9/11 and the Conquest of Iraq
“It’s a system that lies automatically, at every level from bottom to top – from sergeant to commander in chief – to conceal murder.” Daniel Ellsburg, Secrets, (Viking, 2002)
“Beneath all the fakes and lies and all the mental aberrations, however deeply hidden or wildly deformed, the truth still breaks through, still glitters, still breathes.” (Mihail Sebastian, Romanian playwright, as quoted by Nickolson Baker, Human Smoke, Simon & Schuster, 2008)
In the movie, Fair Game, about the travails of Valerie Plame, and her outing as a CIA agent by the Bush administration, Sean Penn, in the character of Joe Wilson, Plame’s husband, exhorts a group of students to “Demand the Truth!” Yet, very few of us have demanded to know the truth about 9/11 and the attacks on the World Trade Center. We have been content with the officially sanctioned explanation. Those who are not so content are ridiculed as “conspiracy theorists.”
It was a conspiracy – 9/11. That is indisputable. There is no “lone gunman” to confuse matters. To say anything meaningful about 9/11, you have to be a conspiracy theorist. It is only a question of whose theory of the conspiracy you are prepared to believe. It is incredible that anyone still believes anything the Bush administration said about that tragic day.
The Center for Public Integrity identified 935 lies, (no doubt, a conservative estimate) Bush/Cheney and their neocon enablers told to justify attacking and occupying Iraq. And, they lied about many other things as well: domestic surveillance, the “war on terror,” torture, the Plame affair, etc. The list is endless. Yet, our minds recoil at the idea that they lied about the events of 9/11. This is because the implications are just too terrible to contemplate. We are left with Osama Bin Laden, because this is the person the Bush administration identified as the master-mind of these events. To have any other theory of 9/11 labels you a crank or a nut case, and if you are a professional person, raising troubling questions about 9/11 events can get you into a heap of trouble as Prof. Steven E. Jones of Brigham Young University found out to his dismay.
Even men and women of otherwise critical judgment on most issues shrink from drawing troubling conclusions from the context and results of the 9/11 attacks. Looking over the edge of the precipice makes us squirm; it’s through the looking glass and we really don’t want to go there. That’s why people so often get angry when questions about 9/11 are raised. However dubious the official explanations, they have a patina of authority that is intended to tranquilize and deflect attention. We are invited not to dig deeper, to go about our business, have a nice afternoon at the mall and don’t think too hard about the entire panorama of events that unfolded on September 11th and what they mean.
Naomi Klein in her excellent book, The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, (Metropolitan Books, 2007) writes that the shock of September 11th, “opened up a period of deep disorientation and regression that the Bush administration expertly exploited.” They capitalized on the fear generated by 9/11, “not only to launch the ‘War on Terror’ but to ensure that it is an almost completely for-profit venture.” It provided them with an opportunity to do something that would have been impossible without 9/11: “wage privatized wars abroad and build a corporate security complex at home.” Yet, we are told there was no pre-planning involved; it was not that, “the administration deviously plotted the crisis,” but, as Ms. Klein says, they prayed for the crisis like “drought-struck farmers pray for rain,” or Christian-Zionists pray for the rapture. This may be a plausible explanation for the 9/11 attacks if you believe in the power of prayer, instead of the ability of determined men to create their own opportunities.
The context for 9/11, and everything that followed from it, has been in front of us from the start. Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, “American Primacy and its Geo-strategic Imperatives,” (Basic Books, 1997) laid out the arguments for US global hegemony, although he later seemed stunned by US actions in the Middle East. He argued that Eurasia, a huge area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played. The United States, a non-Eurasian player, had (prior to its occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq) its power deployed on three peripheries of the Eurasian continent, a dominant position that no state could challenge. Professor Brzezinski argued that America’s chief task is to maintain its “global primacy” over this vast area and, “to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitrating role.”
Professor Brzezinski devoted particular attention to the Eurasian Balkans, which include nine countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Afghanistan. All of these countries, with the exception of Afghanistan, form part of the Caspian Sea Basin. Why are these countries important? According to Professor Brzezinski, “the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.” He continues, “Access to that resource and sharing in its potential wealth represent objectives that stir national ambitions, motivate corporate interest, rekindle historical claims, revive imperial aspirations and fuel international rivalries.”
But, says Professor Brzezinski, there is a small problem: how to get the American public to sign on to the imperial venture of global dominance. Unfortunately, he says, “The attitude of the American public towards the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.” He notes that polls conducted in 1995 and 1996 highlighted the public’s preference for ‘sharing’ global power with others, “rather than for its monopolistic exercise.” He says that, “America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation.” Democracy, he laments, is “inimical to imperial mobilization,” except, “in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being.”
The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was established in the spring of 1997, by a group of now discredited neo-conservatives, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and William Kristol among others. The goal of the group was to “promote American global leadership.” Their statement of principles included the assertion that, “The United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests.”
In 2000, this group published a report titled: “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” In short, “the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible.” The document is a “blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.” Unfortunately, this could be a long process, they say, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
The idea of US pre-eminence was translated, once George W. Bush took office, into America’s foreign policy doctrine of “pre-emption,” of striking any country before it can become a threat to the global dominance of the United States. The report also provided a justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, stating: “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” No word of weapons of mass destruction, bringing democracy to the Middle East or liberating oppressed Iraqis.
As Chalmers Johnson says (Nemesis, 2007), “It is clear today that the Bush administration intended, upon Saddam Hussein’s certain defeat, to create military bases in Iraq similar to those we built or took over in Germany and Japan after World war II. The covert purpose of our 2003 invasion was empire building – to move the main focus of our military installations in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, gain control over Iraq’s oil resources, and make that country a permanent Pentagon outpost for the control of much of the rest of the ‘arc of instability’.”
The analogy to Pearl Harbor, raised by both Brzezinski and the neocons, may be sheer coincidence or a telling prophecy, but the lessons of Pearl Harbor were etched on their minds. Right wing conspiracy theorists, as part of their on-going assault on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legacy, have for years claimed that FDR and the American Government had prior intelligence about the planned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. According to this scenario, Roosevelt left Pearl Harbor dangling, undefended, a poisoned pawn, to lure the Japanese to attack as a pretext for getting us into WWII. The fact that none of the American aircraft carriers were in Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, fuels the speculation. Robert B. Stinnett in his book, Day of Deceit “The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor,” argues that, “America had ample warning of the pending attack. At those same levels, it was understood that the isolationist American public would not support a declaration of war unless we were attacked first. The result was a plan to anger Japan, to keep the loyal officers responsible for Pearl Harbor in the dark, and thus to drag America into the greatest war of her existence.”
Was September 11th 2001, also a “day of deceit?” Or was it, as neocon ideology would have it, “A Noble Lie?”
The events of 9/11 clearly provided a catalytic shock to the public’s sense of domestic well being. The national trauma of September 11, 2001, was the pivotal event, “the new Pearl Harbor”, that precipitated the American public’s support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As Tony Blair admitted, “… to be truthful about it there is no way we would have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on 11 September,” (Commons Select Committee on Liaison, 16 July 2002). And, the “neoconservatives would not have been able to implement their war agenda had it not been for the trauma of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which filled the American people with fear and anger…” Stephen J. Sniegoski, The Transparent Cabal, “The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East and the National Interest of Israel,” Engima Editions, 2008)
Was 9/11, then, an elaborately contrived Reichstag fire, or like Pearl Harbor, a poisoned pawn held out to provide the rationale for a strategic war for oil, global dominance and/or the advancement of American/Israeli interests in the Middle East?
Dare we even think in such terms? Would a government contemplate attacking or allowing its own citizens to be attacked? The military certainly has considered such false-flag operations in the past. We know from James Bamford’s book, Body of Secrets (Anchor Books, April 2002), that, “… the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.”
While some dismiss the significance of these plans as part of “normal” military contingency planning, Bamford tells us that Operation Northwoods, had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It called for innocent people to be shot on American streets, for boats carrying refuges fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas, for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit, planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus providing an excuse, as well as the public and international backing needed to launch a war against Cuba.
We also now know that the Anthrax attacks contained in letters sent to key Democratic senators such as Tom Daschle, following 9/11, were a false flag operation because the letters themselves were written to appear as if they originated from some foreign Islamic group. The letter to Daschle said: “You cannot stop us. We have this Anthrax. You die now, Are you afraid? Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is Great.” The anthrax originated in a highly secure government lab and only someone within the government with a top-level security clearance could have gained access to this very specific material. It certainly wasn’t accessible to any foreign terrorist groups. But, as the Daily News reported on 2 August 2008, “In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda. “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East,” a retired senior FBI official told The Daily News.
When the space shuttle Columbia burned up during its return to earth, killing all seven astronauts on board, the first reaction of the government was to establish an independent board of enquiry to determine what went wrong. This is how the government usually responds whenever tragic events overtake our society. People want to know what happened – who’s to blame? Were there technical malfunctions or human errors that caused the tragedy? Contrast this response with the actions of the Bush administration in the wake of September 11, 2001, when more than 3000 of our fellow citizens were murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Rather than immediately set up an independent, expert level investigation, the Bush administration dithered, delayed and stonewalled, asserting that a public enquiry would compromise national security and detract from the war on terrorism. As Vincent Bugliosi says in, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,” (Vanguard Press, 2008) “George Bush never wanted (and did everything he could to stop) any investigation of how and why the tragedy happened, and what could be done to prevent it from happening again!!”
Although Congress established a joint committee in February 2002, months went by before it held its first hearings on September 18, 2002, a full year after 9/11. Kristen Breitweiser, the wife of one of those killed in the Trade Center, appeared before the committee and pleaded for the creation of an independent blue ribbon panel to investigate. When the joint committee finally submitted its report in December 2002, 28 pages concerning the possible involvement of foreign governments in 9/11were redacted by the Bush Administration. Were these, by any chance, the same list of foreign governments that collaborated with the CIA in its covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan? In this regard, see Charlie Wilson’s War, the book, not the movie, by George Crile.
As former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds subsequently reported, the US maintained ‘intimate relations’ with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, right up to “that day of September 11.” These ‘intimate relations’ included using Bin Laden for ‘operations’ in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China, and involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner “as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict,” that is, fighting ‘enemies’ via proxies.
Moreover, Ms. Edmonds’ three and a half hour testimony to the 9/11 Commission has been entirely suppressed, reduced to a single footnote, which refers readers to her classified testimony. In an interview, she says that the information that was classified in her case specifically identifies that the US was using Bin Laden and the Taliban in Central Asia, including in Xinjiang. Ms. Edmonds says that in suppressing her testimony, the US government claims that it is protecting ” ‘sensitive diplomatic relations,’ protecting Turkey, protecting Israel, protecting Pakistan, protecting Saudi Arabia…”
After a great deal of protest and prodding by 9/11 family members, the Bush administration finally agreed to a Commission, which was not established until November 15, 2002. The sincerity of this gesture was immediately cast in doubt, however, when they tried to appoint Henry Kissinger, as Chairman of the Commission. Kissinger is a figure whose veracity is so tainted that only the most credulous could believe that this was a good faith effort to find the truth, rather than an effort at cover up. Mercifully, Mr. Kissinger resigned from the Commission shortly thereafter, owing to his reluctance to disclose the names of his consulting clients. It was only in mid-December 2002, that Bush named former New Jersey Governor, Thomas Keane, to head the Commission. However, with a budget allocation of only $3 million, compared with the $40 million spent on Monica Lewinsky, the Commission was financially hobbled from the start.
But leaving aside, financial limitations and time constraints, Philip Shenon in his book, The Commission (Hachette Book Group, 2008) documents how tainted the 9/11 Commission and its final report really were, although that is not his conclusion. What is clear is that the Bush administration played the Commission likely a finely tuned instrument, ensuring that no finger would be pointed in its direction. The Commission composed of representatives from the two political parties, rather than experts and specialists, was structurally flawed from the start. It’s every deliberation and finding was held hostage to political considerations, and any inconvenient truths were filtered out before they saw the light of day.
Even if the Commission were not suspect because of its political composition; its Executive Director, Philip Zelikow certainly made it so. Not only was he a close friend of Condoleeza Rice before he was employed by the Commission, he was immediately hired by her as a State Department counselor when the Commission finished its work. More alarmingly, however, he was the guy who codified the neocon pre-emption doctrine as “The National Security Strategy of the United States,” which laid the groundwork for attacking Iraq. He made repeated attempts during the course of the Commission’s work to weave in a link between Iraq and Al-qaeda to bolster the Bush administration’s justification for the invasion. He also maintained regular, secret contacts with Karl Rove while serving as the Executive Director. Yet, we are asked to believe that the Commission report is an entirely credible account of what happened on that fateful day. As Mr. Shenon recounts, in the end, the Report, “was almost all good news for the White House.”
There is no space here to parse the details of what happened on September 11, many people have done that, continue to do that, and it’s not much more productive than trying to agree on what happened in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. In these cases, the devil is not in the detail, but in the big picture of what happened after the event itself. Anyone looking at President Kennedy’s murder from outside the country would immediately identify it as a coup d’état that irreversibly changed the leadership of the American government and altered our political history. Of course, we don’t speak in such terms in this country, because political correctness doesn’t allow it; coups don’t happen in America. It is as James Douglass writes, “The Unspeakable.” The “system” has to be protected at all costs, so we maintain our silence and censor our thoughts, lest we lose our jobs, reputations or social standing. Only the “lunatic fringe” has other ideas.
The same is true of 9/11. We have to step back and look at the big picture of what happened after that day. Whose agenda was implemented as a result of 9/11 – the Bush/Cheney neocon agenda or the agenda imputed to Osama Bin Laden? If Bin Laden’s agenda was to mobilize the Islamic world on a grand jihad against the infidels, he failed miserably and brought untold calumny on the heads of Muslims everywhere. It is difficult to identify even one thing that Osama Bin Laden might have achieved by these attacks. In fact, Bush’s invasion of Iraq did more to weaken the United States and to mobilize radical jihadists than anything Bin Laden did, or could have done.
On the other hand, the attacks were apparently very beneficial for Israel, if Benjamin Netanyahu is to be believed. The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported on April 16, 2008 that Netanyahu told an Israeli audience, “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq, … swung American public opinion in our favor.” Justin Raimondo adds that ‘The American invasion and occupation of the Mesopotamian heartland has empowered the Israelis as never before – and now they are on the offensive, carving out a greatly expanded sphere of influence …,’ (as quoted by Stephen J. Sniegoski).
For America, the main outcome of the 9/11 attacks, as we can see now, was the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq is the smoking gun of 9/11. We know that on the very day of 9/11, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were already urging an assault on Iraq without a shred of evidence that Iraq was involved in the attacks. At every stage, leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and right until this day, Bush/Cheney and the neocons have conjured up the ghosts of 9/11 to justify and advance this one agenda – Afghanistan was just a sideshow and remained such, until President Obama made the tragic mistake of escalating the conflict there. Not one element of their agenda could have worked without 9/11. As Vincent Bugliosi says, “if there had been no 9/11 there would have been no war in Iraq, certainly not one the American people would have approved of.” Was it just a matter of sublime coincidence, that Bin Laden provided the neocons with the catalyst they needed as a pretext for unleashing their plans on the world? Was it chance or planning?
There are many who might say, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie, that nothing can be gained by reopening investigations and discussions about what happened on September 11th. But knowing the truth of what happened, however painful, is essential because so much of what we are doing in the world has been justified on the grounds that this was an attack by foreign terrorists when the truth may be much more sinister. It may be that we can never know the whole truth about 9/11, any more than we can about the Kennedy assassination, but much about 9/11 still remains hidden and unexplored because of the manner in which the 9/11 Commission carried out its work. It might have been hoped that once Bush/Cheney finally left office, it would be possible to have a new enquiry, free from partisan politicians, to pursue many of the issues not adequately explored, or covered up by the Keane/Zelikow Commission. But this now appears to be a vain hope given the Obama administration’s unwillingness to take a hard look at the past. 9/11 remains buried under the officially sanctioned explanations, because, as a people, not only have we failed to demand the truth, it may be that we really don’t want to know the truth.
 See especially, Paul Thompson’s, The Terror Timeline, Harper Collins, 2004. Or go to, http://www.historycommons.org/project.jsp?project=911_project