicide hijackers who transformed the fully fueled airplanes together with the hostages into living weapons, or even the unbearable number of victims and the dramatic extent of the devastation….one factor above all seems to me to be relevant: one never really knows who one’s enemy is. Osama Bin Laden, the person, more than likely serves the function of a stand-in …. The terrorism we associate for the time being with the name ‘al Qaeda’ makes the identification of the opponent and any realistic assessment of the danger impossible.” (Borradori 28-29) We see that Habermas, however obliquely, was content to accept the official version. Is terrorism political? “Not in the subjective sense in which Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian citizen who came from Hamburg and piloted the first of the two catastrophic airplanes, would offer you a political answer.” (Borradori 33) I myself was in Berlin on 9/11, and saw how the lurid tabloid press there, led by the Bild Zeitung, attempted to awaken a new sense of guilt in the German population because Atta, the “terror beast,” had lived in Hamburg. Postwar German philosophy had been in many ways a campaign of resistance against the Bild Zeitung and its world outlook; now Habermas capitulated.
Another leading European philosopher interviewed by Borradori was Jacques Derrida, the deconstructionist. Derrida, as always, was obscured by the clouds of his own verbiage. He had the merit of proposing at least one realistic step for the post-9/11 configuration: “What would give me the most hope in the wake of all these upheavals is a potential difference between the new figure of Europe and the United States. I say this without any Eurocentrism.” (Borradori 116) Derrida also sensed that Carl Schmitt was somehow involved. He was well aware that “it was not impossible to foresee an attack on American soil by these ‘terrorists ….’” (Borradori 91) He knew that the guerillas who fought in Afghanistan were trained by the US. (Borradori 95) Derrida commented that the values he thought were important – politics, democracy, international law, human rights – “none of this seems to have any place whatsoever in the discourse of ‘Bin Laden.’” (Borradori 113) When it came to these values, “I don’t hear any such promises coming from ‘Bin Laden,’ at least not one for this world.” (Borradori 114) Again, the unease of the inmate shut inside the prison house of the official version was palpable, but it looked like no jail break would be attempted. Derrida said he used the term “Bin Laden” as a synecdoche, but use it nevertheless he did, and not, for example, “invisible government” or “rogue network.”. From these two examples we might be tempted to conclude that, on the great questions of human progress, European philosophy represented a spent force – but this may be premature.
Probably the leading US philosopher at the moment of 9/11 was the neopragmatist Richard Rorty. In the aftermath of 9/11, Rorty moved into a position of critical support for Bush. A year later, Rorty was perhaps less enthusiastic about Bush, but still focused on the “defense of civilization against terrorism” and “the chances of further attacks.” According to Rorty, “The catastrophes that rich monomaniacs like bin Laden are now able to cause are more like earthquakes than like attempts by nations at territorial aggrandizement or attempts by criminals to get rich. We are as baffled about how to forestall the next act of terrorism as about how to forestall the next hurricane.” (The Nation, October 21, 2002) Al Qaeda is thus a force of nature, which will be buffeting us for many years. This is much inferior even to Habermas and Derrida.
For even the beginnings of a sensible summary, we must go to Trudy Govier out in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. Govier lists four theories on 9/11: there is the Zion theory, which blames the Mossad; the theory of internal collusion, which asserts that the CIA and the FBI let it happen (sometimes abbreviated as LIHOP, let it happen on purpose); the chickens coming home to roost theory, which explains the attacks as a product of destructive US foreign policies; the Gandhian internationalist theory, which accepts the official version of 9/11 but rejects the aggressive US response; and the Standard Theory, with which we are already amply familiar. Govier’s argument against the internal collusion theory has no rigorous basis in fact or logic, but reduces everything to a matter of personal opinion (in Plato’s sense of opinion as inferior knowledge). “Were the attacks a setup?,” asks Govier. “I doubt it. The idea that US intelligence operatives would collude in such devastating attacks against their own country, including such potent symbols as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, strikes me as wildly unlikely.” (Govier 127-128) She therefore capitulates to the Standard Theory, with a nod to John Stuart Mill on the importance of dissent. Govier does not mention the more radical approach which is endorsed here, namely that 9/11 was the product of a network of moles inside the US government and intelligence agencies, backed up by covert action teams of expert professionals, seeking to provoke a war of civilizations as a means of shoring up Anglo-American world domination. The acronym for this approach is MIHOP – made it happen on purpose.
Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the entire question of 9/11 remains taboo in American politics. This question may provide the key to the demise to Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in the early months of 2004. Whatever else Dean may have been or not been, he was demonstrably the only Democratic candidate who was willing to make 9/11 and Bush’s conduct in relation to it into a campaign issue. He did so on December 2, 2003 in a radio interview with Diane Rehm on NPR. Dean suggested that Bush’s obsession with withholding documents on 9/11 might be attributable to his having known what was about to happen. “The most interesting theory I’ve heard so far – which is nothing more than a theory, it can’t be proved – is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis,” Dean remarked. This was a direct challenge to the heart of Bush’s rationale for re- election – his allegedly sterling performance in the so-called war on terror. It also tended to undermine the bi-partisan group which had been attempting to pin the 9/11 attacks on Saudi Arabia. Dean was walking on a minefield. He went on to say: “Now, who knows what the real situation is? But the trouble is, by suppressing that kind of information, you lead to those kinds of theories, whether they have any truth to them or not.” In the absence of total disclosure, Dean added, such theories will inevitably “get repeated.” He concluded that Bush “is taking a great risk by suppressing the key information that should go in the Kean Commission.” Dean’s acknowledgement that the 9/11 coverup had become a major issue was received with howls of “conspiracy theorist” from some of the corporate media who mentioned it. This incident was soon followed by a concerted campaign of denigration and ridicule against the former Vermont governor from such organs as the Washington Post. Dean, like Torricelli, had violated the oligarchical consensus which demanded silence on the real issues of 9/11.
The utter failure of the Commission to Investigate Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, popularly known as the 9/11 commission or the Kean-Hamilton commission, requires special attention. The Kean-Hamilton commission came into the world as an orphan. The Bush regime and the Washington oligarchy in general had never desired its creation. They had successfully fabricated and propagated the 9/11 myth, and they saw no need whatever for any further rummaging through the events of that catastrophic day. The creation of the 9/11 commission was due largely to the agitational and lobbying efforts of the 9/11 Families Steering Committee, a body largely composed of New Jersey housewives, the widows of men who had died in the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The most active among these widows was the quartet known as the Jersey girls – Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg, and Lorie van Auken. Another group had as its spokesman Stephen Push. After months of trips to Washington to lobby Congress, Kristen Breitweiser was designated by the 9/11 victims’ families to testify in the first public hearing of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JICI) inquiry at the US Capitol. The four widows soon became embittered as they saw that members of Congress and their staffs were determined to avoid the questions that seemed most important to them. They were indignant that the Ashcroft Justice Department had prescribed that “minders” had to be present whenever the JICI interviewed officials from the intelligence agencies, a rather overt form of witness intimidation which was later continued in regard to the Kean-Hamilton Commission.
They also began to notice that the FBI continued to lie systematically, and in the process they became aware of some of the anomalies in the government story. Two of the accused hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, had been known to US intelligence agencies well before 9/11, and important facts about them had been languishing unused in federal files for 15 months. As the JICI discovered, these two persons had had extensive dealings with a longtime FBI counterterrorism informant based in California. The case was very suspicious.
Since the JICI was mandated to cease its operations upon delivering its report at the end of 2003, the four widows and others began pressing for the board of inquiry which Torricelli had demanded, but which Bush had successfully blocked, during the months immediately after 9/11. This proposal was also stubbornly opposed by Bush, who wanted no further investigation at all.
In May 2002, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Daschle endorsed the idea of an independent investigating commission. There was a diehard group of partisan Republicans in the House who sought to block the probe as long as they could. They were leads by Tom Delay, who ranted that “a public commission investigating American intelligence in a time of war is ill-conceived and irresponsible.” (New York Times, May 21, 2002) This was of course what Bush and Cheney also thought.
The House finally agreed to the bill for a commission on July 25, 2002. Rep. Tim Roemer was the bill’s sponsor, and it was not a coincidence that he was later named to the commission, since he was out of the House and needed a job. After the commission was finally voted up by the Senate in late November 2002, Bush sought to name Henry Kissinger as the commission chairman. With that everyone in Washington knew that the fix was in: the new commission was intended by the establishment to carry forward the coverup, not to discover the truth about what had happened. Kissinger’s old adversary Daniel Schorr was one who said so bluntly, adding that the Bush administration was “desperately anxious” to avoid being pilloried for the obvious intelligence failures of that day. (NPR, November 30, 2002)
The bankruptcy of the 9/11 commission is expressed first of all in the conflicts of interests inherent in the pedigrees of the well-heeled insiders who composed it.
The blueblood former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, currently president of Drew University, was on the board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Council of Prince Philip’s and Prince Bernhard’s World Wildlife Fund. He has also been on the board of Amerada Hess Corporation, which has been engaged in a joint venture with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia. Delta Oil is owned by the bin Mafouz and al Amoudi families of Saudi Arabia, who have been charged at various times with helping to fund al Qaeda – as for example in the $1 trillion lawsuit brought by 9/11 victims’ heirs against Saudi Arabian interests. Kean has been insistently linked to Khalid bin Mafouz, one of Bin Laden’s relatives by marriage. He is on the board of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This is the so-called Project Democracy, a bi-partisan organ of quasi-autonomous US government subversion of the rest of the world. The NED is in effect the privatized version of the Cold War CIA under Reagan’s Executive Order 12333. This was the mother, so to speak, of the Bush 41 – Poindexter – Oliver North double dealing that history has come to know as the Iran-contra affair. In a 1987 essay entitled “Project Democracy’s Program: The Fascist Corporate State,” I had occasion to observe:
Even in an epoch full of big lies like the late 20th century, it is ironic that the financiers of the Trilateral Commission should have chosen the name “Project Democracy” to denote their organized effort to install a fascist, totalitarian regime in the United States and a fascist New Order around the world. …Project Democracy is fascist, designed to culminate in the imposition of fascist institutions on the United States, institutions that combine the distilled essence of the Nazi Behemoth and the Bolshevik Leviathan. Project Democracy is high treason, a conspiracy for the overthrow of the Constitution. An organization whose stock in trade is destabilization and putsch in so many countries around the world it can hardly be expected to halt its operations as it returns to the US border. For Project Democracy, it can happen here, it will happen here.” (Tarpley 1987 40)
Lee Hamilton may be the all-time champion as regards the sheer number of commissions he has served on. While working on the 9/11 commission, he moonlighted as president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a thinly veiled intelligence operation. Hamilton served as congressman from Indiana for 34 years, specializing in the House International Relations Committee, which he chaired. He was also on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran – better known as the Iran- contra committee, which catapulted Oliver North to notoriety. At that time, Hamilton had commented that indictment or impeachment of Reagan or Bush would not have been “good for the country.” Instead, Hamilton supported the indictment of Reagan NSC director John Poindexter, North, and General Richard Secord, while assiduously protecting both Reagan and Vice President George Bush, the latter of whom had directed every phase of Iran-contra drug-running and gun-running (Tarpley 1992). All in all, Hamilton is 0 for 4 in finding serious malfeasance by top oligarchs in any of the investigating committees or commissions he has worked on.
John Lehman was Secretary of the Navy from 1981 to 1987, during the Reagan-Bush administrations, working with Caspar Weinberger and Frank Carlucci. His current role was that of Wall Street corporate raider in his capacity as chairman of J. F. Lehman & Company, a private equity investment firm specialized in leveraged buyouts. Lehman counts as a Kissinger clone; he got his start as special counsel and member of the senior staff in Kissinger’s Nixon-era National Security Council. He was one of the more accomplished practitioners of psychological warfare among the commissioners, as reflected in his expert baiting of the FDNY representatives during the commission’s last hearings in New York City. Thanks in part to this arrogant performance, the last commission session in New York almost turned into a riot against the 9/11 commission, and the commissioners were no doubt glad to get out of town that day.
Jamie S. Gorelick, a partner of Wilmer, Cutler, & Pickering, was also the vice-chair of Fannie Mae, a purveyor of mortgage-backed securities which was reportedly in deep financial trouble as a result of the Greenspan housing bubble. She had been deputy Attorney General during the Clinton years. Gorelick, who served on the CIA’s National Security Advisory Panel as well as on the President’s Review of Intelligence, counted as a personal creature of CIA Director George Tenet, to whom she displayed fawning deference whenever he appeared for testimony before the 9/11 commission. Her lines of questioning typically tried to deflect guilt and opprobrium away from Langley, and towards such favored scapegoat agencies as the FAA.
James R. “Big Jim” Thompson was a Republican wheelhorse from Illinois, where he had held on as governor from 1977-1991, an all-time record for that state. He was a member of the law firm of Winston & Straw, which finds its niche in defending corporations accused of wrongdoing – among them, Philip Morris, the target of numerous class action lawsuits by tobacco victims. Thompson’s caliber may be most easily gauged from examining his role in overseeing a “corporate kleptocracy” as a member of the audit committee of Hollinger Corporation, the British intelligence front which was mercilessly looted over many years by Lord Conrad Black and his rapacious consort, Barbara Amiel, a self-styled “fascist bitch.” According to a report prepared for Hollinger by former SEC chairman Richard C. Breeden, between 1997 and 2003, Black and his management cohorts steered 95.2% of Hollinger’s gross income into their personal accounts, depriving shareholders of about $400 million of company funds. Black and Amiel reportedly viewed Hollinger as a personal “piggybank.” This neocon power couple, who had played a key role in the Clinton impeachment via their control of the London Daily Telegraph, used the Hollinger corporate jet as their personal property, shuttling among Chicago, Toronto, and vacation spots like Palm Springs and others. One 33-hour junket to Bora Bora alone cost Hollinger shareholders $533,000. Black billed the company $90,000 to refurbish his Rolls Royce, and another $8 million for memorabilia that once belonged to Franklin D. Roosevelt, about whom Black wrote a book. A birthday party organized by Black for Amiel at New York’s La Grenouille cost Hollinger $42,870. Black shoveled $5.4 million to neocon windbag Richard Perle, whom he described as a “trimmer and sharper” in private company emails. In the midst of this bacchanal sat Big Jim Thompson of the audit committee, flanked by former State Department operative Richard Burt. Thompson came in for harsh criticism in the Breeden report for having done nothing to prevent Black’s picaresque looting of Hollinger, which was supposed to be preserved as an asset of the British intelligence community. If Big Jim Thompson could not see the kleptocracy raging around him, how could he be expected to come up with any meaningful facts about 9/11? (Washington Post, September 1, 2004)
Former Senator Slade Gorton worked with the law firm of Preston, Gates & Ellis LLP. He had represented Washington state in the Senate for 18 years, 1982-2000. He himself attributed his appointment to his close personal friendship with GOP Senate leader Trent Lott, who was soon forced to quit his leadership post because of his effusive praise for Dixiecrat segregationist Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Gorton can be considered the representative of the smoke-filled room of Republican senators who exert decisive influence in the GOP.
Former Indiana Democratic Congressman Tim Roemer was a partner at Johnston and Associates, and a scholar at George Mason University in Virginia. He served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was part of the JICI coverup, and was one of the authors of the House bill which set up the 9/11 commission.
Fred Fielding was a senior partner with the Wiley, Rein, & Fielding law firm. He had been Reagan’s lawyer between 1981 and 1986. He had been associate counsel between 1970 and 1972, and associate counsel between 1972 and 1974. His role as Nixon’s lawyer was such that, after a multi-year probe, investigative journalism students at the University of Illinois declared that Fielding had been the fabled Deep Throat who fed leads to Woodward and Bernstein about Watergate back in 1972-74. At that time Fielding had worked in John Dean’s office.
Former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was the one possible wild card among the commissioners. He had been defeated in his re-election bid in 2002 by an underhanded Republican campaign of character assassination waged by the shameless Saxby Chambliss. Cleland had attempted to preserve union bargaining rights and job security for the employees of the new Department of Homeland Security, but had been wildly defamed by the GOP attack machine, including the juxtaposition of his picture with that of Bin Laden. Cleland, we recall, had left two legs and one arm on the battlefield in Vietnam. In the current scoundrel time in Washington, he quickly became persona non grata.
Democratic Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste was a former federal prosecutor from New York City who gained prominence during the Watergate scandal against the Nixon White House in 1973- 74, when he was chief lawyer for the Sam Ervin Senate Watergate Committee. Since then he had been a fixture on the Democratic side of various investigations. Currently a member of the law firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe, and Maw, Ben- Veniste was previously with Weil, Gotshal, and Manges, one of the largest bankruptcy firms in the world, which was reportedly in the process of making some $200 million out of the bankruptcy proceedings of Enron, the company looted by Bush’s top backer of 2000, Ken “Kenny Boy” Lay. In the past, Ben-Veniste had represented the Iran-contra drug smuggler and pilot, Barry Seal.
Commission staff director Philip Zelikow was the director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs and White Burkett Miller professor of History at the University of Virginia. He had previously served as the executive director of the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by Carter and Ford. Zelikow was one of the editors of The Kennedy Tapes, a collection marked by flawed editorial criteria and thus of dubious value to scholars. Zelikow was co-author with Condoleezza Rice of Germany Unified and Europe Transformed. As a partner with Rice in a book venture, Zelikow thus had a further crippling conflict of interest. He was also the director of the Aspen Strategy Group, a program of the utopian Aspen Institute. He is a Bushman, and was a part of the 2000-2001 Bush-Cheney transition team. Rice, for example, had been accused of covering up for a payment of some $100,000 sent to lead patsy Mohamed Atta by General Mahmoud Afmad of the Pakistani Interservices Intelligence in September 2001, almost certainly at the behest of the CIA. Zelikow was appointed by the Bush administration to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) on October 5, 2001; the PFIAB chair at that time was the lugubrious General Brent Scowcroft, formerly of Kissinger Associates. At several points in the investigation, Zelikow was forced to recuse himself, since he had been a part of the actions being probed. In another case, he was interviewed by other representatives of the 9/11 commission in relation to his role in pre-9/11 intelligence. At this rate Zelikow could have simplified the investigation by interviewing himself.
The resident lawyer of the 9/11 commission was David Marcus of the arch-establishment law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. One of the clients of this law firm was Saudi Prince Mohammed al Faisal, who was named as one of the three most important financiers of 9/11 in the $1 trillion families’ lawsuit. (Michel Chossudovsky, “Who’s Who on the 9/11 ‘Independent’ Commission,” globalresearch.ca; Joyce Lynn, “The 9/11 Cover-Up Commission,” www.communitycurrency.org/joycelynn.html)
Four out of the ten commissioners – Kean, Hamilton, Lehman, and Gorelick – were members of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.
As if to document its lack of seriousness, the 9/11 commission was indifferent to a glaring case of perjury that occurred on the part of witnesses testifying under oath. In one session, former FBI Acting Director Thomas Pickard testified that Attorney General John Ashcroft had told him before 9/11 not to provide any more briefings on the terrorist threat, since he was not interested in hearing them. Ashcroft later directly denied that this was true. One of the two, most likely Ashcroft, was lying on a matter of considerable materiality. But the 9/11 commission never acted.
The 9/11 families had expected that at least one of their number would be named as a member of the new commission which they had bludgeoned a very unwilling Washington establishment into setting up. When the appointments came out, the commission was composed of hacks, wheelhorses, and professional insiders from the two political parties. The most the families and their allies could manage was to get Mindy Kleinberg on the agenda for a hard-hitting presentation to one of the early public plenary sessions of the commission. The commissioners listened politely, thanked Ms. Kleinberg extensively, and proceeded completely to ignore the letter and the spirit of her remarks. (New York Observer, September 14, 2003)
The 9/11 commission was never a fighting investigation, like the Church Committee and the Pike Committee back during the Ford administration. The Pike Committee, we must recall, once issued a richly deserved contempt of Congress citation against Henry Kissinger. The only time it looked like the Kean-Hamilton Commission might actually be going somewhere came towards the end of 2003, when Commissioner Max Cleland became indignant about the high-handed arrogance with which the Bush White House was insisting on conducting its coverup. The Commission, which was armed with subpoena power, had chosen to negotiate with Bush about its access to important White House documents, notably the presidential daily briefings about which certain details had come out through the earlier probes. Bush was offering to let two members of the commission see the a pre-censored selection of the sensitive documents in question, in a guarded room, without the possibility of taking notes. Cleland, for whom the defeat at the hands of Saxby Chambliss in the 2002 election still rankled, became indignant with the sort of righteous anger which is so seldom seen in today’s Washington. Calling the Bush proposal “disgusting,” and warning against dirty deals, Cleland forthrightly demanded that all the commissioners be able to see all the documents they wanted and take all the notes they thought necessary. (New York Times, October 26, 2003) If Bush chose to oppose this, then the commission would have to use its subpoena powers, and let the matter play out through the courts – incidentally inflicting maximum public relations damage on the always-surreptitious Bush. Just as it appeared that Cleland and perhaps one or two other commissioners were about to clash with Governor Kean and Congressman Hamilton, it was announced that Cleland would be departing the commission to accept a post on the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank. According to the statute that set up the commission, these two jobs could not be held at the same time. The old warrior’s courage had failed him. Who knows what threats had been issued to secure this outcome?
But Cleland’s departure meant that there was a vacancy on the commission which now had to be filled. This time a group of family activists officially nominated Kristen Breitweiser for the seat being vacated by Cleland. But, in an act of cynical contempt for the families and their sacrifices, Senator Daschle, in whose power it was to nominate a successor, chose instead to name former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerry, currently the head of the New School University in New York City. Kerry was an austerity Democrat and deficit hawk from the right wing of his party who had developed into a very vehement warmonger and xenophobe in the days after 9/11. Subjects like Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda could evoke from him adamant demands for US military retaliation that bordered on psychotic episodes.
For Kerry was not only a troubled man; he was reportedly a war criminal of the Vietnam era. As recounted by Newsweek correspondent Gregory L. Vistica in his article “One Awful Night in Thanh Phong” (New York Times Magazine, April 25, 2001), one night in 1969 “Kerry’s Raiders” had attacked the small Vietnamese hamlet of Thanh Phong, slaughtering at least 13 civilians, including women, old men, and children. This account, relying heavily on the testimony of Gerhard Klann, one of Kerry’s fellow Navy Seals, recounts how Kerry helped Klann dispatch an elderly Vietnamese man, holding him down while Klann cut his throat with a bayonet. Disturbingly, Kerry reportedly claims nowadays that he does not remember his role in the slaying of the old man. If true, this obviously suggested that his mental equipment was not up to the task of serving on such an important commission. (See also Justin Raimondo, “Is Bob Kerrey a War Criminal? Yes.” www.antiwar.com, April 27, 200)
The 9/11 commission was stonewalled by the FAA, JCS, CIA, NORAD, and Homeland Security. FAA and NORAD were so reticent that subpoenas were finally issued to get them to disgorge documents. At first, witnesses before the 9/11 commission were not even sworn in under oath. This changed under pressure from the bereaved families. The administration intimidated witnesses, with minders – overseers from the agency they worked for – present during the testimony at all times to make sure they did not get too talkative. The final report of the 9/11 commission was “vetted,” meaning censored or screened, by the Bush White House.
The apex of interest in the 9/11 commission was the Clarke testimony of April 2004, which resulted in the declassification and publication of Clarke’s famous Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” This was a document which Rice had claimed contained merely historical data. However, the net effect was to strengthen the myth, not to broaden the horizons of the public. This, of course, was Clarke’s intent. Condoleezza Rice first refused to appear, until public pressure became unbearable. But when she did show up the results were disappointing.
When the 9/11 commission report was released on July 22, 2004, it received the approval of a bi-partisan oligarchical consensus. The ruling elite approved of the coverup, and also approved of the recommendations for structural reform, notably the idea of having a single intelligence czar of cabinet rank to preside over CIA, DIA, NSA, and the rest. In reality, the nation would be better served by keeping the present fragmented system, since it provided a pluralism of opinion, and could not so easily be dragooned in a given direction. What if the intelligence czar were a neocon of the ilk of Feith, Luti, or Schulsky? Under the current system, there was always the chance that one intelligence agency might help the country by investigating the crimes of another intelligence agency. But that seemed to be precisely what the Kean-Hamilton consensus did not want.
There were a few dissident voices in the controlled corporate media. William Raspberry condemned the 9/11 commission report as “a childlike explanation” which managed to avoid any semblance of individual responsibility,” analogous to a child’s saying “The lamp broke.” Raspberry quoted CIA alumnus Ray McGovern of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity commenting that “the whole name of the game is to exculpate anyone in the establishment…why is it that after all this evidence and months and months of testimony, the commission found itself unable even to say if the attacks could have been prevented?” McGovern’s overall estimate of the 9/11 commission itself: “This commission is not representative of America or of the families of those who died in 9/11. It is an archetypically establishment body, consisting of people who, with the exception of a token white woman, look exactly like me. They are all lawyers or politicians or both – and all acceptable to Vice President Cheney, who didn’t want a commission in the first place. The result is facile, mischievous, and disingenuous.” (Washington Post, July 26, 2004)
As a result of the official failure to provide a competent investigation of the 9/11 events, there has been absolutely no accountability or responsibility for what occurred. The JICI and the Kean- Hamilton commission agreed in essence that, although there was certainly an intelligence failure, it was systemic, meaning that no individuals were responsible. In bureaucratic usage, the propositions that everyone was responsible means that in practical terms no one was responsible. The only official of any note whose career seems to have been harmed by 9/11 was the security director of the FAA, and even he was allowed to resign.
In the US Navy, a captain who runs his ship aground is relieved of command, no matter whose fault it turns out to be. In many countries, if the national team does poorly in the World Cup soccer championships, the sports minister must resign. In other countries, if a train wreck occurs, the transportation minister is automatically required to step down. This is the principle of ministerial responsibility, the overall political responsibility of the head of an executive department.
After 9/11, the Bush administration did not observe this principle. Instead, figures like Ashcroft argued in effect that, the greater the disasters that occurred on their watch, the more numerous their failures, the more emergency powers they deserved to be given. Their maxim was “the more I fail, the more dictatorial power I deserve to have.” Ashcroft seemed to think that he was entitled to bungle his way into a dictatorship. Such an arrangement provides a positive stimulus for bureaucrats to be less than zealous in preventing disasters from being visited on the citizens. The principle of ministerial responsibility provides the most rudimentary and the most essential reality principle for government officials: the sure knowledge that if catastrophes take place on their watch, they will be sacked. In an oligarchical system like ours, this is absolutely necessary to create a minimum common interest between security officials and the citizens. The alien neocon notion of martial law abolishes this reality principle by threatening to freeze the failed officials in power as a reward for their own bungling incompetence – or for their treasonous complicity.
The following comments on the Gunpowder Plot of nearly four hundred years ago bear an eerie resemblance to the 9/11 operation: “The determined manner in which this object was ever kept in view, the unscrupulous means constantly employed for its attainment, the vehemence with which matters were asserted to have been proved, any proof of which was never seriously attempted – in a word, the elaborate system of falsification by which alone the story of the conspiracy was made to suit the purpose it so efficiently served, can inspire us with no confidence that the foundation upon which such a superstructure was erected, was itself what it was said to be. On the other hand, when we examine into the details supplied to us as to the progress of the affair, we find that much of what the conspirators are said to have done is well-nigh incredible, while it is utterly impossible that if they really acted in the manner described, the public authorities should not have had full knowledge of their proceedings.” (Gerard 16-17) These comments on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 are equally applicable to the 9/11 attacks of four centuries later. The Anglo-American financier faction, whose birth was marked by terrorism under James I, has resorted to even more spectacular terrorism in the epoch of its historic decline.
And so we say to all persons of good will: you would never believe the utterances of Bush & Co. about any issue of importance without independently verifying the facts. Why do you persist in believing Bush on the most central question of our time, 9/11?
On September 14, 2001, the US Congress, contemptuously flaunting the lessons of the infamous and fraudulent Golf of Tonkin resolution of August 1964, which had been paid for with the lives of 50,000 Americans and a million Vietnamese, gave Bush carte blanche to wage war, authorizing him to employ “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons.” The only dissenting voice was that of Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, who defended the honor of the American people with her superb courage in the face of hysteria. It is Bush’s determination of those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 events which we must now examine.
1. Citations from newspapers of the Arab and Islamic world are from Cameron S. Brown, “The Shot Heard Round the World: Middle East Reactions to September 11,” in Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 5, no. 4, December 2001.