|The New Pearl Harbor (Part Three - Conclusion)|
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IS COMPLICITY BY US OFFICIALS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR 9/11?
At the center of these considerations is the fact that huge benefits from the attacks of 9/11 were reaped by the institutions that are suspected, by critics of the official account, of complicity in those attacks. Ahmed introduces the discussion of this issue by quoting a statement from investigative journalist Patrick Martin:
In examining any crime, a central question must be "who benefits? The principal beneficiaries of the destruction of the World Trade Center are in the United States: the Bush administration, the Pentagon, the CIA and FBI, the weapons industry, the oil industry. It is reasonable to ask whether those who have profited to such an extent from this tragedy contributed to bringing it about.>2
To flesh out one of these examples: CIA Director George Tenet wanted authorization and funding for a plan to expand covert operations around the world. Called "Worldwide Attack Matrix," Tenets plan, Bob Woodward has reported, "described covert operations in 80 countries that were either underway or that he was now recommending." At a meeting at Camp David four days after 9/11, Tenet received authorization.>3 Shortly afterwards, points out Meyssan, "the agency's funding was increased by 42 percent to successfully carry out the 'Worldwide Attack Matrix.'">4
With regard to the Pentagon and the weapons industry: The president, having asserted that US military capacity would be increased sufficiently to win this new war "whatever it costs," was able to push through the biggest increase for military spending since the end of the Cold War. Without 9/11, such an increase would have been highly unlikely. As Phyllis Bennis points out: "The billion addition to the Pentagon budget requested by the Bush administration in January 2002 by itself was more money than any other country spent on its military.">5 In a calmer atmosphere, in other words, Congress might have decided that we were already spending more than enough.
The attacks of 9/11 allowed, in particular, greatly increased funding for the Space Force, championed by Donald Rumsfeld, General Eberhart, and General Myers. For these men, new support for the "missile defense system" may have been the most important benefit to come out of 9/11. Whereas in July of 2001, a Gallup Poll showed that only 53 percent of the population supported this system, a poll released on October 21 showed that support had jumped to 70 percent.>6
With regard to benefits to the Bush administration as such, Ahmed reminds us that prior to 9/11 it was widely perceived to be in a crisis. Many Americans believed Bush to have gained the presidency fraudulently; there was a growing economic crisis, both domestic and globally; "the Bush administration was becoming increasingly isolated due to its foreign policies...and was consequently failing to push through resolutions via the United Nations Security Council and other international bodies"; there were massive "anti-globalization" demonstrations; "Bush approval ratings--both personal and political-were plummeting," so it was probably going to be "extremely difficult for the Bush administration to maintain its already uncomfortably slim majority in the House for the midterm elections in 2002; and "the strategic and military planning outlined in Brzezinski's [The Great Chessboard] would have been impossible to implement at this time. However, "handed the public mood of shock and revulsion over the shocking tragedy of 11th September, the Bush administration was able to exploit these sentiments to advance long-standing global economic and strategic aims" and "to avert the crisis of legitimacy it had previously faced.">8
With regard to implementing its strategic and military plans, the Bush administration and its advisors seemed well prepared to use this attack by non-state terrorists as a basis for going to war against states on its attack list. In his address to the nation on the evening of 9/11, President Bush said: "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." Then, as mentioned in the Introduction, as soon as the presidents address was completed, Henry Kissinger had an opinion piece ready to publish on the Internet.
The government should be charged with a systematic response that, one hopes, will end the way that the attack on Pearl Harbor ended-- with the destruction of the system that is responsible for it. That system is a network of terrorist organizations sheltered in capitals of certain countries.... [A]ny government that shelters groups capable of this kind of attack, whether or not they can be shown to have been involved in this attack, must pay an exorbitant price.>9
A week later, Richard Perle made the same point in an editorial entitled "State Sponsors of Terrorism Should Be Wiped Out Too," in which he said:
Those countries that harbour terrorists--that provide the means with which they would destroy innocent civilians--must themselves be destroyed. The war against terrorism is about the war against those regimes.>10
It does appear that the administration and its advisors were ready to hit the ground running with this message.
The worlds leaders and the worlds governments did not object. To the contrary. Before September 11, outrage had been rising among French intellectuals over whether the US hyperpower was behaving like a sovereign of an empire. Before September 11, Russia was audibly objecting to US threats to abandon the ABM treaty. Before September 11, Europeans and others had begun cautious efforts to punish Washington's lack of accountability to the international community.... But by 10 AM on that September Tuesday, all those already hesitant moves came to an abrupt stop. Instead, governments cheered and much of the world stood by as the US asserted the rights of empire.x11
With regard to the planned operation in Afghanistan in particular Meyssan observes: "The attacks of September 11 allowed what was nothing more than a classic colonial expedition to be disguised as a legitimate operation.">12
The fact that this tragedy for the country provided a tremendous opportunity for the administration was widely understood. For example, John Pilger, after saying that "[t]he attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the 'new Pearl Harbor,'" added that these attacks have been "described 'the opportunity of ages.'">13 They were described in those terms by the Bush administration itself. At the meeting of the National Security Council on the night of 9/11, President Bush reportedly said that the attacks provided "a great opportunity.">14 A month later, Donald Rumsfeld told the New York Times that 9/11 created "the kind of opportunities that World War II offered, to refashion the world.">15 Condoleezza Rice told senior members of the National Security Council to "think about 'how do you capitalize on these opportunities.'">16 This point was even put in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, issued by the Bush administration in September of 2002. "The events of September 11, 2001," it candidly declared, "opened vast, new opportunities.">17
"Time and again," observers Pilger, "11 September is described as an 'opportunity.'" The opportunity provided by the attacks has been commented upon by many others. A story in US News and World Report said:
Then came 9/11. Worldwide revulsion and the shared sense of threat handed Washington a once-in-a-generation chance to shake up international politics. Ten days after the attacks, State Department experts catalogued for [Colin] Powell a dozen "silver linings.">18
Walden Bello, one of the major third-world critics of the US-led global economy, likewise said:
The Al Qaeda New York mission was the best possible gift to the US and the global establishment.... As for the crisis of political governance in the US, September 11 has turned George W. Bush from a minority president whose party lost control of the Senate into arguably the most powerful US president in recent times >19
A statement by Karen Talbot, Director of the International Center for Peace and Justice, suggests that she had read Brzezinski s book:
[T]he September 11th terrorist attacks have provided a qualitatively new opportunity for the US, acting particularly on behalf of giant oil companies, to permanently entrench its military in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, and the Transcaucusus where there are vast oil reserves--the second largest in the world. The way is now open to jump start projects for oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan and Pakistan.... The big payoff for the US is the golden opportunity to establish a permanent military presence in oil-rich Central Asia.>20
The well-known political commentator William Pfaff wrote:
It seems to many Americans and others that the United States is already potentially head of a modern version of universal empire...The fundamental issue of the next two to three decades will inevitably be how the United States employs the amazing power it now exercises. Before September 11, the country...lacked the political will to impose itself. September 11 supplied that will.>21
Ahmed quotes a statement by social philosopher John McMurtry that sums up the argument:
[T]he forensic principle of "who most benefits from the crime?" clearly points in the direction of the Bush administration. One would be naive to think the Bush Jr. faction and its oil, military-industrial and Wall Street backers...do not benefit astronomically from this mass-kill explosion. If there was a wish-list, it is all granted by this numbing turn of events. Americans are diverted from a free-falling economy to attack another foreign Satan, while the Bush regimes popularity climbs. The military, the CIA, and every satellite armed security apparatus have more money and power than ever, and become as dominant as they can over civilians in "the whole new era" already being declared by the White House.>22
Accordingly, given the principle that in general when crimes are committed, those who most benefit from them are to be considered the prime suspects, there is a prima facie case for assuming that the Bush administration was involved in this particular crime. Or, to repeat Patrick Martins careful phrasing: "It is reasonable to ask whether those who have profited to such an extent from this tragedy contributed to bringing it about."
The Evidence for Official Complicity: A Summary
Anmed's summary of his evidence,>23 supplemented with points contributed by Chossudovsky, Thompson, Meyssan, and other researchers, contains the following elements:
2. Evidence that men with connections to al-Qaeda were allowed into the United States in spite of regulations that should have kept them out
3. Evidence that men with connections to al-Qaeda were allowed to train in US flight schools.
4. Evidence that the attacks of 9/11 could not have succeeded without an order from the highest level of government to suspend normal operating procedures for responding to hijackings.
5. Evidence that US political and military leaders made misleading and even false statements about their response to the hijackings.
6. Evidence in particular that the presently accepted official account, according to which jet fighter planes were scrambled but arrived too late, was invented some days after 9/11.
7. Evidence that the collapse of the WTC buddings was brought about by explosives, so that participation by the US government in the prevention of an adequate examination of the debris, especially the steel, constitutes evidence of its participation in a cover-up.
8. Evidence that someone in authority sought to ensure that there would be deaths in the attacks on the second WTC tower and the Pentagon by not having these buildings evacuated.
9. Evidence that what hit the Pentagon was not a Boeing 757 but a much smaller aircraft, such as a guided missile.
10. Evidence that Flight 93 was shot down after authorities learned that the passengers were gaining control of it.
11. Evidence that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld revealed advance knowledge of two of the attacks.
12. Evidence that President Bush on 9/11 feigned ignorance of the occurrence and seriousness of the attacks.
13. Evidence that President Bush and his Secret Service knew on 9/11 that he would not be a target of attacks.
14. Evidence that the FBI had specific knowledge of the time and targets of the attacks at least a month in advance.
15. Evidence that the CIA and other intelligence agencies would have had very specific advance knowledge of the attacks by means of the put options purchased shortly before 9/11.
16. Evidence that the Bush administration lied about not having had specific warnings about the attacks.
17. Evidence that the FBI and other federal agencies prevented investigations prior to 9/11 that might have uncovered the plot.
18. Evidence that US officials sought to conceal evidence of involvement by Pakistan's ISI in the planning of 9/11.
19. Evidence that US officials sought to conceal the presence of the ISI chief in Washington during the week of 9/11.
20. Evidence that the FBI and other federal agencies blocked investigations after the attacks that might have revealed the true Perpetrators.
21. Evidence that the United States did not really seek to kill or capture Osama bin Laden either before or after the attacks.
22. Evidence that figures central to the Bush administration had desired a "new Pearl Harbor" because of various benefits it would bring.
23. Evidence of motive provided by the predictable benefits that this event, called by Bush himself "the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century," did bestow on the Bush administration.
24. Evidence against the alternative explanationÃ¢â‚¬”the incompetence theoryÃ¢â‚¬”provided by the fact that those who were allegedly guilty of incompetence were not fired but, in some cases, promoted.
In summarizing his argument for complicity (which contains many but not of all of these 24 points), Ahmed adds that he does not pretend to have presented a conclusive case. Rather, he considers his conclusions to be "merely the best available inferences from the available facts that have been so far unearthed.">24
Possible Problems for a Complicity Theory
Ahmed is right to put it that way, because there well may be other facts that would cast the facts discussed by the revisionists in a different light. Also, some of the items they have presented as "facts" may not be such; only further investigations can decide. Moreover, the judgment that a case for some thesis is "conclusive" is always in part a subjective judgment, depending upon the biases of those making the judgment. The question, accordingly, is not whether the case for official complicity--the best case that can be constructed from the writings of Ahmed, Chossudovsky, Meyssan, Thompson, and other researchers--is conclusive. The question is whether it is likely to be widely perceived as conclusive. And for this to be so, critics of this revisionist theory could well claim, these revisionists must do more than show that the official account is implausible. They must also present an alternative account of what happened that incorporates all the relevant facts now available in a plausible way. Furthermore, these counter-critics could continue, insofar as an alternative account is already contained, at least implicitly, in the writings of the revisionists, it could be subjected to a great number of rhetorical questions, to which easy answers do not appear to be at hand.
One such question, for example, might be: If officials in the Bush administration wanted a new Pearl Harbor, why would they choose the set of events that occurred on 9/11, which required a massive conspiracy, involving at least members of the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon? ("Choosing" here need not imply participation in planning the attacks; it can simply mean "choosing to allow.") Given standard procedures for dealing with hijacked planes, furthermore, allowing such planes to strike the WTC and the Pentagon required such obvious violations of standard procedures that the conspirators could hardly have expected not to be found out. They could, to be sure, have assumed that the shock of the attacks and the outburst of uncritical patriotism to follow would allow them to get away with the scheme for a while. But how could they have believed that the absurdities in their story would not eventually lead to their exposure? So why would they have concocted such a complex scheme, requiring such absurdities, when virtually the same effects could have been achieved with a much simpler hoax, such as an attack by chemical or biological weapons, which could have been carried out by a very small number of perpetrators? After all, the new Pearl Harbor did not need to mimic the original one to the extent of being an attack by airplanes.
Furthermore, even supposing that there was some rational reason for the administration to choose the kind of attacks that occurred on 9/11, why would they have risked exposure of the fact that the attack on the WTC was an inside job by having the buildings collapsed by explosives? Was ensuring the occurrence of several thousand deaths worth this additional risk of exposure? And why, in any case, would they have demolished WTC-7, thereby undermining the claim that the Twin Towers collapsed because of the impact of the airliners combined with the heat from the jet-fuel-fed fires?
Also, assuming for the sake of argument the revisionists' conspiracy theory, there are many features of the alleged conspirators' resulting behaviour that suggests incompetence beyond belief. For example, given the fact that if no planes were scrambled until after the Pentagon had been hit, this would obviously have required an order to cancel standard procedured, why would the conspirators first tell this story? And then when they realized that that story would likely inplicate them, why would they concoct a second version almost equally absurd--with planes ordered from distant air bases and with travel times implying that they were flying only a few hundred miles per hour? Given the massive planning that must have gone into the whole operation, why was there not a carefully formulated, plausible cover story that would be told by everyone from the outset?
Moreover, critics can ask, why would the conspirators then raise additional doubts with needless lies and foolish statements? Why, for example, would they suggest that it required a presidential order merely to have hijacked planes intercepted, when any cub reporter could find out otherwise? Why would they claim that they had received no advance warnings of the attacks, when the falsity of this claim would surely be discovered? Why would they have President Bush appear to be ignorant of the fact that the country was (apparently) under attack, when it is well known that he would be informed of such events immediately? Why would the president then, after officially knowing that a modern-day Pearl Harbor was unfolding, continue to do "the reading thing"? And why would the president remain in his publicly known location, thereby appearing to demonstrate that he and his staff knew that no suicide missions were coming their way? Would not the conspirators have orchestrated a scene that made the Secret Service appear genuinely concerned and the president genuinely presidential? Furthermore, if Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Libby had been planning this incident when their Project for the New American Century produced its 2000 document, why would they have allowed what could be read as a call for a "new Pearl Harbor" to be included in this public document, which anyone could read? And why would Rumsfeld (assuming the truth of Representative Cox's report) predict the occurrence of more terrorist attacks on America just before the first attack on the WTC and again just before the attack on the Pentagon, thereby giving a basis for suspicion that he had foreknowledge of the fact and even the timing of the attacks?
Another set of rhetorical questions could be raised by the revisionist account of the attack on the Pentagon. One such question might be: Given the well-known fact that the Pentagon is defended by missiles, along with the more general assumption that it must be the most well-protected place on earth, why would the conspirators have it included among the targets? Or, if they did not choose the targets but merely allowed them to be hit, why--assuming that the original plan was for a hijacked airliner to strike the Pentagon--would the conspirators have planned to allow the Pentagon actually to be hit, especially since shooting down an attacking airplane would have provided evidence of their intent to defend? Or, if the theory is that the plan all along was to have the Pentagon struck by a military aircraft and then claim that it was a hijacked 757, why would they use a much smaller aircraft, perhaps a winged missile, which many people would see and which would neither create a big enough hole in the Pentagon nor leave enough big pieces of metal to be seen? (Nowadays airplanes, not just guided missiles, can fly without pilots.) Or, if the alternative theory is that the use of this much smaller aircraft was an improvisation, necessitated by the fact that Flight 77 crashed unexpectedly (perhaps because the passengers resisted the hijackers), why was there not a better back-up plan? Or better yet, why did the conspirators not simply let this part of the plan go rather than improvise a scenario the absurdity of which would be visible to someone from as far away as France? Why in any case did they make the totally ridiculous claim that the bodies of the victims were still identifiable, after they had claimed that the fire was so hot that it vaporized the plane's steel and aluminum? Furthermore, what plausible account can be given of the role of Ted Olson? Are we to believe that upon learning that his wife had just been killed in an operation overseen by his superiors, he willingly told a lie to help them out? Or that the whole story was a hoax--that Barbara Olson was not really killed, which would mean that she would have to spend the rest of her life incognito? And, in any case, why manufacture this implausible story--in which all the passengers are encouraged to call home but she is the only one to do so? There surely could have been some better way to convey the impression that Flight 77 had not crashed and might be headed back to Washington. Finally, if the Boeing 757 that was Flight 77 crashed somewhere, perhaps in Ohio or Kentucky, why have there been no reports of its discovery?
Still more rhetorical questions would doubtless be evoked by the account of Flight 93 implicit in the revisionist hypothesis, according to which government officials, after realizing that the passengers were gaining control of the plane, had it shot down. For example, why would not the conspirators, who could draw upon the best military and CIA minds with experience in covert operations, have not come up with a better back-up plan, such as installing a bomb that could be electronically detonated? Why risk a method of disposal that would likely provide so many tell-tale signs, especially the sightings of the jet fighter?
Finally, critics of the complicity theory might believe that the most damaging rhetorical question arises precisely from the fact, emphasized by critics of the incompetence theory, that there have been no known punishments. If 9/11 resulted from a conspiracy, critics of this view could ask, why were there no scapegoats? The official account involves, even if only implicidy, perhaps the most extensive incompetence theory in history, because this story implies that incredible incompetence was manifested by FBI agents, FAA flight controllers, NMCC officials, NORAD officials, and jet fighter pilots, among others. There were potential scapegoats galore, a few of whom could have been sacrificed to protect the actual conspirators from suspicion. Contrary to virtually all past experience, however, this was not done. Indeed, of all the people who must have manifested gross incompetence if the official account be true, evidendy not one was fired or even publicly reprimanded, and some of them were even promotedÃ¢â‚¬”thereby increasing the suspicion that they had acted as their superiors wished. But would such behavior not be too arrogant, attributing too much stupidity or willing blindness to the press, to be believable? Must we not assume that if leading figures in the Bush administration were complicit in 9/11, they would have made a big show of punishing at least a few people for gross incompetence?
These are, at least, the rhetorical questions that have occurred to me as I have tried imaginatively to flesh out the complicity theory that seems to be implicit in the critiques of the official account. When all these rhetorical questions are taken together, it seems that we are faced not simply with a choice between an incompetence theory and a complicity theory. Rather, the choice seems to be between a theory involving subordinates who momentarily became incredibly incompetent, on the one hand, and a theory involving high-level officials who manifested incredible incompetence in creating a conspiracy, on the other. And to call this incompetence "incredible" is to suggest that it is difficult to believe. Critics of the complicity theory, therefore, can say that acceptance of this theory would require excessive credulity.
Those who accept the theory of high-level conspirators could, to be sure, explain the apparent incompetence of the plan by the theory of the "big lie," according to which the masses are more likely to believe a big lie than a little one, precisely because they cannot imagine that someone would try to get a way with such an audacious story. Gore Vidal, for example, says: "It would seem that the Hitler team got it about right when it comes to human credulity: the greater the lie, the more apt it is to be believed.">25 It is unlikely, however, that this explanation will serve to overcome many peoples doubt that officials who had risen to the top in political, intelligence, and military circles would have devised a plan involving such an obviously implausible cover story.
In suggesting that it would be difficult to construct an account of official complicity that could be found widely plausible, at least on the basis of presently known facts, I am simply enlarging on Ahmed's admission that he does not claim to have presented a conclusive case. At this point, however, Ahmed, Chossudovsky, Meyssan, Thompson, and other critics of the official account might wish to interject a word of caution. The fact that there are questions that they cannot answer, they might add, should not be taken to mean that we are simply left with a toss-up between two hypotheses, each of which is subject to equally serious questions. Instead, the questions they have raised about the official account are based on conflicts between this account and known facts, whereas the questions just now raised about the complicity theory are rhetorical questions, implying that no answers could be given to any of them. But perhaps answers can be given to at least some of them.
For example, as to why the attacks involved attacks by airplanes, rather than some other form of terrorist attack that could have been more easily arranged, an answer has already been implied. If one of the motives for the attack was to garner support for spending tens of billions of dollars on the Missile Defense Shield, the attacks had to come from the air, being perceivable as a "Space Pearl Harbor." Although chemical and biological attacks would have been much simpler, requiring far fewer people to be in on the conspiracy, they would not have produced the desired effect.
With regard to the question of whether it is plausible that so many conspirators would have kept silent, the revisionists could reply, people raising this question have probably never experienced the kind of intimidation that can be brought to bear on individuals by threats of prosecution and worse.
Furthermore, the revisionists could add, some of the rhetorical questions depend on the fact that there are many things about 9/11 that we do not presently know. These questions might be answered through a full investigation. One cannot expect that the revisionists, being independent researchers with limited budgets and no power to subpoena testimony, could answer all the questions raised by their alternative scenario. Meyssan, for example, says that although in some instances the facts he has uncovered allow us to see the truth of what happened, in other cases "our questions remain for the moment unanswered." Pointing to one set of such questions to which he himself would most like answers, he asks: "What became of American Airlines flight 77? Are the passenger dead? If so, who killed them and why? If not, where are they?" While fully admitting he does not yet have all the answers, he adds that "this is no reason to go on believing the lies put forward by officials.">26 We will not get an account of what really happened on 9/11, in other words, until our awareness that they are lies leads us to demand full-scale investigations.
The remainder of the rhetorical questions simply suggest that to accept the complicity theory would be to attribute a degree of incompetence to the conspirators that is beyond belief. But the truth may be that they really were terribly incompetent. With regard to the occupation of Iraq, the incompetence of the Bush administration's plansÃ¢â‚¬”for everything except winning the initial military victory and securing the oil fields and ministries--has been becoming increasingly obvious. Perhaps their formulation of the plan for 9/11, with its cover story, involved comparable incompetence. Perhaps this fact is not yet widely recognized only because the news media have failed to inform the American public about the many tensions between the official account and the relevant facts. For example, the mass media have not educated the public about standard operating procedures for intercepting hijacked airliners. They have not emphasized the fact that what now passes for the official account of the governments response to the hijackings is very different from what was said the first few days after 9/11. They have not emphasized the fact that the explanations for why the fighter jets arrived too late to prevent the attacks do not make sense. Nor have they informed the public about the many physical facts that contradict the official account of the strike on the Pentagon. Once these and other relevant facts are well known, critics of the official theory can argue, it will become widely evident that, as the name of Jared Israels website suggests, the emperor has no clothes.>27
Problems for a Coincidence Theory
1. Several FAA flight controllers exhibited extreme incompetence on 9/11, and evidendy on that day only.
But the coincidence theory requires even greater credulity. To accept it requires holding not only that each conjunction of events on the above list -- which a conspiracy theory could explain by regarding each one as part of a pattern of events that had been planned -- was purely coincidental. It also requires holding that the fact that there are so many events related to 9/11 that involve coincidences--at least 38 such events--is itself purely coincidental.
Seen in this light, the fact that a complicity theory may not at this time be able to answer all the questions it evokes, revisionists can say, is a relatively trivial problem. Once the relevant facts are put before us, the official account involves a coincidence theory that would require far greater credulity than that of which "conspiracy theorists" are accused.
Furthermore, the fact that the revisionists cannot yet answer all questions would be important only if they were claiming to have presented a fully conclusive case. But they are not. Meyssan, for example, tells readers that he is not asking them to accept his argument "as the definitive truth," but instead hopes that his readers will use his references to examine the evidence for themselves.>28 Ahmed says that the purpose of his book is not to provide a definitive account but merely "to clarify the dire need for an in-depth investigation into the events of 11th September.">29
My book is an attempt to show, in relatively brief form, that he and the others have done just this.
FOOTNOTES to chapter 9
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THE NEED FOR A FULL INVESTIGATION
The Joint Inquiry
As we have seen, the intelligence committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives carried out a Joint Inquiry in 2002. As we have also seen, however, there are many reasons to consider the report issued by this inquiry inadequate. For example, it concludes that US intelligence agencies, besides not having specific information about imminent attacks, did not even expect attacks to occur within the United States. The report does suggest that federal agencies were at fault. Indeed, the report was described by the press as a "scathing indictment" of the intelligence agencies. But the named problems--such as inadequate communication between agencies, failure to make rather obvious inferences, and failure to take warnings with sufficient seriousness--all fit under the incompetence and coincidence theories.
In light of the evidence summarized in this book, the underlying weakness of the Joint Inquiry is that its members apparently simply assumed from the outset that no deliberate complicity was involved, as illustrated by the fact that the testimony of the various witnesses was evidently accepted at face value. For example, if NSA officials said that they had not translated specific warnings that had been intercepted between September 8 and 10 until after the attacks, that testimony was simply accepted as the truth. If agents at FBI headquarters said that they misunderstood the standards under FISA for issuing a warrant, that testimony was accepted as the truth, in spite of evidence of deliberate sabotage.
There are several possible explanations for the inadequacy of the Joint Inquiry. One is simply that a thorough investigation of the many questions raised by critics of the official account would have taken far more time and resources than were devoted to this inquiry, which reportedly involved only nine public hearings and thirteen closed sessions.
But there is also reason to believe that intimidation may have dampened some of the members' investigative zeal. Thompson cites a report that on August of 2002, FBI agents had questioned nearly all 37 members of the Senate and House intelligence committees about 9/11-related information leaks. The agents even demanded that these senators and representatives submit to lie detector tests and turn over phone records and appointment calendars. A law professor, commenting on this demand, said: "It creates a great chilling effect on those who would be critical of the FBI.">1 Some senators and representatives expressed grave concern about the violation of the separation of powers, with Senator John McCain saying: "What you have here is an organization compiling dossiers on people who are investigating the same organization." The FBI, said one senator, is "trying to put a damper on our activities and I think they will be successful.">2
Beyond the problems with the Joint Inquiry, the larger question is why Congress did not immediately undertake a full-scale investigation into 9/11. Assigning the task simply to the intelligence committees implied that the success of the attacks of 9/11 was already known to be the result of nothing other than intelligence failures. A more sweeping investigation was evidently not undertaken because the congressional leaders acceded to requests from the White House that the scope of their investigation be limited. Both President Bush and Vice President Cheney, in personal appeals to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, reportedly asked that only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry that some lawmakers have proposed." Bush and Cheney were making this request, they said because a broader inquiry would take resources and personnel
away from the war on terrorism." >3 In light of the fact that Bush and Cheney must now be included among the prime suspects, it would obviously be problematic if they had been allowed to determine the cause of the 9/11 attacks--that it was "breakdown" rather than "complicity"-- and henceto limit the scope of the investigation carried out by the people's representatives. We normally do not allow the suspects in an investigation to make such decisions.
Nevertheless, in spite of all these problems, the work of the Joint Inquiry was not in vain. It provided enough damaging revelations to leave President Bush, after having long opposed the creation of any special investigating body, little choice but to support the creation of The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, informally known as the 9/11 Independent Commission.>4
The 9/11 Independent Commission
Although it was good that this commission was finally created, it has also been riddled with problems. One problem is that the Bush administration placed obstacles in front of it from the outset. An immediate obstacle was the very small sum of money allocated by the administration to fund the commission's work. As of January 2003, the commission had been given only million--whereas in 1996, by contrast, a federal commission to study legalized gambling was given million.>5 In March of 2003, Time magazine reported that the commission had asked the Bush administration for an additional million but had been turned down. One commissioner, pointing out that the request was hardly excessive, noted that the commission on the Columbia shuttle disaster, by contrast, had million. Stephen Push, one of the leaders of families of the victims, said that this refusal suggested that the Bush administration saw this "as a convenient way for allowing the commission to fail. They've never wanted the commission and I feel the White House has always been looking for a way to kill it without having their finger on the murder weapon.">6 After more time passed, the additional funding was finally approved.
Yet another obstacle was that although the commission's mandate dictated that it must complete its work by May 2004, the Bush administration was very slow in issuing the needed security clearances to the commission's personnel. For example, even Slade Gorton, a former Republican US senator with much experience with intelligence issues, still had not received a security clearance by March 12, 2003, leading the commissions vice chairman, former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton, to say: "It's kind of astounding that someone like Senator Gorton can't get immediate clearance.">7 As a result of these delays, by the time the commission was finally able to begin work in the middle of 2003, it had less than a year to carry out its work.
Another obstacle was difficulty in obtaining needed documents and witnesses. For one thing, although this commission was supposed to use the final report of the Joint Inquiry as a point of departure, the Bush administration did not allow this report to be released until late in July of 2003. Also, shortly before this report was released, the commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, complained that the Justice Department and other federal agencies were withholding documentsÃ¢â‚¬”which they obviously would not have done if they had been ordered by the White House to turn them over. Kean also complained that federal agencies were insisting on having "minders" present when any of their employees were called to give testimony, which Kean (reasonably) interpreted as an attempt to intimidate these employees. The White House also indicated that the president himself would not give testimony, at least under oath.
In light of the enormous number of questions that have been raised about 9/11, these obstacles were probably by themselves sufficient to prevent the commission from providing definitive answers to most of the questions, even if the commission carried out the most independent, aggressive investigation possible in the time remaining. Indeed, in October of 2003, one member of the commission, former senator Max Cleland, told New York Times reporter Philip Shenon that the commission could not complete its work by May of 2004, adding: "It's obvious that the White House wants to run out the clock here.... [W]e're still in negotiations with some assistant White House counsel about getting these documents--it's disgusting." Although Cleland is a Democrat, this attitude, reported Shenon, was bipartisan, with Slade Gorton also complaining that the "lack of cooperation" would make it "very difficult" for the commission to complete its work by the deadline.>8
The obstacles created by the Bush administration, however, were not the only problem. Another reason to doubt that the commissions report would answer many questions was that its leaders adopted a very limited understanding of its task: "The focus of the commission will be on the future," said Vice Chairman Hamilton. "We're not interested in trying to assess blame, we do not consider that part of the commission's responsibility.">9 The commission, in other words, evidently approached its task by simply taking for granted the truth of the incompetence theory, so that the question of official complicity would not even be explored. Hamilton's words seemed, in fact, to imply that the commission would not even assess blame in the sense of incompetence. In saying that the commission's focus "will be on the future," Hamilton was apparently indicating that it would limit itself strictly to the question of how to make sure that a "breakdown" does not happen again.
Now that we have before us the questions raised by critics of the official account, along with the alternative theory implicit therein, we can see the absurdity of such a limited mandate. Any explanation of how the attacks on 9/11 could have occurred requires that there was either complicity at the highest level of the U.S. government or an unprecedented system-wide breakdown in this country's ability to protect itself from a very crude form of attack--and this despite the fact that a huge portion of our nations trillion-dollar budget goes annually for "defense" and "intelligence." In the face of a seemingly forced choice between these two explanations, the commissions failure to assess blame would be an enormous dereliction of duty. We need an investigation that will seek to place blame where it belongs. We also need one that will not shrink from asking whether 9/11 resulted from official complicity rather than merely massive incompetence.
To be fair to Hamilton and the other members, it must be added that the commission's limited scope was perhaps imposed upon it. I have read reports that President Bush agreed to authorize the 9/11 Independent Commission only on condition that its scope would be limited to the question of how to prevent similar breakdowns in the future--in other words, only on condition that the commission would be independent in name only, not free to determine for itself the nature and scope of its investigation.
In any case, whatever be the facts with regard to the commission's mandate, the president clearly did make it a condition of his authorization of such a commission that he would appoint its chairman.>10 Bush's first choice, which many observers found incredible, was Henry Kissinger. There was widespread scepticism about Kissinger's ability to guide the commission in an independent and impartial way.>11 "Indeed," said the New York Times, "it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed.">12 Skepticism about Kissinger's capacity for independence was based in part on reports of possible conflicts of interest, about which he evidently had not been interrogated by the White House. Kissinger, for one thing, was getting huge consulting fees from corporations with heavy investments in Saudi Arabia.>13 And, of course, besides reportedly supplying many of the hijackers for 9/11, Saudi Arabia has been, according to John O'Neill and other intelligence agents, the primary continuing source of support for al-Qaeda. Kissinger's relationship with Unocal--the oil company with plans to build a pipeline through Afghanistan--was also reported.>14 The obvious problem here is that the attacks of 9/11 provided the basis for a war in Afghanistan, after which the United States installed a puppet government headed by a former Unocal employee and placed military bases along the proposed route for the pipeline. The fact that Bush would appoint someone reputed to be financially connected with Unocal as well as Saudi Arabia suggested, to say the least, that the impartiality of the commission's chairman was not his chief concern. Bush declared, in fact, that Kissinger was not required to reveal his business clients. The Congressional Research Service said otherwise, however, and Kissinger resigned rather than do so.>15
It was after this debacle that Thomas Kean became the chairman. Kean, formerly the governor of New Jersey, was the president of Drew University at the time of his appointment. Because he was to continue as Drew's president, Kean would have only limited time to devote to the commission. Critics also complained about possible conflicts of interest, with the main problem being his membership on the Board of Directors for another oil company, Amerada Hess, with extensive investments in Central Asia. Amerada Hess had, furthermore, joined with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia--one of the companies in the CentGas consortium--to form Hess-Delta.>16 All of the other members of the committee, furthermore, reportedly had at least one possible conflict of interest.>17
Also problematic is the fact that the president also appointed the committees executive director, Philip Zelikow, who had been deeply enmeshed with the Bush administration. He was appointed to Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board shortly after 9/11. Back during the administration of the elder George Bush, he served with Condoleezza Rice in the National Security Council, then later collaborated with her on a book.>18 Stephen Push, one of the founders of Families of September 11 commented on the problem of getting "commissioners and staff who are truly independent." He was uncomfortable, he indicated, with the fact "that Philip Zelikow has such a close relationship to Rice and other people the commission is investigating.">19 The Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission has, in fact, called on Zelikow to step down.>20
Accordingly, given the make-up of the commission, people aware of the issues had reason to suspect that any evidence that the Bush administration itself was complicit in the events of 9/11 would not be impartially and thoroughly explored. Several good people were appointed to the commission, and various issues were assigned to a number of committees, with capable and dedicated staff members. Reports indicated that these committees, under Kean's overall direction, were going somewhat beyond the limited scope originally suggested by Hamilton's statement. But evidently not very far: Even as late as October of 2003, a quotation from one member of the commission seemed to suggest that its most important task would be "making recommendations for the future.">21
Nevertheless, continued stonewalling by the White House and various agencies led to statements by Kean suggesting that he would be tenacious in obtaining evidence that the Bush administration and its various agencies were trying to withhold. The same month, in fact, Kean's commission issued a subpoena to the FAA, adding that this subpoena would "put other agencies on notice that our document requests must be taken as seriously as a subpoena.">22 He also stated in an interview that he was ready to subpoena the White House itself if necessary. In his strongest statement up to that point, Kean said:
Any document that has to do with this investigation cannot be beyond our reach.... I will not stand for [stonewalling].... We will use every tool at our command to get hold of every document.... There are a lot of theories about 9/11, and as long as there is any document out there that bears on any of those theories, we're going to leave questions unanswered. And we cannot leave questions unanswered.
Assuming Kean was really serious about taking the various "theories" seriously and obtaining every available document relevant to them, there was the possibility that the commission might uncover evidence suggesting that 9/11 happened more through complicity than incompetence. This possibility was suggested by Max Cleland's statement that, "As each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted.">23
But there was also the possibility, indeed the probability, that this would not happen. And, regardless of people's assessment of Kean's integrity, the fact remains that he was appointed by President Bush. At the time the commission was chosen, of course, the evidence that pointed to complicity by the Bush administration was known by very few people, so acceding to Bush's insistence that he should appoint the commission's leaders did not seem completely absurd. But insofar as there is widespread knowledge of this evidence, the fact that the chairman was appointed by Bush will create suspicion that he, like Kissinger, was chosen for the sake of containing the investigation.
This suspicion might well be misplaced, at least if it is suspicion that Kean would, out of loyalty to his party and the president, deliberately conceal evidence of complicity. Although Kean is, like the president, a Republican, he is "a moderate Republican known for his independence,">24 who reportedly refused to run for the US Senate because of his disagreement with the direction being taken by his parry. The president perhaps selected him to replace Kissinger not because he would be almost as safe but because the administration did not want to risk another embarrassment.
Nevertheless, because Kean, like Zelikow, was appointed by the president, a report by the commission exonerating President Bush and his administration of all wrongdoing would be suspected, by those who know the kinds of questions reported in this book, of contributing to a cover-up, even if only through failure to exert the kind of pressure required to obtain truthful testimony and access to needed documents.
This kind of failure was arguably illustrated, in fact, when in November of 2003 Kean agreed to restrictions demanded by the White House with regard to those intelligence reports for the president known as PDBs, short for Presidential Daily Briefs. (An example would be the PDB for August 6, 2001, which included the memo from British intelligence, discussed in Chapter 5, which reportedly indicated that terrorists planned to use hijacked airliners as missiles to hit targets inside the United States.) According to the agreement accepted by Kean, the White House would be allowed to edit these briefs before sending them to the commission. And then only a few members of the commission would be allowed to see even these edited briefs. Then, besides only being able to take notes on these edited briefs, they would have to show these notes to the White House.>25
A minority of the commissioners will be able to see a minority of the [PDB] documents that the White House has already said is pertinent. And then a minority of the commissioners themselves will have to brief the rest of the commissioners on what the White House thinks is appropriate.... [B]ut first they have to report to the White House what they're going to tell the other commissioners.>26
This agreement, continued Cleland, means that the commissioners are not able "to fulfill their obligation to the Congress and the American people." Whereas the commissioners are supposed to get access to all the documents they need, "the president of the United States is cherry-picking what information is shown to what minority of commissioners"--a situation that Cleland labeled "ridiculous."
This decision produced the first public split within the commission. Cleland, a Democrat, called the deal a "bad deal," adding that
this independent commission should be independent and should not be making deals with anybody.... I don't think any independent commission can let an agency or the White House dictate to it how many commissioners see what.... [W]e shouldn't be dealing. If somebody wants to deal, we issue subpoenas.
In his strongest charge, Cleland said: "[T]hat decision compromised the mission of the 9/11 commission, pure and simple.">27 Fellow Democrat Timothy Roemer also rejected this decision, complaining that the White House might pass along "only two or three paragraphs out of a nine-page report," thereby allowing it to hide any "smoking guns.
This decision was also labeled "unacceptable" by the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission, which declared: "The commission should issue a statement to the American public fully explaining why this agreement was chosen in lieu of issuing subpoenas to the CIA and executive branch." Spokesperson Kristen Breirweiser added: "This is an independent commission that is supposed to be transparent.">28
Given these developments, everyone now, including those who fervently want the president and his administration to be freed from any suspicion of complicity in the events of 9/11, should support the authorisation of a full investigation led by someone, perhaps a special prosecutor, whose independence cannot reasonably be doubted.>29 Everyone should now favour this regardless of the conclusions of the 9/11 Independent Commission. That is, if the commissions conclusion is that there was, or at least may have been, complicity by the Bush administration, that conclusion would rather obviously require the appointment of a special prosecutor. Alternatively, if the commission denies that there was any complicity, perhaps by failing even to raise the question, a new investigation would be needed for the reason given above--namely, that there will be widespread suspicion that the Bush administration, through its selection of the chairman and executive director combined with its obstructionism, prevented the truth from being discovered.>30
After the manuscript for this book was essentially finished, several events occurred that drove home even more clearly the need for a new investigation. These events involved publications, two presidential candidates, a lawsuit, and the 9/11 Independent Commission.
Publications: Several recent publications, by raising the kinds of questions dealt with in this book, suggest that these disturbing questions, far from going away, will continue to be raised until credible answers are provided. One of these publications was an article in the Guardian in September of 2003 by former British Minister of the Environment Michael Meacher. Pointing out that the 2000 document produced by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) says that its agenda will be difficult to implement without "a new Pearl Harbor," Meacher suggested that this document "provides a much better explanation of what actually happened before, during, and after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis." With regard to events prior to 9/11, he said that "US authorities did little or nothing to pre-empt the events of 9/11" even though "at least 11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the 9/11 attacks.">31With regard to 9/11 itself, he said that with all the advance warnings America had, the slow reaction was "astonishing."
Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38AM. >32 Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11... It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.
Meacher then asked the crucial question:
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?
Meacher then quoted the former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, as having 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.
With regard to the American response after 9/11, Meacher said that
9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action.>33
Meacher's article evoked much response. The nature of some of it was reflected in the title of an article, "Fury Over Meacher Claims," written by Ewen MacAskill, the Guardian's diplomatic editor.>34 As MacAskill reported, a spokesman for the US embassy in London said:
Mr. Meacher's fantastic allegations--especially his assertion that the US government knowingly stood by while terrorists killed some 3,000 innocents in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia--would be monstrous, and monstrously offensive, if they came from someone serious or credible.
Having made such "fantastic allegations," Meacher could be dismissed as neither serious nor credible, in spite of having been the UK's environment minister for several years (who as such would have known something about internal discussions of coming oil shortages). Equally dismissive was an article in London's Sunday Times, which said that Meacher had "lurched into the twilight zone.">35
At the same time, Meacher's article evoked a remarkable amount of support. One letter to the editor from America said: "It is obvious to me that the 'fury' attributed to representatives of my government derives from their understanding that his views cut close to the bone." Another American wrote: "Please let Mr. Meacher know that, despite howls ofoutrage and denial at his forthright analysis, there are many of us who have long made the same deductions. My gratitude to the Guardian for having the courage to publish it." A writer from England said: "Kudos to Mr. Meacher for being the first prominent British politician to say what many have long known. But when will other senior Labour members have the courage to support him?">36
In any case, a week later, Meacher, perhaps rejecting the support he had received as well as the vilification, wrote a second letter, which began:
Contrary to the wilful misrepresentation by some of my article, I did not say at any point, and have never said, that the US government connived at the 9/11 attacks or deliberately allowed them to happen. It need hardly be said that I do not believe any government would conspire to cause such an atrocity.>37
He had only, he claims, argued that the US government had exploited 9/11 as a pretext to carry out its already formulated agenda for Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, given Meacher's question whether US security forces were "deliberately stood down" and his rejection of a defense based on "incompetence," the readers could surely be forgiven for having thought that he had charged official complicity.>38 But even if one accepts Meacher's statement that his original article was not meant to "suggest a conspiracy theory," its central point remains valid--that the failure of the US government to give satisfactory answers to the questions it raised "has provided ample ammunition to those who do." Accordingly, his article, along with the positive responses it evoked, points to the increasing sense that we need an investigation aimed at answering these questions.
Shortly after the Meacher flap an article appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal entitled "Conspiracy Theories About September 11 Get Hearing in Germany.">39 While pointing out that books containing such theories have also become best-sellers in France, Italy, and Spain, this article said that such books have been especially well received in Germany, where a recent public opinion poll showed 20 percent of the citizens believing that "the U.S. government ordered the attacks itself." This article focused in particular on a best-selling book by Andreas von Buelow.>40 Besides pointing out that von Buelow had been a long-time member of parliament after having been "one of the top officials in the West German defense department," this article added that his book was put out by "one of the country's most prestigious publishing houses."
Ian Johnson, the author of this article, suggested that Germany is especially hospitable to 9/11 conspiracy theories, with their "improbable and outrageous assertions," because Germany has become increasingly hostile to American foreign policy. Johnsons article has, nevertheless, alerted a significant readership to the fact that the charge of official US complicity has been made by a highly credible public figure in Germany and is widely believed.
A month after Meacher s original article appeared, freelance journalist Paul Donovan published a criticism of journalists who had attacked Meacher. Complaining that many journalists seemed to be seduced by power, Donovan complained that although the "premier role of the journalist should be as a check on power...many seem to...get greater job satisfaction as parrots of the official truth." After briefly recounting what he called "the staggering story of the events of 9/11," Donovan said:
No reasons have been given for the Bush administrations conduct on that day, no one has been brought to account. Yet from the tragedy that was 9/11 Bush has been able to deliver for his backers in the arms and oil industries. The President has also been able to portray himself as a wartime leader. This is the real story that journalists should be probing at and uncovering, not decrying the likes of Meacher who has at least had the guts to stand up and say what many have suspected for some time.>41
During the same period in which the Meacher, Johnson, and Donovan pieces were appearing, a new book by Michael Moore -- Dude Where's My Country? -- was published. Whatever one thinks of Moore, his books attract a huge readership (his previous book, Stupid White Men, was the best-selling nonfiction book of 2002-2003). In this new books first chapter, entiled "George of Arabia" Moore addresses seven questions to President Bush. One of them asks about Bushs behavior in the classroom on 9/11, but most of them deal with the relationship between him and the Saudi royal family, the bin Laden family, and the Taliban. Moore's own hunch as to what really happened is evidently reflected in his third question to President Bush: "Who attacked the United States on September 11 -- a guy on dialysis from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friends, Saudi Arabia?">42
Moore's strongest statement is one that provides a possible answer to why the White House has been impeding the 9/11 Independent Commission and also to why the press and the American people in general have been so passive. Having asked why Bush does not "stop prohibiting the truth from coming out," Moore suggests:
Perhaps it's because George & Co. have a lot more to hide beyond why they didn't scramble the fighter jets fast enough on the morning of September 11. And maybe we, the people, are afraid to know the whole truth because it could take us down roads where we don't want to go.
This latter supposition--which is in harmony with Dan Rather's statement that it is fear that has kept the press from asking the difficult questions--is probably correct.
It is indeed frightening to think that perhaps our government did, Michael Meacher's later statement notwithstanding, "conspire to cause such an atrocity." It is especially frightening to consider the implications of such a conspiracy if it included the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon. It might seem prudent simply to "let sleeping dogs lie." If the suspicions are correct, however, these dogs are not sleeping, but are using the official account of 9/11 for various nefarious purposes, both within our country and the rest of the world. Also, if we suspect foul play but keep silent out of fear, we can say farewell to any pretense to being the "land of the free and the home of the brave." And, in fact, to being a democracy. We may simply have to go "down roads where we don't want to go."
That some members of the American press may be ready to do this is suggested by the publication on September 11, 2003, of an online article by William Bunch of the Philadelphia. Daily News entided "Why Don't We Have Answers to These 9/11 Questions?">43 This is the article, referred to in the Introduction, that asks "why after 730 days do we know so little about what really happened that day?" To illustrate how much is still unknown, Bunch asks 20 questions, about half of which overlap with the central questions of the present book. He then asks why "a docile mainstream media" has not demanded answers to these questions.
Perhaps his article in the United States, like Donovan's article in the united Kingdom, is a sign that the press is ready to become less docile.
A Candidate's Statement about an "Interesting Theory": During an interview on National Public Radio on December 1, 2003, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean was asked, "Why do you think he [Bush] is suppressing that [Sept. 11] report?" He replied: "I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far ... is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?">44
The task of disciplining Dean and warning others not to express such thoughts in public was taken on by Charles Krauthammer. In a Washington Post article entitled "Delusional Dean," Krauthammer said that Dean's statement--that "the most interesting" theory...is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance"--is evidence that Dean had been struck by a new psychiatric condition that is abroad in the country. Krauthammer labels this condition BDS, or "Bush Derangement Syndrome," defined as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency--nay--the very existence of George W. Bush."
Krauthammer's piece provides an example of the standard approach taken by defenders of the official account. Rather than dealing with any of the problems in this account, they simply declare that all theories of official complicity are so obviously absurd that anyone taking such theories seriously must have deep psychological problems. Any problem with the official account alleged by critics, such as evidence that the Bush administration had more information about the attacks in advance than it has admitted, is dismissed a priori. The offiicial account is thereby protected from scrutiny, and other people are warned not to raise questions.
Although Krauthammer's article was obviously intended to be cleverly humorous, its serious intent was made clear by the following comparison:
When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) first broached this idea [that Bush had advance knowledge] beforethe 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former representative McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading.>45
Writing several days after Dean's statement was broadcast, Krauthammer appeared alarmed that Dean's statement had not evoked the same outcry that was raised against Congresswoman McKinney. Just as she was convicted in the press and the court of public opinion of being too "nutty" to remain in office, Krauthammer was suggesting, the press and the public should have taken Dean's statement as evidence that he, too, is unfit for public office.
In alluding to Cynthia McKinney's defeat in 2002, Krauthammer was presupposing the conventional wisdom as to the "lesson" to be drawn from it -- namely, that it is political suicide for any candidate, even a Democrat, to raise the question of whether the president had prior knowledge about the attacks of 9/11. An examination of the circumstances surrounding McKinneys defeat, however, suggests that this might not necessarily be the case. There are at least three factors to be taken into consideration.
In the first place, McKinneys questions about 9/11 were conflated by the press with her statements about the subsequent wars, with the result that it appeared to most people that she had charged not only that the president had specific foreknowledge of the attacks but that he had allowed them to happen for a very particular reason. A story in the Orlando Sentinel for example, claimed that McKinney had asserted "that President George W. Bush knew about the 9-11 attacks in advance and did nothing to prevent them. Why? So that all his cronies could get rich on the subsequent military buildup.">46 A story in the New York Times said: "Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.">47 As Greg Palast and others have shown, however, the idea that McKinney charged Bush with allowing the attacks for this reason resulted from an illegitimate conflation of some of McKinneys statements. Palast even presents good reason to believe that a similar conflation lay behind the belief that McKinney had charged the Bush administration with having had specific knowledge of the attacks in advance.>48 Palast argues, in fact, that McKinneys real position was similar to his own, according to which several warnings had been given, so that the fact that the attacks were not anticipated in time to prevent them pointed to a massive intelligence failure, for which the president's policies were at least partly responsible.>49 In any case, whatever McKinneys actual intent, she was not presented to the public as having simply suggested that there should be an investigation of whether the Bush administration had prior knowledge. There is, furthermore, a second reason why her electoral defeat does not necessarily mean that making such a suggestion would be political suicide, even for a Democrat. In Georgia, voters in a primary election are allowed to "cross over," so that registered Republicans, for example, can choose to vote in the Democratic primary. According to McKinney's account of what happened, another black woman, with positions closer to those of the Republican party, was urged by Republicans to run against McKinney in the primary, after which "Republicans fed her campaign coffers and then 48,000 of them crossed over and voted for her.">50 Although Georgia's voting laws make it impossible to know how many cross-over voters there actually were, McKinney's general claim is supported by John Sugg, senior editor of Atlanta's weekly paper, who said: "Republicans crossed over in droves to vote in the Democratic primary.">51
Still another relevant fact concerns an online poll set up on April 17 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The poll's question was based on the assumption that McKinney had charged that the president had advance knowledge of the attacks. People were asked: "Are you satisfied the Bush administration had no advance warning of the September 11 attacks?" Given the fact that the AJC was one of the newspapers that led the attack on McKinney, the purpose of the poll was evidently to show that McKinney's charge had little if any public support. But according to NewsMax.com--a website that shared the AJCs hostility to McKinney--only 52 percent responded affirmatively. Two percent of the respondents chose the answer, "I'm not sure. Congress should investigate," while the other possible answer, "No, I think officials knew it was coming," was selected by 46 percent of the responders. Hence the title put on the story: "Poll Shocker: Nearly Half Support McKinney's 9/11 Conspiracy Theory." The writer of this story, which was posted shortly after 3:30 PM, added: "Though over 23,000 Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers had responded by midafternoon, the poll has been mysteriously withdrawn from the paper's web site.">52
Such polls are not, of course, scientific. But this one does raise an interesting question, which is what the results of a scientific poll taken in the United States would be. No such poll has been taken--perhaps on the basis of the old advice: "If you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question." But perhaps if such a poll were to be taken, we would find that public opinion in America regarding the Bush administration's relation to 9/11 is closer to public opinion in Germany than had been assumed. It is, at least, an interesting question, which could be tested.
In any case, these three facts--that Cynthia McKinney's "charge" was distorted, that apart from the cross-over vote she might not have been defeated, and that a remarkable percentage of the people in the Atlanta area evidently believed already in April of 2002 that "officials knew it was coming"--suggest that her defeat does not necessarily prove that it would be political suicide for any politician to point to evidence suggesting that the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the attacks.
Be that as it may, the fact that the question of such foreknowledge was raised by a presidential candidate, whose question was then publicized by a prominent journalist, provides yet further evidence that an investigation into this very question is needed.
Ellen Mariani's Complaint: Still further evidence is provided by another recent event--a lawsuit that makes a charge not wholly unlike the charge Cynthia McKinney was thought to have made.>53 On November 26, 2003, attorney Philip J. Berg held a news conference in Philadelphia to announce that Ellen Mariani, whose husband was on United Airlines Flight 175, had filed a Federal Court Complaint against President Bush and several members of his cabinet under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.>54 This Complaint alleges that George W. Bush (GWB) and other officials-including John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and George Tenet--are guilty "for 'failing to act and prevent' the murder of Plaintiff's husband, Louis Neil Mariani, for financial and political reasons" and that they "have 'obstructed justice' in the aftermath of said criminal acts and omissions.">55 In elaborating on this summary charge, the Complaint says, among other things:
Defendant GWB "owed a duty" not only to Plaintiff, but the American People to protect and defend against the preventable attacks based upon substamial intelligence known to Defendant GWB prior to 911" which resulted in the death of Plaintiffs husband and thousands of other innocent victims on "911."...
Defendant GWB has not been forthright and honest with regard to his administrations pre-knowledge of the potential of the "911" attacks and Plaintiff seeks to compel Defendant GWB to justify why her husband Louis Neil Mariani died on "911."...[T]he compelling evidence that will be presented in this case through discovery, subpoena power by this Court and testimony at trial will lead to one undisputed fact, Defendant GWB failed to act and prevent "911" knowing the attacks would lead to our nation having to engage in an "International War on Terror (IWOT)" which would benefit Defendants both financially and for political reasons....
Besides providing copies of this Complaint, Berg also handed out an open letter to the president from Ellen Mariani. In this letter, she says
Stop blocking the release of certain evidence and documents that were discovered by the 9/11 Investigation Commission if you have nothing to hide proving you did not fail to act and prevent the attacks of 9/11. Your reason for not releasing this material is that it is a matter of "national security."...But...it is your personal credibility/security that you are concerned with....>57
If this suit is allowed to go forward, which would mean that Mariani and Berg would have subpoena power, it may begin to provide answers to the disturbing questions that have been raised about 9/11.
This suit, along with the Dean-Krauthammer exchange and several recent publications, suggest that these questions will be raised with increasing frequency and intensity. More and more citizens will believe that the official account is a lie. The only solution compatible with a democratic form of government is an investigation that finally provides a credible account of what happened on 9/11. That this may need to be a new investigation has been further suggested by recent developments in relation to the 9/11 Independent Commission.
The 9/11 Independent Commission: In spite of all the problems that have hobbled this commission, many people, including leaders of the Family Steering Committee, had long held onto some hope that it would finally provide answers to at least some of the many unanswered questions. But that hope has been undermined by further developments. First, the previously discussed agreement by the commission to work out a deal with the White House, instead of using its subpoena power, gave support to the charge that it should be called "the 9/11 Coverup Commission.">58 Second, the commission lost its most outspoken critical member, Max Cleland.>59 Third, the question of conflicts of interest was raised anew in mid-January by the revelation in a New York Times story that the commission had interviewed two of its own members, executive director Philip Zelikow and commissioner Jamie Gorelick (who was a senior member of the Justice Department during the Clinton administration). This revelation raised the question with special intensity because Zelikow and Gorelick are "the only two commission officials with wide access to highly classified White House documents." When asked about the news that Zelikow had been interviewed, Kristen Breitweiser said: "He has a huge conflict of interest," adding: "This is what we've been concerned about from Day 1." Elaborating on this concern, she feared, she said, that the commission report "is going to be a whitewash.''>60
A fourth blow to the hope that the commissions report will answer atleast some of the questions will be delivered if the commissions request foradditional time is refused. As we saw earlier, commission members had long worried that the obstades created by the White House would make it impossible for them to complete their work by the end of May. Late in January, die commission formally requested that it be given a few months more so that its work could be, in the words of Timothy Roemer, "credible and thorough." But the initial response to this request was negative. The commission members should "be able to meet that deadline," said a spokesperson for the administration, since "[t]he administration has given them an unprecedented amount of cooperation.">61
In an article about this response (entided "What's Bush Hiding From 9/11 Commission?"), Joe Conason said that from the outset "Mr. Bush has treated the commission and its essential work with contempt," continually working "to undermine, restrict and censor the investigation of the most significant event of his Presidency." Referring to a report in Newsweek that the administration gave the commission the choice of meeting the May deadline or postponing release of the report until December--which would be, of course, after the November elections--Conason commented; "Mr. Bush doesn't want his re-election subject to any informed judgment about the disaster that reshaped the nation and his Presidency.">62
Nevertheless, in spite of the continued stonewalling, the commission, according to the most recent reports as this book was going to press, was not planning to issue subpoenas to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, or other administration officials to require mem to testify under oath. >63
These recent developments have evidendy been the final straw for at least some members of the Family Steering Committee. According to a story in the Washington Post, "The commissions handling of the deadline has angered a group of relatives of Sept. 11 victims, who argue that the panel has not been aggressive enough in demanding more time and in seeking key documents and testimony from the Bush administration." The reporter then quoted Kristen Breitweiser as saying: "We've had it.... It is such a slap in the face of the families of victims. They are dishonoring the dead with their irresponsible behavior.">64 Implicit in her statement would seem to be the conclusion that unless there is a radical change in the attitude and tactics of the 9/11 Independent Commission in its final months, a new investigation will be needed if there is to be any hope for discovering the truth.
A 9/11 Truth Candidate
One more recent event reinforcing the need for a full investigation is the emergence of a presidential candidate running on this issue. This candidate, a Republican named John Buchanan, has said in a stump speech:
I stand here as a 9/11 Truth Candidate and some may thus dismiss me as a single-issue candidate and in a narrow sense that is true. But if you consider that 9/11 has led us into fiscal ruin, endless war and constitutional twilight, my issue is the mother issue of our age.
Saying that "[w]e have all been lied to about 9/11," Buchanan recited many of the facts reported in the present book. He then closed his speech by urging his hearers to support Ellen Mariani as "one of the heroes of this cause" and to read Nafeez Ahmed's The War on Freedom and Paul Thompson's 9/11 timeline.>65
Buchanan is highly critical of the mainline press for not questioning "the scores of 9/11 lies and contradictions" or even telling the public that there are "still unanswered questions." This same press may now be reluctant to tell the public about the existence of "a 9/11 truth candidate." But his very existence, combined with the fact that millions of Americans will know about him through other sources, provides yet another reason for concluding that a full investigation, one that examines the evidence for official complicity, is a necessity.
FOOTNOTES to Chapter 10: The Need for a Full Investigation
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1Washington Post, August 2, 2002, cited in Thompson, "Timeline," August 2, 2002
Mr. Cleland's intention to resign from the 10-member commission has been known since last summer, when Senate Democrats announced that they had recommended him for a Democratic slot on the board of the Export-Import Bank But the timing of his departure became clear only last week when the White House formally sent the nomination to the Senate.
Suspicious minds might, of course, speculate that the White House speeded up the nomination process because it would rather have the outspoken Cleland on the board of the Export-Import Bank than on the commission investigating 9/11. In any case, a few days later it was announced that Tom Daschle, the leader of the Senate's Democrats, had selected Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska (who had been vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee), to replace Cleland (Philip Shenon, "Ex-Senator Kerrey Is Named to Federal 9/11 Commission," New York Times, December 9, 2003).
Back COVER text:
"An extraordinary book. .. It is rare, indeed, that a book has this potential to become a force of history."
Taking to heart the idea that those who benefit from a crime ought to be investigated, here the eminent theologian David Ray Griffin sifts through the evidence about the attacks of 9/11--stories from the mainstream press, reports from abroad, the work of other researchers, and the contradictory words of members of the Bush administration themselves---and finds that, taken together, they cast serious doubt on the official story of that tragic day.
David Ray Griffin has been Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont School of Theology in California for over 30 years. He is the author and editor of more than 20 books.