On November 10th 2001, George W. Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly with these words:
“We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
True to their word, Bush, Cheney and the rest of the gang have indeed remembered the victims, especially whenever it helped to disguise their imperialist ambitions, or enabled them to undermine the American constitution, or, and most deplorably of all, to legitimise false imprisonment and the use of torture. They have never once shirked from reminding us of those horrific deaths of thousands, when seeking an excuse to inflame new wars and spread more terror of their own making.
Yet we’ve seen how Bush, and the White House administration as a whole, made no great efforts to find out what really happened on September 11th. Indeed, they first delayed, and then hampered at every turn, an investigation that they were eventually forced to conduct. So, overarching all the other questions about what really happened on the morning of September 11th 2001, is this: cui bono? Who actually benefited?
Was it Osama Bin Laden, already suffering from kidney failure (or is he?) and now forced to scuttle around from cave to cave, presumably with his dialysis machine in tow, as bunker-busting bombs and “daisy-cutters” flattened all around him? Perhaps –
Or how about the Neo-con administration in Washington, suddenly positioned and enabled to embark on an endless war against a mysterious “axis of evil”.
The Kean-Hamilton report is revealing here too. It is a surprising read. For instance, of the four-hundred plus pages, you discover that a mere fifty address the main events of the day itself. These few pages cover the total evidence from all the testimony of fire-fighters and other eyewitnesses including the first responders. All condensed to fill just a single chapter: “Heroism and Horror”. Whilst, in the next chapter, something more startling is revealed.
Entitled “Wartime”, the discussion has already moved on. Having no direct bearing on the events of September 11th – and thus more in keeping with the report in general – the emphasis returns to background events and here to the urgency of an effective response. The concluding section to the chapter being subtitled: “‘Phase two’ and the question of Iraq”, begins as follows (and this is a direct quote):
President Bush had wondered immediately after the attack whether Saddam Hussein’s regime might have had a hand in it. Iraq had been an enemy of the United States for 11 years, and was the only place in the world where the United States was engaged in on-going combat operations. … He told us he recalled Iraqi support for Palestinian suicide terrorists as well. Speculating about other possible states that could be involved, the President told us he also thought about Iran. [Richard] Clarke has written that on the evening of September 12, President Bush told him and some of his staff to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11. “See if Saddam did this,” Clarke recalls the President telling them. “See if he’s linked in anyway.”1
Presumably then, this is how America of the twenty-first century constructs its foreign policy. Founding it on the hunches and suppositions of its great leader. Meanwhile, we learn that September 11th was the ideal cover for governments to “bury bad news” as someone once carelessly put it. So what ought we to make of Donald Rumsfeld announcing the disappearance of some 2.3 Trillion Dollars from US Defense expenditure accounts.
Hey, 2.3 Trillion is one hell of a lot of money by anyone’s standards. So much in fact that Rumsfeld himself remarked that: “In fact, it could be said it’s a matter of life and death.” But when precisely did Rumsfeld sound the public alarm on this unprecedented loss of government revenues? Would you believe September 10th? There really couldn’t have been any better occasion to bury some bad news.2
Chasing after justice, a few of the victims (including first responders, many of whom have later died, or are dying, of respiratory illnesses caused by inhaling toxic dust that the government was also fully aware of) got to have an inquiry. Right from the start they were deeply unhappy with how it had been delayed, was underfunded, and lacked independence. Afterwards, when they’d read the commission report, they felt betrayed for a second time. In response, they put together a documentary film called “9/11: Press for Truth”.3 It is compelling viewing and should be aired worldwide.
But there is another point here, and within the bigger scheme it is the more important one. All the delays, the distortions, the changes in timelines, the endless deceptions that frustrated Kean and Hamilton4 (by their own account “Without Precedent”), presents us with the proverbial elephant in the living room. Naturally, we may presume, as Kean and Hamilton do, that those in charge were simply covering their collective backs. No doubt, this is enough to persuade many that although the failures of the commission are very evident and rather serious, there is really nothing to be concerned about. Well, okay, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that all the events of September 11th are entirely accountable through a unfortunate combination of incompetence and bad luck. And that the delays and obstructions and often blatant lies were used only to protect those working within the highest levels of the security services and perhaps all the way up to the White House itself from charges amounting to dereliction of duty. Well doesn’t it remain the job of a supposedly free media to keep asking the awkward questions? Just like the commission itself, those who work within it have a responsibility. They must try to establish, to the best of their ability, truth from fiction, even if it’s only to apportion blame. This is what we expect inquiries to do, and if the inquiry can’t do it then the journalists must step in.
Colonel Robert Bowman, a physicist who headed the “Star Wars” project, and also a former combat pilot who flew over a hundred missions during the Vietnam War, has put it this way:
“What are they trying to hide? Are they trying to hide guilt or incompetence? We don’t know, but we should know. Either way the American people deserve to know.”
Yes, and the world more widely needs to know. Yet during the four hundred and forty days when the administration dragged its heels before reluctantly opening its inquiry, just where were the media? Pushing hard alongside William Rodriguez and the families of the victims themselves, or taking a more “impartial” stance? Neutrality is not the same as turning away with indifference.
Bob Bowman, ran for Congress as a Democrat candidate in 2006, determinedly trying to raise support for a full and totally independent re-investigation. He has frequently described the official theory of 9/11 as “a bunch of hogwash”, and sums up the case against the administration with these words:
“The very kindest that we can say is that they were aware of the impending attacks and let them happen. Now some people will say that’s much too kind. However, even that is high treason and conspiracy to commit murder.”
The “conspiracy theorist”, we are often told (especially by the media), is unable to deal with the complex reality of the world as it really is. A world where no one really knows exactly what’s going on, let alone controls it. A world of uncertainties and potential chaos. So, let’s take this idea on a little and apply it to the terrible and terrifying events of September 11th 2001. And since, implicitly, this involves comparison between two opposing outlooks, let’s consider the position of both the “conspiracy theorist” against, if you like, that of the “cock-up theorist”. Which of these outlooks is actually the most psychologically reassuring?
Firstly then, and according to the “cock-up theorists”, the events of 9/11 (along with nearly all of the other recent terrorist attacks) were staged solely by Islamic fundamentalists who had been trained and supported by – or more vaguely “had links to” – Al Qaeda.
9/11 was simply the most devastating attack ever masterminded by Osama Bin Laden; that well-known face of global Islamic terrorism who issues all his commands from his cave in Afghanistan. The attackers involved were relatively few in number, poorly trained and, it is surely reasonable to assess, psychologically unstable. They had no weapons besides box-cutters or else (in other attacks) used rather crude “home-made” explosives.
Meanwhile, everyone working for the British and American security services were very actively intent on protecting the public, which is their primary responsibility and duty. Post 9/11, those same intelligence agencies have been strengthened and are now better prepared and ever more vigilant in their efforts to prevent future atrocities.
Okay then, how scary was that? Presumably, no one is naïve enough to imagine our nation has no real enemies, so if the most dangerous threat we currently face is from random attacks by an occasional suicide bomber with explosives packed in his pants then shouldn’t we actually be sleeping rather soundly.
But what about the alternative? How much scarier is the idea that our own governments, or more precisely a very powerful, secret and self-selecting elite that controls a part of those governments, have planned and are still planning to sometimes undermine the safety of their own people? That the ultimate powers that be – whatever or whoever they may be – powers that are interested solely in directing the course of events to ensure their own self-interested ends, are therefore taking decisions that occasionally allow a few pawns to be sacrificed along the way.
That, as a consequence, the public face not one enemy but two, and that the stronger of these is also, most disturbingly, our primary defence against the weaker force (currently Al Qaeda). Well clearly this is by far and away the greater nightmare. An outlook that offers no comfort whatsoever but only increased fear, and if these fears are admitted, being faced by an altogether more personal peril. Because “to believe in conspiracy theories” is psychologically dangerous, and this is true whether or not the theories themselves are based on delusion or hard fact. And let’s remember that there still is no word for being paranoid but correct.
To judge then from the “conspiracy theorist” side of the fence (if this is where I stand), it is tempting to hold up a mirror to the “cock-up theorists” and to echo a reply: this accusation you make about us “conspiracy kooks” needing our comfort blankets looks a lot like what psychologists call ‘projection’. It is easy to find the faults in others, but those who believe that “conspiracy theorists” (i.e. those who contend against the official version of certain, often major, political events) are all cowards, would be advised to think again. Facing the truth as it is found, and not always as it is presented to us, requires an enormous act of courage.
1Extract from Kean-Hamilton 9/11 commission report, p.334, Section 10.3 entitled “Phase two” and the question of Iraq.
2“On Sept. 10, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, “the adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy,” he said. He said money wasted by the military poses a serious threat. “In fact, it could be said it’s a matter of life and death,” he said. Rumsfeld promised change but the next day – Sept. 11– the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste seems to have been forgotten.
“According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” Rumsfeld admitted. $2.3 trillion — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. “
extract from “The War On Waste: Defense Department Cannot Account For 25% Of Funds — $2.3 Trillion” CBS News, Los Angeles, Jan. 29, 2002.
3“Like Paul Thompson [author of The Complete 9/11 Timeline], twenty-something filmmakers Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy had been touched by September 11th but never thought much further about it. In the spring of 2003, during their last semester of film school at Columbia College in Chicago, a friend mentioned The Complete 9/11 Timeline in passing. That evening, Duffy and Nowosielski decided to take a look. They found themselves unable to stop reading, scrolling through the web site until being interrupted by sunrise. Though the filmmakers had never had any interest in the genre of documentary, as the months passed, they grew to believe that this was a story the American public needed to hear. By the 2nd anniversary of September 11th, they were seeking the funding for what would eventually become ‘9/11 Press for Truth’.” taken from official website at http://www.911pressfortruth.com/#
4 “Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.
“Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.
“In the end, the panel agreed to a compromise, turning over the allegations to the inspectors general for the Defense and Transportation departments, who can make criminal referrals if they believe they are warranted, officials said.
“”We to this day don’t know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us,” said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. “It was just so far from the truth. . . . It’s one of those loose ends that never got tied.”” extract from “9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon: Allegations Brought to Inspectors General” written by Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer, from Wednesday, August 2, 2006; A03