In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.
At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.
The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
This film is based on the New York Times and International #1 bestseller, Winner of the 2009 Warwick Prize for Writing and translated into over 30 languages. The Shock Doctrine was originally published in September 2007.
Naomi Klein’s third book, The Shock Doctrine is the unofficial story of how the “free market” came to dominate the world. But it is a story radically different from the one usually told. It is a story about violence and shock perpetrated on people, on countries, on economies.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically, and that unfettered capitalism goes hand-in-hand with democracy. Instead, she argues it has consistently relied on violence and shock, and reveals the puppet strings behind the critical events of the last four decades.
The six minute companion film, created by Oscar Award winning director Alfonso Cuarón, was an Official Selection of the 2007 Venice Biennale and Toronto International Film Festivals.
An investigation that spans four decades of history, from Chile after Pinochet’s coup to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, from Baghdad under the US “Shock and Awe” attack to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “Shock doctrine” describes the brute tactic of systematically using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock—wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes, natural disasters—to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called “shock therapy.”
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically, and that unfettered capitalism goes hand-in-hand with democracy. Instead, she argues it has consistently relied on violence and shock, and reveals the puppet strings behind the critical events of the last four decades.
The Shock Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, how the “free market” came to dominate the world — Milton Friedman’s free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movement’s peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in many parts of the world from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia, and Iraq. A program of social and economic engineering that is driving our world, that Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism”.
Klein vividly traces the origins of modern shock tactics back to the economic lab of the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman in the 60s, and beyond to the CIA-funded electroshock experiments at McGill University in the 50s which helped write the torture manuals used today at Guantanamo Bay.
At the core of disaster capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. By capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, Klein argues that the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for fifty years.
Thrilling and revelatory, The Shock Doctrine cracks open the secret history of our era. As John Gray wrote in The Guardian, “There are very few books that really help us understand the present. The Shock Doctrine is one of those books.”
Part One: Origin Story
We all know the story of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the story that was repeated ad nauseam in the days, weeks and months after the catastrophic, catalyzing events of 9/11. So often was that story repeated that the hypnotized public forgot that it was, at base, just that: a story. . . .
Transcript & Sources
"Does the Brotherhood exist?"
"That, Winston, you will never know."
Kandahar Provice, Afghanistan. May 1998.
John Miller, an ABC News correspondent who would go on to become the FBI's chief spokesman, ends an 11-day journey through the wilds of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The first thing he notices is the rumbling of the generators providing the camp with power and the smell of gasoline. The second thing he notices is a hail of bullets. Bin Laden's convoy is arriving.
Osama bin Laden is flanked by seven bodyguards, who—as Miller immediately recognizes—are simply there to put on a show. "Their eyes darted in every direction for any attacker," he later recounted. "This was either merely theatrical or entirely pointless, because with hundreds of rounds being fired into the air, it would have been impossible to pinpoint an assassin."
Following the security detail into the hut, there Miller became one of the handful of Western journalists to interview the elusive Osama bin Laden.
OSAMA BIN LADEN (VIA INTERPRETER): We believe that the biggest thieves in the world are Americans and the biggest terrorists on earth are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is by using similar means. We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they're all targets in this fatwa.
SOURCE: Osama bin Laden: "The Most Dangerous Man You've Never Heard Of" - June 10, 1998 - ABC News Nightline
Miller has traveled halfway around the world to interview bin Laden, the reclusive terrorist leader who has just issued a religious fatwa requiring Muslims to kill Americans. But this interview, too, is just for show. Forced to submit his questions in writing ahead of time, Miller is informed that the answers will not be translated for him. There will be no follow-up questions.
It is spectacle. Theater and little else. As such, it is a fitting introduction to the man who would become the bogeyman of the 21st century. The interview was followed in short order by a more explosive drama.
PETER BERGEN: What are your future plans?
OSAMA BIN LADEN: You'll see them and hear about them in the media . . . God willing.
SOURCE: Exclusive Osama bin Laden - First Ever TV Interview
FALSE FLAGS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF AL QAEDAPART ONE: ORIGIN STORYAround the world, a frightened and confused public received their introduction to the age of terror on the morning of September 11, 2001, through the media. It was there, in the flickering images of their TV screens, that the masses began to learn about the world of Islamic terrorism and of the cave-dwelling Saudi exile in Afghanistan who was bringing that terror to their doorstep.
ANCHOR: Tell us a bit about Osama bin Laden—what sort of resources in manpower and money he's got and what he's trying to achieve.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:28pm EDT (10:28pm BST)
RAY SUAREZ: What is Osama bin Laden? Is he a politician? Is he a warrior? Is he a preacher? A little of all?
SCHEUER: A little of all, I think, sir. He's a . . .
SOURCE: Who Speaks For Islam?
HODA KOTB: . . . millionaire Saudi businessman believed to be living in exile in Afghanistan.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:20-5:30pm EDT on WRC
REPORTER: He controls and finances Al Qaeda, an umbrella network of Islamic militants.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 6:30-6:40pm EDT (11:30-11:40pm BST) on BBC
SCHEUER: . . . he is a very soft-spoken man . . .
SOURCE: Who Speaks For Islam?
SIMON REEVE: . . . a man who is prepared to use overwhelming force in pursuit of his objectives.
SOURCE: September 13, 2001 - 6:21am EDT on CNN
ANCHOR: He is the face that has been put on this by almost everyone.
SOURCE: September 15, 2001 - 8:20-8:30am EDT on WTTG
SCHEUER: . . . a man of eloquence . . .
SOURCE: Who Speaks For Islam?
KOTB: He has declared all US citizens legitimate targets of attack.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:25pm EDT on WRC
JOHN SIMPSON: When I was in Afghanistan just a couple of days ago, I heard that he had . . .
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:20-5:30pm EDT (10:20-10:30pm BST) on BBC
DAN RATHER: . . . operations in at least 55 countries . . .
SOURCE: CBS Evening News - 2001-09-13
KOTB: Including last year's bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen . . .
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:25pm EDT on WRC
REPORTER: . . . the mastermind behind the bombings of two US embassies in Africa . . .
SOURCE: September 16, 2001 - 11:30-11:40pm EDT on CNN
REPORTER: . . . and the last attack on the World Trade Center eight years ago.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 6:20-6:30pm EDT (11:20-11:30pm BST) on BBC
SCHEUER: Bernard Lewis has called him almost a poetic speaker of Arabic.
SOURCE: Who Speaks For Islam?
KATIE COURIC: Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden is a name that we have been hearing all day long as an individual who may—and we emphasize may—be responsible for these terrorist acts. It is a name we have heard before as well . . .
SOURCE: NBC News 9-11-2001 Live Coverage 1:00pm EDT - 6:30pm EDT
We all know the story of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the story that was repeated ad nauseam in the days, weeks and months after the catastrophic, catalyzing events of 9/11. So often was that story repeated that the hypnotized public forgot that it was, at base, just that: a story.
In the ahistorical fable of TV sound bites, terrorism is a modern invention—created out of whole cloth by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. And, at the same time, Islamic fundamentalism is a force of nature, something that has always existed in the Middle East—the product, perhaps, of some sandstorm on the Arabian peninsula in the distant past.
But this is a lie. In truth, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the modern era and the rise of terrorism as a political tool cannot be understood without confronting some very well-documented but long-repressed history.
Ever since the mid-18th century—when the British East India Company gained dominion over the Indian subcontinent—the history of Islam as a political and cultural force has been intimately tied to the fortunes of Empire and the aims of the Western powers. The British Empire, in particular, did much to shape the map of the modern-day Middle East and to influence the course of its religious and political forces.
This influence can be seen throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Britain's gradual takeover of the Indian subcontinent led to the British Empire becoming, in the estimation of Winston Churchill, "[T]he greatest Mohammedan power in the world."
The 19th-century "Great Game" between Victorian England and Tsarist Russia for control of Central Asia saw the British propping up unpopular Islamic rulers throughout the region as a buffer between Russia and the "crown jewel" of the British Empire, India.
Britain's desire to maintain its access to India led to the British conquest of Egypt in 1882, resulting in 40 years of British rule and a military presence in the country that was not removed until the Suez Crisis of 1956.
From Khartoum to Constantinople, Jerusalem to Jakarta, no part of the Muslim world could escape the influence of the British crown. Sometimes that influence was used to strengthen the rule of Islamic hardliners. Sometimes, as with the Mahdist rebellion in Sudan, that influence was used to put down Islamic uprisings. But in each case, the British Empire's goal was clear: to use whatever means at its disposal to undermine movements and governments unfavourable to its rule and to install and encourage those forces that were willing to cooperate with the crown.
This was evident in India, where George Francis Hamilton, secretary of state for India, wrote in 1886 of the British strategy of using Muslim and Hindu divisions in the country to their advantage along the lines of the old Roman imperial strategy of divide and rule:
I think the real danger to our rule, not now, but say 50 years hence is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation organisation and if we could break educated Indians into two sections holding widely different views, we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan educational text-books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened.
But perhaps no clearer example of the British Empire's role in shaping the modern Muslim world can be found than the story of the ascendance of the House of Saud and the formation of the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Once again, British fingerprints can be found on every aspect of the story.
When Britain began contemplating a shift from its centuries-long policy of supporting the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, it was Captain William Shakespear—a British civil servant and explorer—who made the first official contact with Ibn Saud, the progenitor of the Saudi dynasty who would go on to found the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to taking the first photographs of the future Saudi king, Shakespear became Ibn Saud's friend and military advisor, helping to steer the rising Arab leader away from alliance with the Ottomans and into a treaty with the British. Shakespear died on the battlefield at Jarab in 1915, where the British-backed Ibn Saud was battling his Turkish-backed rival, Ibn Rashid.
After Shakespear's death, another British agent, Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, gained international fame as "Lawrence of Arabia" for his role in the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule in the Middle East. Although his own self-serving autobiography and the Hollywoodization of his story cemented in the popular imagination the idea that Lawrence was motivated solely by his concern for the Arabs and their independence . . .
PETER O'TOOLE (AS T. E. LAWRENCE): We do not work this thing for Faisal.
ANTHONY QUINN (AS AUDA ABU TAYI): No? For the English then?
LAWRENCE: For the Arabs.
TAYI: The Arabs?
SOURCE: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
. . . the documented history of Lawrence's actions and motivations tells a very different story. A memo on "The Politics of Mecca" penned by Lawrence for his intelligence handlers in 1916, reveals a more duplicitous British calculus for supporting certain factions of the Arab Revolt:
The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities, incapable of cohesion, and yet always ready to combine against an outside force. The alternative to this seems to be control and colonization by a European power other than ourselves, which would inevitably come into conflict with the interests we already possess in the Near East.
Later, in a report on the "Reconstruction of Arabia" Lawrence penned for the British Cabinet at the end of the war, he was even more explicit about the cynical divide-and-rule tactics at play in British support for the Arab Revolt: "When war broke out an urgent need to divide Islam was added, and we became reconciled to seek for allies rather than subjects. [. . .] We hoped by the creation of a ring of client states, themselves insisting on our patronage, to turn the present and future flank of any foreign power with designs on the three rivers."
ALEC GUINNESS (AS PRINCE FAISAL): Lawrence! . . . Or is it Major Lawrence?
FAISAL: Ah. Well, General, I will leave you. Major Lawrence doubtless has reports to make. About my people. And their weakness. And the need to keep them weak . . . in the British interest.
SOURCE: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Lawrence and the military and diplomatic personnel of the British Empire were indeed busy in the wake of WWI. In many ways, the aftermath of the war represented the zenith of that empire, and the culmination of centuries of British manipulation in the Middle East. Driven by a mixture of political necessity and imperial hubris, the imperial planners had entered into secret agreements that redrew the map of the Middle East and once again affirmed the centuries-old accusation that Perfidious Albion was not to be trusted.
In 1916, the British and French entered into a pact to divide up the territory of the Ottoman Empire between themselves should they win the war. This treaty—known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement after the diplomats who negotiated the document—was a direct negation of the web of promises that the British had already made on the land, including the territorial promises they had made to Ali Ibn Husain, the Sherif of Mecca who led the Arab Revolt against the Turks, the Treaty of Darin that had promised Ibn Saud British protection for his conquests in the Arabian Peninsula in return for his support in the war, and the Balfour Declaration promising the Zionists a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Although the revelation of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement by the Bolsheviks in 1917 proved a considerable embarrassment for the British and French, it did little to hinder their plans. The agreement provided a basis for the ultimate partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after the war, and the national borders that it helped to create have gone on to shape a century of strife and political conflict in the region.
But it was not enough merely to draw the lines on the maps that would define the post-war Middle East, the British had to shape the development of the region in their own interest, creating entire nations in the process. In the Arabian Peninsula, they came to pin their hopes on Ibn Saud, whose sole focus on the conquest of Arabia, they calculated, would counteract the rise of a broader Pan-Islamic movement that could challenge Britain's supremacy in the region. As historian Mark Curtis writes in his book, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam:
The British government of India had feared British sponsorship of an Arab caliph who would lead the entire Muslim world, and the effects this might have on Muslims in India, and had therefore favoured Ibn Saud, whose pretensions were limited to Arabia.
The subsidy from the British upon which Ibn Saud relied in his quest to unite the peninsula, which stood at £5,000 a month at the end of the war, was raised to £100,000 a year in 1922 by then-Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill. Churchill recognized that Saud's fighters—the "Ikhwan," or brotherhood of hardliners and adherents to the strict Wahabbi sect of Islam—were "austere, intolerant, well-armed and bloodthirsty" and "hold it as an article of duty, as well as of faith, to kill all who do not share their opinions and to make slaves of their wives and children." So why, then, did the British support Saud and his men? "My admiration for him [Ibn Saud] was deep," Churchill later confessed, "because of his unfailing loyalty to us."
That loyalty paid off well. The British were the first to formally recognize Ibn Saud's sovereignty over his newly conquered territory on the peninsula, and in return Ibn Saud signed a treaty agreeing to stop his forces from attacking Britain's neighbouring protectorates. In 1932, Ibn Saud became King Saud of the newly-formed "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." But even the nation's new name was British. It was George Rendel, head of the British Foreign Office's Eastern Department, who suggested it.
The British played similar games throughout the region, arming, funding and encouraging those who would work with them—including violent Islamic radicals—and undermining any potential challengers to British dominance.
In Palestine, the British pardoned Amin al-Husseini—who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the 1920 Jerusalem riots—and appointed him the Grand Mufti of Palestine (a title invented by the British) on condition that he cooperate with the British authorities.
In Egypt, which became a British protectorate after WWI, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood—an Islamist mass movement founded by Hassan al-Banna—was at times an explicit threat to the British military presence in the country. Nevertheless, its position as an alternative to both secular nationalism and communism—which Britain regarded as growing threats to its influence in the region—meant that the British were prepared to work with the Brotherhood against their common enemies, even covertly financing the group in 1942.
In Iraq, the British, concerned at unrest in their Mesopotamian mandate, aided Prince Faisal in becoming Faisal I, King of Iraq. Faisal--recommended by T. E. Lawrence, guided (at his own request) by British advisors and traveling at British expense—won a British-backed plebiscite to become the Iraqi king in 1921.
The extent of British influence over the region during the post-war period was, in retrospect, staggering. But the number of machinations, manipulations and shifting alliances that were required to keep this system of mandates, protectorates and puppet governments going was a sign that the British were not all-powerful. On the contrary. Their influence, and indeed their empire itself, was waning, soon to be replaced by the new rising world superpower, the United States.
The US did not even wait until the end of the Second World War and the dawn of Pax Americana to begin its own "diplomacy" with the Muslims in the region.
NEWSREADER: An American destroyer comes alongside a cruiser at Great Bitter Lake on the Suez Canal in Egypt. It brings Ibn Saud, king of the five million people of Saudi Arabia, to a conference with President Roosevelt, stopping off here on his return from the Crimea Conference. The destroyer has been decked out with red carpets for the monarch. This 800-mile trip marks the first time that King Ibn Saud has ever left his native land.
SOURCE: Roosevelt Meets Saud
President Franklin Roosevelt's meeting with King Ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy on Egypt's Great Bitter Lake in February 1945 was no ordinary exchange of diplomatic pleasantries. King Saud's first foreign trip involved a number of unusual requests and special arrangements. The Saudis insisted on bringing a contingent of 48 men even though the Americans had said they could accommodate only 10. They insisted on sleeping in tents pitched on the ship’s deck rather than in the cabins provided. They insisted on bringing their own sheep, as the king believed that good Muslims eat only freshly slaughtered animals.
But, irregularities aside, the meeting was momentous.
Firstly, it demonstrated the importance of the Saudi-US relationship at a time when much of the world knew little and cared less about the happenings on the Arabian peninsula.
Secondly, it established the terms of that relationship: namely, a US guarantee of military defense of Saudi Arabia (including Roosevelt's promise to "do nothing to assist the Jews against the Arabs") in return for Saudi concessions, including allowance for US airfields and flyover routes across the kingdom and access to Dharhan, where the California Arabian Standard Oil Corporation (which later became Aramco) had drilled the first commercially viable oil well in the country just seven years earlier.
And thirdly, it signaled the dawn of a new era. No longer was the British Empire the primary foreign power driving events in the region. From now on, one of the key foreign policy considerations of the Muslim world was the US and its enormous military and financial resources.
This changeover in world order was not instantaneous. For some time after the end of WWII, the US and British collaborated on operations that furthered their mutual interests in the region. These "interests" included opposing the rising threat of secular nationalist governments that—unlike the House of Saud and other Western-backed monarchies in the Middle East—were less pliable to bribes and more interested in nationalizing their countries' resources.
In March 1951, the Iranian parliament voted to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company—the British oil giant that struck oil near the Persian Gulf in 1908—and offered the premiership of the government to Mohammed Mossadegh, an outspoken secular nationalist. Immediately after taking office, Mossadegh effected the nationalization, stating:
Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries [. . .] have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence.
The nationalization put Tehran on a collision course with London. But Britain knew that a military intervention was not possible without American approval and, despite harsh economic sanctions on the country and a boycott of the newly nationalized oil industry that was joined by much of the Western world, they could not overthrow the Iranian government themselves. Instead, they had to turn to the US.
Although the Truman administration was initially hesitant to become involved, that changed with the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the installation of the Dulles brothers, Allen and John Foster, as Director of Central Intelligence and Secretary of State respectively. By June of 1953, the CIA was already adapting the British coup proposal into their own covert operation, dubbed Operation TPAJAX.
An open secret in the world of intelligence, the CIA/MI6 role in the overthrow of Mossadegh was officially denied by the US government for over half a century and is still unacknowledged by the British government to this day. Nevertheless, the CIA's own internal history of the operation, first revealed to the public in the year 2000, confirms the extent of the American and British role in the coup.
They convinced the Shah of Iran to agree to the plan. They handpicked General Fazlollah Zahedi as Mossadegh's successor. They rolled out a propaganda campaign to portray Mossadegh—a devout adherent to democratic nationalism who rigorously excluded the nation's communist party from his government—as a communist sympathizer who would steer Iran into the arms of the Soviets; they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bribing journalists, clerics, and even Iranian parliament members themselves to go along with the plot; and they used a network of agents and suitcases full of money to incite riots and protests across the country.
In the end, the operation was a success. Mossadegh was driven from power, General Zahedi took his place, the Western-backed Shah ruled the country with the iron fist of his feared secret police for the next 25 years, and a new agreement on sales of Iranian oil was reached. This time, though, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now rebranded as British Petroleum, would not have a monopoly on the country's lucrative oil reserves; an international consortium was put together to share in the profits, with American companies Chevron and Standard Oil cut into the deal.
But the eclipse of the old British Empire by the new American superpower became most obvious in Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956.
Lying on the key spice and trade routes linking Europe and Asia, the importance of Egypt to the British Empire went back centuries. It was the British Navy under Nelson and the British Army under General Ralph Abercromby that drove Napoleon out of the country during the French campaign there at the turn of the 19th century. But it was the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that cemented Egypt's geopolitical importance for the British Empire.
The Suez Canal—linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and drastically reducing sailing distances from Asia to Europe—was technically the property of the Egyptians, but the project had been spearheaded by the French, and the concessionary company that operated the canal had been largely financed by French shareholders. An economic crisis in 1875, however, forced the Egyptian governor to sell his own shares to the British. As Parliament was not in session at the time of the sale, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli had to turn to his close personal friend, Lionel de Rothschild, for the £4,000,000 required to purchase the shares. After the British conquest of Egypt in 1882, an international agreement was signed declaring the canal a neutral zone under the protection of the British, whose troops were now installed in the country.
This precarious balance of power lasted in various permutations for over 70 years, first under Britain's so-called "Veiled Protectorate" of Egypt in the decades leading up to WWI, then in a formal British occupation of the country during WWI and its aftermath, and then under Britain's Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian independence in 1922, which stipulated that the British would retain power over Egypt's defence and foreign policy. Britain's de facto control over the country was one of the grievances that gave rise to the Free Officers Movement, a cadre of Egyptian nationalists in the ranks of the Egyptian Armed Forces who toppled King Farouk and took over the government in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.
One of the movement's leaders, Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, became President of Egypt in 1954 and began to implement a series of nationalist, anti-imperialist measures that, like Mossadegh, put him at odds with the British forces in his country. These measures culminated with Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956.
The Suez Crisis led to a joint British-French-Israeli invasion of the country, but in this case, the US under Eisenhower declined to back the invasion. Instead, Eisenhower—still believing that diplomacy and pressure could turn Nasser from the Soviet orbit and help America leverage its influence over the Arab world—joined the USSR in forcing an end to the invasion.
The crisis marked a definitive turning point. The age of the British Empire were over. The age of the American superpower had begun. From now on, American military and financial power would be the determining factor in the Muslim world—and indeed the world in general.
But the Americans had learned well from their British predecessors. The same tactics of strategic and shifting alliances, double dealings and covert operations that the British had used to maintain their influence for centuries would now be employed by the Americans to leverage their own power.
They applied these lessons in Iran, where they supported the Shah's brutal dictatorship even as they maintained a secret communication channel with exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
They applied these lessons in Indonesia, where the US at various times supported the Islamic factions in their rebellion against the Sukarno government, the Sukarno government itself, and, eventually, Suharto, who slaughtered over half a million people on his US-backed rise to power.
They applied these lessons in the Sinai Peninsula, where, as declassified documents now show, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger helped engineer the Yom Kippur War so that "the Arabs would conclude the only way to peace was through us" and the Israelis would conclude that "they had to depend on us to win and couldn't win if we were too recalcitrant."
And they applied these lessons in Saudi Arabia, where Treasury Secretary William Simon helped enshrine the US dollar's central role in global geopolitics and saved the US from the 1973 oil crisis by negotiating the petrodollar system, a covert deal with the House of Saud to purchase Saudi oil and sell them weapons and equipment in return for a Saudi pledge to finance American debt by investing their oil revenue in US Treasuries.
This era of American-led intrigue and double-dealing would culminate in one of the most important years for the Muslim world in the modern era: 1979.
That was the year of the Iranian revolution, when the American and British overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 would come home to roost in the overthrow of the Western-backed Shah and the first major victory for the forces of political Islam in the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
That was the year of the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, when Islamic hardliners shocked the Muslim world by storming the holiest mosque in Islam and, during a dramatic two-week standoff, calling for the overthrow of the House of Saud and the end of its attempts at westernization.
That was the year Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel, normalizing relations between the two countries and leading to Sadat's assassination by members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad just two years later.
And that was also the year that developments in Afghanistan put in motion a chain of events that would lead to the creation of the group we now know as "Al Qaeda."
On Christmas Eve 1979, Soviet troops began an invasion of Afghanistan. Initially, this was portrayed to the American public as a spontaneous act of aggression, the opening salvo in a new campaign by the Russians to conquer the region and upset the world order.
JIMMY CARTER: Fifty thousand heavily armed Soviet troops have crossed the border and are now dispersed throughout Afghanistan, attempting to conquer the fiercely independent Muslim people of that country.
[. . .]
If the Soviets are encouraged in this invasion by eventual success, and if they maintain their dominance over Afghanistan and then extend their control to adjacent countries, the stable, strategic, and peaceful balance of the entire world will be changed.
SOURCE: January 4, 1980: Speech on Afghanistan
As historians with access to USSR document archives now know, the Soviet leadership was extremely reluctant to become entangled in Afghanistan. Well aware of the country's reputation as a "graveyard of empires," Soviet politicians and military leaders knew that any attempt to bring Afghanistan under military and political control would be extremely difficult.
Instead, the invasion was the end result of a series of events that threatened to plunge Afghanistan and the surrounding region into chaos.
Starting in the wake of WWII, the urban, cosmopolitan political elite of the rural and agrarian nation of Afghanistan began a series of reforms and development projects that, they hoped, would bring their country into the modern era. Seeking assistance in this task, these leaders turned to the USSR, who, in addition to providing $100 million in low-interest credit to finance the projects, also welcomed members of the country's political and military elite for training at Soviet institutions. In turn, these young Afghan elites brought communism back to their country.
The Afhgan communists supported a bloodless coup in Kabul in 1973, overthrowing the king and instituting a one-party state whose government included representation by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a pro-Soviet, Marxist-Leninist party that boasted ties to the Afghan National Army. But the PDPA, frustrated by a perceived lack of progress toward communist goals on the part of this new government, precipitated another coup in 1978. This new communist government, led by Nur Muhammad Taraki, presided over a period of dramatic reform: Land reforms sought to limit how much land a family could own; social reforms abolished Shariah law, began education of women, and sought to end forced marriage and other traditional practices; and political dissidents were rounded up and resistant villagers massacred.
Violently opposed both by the Islamic fundamentalists and conservatives in the country as well as opposing factions within his own party, Taraki was overthrown in September of 1979 and killed the following month. Taraki's sucessor and one-time protege, Hafizullah Amin, led an even shorter and more turbulent government. Taking over the presidency in September, Amin—who, the Russians feared, was seeking to improve Afghanistan's relations with the United States—was deposed when Soviet forces entered the country and assassinated him on December 27th, 1979.
The official history--written by the CIA, echoed by the US State Department and propounded in Hollywood productions—maintains that the US response to the events in Afghanistan—a response that would go on to include billions of dollars in arms, funds and training for the Islamic resistance to the Soviet forces—began after the Soviet invasion in 1979.
TERRY BOZEMAN (AS "CIA AWARD PRESENTER"): The defeat and breakup of the Soviet empire, culminating in the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, is one of the great events of world history. There were many heroes in this battle, but to Charlie Wilson must go this special recognition.
Just 13 years ago, the Soviet Army appeared to be invincible. But Charlie, undeterred, engineered a lethal body blow that weakened the Communist empire. Without Charlie, history would be hugely and sadly different.
And so, for the first time, a civilian is being given our highest recognition, that of Honored Colleague. Ladies and gentlemen of the Clandestine Services, Congressman Charles Wilson.
SOURCE: Charlie Wilson's War
But this, too, is a lie. In reality, the covert operation to aid the mujahideen "freedom fighters" did not begin after the Soviets invaded, and it was not the work of Charlie Wilson.
As former CIA director Robert Gates revealed in his 1996 autobiography, assistance to the Afghan mujahideen did not start after the Soviet invasion, but six months before, in July 1979, with President Jimmy Carter signing off on a covert operation to assist and fund the resistance forces in Afghanistan. This was done in the full knowledge that these forces might antagonize and draw the Soviets into the country, which is precisely what a certain faction of the Carter White House—known as "the bleeders" for their propensity to "bleed" the Soviet Union through an engaged guerrilla conflict like the US had experienced in Vietnam—wanted to achieve.
This was confirmed two years later by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Advisor, in a 1998 interview:
According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
The program that Carter signed off on—dubbed Operation Cyclone and billed as "the largest covert operation in history"—continued and expanded throughout the 1980s, leading to the rise of the Taliban and the encouragement of what Brzezinski called in that same interview "some agitated Muslims."
KENNETH BRANNAGH: US National Security Advisor Brzezinski flew to Pakistan to set about rallying the resistance. He wanted to arm the mujahideen without revealing America's role. On the Afghan border near the Khyber Pass, he urged the "Soldiers of God" to redouble their efforts.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI (in Pakistan): We know of their deep belief in God and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You'll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail. And you'll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.
BRZEZINSKI (interview): The purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible.
SOURCE: Soldiers of God (Episode 20)
News of the struggle began to spread throughout the Arab world, and soon the stories of the brave mujahideen fighting the communist infidels became a rallying cry for jihad. The Afghan resistance had made Peshawar, just over the border in Pakistan, their headquarters, and it was there that visitors from around the Muslim world heard first-hand the tales from the battles against the Soviets and saw for themselves the squalor of the refugees who had been forced from their homes by the Russian invaders.
One such visitor was Abdullah Azzam, a passionate young Palestinian whose militant activism had cost him his job as a lecturer at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah and had prompted him to take a position in Islamabad so he could be closer to the Afghan jihad. But this was still not close enough, and he resigned his position to dedicate himself full time to the Afghan cause. He spent time in the refugee camps and mujahideen base at Peshawar, issued a fatwa arguing that Muslims had a duty to wage jihad in Afhganistan, and made frequent trips to Jeddah, where he recruited young Muslims for the cause. While in Jeddah, he stayed at the guest flat of a rich young Saudi named Osama bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden was the 17th of 54 children of Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, an itinerant laborer from Yemen who had worked his way up in the Saudi construction industry to become one of the wealthiest non-royals in the Saudi kingdom. Mohammed bin Laden's business— today known as the Binladin Group Global Holding Company and comprising a sprawling, multibillion-dollar multinational conglomerate involved in some of the largest construction projects in the world—started from humble beginnings.
After arriving in Jeddah from his native Yemen in 1930, Mohammed bin Laden took a job as a dockworker, then as a bricklayer for Aramco during the country's first oil boom. When Aramco sought to subcontract some of the construction work it had undertaken for the Saudi government, bin Laden used the opportunity to grow his own construction firm. His exacting building standards, combined with his energy, his honesty and his willingness to work shoulder-to-shoulder with his men, earned Mohammed bin Laden a reputation as a craftsman and a teacher and brought him to the attention of King Ibn Saud's finance minister.
The aging King Saud, by now largely confined to a wheelchair, gave bin Laden the chance to renovate his palace in Jeddah so that his car could be driven by ramp directly to his second-floor bedroom. Impressed with bin Laden's work (and bin Laden's gesture of personally driving the king's car up the newly installed ramp to make sure it would hold the weight), the king awarded him with a number of increasingly important projects and even appointed him as an honorary minister of public works. Bin Laden's business, later rebranded as the Saudi Binladin Group, would go on to construct most of the kingdom's roads, renovate the Prophet's Mosque at Medina and even renovate the Grand Mosque in Mecca itself.
Although Mohammed bin Laden's fortune was split between dozens of heirs, and although Osama's father divorced his mother shortly after he was born, the younger bin Laden was still born into a life of luxury that few in the kingdom outside the royal family would ever know. Osama bin Laden's share of the family fortune has been estimated at $30 million, and it was expected that he would, like many of his brothers, take up the family business. He studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University, where he met and was influenced by Abdullah Azzam, who was by then was already known for his credo "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences, and no dialogues."
Accounts of when and how Osama bin Laden first ended up in Afghanistan differ. According to Osama himself, speaking to Robert Fisk in his first interview for the Western press in 1993: "When the invasion of Afghanistan started, I was enraged and went there at once - I arrived within days, before the end of 1979." Others contend that Osama had never heard of Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion and that he didn't set foot in the country itself until 1984.
Whatever the case, by the mid-1980s bin Laden was well-known as one of the key fundraisers for the Afghan cause in the Arab world, using his family connections to gather donations from rich Saudis and delivering them to Pakistan to assist the fighters in the field. In 1984, Osama and Azzam co-founded Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), or the "Office of Services," which the US government would later identify as "the precursor organization to Al Qaeda." The group aimed to recruit the foreign fighters that were taking up Azzam's call to join the jihad in Afghanistan, with bin Laden providing money through his fundraising connections and with direct contributions.
Initially little more than a guest house in Peshawar where foreign recruits for the Afghan war could stop on their way to the front, the operation quickly expanded as money poured in and more fighters began to arrive. Soon it caught the attention of other figures in the Afghan war, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar—a brutal Afghan warlord supported by the US to the tune of $600 million who was known for killing more Afghans than Soviets—and Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who would go on to become Osama bin Laden's right-hand man.
The New Yorker has called Zawahiri "The Man Behind Bin Laden." Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist with access to senior Al Qaeda commanders, has argued it was Zawahiri, not the "figurehead" bin Laden, who "formulated the organization’s ideological line and devised operational plans."
Born in a suburb of Cairo in 1951 to a distinguished middle-class family, Zawahiri went on to study medicine at Cairo University, eventually earning a master's degree in surgery and serving three years as a surgeon in the Egyptian Army before establishing his own clinic. He wore Western dress, avoided the radical Islamist activism sweeping campus in his university days, and, according to one Westerner who met him in the mid-1970s, didn't talk or act like "a traditional Muslim."
But, we are asked to believe, this was all a front. In fact, according to the authors of the officially sanctioned history of Al Qaeda, Zawahiri was a lifelong radical who had joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1965 at the tender young age of 14 and was set on his path toward violent jihad the next year, after the execution of the Brotherhood's then-leader, Sayyid Qutb.
Qutb was famous for his role in inspiring a generation of radical Muslims—including Azzam, Osama and Zawahiri—to take up violent jihad against the West and the forces of modernity in the creation of a new caliphate. Less remembered is Qutb's assertion that —during the 1960s, when Saudi King Faisal was openly conspiring with the CIA and Aramco to stir up anti-socialist Muslim groups and undermine Pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism—"America made Islam."
The then-15-year-old Zawahiri, we are told, responded to Qutb's execution by helping to "form an underground militant cell dedicated to replacing the secular Egyptian government with an Islamic one." By the late 1970s, a number of these cells had merged into a larger militant organization, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which, incensed by President Anwar Sadat's signing of a peace treaty with Israel, assassinated him during a military parade on October 6, 1981.
Zawahiri was one of over 300 militants rounded up in the wake of the assassination and—having the best command of English among the defendants—became their spokesman for the international press.
PRISONER: For the whole world, this is our word by Dr. Ayman Zawahiri.
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI: Now we want to speak to the whole world. Who are we? Who are we? Why did they bring us here? And what we want to say? About the first question: We are Muslims. We are Muslims who believe in their religion. [inaudible] We believe in our religion, both in ideology and practice, and hence we tried our best to establish an Islamic state and an Islamic society!
SOURCE: The Power of Nightmares Pt. 1
Before being arrested, Zawahiri had already spent some time in Peshawar, seeing firsthand the squalor of the refugee camps and even crossing the border into Afghanistan to witness the fighting itself. After his release from prison in Egypt in 1984, Zawahiri made his way to Jeddah and then back to Peshawar.
Thus, by the mid-1980s, all of the main characters that were associated with the rise of modern Islamic terror and the founding of Al Qaeda—Azzam, Osama, Zawahiri and their early associates—were now directly involved in the war in Afghanistan. They were not a single, cohesive group—Azzam and Zawahiri were rivals for Osama's funds and attention, with Zawahiri even spreading rumours among the mujahideen that Azzam worked for the Americans. But together, they formed the backbone of what would come to be called the "Afghan Arabs," an inaccurate term for all of the foreign jihadis who came to fight in Afghanistan, both Arab (including Saudis recruited by Osama and Egyptian members of Zawahiri's Islamic Jihad group) and non-Arab (Turks, Malays and others from across the Muslim world).
The Afghan Arabs were not the main fighting force in Afghanistan. In fact, some argue they were almost totally irrelevant to the fight; making up only a small percentage of the total mujahideen, they often got into quarrels with the Afghan fighters and were responsible for almost no significant victories in the struggle against the Soviets. But the story of these "holy warriors" who had answered the call of jihad spread throughout the Muslim world, helped in no small part by their own propensity for self-promotion. Azzam launched Al-Jihad Magazine to help publicize the Afghan Arabs' exploits and, with Osama's funding behind him, was able to make it an international concern. Distributed in America by the Islamic Centre in Tucson, Arizona, the magazine sold thousands of copies per month in the US alone.
But for some time there has been debate about the nature of the US role in fostering and funding the Afghan Arabs. While historians, scholars and journalists agree that CIA funding for the Afghan jihad—estimated to be well over $3 billion--did find its way to the Arab fighters, it has long been debated whether there was any direct contact between American intelligence and Osama bin Laden.
In the officially sanctioned history of the Afghan-Soviet War, the Americans were aiding the people of Afghanistan, brave "freedom fighters" who were engaged in a heroic struggle against the evil Soviet Empire.
RONALD REAGAN: The fact that freedom is the strongest force in the world is daily demonstrated by the people of Afghan. Accordingly, I am dedicating on behalf of the American people the March 22nd launch of the Columbia to the people of Afghanistan.
SOURCE: Afghanistan Day Proclamation Speech
REAGAN: The support that the United States has been providing the resistance will be strengthened, rather than diminished, so that it can continue to fight effectively for freedom. A just struggle against foreign tyranny can count upon worldwide support, both political and material. t
[. . .]
On behalf of the American people, I salute chairman Kalis, his delegation and the people of Afghanistan themselves.
You are a nation of heroes.
SOURCE: President Reagan's Remarks After a Meeting With Afghan Resistance Leaders on November 12, 1987
RICHARD CRENNA (AS SAM TRAUTMAN): Hard to believe, John.
SYLVESTER STALLONE (AS JOHN RAMBO): What's that, sir?
TRAUTMAN: Well, I hate to admit it, but I think we're getting soft.
RAMBO: Maybe just a little, sir. Just a little.
[CAPTION: THIS FILM IS DEDICATED TO THE GALLANT PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN.]
SOURCE: RAMBO III
This is the story propounded by the final report of the 9/11 Commission, which holds that the covert aid supplied for the operation by the United States went to Pakistan, who then distributed the funds and supplies directly to the Afghan fighters, not the Afghan Arabs. "Saudi Arabia and the United States supplied billions of dollars worth of secret assistance to rebel groups in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet occupation," the 9/11 Commission explained in the section of its report dedicated to "The Rise of bin Laden and Al Qaeda." "This assistance was funneled through Pakistan: the Pakistani military intelligence service (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISID), helped train the rebels and distribute the arms. But bin Laden and his comrades had their own sources of support and training, and they received little or no assistance from the United States."
Here the 9/11 Commission is in agreement with Zawahiri himself, who insisted in his 2001 book, Knights Under the Prophet's Banner, that "the United States did not give one penny in aid to the mujahideen." After all, he adds: "If the Arab Afghans are the mercenaries of the United States who have now rebelled against it, why is the United States unable to buy them back now?"
Zawahiri's rhetorical question has not always been answered in the way he intended it. In fact, numerous sources over the years have pointed to just such direct contact between the US and the Afghan Arabs—and even between the CIA and Osama bin Laden himself.
There was Ted Gunderson, for example, a 27-year veteran of the FBI who claimed to have met bin Laden at the Hilton Hotel in Sherman Oaks, California, in 1986. Osama, Gunderson says, was introduced under the name "Tim Osman" and was in the midst of a US tour with a State Department handler, looking to procure weapons and support for the Afghan jihad. The only document that ever emerged to back this story up, however, was a crude, self-typed, single-page memo of unknown origin that only serves to throw an already dubious story into even further doubt.
Or there was journalist Joseph Trento's claim in his 2006 book, Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network, that "CIA money was actually funneled to MAK, since it was recruiting young Muslim men to come join the jihad in Afghanistan." That claim, however, comes from a "former CIA officer" who couldn’t be identified because "at the time of the writing of this book, he was back in Afghanistan as a private contractor."
Or there was Simon Reeve, who wrote The New Jackals--the first book on Al Qaeda—in 1998. In it, he states that US agents "armed [bin Laden's] men by letting him pay rock-bottom prices for basic weapons." This claim, too, sources to an anonymous former CIA official.
In 2000, The Guardian reported on "Bin Laden: the question facing the next US president," stating flatly: "In 1986 the CIA even helped him [bin Laden] build an underground camp at Khost, where he was to train recruits from across the Islamic world in the business of guerrilla warfare." No source is provided for the claim, however.
In 2003, MSNBC Senior Correspondent Michael Moran wrote that: "Bin Laden, along with a small group of Islamic militants from Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian refugee camps all over the Middle East, became the 'reliable' partners of the CIA in its war against Moscow." However, he conceded that "It should be pointed out that the evidence of bin Laden’s connection to these activities is mostly classified."
Supporters of the official story, however, make a valid point: of all the things that the multimillionaire heir to the bin Laden family fortune needed on his rise to international infamy, money was not one of them. No, what bin Laden needed for his burgeoning terror group to thrive was not more money; it was protection.
As he turned from "Anti-Soviet warrior" to international terror mastermind, bin Laden needed officials to look the other way as his people moved across borders. He needed routine security procedures to be abandoned at key moments. He needed intelligence agencies to disconnect the dots and fail to act on information at their disposal. When members of his organization got caught, he needed strings to be pulled so his associates could continue their operation.
And, as we shall see, this is precisely the type of protection that Osama bin Laden and his associates were to receive time and again in the coming decades.
Regardless of direct western intelligence involvement in the arming, funding or training of Maktab al-Khidamat, the question soon became a moot point. As the Afghan war was drawing to its inevitable conclusion and the Soviets prepared to march back to Moscow, Osama bin Laden was already planning a new group to consolidate his international network of mujahideen and to take the jihad global.
According to documents obtained from a March 2002 raid of the Sarajevo offices of Benevolence International Foundation—a not-for-profit humanitarian relief organization that was declared a financier of terrorism in the wake of 9/11—the original idea for the founding of Al Qaeda was discussed in a meeting on August 11, 1988. In attendance at the meeting: Osama bin Laden, Mohamed Atef—an Egyptian engineer and member of Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad who would go on to become Al Qaeda's military commander—Jamal al-Fadl, a Sudanese militant recruited for the Afghan war from the MAK's US headquarters in Brooklyn, and a dozen others.
There are conflicting stories about the origin of the name "Al Qaeda," which means "the base" in Arabic. Bin Laden claims that "Al Qaeda" was simply the name used for the mujahideen training camps and "the name stayed." Others attribute it to Abdullah Azzam, who published a brief article in al-Jihad Magazine in April 1988, entitled "al-Qa’ida al-Subah," or, "The Solid Base," in which he wrote:
For every invention there must be a vanguard (tali’a) to carry it forward and, while forcing its way into society, endure enormous expenses and costly sacrifices. There is no ideology, neither earthly nor heavenly, that does not require such a vanguard that gives everything it possesses in order to achieve victory for this ideology. It carries the flag all along the sheer endless and difficult path until it reaches its destination in the reality of life, since Allah has destined that it should make it and manifest itself.
This vanguard constitutes the solid base (al-Qa’ida al-Subah) for the expected society.
In 2005, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook claimed that Al Qaeda was literally "the database," that is, "the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians." He did not, however, provide proof for this claim, evidence of the existence of such a database itself, or an explanation of how he knew this information.
The founding document itself mentions "Al Qaeda Al Askariya" ("the Military Base"), explaining that: "The mentioned Al Qaeda is basically an organized Islamic faction, its goal will be to lift the word of God, to make his religion victorious."
It lists the "Requirements to enter Al Qaeda":
The pledge of God and his covenant is upon me, to listen and obey the superiors, who are doing this work, in energy, early-rising, difficulty, and easiness, and for his superiority upon us, so that the word of God will be the highest, and His religion victorious.
And it ends by noting that there were "thirty brothers in Al Qaeda, meeting the requirements, and thank God."
The meeting was noted by no one. In the larger scheme of things, it meant nothing. A ragtag band of thirty fighters, even if that ragtag band was led and financed by a Saudi millionaire, could accomplish very little on their own, and in the wake of the seismic forces taking place in Afghanistan at the time, it did not even register as a blip on the radar of anyone in the region. But the assistance and protection that would help steward this group of jihadi miscreants into a brand name for international terror was already in effect.
The early glimmers of this protection could be seen in Maktab al-Khidamat's efforts to recruit and train mujahideen for the Afghan jihad in the US. Starting in Tucson, Arizona, MAK would go on to open 30 branches in cities across the US, including their most important location, the Al Kifah Refugee Center based out of Brooklyn's Faruq Mosque. The CIA's role in aiding MAK and Al Kifah in their recruitment efforts has been an acknowledged fact for decades.
In 2001, Newsweek called the center "a dreary inner-city building that doubled as a recruiting post for the CIA seeking to steer fresh troops to the mujahideen."
In 1995, New York Magazine explained: "The highlight for the centre’s regulars were the inspirational jihad lecture series, featuring CIA-sponsored speakers. One week on Atlantic Avenue, it might be a CIA-trained Afghan rebel travelling on a CIA-issued visa; the next, it might be a clean-cut Arabic-speaking Green Beret, who would lecture about the importance of being part of the mujahideen."
J. Michael Springmann, a visa officer at the US Consulate in Jeddah from 1987 to 1989, testified how his decisions to deny visas to enter the United States to clearly unqualified applicants were routinely overridden by CIA officers at the consulate as part of their effort to "help Osama bin Laden's mujahideen in Afghanistan."
J. MICHAEL SPRINGMANN: I was being pressured by the Consul, General Jay Philip Freres, by a consular officer—I'm sorry, not a consular officer, a commercial officer—and various other people throughout the consulate: "We need a visa for this guy."
It wasn't a visa for my friend, it wasn't a visa for a prospective business contact. It was for somebody like the two Pakistanis who were going to a trade show in the United States: they couldn't name the trade show, they couldn't name the city in which it was being held, but a CIA case officer concealed in the commercial section demanded a visa for these people within the hour of my refusing them.
And I said, "No. They can't tell me where they're going, they can't tell me why they're going. The law is very clear: these are intending immigrants unless and until they can prove otherwise, and they haven't done it. Do you have some information that was not available to me when they applied?" He said, "No." I said, "They're not going." He went to Justice Stevens, the chief of the consular section, and got a visa for these guys.
[. . .]
And it wasn't until I was out of the Foreign Service (when my appointment had been terminated for unspecified reasons) that I learned from three good sources—Joe Trento, the journalist; a fellow attached to a university in Washington, D.C.; and a guy with expert knowledge on the Middle East who had worked for a government agency—they said, "It's very simple. The CIA and its asset, Osama bin Laden, were recruiting terrorists for the Afghan war."
They were sending them to the United States for training, for rewards, for whatever purpose and then sending them on to Afghanistan. And most likely, the problems they had with the liquor at the consulate—large amounts be disappearing and being sold at very high markups and so forth—was being used to fund this.
SOURCE: 9/11 Citizens' Commission - 10. Michael Springman VISAs for Terrorists
In a 1994 debriefing of his experience at Jeddah, Springmann cited Sheikh Abdel-Rahman as one of the "CIA operatives" with "terrorist ties" who were being aided by this program.
Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as "the Blind Sheikh," was born in Egypt in 1938 and lost his eyesight at just 10 months old. Studying a braille version of the Qur'an, Rahman was sent to an Islamic boarding school, and, inspired by the writings of Sayyid Qutb, earned a doctorate in quranic interpretation from Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He made a name for himself among Islamic fundamentalists for his forceful denunciations of the secular government of Nasser, who imprisoned Rahman without charge for several months. It was Rahman who issued the fatwa that was used to justify the assassination of Sadat, and it was in prison, on trial for his part in the assassination, that Rahman met Zawahiri.
After his release from prison, the Blind Sheikh made his way to join the jihad in Afghanistan, where, as even mainstream sources note, he "is said to have established links with the Central Intelligence Agency." The CIA, it was later reported, had paid for Rahman to travel to Peshawar and "preach to the Afghans about the necessity of unity to overthrow the Kabul regime."
These CIA "links" served the Blind Sheikh well. As one of the most notorious Islamic radicals in the Middle East, the Blind Sheikh was on a US State Department terrorist watch list that should have barred him entry to America. Nevertheless, in May, 1990, he obtained a tourist visa to enter the United States from a consul in the US Embassy in Khartoum. When the visa was first reported to the public in December of that year, a spokesperson for the State Department insisted that the consul had "made a mistake," explaining that they "didn't follow the procedures" and failed to check Rahman's name against the State Department watchlist.
It wasn't until July of 1993, five months after the bombing of the World Trade Center directed by Rahman and aided by an FBI informant, that the truth was revealed: "Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism" reported The New York Times, adding that, "while the practice is somewhat sensitive and not widely known, it is not unusual for a low-level CIA officer to be assigned a post as a consular official, as they had been in each of the seven cases." It was later reported that the visas had been "a reward for [Rahman's] services" to the CIA in Afghanistan.
Incredibly, this was not the end of the string of "lucky breaks" that allowed Rahman, the leader of the first Islamic terror cell to operate on US soil, to continue his operations unmolested.
In November of 1990, his CIA-approved tourist visa was revoked, "but because of a procedural error [immigration officials] were not aware that he was in the country" and had to begin an investigation before he could be deported. Despite all of this, Rahman was still able to obtain a green card for permanent residence in the United States in April of 1991. After leaving the country and returning in August of that year, immigration officials identified that he was on a watch list and "began proceedings to rescind his residency status," but "they allowed him to re-enter the United States anyway." His green card was revoked in March of 1992, but he was still allowed to remain in the country while he applied for political asylum and plotted the World Trade Center bombing out of the MAK-founded, CIA-connected Al Qaeda stronghold in Brooklyn, the Al Kifah Refugee Center.
But as remarkable as the Blind Sheikh's story is, it is not unique. Rahman was not the only person associated with Al Qaeda's Al Kifah Center who proved able to freely enter the US despite being on a watchlist.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the future leader of Al Qaeda, made at least three visits to the United States. Despite having been imprisoned in Egypt for three years after the assassination of Sadat and despite his known role as the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri was able to enter the US and, using an alias and posing as a representative of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, engage in fundraising for his terror group. His trip was made possible by one of his most important operatives, Ali Mohamed, who had arranged the trip and provided him with the fake passport he used to enter the country.
It is in the story of Ali Mohamed, dubbed "Al Qaeda's triple agent," that the incredible ties between US intelligence and Al Qaeda are revealed. Indeed, the tale of Mohamed's unlikely career--described as "the most tantalizing and complex story in the history of al Qaeda's war against America"—is so utterly unbelievable that a Hollywood scriptwriter would reject it for being too implausible.
The son of a career soldier in the Egyptian Army, Mohamed attended the Cairo Military Academy and obtained two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Alexandria. Mohamed followed in his father's footsteps, joining the Egyptian Army and quickly rising to the rank of major. An intelligence officer in the Egyptian Special Forces, Mohamed was a member of the same unit that carried out the assassination of Sadat in 1981. But he was not in Egypt when it happened. He was training with the US Green Berets at Fort Bragg on a foreign officer exchange program.
The FBI would later allege that it was during this training course that Mohamed was first approached by the CIA, who sought to recruit him as a foreign asset. That same year, Mohamed joined Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad and raised the suspicions of the Egyptian Army not just for his ties to the Sadat assassination unit, but for his conspicuous acts of Islamic fundamentalism, including taking time for the five daily prayers and loudly proclaiming his Islamic beliefs to anyone who would listen.
Discharged from the Egyptian Army in 1984, Mohamed—at the behest of Zawahiri—landed a job as a counterterrorism security advisor for Egypt Air. Impressed by Mohamed's abilities, Zawahiri tasked him with a seemingly impossible challenge: infiltrate an intelligence service of the US government. Remarkably, according to the official history of Al Qaeda propounded by the very intelligence services Mohamed was tasked with infiltrating, that was exactly what he did.
According to that official story, in 1984 Mohamed turned up at the CIA station in Cairo, offering his services. The CIA took him up on the offer, sending him to Hamburg, Germany, to infiltrate a Hezbollah-linked mosque there. Upon arrival in Hamburg, Mohamed immediately announced that he had been sent by the CIA. The agency, learning of the betrayal, officially cut their ties with him, putting Mohamed on a State Department watchlist that should have prevented him from entering the US. But, as government sources later told The Boston Globe, he was able to enter the country in 1985 anyway with the help of "clandestine CIA sponsorship." According to the report, Mohamed "benefitted from a little known visa-waiver program that allows the CIA and other security agencies to bring valuable agents into the country, bypassing the usual immigration formalities."
What happened next defies all credulity. On his flight from Athens to New York, Mohamed sat next to Linda Lee Sanchez, a single medical technician from Santa Clara, California 10 years his senior. After spending the flight in conversation, the two agreed to meet again and six weeks later they were married at the Chapel of the Bells in Reno, Nevada. Now applying for US citizenship, Mohamed enlisted in the US Army in August 1986, completing basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and receiving an Army Achievement Medal for his exemplary performance. Completing jump school and qualifying as an expert marksman on the M-16, Mohamed quickly reached the rank of E-4 and was then inexplicably posted to the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, where he had earlier trained as a foreign exchange officer. Working as a supply sergeant for a Green Beret unit, he was soon lecturing on the Middle East to students at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, the training center for US special forces.
ALI MOHAMED: Islam cannot survive in an area without political domination. Islam itself, as a religion, cannot survive. If I live in one area, we have to establish an Islamic state, because Islam without political domination cannot survive.
SOURCE: The Middle East Focus Series Presented By: Ali Mohamed
Even his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Robert Anderson, was stunned by the incredibly unlikely rise through the ranks of this watchlisted Muslim radical.
"I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball (a lottery), than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California . . . getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit," Anderson later told The San Francisco Chronicle. "That just doesn't happen. "
But it did. And the unbelievable story of Ali Mohamed did not stop there; in fact, it was only just beginning.
In 1987, Mustafa Shalabi, the emir of the Al Qaeda-linked Al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, transmitted a request from the mujahideen in Afghanistan for Ali Mohamed to come and train rebel troops in the camps there. Mohamed requested a 30-day leave from the Army and made his preparations to travel to Paris and from there on to Afghanistan using forged documents provided to him by mujahideen agents.
Mohamed made no attempt to hide his plan and Lt. Colonel Steve Neely, the JFK Special Warfare Center instructor who hired Mohamed as a lecturer, was so upset at the idea—a US soldier heading to a war zone to engage in training and, inevitably, combat, without the permission of the Army—that he sent a report up the chain of command informing his superior officers about Mohamed's plan. But he never heard back.
Ali Mohamed went to Afghanistan, where he not only provided training to the mujahideen, but, according to his own story, even fought and killed two Soviet Special Forces officers. When he returned to his duties at Fort Bragg after his 30 day leave, he even presented one of his mementos—a belt from one of the Soviet soldiers he had killed—to his commanding officer.
NARRATOR: Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A month after he left for Afghanistan, Ali Mohammed returns here 11 kilograms lighter and brandishing a war trophy.
LT. COL. ROBERT ANDERSON: Then he came back and gave us a debriefing with maps and even brought back this Russian Special Forces belt. He said that he'd killed the Russian Special Forces soldier.
NARRATOR: Col. Anderson says he sent two separate reports to his superiors criticizing Ali Mohamed for his Afghan adventure. He receives no response. Anderson says he did not have enough evidence to bring charges against Mohamed.
SOURCE: Triple Cross: Bin Laden's Spy in America
So outrageous was Mohamed's behaviour that his commanding officer came to believe that he was being "sponsored" by a US intelligence agency. "I assumed the CIA," he told The San Francisco Chronicle. Anderson was not alone in this belief. Back in California, Mohamed's friends also assumed his CIA ties. "Everyone in the community knew he was working as a liaison between the CIA and the Afghan cause," Ali Zaki, a San Jose obstetrician who was close to Mohamed, told The Washington Post.
CIA sponsorship would explain Mohamed's incredible ability to break Army regulations at will with complete impunity. While serving in the US Armed Forces, Mohamed spent his weekends traveling from Fort Bragg to Brooklyn, where he lectured at the Al Kifah Refugee Center and began providing military training and stolen US Special Forces documents to a cell of Islamic militants based there.
Despite all of this, Mohamed received an honourable discharge from active duty in November 1989. Among the commendations he received: one for "patriotism, valor, fidelity and professional excellence." He remained a member of the US Army Reserve as he returned to his wife in California and began the next leg of his career.
As we shall see, this increasingly implausible story involved Mohamed becoming an FBI informant while simultaneously training and steering the terror cells that would be linked to the World Trade Center bombing, the US Embassy bombings and the other spectacular attacks in the 1990s that would make Al Qaeda synonymous with international terrorism, evading the justice system for years and then disappearing off the face of the planet.
By the time Mohamed left active duty at the end of 1989, the world order was beginning to shift. The Soviets had retreated from Afghanistan and within two short years the Soviet Union itself had ceased to exist. The Cold War was over and the public was promised a new world of peace and tranquility.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH: We stand tonight before a new world of hope and possibilities for our children, a world we could not have contemplated a few years ago. The challenge for us now is to engage these new states in sustaining the peace and building a more prosperous future.
SOURCE: Cold war ended 25 December 1991
But this promised "new world of hope" never arrived. Instead, the world was about to be thrust into a new age of terror. And the public face of that terror, a young Saudi millionaire who was still being touted as an "Anti-Soviet Warrior," had just cobbled together his band of Islamic militants, his Al Qaeda "base," in the training camps of Afghanistan.
And, as we will see, as the world plunged into this new era of violence, the planners of the American Empire—like the planners of the British Empire before them—were more than willing to aid, protect and use these radical Muslims to attain their own ends.
TO BE CONTINUED . . .
Part two: 9/11
Transcript & Sources
"The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket. Revolution, legality—counter-moves in the same game; forms of idleness at bottom identical."
Alexandria, Egypt. July 23, 1954.
It's Revolution Day in Egypt and the streets of Alexandria are teeming with revelers. Two men—Victor Levy and Philip Natanson—pick their way through the crowd on their way to the cinema quarter, each nervously clutching a device in their pocket. Eyeing the fire trucks parked at the intersections, Philip leans over to Victor and whispers: "They're expecting us."
They reach the steps of the Rio Cinema just as the audience from the afternoon showing begin pouring out of the entrance. They fight their way through the stream of people and into the foyer and immediately see a man in the usual garb of an Egyptian plainclothes detective waiting for them. Philip turns to run away but instantly a wave of heat begins to sear his thigh. He tries to tell Victor to run, but no words come out. Instead, a white hot flame leaps from his trousers. He squeezes his thigh with all his strength in a vain attempt to stop the flame before the bomb can ignite—but it's too late.
There's an explosion.
Philip lies on the ground, his arms and legs burnt black from the bomb. Victor is nowhere to be seen. Soon, a police sergeant arrives, along with the plainclothes detective. Someone in the crowd shouts, "Take care! He may have another bomb!" But the sergeant moves in all the same. "Don't worry. We were waiting for them."
The police had been expecting them. Victor and Philip were Egyptian Jews, members of a sleeper cell established by Israeli military intelligence in 1951.
The Israelis had watched in dismay as the military coup in Egypt in 1952 led to the rise of Gamel Abdel Nasser, who was not only hostile to Israel, but who, as a perceived anti-communist, was securing military and financial aid from the Americans and even the British. With Britain already staging talks to withdraw from their Suez military base, Israel decided to act. In 1954, they activated their military intelligence sleeper cell in the country for an audacious mission. Codenamed Operation Susannah, their plan was to stage an increasingly spectacular series of bombings in Cairo and Alexandria.
The first bombing—an explosion at the Alexandria central post office on July 2nd—had gone off without a hitch. The second, a simultaneous attack on the American Libraries in Cairo and Alexandria, was similarly successful. It was their third attack—an ambitious attempt to bomb two cinemas in Cairo, two in Alexandria and the Cairo railway station—that failed, derailing the operation. Ten members of the cell were rounded up. Of the ten, two committed suicide in the course of their interrogations by the Egyptian police, two more were executed, and six were sentenced to prison, eventually making their way to Israel after their release.
After decades of internal Israeli investigations, finger-pointing, political scandal and high-profile resignations, the full truth of Operation Susannah remains shrouded in official secrecy. The Israeli government did not even formally acknowledge the incident until 2005, a full half-century after the affair, when nine of the agents were officially commended for their service.
But the reasoning behind the operation was revealed during one of the commissions of inquiry that was established to examine the affair. According to one officer who was given oral instructions directly from Israel's Military Intelligence chief, Binyamin Gibli:
[Our goal is] to break the West's confidence in the existing [Egyptian] regime . . . . The actions should cause arrests, demonstrations, and expressions of revenge. The Israeli origin should be totally covered while attention should be shifted to any other possible factor. The purpose is to prevent economic and military aid from the West to Egypt.
In short, the Israelis had attempted a false flag operation, hoping to blame their own spectacular acts of violence on the Muslim Brotherhood or the communists in order to destabilize Nasser's government, undermine Western confidence in its Egyptian ally, and persuade the British military to remain at their Suez base.
The operation was a failure in every sense. The cell was discovered and its members imprisoned. Their actions did not destabilize the Nasser government, nor did they influence the relationship between Egypt and the West. And the British did leave their base in 1956, after an abortive Israeli/British/French invasion of the region was brought to an end by the US and the Soviets. But it did implant an idea in the minds of the Western military planners: that acts of terrorism could be staged and blamed on Muslim scapegoats to further their own political goals.
As we shall see, it was not long before America's military brass were forwarding their own operational plans making use of this tactic . . . plans that would culminate in the most spectacular terrorist attack the world had yet seen.
Part Two: 9/11Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States.
EARLY SHOW: Miles and miles of sunshine. Miles Davis. Going to put Miles out there today. Nice as it could be across the Northeast. Rough seas still from the chop from that hurricane, but other than that it’s kind of quiet around the country. We like quiet. It’s quiet. It’s too quiet.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 8:31am EDT on WUSA - The Early Show
In a matter of moments, however, the quiet of that Tuesday morning transformed into the turbulence of 9/11, and the world seemed to turn upside down. As the events of that day played out like a Hollywood movie on TV screens around the world, the meaning of those events was still far from clear. Who was behind this attack? Why were they attacking? What did the perpetrators hope to gain from it?
And yet it was there, in the initial hours of those chaotic events—years before the congressional inquiries and presidential commissions presumed to answer those questions—that all of the essential pieces of the official story of 9/11 were laid out on the tv screens of the American public.
8:50 AMDIANE SAWYER: We want to tell you what we know as we know it, but we just got a report in that there's been some sort of explosion at the World Trade Center in New York City. One report said—and we can't confirm any of this—that a plane may have hit one of the two towers of the World Trade Center, but again you're seeing the live pictures here.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 8:50am EDT on WJLA - ABC News Good Morning America
JON SCOTT: There was a pilot who flew— There was another one! We just saw— We just saw another one. We just saw another one apparently go— Another plane just flew into the second tower. This raises— This has to be deliberate, folks.
CORRESPONDENT: Well, that would begin to say that, yeah.
SCOTT: We just saw on live television as a second plane flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center. Now, given what has been going on around the world, some of the key suspects come to mind: Osama bin Laden. Who knows what?
SOURCE: Original News Broadcast on 9/11/01
MARK WALSH: I was watching with my roommate—it was approximately several minutes after the first plane had hit. I saw this plane come out of nowhere and just ream right into the side of the Twin Tower, exploding through the other side. And then I witnessed both towers collapse, one first and then the second, mostly due to structural failure because the fire was just too intense.
SOURCE: FOX News 9-11-2001 Live Coverage 8:46 A.M E.T - 5:00 P.M E.T
JERROLD POST: I am sure the highest degree of probability associated with this attack, which had remarkable coordination and logistical sophistication, would be Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda group.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 11:54am EDT on WTTG
KATIE COURIC: One senior US intelligence official says now that the US is 90% certain that bin Laden was responsible for today's attack.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 5:54pm EDT on WRC - News 4 at 5
PETER JENNINGS: He—an engineer and an architect—speculates here that the heat above the crash site on the twin trade towers may have indeed caused the building above to melt, just simply collapsing in itself and putting enormous weight on the rest of the building below, which could not possibly stand it. Now the steel columns which go up through the building, built to code at best, would only be able, he believes, to have been able to stand an hour or an hour and a half of intense fire like this, pressing down on the rest of the building until it finally was able to give way.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 8:22pm EDT on WJLA
Remarkably, these initial, off-the-cuff speculations turned out to be—according to the various inquiries and investigations that followed—accurate in all their main respects. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, had planned and directed this attack. The Twin Towers had collapsed due to structural failure, because the fire was just too intense.
These assertions, drilled into the minds of a susceptible audience still reeling in shock from the horror of the events they had just witnessed, became the core tenets of what would become enshrined in the final report of the 9/11 Commission as the "official story" of 9/11.
In this official story, Osama bin Laden, once the "anti-Soviet warrior on the road to peace," was now an international terror kingpin. Radicalized by the arrival of US military forces in the Arabian peninsula in the Gulf War, he issued a fatwa against the United States and began a series of strikes on US targets; first bombing the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and then bombing the USS Cole while it was harbored in Aden in October of 2000.
According to this version of events, the 9/11 plot was hatched by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a "highly educated" Pakistani militant who presented the "planes operation"—as the 9/11 Commission asserts it was originally known—to Osama bin Laden and his chief of operations, Mohammed Atef, in 1996. It was bin Laden, we are told, who greenlighted the operation "sometime in late 1998 or early 1999." The three of them developed a list of buildings to be targeted—the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center—and bin Laden himself handpicked the men he wanted to carry out the operation.
Carefully moving their operatives into place over the course of the next two years, this crack terror squad—devoted Muslim radicals willing to die for their beliefs—succeeded through a combination of skill and the colossal failure of the American intelligence complex, hindered by bureaucracy and hampered by a lack of political will to recognize the growing threat of Islamic terror.
No individual was to blame for this "failure," the official story of 9/11 concludes, but the remedy to the problems presented by the 9/11 attack was obvious: to erect a new homeland security complex, tear down the walls between foreign intelligence and domestic policing, implement warrantless surveillance and other legally dubious means of disrupting potential terror threats on the home front, and launch a war on terror abroad to bring the battle to the terrorists.
But this narrative, now enshrined as the official history of 9/11—that the 9/11 plot was hatched by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 1996, that it was directed by terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and that it was executed by Al Qaeda so flawlessly that the intelligence agencies could not have even envisioned it, let alone prevented it--
GEORGE W. BUSH: Nobody in our government, at least—and I don't think the prior government—could envision flying airplanes into buildings.
SOURCE: The President's News Conference - April 13, 2004
—is now contested in every respect, even by defenders of that official history.
As even mainstream authors like Jason Burke were forced to admit, the popular conception of Al Qaeda—that of a top-down organization with a single leader overseeing its operations—was a convenient fiction, created by the FBI so they could prosecute bin Laden in absentia for the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa. In order to prosecute bin Laden, they had to show that Al Qaeda "coordinates the activities of its global membership" and that bin Laden, as the leader of the group, bears the responsibility for any actions attributed to the organization.
JASON BURKE: The idea, which is critical to the FBI's prosecution—that bin Laden ran a coherent organization with operatives and cells all around the world, of which you could be a member—is a myth. There is no Al Qaeda organization. There is no international network with a leader, with carders who will unquestionably obey orders, with tentacles that stretch out to sleeper cells in America, in Africa, in Europe. That idea of a coherent structured terrorist network with an organized capability simply does not exist.
SOURCE: The Power Of Nightmares: Part 3 The Shadows In The Cave (2004)
Even the 9/11 Commission's final report had to admit that Al Qaeda was less of a mafia-like organization with a capo served by his faithful lieutenants and more of a funding organization for "terrorist entrepreneurs." "Al Qaeda's worldwide terrorist operations," the report conceded, "relied heavily on the ideas and work of enterprising and strong-willed field commanders who enjoyed considerable autonomy."
As we saw in Part 1 of this exploration, Origin Story, these "terrorist entrepreneurs" included among their ranks renowned international Islamic radicals—like "The Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman—and lesser-known but incredibly prolific terror cell leaders—like Ali Mohamed—whose remarkable abilities to evade State Department watch lists and foment and direct spectacular terror attacks directly under the nose of the intelligence agencies defies explanation . . . unless one assumes, as their closest associates did, that they were working under the purview of those intelligence agencies.
In order to better understand this aspect of the story, we have to return to 1990, the year that the specter of Islamic terror appeared on the shores of the United States.
Abdullah Azzam—Osama bin Laden's mentor and co-founder with bin Laden of the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK), or the "Office of Services," which provided funding, training and an international support network to the "Afghan Arabs" during the Soviet-Afghan war—is dead, killed in a car bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan. It is never determined who committed the assassination, but Azzam's death resolves a dispute about the future of the jihad movement. Azzam had favoured continuing the fight in Afghanistan, pressing for the formation of an Islamic regime in Kabul. Bin Laden had other ideas; and now, as the undisputed leader of the old MAK network, he is free to pursue those ideas under the "Al Qaeda" banner.
But "Al Qaeda," at this point, barely even exists as a propaganda construct. Despite grandiose visions of creating "a unified global jihad movement," the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan and the end of the war leaves the group's future in doubt. Bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia, looking for ways to leverage his family's wealth and power to make a name for himself in the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, in New York, the era of "Islamic terror" in the United States is about to begin.
Manhattan, New York. November 5, 1990.
Meir Kahane—an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and a convicted terrorist whose anti-Arab views were considered so extreme he was banned from the Israeli Knesset—has just finished delivering a speech in the Morgan D Room of the New York Marriott East Side Hotel. Leaving the podium, Kahane has begun mingling with the crowd. Suddenly one man, Sayyid Nosair, draws a .357 Magnum and fires, hitting Kahane twice, once in the neck.
Nosair flees, shooting one of Kahane's supporters in the leg in his rush out the door. His accomplice, Mahmud Abouhalima, is supposed to be waiting at the front door in a taxi to drive him away, but the doorman had waved Abouhalima away moments earlier, so Nosair jumps in the wrong cab by mistake. When he realizes his error, he brandishes the .357, ordering the cabbie to start driving. Instead, the driver scrambles out of the taxi and runs away.
Nosair is forced to flee on foot, racing down Lexington Avenue with his gun still in hand. Carlos Acosta, a US postal inspector, tries to stop him, drawing his weapon, but it's too late; Nosair fires first, hitting Acosta in the shoulder. Undeterred, Acosta drops to his knee, steadies himself and shoots back, hitting Nosair in the neck. Both Nosair and Kahane are rushed to Bellevue Hospital's trauma unit. Nosair survives his emergency operation. Kahane does not.
The dramatic events of that November night would culminate in an even more surprising verdict 13 months later. Not only was Nosair treated as a "lone gunman" acting of his own accord, but he was not even convicted of Kahane's murder. Despite such a brazen assassination—perpetrated in a crowded room and followed by a spectacular chase—Nosair was acquitted of murder, convicted instead on four lesser counts, including gun possession, assault and coercion. He was sentenced to just 22 years.
So, what went wrong? The jurors contend that they had "reasonable doubt" of Nosair's guilt because "the prosecution did not offer a witness during the five-week trial who saw the defendant fire the fatal shots" and—since Kahane's family had opposed an autopsy—the fatal bullet could not be matched to Nosair's weapon. But, in reality, the fix was in from the start. As even the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks conceded in a staff statement a decade after the trial:
According to FBI officials who were interviewed, the NYPD and the District Attorney’s office resisted attempts to label the Kahane assassination a 'conspiracy' despite the apparent links to a broader network of radicals. Instead, these organizations reportedly wanted the appearance of speedy justice and a quick resolution to a volatile situation. By arresting Nosair, they felt they had accomplished both.
The typically bureaucratic wording of the statement obscures the reality: the NYPD and the District Attorney's office didn't just passively resist the attempts to "label" the assassination a "conspiracy"; they deliberately covered up vitally important information that would have unwound that conspiracy and undermined the next decade of spectacular Al Qaeda terrorism.
Immediately after his arrest, forty-seven boxes of material were seized from Nosair's house in New Jersey. Among those materials were Top Secret training manuals from Fort Bragg and Secret communiqués from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lest there be any doubt where the materials came from, they even discovered a video of Ali Mohammed's lectures at the Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg. But those weren't the only pieces of evidence that connected the Kahane assassination conspiracy—now commonly portrayed as the first act of Islamic terrorism on US soil—to Ali Mohammed, the remarkable CIA asset, US Army officer and FBI informant who, we are told, was "Al Qaeda's" strangely untouchable "triple agent" in the heart of the American intelligence establishment.
El Sayyid Nosair himself—the 34-year old Egyptian-born janitor with a penchant for Prozac who quite literally got away with murder—was, as it turns out, not unknown to the authorities. In fact, he had been known to the FBI since at least the previous summer. That's when, as it was later admitted, Nosair and a ragtag bunch of associates had been surveilled loading up a convoy of vehicles with semi-automatic weapons and copious amounts of ammo and heading to the Calverton Shooting Range on Long Island.
For four consecutive Sundays in July of 1989, the FBI's elite Special Operations Group--apparently tipped off that "PLO terrorists were threatening to blow up casinos in Atlantic City"--followed Nosair's convoy to the shooting range, snapping dozens of photographs of the group engaging in target practice with handguns, rifles and even an AK-47.
The group had set off from the Brooklyn Al Kifah Refugee Center—Al Qaeda's New York office, which, as we have seen, not only operated in full view of the intelligence community but "doubled as a recruiting post for the CIA seeking to steer fresh troops to the mujahideen" in Afghanistan.
Among those in attendance at the FBI-surveilled target practice sessions:
Nosair and his fellow Al Kifah plotters had been under surveillance by the FBI. Mohammed, their handler came straight from Fort Bragg, providing them with Top Secret government documents and personally overseeing their training. But, incredibly, none of these points were raised at Nosair's trial for the murder of Kahane. FBI officers who tried to follow the leads into the bigger plot were ordered to stand down.
INTERVIEWER: What was your feeling about the "lone gunman" theory?
ROBERT FRIEDMAN: I thought it was preposterous. Based on what my sources in the NYPD told me that they were ordered to treat this as a simple homicide, based on what my sources in the FBI told me that every time that they got a little bit ambitious and started broadening their investigation to search out El Sayyid Nosair's possible alleged terrorist links, they were told from the top to cool it, to stop investigating. That the NYPD would handle it as a simple homicide.
SOURCE: Hidden Path To 9/11
And, according to the official history, the boxes of Arabic documents seized from Nosair's house were not translated until years later.
Nosair's "not guilty" verdict was cheered by his supporters, and the same cadre of Ali Mohammed-trained radicals who had been surveilled at the shooting range by the FBI moved on to plot their next spectacular terror attack: the bombing of the World Trade Center.
And, as would be revealed in dramatic fashion years after the event, this plot, too, had an FBI informant at its heart.
DAN RATHER: Last winter, the FBI was praised for its speed in cracking the case of the World Trade Center bombing and bringing four suspects to trial. Now there is some evidence that the FBI may have known of the plot in advance through an informant and might--might—even have stopped the bombing that killed six people.
SOURCE: FBI could have stopped the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
When Emad Salem—a former lieutenant colonel in the Egyptian army who arrived in the United States in 1988—began working as an FBI asset, he was not originally assigned to infiltrate Islamic terror groups. No, in 1988 the Cold War was still on and the FBI tasked Salem with penetrating KGB and Russian mafia rings operating in New York City.
But by 1991, things had changed. With the Cold War over, the Bureau's priorities were shifting. Salem's handler, Nancy Floyd, who appreciated his work, thought the Egyptian informant's background might make him useful to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Salem's new handlers in the Bureau's counterterror division, Louie Napoli and John Anticev, put him to work infiltrating the groups raising funds for international Islamic terror on US soil. His first priority: insinuating himself into the ring around the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abel Rahman, including El Sayyid Nosair, then on trial for the slaying of Kahane, and his Calverton shooting range associates.
Salem was remarkably successful in his assignment. Haunting the trial of Nosair, he soon befriended Nosair's cousin, Ibrahim el-Gabrowny. El-Gabrowny immediately took to the affable Egyptian, introducing Salem to Nosair in jail and describing him as "a new member of the family." In a mere matter of weeks, Salem was caught on camera as one of Rahman's bodyguards, even personally driving the Blind Sheikh to Detroit to deliver fundraising speeches.
Soon thereafter, el-Gabrowny invited Salem to join him for dinner at his Brooklyn apartment. There, after turning up the television in the dining room, explaining that he feared the apartment was bugged, el-Gabrowny sought to recruit Salem for a special mission.
EMAD SALEM: I was in Brooklyn with Ibrahim el-Gabrowny. Ibrahim el-Gabrowny is Sayyid Nosair's cousin. He said that "We should start to do something, brother, so the government has some pressure and they don't put Brother Sayyid in more troubles."
So I said, "Sure, of course we should do something."
He said, "OK, and you know how to build a bomb?
I said, "Of course! That's what we do!"
He said, "OK, I want you to build some bombs and I'll tell you later. What do you need?"
So I said to Ibrahim el-Gabrowny, "I need explosives, I need detonators, I need people to help me build the bombs, I need a safe place to build a bomb in."
He said, "OK. Let me make some phone calls to Afghanistan."
SOURCE: The Terror Routes - E1. 1979-1993 Angels & Demons
At this early stage, the plot was less of a precise plan and more of a vague idea, devoid of details. Even the target of the proposed attack was undecided, with Salem being told that the group intended to set off bombs at twelve "Jewish locations," including temples, banks and Jewish centres around Brooklyn and Manhattan. Without knowing it and with hardly any effort, Salem had been recruited into an operation that would eventually result in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Salem worked the plot as best he could, meeting more of the Calverton shooting range associates and gathering information from the cell members to pass along to the Bureau. As the preparations for the bombing began to take shape, Salem's role in the FBI sting operation seemed clear: he would lead the cell along, swapping out the explosives for a harmless powder before the bombs were placed. Then, when the cell was ready to strike, the FBI would swoop in and round up the plotters.
But that is not what happened.
Salem's remarkable success in infiltrating an active plot to stage terror attacks in New York—something that most FBI assets fail to accomplish in the course of their career— is, in retrospect, stunning. But not as stunning as the FBI's response to this incredible turn of events.
As author and journalist Peter Lance, who interviewed many of the FBI personnel involved in the story, explained in his book, Triple Cross:
[P]art of Salem's deal with the Feds was that he would be a deep cover "asset," as opposed to an informant who was willing to tape conversations and swear to his undercover evidence on the stand. Salem, who had family in Egypt, was deeply wary of the Blind Sheikh's deadly reach. So the Bureau promised him that he'd never have to wear a wire or testify in open court.
But in June 1992, Carson Dunbar—a rising young star in the FBI's New York Office—was appointed to head the counterterror division. Dunbar and his deputy, John Crouthamel, didn't trust Salem. Soon they were trying to get him to submit to additional polygraphs and, eventually, they broke their deal with Salem and demanded he wear a wire. Salem refused and withdrew from the operation, shutting the FBI out of the bomb plot.
SALEM: It was a silly, personal confrontation. And, actually, he said (and I quote him), "You son of a bitch! Coming from the Middle East, dragging sand in your shoes all the way up to here to tell me how to run my FBI and how to do my job!"
I told him, "Sir, I am doing your job. None of your agents could have went undercover that deep. I'm doing it, you're not."
And that even provoked him more and he said, "Get out of here!"
I walked out of his office, I looked at Nancy and John. I said, "Guys, when this bomb been built by somebody and goes off by somebody else, don't come knock on my door!"
And that was it. And I walked away.
SOURCE: The Terror Routes - E1. 1979-1993 Angels & Demons
With Salem out of the picture, the Ali Mohammed-trained, Blind Sheikh-supported, Al Kifah-connected cell continued on with their plot. But, with internal disputes disrupting their plans, they had to find someone else to actually build the bomb. They found that person in Ramzi Yousef.
To this day, despite having been caught, tried and convicted for the World Trade Center bombing, little is known about Ramzi Yousef's origins, or even his identity. The 9/11 Commission--relying on the torture testimony of his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—identified him merely as a "Sunni extremist" whose real name was Abdul Basit. But this supposedly devout Muslim fundamentalist is reported to have hung out at karaoke bars and dated b-girls during his trips to the Philippines while his wife and daughters waited for him in Baluchistan. Even his birthplace remains a mystery.
What is known is that Yousef learned bomb-making in Osama bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, perhaps from Ali Mohammed himself; that in 1995 Newsday reported the FBI was "considering a probe of whether the CIA had any relationship with Yousef;" and that in 1999 Swiss journalist Richard Labeviere reported, "A classified FBI file indicates that he was recruited by the local branch of the CIA."
And, like so many of the other key operatives in the Al Qaeda story, Yousef was able to avoid regular screening procedures, waltz across borders with forged travel documents and enter the United States without a visa.
On August 31, 1992, Yousef and Ahmad Ajaj—a fellow mujahideen who Yousef had allegedly met at the training camps in Afghanistan—flew from Pakistan to the US despite lacking the proper travel documents to do so, a miraculous feat that the FBI has alleged was enabled by "direct assistance from senior Pakistani intelligence officials." Upon their arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on September 1st, both men were immediately detained by immigration officials.
Ajaj, acting "loud and belligerent," was caught with a crudely forged Swedish passport and taken to a back office for questioning. "The U.S. government was pretty sure Ahmad Mohammad Ajaj was a terrorist from the moment he stepped foot on U.S. soil," the Los Angeles Times later reported, noting that his suitcases were "stuffed with fake passports, fake IDs and a cheat sheet on how to lie to U.S. immigration inspectors." But that wasn't all; among his possessions, inspectors also found two handwritten notebooks filled with bomb recipes, six bomb-making guides that included pages from Fort Bragg military manuals, and four how-to videotapes concerning weaponry and surveillance training. Ajaj was charged with passport violations and sentenced to six months in prison.
Yousef, meanwhile, tried a different approach. Dressed in "traditional peasant garb" and carrying an Iraqi passport without a US visa, Yousef strode confidently up to the immigration inspector and declared himself to be a refugee seeking asylum from the oppressive Iraqi government, politely asking to be admitted into America. After being questioned and fingerprinted, one alert immigration official noted his links to Ajaj and sought to detain him, but "there was not enough room in the INS lockup," so he was released on the condition that he show up at an asylum hearing later.
Yousef then left the airport, took a cab to New York's East Village and immediately met with Mahmud Abouhalima, "the Red," who had trained with Ali Mohammed and who had served as the getaway driver for Nosair before being waved away by the hotel doorman. Yousef set about professionalizing the ragtag band of misfits, transforming their vague "Jewish locations" plot into an altogether more ambitious plan: to plant a bomb in the basement of one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, collapsing it into the other tower and killing tens of thousands in the process. He got to work immediately, organizing the cell, renting a storage locker across the Hudson River in Jersey City and beginning the five month task of constructing the bomb.
Without Salem, the FBI ostensibly no longer had an asset in the cell to watch as the plot took shape. But, if there had been a serious investigation underway, unraveling the cell and discovering their intentions would have been trivial. Ahmad Ajaj, who had been caught with a raft of terrorist training materials and bomb-making guides, remained in contact without Yousef the whole time, speaking to him frequently via the prison phone. But, although those calls were taped, no one from the FBI or any other agency monitored or even attempted to translate those phone calls until after the World Trade Center explosion the following February, and no one traced the pair's flights back to discover that they had both boarded in Pakistan without the proper travel documents and had even sat together for the first leg of their journey to New York.
Salem even tried one last time to warn the FBI about the cell. Meeting his old handler, Nancy Floyd, at a Subway sandwich shop near the FBI's New York office in October of 1992 to collect his final $500 cash payment, he informed her that he had heard that the group was planning a new attack and begged her to put surveillance on Abouhalima and Salameh. But it was no use. Carson Dunbar had taken her off the terror investigation and all she could do was pass along the suggestion. Salem's warning was ignored and no one followed up on the lead.
The FBI had followed the Al Kifah plotters to the shooting range, investigated their role in the Kahane murder, had an informant in their midst reporting on their plans for a spectacular terror attack and now another high-level terror operative had been allowed to enter the country and proceed with his activities unmolested, just as Ali Mohammed and the Blind Sheikh before him.
And so it was that at noon on February 26, 1993, Ramzi Yousef and Eyad Ismoil, a Jordanian associate, drove a yellow Ryder van into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center, parking on the B-2 level. Yousef ignited the 20-foot fuse and fled. Twelve minutes later, the bomb went off.
The bomb—cutting through the parking garage with an explosive force of 150,000 pounds per square inch— might have lacked the explosive force to fulfill Yousef's goal of toppling the towers, but it did wreak havoc. Six people died, over a thousand were injured and 50,000 were forced to evacuate the building in the chaotic aftermath of the explosion. Learning of the bombing, Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert working for the Rand Corporation, remarked: "We may be talking about the opening salvo of a new conflict for a New World Order."
As the investigation into the bombing began, a letter arrived in the offices of various New York newspapers claiming responsibility for the attack. The letter, sent under the name "Liberation Army, Fifth Battalion" issued three demands: end US aid to Israel, end diplomatic relations with Israel and stop interfering with the internal affairs of Middle Eastern nations. If these demands were not met, the letter promised that 150 suicide soldiers would be ready to commit more attacks, including launching strikes on "potential Nuclear targets."
If there was any doubt about who was behind the explosion, those doubts were quickly dispelled. Just two days into the investigation, in one of the FBI's first descents into the pitch-black, smoke-filled, five-story crater left by the blast, an explosives enforcement officer from the ATF found the proverbial "needle in the haystack": a part from the Ryder van itself bearing a Vehicle Identification Number.
The van rental was traced back to Mohammed Salameh, one of Ali Mohammed's trainees from the Al Kifah center. Absurdly, Salameh was apprehended on March 4, one week after the bombing, when he returned to the Ryder rental office in Jersey City to reclaim the deposit on the van. Salameh's arrest quickly led to the arrest and eventual conviction of three others in the Al Kifah cell: Nidal Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima and Ahmad Ajaj. It also led investigators to the apartment of Ramzi Yousef.
But it was too late. Ramzi Yousef had boarded a flight to Karachi the night of the bombing and then vanished, flying from country to country with impunity, plotting assassinations and bombings in Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines and Iran, and concocting an elaborate plot called "Bojinka" to blow up a number of airliners in mid-flight before finally being captured in Pakistan in 1995.
But it was not just Yousef himself—the mysteriously protected terror mastermind who had entered the US without a visa—who vanished. When Pakistani federal investigators later went to check their immigration records, they discovered that all of the documents pertaining to Yousef's journey to the United States in 1992, including his embarkation card, had "mysteriously disappeared."
In the wake of the bombing, the FBI—now facing enormous public pressure to round up those involved and bust the terror cell that they had infiltrated and abandoned just the year before—turned once again to Emad Salem. Once again, Salem was able to quickly penetrate the Blind Sheikh's cell and to begin working with them on a new scheme, the so-called "landmarks" plot to bomb key targets around New York City, including the UN headquarters, the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge. This time, the FBI arrested the plotters before they could stage their attack.
But at the trial two years later, Salem had a surprise for the prosecution. He had secretly recorded dozens of phone conversations with his FBI handlers, conversations that revealed for the first time the FBI's real role in the World Trade Center bombing.
JACQUELINE ADAMS: FBI agents might have been able to prevent last February's deadly explosion at New York's World Trade Center. They discussed secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives. But they didn't, according to the FBI's own informant, Emad Salem.
Unbeknownst to the FBI at the time, Salem recorded many of his conversations with his handlers.
WILLIAM KUNSTLER: I'm holding nine hundred and three pages of draft transcripts . . .
ADAMS: William Kunstler represents Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and several others charged with conspiring to blow up a series of New York City landmarks four months after the World Trade Center bombing. That case has not yet gone to trial.
Kunstler confirmed newspaper reports of the Salem transcripts. In one, Salem complains to an FBI agent, "Since the bomb went off, I feel terrible. I feel bad. I feel: here is people who don't listen." The agent replies: "Hey, I mean it wasn't like you didn't try and I didn't try. You can't force people to do the right thing.
SOURCE: FBI could have stopped the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
Predictably, in the wake of the blast, the debate began to center on the government's "mismanagement" of the case. The Blind Sheikh's entry to the US had been a "mistake." The NYPD's refusal to investigate Nosair's accomplices in the killing of Kahane had just been a politically expedient omission. The FBI having pulled their informant out of an active terror plot before it developed into the World Trade Center bombing was simply "incompetence." The presence of a CIA-linked, Fort Bragg-stationed Green Beret in the midst of this radical terror cell was just an example of "blowback." And Ramzi Yousef's miraculous ability to enter and leave countries at will without the proper documentation was just the result of bureaucratic bungling and overworked immigration officials.
The admissions of "error" and professions of "blowback" verged on admissions of guilt. Even the CIA—in an internal investigation into its role in supporting the Al Kifah center's operations--concluded that the agency itself was "partly culpable" for the World Trade Center bombing.
But the "incompetence" narrative soon arrived at its inevitable conclusion: the very agencies that had so signally "bungled" every step along this path were now to be given more money and bestowed more authority to conduct their "counterterror" operations.
BILL CLINTON: This year I’ll submit to Congress comprehensive legislation to strengthen our hand in combating terrorists—whether they strike at home or abroad. As the cowards who bombed the World Trade Center found out, this country will hunt down terrorists and bring them to justice.
SOURCE: U.S. President William J. Clinton discusses his legislation to combat terrorism in his 1995 State of the Union address
Others proposed a less-charitable reading of these events. Ron Kuby, the lawyer who, along with William Kunstler, acted as a defense lawyer for the accused bombers and their accomplices, did not mince words in assigning blame for the World Trade Center bombing plot:
The "mastermind" [of the plot] is the government of the United States. It was a phony, government-engineered "conspiracy" to begin with. It would never have amounted to anything had the government not planned it.
Emad Salem himself summarized the story of the World Trade Center bombing in a phone call with his FBI handler, John Anticev, that was later released to the public.
SALEM: I don't think it was. If that's what you think, guys, fine. But I don't think that because we was start already building the bomb which is [sic] went off in the World Trade Center. It was built by supervising—supervision from the Bureau and the DA and we was all informed about it. And we know that the bomb start to be built. By who? By your confidential informant. What a wonderful, great case!
And then he put his head in the sand and said, "Oh, no no no, that's not true." He is son of a bitch.
OK. It's built with a different way in another place and that's it.
SOURCE: 1993 WTC Bomb Attack: FBI Informant Emad Salem Tapes
If this pattern of "missed opportunities" and "miraculous" cross-border movements really had been the result of mere "incompetence" or "inattentiveness," then the resources and attention that were thrown at the problem of international terrorism in the wake of the World Trade Center bombing would have improved the intelligence agencies' record against their erstwhile foes. But, remarkably, the scarcely believable trend of the early 1990s—that of intelligence agencies consistently "missing" the terrorists operating directly under their nose, border agents allowing known terrorists to pass from country to country unmolested, and law enforcement officials letting these Al Qaeda-linked operatives off the hook—did not just continue into the late 1990s, the trend actually accelerated. And, as Al Qaeda went from a loose-knit group of a few dozen amateur mujahideen at the beginning of the decade to the premiere international terrorist organization at the end of the decade, the number of "mistakes" and "missed opportunities" multiplied from the merely unbelievable to the downright impossible.
When Mahmud Abouhalima was arrested for his part in the World Trade Center plot in 1993, he attempted to bargain with federal prosecutors. Abouhalima revealed the name of Wadih El-Hage—a Lebanese-born naturalized American citizen living in Texas who the Al Kifah cell had turned to for help in purchasing weapons—and recounted his experiences in Afghanistan with Mohammed Odeh, a Palestinian from Jordan who would later claim to have provided the rifles and rocket launchers that killed 18 U.S. soldiers and wounded 73 in Mogadishu in October of 1993. Abouhalima then offered more information about the World Trade Center plot and his associates in exchange for a lighter sentence. Prosecutors turned down the deal and failed to follow up on either El-Hage or Odeh.
Ali Mohamed, meanwhile, continued in his remarkably successful mission to infiltrate the intelligence arms of the US government. After having worked for the CIA and served as a special forces instructor at Fort Bragg, his next target was the FBI. Following his honourable discharge from the Army, Mohamed returned to his wife in California and applied to be a translator for the Bureau. He was turned down for the position; instead, he was asked to work as an FBI informant in a local document forgery ring.
In 1992, the Bureau—evidently impressed with Mohamed's work--"opened" him as a Foreign Counter Intelligence agent and tasked him with gaining intelligence on a San Jose mosque. But Mohamed was assigned to a rookie agent and routine steps like administering a polygraph were never taken. As a retired special agent who worked in the FBI's New York Office later told journalist Peter Lance: "One of the most unbelievable aspects of the Ali Mohamed story is that the Bureau could be dealing with this guy and they didn't put him on the box. The first thing you do with any kind of asset or informant is you polygraph him and if the relationship continues, you make him submit to continued polygraphs down the line. That is a basic principle of running informants."
Still, despite repeatedly traveling back and forth to and from the Middle East throughout the period, Mohamed remained untouchable by law enforcement and border security. In 1992, he was detained in Rome when he was discovered with a Coca-Cola can containing a secret storage compartment. Mohamed convinced the airport security that he was a security agent for the Summer Olympics in Barcelona and was released with a warning that if anything happened on the flight, he would be blamed.
In 1993, after helping Ayman Al-Zawahiri enter the US on forged documents for a fundraising tour, Mohamed traveled to Vancouver, Canada, to help an associate of Zawahiri, Essam Marzouk, enter the country. Marzouk, caught with forged Saudi passports by Canadian customs officials, was detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When Mohamed arrived inquiring about his friend, he was detained by the RCMP as well. After hours of interrogation, he told them he was an FBI asset, giving them the phone number of his handler, John Zent. Zent's word was good enough. The RCMP let Mohamed go.
Mohamed's travels during this busy period included a trip to Afghanistan in the summer of 1991 to help Osama bin Laden and his fledgling Al Qaeda organization relocate to Sudan.
Osama's move to Sudan came at a time when, we are told, the wealthy Saudi was looking to cement his reputation as a holy warrior. The official story of Al Qaeda holds that during this period, bin Laden returned briefly to Saudi Arabia but, incensed by the Saudi royals' decision to invite US soldiers onto Saudi soil for the Gulf War, left the country for good.
Searching for a place to move his operations, his gaze turned across the Red Sea to Sudan, where, as luck would have it, hardline Islamic extremist Hassan al-Turabi had come to power in a military coup just as the war was ending in Afghanistan. Heading the National Islamic Front Party, which sought to impose Sharia law in the country, al-Turabi traveled to London for a meeting of the International Muslim Brotherhood where he openly declared his intention to allow Sudan to act as a base for Islamist terror groups. By the summer of 1991, Osama bin Laden had answered that call, moving his fighters and equipment from the outskirts of Afghanistan to his new base in Sudan with the help of FBI asset Ali Mohamed.
Turabi was not the only one traveling to London to foster his terror plans, however. In between bin Laden's work establishing himself as a businessman in Sudan—using $12 million granted him by the Saudi Binladen Group to start a bewildering array of commercial enterprises in the country, from a construction company to an investment firm to a trucking business to a tannery, a bakery, a furniture-making business and even a commercial farm employing four thousand labourers—the budding terrorist mastermind was, according to numerous sources, shuttling back and forth between Khartoum, Karachi and London.
Osama bin Laden's visits to the UK in the early 1990s include an alleged stay at the London estate of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz; a meeting in Manchester with representatives of an Algerian Islamic group who were later accused of being infiltrated by government moles and used to launch a series of false flag attacks in France; a period of several months in 1994 when he actually lived in the UK, allegedly buying a house in Wembley through an intermediate; and, even more explosively, a 1996 trip to his London press office which was--according to Swiss journalist Richard Labeviere, citing "several Arab diplomatic sources"—"clearly under the protection of the British authorities."
Although the official story holds that bin Laden was at this time barely a blip on the US intelligence community's radar, this is contradicted by numerous lines of evidence. Ali Mohamed, for instance, had "volunteered the earliest insider description of al Qaeda that is publicly known" to the FBI in 1993, telling them that bin Laden was "building an army" to overthrow the Saudi government and admitting that he had personally trained terrorists at the camps in Afghanistan and Sudan. But the FBI, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "flummoxed" by this information and made no attempt to act on it.
This "news" about Al Qaeda's activities would not have been news to the US government's main intelligence agencies, however. It was later revealed that, despite claims that the US government was only dimly aware of bin Laden at this point, he was in fact already under extensive electronic surveillance. Having obtained his voiceprint from recordings of his anti-Saddam speeches in Saudi Arabia, the NSA and CIA were already using signals intelligence to identify and monitor Bin Laden's personal satellite calls and cell phone traffic.
In another key contradiction that is never addressed by the purveyors of the official Al Qaeda story, it was during this period that Osama bin Laden—making trips to the UK under the alleged protection of British authorities and while admittedly under surveillance by American intelligence—began the streak of increasingly brazen terror attacks that, we are told, would end up in 9/11.
In 1992, Al Qaeda mounted their first terror operation against an American target. In December of that year, bombs went off outside two hotels in Aden where, it was believed, American servicemen were being quartered on their way to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. The attack killed an Australian tourist and a Yemeni hotel worker, but no Americans; the troops had been staying at a different hotel. Osama only claimed responsibility for the bombing six years later.
In 1993, eighteen American soldiers were killed and 73 wounded in Mogadishu during an intense two-day firefight that resulted in the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters by rocket-propelled grenades. It wasn't until the release of the 9/11 Commission Report in 2004, however, that the commission—citing "new information" received by "the intelligence community" in "1996-1997"—told the public that Al Qaeda had had a role in the incident.
The burnishing of bin Laden's terrorist credentials by the US government continued in 1996. In January of that year, the CIA officially opened "Alec Station," a so-called virtual station dedicated solely to tracking Osama bin Laden and his associates. Headed at first by Michael Scheuer—an analyst at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center who had taken a special interest in the Saudi exile—and named after Scheuer's son, Alec Station soon became the hub for a mostly female group of analysts who dubbed themselves "the Manson Family" because "they had acquired a reputation for crazed alarmism about the rising al-Qaeda threat."
1996 was also the year that the US government began putting diplomatic pressure on Sudan to hand over their files on bin Laden and his Al Qaeda operatives. The secret negotiations between the two countries culminated with Elfatih Erwa, Sudan's then-minister of state for defense, flying from Khartoum to Washington. There, Erwa made a stunning offer: not to turn over the Sudanese government's records on bin Laden, but to turn over bin Laden himself. Washington rejected the offer because, The Village Voice later reported, "the FBI did not believe it had sufficient evidence to try bin Laden in a US court." Instead, they demanded that Sudan expel the supposed arch-terrorist to "any other country except Somalia." Sudan complied, protesting that Osama would simply return to Afghanistan, where there was no government for Washington to negotiate with. "We told him Sudan is no longer safe for him and creates problems for us and asked him to leave," Erwa told The Village Voice.
"We liquidated everything, and he left with his money. We didn't confiscate anything because there was no legal basis. Nobody had indicted him. He rented a charter plane and left in broad daylight. He was free to plot and build his network. The Americans then came back and wanted us to help track him, but by then it was too late. He didn't trust us anymore."
In June of 1996, a truck bomb exploded outside of the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The facility—located in the heart of the Saudi oil industry's administrative area, where the US had built its first air base and where Standard Oil first struck oil in the country, establishing what would later become ARAMCO—was housing US and allied forces involved in enforcing the Iraqi no-fly zones. The massive blast left an 85-foot crater, killing 19 and injuring hundreds.
At the time, the US blamed Tehran for the bombing, with Clinton's Defense Secretary William Perry later admitting that there was a contingency plan in place to attack Iran if the link had been proven. But by 2007, Perry had changed his assessment:
WILLIAM PERRY: I believe that the Khobar Tower bombing was probably masterminded by Osama bin Laden. I can't be sure of that, but in retrospect, that's what I believe. At the time, he was not a suspect. At the time, all of our examinations, all of the evidence, was pointing to Iran."
SOURCE: HBO History Makers Series: A Conversation with William J. Perry
One thing is for certain: in 1998, the $150 million contract to rebuild the Khobar Towers was awarded to the Saudi Binladin Group.
All of these incidents helped raise bin Laden's profile in the intelligence community, but it was a series of events in 1998 that introduced the broader public to Osama bin Laden. In February of that year, bin Laden—following up on a declaration of war against America that he had made to CNN's TV cameras in an interview with Peter Bergen the previous year—issued his fatwa, calling on Muslims to kill Americans:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
In May of that year, John Miller—then reporting for ABC News, but soon to become the FBI's chief spokesman—traveled to Afghanistan for a dramatic Nightline report on "The Most Dangerous Man You've Never Heard Of" that would air on ABC the following month:
TED KOPPEL: He lives in a cave atop a range of mountains in Afghanistan. From there he controls a web of financial logistical and strategic assistance to Sunni Islamic groups engaged in what they consider a "jihad," or a holy war. The principal targets of their jihad are the Israelis and the United States. His name is Osama bin Laden, and you will meet him a little later in this program. He does nothing to undermine the profile of himself as a terrorist leader with global influence. Indeed, he seems to take considerable satisfaction in it, even though the profile has been drawn by US intelligence agencies.
[. . .]
OSAMA BIN LADEN (VIA INTERPRETER): We believe that the biggest thieves in the world are Americans and the biggest terrorists on earth are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is by using similar means. We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they're all targets in this fatwa.
[. . .]
JOHN MILLER: Bin Laden has issued these fatwas and made these threats before, but this time there's something different: he put a time cap on it, saying that whatever action will be taken against Americans in the Gulf, whatever violence awaits, will occur within the next few weeks.
SOURCE: Osama bin Laden: "The Most Dangerous Man You've Never Heard Of" - June 10, 1998 - ABC News Nightline
And, in August of 1998, the name of Osama bin Laden, terror mastermind, and his shadowy terror group, Al Qaeda, finally exploded into the public consciousness.
On the morning of August 7, 1998, two Saudis in Kenya—Mohammed al-'Owhali and "Jihad Ali" Azzam, both of whom had been in the hut when John Miller was interviewing Osama bin Laden earlier that year—loaded some boxes into their Toyota cargo truck and headed off to the American embassy in downtown Nairobi. The boxes contained two thousand pounds of TNT, aluminum nitrate and aluminum powder. At the same time, Hamden Khalif Allah Awad—an Egyptian known as "Ahmed the German" for his fair hair—loaded a similar bomb into a gasoline truck in Tanzania and set off for the American embassy in Dar es Salaam.
The Saudis arrived at the Nairobi embassy at 10:30 AM. 'Owhali jumped out of the truck as it approached the gates, demanding that the security guard raise the drop bar protecting the entrance. The guard refused. 'Owhali threw a stun grenade into the courtyard and ran and then the bomb went off. The blast ripped the face off of the embassy building, collapsing a nearby secretarial college and lighting the tar-covered street and a nearby bus on fire. 213 were dead and 4,500 injured.
Nine minutes later, Ahmed the German parked the gasoline truck in the parking lot of the American embassy in Dar es Salaam and detonated his bomb. He had parked next to a water tanker truck, which ended up absorbing much of the blast, but the building was still badly damaged. 11 were dead and 85 injured.
The message was clear and was dutifully broadcast by media around the world: A "new" terror group had conducted a sophisticated, coordinated attack against multiple US targets overseas and its leader was waging holy war against Americans. Al Qaeda had arrived.
REPORTER: What had happened was the first major attack by al-Qaida on American targets and the worst international terrorist incident on African soil. Afterwards, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation placed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on its list of most wanted fugitives.
SOURCE: Kenya, Tanzania, US Mark 10th Anniversary of Embassy Bombings
But, like so many events in the Al Qaeda story, this attack, too, bore the fingerprints of American intelligence on each stage of its development and execution.
The attacks, prosecutors later discovered, were being planned as far back as 1993, when Osama bin Laden sent his FBI/CIA/Green Beret triple agent extraordinaire, Ali Mohamed, "to survey potential U.S., British, French and Israeli targets in Nairobi." According to Mohamed's own testimony:
I later went to Khartoum, where my surveillance files and photographs were reviewed by Osama bin Laden, Abu Hafs, Abu Ubaidah, and others. Bin Laden looked at the picture of the American Embassy and pointed to where a truck could go as a suicide bomber.Joining Mohamed on the scouting mission was Anas al Liby, a member of a Libyan Al Qaeda cell known as al-Muqatila. Described as the "computer wizard of Al Qaeda's hierarchy," not only was al-Liby personally trained by Mohamed at the Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, he was also a protected British intelligence asset. Al-Liby applied for asylum in Britain in 1995, claiming to be a political enemy of the Libyan government. But, as The Guardian later reported:
Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level Al Qaeda operative, al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page Al Qaeda 'manual for jihad' containing instructions for terrorist attacks.
Even more incredibly, not only did the British government grant that asylum, they then recruited al-Liby for a failed MI6 operation to assassinate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1996, and then let him continue to live in the country even after the embassy bombing before ultimately letting him escape. According to FBI investigator Ali Soufan, the Manchester raid didn't just nab a "manual for jihad"; it caught al-Liby himself. As Soufan recounts in his book, The Black Banners, the British police let al-Liby go when he denied being a terrorist. He evaded the team that was sent to follow him and fled the country, eventually ending up on the US government's most wanted list with a $25 million reward for his capture.
Yet another important figure in the bombing who was well-known to American intelligence was Wadih El-Hage, the naturalized American citizen who had assisted the Al Kifah plotters and who Mahmud Abouhalima had identified to prosecutors after his arrest for the World Trade Center bombing. As was later revealed, US intelligence had El-Hage under surveillance during the entire period that the embassy bombing plot was being hatched, but once again merely watched as the attack unfolded. As The Los Angeles Times detailed:
The CIA and the FBI missed key opportunities to prevent the blasts. They knew from wiretaps on El-Hage's four Nairobi phones, as well as from the computer files they had seized, that Al Qaeda was forming a terror cell in the Kenyan capital. Indeed, U.S. agents had in hand the names and identities of some of the key Nairobi cell members who would rent the bomb factory, build the bomb, buy the bomb truck, brief the suicide bombers and even escort the bomb truck the day of the attack.
Author Simon Reeve revealed even more damning evidence about CIA involvement in the plot in his 1999 book, The New Jackals. "The CIA also had informants working within the east Africa cell," he reported, citing an interview with a CIA official, "but they apparently failed to warn of Bin Laden's plans."
Even if the CIA's sources within the plot had somehow "failed" to warn them of the attack, the fact that multiple members of the cell under their surveillance—including Abdullah Ahmed Abdulah, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, Usama al-Kini, Mohammed Sadiq Odeh and five other conspirators--all fled Kenya for Pakistan the night before the bombing would have instantly raised alarm bells if the agency's intention had been to prevent an attack.
Instead, the plotters conspired with CIA informants in their midst and the attacks went ahead under the watchful eye of CIA, NSA and FBI surveillance.
However they transpired, the bombings succeeded in introducing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda to the world stage. Despite the years of intelligence agency surveillance and even the creation of a virtual CIA station dedicated solely to the capture, arrest or assassination of bin Laden and his network, it wasn't until after the embassy bombings that the world at large began to hear the name of Osama bin Laden.
On August 20th—three weeks after the bombing and just three days after being publicly interrogated about the Monica Lewinsky affair—President Clinton ordered a missile strike on alleged Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, boldly proclaiming that actions against bin Laden and international terror had become a new mission for the US military.
CLINTON: Today I ordered our armed forces to strike at terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan because of the imminent threat they presented to our national security. I want to speak with you about the objective of this action and why it was necessary. Our target was terror. Our mission was clear—to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today.
SOURCE: Statement on Military Strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan (1998)
The strike, however—a barrage of 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting Al Qaeda's camp in Khost, Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant thought to be manufacturing chemical weapons in Khartoum—was a spectacular failure on almost every level. Neither bin Laden nor Zawahiri were killed in the attacks and the "chemical weapons" plant in Khartoum had nothing to do with either bin Laden or chemical weapons, but was in fact manufacturing much-needed medicines for the region. The plant's destruction—in the estimation of Werner Daum, then Germany's ambassador to Sudan—led to "several tens of thousands" of deaths in the region.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's longtime associate and future leader of Al Qaeda, was on one of bin Laden's monitored satellite phones at the time of the attack, telling BBC journalist Rahumullah Yusufzai that "Bin Laden has a message. He says, 'I have not bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. I have declared jihad, but I was not involved.'" Zawahiri's exact position would have been immediately detectable by American surveillance aircraft in the region, but—in a move that journalist Lawrence Wright called "inexplicable"—the aircraft were not available prior to the strike, and Zawahiri escaped unscathed.
Bin Laden, meanwhile, was—according to CIA intelligence gleaned from intercepted satellite calls—going to be at his training camp in Khost the day of the missile strike. But he was not. He was, Clinton counterterror czar Richard Clarke later speculated, tipped off about the attack by "a retired head of the ISI," Pakistan's intelligence service that had long been known as an adjunct of the CIA.
The attacks did succeed in two key respects, however: they kept Clinton's personal dalliances in the Oval Office from leading America's nightly news broadcasts for at least one news cycle and they reinforced the importance of the new threat to global security: Osama bin Laden.
This "new threat" provided a green light for the American security establishment and its allies around the world to ramp up operations in the name of fighting the Al Qaeda menace. The FBI began an international investigation of the bombing, the CIA began a "surge" of reporting on terror threats that counterterror officials later complained overwhelmed the system and diverted attention and resources, and in November of 1998 the United States federal court finally issued its first public indictment of Osama bin Laden.
The first international arrest warrant for bin Laden—a confidential document intended only for police and judicial authorities—had in fact already been issued in April of that year, but it was not issued by the US. Instead, it was the Libyan government that had issued the warrant through Interpol. They were pursuing the terror mastermind for his part in the murder of two German intelligence agents in Libya in 1994. At the time, despite publicly recognizing bin Laden as the premier financier of international terrorism, the US and British governments downplayed the document, even making sure to scrub the charges against Osama and any mention of Libya's role in issuing the document from the public record.
But this surge in activity around the Al Qaeda threat resulted in at least one surprising development. In one of the most consequential and underreported moves in this redoubled counterterrorism effort, Ali Mohamed was finally arrested.
Contacted in the days after the bombing, Mohamed admitted to FBI agents that he knew who had carried out the attack but would not give the government the names. Subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in the Southern District of New York, he was finally arrested, although even the charges against him were kept secret from the public. On October 20, 2000, Mohamed pled guilty to involvement in the embassy bombings, but he was never sentenced. He then disappeared from sight forever, held in what was later reported as "protective custody." To this day, there is no public record of Ali Mohamed—the ex-US Sergeant and FBI asset who admitted to his key role in Al Qaeda—ever being sentenced. There is no public record of his incarceration. And there are only a handful of accounts that have ever surfaced from people who talked to him in prison in the aftermath of 9/11.
And, just like that, one of the deepest mysteries of the Al Qaeda story disappeared from public sight, never to be seen again.
But, despite all this increased activity, the same pattern of "oversights" and "mistakes" by the intelligence agencies continued unabated.
On October 12, 2000, when a small fiberglass fishing boat approached the massive, 8,300-ton USS Cole--a billion-dollar guided-missile destroyer employing the latest stealth technology and armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles and a five-inch canon—the sailors onboard watched in amusement. The tiny skiff stopped amidships and two men stood up, waving and smiling. Then, a bomb exploded.
The boat had been carrying over 400 pounds of C4 explosive molded into a shaped charge. The explosion was immense, knocking over cars passing by onshore. In the city, miles away, people believed there was an earthquake taking place. The blast tore a hole forty feet by forty feet in the hull of the Cole, killing 17 US servicemen and injuring 39 more. It was the deadliest attack on a US destroyer in over a decade.
But this attack, like all of Al Qaeda's spectacular terror attacks of the 1990s, was preceded by a string of "missed opportunities" and "unheeded warnings." Not only was there intelligence about a potential attack on a US naval ship from several different sources—including reports from multiple informants and intercepted phone calls to Al Qaeda's NSA-monitored Yemen communications hub—but, as Congressman Curt Weldon revealed in 2005, a secret military intelligence operation codenamed Able Danger actually warned the Pentagon days before the bombing that an attack was going to take place in Yemen.
CURT WELDON: But two weeks before the attack on the Cole--in fact, two days before the attack on the Cole—they saw an increase of activity that led them to say to the senior leadership in the Pentagon at that time and the Clinton administration, "There's something going to happen in Yemen and we better be on high alert." But it was discounted. That story has yet to be told to the American people. Another Able Danger successful activity that was thwarted.
SOURCE: Able Danger: Intel Gag
But even after the spectacular "failure" of these intelligence agencies to thwart the attack, and despite President Clinton's assurance that he would find and retaliate against the bomb plotters . . .
CLINTON: If, as it now appears, this was an act of terrorism, it was a despicable and cowardly act. We will find out who was responsible and hold them accountable.
SOURCE: President Clinton's Statement on the USS Cole Bombing
. . . the CIA repeatedly denied FBI investigators access to key information about the plot.
But, it turns out, the CIA did have such information. And that information—deliberately withheld from the FBI or any other investigative agency—led directly into the heart of the operation behind the next spectacular terror attack to be blamed on Al Qaeda: 9/11.
From the beginning, 9/11 was presented to the public as an open-and-shut case. Osama bin Laden's name was raised on air by the TV news anchors within seconds of the second plane strike and was endlessly repeated in the hours and days that followed. By the end of the week, the public was convinced that the events were the work of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and all of the subsequent "investigations" and commissions only served to bolster that pre-formed conclusion.
So it was no surprise at all when, on September 14, 2001, the FBI released its list of nineteen hijackers, Muslims with Arabic names who, we were told, had been sent by bin Laden on a suicide mission.
But who were these men?
For the general public, the newscasters' solemn intonation that the nineteen hijackers had been identified, followed by a mugshot-like lineup of photographs, was all that was needed to cement the case in their minds. Those who required more detail turned to made-for-TV dramas and documentaries to learn about the so-called "Hamburg cell" of radicalized Al Qaeda soldiers, which included Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi, three of the alleged suicide pilots. Finally, the 9/11 Commission and its associated monographs—like the staff report on 9/11 and Terrorist Travel—attempted to fill in the paper trail for researchers concerned about the documentary record of these men, including their motivations and their movement.
From these accounts, a picture emerged. These nineteen terrorists, crack operatives handpicked by Osama bin Laden and trained in his terror camps in Afghanistan, had used their carefully honed spycraft to slip into the country, deftly avoiding scrutiny from the authorities even as they trained at flight schools in the US and finalized the operational details of their plan. Then, after years of meticulous preparation, these men, consumed by their hatred of the West, their love of Allah and their devotion to bin Laden—deftly piloted their planes into their targets, wreaking havoc and devastation exactly as planned.
But this story, too, is a carefully constructed lie, every part of which falls apart under sustained scrutiny.
In the official conspiracy theory of 9/11, the alleged hijackers were such devout fundamentalist Muslims that they were willing to give their lives for the cause. Marwan al-Shehhi, we were told, was so devoted to his religious beliefs that he observed the Ramadan fast against medical advice after a stomach operation, causing him to fall severely ill. Ziad Jarrah, meanwhile, "initially caroused and smoked" during his early days in Hamburg but "then grew intensely religious and withdrawn." And, according to award-winning journalist Lawrence Wright, Mohammed Atta's "extreme rigidity of character" made him into a ruthless killer who "constantly demonstrated an aversion to women."
When reporters began following the trail that these supposed suicide soldiers had left behind, however, they began to uncover an altogether different story. Atta and his associates frequented strip clubs in San Diego, Las Vegas and Daytona Beach, where they drank alcohol and ordered lap dances. They hung out for days at a time at Harry's Bar in New York, where Atta preferred a table near the piano. And, three nights before the attack, Atta and al-Shehhi went to Shuckums Oyster Bar in Fort Lauderdale, where, according to bar manager Tony Amos, they consumed several drinks, became drunk and gave the bartender a hard time about the bill.
"The guy Mohamed was drunk, his voice was slurred and he had a thick accent," Amos told the Associated Press the day after 9/11.
Even The New York Times reported on Atta and al-Shehhi's "high life" during multiple visits to the Philippines between 1998 and 2000, where the pair of strict religious fundamentalists and an entourage of Arab men and their girlfriends flashed money, drank and partied regularly. "Many times I saw him let a girl go at the gate in the morning," the Times quoted one hotel chambermaid as recalling about Atta. "It was always a different girl."
And, during his research for Welcome to Terrorland—an investigation into the Venice, Florida, flight schools where Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah were enrolled in the year 2000—Daniel Hopsicker interviewed Amanda Keller, a former stripper who claimed to have been Atta's girlfriend during his time in Venice and who shared more stories about the partying of these alleged jihadis.
AMANDA KELLER: These guys had money flowing out their ass—excuse my language. But they never seemed to run out of money. I mean they were just tossing money left and right. I mean, it was just like, 'Oh my God!' And they had they had massive supplies of cocaine. Whenever they'd run out, they'd go to the flight school.
SOURCE: Mohamed Atta Girlfriend Amanda Keller
But Hopsicker's investigation uncovered more than just the alleged hijackers' trail of booze, drugs and women. He also became one of the only reporters to look into the strange connections of Huffman Aviation and the Florida Flight Training Center in Venice, Florida, where Atta, al-Shehhi and Jarrah trained the year before September 11th. Huffman Aviation was also the flight school that Yeslam bin Laden, Osama's half-brother, paid for flight lessons for one of his acquaintances.
The flight school was run by Rudi Dekkers, a Dutch native who was running a commuter airline with Wally Hilliard. Hilliard—the founder and former president of a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based insurance company—made news in October 2000 when his personal jet was found to be transporting 42 pounds of heroin and was seized by federal agents in what was called the biggest drug bust in central Florida history. But Hilliard's charter airline start-up had high-level political support: Jeb Bush, then Governor of Florida, posed for photo ops in support of Hilliard's airline.
Dekkers, meanwhile, was arrested in 2012, having told an undercover agent—in the words of the criminal complaint against him—that he was "involved in narcotics transportation via private aircraft and that he has flown narcotics and U.S. currency previously without any problems." He was carrying over 18 kilograms of cocaine and nearly one kilogram of heroin at the time of his arrest.
Despite the many questions that still hang over the alleged hijackers' activities in Venice and their connection to the drug-running that was allegedly taking place at the Venice airport, an even deeper question was soon to emerge: How did these pilots—who were rated as competent at best and who, one instructor insisted, should have been further along the flight school curriculum than they were—manage to fly jumbo jets that require thousands of hours of flying experience with such precision?
That question is even more important in the case of the other alleged 9/11 pilot, Hani Hanjour, the diminutive 5'5" Saudi who, the official story tells us, helped overpower grizzled Navy Top Gun honor graduate Chuck Burlingame and his flight crew at the controls of American Airlines Flight 77. According to that story, Hanjour allegedly flew a Boeing 757 with what aviation sources for The Washington Post described as "extraordinary skill" through a 7,000-foot spiral descent to hit the Pentagon, a move that veteran airline pilot Ed Soliday told the 9/11 Commission would be "tough for any airline pilot, including himself," and which left one radar operator at Dulles Airport stunned: "The speed, the maneuverability, the way that he turned, we all thought in the radar room, all of us experienced air traffic controllers, that that was a military plane."
But Hanjour, by all accounts, was a completely inept pilot. He dropped out of his first flight school, the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, after only a few classes. He then dropped out of his next school, Cockpit Resource Management in Scottsdale, Arizona, after the school's owner dismissed him as a "weak student" who was "wasting our resources." When he returned to that school again the following year, the school owner refused, asserting: "You're never going to make it." An instructor at his next school, Sawyer Aviation, called him a "neophyte" who "got overwhelmed with the instruments" in the school's flight simulator. An instructor at his next school concurred: Hanjour had "no motivation, a poor understanding of the basic principles of aviation, and poor judgment, combined with poor technical skills."
After bypassing the FAA to obtain a commercial pilot's license from a for-profit contractor, the operation manager at yet another flight school in the Phoenix area, Peggy Chevrette, told Fox News that Hanjour was clearly unqualified to be in the cockpit: "I couldn't believe that he had a license of any kind with the skills that he had." Even The New York Times conceded that the remarkable flight attributed to Hanjour on 9/11 was inexplicable. In an article headlined "A Trainee Noted For Incompetence," the paper quoted one former flight school employee who knew Hanjour as saying: ''I'm still to this day amazed that he could have flown into the Pentagon. He could not fly at all.''
Whatever the case, what would eventually become the official explanation for this seeming incongruity—namely, that the single engine aircraft training and jet simulation training that they had received was good enough for these men to jump into the cockpit of commercial jet airliners and pilot them hundreds of miles to their targets—was rejected in the first hours of the attack as completely implausible.
COURIC: And meanwhile they did spend seven months at this flying school in Venice, according to these records. And although they were not trained to fly jets, do people believe that what they learned there is easily transferrable to, say, a 757 or a 767?
SANDERS: Actually, no, they don't say it's easily transferrable, because it's such a different type of jet. But, nonetheless, they got that initial training in Venice, Florida. Whether their training continued elsewhere—you have to assume it took place somewhere else. Where they learned it, though, at this point, I don't know and the FBI hasn't told us.
COURIC: Alright . . .
SOURCE: September 12, 2001 - 11:49am EDT on WRC
A Newsweek story of September 15, 2001, provided one potential answer to this puzzle. According to a "high-ranking US Navy source" cited by the report, "[t]hree of the alleged hijackers listed their address on drivers licenses and car registrations as the Naval Air Station in Pensacola," and, according to a separate "high-ranking Pentagon official," another of the alleged hijackers "may have received language instruction at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio." But this report—like the subsequent reports of people with the same name as the alleged hijackers turning up alive and well in the wake of 9/11, which prompted the FBI to apologize to one mistakenly named suspect and forced FBI Director Robert Mueller to acknowledge that they were not certain of the identities of several of the named men—were eventually dismissed as mere confusion over common Arab names.
On September 28, 2001, the FBI released the final list of names and photographs of the alleged hijackers, and this rogues' gallery of fearsome Al Qaeda operatives was cemented in the public imagination.
So who were these nineteen men? If they really were who the FBI said they were, who directed them? How were they supposed to have entered the United States? How did they fund their operations? And how did they evade detection while living openly in the US for months and in some cases years?
In the months after the attacks, we were told that the men identified by the FBI as the culprits had "moved through Europe and America unnoticed" and that although several of them "had been tracked by intelligence until they got inside the United States," they were ultimately "lost."
We were told that Al Qaeda's communications had been monitored, but that bin Laden and his henchman used "scramblers, Internet encryption, fiber optics" so it was "very hard" to intercept those transmissions.
And we were told that no one was to blame for the attacks, which had merely been a "failure of imagination."
THOMAS KEAN: As we detail in our report, this was a failure of policy, management, capability, and above all, a failure of imagination.
SOURCE: September 11 Commission Report Release
But, as the public was to learn in bits and pieces over the course of the next two decades, every one of these assertions was a demonstrable lie.
This alleged team of crack Al Qaeda operatives did not "move through Europe and America unnoticed." Their communications were not rendered opaque to the intelligence agencies because of "fiber optics." Their successful penetration of America's defenses was not due to a "failure of imagination."
Instead—as even the official story of the attacks now concedes--every major branch of US intelligence had key pieces of information on these Al Qaeda operatives, their communications, their movements and their plans. In fact, as can now be shown from official sources, these agencies not only deliberately allowed these operatives to proceed unmolested but actively stopped investigators and agents within their ranks from blowing the whistle on the plot.
At the FBI, Special Agent Robert Wright led an investigation into terrorist financing called Vulgar Betrayal that managed to uncover a money trail connecting a suspected Chicago terror cell to Al Qaeda. But when Wright attempted to bring criminal charges against the cell members, his supervisor flew into a rage, shouting: "You will not open criminal investigations. I forbid any of you. You will not open criminal investigations against any of these intelligence subjects."
After the embassy bombings, when Wright's team began to trace the financing of the attacks to a group of Saudi businessmen, the FBI moved to shut down the investigation altogether. Wright was kicked off the case in 1999, and Vulgar Betrayal was officially shut down in 2000.
ROBERT WRIGHT: Knowing what I know—and again, this was written 91 days before the attack—knowing what I know, I can confidently say that until the investigative responsibilities for terrorism are removed from the FBI, I will not feel safe.
SOURCE: 9-11 FBI Whistleblower Robert Wright Testimony
While Wright was pursuing the financial trail, FBI field agents across the US were picking up on another trend: Muslim extremists learning to fly.
Agents in Oklahoma and Phoenix both wrote memos about the "large numbers of Middle Eastern males receiving flight training" and warned that some of them had documentable ties to Al Qaeda, but the warnings were ignored. Agents in Minneapolis frantically sought approval for a search warrant to search the laptop of Zacarias Moussaoui, a suspected terrorist who had been receiving flight training in the area.
When that request was denied, one exasperated agent told FBI headquarters that he was "trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center." Rita Flack, an intelligence operations specialist at headquarters who had read the Phoenix memo, failed to pass that info on to any of her colleagues involved in the decision to deny the warrant to search Moussaoui's laptop.
FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley later revealed that agents in the Minneapolis office—desperately trying to find an answer to the question of why the Bureau was deliberately sabotaging the case—faced the problem with gallows humour: "I know I shouldn't be flippant about this, but jokes were actually made that the key FBIHQ personnel had to be spies or moles, like Robert Hansen, who were actually working for Osama bin Laden to have so undercut Minneapolis' effort."
The Pentagon's intelligence branch, meanwhile, not only had foreknowledge of the plot, but—according to information that emerged years later and was quickly suppressed—had identified four of the presumed terror operatives and mapped out the network connecting them to the Brooklyn cell headed by the Blind Sheikh.
"Able Danger" was a classified information operations campaign against transnational terrorism launched by military intelligence in the fall of 1999. First revealed to the public in June 2005, Able Danger employed data mining techniques on open source and classified information to identify networks of likely terror agents, including those operating in the US.
The program was remarkably successful: not only did it warn the Pentagon of an impending attack just days before the Cole bombing, as we have already seen, but, according to Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) whistleblower Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and four of his colleagues working on the operation, Able Danger identified two of the terror cells connecting Al Qaeda to the alleged hijackers. It even identified four of those suspects—including Mohamed Atta—by name.
When Lt. Col. Shaffer tried to set up a meeting between his supervisor and FBI officials in Washington to discuss a collaborative approach to tracking these cells, he was rebuffed by lawyers for the Pentagon's Special Operations Command. Shortly thereafter, Shaffer was ordered off the Able Danger team and the unit was disbanded, with the Pentagon ordering all the Able Danger data—2.5 terabytes worth of information, equivalent to one quarter of all the printed material in the Library of Congress—destroyed.
After a hostile investigation that left witnesses feeling intimidated into changing their story about Able Danger still found five Pentagon employees who said they had seen the organizational chart with Atta's name on it, the Department of Defense Inspector General concluded that Able Danger had never identified Atta or any other alleged hijacker. And, just two months after the story became public—including Shaffer's revelation that he had met with 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow and told him all of the details of the program in an extensive hour-long debriefing in Afghanistan that did not find its way into the Commission's final report—the DIA stripped Shaffer of his security clearance, essentially ending his decades-long career as a military intelligence officer.
WELDON: Mr. Speaker, this is not some third-rate burglary cover-up. This is not some Watergate incident. This is an attempt to prevent the American people from knowing the facts about how we could have prevented 9/11, and people are covering it up today! And they're ruining the career of a military officer to do it, and we can't let it stand!
SOURCE: Curt Weldon House Session October 19, 2005
The NSA, meanwhile—despite the "scrambler and fiber optics" excuses of the agency's apologists—were monitoring all of the communications going through Al Qaeda's pivotal Yemen communications hub from the lead-up to the Embassy bombings straight through to the execution of 9/11 itself. This "communications hub"—discovered in 1996 when the NSA began tapping into and transcribing the satellite phone calls of bin Laden—was, in fact, the home of Ahmed al-Hada, one of the jihadis who had fought alongside bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Hada's phone was used by various Al Qaeda-linked operatives to pass messages to each other, as some countries blocked or monitored calls to other countries as possible terrorist communications.
The NSA listened as Mohamed al-'Owhali, one of the bombers involved in the embassy attack, made multiple calls to the hub before and after the attack. They listened as Al Qaeda operatives called the hub to discuss attacking a US warship in the months prior to the Cole bombing. And they listened as numerous terror suspects called to discuss their operations with Khalid al-Mihdhar, one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers and the son-in-law of Ahmed al-Hada.
Thomas Drake was a decorated United States Air Force and United States Navy veteran with a background in military crypto-electronics who had worked for twelve years as an outside contractor at the NSA. 9/11 was his first full day as an employee of the agency, and it was in the wake of that attack that he was handed a report from one of his colleagues in the NSA's "CounterTerror Shop" that laid out the agency's role in the events of that day.
According to Drake, the report was "an extraordinarily detailed long-term study of Al Qaeda's activities" that identified "the planning cells" for 9/11, including "a number of the hijackers based on actual copy: Atta, Hazmi, Mihdhar," all of whom had appeared on the NSA's radar by the start of 2001. It also contained specific warnings about 9/11.
Drake immediately gave the document to his supervisor, Maureen Baginski, who told him: "Tom, I wish you had not brought this to my attention." He was subsequently forced out of his position, stripped of his security clearance and indicted under the Espionage Act.
On the day of the attacks, knowing the information that the NSA had that could have foiled the plot, the analysts began to break down. Two staffers suffered heart attacks, with one dying. Another, a female analyst who had been responsible for monitoring the Yemen hub communications, left NSA headquarters after suffering what Drake was told was a nervous breakdown. Yet another, a 40-something man, began openly crying in a hallway, telling three women he was talking to in full view of everyone passing: "We knew this was being planned months ago, but they would not let us issue the reports we wrote."
NSA leadership, however, like Drake's supervisor and the head of the SIGINT division, Maureen Baginski, had a different reaction to the events unfolding that morning.
THOMAS DRAKE: I would hear the following phrase, which I think one person in particular probably regrets ever saying more publicly, that 9/11 was a gift to NSA. A gift.
SOURCE: Thomas Drake: '9/11 Became a Profit Center' for the NSA
In fact, the story of intelligence agency foreknowledge of the plot goes from the merely impossible to the outright absurd when it is revealed that it wasn't just US intelligence that had a window into the plot, but every major intelligence service in the world.
In subsequent years, it has emerged that intelligence agencies in Indonesia, the UK, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Russia, Jordan, France and, of course, Israel had all passed on various warnings about an imminent attack in the months and years leading up to 9/11.
And, infamously, the President received a classified intelligence briefing on August 6, 2001, that unequivocally stated that an attack was being prepared.
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
SOURCE: Excerpts from April 8, 2004 Testimony of Dr. Condoleezza Rice Before the 9/11 Commission Pertaining to The President's Daily Brief of August 6, 2001
It's no surprise that this plot—the most important ever attempted by Al Qaeda—would have been known by so many. Not only did the men that (we are told) bin Laden handpicked for the operation make no effort to hide their movements or obscure their activities, they instead—in the words of some investigators—left a deliberate trail behind them, a trail that was picked up and extensively reported on in the immediate wake of the attacks.
NARRATOR: Customs inspectors at Dubai airport became suspicious when they noticed that Jarrah had pasted a page of the Koran into his passport. When they searched his luggage, they discovered piles of radical Muslim propaganda. What he did next remains a mystery to terrorism experts worldwide: he talked freely about his future plans.
SOURCE: The 9/11 Hijackers: Inside The Hamburg Cell
ANCHOR: One possible clue has developed in Florida. A car was towed from the Daytona Beach airport to this impound lot near Daytona. An airport worker called police because the car had photographs of Osama bin Laden in the back seat.
SOURCE: September 12, 2001 - 12:01pm EDT on WUSA
KERRY SANDERS: . . . and that's why they geared up the FBI agents in the field immediately, and they located him in South Florida, and again over on the West coast of Florida in Venice--
KATIE COURIC: Were they surprised, Kerry, that he wasn't traveling under an assumed name?
SANDERS: I think they are, but clearly from what the indications are at this point these terrorists are not hiding after the fact or anything like that. I think that—one of the agents told me that what he believes is that they wanted to leave this trail.
SOURCE: September 12, 2001 - 11:49am EDT on WRC
Perhaps the greatest clue as to the real nature of the 9/11 operation, however, is found in one of the most stunning pieces of evidence of direct intelligence agency complicity in the plot. In the years after the attack, it was revealed that the CIA were not just surveilling the supposed hijackers or gathering information on their plans; they actively stopped information about these men's travels from reaching other intelligence agencies, deliberately hiding the fact that two of these agents had entered the US and were openly living in the country from the FBI and even from the National Security Council itself for over one and a half years.
This incredible fact, buried in footnote 44 of chapter 6 of the 9/11 Commission report, was no trivial detail.
9/11 Commission chair Thomas Kean called it "one of the most troubling aspects of our entire report."
White House counterterror czar Richard Clarke said that it is evidence of both CIA malfeasance and misfeasance.
And Mark Rossini, an FBI agent assigned to the CIA's bin Laden unit, believed it to be part of a secret intelligence operation involving these supposed terrorist hijackers that the agency didn't want anyone to discover.
MARK ROSSINI: You know, the Agency had an obligation to tell the Bureau about these individuals, and in particular when it was determined that they did go on to the U.S., that they did travel to America. I think they had some sort of operational plan going on they didn't want the Bureau to know about.
SOURCE: Who Is Rich Blee?
Shortly after the Cole bombing, Fahad al-Quso, a Yemeni with known links to Osama bin Laden, was interrogated by Yemeni agents and admitted that he had flown from Yemen to Bangkok the previous January to deliver $36,000 to "Khallad," a terrorist based in Malaysia who Quso identified as the bombing mastermind. The money, Quso said, was to buy this one-legged terror mastermind an artificial leg.
But Ali Soufan—the head of the FBI investigation into the Cole bombing—was puzzled by this lead. Why was Al Qaeda transferring money out of Yemen when they were supposedly planning an attack in that country? Was this money for a different operation?
As with every such lead, Soufan followed up with an official request to the CIA for any information they had on "Khallad" in Malaysia or the phone number that Quso had used to contact him there. The CIA never responded to any of these official requests.
But Soufan's intuitions were correct.
On December 29, 1999—with all of the US intelligence services on heightened alert due to the threat of millennium terror attacks—the NSA shares information from their wiretap of Al Qaeda's Yemen communications hub with the CIA: Khalid Al-Mihdhar, Nawaf Alhazmi, and Salem Alhazmi will be flying to Malaysia to attend an important Al Qaeda summit the following month. The CIA, already aware of Al-Mihdhar's connection to the Yemen communications hub, tasks agents from eight CIA offices and six friendly foreign intelligence services with tracking his travel to Malaysia.
The surveillance operation is successful. When Al-Mihdhar changes planes in Dubai, the CIA obtains a copy of his passport. Inside is a vital piece of information: this known bin Laden associate, on his way to an Al Qaeda summit, has a visa to enter the United States. A visa that was issued at the same Jeddah consulate where, Michael Springmann testified, the CIA was helping to secure visas for Osama bin Laden's men during the Afghan-Soviet war.
Seasoned intelligence officials have no trouble understanding the importance of this fact. Reflecting on the incredible nature of this series of events years later, veteran FBI agent Jack Cloonan remarked:
"How often do you get into someone's suitcase and find multiple-entry visas? And how often do you know there's going to be an organizational meeting of Al Qaeda any place in the world? The chances are slim to none! This is as good as it gets. It's a home run in the ninth inning of the World Series. This is the kind of case you hope your whole life for."
What happened next is so inexplicable for purveyors of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory that it is typically never discussed.
After scoring this once-in-a-lifetime intelligence coup—this "home run in the ninth inning of the World Series"—the CIA then failed to watchlist either Al-Mihdhar or Alhazmi, allegedly lost track of them after they went on from Malaysia to Thailand (despite having the phone number of the hotel where they stayed in Bangkok) and failed to inform FBI investigators like Ali Soufan that these known terror associates had been tracked to an Al Qaeda summit. Most incredibly of all, the official record shows that supervisors in the CIA's bin Laden unit repeatedly and deliberately stopped agents from sending info about Al-Mihdhar's US visa to the FBI.
On January 5, 2000, while the summit was still underway in Kuala Lumpur, the CIA's Riyadh Station forwarded the information about Al-Mihdhar's visa to Alec station at Langley. Doug Miller—an FBI officer assigned to the bin Laden unit as part of an intelligence-sharing program between the CIA and the FBI—read the cable and, following protocol, immediately drafted a memo asking for permission to forward the info to FBI headquarters. The reply from Miller's CIA supervisor, Michael Anne Casey, citing Alec Station's deputy chief, Tom Wilshere, was immediate and unequivocal: "This is not a matter for the FBI."
Thus began an 18-month odyssey in which 50 CIA personnel documentably accessed this information and not one of them ever officially shared it with any FBI or National Security Council official, even then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.
CLARKE: You understand, the way they update us at the White House is: every morning, I come in, I turn on my computer and I get 100, 150 CIA reports. I'm not relying on somebody calling me and telling me things. You have to intentionally stop it. You have to intervene and say, "No, I don't want that report to go," and I never got a report to that effect.
SOURCE: Interview #07 (Washington, DC)
On its own, this is scarcely believable. The Central Intelligence Agency actively and deliberately made a decision to stop the automatic sharing of information on the most sensitive national security intelligence in their possession.
On September 12, 2001, when the CIA finally granted Ali Soufan's request from nearly one year before and sent him their intelligence about the Malaysia meeting, he began visibly shaking and rushed to the bathroom, vomiting on the floor next to the toilet. When one of his colleagues asked him what had happened, he said: "They knew, they knew."
But neither Soufan nor anyone else familiar with the hidden history of Al Qaeda should be surprised. When put into its context, this episode is a perfectly predictable continuation of the same pattern of intelligence agency aid that, as we have seen, defines the story of Al Qaeda.
It is sometimes said that in order to be successful in their mission, the intelligence agencies have to get everything right all the time whereas the terrorists only have to get lucky once. But the Al Qaeda "terrorists"—protected, shepherded and aided by the intelligence agencies, as they demonstrably were—did not get lucky once.
They got lucky over and over and over again, time after time after time, year after year after year, from their earliest beginnings through their development and growth, through their rise to international prominence, through every major terrorist attack of the 1990s and right up to the doorstep of 9/11.
At this point, the "incompetence" theory of "failures" and "missed opportunities" is not only not supportable, it is a transparent falsehood. There is only one conclusion possible: These "terrorists" were deliberately aided.
This is not fringe conspiracy thinking. Even Richard Clarke eventually came to this conclusion.
CLARKE: For me, to this day it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn't tell me, that the director of the Counterterrorism Center didn't tell me, that the other 48 people in CIA who knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months.
JOHN DUFFY: They were stopped from getting to you and stopped from getting to the White House.
CLARKE: And stopped from getting to the FBI and the Defense Department. We therefore conclude that there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share that information.
RAY NOWOSIELSKI: How high level?
CLARKE: I would think it would have to be made by the director.
[. . .]
DUFFY: Have you asked George Tenet or Cofer Black or Richard Blee about any of this after the fact?
NOWOSIELSKI: It kind of—the facts dripped out to you over time, right? Over these investigations? And then you started to--
CLARKE: It took a while.
DUFFY: You've never approached them . . .?
NOWOSIELSKI: You used to be kind of buddies with Tenet, right? So . . .
CLARKE: Look at it this way: they've been able to get through a joint House investigation committee and get through the 9/11 Commission and this has never come out. They got away with it. They're not going to tell you even if you waterboard them.
SOURCE: Interview #07 (Washington, DC)
That the former top-ranking counterterrorism official in the United States has publicly accused the former director of the CIA and other top CIA officials of running an operation involving the accused 9/11 hijackers and then covering up that operation and information about it up to and through 9/11—an incredible accusation recorded by two independent filmmakers and freely viewable on YouTube for the past decade—is apparently of so little importance that it has never been followed up on by any major media outlet.
But Clarke's version of the story, explosive as it is—that these accused terrorists really were terrorists, that they, like Ali Mohamed, managed to triple-cross the intelligence agencies that were trying to use them as double agents against Al Qaeda, and that the highest ranks of those intelligence agencies, up to and including the director of the CIA engaged in a cover-up of the entire affair, indirectly allowing 9/11 to take place purely to save their own skin—demonstrably cannot be the full story.
As we now know, these nineteen men were no devout Islamic fundamentalists driven by their devotion into striking against the infidels. These alcohol-drinking, strip club-attending bumblers who, at one point, lived with an FBI informant and who left what investigators described as a deliberate trail behind them, were not master spies capable of triple-crossing the CIA.
They did not coordinate their plan to coincide precisely with the live-fly hijacking exercises, military war games and planes-into-buildings training drills that were taking place on the day of 9/11.
They did not overpower the military-trained pilots on four separate planes before a single one of them could so much as send out a hijack signal.
They did not know to commit those hijackings precisely in the highly classified radar gaps that made their planes' movements opaque to flight traffic controllers.
They did not pilot those planes through maneuvers that even experienced pilots called "tough for any airline pilot" despite never having sat in the cockpit of a jumbo jet before.
They did not cause three buildings to pulverize themselves in mid-air, falling directly through the path of most resistance at freefall gravitational acceleration with two planes.
They did not decide to fly around the Pentagon to miss the Defense Secretary's office and instead hit the section of the building where bookkeepers and budget analysts were working on the problem of the $2.3 trillion that Donald Rumsfeld had just 24 hours earlier admitted could not be accounted for in the Defense Department's budget.
They did not commit the informed trading that three separate academic studies have proven did take place in the run up to 9/11.
They did not engage in the decades-long cover-up of these facts in the wake of that attack.
And they did not launch the war of terror that sometimes saw the US and its allies using Al Qaeda as a convenient excuse for aggression in foreign countries and other times saw them actively collaborating with Al Qaeda to achieve their geopolitical goals.
No. Richard Clarke's story is itself a cover-up. The spectacular, catalyzing terror attack of 9/11 was not allowed to happen. It was made to happen.
But why? Who, other than the devout Muslim suicide warriors posited by the official 9/11 conspiracy theorists, would do such a thing? And for what purpose?
To answer these questions, we need to return to Operation Susannah and the false flag terror ruse that has been employed by the British, the Israelis and the US throughout the past century. As we shall see, just eight years after Operation Susannah failed in Egypt, the highest-ranking officials in the US military drafted plans to stage terror attacks, blow up airliners and even kill Americans in order to blame their political enemies. And, in the lead up to 9/11, a cadre of political operatives brought those plans into the 21st century, paving the way for a new Pearl Harbor that would begin a worldwide war of terror and a clash of civilizations.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
SOURCE: President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001
TO BE CONCLUDED...
Part Three: The War Of Terror
Transcript & Sources
"Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect."
INTRODUCTIONKabul, Afghanistan. August 29th, 2021.
A white 1996 Toyota Corolla races down the dusty streets of the Afghan capital.
Just days earlier, a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport had killed thirteen US Marines and dozens of Afghans. American forces, on high alert, track the Corolla from above. An American MQ-9 Reaper drone hovers high up, monitoring the driver—Zemari Ahmadi—as he stops at a suspected ISIS safe house and loads the car with explosives before continuing his journey to the airport.
But Ahmadi never reaches his destination. At 4:50 PM, the order is given and the Reaper drone launches a hellfire missile at the vehicle, killing the would-be terrorist and destroying his explosive payload.
The media, focused on the conflict in Afghanistan for the first time in years, air live coverage of the Pentagon's announcement: In the waning hours of America's two-decade-long military presence in Afghanistan, another terror threat has been liquidated and more innocent lives have been saved.
GEN. WILLIAM TAYLOR: Yesterday, US military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation against an ISIS-K planner and facilitator. The air strike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. I can confirm, as more information has come in, that two high-profile ISIS targets were killed and one was wounded and we know of zero civilian casualties.
SOURCE: Military officials hold news conference at Pentagon after drone strike
But as the smoke cleared on the scene of the strike, some grisly truths began to emerge: Ahmadi had not been a terrorist. He was not on his way to set off a suicide bomb at the Kabul Airport. The car didn't even have explosives.
In reality, Ahmadi had been an aid worker for an American NGO distributing food to malnourished Afghans. He wasn't on his way to the airport; he was arriving home after a day at the office. The "suspicious packages" that the drone operators had watched him load into his car were in fact water bottles that Ahmadi was bringing home because his neighbourhood was dealing with a water shortage.
In perhaps the greatest irony, Ahmadi had applied for a special visa to emigrate to the US with his family just days before his death. Now, that family was devastated, torn apart by an explosion that left Ahmadi and nine of his relatives—including a two-year-old—dead.
Finally forced to admit that every part of the drone strike story had been a lie, the Pentagon called it a "tragic mistake." And, after a three-month self-investigation, it was decided that no one involved in that "mistake" would receive any punishment for killing 10 innocent Afghans.
The story of the killing of Zemari Ahmadi is the story of the War on Terror in a nutshell. Ahmadi's death was cast as a "tragic mistake" for which no one was to blame, just as America's decades-long debacle in the Middle East—from the invasion, occupation and eventual choatic retreat from Afghanistan to the illegal invasion of Iraq and the rise of ISIS to the regime change operations in Libya and Syria—had been a "failure" of military planning.
But, when viewed in its proper context, the war on terror was no failure. In fact, waged on fictitious grounds against a shadow enemy, the great military campaign of the 21st century was not a war on terror at all. It was a war of terror, a pretext for the construction of an international security grid in the name of fighting a bogeyman that never existed in the first place.
And by that metric, the war of terror was successful beyond its planners' wildest dreams.
Part Three: The War of TerrorFor many in the general public, the war on terror was a direct consequence of 9/11, and that war began with George W. Bush's address to Congress on September 20, 2001:
GEORGE W. BUSH: Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.
SOURCE: President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001
Some even believe that the war ended with Barack Obama's declaration of May 23, 2013:
BARACK OBAMA: Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless “global war on terror,” but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.
SOURCE: Remarks by the President at the National Defense University
But, as convenient as these statements are for creating bookends for the story of the war on terror, they do not tell the real story of that war. In fact, the origins of the global war on terror go back much further than the general public has been led to believe.
In 1962, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by General Lyman Lemnitzer, issued a startling proposal to President John F. Kennedy on how to get the public on board with military invention in Cuba to remove Fidel Castro from power. Called Operation Northwoods, the plan suggested a number of staged provocations, secretly committed by the US itself but blamed on Castro, including: blowing up a US ship in Guantanomo Bay and blaming the incident on the Cuban government; staging terror attacks in the United States to be blamed on Cuban terrorists; and even painting up a remote-controlled plane to resemble a passenger jet and destroying it over Cuba.
The incredible plan, rejected by Kennedy, who subsequently refused to renew Lemnitzer's term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was classified and was not revealed to the public until 2001, just months before 9/11.
JAMES BAMFORD: The idea was to create a pretext to show that the there was an attack by Cuba on the United States. And the idea was to have US personnel from the CIA and other places secretly create terrorism in the United States. The document actually said people would be shot on American streets, bombs would be blown up. And again, all this the evidence would be laid to point the finger at Castro.
One other idea was they were going to—they had a very complex plan where they were going to take an aircraft and load it with CIA people that looked like college students, fly it over to—have it take off from an airport in Miami with a lot of publicity and then it would—quickly after it got into the air—land at a secret CIA base. At that same time, an identical plane would take off from that CIA base, except this plane would be empty and it would be remotely piloted from the ground. It would be a drone plane that would be very similar to the passenger plane that had just taken off.
And once the plane was over Cuba, there was going to be a tape recorder that would have played a distress call to a microphone saying, "Help, we're being shot at!" And a few minutes later—once the plane was over the Caribbean Sea after it passed over Cuba—somebody would have pressed the button on the ground, blowing up the plane. And they would have blamed Cuba for killing a plane load of American college students.
SOURCE: Operation Northwoods explained by James Bamford
But even after its rejection, the Northwoods idea of using spectacular terror attacks as the justification for a widescale war continued to be employed by military planners.
In November 1998, Philip Zelikow—who would go on to chair the 9/11 Commission—co-wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations' publication, with Ashton Carter, the future Secretary of Defense under President Obama, and John Deutsch, the former director of the CIA. Titled "Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger," the article warns of a potential "transforming event," such as an attack on the World Trade Center:
"Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently."
The solution to this impending threat of catastrophic terrorism, Zelikow and his co-authors argue, is to take that threat seriously—as the US government did in 1940 when it "pondered what kind of forces it would need to wage a global war"—and to create new offices for coordinating homeland security and waging pre-emptive strikes against potential terrorists around the world.
Then, unnoticed by much of the public, the global war on terror was first proposed on live TV on the morning of 9/11. At 11:28 AM New York time, as the blanket of dust from the freshly exploded towers was still settling on Manhattan and much of the world was still trying to process what was happening, a guest on BBC World News laid out the dawning of the new age of global terror with remarkable foresight. But this prediction was not delivered by a US government official or an American intelligence agent or a Washington Beltway insider. It was delivered by Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel.
PRESENTER: Joining me now here in the BBC World studio is the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who's in London at the moment. Mr. Barak, welcome to BBC World. First, your reaction, having heard what's happened. At least four planes have been hijacked and there may be more.
EHUD BARAK: The world will not be the same from today on. It's an attack against our whole civilization. I don't know who is responsible. I believe we will know in 12 hours.
If it is a kind of bin Laden organization, and even if it's something else, I believe that this is the time to deploy a globally concerted effort led by the United States, the UK, Europe and Russia against all sources of terror—the same kind of struggle that our forefathers launched against the piracy on the high seas.
SOURCE: September 11, 2001 - 11:28am EDT (4:28pm BST) - BBC World News
In the chaos of September 11, 2001, mere minutes after the destruction of the Twin Towers, the global viewing public was presented all the key takeaways of 9/11: that "this is the time to deploy a globally concerted effort led by the United States"; that "the world will not be the same from today on"; and, of course, that we "don't know who was responsible," although "we will know in 12 hours." But the name immediately implanted in the minds of the audience—not for the first nor the last time on that long day of news coverage—was that of Osama bin Laden.
In the following days, these takeaways became the talking points for the US government and its allies around the world. Before the day was over, President Bush was already laying the rhetorical groundwork for the coming war, vowing that "we stand together to win the war against terrorism." By the end of the week, the American public was being prepared for a conflict much bigger than a conventional war: "This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."
And, in the following week, Bush confirmed what the public had been told since the moment of the live televised strike on the World Trade Center:
JON SCOTT: We just saw on live television as a second plane flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center. Now, given what has been going on around the world, some of the key suspects come to mind: Osama bin Laden. Who knows what?
SOURCE: Original News Broadcast on 9/11/01
BUSH: Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as Al Qaeda.
SOURCE: President Bush's address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001
By the end of the month, the public had heard so many authoritative pronouncements about "the evidence" pointing to bin Laden's responsibility for the 9/11 attacks that few noticed when the US government declined to release a promised white paper outlining that evidence—a decision prompted by a "lack of solid information" about the plot, according to government sources cited by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh. Instead, the presentation of such evidence was outsourced—as so much of the dirty work in the global war on terror would be—to a third-party nation-state: the United Kingdom.
On September 30, 2001, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost program to declare he had been shown "absolutely powerful, incontrovertible evidence of [bin Laden's] link to the events of the 11th of September," but because the evidence came from "sensitive sources" he could not simply reveal it to the public. Rather, the UK government would release a report laying out its case against Osama in great detail.
That dossier, titled "Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities in the United States," was released on October 4th and was touted by the press as "the clearest case yet of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks." The document opens, however, by noting that it "does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law." The first 60 points of the report provide general background information about bin Laden and previous terror attacks attributed to Al Qaeda, and the last ten points, dealing with "Osama bin Laden and the 11 September attacks," are almost incomprehensibly vague.
It claims that "at least three" of the hijackers have been identified as "associates of Al Qaeda," without listing how this conclusion was arrived at or even who these associates are.
It claims that the attack "follows the modus operandi" of Al Qaeda and is "entirely consistent" with the planning of previous attacks attributed to the group.
And, most remarkably, it states that "[t]here is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release."
At almost the exact same time, momentous events were taking place in Europe, where the North Atlantic Council, NATO's main decision-making body, was receiving a classified briefing from a US State Department operative.
LORD ROBERTSON: This morning, the United States briefed the North Atlantic Council on the results of their investigation into who was responsible for the horrific terrorist attacks which took place on 11 September.
The briefing was given by Ambassador Frank Taylor, the United States Department of State Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.
[. . .]
The briefing addressed the events of 11 September themselves, the results of the investigation so far, what is known about Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda organization and their involvement in the attacks and in previous terrorist activity, and the links between Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The facts are clear and compelling. The information presented points conclusively to an Al Qaeda role in the 11 September attacks.
SOURCE: Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, October 2, 2001
This was no ordinary briefing. The result of that briefing was that for the first time in its history, NATO invoked Article 5 of its charter—the self-defence clause that compels the organization to assist any member nation that is attacked by an outside force. By "proving" that bin Laden had committed the attack in connection with the Taliban, the United States could launch the war on terror and compel NATO to assist in its invasion of Afghanistan.
LORD ROBERTSON: On the basis of this briefing, it has now been determined that the attack against the United States on 11 September was directed from abroad and shall therefore be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack on one or more of the Allies in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.
I want to reiterate that the United States of America can rely on the full support of its 18 NATO allies in the campaign against terrorism.
Given the stakes involved, questions long swirled around this mysterious, classified briefing. What had Ambassador Frank Taylor told the North Atlantic Council that was so compelling? What information persuaded the world's largest and most powerful military alliance to launch an invasion of another nation? The public, it seemed, would never know.
LORD ROBERTSON: Today's was a classified briefing and so I cannot give you all the details. Briefings are also being given directly by the United States to the Allies in their capitals.
But then, in 2009, intelwire.com quietly posted a document online under the title "Secret Post-9/11 Briefing to World Leaders." The document is a US State Department cable addressed to the American embassies in the NATO countries and American allies around the world under the subject line "September 11: Working together to fight the plague of global terrorism and the case against Al Qaeda." The cable is dated October 1, 2001—the day before Ambassador Taylor's meeting with the North Atlantic Council—and instructs its recipients to brief their host country's government on "the information linking the Al Qaeda terrorist network, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban regime to the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93."
The document went largely unnoticed until 2018, when Professor Niels Harrit wrote an article, "The Mysterious Frank Taylor Report: The 9/11 Document that Launched US-NATO’s 'War on Terrorism' in the Middle East," connecting the dots between this document and the briefing that Ambassador Taylor gave to the North Atlantic Council.
HARRIT: This is in my mind with no doubt simply the legal basis for eighteen years of perpetual war in the Middle East. This is the basis for NATO's activation of Article 5. And so what is in the document and what is the evidence? What is the evidence which Lord Robertson calls "clear and compelling"? None. There's absolutely no evidence in that paper.
SOURCE: The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War
Much like the UK government dossier, the State Department cable contains no actual evidence of a link between bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the cable is virtually identical to the UK report. After spending a full fifteen pages talking in generalities about terror, about the US government's officially sanctioned history of Al Qaeda, and of previous attacks attributed to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, the document finally arrives at "Part III" purporting to demonstrate Al Qaeda's involvement in the attacks.
But Part III begins by admitting that the investigation into the attacks is "still in the early stage" and that "[t]here are still gaps in our knowledge." It then goes on to detail circumstantial "evidence," including the observation that "bin Laden and his associates seemed to be anticipating what we could only identify as an important event or activity." Finally, the document talks about how the incident is "tactically similar to earlier attacks" because it involved planning and a desire to inflict mass casualties.
And with that complete lack of evidence, the war on terror was launched and the invasion of Afghanistan began.
And so, in October 2001, the bombs began dropping on Afghanistan. The war of terror had officially begun, and the public was told that one of the key objectives of that war was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.
REPORTER: Do you want bin Laden dead?
BUSH: I want him . . . hell, I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said "Wanted: Dead or Alive."
SOURCE: CNN: 2001, President George W. Bush 'bin Laden, Wanted dead or alive'
But as we have seen, one of the defining hallmarks of Al Qaeda throughout its reign of terror was its agents' uncanny ability to cross borders illegally, evade capture repeatedly and generally slip through intelligence agency dragnets unimpeded. This remarkable string of "good luck" included:
Osama bin Laden's remarkable post-9/11 "disappearance" actually began on 9/11 itself, when his whereabouts were not a mystery to America or its allies in the region. In fact, his location and activities on the night before 9/11 were well known to the US, although that information would not be revealed to the public until after his "escape."
BARRY PETERSEN: Everyone remembers what happened on September 11th. Here's the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11th terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the US war on terror in Afghanistan. Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment.
SOURCE: Dan Rather Reports: 9/11 bin Laden At Rawalpindi Hospital September 10th 2001
Despite knowing bin Laden's precise location and activities right up to the moment of 9/11, however, and despite the fact that the Al Qaeda leader was already a wanted fugitive subject to international arrest warrants and under indictment by a US federal court, bin Laden continued to move around internationally with the full knowledge and complicity of state intelligence services. And, as remarkable as this may seem, bin Laden's trip to Rawalpindi on the eve of 9/11 was neither the first nor the last time that the US would allow him to evade capture.
In the weeks after the attack, the Taliban offered to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or even hand him over to a third-party country if the US provided them with the same proof of Bin Laden's guilt for 9/11 that Ambassador Taylor had supposedly provided NATO. Bush turned the offer down. Then, after the invasion of Afghanistan began in October, the Taliban again tried to hand bin Laden over, this time dropping the request for proof of his guilt. Bush again refused.
The war of terror, it turned out, was not about getting Osama. In fact, if bin Laden had been captured or killed, it would have derailed the carefully laid plans for the Bush Administration's aggressive new foreign policy.
But, having been sold on the simplified version of the war on terror—the one that held the objective of that war was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and to liquidate the Al Qaeda network—the public believed that the fighting would be short and decisive, like the first Gulf War. After all, how hard would it be for the army of the world's unrivaled military superpower employing the tools of the most high-tech intelligence community in history to capture a lone fighter on dialysis in the caves of Tora Bora?
Bush administration officials were quick to temper the public's expectations on this point. This was no ordinary elderly man living in an undefended cave, after all. This was a comic book supervillain, an evil millionaire mastermind directing a terrorist army from his elaborate cave fortress.
TIM RUSSERT: . . . there is constant discussion about him hiding out in caves, and I think many times the American people have a perception that it's a little hole dug out of a side of a mountain.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, no.
RUSSERT: This is it. This is a fortress! A complex, multi-tiered. Bedrooms and offices on the top, as you can see. Secret exits on the side and on the bottom. Cut deep to avoid thermal detection. A ventilation system to allow people to breathe and to carry on. The entrances large enough to drive trucks and even tanks. Even computer systems and telephone systems. It's a very sophisticated operation.
RUMSFELD: Oh, you bet. This is serious business. And there's not one of those, there are many of those!
SOURCE: Bin Laden's cave according to Rumsfeld
This was a lie, of course. There were no high-tech cave fortresses, no "multi-tiered bedrooms and offices on the top," no "secret exits on the side," no ventilation system or computer systems. It was a fabrication, a literal artist's rendering with as much reality as that of a comic book or a cartoon.
But, as an unfolding drama for the public following the war on their television sets half a world away, this story had enough twists and turns to keep any audience engaged.
The first phase of the war went as predicted. By November, America's relentless bombing had already routed the Taliban, driving them from Kabul toward Kunduz in the north. There, the trapped fighters—including not only Taliban but Al Qaeda members as well as Pakistani Army officers, intelligence advisers, and volunteers—were saved from certain defeat by a miracle: the arrival of a squadron of Pakistani aircraft that flew in and airlifted them back to Pakistan.
It was later confirmed that the operation—dubbed the "airlift of evil"—was signed off on by the Bush Administration, who had cut a secret deal with Pakistani President Musharraf to let the fighters escape and who "ordered the United States Central Command to set up a special air corridor to help insure the safety of the Pakistani rescue flights."
But what about Osama bin Laden? As it turns out, his whereabouts were no great mystery to American forces, and, once again, he was allowed to escape.
On the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan in October, the Guardian reported that "Osama bin Laden was in Kabul last week and US and British intelligence agencies have a 'pretty good idea' where he is now," suggesting that "Western intelligence has a much clearer picture of bin Laden's recent movements than has been admitted." The report went on to note that bin Laden's "capture or death would reduce the pressure for wider military action against Afghanistan." But this intelligence did not lead to bin Laden's apprehension.
As American forces honed in on Kabul in early November, bin Laden and all of his closest advisors managed to escape to Jalalabad in a very conspicuous late-night convoy. One eyewitness reported: "We don't understand how they weren't all killed the night before, because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for American pilots to see the headlights."
On November 13th, just one day before the Northern Alliance captured Jalalabad, bin Laden escaped once again, this time in a convoy of several hundred cars. Despite believing bin Laden to be in one of the vehicles, US forces opted to ignore the convoy and instead bombed the nearby Jalalabad airport.
Bin Laden and his men, now numbering a few hundred fighters, arrived in mid-November at the mountainous Khyber Pass on the border of Pakistan. On November 15th, with the remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts pinned down in the caves of Tora Bora, the US military was in a position to eliminate the Al Qaeda threat, kill Osama bin Laden and end the war on terror.
But, remarkably, the Marines, special forces and CIA operatives who were positioned and ready to do this were blocked from doing so by their own superiors.
NARRATOR: That winter, the CIA was still at war. The Taliban had fallen. Now it was Osama bin Laden's turn.
GARY BERNTSEN: I'm looking for bin Laden right away. I want to start killing him and his people immediately.
GARY SCHROEN: We had intelligence that continued to develop that bin Laden and Zawahiri were in Afghanistan, probably in the eastern areas, hiding out there.
NARRATOR: The CIA tried to put together a team to chase bin Laden. It wasn't easy.
GARY BERNTSEN: I asked Army special forces if they'll send people in. They say, "No, we're not going down there. It's unstable. You don't have a reliable ally."
STEVE COLL: The conditions for Al Qaeda's retreat were quite favorable, and the United States did not do the one thing that the Pentagon had within its power to do, which was to move regular US troops into a blocking position behind these mountains.
SOURCE: The Dark Side (Frontline)
The story, exhaustively documented by CIA operatives, special forces operators, journalists and even a US Senate report, is clear and unambiguous.
As the US Senate report notes: "By early December 2001, bin Laden’s world had shrunk to a complex of caves and tunnels carved into a mountainous section of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora."
Both the CIA and Delta Force—the US Army's elite special operations unit—had tracked bin Laden from Jalalabad to Tora Bora. They had "real-time eavesdropping capabilities on Al Qaeda almost from their arrival, allowing them to track movements and gauge the effectiveness of the bombing" and were able to pick up radio communications featuring bin Laden directly issuing commands to his troops. They had him surrounded on three sides, and the relentless air strikes—including the use of a 15,000 pound "daisy cutter" not used since Vietnam—were decimating what was left of bin Laden's forces. All that was needed was to secure the mountain pass leading out of Tora Bora and into Pakistan.
Gary Berntsen, the head of the CIA's paramilitary operation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, knew that the Afghan militias that the US had cobbled together were not up to the job of securing the pass. From mid-November to mid-December, he repeatedly begged his superiors for one battalion of US Army Rangers—just 800 troops—to help stop bin Laden from slipping away.
As the US Senate later noted, fulfilling Berntsen's request "would have been a manageable task":
In late November, about the time US intelligence placed bin Laden squarely at Tora Bora, more than 1,000 members of the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units, among the military’s most mobile arms, established a base southwest of Kandahar, only a few hours flight away. [. . .] Another 1,000 troops from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division were split between a base in southern Uzbekistan and Bagram Air Base, a short helicopter flight from Tora Bora.
General James Mattis, the commander of the Marines at Kandahar, told a journalist that his troops could seal off Tora Bora, but his superiors rejected the plan.
Berntsen fared no better in his quest to obtain 800 Army Rangers for the mission. Not only was his request rejected, but, remarkably, in the middle of the most important battle of the war, he was replaced as head of the CIA force in Afghanistan, effective immediately. His replacement was to be Rich Blee, the same CIA bin Laden unit chief who had helped conceal the information about Al-Mihdhar and Alhazmi's entry to the US from the FBI. Blee was accompanied to Afghanistan by Michael Anne Casey, the bin Laden unit staffer who had actually stopped Doug Miller from sharing that info with the FBI.
At first, Berntsen was told that his request was denied because it might "alienate our Afghan allies."
"I don't give a damn about alienating our allies!" he replied. "I only care about eliminating Al Qaeda and delivering bin Laden's head in a box!"
Later, though, a different story emerged. As it turns out, at the exact same time that bin Laden was holed up in Tora Bora, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered General Tommy Franks, who was leading the Afghan invasion, to redirect planning resources from Afghanistan to the Pentagon's next target in the war of terror: Iraq.
As even the official story of the war on terror acknowledges, bin Laden and his top aides, seizing their opportunity, simply walked out of Tora Bora and into Pakistan.
And, just like that, the bogeyman of the war on terror was gone, allowed to escape yet again. He would reappear from time to time to continue reminding the public about the origins of the terror war. But now, the public's attention was being turned to a new bogeyman.
QUESTION: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk [about] or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that?
Also, can you can tell the American people if you have any more information—if you know if he is dead or alive. Deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really want to make--
BUSH: Well, deep in my heart, I know the man's on the run if he's alive at all. And I—you know, who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We hadn't heard from him in a long time.
And the idea of focusing on one person is really—indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terror's bigger than one person. And he's just—he's a person who has now been marginalized. His network is—his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.
He is—you know, as I mention in my speeches—I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death. And he, himself, tries to hide, if, in fact, he's hiding at all.
So I don't know where he is. Nor—you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you.
SOURCE: Presidential News Conference March 13, 2002
BUSH: Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror.
SOURCE: President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat
That the Bush Administration would pivot so quickly from hunting Osama bin Laden to toppling Saddam Hussein was only surprising to those who did not know the neocons populating the Bush administration or their well-documented and long-held desire to affect regime change in Iraq.
In 1996, a group of prominent neoconservatives—including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser—wrote a report for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," the report urged Israel to "shape its strategic environment" by "weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria." The way to do this, the report concluded, was to "focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right—as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions."
In 1997, twenty-five prominent neocons—including ten who would go on to serve in the Bush Administration, and even Jeb Bush, the future president's brother—signed a "Statement of Principles" as the founding charter of a new think tank called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The statement called on then-President Clinton to reverse the defense spending cuts that marked the post-Cold War era and to "increase defense spending significantly." In 1998, the group followed up with an open letter to Clinton urging him to "turn your Administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power."
Surrounding himself with neocons on the campaign trail and eventually installing those neocons in all of the key security positions in his cabinet, President George W. Bush wasted no time in making these regime change dreams a reality.
As Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill later revealed, at his first major national security council meeting—held just ten days into the new administration—"President Bush tasked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Hugh Shelton to begin preparing options for the use of US ground forces in the northern and southern no-fly zones in Iraq to support an insurgency to bring down the Saddam regime." The second national security council meeting of the Bush administration, held two days later, also discussed regime change in Iraq, with one briefing document at the meeting marked "secret" and bearing the title "Plan for post-Saddam Iraq."
RON SUSKIND: From the very first instance, it was about Iraq, it was about what we can do to change this regime.
LESLEY STAHL: Now, everybody else thought that grew out of 9/11.
STAHL: But this book says it was day one of this administration.
SUSKIND: Day one, these things were laid and sealed.
SOURCE: Before 9/11, Bush Asked To “Go Find Me A Way” To Invade Iraq
And, infamously, on the day of 9/11 itself, the administration was already beginning plans for a retaliatory strike not just on bin Laden in Afghanistan but on Iraq.
A note taken at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2001, records Rumsfeld saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit Saddam Hussein at the same time. Not only bin Laden." He also made sure to order staff to "go massive" and "sweep it all up" including "things related and not."
From before Bush even got into office, there was no doubt that he would attack Iraq. 9/11 and the war on terror merely presented the neocons with the perfect opportunity to fulfill that agenda. The only problem was how to tie Iraq into the war on terror in the minds of the public, a problem that Bush himself admitted to.
BUSH: You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.
SOURCE: Couric Interview Bush September 6, 2006
BUSH: Of course we're after Saddam Hussein . . . I mean bin Laden. He's . . . he's . . . he's isolated.
SOURCE: George W. Bush and John Kerry 1st Presidential Debate 2004
The job of connecting the public face of the war on terror—bin Laden and Al Qaeda—to Saddam and Iraq was made more difficult by the fact that there was no such connection. Difficult, but not impossible, for a committed cadre with no qualms about using mendacity to achieve their political objectives.
The most direct link between Al Qaeda and Iraq was a trip that alleged 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta was reported to have made to the Iraqi consulate in Prague in April 2001. After Atta's pictures were published in the media in the wake of 9/11, a Middle East informant told Czech intelligence that he had seen Atta meeting with a suspected Iraqi intelligence agent in the Czech Republic that spring.
The story became even more salacious when—at the height of the anthrax scare in October 2001—"anonymous Israeli intelligence sources" planted a story in the German media that Atta had in fact received anthrax spores from his Iraqi contact in Prague.
But the entire story was such a preposterous lie that it was quickly disowned by both the FBI and the CIA. Investigators found "there was no evidence Atta left or returned to the US" during that time frame and "pointed to other evidence, including Atta's cell phone records, to cast doubt on the idea that any meeting had occurred." And, despite the fantastical, anonymous, evidence-free reports in German media, the anthrax used in the anthrax attacks on America in the fall of 2001 did not source from Iraq, but from the US military's own bioweapons laboratory.
None of this stopped Vice President Dick Cheney from repeating the lie in his media appearances in the run-up to the Iraq War, however.
CHENEY: We've seen, in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center.
SOURCE: Cheney on "Meet the Press" September 8, 2002
The story of Iraqi agents handing flasks of anthrax to 9/11 hijackers was a little too fanciful even for the credulous American public, however, and it was soon dropped from the neocons' sales pitch for the Iraq war.
Instead, a different set of lies would need to be found to sell the public on the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation.
On January 31, 2003—six months after senior British intelligence complained behind closed doors that the "facts were being fixed around the policy" of invading Iraq—Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House for a discussion on the matter. As a now-infamous memo documenting the meeting records, Bush had already decided on military action, and a start date for the bombing of March 10th "was now pencilled in." Given that it was unlikely that the UN would pass a resolution authorizing the invasion absent some compelling incident, Bush suggested a way that Iraq could be provoked into aggressive action.
According to the memo: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach" of existing UN resolutions, thus justifying military action. The stunning and documented admission that President Bush had suggested staging a false flag event as one option for provoking a war received some press attention at the time but has since largely been forgotten.
After all, they did not need to get Iraq to shoot down a spy plane. The neocons had hit on a different strategy for selling the war to the public.
PRESIDENT BUSH: If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally foreswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction.
SOURCE: President Bush at United Nations General Assembly 2002
COLIN POWELL: One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.
SOURCE: Colin Powell's Speech at the UN 2003
CHENEY: He now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs--
RUSSERT: —Aluminum tubes.
CHENEY: Specifically, aluminum tubes. There was a story in The New York Times this morning . . .
SOURCE: Cheney on "Meet the Press" September 8, 2002
RICE: The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
SOURCE: Condoleezza Rice on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer September 8, 2002
As these drawings, based on their descriptions, show, we know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together. We know how they work. And we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.
SOURCE: Colin Powell's Speech at the UN 2003
BUSH: And my message to Saddam Hussein is that, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, you must disarm like you said you would do. But my message to you all, and to the country, is this: for the sake of our future freedoms, and for the sake of world peace, if the United Nations can't act, and if Saddam Hussein won't act, the United States will lead a coalition of nations to disarm Saddam Hussein.
SOURCE: Remarks by the President at South Dakota Welcome October 31, 2002
As decades of after-the-fact journalism has exhaustively documented, every aspect of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" story was a transparent and admitted lie. But it was a remarkably successful lie. Six months into the Iraq war, a stunning 82% of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein had "provided assistance" to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and 69% believed that Saddam was personally involved in the September 11th attacks.
As the months wore on, however, it became harder to hide the fact that the mythical WMD stashes and mobile weapons labs and aluminum tubes that the public had been assured were keys to the "imminent threat" posed by Saddam's regime simply weren't there. Even the corporate press that had worked so hard to sell these lies to the public had to start pointing out the obvious: the Bush administration had lied in order to sell an illegal invasion of a sovereign country to the American public and to the people of the world.
The neocons realized that a renewed effort was going to be needed to connect Iraq to the war on terror in order to keep the public on board with the war as the invasion of Iraq morphed into the occupation of Iraq. And, as always, the Al Qaeda threat would serve the purpose of terrifying the public into rallying once again behind their government. The fact that Iraq and Al Qaeda were mortal enemies might have been an insurmountable obstacle to anyone concerned with the truth. But these were neocons. Their logic was simple: if the Al Qaeda bogeyman didn't exist in Iraq, they would have to create it. So that's exactly what they did.
Founded in Jordan in 1999, even the official history of the terrorist organization that became known as "Al Qaeda in Iraq" acknowledges that the group originally had nothing to do with either Al Qaeda or Iraq. Instead, its founder, Ahmed al-Khalaylah, was a Jordanian militant whose terror cell Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, or "Congregation of Monotheism and Jihad," was dedicated to the overthrow of the Jordanian monarchy.
Like many of the figures in the Al Qaeda story, the biography of al-Khalaylah is not that of a devout Muslim, let alone a dedicated jihadi. A high school dropout, al-Khalaylah was known for drunken brawls and drug dealing and was jailed for sexual assualt before going to Afghanistan to join the Mujahideen in 1989, just as the Soviets were leaving. From there, the story of this soon-to-be-feared terrorist leader tells us he returned to Jordan "a few years later," founded a terror cell known as Jund al-Sham that attracted the attention of the authorities, and was sent to prison in 1992 where he "adopted more radical Islamic beliefs."
After his release from the Jordanian prison in 1999, he immediately became involved in a new plot to bomb the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman and several tourist sites in Jordan just before New Year's Day 2000. The plot was foiled, and al-Khalaylah fled through Pakistan to Afghanistan, where, we are told, he met with bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, with whose assistance he set up a terrorist training camp for Jordanian militants in Herat.
Joining the resistance to the US invasion after 9/11 and adopting the nom de guerre Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, he fled to Iran in January 2002. His whereabouts and activities during 2002 are "difficult to pin down" but "Western and Arab intelligence agencies" assured The Washington Post that, despite being a known terror operative and wanted by numerous governments, Zarqawi, like many other Al Qaeda figures, "moved frequently and with relative ease among Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, expanding his network."
Then, in 2003, still a relative unknown even within the world of militant jihad, Zarqawi turned up in Baghdad, where he was catapulted to international infamy not by his actions, nor by the promotion of Osama bin Laden or other jihadis, but by the US government.
POWELL: But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants.
SOURCE: Remarks to the United Nations Security Council
The remarks, delivered during Colin Powell's infamous speech justifying the forthcoming invasion of Iraq to the UN Security Council in February of 2003, were—like most of the specific accusations in the address—demonstrably false. Zarqawi was a relative nobody in Iraq at the time; the CIA later admitted there was no evidence that Hussein had been "harboring" him; and his group was not, in fact, affiliated with Al Qaeda when Powell made his speech.
Nevertheless, these falsehoods started to become true after the spotlight of attention was showered on Zarqawi by the US State Department.
Attacks attributed to or claimed by Zarqawi were relatively few, but received inordinate amounts of attention from the international press. These attacks were often designed to inflame Shia/Sunni hatred, thus turning resistance to the occupation into a full-on sectarian conflict that tore the country to its roots.
And in 2004, Zarqawi—who, we are told, calculated that attaching the Al Qaeda brand name to his group would give it more caché in the jihadi world—pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and received the Al Qaeda title "Emir of Al Qaeda in the Country of Two Rivers." The specter of Al Qaeda in Iraq—just another cynical and calculated lie when used by Powell to justify the Iraq invasion—had become a reality.
What resulted from this US government-promoted character was a career so remarkable that it could only be believed in a Hollywood action movie . . . or a history of Al Qaeda.
In 2004, after being allegedly caught and freed by Iraqi security forces in the Fallujah area because "they didn't realize who he was," Zarqawi was then reportedly killed in an American bombing raid in northern Iraq in March before pledging his allegiance to Osama and officially joining Al Qaeda in October.
In 2005, Zarqawi was, according to various sources: arrested in Baakuba in January; left "seriously injured, possibly dead" after a US-led offensive in May; evacuated to a neighbouring country "with the help of doctors from the Arab Peninsula and the Sudan"; killed in fighting in Ramadi in June and buried in Fallujah; and killed again in a terrorist bombing in Mosul in November.
This remarkable career finally came to an end when, we were told, Zarqawi had been killed yet again (and presumably for good) in June of 2006.
MILITARY BRIEFER: The lead aircraft is going to engage it here momentarily with a 500-pound bomb on the target.
ROSS CAMERON: Two bombs dropped by an American F-16 strike home. A house outside Baqubah, north of Baghdad, is flattened. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq and one of the world's most wanted men, has been eliminated.
Iraqi police, who've lost hundreds of comrades in attacks blamed on Zarqawi, are celebrating. The White House is relieved.
BUSH: Now Zarqawi has met his end and this violent man will never murder again.
SOURCE: Al-Qaeda's Iraqi leader al-Zarqawi has been killed
But not everyone believed that this final account of Zarqawi's death was the true one. Rather than simply mistakes in reporting, other members of the Iraqi resistance insisted that Zarqawi had in fact been killed early on in the US invasion and that his name was simply being used to create an excuse for the continued American occupation of the country.
Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalessi, a noted Shiite imam in Baghdad, was quoted in Le Monde as saying:
I don't think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi exists. He died in Northern Iraq at the beginning of the war (his family even conducted a funeral ceremony in Jordan). Since then, his name has been nothing but a toy, an excuse used by Americans to stay in Iraq.
Al-Khalessi was not the only one with his doubts about Zarqawi's true nature. The Project on Defense Alternatives of the Commonwealth Institute in Massachusetts released a report in 2004 excoriating the US government for its propaganda attempting to portray Zarqawi as a terrorist leader in Iraq:
The evidence offered to support the administration's assessment of Zarqawi as a driver of the Iraqi insurgency and top lieutenant of bin Laden is reminiscent, in form and substance, of the spurious evidence regarding Iraq weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, some of the sources may be the same.
Similarly, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Knight Ridder Newspapers, The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek all published stories in 2004 calling various aspects of the Zarqawi myth into question.
A report in The Telegraph in 2006 called him "a figurehead around whom dissident groups in Iraq were rallying, rather than an elusive fighter directing military operations," noting that "the more the Americans blamed al-Zarqawi for terrorist atrocities, the greater his credibility on the Arab street," and quoting an "unnamed Sunni insurgent leader" as calling Zarqawi "an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation."
According to The Atlantic, even Osama bin Laden himself "suspected that the group of Jordanian prisoners with whom al-Zarqawi had been granted amnesty [in 1998] had been infiltrated by Jordanian intelligence."
And then, right before he was reported dead for the last time, skeptics of the Zarqawi narrative were proven right in a remarkable fashion. On April 9, 2004, The Washington Post published proof in the form of internal military documents that the US government had played up the myth of Zarqawi and Al Qaeda in Iraq as part of a psychological operations campaign:
The US military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. [. . .] For the past two years, US military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the 'U.S. Home Audience' as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.
In case there was any doubt that the propaganda campaign was targeted at Americans, the program included the Pentagon "selectively leaking" a letter to a US reporter purported to be written by Zarqawi and boasting of his role in the wave of suicide attacks terrorizing Iraq. The letter was dutifully covered by The New York Times even though there were serious questions about whether it was real at all.
The Washington Post exposé quotes an internal briefing document produced by US military headquarters in Iraq revealing that US military chief spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt boasted that "[t]he Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."
And then, two months after these explosive revelations, Zarqawi was reported dead for the last time, a character written out of the script once his value as a propaganda construct was exhausted.
With Zarqawi out of the picture, something else would would be required to keep the American public, and the people of the world, invested in the War on Terror. The main villain in the battle would have to return. Thankfully for the US government, Osama bin Laden was only too happy to oblige.
From the time of his miraculous "escape" from Tora Bora on, the outside world only knew Osama bin Laden from his occasional video releases.
The most infamous of these productions was a video released to the public by the US Defense Department on December 13, 2001. Supposedly "obtained in Afghanistan during the search of a private home in Jalalabad" after anti-Taliban forces moved in to the city, the tape, we are told, "bore a label indicating it was made on November 9" and "shows bin Laden sitting on the floor in a bare room in a house in Kandahar" with "several other men, including two aides and an unidentified cleric, or Sheikh." Most importantly, it contains—according to the Pentagon-provided subtitles that were added to the video before its distribution to the press—bin Laden's confession to planning the 9/11 attacks.
"We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day," the US government translation has bin Laden saying. "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower."
The press release provided by the Pentagon noted that, due to the poor quality of the tape, they were not able to produce a verbatim transcript, but that their translation "does convey the messages and information flow" of the conversation, an answer that was apparently good enough for the White House press corps.
REPORTER: Ari, on the bin Laden video that the government released last week, can you offer assurances that the omissions in the government-supplied translation were not deliberate?
ARI FLEISCHER: Mark, I think Secretary Rumsfeld addressed that very eloquently earlier today, when he said, number one, this tape doesn't change anything—or, this translation doesn't change anything about the facts in the case. The Department of Defense translators worked very diligently on a very short timetable to put together a faithful translation and that's what they did. And if you note on the cover note of what the Department of Defense put out, they wrote "due to the quality of the original tape, it is not a verbatim transcript of every word spoken during the meeting; but does convey the messages and information flow."
So I think what you saw was the very best effort possible and, as the Secretary said about the translation of Arabic, it's not a precise art that is agreed to by every translator.
SOURCE: White House Daily Press Briefing — December 13, 2001
But this answer was not sufficient for the foreign press. The following week, German TV channel Das Erste broadcast an edition of their investigate program, "Monitor," in which they hired their own independent translators to check the Pentagon's transcript of the tape. The report calls the Pentagon translation "very problematic," noting that "at the most important places where it is held to prove the guilt of bin Laden, it is not identical with the Arabic."
Translator Dr. Murad Alami, for instance, found that in the sentence "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy," the words "in advance" had simply been inserted by the US government translators. Those words did not appear on the tape. Similarly, the word "previous" in "We had notification since the previous Thursday," was never said, and the subsequent statement that an event would take place on that day cannot be heard in the original Arabic version.
The Monitor report concludes that the Pentagon translation of Osama bin Laden's supposed confession tape—deliberately adding words in key passages to make it sound like a confession—was not only inaccurate but actually manipulative. As Gernot Rotter, a professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the Asia-Africa Institute at the University of Hamburg, states in the report: "The American translators who listened to the tapes and transcribed them apparently wrote a lot of things in that they wanted to hear but that cannot be heard on the tape no matter how many times you listen to it."
The startling revelation that the Osama bin Laden confession tape was not a confession tape at all—aired on Germany's premiere public broadcaster and widely discussed in the German press—was never reported in the US.
That video was followed in short order by a 30-minute video of a visibly gaunt and graying Osama bin Laden delivering what appears to be a last message to the Arab world. Released on December 27, 2001, and presumably recorded during the fight at Tora Bora, bin Laden comments on his own mortality: "God willing, America's end is near. And it doesn't depend on my continued existence. Whether Osama is killed or not, the awakening has begun." In the 30-minute video, bin Laden does not move his left arm at all and appears visibly weak.
Interested at that moment in turning the public's attention away from Osama bin Laden and toward the next front in the War on Terror, Iraq, the Bush administration dismissed the video as "sick propaganda possibly designed to mask the fact the Al Qaeda leader was already dead."
"He could have made the video and then ordered that it be released in the event of his death," The Telegraph quoted one White House aide as saying. "The guy is trying to show he's untouched by the US bombing but he looks under pressure to me."
Recorded months after his reported journey to Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis, this video would not be the first or the last time that Osama bin Laden would be reported as dead or dying. Like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bin Laden was also reported dead on several occasions in the ensuing years, including:
What followed in the ensuing years was a series of video and audio releases of questionable provenance, often reported in carefully worded turns of phrase that gave the press plausible deniability as to whether or not the recordings really were of Osama bin Laden. A message aired on Al Jazeera in February 2003, for instance, was reported by the BBC as "a poor quality audio recording in which a man's voice, identified as bin Laden's, is heard calling for suicide attacks against Americans and resistance to any attack on Iraq."
The recordings were often mundane. An April 2006 audio message of a speaker "believed to be Osama bin Laden" called on Muslims to "prepare for a long war" in Sudan. A January 2010 audio message warned of the dangers of climate change. "Talk about climate change is not an ideological luxury but a reality," the speaker, purportedly bin Laden, told his fellow jihadis.
Other recordings appeared at opportune times for the planners of the war on terror, catapulting the terror threat back into the public consciousness just when questions about that narrative were beginning to emerge.
The 2004 US presidential election contest between George Bush and John Kerry, for instance, featured an unusual "October surprise": a new Osama bin Laden videotape in which the terror mastermind appears to claim responsibility for 9/11 and to warn the American public of future strikes.
ANNOUNCER: This is the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather reporting from CBS News Headquarters in New York.
DAN RATHER: Good evening. With just four days left in the presidential campaign, Osama bin Laden suddenly dropped himself right in the middle of it with a videotaped message to the people of the United States. The fugitive Al Qaeda leader admits for the first time that he indeed ordered the September 11th attack on America, he lays out his reasons for it and he threatens another attack.
This tape tends to confirm that bin Laden is alive and well safely somewhere. President Bush responded by saying the United States will not be intimidated. Senator Kerry said the country is united in its determination to hunt bin Laden down.
SOURCE: CBS Evening News - October 29, 2004
And then again, in September 2007, just days before General David Petraeus was set to deliver his report to Congress on the controversial "surge" in Iraq and just days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, there was Osama bin Laden to remind the public of the ever-present terror threat.
CHARLES GIBSON: Just days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the man responsible for the death and horror that day is coming out of the shadows with a new videotape and more invective aimed at the United States. He lectures Americans on everything from religion to politics to taxes. No overt threats, but authorities are looking at whether the tape contains any signal to indicate a future attack.
SOURCE: ABC World News Tonight With Charles Gibson In Kansas City, MO, September 7, 2007
Capitalizing on the conveniently timed video release, President Bush was quick to cite it as evidence that Al Qaeda was connected to the war in Iraq and that the increasingly unpopular war—now generally understood to have been an illegal invasion waged on false pretenses—was in fact an essential part of the war on terror.
BUSH: I found it interesting that on the tape, Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists.
SOURCE: Remarks Following a Meeting With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Sydney, Australia
But buried beneath the attention-grabbing headlines and substance-less soundbites with which the media covered this release, troubling questions began to arise about the nature of the video. The aging, weary, gaunt, graying and partially paralyzed Osama bin Laden of 2001 was gone, replaced by a visibly younger and healthier man, despite having numerous health problems and despite having presumably spent the better part of a decade on the run as the world's most wanted man.
Sporting jet black hair and what many media commentators pointed out looked like a fake beard, the figure on the screen seems to be moving in an unrealistic way. Bizarrely, the video freezes at the 1-minute-and-58-second mark while the audio continues. The image remains frozen for most of the video message, only resuming briefly around the 12-minute mark. What's more, all of the references to current events—those parts referenced in passing on the evening news as "proving that Osama is still alive"—take place during the times when the video is frozen.
In fact, the video proved so unusual that media commentators had to go out of their way to assure their viewers that it was indeed real.
GIBSON: Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, joins me again tonight from New York. Brian?
BRIAN ROSS: Charlie, US authorities say tonight there is no doubt the tape is authentic. It is bin Laden, black beard and all.
SOURCE: ABC World News Tonight With Charles Gibson In Kansas City, MO, September 7, 2007
Perhaps the strangest part of the video, however, was the manner in which it was released to the public. The video, it turns out, was not released by Al Qaeda, but by the US government.
The month after the video's release it was reported that the video had originally been "intercepted" by SITE Intelligence Group, described as "one of several small, commercial intelligence firms that specialize in intercepting al-Qaeda's internet communications, often by clandestine means." According to The Washington Post:
SITE founder Rita Katz told The Post that her company covertly obtained an early copy of a bin Laden video message in early September, then shared the video with senior administration officials on Sept. 7 on the condition that it not be distributed or made public before its official release. Soon afterward, the video was downloaded by dozens of computers registered to government agencies. Within hours, SITE's copy of the video was leaked to television news networks and broadcast worldwide.
It was not explained how SITE had "obtained an early copy" of an Osama bin Laden video, but it was far from the only time that mysteriously well-connected internet researchers had unexplained exclusive access to Al Qaeda video productions. Researchers and companies who supposedly scooped the intelligence agencies by "discovering" and publishing Al Qaeda messages (sometimes even ahead of Al Qaeda itself) included:
SOURCE: Al Qaeda: Hoax
In 1999, William Arkin wrote a piece for The Washington Post called "When Seeing and Hearing Isn't Believing" in which he reported on the digital morphing technologies that were then being worked on by research teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and elsewhere. He reported on one demonstration of this technology—a fake recording of Gen. Carl W. Steiner, former Commander-in-Chief, US Special Operations Command, announcing "Gentlemen! We have called you together to inform you that we are going to overthrow the United States government." The fake audio was so impressive that General Steiner asked for a copy. Another demonstration involved Colin Powell announcing that he was being well treated by his captors.
"Digital morphing — voice, video, and photo — has come of age, available for use in psychological operations. PSYOPS, as the military calls it, seek to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations to pursue national and battlefield objectives. [. . .] Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup."
The technology continued to feature in PSYOPS planning as the war of terror dragged on. In 2003, the CIA Iraq Operations Group came up with a "wacky idea" for discrediting Saddam Hussein in the eyes of his people: to create a video purporting to show the Iraqi dictator having sex with a teenage boy. Amazingly, Stein also confirmed that the CIA did make a fake video of Osama bin Laden:
The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory.
But as successful as these information operations and Al Qaeda media releases were in keeping the terror threat in the minds of the public, the neocons directing this war of terror were going to need much more than that to meet their objectives. The war on terror, launched in Afghanistan and waged in Iraq, was never meant to end there.
BUSH: The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shi'a extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
[. . .]
Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger, before it is too late.
SOURCE: Remarks at the American Legion National Convention in Reno, Nevada
But getting the public—already weary of the years-long struggle in Afghanistan and increasingly disillusioned with the debacle in Iraq—on board with the invasion of yet another country was going to be difficult unless another spectacular terror event came along to justify opening up yet another front in the war on terror. And, if the terror bogeyman was not willing to provide such a justification, the neocons were once again ready and willing to create it.
FAIZ SHAKIR: What you're writing there is that Cheney—there was a meeting in the White House where Cheney presided over looking to cook up the next war, a false war based on false intelligence!
[. . .]
SEYMOUR HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don't we build - we in our shipyard - build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy SEALs on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives and it was rejected, because you can't have Americans killing Americans. But that that's the level of stuff we were talking about. Provocation.
SOURCE: Cheney Plans to Blow Up Americans
Seymour Hersh was not the only one warning about the possibility of the Bush White House staging a terror event in the waning days of its administration to trigger a bold new escalation with Iran. Even Zbigniew Brzezinski—whose involvement in Operation Cyclone started the American involvement in Afghanistan that led to the creation of Al Qaeda in the first place--warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007 that a military provocation or terrorist act whose origin "would be very difficult to trace" could be staged and blamed on Tehran in order to justify US military action on Iran.
BRZEZINSKI: A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks followed by accusations of the Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the United States blamed on Iran, culminating in a "defensive" US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SOURCE: Zbigniew Brzezinski: Transcript of Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
But the neocons—suffering from plummeting approval ratings, mounting domestic difficulties and the ramifications of a global financial crisis—no longer had the political capital to stage terror events and garner public approval for their agenda. By 2008, after seven long years in the grip of the existential threat that they were told was the basis for a generation-defining, civilizational struggle with no end in sight, the American public was getting tired. They didn't want the neocons and their endless war on terror. They were hoping for change.
Luckily for them, that's precisely what the 2008 US presidential election seemed to offer.
The public was ready for change. In fact, the idea of a shift from the bellicose, belligerent, aggressive foreign policy and the war on terror rhetoric of the neocons to the promised hope and change of the Obama administration was so enticing that not only did Obama win the 2008 election, he also won over the world at large. So excited were people for the prospect of peace that the Nobel Peace Prize committee decided to bestow their 2009 prize on Obama before he had taken a single substantive action in office.
THORBJORN JAGLUND: Good morning. Den Norske Nobelkomite har bestemt at Nobels fredspris for 2009 skal tildeles president Barack Obama for hans ekstraordinære innsats for å styrke internasjonalt diplomati og mellomfolkelig samarbeid.
SOURCE: 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Announcement
Those not swept up in the hope and change delirium were quick to point out that the committee had made a mistake in handing a peace prize to a president still actively involved in military engagements. What not even his most cynical critics seemed prepared for, however, was the idea that Obama would not only continue the Bush administration's war on terror but that he would greatly expand it. From the two-front war in Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush, Obama would ultimately lead the war of terror into seven countries.
One of Obama's first moves in office was to oversee a dramatic escalation in Afghanistan, a "troop surge" that was meant to resolve the security issues in the country but actually exacerbated them, finally leading to the dramatic downfall of the US-backed regime and the reinstallation of the Taliban in 2021. And, as we shall see, despite promising a swift resolution to the war in Iraq, not only was the handover of authority to the Iraqi government delayed as long as legally possible but the US was ultimately drawn in again as the terror group that they fostered led to a battle against the Islamic State.
But the newly revitalized war on terror—now given new cover by a smiling, peace-prizing-winning, softer-spoken Commander-in-Chief—did not end there.
Obama oversaw the expansion of Bush's drone war into Pakistan:
ANCHOR: US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has admitted for the first time that drones are regularly striking Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan's tribal areas.
SOURCE: Obama defends illegal drone attacks
OBAMA: I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.
SOURCE: Your Interview with the President - 2012
He led the "kinetic military action" in Libya against previous war on terror ally Moammar Gaddafi:
OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
SOURCE: President Obama Authorizes Limited Military Action in Libya
He began the decade-long attempt to overthrow previous war on terror ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria:
OBAMA: My policy from the beginning has been that President Assad had lost credibility, that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians, and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and to move forward on a political transition.
SOURCE: Obama: Assad Must Step Down for Syrian Peace
He waged war in Yemen along with the Saudi government, who had supported and fostered terror groups in the region for years:
AMY GOODMAN: Documents obtained by Reuters show the US government is concerned it could be implicated in potential war crimes in Yemen because of its support for a Saudi-led coalition air campaign. The Obama administration has continued to authorize weapons sales to Saudi Arabia despite warnings last year from government lawyers that it might be considered a co-belligerent under international law.
SOURCE: U.S.-Backed Saudi Forces Bomb Yemeni Funeral
And he extended the "Authorization for Use of Military Force"—the legislation passed in the wake of 9/11 authorizing the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against those nations, organizations or persons he determines "planned, authorized, committed or aided" that attack—to include Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
JOHN KERRY: The United States, obviously, has been engaged in helping Somalia fight back against tribal terror and the challenges to the cohesion of the state of Somalia. And the President and his allies have really done an amazing job of fighting back and building a state structure.
SOURCE: Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks With Somali President Mohamud
But although these escalations appeared to be a mere continuation of the War on Terror that was sold to the public in the wake of 9/11, they were not. In fact, it quickly became apparent that a remarkable transition had begun to occur. Al Qaeda, the ultimate face of evil and the undisputed enemy in the grand terror war narrative, were now the "good guys"—or at least serviceable allies—in the fight against the next target in the war of terror.
This unbelievable turnaround had in fact begun during the Bush administration, when the neocons had started to set their sites on Iran. Being predominately Shiite, Iran is in fact the enemy of the radical Wahabbis and Salafist Muslims that populate the ranks of Al Qaeda and other Sunni terror groups. In targeting Iran, the US—like the British Empire before them—found it convenient to switch allegiances, arming, funding and promoting the very radicals they had just been at war with in order to defeat their enemy of the moment.
As Seymour Hersh reported in 2007:
In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. [. . .] A byproduct of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
As Hersh detailed in his articles on "The Redirection" and "Preparing the Battlefield," and as other mainstream sources eventually corroborated, this "shift in Middle East strategy" by the Bush administration included:
No, the substance of the Bush redirection did not change under Obama, only the tone and flavour of that policy changed. Obama did not win multiple advertising awards for his 2008 Hope and Change election campaign for nothing. As a shrewd salesman of an unpopular agenda, he knew that to get the public on board with such a radical shift in objectives, he was going to need an equally radical event to take place to tie a bow on the Osama bin Laden narrative and redirect the public's attention.
And, on May 2, 2011, that event occurred.
OBAMA: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
SOURCE: Osama bin Laden Dead
Codenamed Operation Neptune Spear, the mission to kill bin Laden involved a daring team of Navy SEALs flying two stealth-modified Black Hawk helicopters from the Jalalabad military base in Afghanistan through Pakistani air space straight to Abbottabad—the affluent military town where the world's most wanted man had evidently been living for years, evading the most comprehensive dragnet in history. Crash landing one of the choppers in the compound courtyard, a massive firefight broke out. The SEALs, clearing weapons stashes and barricades while fending off bin Laden's henchmen, made their way to the third-floor bedroom where the dastardly villain used one of his wives as a human shield. Shooting her in the leg to get her out of the way, the SEALs then managed to land two shots on their target, one hitting bin Laden in the head and the other in the chest—just as the terror kingpin was reaching for the gun he kept at the ready by his headboard.
Making good their escape, the Navy SEAL heroes blew up their damaged helicopter while a standby chopper that had been prepared for the mission in case of an emergency flew in and whisked the remaining task force members out with bin Laden's body in tow. Returning to Bagram Air Base, bin Laden's body was immediately flown out to the USS Carl Vinson, where it was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition.
And just like that, it was done. Public Enemy number one, the face of the war on terror, was dead; slain by the valiant Navy SEALs in a daring operation that was broadcast in real time to the White House Situation Room, where the Commander-in-Chief of the War of Terror, Barack Obama, and his iron-willed cabinet of terror warriors watched with steely determination.
Indeed, this was not the stuff of history books, no dry, dusty tale of some minor police action or military operation. It may not have been the grand showdown in the cave fortress that the public had been prepared for, but—befitting the comic book supervillain of the war on terror narrative—this was the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.
DEVGRU OPERATOR: Geronimo. For God and country. Geronimo.
SOURCE: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Yes, this was the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. But, like a Hollywood blockbuster, the story of the raid was itself fiction. In fact, in the face of mild questioning by the generally deferential press, every single aspect of the confusing and often contradictory story that was told to the public in those euphoric hours after Obama's momentous announcement was proven to be a lie.
There had been no firefight.
Osama was not armed.
He did not use his wife as a human shield.
Burial at sea was not part of Islamic tradition. In fact, it was directly opposed to that tradition.
Even the famous picture from the Situation Room was a lie; there had been no live video feed of the raid.
But it wasn't just the details of the raid itself that had been a fabrication; the entire story of the decade-long manhunt for Osama, dramatized in Oscar-winning movies like Zero Dark Thirty and recounted in countless reports, books and tell-alls, proved to be similarly fraudulent.
In fact, the story began to fall apart from the very moment it was told to the public. But while most of the press remained content to pick at the corners of the story, leaving the substance of the narrative intact, others dug deeper, looking for answers amid the confusing confluence of lies, obfuscations, cover-ups and contradictions that surrounded the raid.
In a lengthy article for The London Review of Books in 2015 that—sourcing to unnamed, retired officials with no direct knowledge of the events recounted—was about as solidly sourced as the official account, Seymour Hersh alleged that, while bin Laden had indeed been killed in Abbottabad, he had in fact been living at the compound as a prisoner of the ISI for years and that every part of the official narrative of the raid—from the story of the "Al Qaeda courier" by which the CIA allegedly discovered the compound to the phony vaccination drive to collect bin Laden's DNA to the burial at sea—was in fact an element of an elaborate (and seemingly unnecessary) cover story to obscure that fact.
In a piece for The Independent the year after the raid, Patrick Cockburn pointed out the inherent contradiction between early reports that the raid had uncovered a "treasure trove" of intelligence that "portrayed bin Laden as a spider at the centre of a conspiratorial web" and later admissions that he had had almost no contact with the outside world and was increasingly delusional about his organization and its capabilities.
Others simply pointed out that, given this was at least the ninth occassion in which journalists, politicians, intelligence officials or others had pronounced Osama bin Laden dead, it was not to be believed without evidence.
But that evidence was not forthcoming. Instead, the government went to extraordinary lengths to cover it up. All the files from the raid—including "copies of the death certificate and autopsy report for bin Laden as well as the results of tests to identify the body"—were deleted from the Pentagon's computers and transferred to the CIA, where they could be more carefully guarded from Freedom of Information Act requests.
Pictures and video of the raid, including pictures of Osama bin Laden's dead body that—the public were told—may be released, were instead sealed away forever.
At the time, all that was released were a few short videos of a man purported to be Osama bin Laden that—it was claimed—had been taken from the compound (although it was never explained why bin Laden would have poorly shot video of his back to the camera, watching himself on TV) and some salacious details about the records allegedly seized from the compound's computers—like the devout Muslim jihadi's predilection for porn—that seemed reminiscent of the CIA's previous "wacky ideas" for faking videos about Hussein and bin Laden.
But CIA director Leon Panetta did leak classified details of the raid at a 2011 award ceremony attended by Mark Boal, the screenwriter who would go on to write and produce Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood dramatization of the manhunt for Osama that portrayed the official version of the raid on the silver screen and even falsely implied that the CIA's illegal torture program had been essential in helping to track down the terror kingpin.
The full truth of what happened in Abbottabad, now obscured by lies, misinformation, selective "leaks," self-serving tell-alls and still-classified data will likely never see the light of day. But to the directors of the War of Terror, that is beside the point. Osama bin Laden had served his purpose as the villain in the terror war story. And, having served that purpose, he was being written out of the script.
In the end, that was all Osama bin Laden had ever been: a character in the terror war drama. One so good that, if he didn't exist, they would have had to invent him.
RATHER: Well, it's pretty obvious the judgment is coalescing around the president that it was Osama bin Laden.
MILT BEARDEN: I know we live in a country where we're often told that the first thing that comes to your mind, put it down. Put the little mark in there.
I feel slightly uncomfortable because I spent so many years wondering how the myth of Osama bin Laden got started. We have the Osama bin Laden who was the great war hero in Afghanistan. We have Osama bin Laden who was trained by CIA, funded and supported by CIA during three years of war.
I was there at the same time bin Laden was there. He was not the great warrior that went in and fought the Soviet Union to a standstill. The CIA had nothing to do with him.
I think that that mythological Osama bin Laden—never mind that he's an absolutely evil man—but the mythological Osama bin Laden causes me trouble, and I think maybe there is another answer out there. I'm not certain that I know what it is.
[. . .]
RATHER: There's no question in my mind that you're skeptical that Osama bin Laden, aided and abetted or at least protected with the Taliban, should be the principal target of some large military operation. If I'm wrong, tell me now.
BEARDEN: No, no, no. You're not wrong, Dan. [What] I'm saying is—let me step back one step on this and say Osama bin Laden is an evil man and he's a component of the terrorism that we're dealing with across the board. All I'm saying is that I think Osama bin Laden has become the metaphor for the entire problem of terrorism involving Muslims with perceived grievances against the United States and I think it would be wrong to say this is a one-size-fits-all operation and to go after bin Laden because an operation as sophisticated as carried out yesterday was an operation that was concealed from us for months, probably, before it took place. It happened without, essentially, a hitch, except for one aircraft. And there is no reason to believe that these same people weren't capable of covering their tracks somehow on the way out.
Now, I would go so far as to say that this group who was responsible for that, if they didn't have an Osama bin Laden out there they'd invent one because he's a terrific diversion for the rest of the world.
SOURCE: CBS Sept. 13, 2001 0:14 am - 0:56 am
The death of Osama bin Laden may have ended one chapter in the War on Terror, but it was not the end of the story. In a key sense, that story would simply repeat, with the rise of Al Qaeda serving as a template that the terror war planners could draw upon as needed in their efforts to prolong their never-ending conflict indefinitely.
The alignment with radical Islamists to achieve short-term geostrategic goals—a strategy refined by the British Empire over centuries of practice in the "Great Game" of global geopolitics and reaching its apotheosis with the US operation to arm the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s—was simply employed once again as the US led its NATO allies in a "humanitarian war" against Moammar Gaddafi in Libya. Former enemies in the war on terror, including veterans of the Iraq insurgency who had been killing American troops in Iraq, and even designated terrorists who had been rendered and tortured by the CIA, were now the good guys, helping to overthrow Gaddafi's government in Tripoli.
That same story played out yet again in Syria, where the US and its regional allies once again made a deal with the devil, this time in the name of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad. Arming the most radical elements of these terror groups with US-procured weapons and training them at a US joint operation base in Jordan, it was not long before the Bush-era "redirection" of the terror war was complete and Al Qaeda was now widely recognized as a convenient ally of the US in Syria.
In 2012, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Senior Fellow Ed Husain wrote of "Al-Qaeda's Specter in Syria," noting that "The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without Al Qaeda in their ranks."
In 2014, a trio of foreign policy "experts" published a piece for the CFR on "The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham: An Al Qaeda–Linked Group Worth Befriending."
And in 2015, Barak Mendelsohn—writing in the pages of the same Foreign Affairs magazine in which Philip Zelikow and his co-authors had "predicted" the terror war—penned "Accepting Al Qaeda: The Enemy of the United States' Enemy," in which he argued:
Since 9/11, Washington has considered Al Qaeda the greatest threat to the United States, one that must be eliminated regardless of cost or time. After Washington killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, it made Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s new leader, its next number one target. But the instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward Al Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri. Destabilizing Al Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.
In conclusion, Mendelson writes flatly: "It is certainly ironic that at this point, when the United States is the closest it has ever been to destroying Al Qaeda, its interests would be better served by keeping the terrorist organization afloat and Zawahiri alive."
Such arguments, unthinkable during the bin Laden years, were suddenly not only thinkable but were being openly promoted in Beltway foreign policy think tank circles. That such a dramatic turnaround could even be considered, let alone advocated, so soon after the years-long propaganda campaign portraying Al Qaeda as an existential threat to the West is only surprising to those who were ignorant of the real history of Al Qaeda and the real origins of the terror war.
To those who did know this history, the fact that those in the State Department's orbit were now openly calling for accommodation of and even alliance with Al Qaeda came as no surprise. And it similarly came as no surprise that this alliance led—exactly as it had in Afghanistan in the 1980s—to the rise of a new terror group: the Islamic State.
Rising from the ashes of the same Al Qaeda in Iraq that had been led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—the US military's self-proclaimed "most successful information campaign to date"—the Islamic State rose to international prominence in 2014 when it captured Raqqa in Syria and began a campaign that saw it take over Mosul and Tikrit in northern Iraq before announcing the establishment of a caliphate.
As a convenient justification for reengaging the American military in Iraq and as another excuse for military intervention in Syria, it was only later that the truth began to emerge: not only had the US armed and trained these very ISIS fighters that they were now engaged in mortal struggle with and not only had the US' own Defense Intelligence Agency precisely predicted the rise of an Islamic State in this area of Syria and Iraq two years before it happened, but US-led forces repeatedly stood down as ISIS convoys moved unimpeded, allowing them to take Ramadi in 2015 and allowing a convoy of stranded ISIS fighters to return home in 2017.
The career of the group's new leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, followed the now-familiar terror bogeyman pattern. Like his predecessor Zarqawi, Baghdadi was pronounced dead, alive, arrested, dead and alive again so often that news of his actions quickly descended into farce. Detained by US forces at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2004, he was reportedly arrested again in March 2007 and killed in May of that year before being arrested yet again in 2009 and killed yet again in 2010, at which point even The Times was forced to concede, "The arrest or death of Mr. Baghdadi, the insurgent fighter, has been reported so many times that it has become a macabre joke."
But he was not done yet.
He was reported to have died in an Israeli hospital in April of 2015, then killed in an airstrike in October 2015 and killed again by the Russians in June 2017 before the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights released a statement insisting he "Really Is Dead This Time" in July 2017. Yet still he continued to reappear, reliably resurrected in the headlines of the establishment press to terrorize the public as needed until the final report of his death in 2019.
But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the announcement of this, the final death of this remarkably resilient terror mastermind, carefully staged to bring to mind Obama's dramatic announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden and to rally the country around the flag once again . . .
DONALD TRUMP: Last night the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.
SOURCE: President Trump Delivers Remarks
. . . is that few in the public seemed even to notice that it had taken place.
And, in 2022, when Biden took his turn as the conquering hero, announcing the death of Ayman Al-Zawahiri:
BIDEN: My fellow Americans, on Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an air strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the Emir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri.
SOURCE: Biden Announces Death Of Al Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahri
. . . again it was greeted by a collective shrug. Few in the public even knew Zawahiri's name, let alone gave him much thought.
For a world that had just lived through two decades of near daily assurances that Al Qaeda was so existential a threat to human civilization that it justified a worldwide, never-ending War on Terror of unlimited scope, this was nothing short of remarkable. The War of Terror, it seemed, might end not with a bang but a whimper.
For the families of Zemari Ahmadi and all the millions whose blood was spilled in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and all the other lands that have been torn apart by the senseless carnage of the past two decades, the growing apathy of the American public to the terror war narrative may come as cold comfort. But to those who have spent decades living under the shadow of the ever-present terror fearmongering, cynically wielded by politicians and governments to keep their populations cowering under the weight of colour-coded terror threats, the rejection of the terror war narrative is undeniably a turning point.
But, even if the public, having snapped out of the Al Qaeda delusion, is content to move on with their lives and to prepare to live in a post-terror world, the terror warriors have other plans.
What many in the public have failed to realize is that the War of Terror was never really about Osama bin Laden. It was never really about Al Qaeda. It wasn't about radical Muslims. At base, it wasn't even about geopolitical goals or reshaping the map of the Middle East.
It was about us.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: The Obama Administration's internal legal justification for assassinating US citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time.
SOURCE: Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of U.S. Citizens "Has No Geographic Limit"
RAND PAUL: I don't know. If the president's going to kill these people, he needs to let them know. Some of the people [who] might be terrorists are people who are missing fingers. Some people have stains on their clothing. Some people have changed the color of their hair.
SOURCE: Senator Rand Paul exposes scary definition of 'possible terrorist'
CHRIS CUOMO: This was no mere protest gone awry. It was what they used to care about on the right, the worst kind of planned violence: terorrism.
SOURCE: CNN March 2, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PST
DONALD TRUMP: These are not acts of peaceful protest, but really domestic terror.
SOURCE: BBC News | September 2, 2020 3:00am-3:31am BST
ELAINE QIUJANO: The Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division told Congress that the Bureau currently has 850 open domestic terror cases. Half of those are anti-government or anti-authority extremists.
SOURCE: FBI investigating 850 domestic terror cases
REP. BOEBERT: And this was what DHS decided to put out in a bulletin that now, if you have COVID misinformation that they classify misinformation, you are a domestic terrorist.
SOURCE: 'Covid Misinformation Is Now Domestic Terrorism': Says Congresswoman Boebert Citing A DHS Bulletin
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: First, we are broadening the scope of Canada's anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.
SOURCE: Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act for first time ever in response to protests
BUSH: There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.
SOURCE: Bush calls out domestic terror threat at 9/11 ceremony
There, just below the surface of the War on Terror story that was sold to the public—the story of radical, freedom-hating Muslims and cowardly terror attacks and crusading Presidents flanked by their valiant Navy SEALs—is another story. As if written in invisible ink between the lines of the history of Al Qaeda is the story of the PATRIOT Act and the Department of Homeland Security, of the TSA and biometric screening and domestic terror watch lists. It is the story of the creation of an entire infrastructure of legal measures and emergency powers that have quietly transformed the face of the so-called free world.
The terror myth has always served primarily as a tool of domestic control. It is a blank check for every government to enact whatever controls it desires over its population in the name of "security." And the public, convinced of the need for that security by the terror war myth itself, clamours for more government controls. The problem feeds upon itself.
There is only one way to break out of such a vicious circle. The underlying premise of the entire terror war has to be called out for what it is: a lie.
In the end, perhaps this is how the War of Terror really ends. Not with the toppling of the Taliban or a "Mission Accomplished" photo op on the deck of an aircraft carrier or the announcement of the death of the arch terror mastermind or even by presidential declaration. Not by these or any of the other illusory endpoints that the terror warriors dangle in front of the public from time to time only to snatch away when grasped at.
No. The War of Terror ends when the public, having learnt the secret history of Al Qaeda, decide to consign the real terror threat, the myth of Al Qaeda, to the dustbin of history.
FALSE FLAGS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF AL QAEDAwritten, directed and narrated by JAMES CORBETT
video editing and graphic design by BROC WEST
transcript and sources: CORBETTREPORT.COM/ALQAEDA
Dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the war of terror and all those who have sought to expose the truth about that war
Communist Subversion Part 1 provides a high level overview on the many layers to understanding the culprits involved in the New World Order. Part 1 provides a review and commentary by Jeremy Elliott on the classic works of G. Edward Griffin and Yuri Bezmenov as they relate to the New World Order and current events.
G. Edward Griffin provides details on the mysterious and infamous "They," the Secret Societies, the puppet-masters behind the scenes who control the governments of the world through carefully constructed "Rings of Power." These power groups maintain generational plans for the implementation of a world wide communistic government, ushering in a New World Order. Griffin notes that this single unified government aspiration is enacted using:
...which leads to the consolidation of all national sovereignty, into the hands of a small, but elite group, in the "Rings of Power."
“But someone would have talked,” say the self-styled skeptics who believe the government’s official conspiracy theory of 9/11. “After all, every major conspiracy has its whistleblowers, doesn’t it?”
But there’s a problem with this logically fallacious non-argument. “Someone” did talk. In fact, numerous people have come out to blow the whistle on the events of September 11, 2001, and the cover-up that surrounds those events.
These are the stories of the 9/11 Whistleblowers.
You’re tuned in to The Corbett Report.
In 2001, Kevin Ryan was the site manager at Environmental Health Laboratories (EHL) in South Bend, Indiana. At the time, EHL was a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a global safety consulting and certification corporation that tests a range of consumer and industrial products for compliance with government safety standards. Among many other things, UL provides fire resistance ratings for structural steel components to insure compliance with New York City building codes.
Just weeks after the events of September 11, 2001, UL’s then-CEO, Loring Knoblauch, visited Ryan’s EHL lab in South Bend. During his speech there, Knoblauch assured the lab’s workers that UL “had certified the steel in the World Trade Center buildings” and “that we should all be proud that the buildings had stood for so long under such intense conditions.” Knowing UL’s role in producing a fire resistance directory and providing ratings for steel components, Ryan thought little of the statement at the time.
But Ryan’s curiosity about UL’s role in the certification of the World Trade Center steel was piqued when, in 2003, he began to question the lies that the Bush administration had used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and, eventually, to question the official story of September 11th itself. Recalling Knoblauch’s comments about UL’s role in certifying the Trade Center steel shortly after 9/11, Ryan began to take a professional interest in the official investigation into the Twin Towers’ destruction, an investigation in which UL itself was to play a part.
As Ryan began to learn more about the issues involved with the destruction of the towers and the ongoing investigation into that destruction, his concerns only grew. Why had the actual steel evidence of the towers’ destruction been illegally removed and disposed of before a proper investigation could take place? Why did not one or two, but three modern, steel-frame buildings completely collapse due to fire on 9/11 given that such an event had never taken place before? Why did the towers fail at all when John Skilling, the structural engineer responsible for designing the towers, claimed in 1993—just five years before his death—that his own analysis of jet plane crashes and ensuing fires in the towers had concluded that “the building structure would still be there”? And why had Knoblauch himself bragged about UL’s role in testing the World Trade Center steel—a test that would have rated the floor components for two hours of fire resistance and the building columns for three hours—when the North Tower “failed” in 102 minutes and the South Tower came down in just 56 minutes?
These concerns prompted Ryan, in October 2003, to write directly to Loring Knoblauch, outlining his thoughts and “asking what [Knoblauch] was doing to protect our reputation.” But if Ryan was expecting Knoblauch to put his mind at ease about these issues, he was sorely disappointed. Instead, Knoblauch—who included Tom Chapin, then the head of UL’s fire resistance division, in the email chain—wrote a response that only raised more questions than it answered.
KEVIN RYAN: Knoblauch copied Tom Chapin on his response to me, because it was Tom’s job as the leader of the fire resistance division to really address these kinds of things. And interestingly, Tom Chapin had written a letter to the editors at The New York Times in 2002 where he basically admitted, again, that UL’s testing had been behind the fire resistance of the World Trade Center towers. And so I’ve written about that a little bit, but he was very clear that the World Trade Center stood for as long as it did because of UL’s testing. And the problem of course with that is that the South Tower lasted for only 56 minutes after it was hit, and the testing that was required by New York City code was three hours of fire resistance for the columns and two hours for the floor assemblies. So 56 minutes and those ratings do not add up. That’s just not something that should go unquestioned.
So Loring Knoblauch wrote back to me after my questions in—it must have been October 2003 when I wrote to him. He wrote back to me a month later and he said all these things about how the company had tested the steel components used to build the World Trade Center towers. What he meant is we had tested samples of those and provided ratings for fire resistance to the New York City code—again, three hours for columns and two hours for floor assemblies. And that information established the confidence that the buildings would stand in those fire durations. And the test that was used was ASTM E119, which is the standard test used for this purpose. And UL is the leader in doing that testing, so it wasn’t a surprise.
And not only that, but NIST—the government agency NIST [the National Institute of Standards and Technology]—had made clear in some of their progress reports that UL had consulted with the construction companies for the World Trade Center towers, and throughout the building of the buildings that UL had provided that information. So it’s really not a surprise at all.
And Tom Chapin replied further to me that the NIST agency was doing an investigation and asked me, basically, to have patience. And I did for maybe the next year.
In 2002, NIST began its three-year, $16 million study of the Twin Towers’ “failure.” Tom Chapin had assured Ryan that UL was cooperating with this investigation and that his concerns would be allayed once the final report was released. But by 2004, it was already clear that there were serious problems with that report and its preliminary findings, including findings from tests conducted by UL on mock-ups of the WTC floor assemblies that contradicted NIST’s own conclusions about the buildings’ destruction.
RYAN: Well, it’s very important to understand that with the official accounts for the World Trade Center, there were a number of explanations given in the early years. And for the towers the one that was settled upon and that lasted for three years was the pancake theory.
And the pancake theory was this concept where the floor assemblies had heated up and sagged and this steel had softened or weakened and then they started to collapse upon each other in a pancake fashion. And then the columns basically just folded inward. So that was the official account, really. It was given by the FEMA investigators Corley and Thornton and others—who coincidentally had also given us the official account for the Oklahoma City bombing. But in this video from the television program Nova, it was captured for everyone’s benefit in little videos . . . animations. And so the pancake theory was the official account.
And UL tested the floor assemblies basically for the possibility of this in August 2004. So this was, again, nine months or ten months after I had asked my original questions. And they did so by using different assemblies with varying amounts of fireproofing. One of the assemblies had basically no fireproofing on it at all, and they ran it through this furnace in this ASTM E119 test and concluded in the end that there would be no collapse. That the floors would not collapse even at temperatures and times greater than what we’re seeing at the World Trade Center.
And they made that clear. NIST made this clear, that the pancake theory was not supported. So that left us all at that time with no explanation, in 2004, three years later. Having invaded Iraq, having done so much to invest in the official account that the World Trade Center had been destroyed by these planes. And that was a difficult situation for NIST and for everyone.
Realizing that UL was not pressing NIST on the discrepancies in its findings, Kevin Ryan took matters into his own hands and, on November 11, 2004, wrote directly to Frank Gayle, the director of NIST’s Twin Towers investigation. That email began:
“As I’m sure you know, the company I work for certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings. In requesting information from both our CEO and Fire Protection business manager last year, I learned that they did not agree on the essential aspects of the story, except for one thing—that the samples we certified met all requirements. They suggested we all be patient and understand that UL was working with your team, and that tests would continue through this year. I’m aware of UL’s attempts to help, including performing tests on models of the floor assemblies. But the results of these tests appear to indicate that the buildings should have easily withstood the thermal stress caused by pools of burning jet fuel.”
After pointing out the problems raised by NIST’s own investigation—including the tests that disproved claims that the steel in the floor area simply “melted”—Ryan got to the heart of the matter:
“This story just does not add up. If steel from those buildings did soften or melt, I’m sure we can all agree that this was certainly not due to jet fuel fires of any kind, let alone the briefly burning fires in those towers. That fact should be of great concern to all Americans. Alternatively, the contention that this steel did fail at temperatures around 250C suggests that the majority of deaths on 9/11 were due to a safety-related failure. That suggestion should be of great concern to my company.
“There is no question that the events of 9/11 are the emotional driving force behind the War on Terror. And the issue of the WTC collapse is at the crux of the story of 9/11. My feeling is that your metallurgical tests are at the crux of the crux of the crux. Either you can make sense of what really happened to those buildings, and communicate this quickly, or we all face the same destruction and despair that come from global decisions based on disinformation and ‘chatter.'”
Predictably, if unfortunately, Gayle never responded to the email. However, Ryan made the important decision to share the email, and his concerns, with the broader public:
RYAN: Frank did not respond, no. Actually, that letter was sent to him and then also copied to a couple of people who were trying to find more information. Trying to find the truth about what happened on 9/11. Those two included David Griffin, who had just recently written a book, and Catherine Austin Fitts, the director of 911Truth.org.
Dr. Griffin asked me almost immediately if he could share it publicly. And, of course, with some hesitation, but knowing the importance in believing what I wrote, I told him it was OK. And overnight there must have been tens of thousands of people reading this letter on the web and people calling our offices in South Bend at UL constantly, and calling me at home constantly. I think a lot of people were feeling the same—they were thinking the same thing: That clearly there was something wrong here and the story was not explaining what we needed to know.
So Dr. Gayle did not respond. He’s never responded. Maybe one day I will talk to him personally and find out what he thinks. But, you know, these things are clear in terms of job—this is not really just a career decision, although it is—it’s a career decision. It’s more than that, it’s a decision about, you know, what kind of world we want to live in, and at a time where that kind of decision is really important. Because, you know, the book Nineteen Eighty-Four was supposed to be a fiction and it’s evolving into reality.
Ryan did not engage in these actions naïvely. He knew that allowing his concerns to go public would focus public attention on himself and on UL and that such actions would have ramifications for his employment.
But if he was bracing himself for those ramifications, he didn’t have long to wait. His email to Frank Gayle was sent on Thursday, November 11, 2004. It was published on the web the following day. Immediately, Ryan’s phone was ringing off the hook and UL was being contacted for comment. That weekend, the company reached out to him to let him know the consequences of his actions.
RYAN: The Human Resources folks called me that weekend and asked if I would contact the people on the web who had published it and ask that it be taken down. And I refused to do that and told them that I didn’t think that was the right thing to do. And I think it was at that very point that they started making the plans to terminate me.
So I had actually taken the next Monday off of work and that was convenient. It allowed me to get my thoughts together. And then on Tuesday when I came in—which I believe was the 16th—the leaders from the Northbrook—Chicago—office were there, and they had told me they would be: “Please make sure you’re there.” They brought a letter on UL letterhead and made it clear that, you know, they felt that I had practiced poor judgment in writing this letter and sending it to their client NIST. It had harmed their relationship with NIST, and thereby I was terminated.
So, yeah, that was a tough spot for my family and I. But my wife has been supportive. She knows the idealistic nature of her husband, I think, and she knew why it was important. And we’ve done fine, we’ve gotten by and gotten other jobs. And that’s—I believe people should recognize that it’s not the end of the world to lose your job. Sometimes it’s a new beginning that is useful.
Not for courting controversy, but merely for pointing out the glaring truth, Ryan was fired from his job. Like so many other whistleblowers in so many other stories, Ryan paid a price for doing what his conscience demanded.
Also like many other brave men and women who have been thrust into the position of blowing the whistle, Ryan has found a way to thrive despite the setbacks. Rather than keeping quiet and moving on with his life, Ryan has doubled down on his efforts, founding several action groups, editing the Journal of 9/11 Studies, writing articles and books on the subject of 9/11, volunteering on the board of directors of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, delivering lectures on the destruction of the World Trade Center, and continuing to raise public awareness of the problems with the official story of the founding event of the “War on Terror.”
In the end, despite the high price he paid career-wise, Ryan feels that his decision to blow the whistle and call out the self-contradictions of the NIST investigation was worth it. After all, it is only when those who know the truth are unafraid to step up and speak it, regardless of the personal consequences, that we will ever hope to achieve true justice.
RYAN: What I’ve been able to benefit from is understanding a lot more about society, history, politics, being better at communicating myself. And I’ve met a lot of great people. We’ve worked together to raise awareness and try to bring justice for 9/11. You know, I’ve met and presented with 9/11 victims’ family members. I’ve met 9/11 Commission leaders and other people who were very central to this story. So many great researchers. So many great people. So overall it was definitely worth it for me.
It’s a personal decision, of course, and it has to be motivated by trying to do some good. If it’s not motivated by trying to do some good then you’re doing the wrong thing.
Watch this video on BitChute / YouTube or Download the mp4
Of the many scenes from September 11, 2001, that have been etched into the public consciousness, few are as iconic as the images of the survivors and first responders escaping Ground Zero completely covered in dust from the destruction of the Twin Towers.
And of the many, many lies told by government officials in the days following the attacks, few have been as blatant or as clearly documented as the lies about the safety of that dust propounded by the EPA and its administrator at the time, Chrstine Todd Whitman.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: We know asbestos was in there, was in those buildings. Lead is in those buildings. There are the VOC’s [Volatile Organic Compounds], however, the concentrations are such that they don’t pose a health hazard.
SOURCE: Christie Whitman says air is safe days after 911
WHITMAN: Well, if there’s any good news out of all this, it’s that everything we’ve tested for, which includes asbestos, lead, and VOCs, have been below any level of concern for the general public health. Obviously, for those who are down here, these are very important . . .
SOURCE: Sanjay Gupta reports: Terror in the dust
WHITMAN: Statements that EPA officials made after 9/11 were based on the judgment of experienced environmental and health professionals at the EPA, OSHA and the CDC, who had analyzed the test data that 13 different organizations and agencies were collecting in Lower Manhattan.
I do not recall any EPA scientist or experts responsible for reviewing this data ever advising me that the test data from Lower Manhattan showed that the air or water proposed long-term health risks for the general public.
SOURCE: Air Contamination at Ground Zero – C-Span
As we now know, these statements were all lies.
As early as September 18th, the very same day that Whitman was assuring New Yorkers that the air was safe to breathe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had already detected sulfur dioxide levels in the air so high that “according to one industrial hygienist, they were above the EPA’s standard for a classification of ‘hazardous’.” And even in those early days, first responders were already reporting a range of health problems, including coughing, wheezing, eye irritation and headaches. Even so, Whitman and the EPA persisted in perpetuating the lies about the dust, assuring New Yorkers that respirators were not needed outside of the “restricted area” around Ground Zero.
And, as we examined in 9/11 Suspects: Christine Todd Whitman, it was later confirmed that the White House had been editing the EPA’s press releases on the air quality in Manhattan and removing warnings about the air safety all along.
LISA MYERS: In the wake of 9/11, there were serious concerns about whether the air around Ground Zero was filled with toxins, unsafe for workers and residents. But by September 18th, many New Yorkers were back in their apartments and on the job, partly because of this press release that day from the Environmental Protection Agency, reassuring New Yorkers that their air is safe to breathe.
Was that press release misleading?
NIKKI TINSLEY: It was surely not telling all of the truth.
MYERS: In an exclusive interview, Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, the EPA’s top watchdog, tells NBC News the agency simply did not have sufficient data to justify such a reassurance. In fact, a new report by Tinsley’s office says at the time, more than 25 percent of dust samples collected before September 18th showed unsafe levels of asbestos. And the EPA had no test results at all on PCBs, dioxins or particulates in the air that can cause respiratory problems.
TINSLEY: The EPA did not give the people of New York complete information.
MYERS: So what happened? Tinsley’s report charges in the crucial days after 9/11 the White House changed EPA press releases to “add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.” September 13th, the EPA draft release, never released to the public, says, “EPA ‘testing terrorized sites for environmental hazards.'” The White House changes that to EPA “reassures public about environmental hazards.” September 16th, the EPA draft says, “recent samples of dust on Water Street show higher levels of asbestos.” The White House version: “new samples confirm ambient air quality meets OSHA standards and is not a cause for public concern.” And the White House leaves out entirely this warning, that “air samples raise concerns for cleanup workers and office workers near Water Street.”
SOURCE: Officials claim EPA Misled Public about Safety of Air Quality at Ground Zero
What many do not know, because their story has been largely ignored and marginalized, is that there were officials within the EPA who were desperately trying to blow the whistle on the agency’s lies. Officials like Cate Jenkins.
Dr. Cate Jenkins had joined the EPA in December 1979, serving as an Environmental Scientist with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). Her work included “detecting hazardous waste and developing regulations for their control,” a role that took on special importance in the wake of the toxic dust clouds covering Manhattan on 9/11. Unlike many of the other 9/11 whistleblowers, however, the events of September 11, 2001, did not represent the first time Dr. Jenkins had to blow the whistle on her own agency.
Jenkins dealt with many hazardous waste products in her job, but she specialized in dioxin (a.k.a. Agent Orange), a contaminant of wood preservatives that was used in the Vietnam War as a defoliant. Monsanto Chemical Corporation was the largest producer of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and it was a series of Monsanto-sponsored studies in the early 1980s that led the EPA to conclude that “human evidence supporting an association” between dioxin and cancer “is considered inadequate.”
In February 1990, Jenkins wrote a memo to the EPA Science Advisory Board alleging that the Monsanto-sponsored studies were fraudulent, and that the studies, if performed correctly, would have shown the carcinogenic effects of dioxin. The memo caught the attention of the press and, under the glare of a media spotlight, the EPA launched a criminal investigation of Monsanto. That investigation was opened on August 20th and closed less than two years later, but, as EPA whistleblower William Sanjour notes, “the investigation itself and the basis for closing the investigation were fraudulent.” No attempt was even made to determine the scientific validity of the studies in question, and the EPA declined to pursue the matter because of statute of limitations technicalities.
The EPA did, however, find time to mount a campaign of retribution against Jenkins for having the audacity to blow the whistle on the agency and its listing practices for hazardous chemicals. Her workload was reduced and higher-ups at the EPA immediately began talking about shunting her off into a purely administrative position where she would “not be involved with anything that puts her in direct contact with the regulated community or the public.” Her supervisor even wrote a letter to Monsanto apologizing for Jenkins’ memo questioning their studies.
Jenkins filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, and, in a series of cases that were appealed all the way up to the Secretary of Labor himself, it was found that she had been unfairly retaliated against for her whistleblowing and the EPA was ordered to reinstate her in her previous position.
But as nightmarish as that years-long, potentially career-ending ordeal in whistleblowing was for Dr. Jenkins, it was nothing compared to the ordeal she would have to face after “the day that changed everything.”
Beginning shortly after the attack, and continuing for years afterward, Dr. Jenkins attempted to bring the EPA’s faulty and fraudulent air quality testing practices to the attention of anyone who would listen. According to the Administrative Review Board of the US Department of Labor:
“Beginning in 2001, Jenkins made numerous disclosures and complaints alleging that the EPA engaged in improper laboratory testing, falsified a regulation governing exposure safety standards, and knowingly covered up the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the September 11, 2001 [9/11] World Trade Center [WTC] disaster. The improper testing and cover-up, Jenkins claimed, contributed to excessive and harmful toxic dust exposures of WTC ‘First Responders’ and others sufficient to later cause respiratory and other serious and debilitating disease. Jenkins disseminated these disclosures and complaints to her supervisors and others at EPA, to the EPA Inspector General’s Office, members of Congress, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as to state officials, state elected representatives, law firms representing WTC First Responders, citizens, and the media. Her disclosures were posted on web sites and repeatedly quoted in the press and television broadcasts, and by members of Congress.”
One of these early memos, dated January 11, 2002, was written on EPA letterhead and addressed to “Affected Parties and Responsible Officials.” It examines the case of Libby, Montana—a designated “Superfund” site, where the federal government is paying to help residents clean the “interiors of homes and residential soils [that] have been contaminated with asbestos from an adjacent vermiculite mining operation.” Jenkins compared the levels of contaminated dust particles found inside apartments in Lower Manhattan after 9/11 to dust samples taken in Libby, finding that the New York samples contained 22 times higher concentrations of asbestos than the Montana samples. As Jenkins noted: “The logical question thus arises: Why is EPA leaving people to their own devices in the cleanup of New York City, while intervening to clean homes at taxpayer expense in Libby?”
Worse, a team of independent scientists hired by tenant groups and New York political leaders found much higher samples of asbestos in the dust than what the EPA was reporting. As Dr. Jenkins told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time: “For every asbestos fiber EPA detected, the new methods used by the outside experts found nine. [. . .] This is too important a difference to be ignored if you really care about the health of the public.”
CATE JENKINS: New York City directly lied about the test results for asbestos in the air. When they finally released them, they doctored the results. They changed high hazardous levels to zero when they finally released them.
SOURCE: 911 Dust and Deceit at the World Trade Center
After years of internal memos, press interviews and other tireless efforts to blow the whistle on the severe health issues that would develop as a result of the EPA’s deliberate cover-up, the mainstream media was finally forced to begin covering the issue in 2006, after many of the Ground Zero clean-up workers and the residents of Manhattan were beginning to succumb to the effects of the deadly dust.
In 2006, after a federal judge ruled that Whitman’s post-9/11 lies were “conscience-shocking” and that she would not be granted immunity for her actions, the media finally began to cover the story. The New York Times, CBS and other outlets all ran stories on the scandal, and they all quoted from Jenkins’ memos and featured interviews with Jenkins herself. After the 5th anniversary came and went on September 11, 2006, however, the media’s attention turned elsewhere and the story drifted out of the attention of the public once again.
But Dr. Jenkins’ attempt to obtain justice for the victims of this horrendous crime did not end there. In 2007, she penned a remarkable 134-page letter addressed to then-Senator Hillary Clinton, as well as Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, calling for a Senate investigation of the falsification of pH corrosivity data for World Trade Center dust. The thoroughly documented letter, containing over 300 footnotes and citations, included a detailed analysis of the falsification of WTC pH data by groups like the US Geological Survey, and the remarkable story of how “In May 1980, EPA’s hazardous waste program falsified pH levels (changed the numbers) that the UN World Health Organization (WHO) International Labour Organization (ILO) determined would invariably result in corrosive permanent tissue damage (chemical burns).”
In a much shorter—though no-less-explosive--letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation written at the same time, Jenkins also called for the FBI to open a criminal investigation into the EPA’s cover-up. This was followed up with an additional letter to the FBI in 2008, where Jenkins went even further, alleging fraud in pH testing of WTC dust and providing documentation that the EPA lab had diluted WTC dust almost 600 times with water before testing it for corrosivity.
Remarkably, despite her very public and very serious charges against the federal agency, and despite her past experience blowing the whistle on the EPA and subsequent years-long court battle to retain her position, Jenkins told Occupational Hazards magazine in 2002 that she did not fear losing her job over her comments. “All [EPA] management has to do is say, ‘Stop,’ and they haven’t,” she said, adding that as an EPA official, speaking out about lapses in the agency’s WTC effort does not require courage, just plenty of hard work.
Despite this belief, Dr. Jenkins was indeed fired from the EPA on December 30, 2010.
The firing followed a series of inane workplace incidents that resulted in suspensions and other retaliatory measures against Jenkins. The chain of events included Jenkins sending an email under the title “Op-Ed: Should EPA Institute a Workplace Fragrance Ban as Part of its Endocrine Disruptor Initiative?” after an encounter with a heavily-perfumed IT tech triggered an asthma attack in Jenkins, and her supervisor recommending that she be suspended, as the email—which was only sent to other EPA staff—”could have misled recipients as to whether it was an official EPA communication.” Eventually, the supervisor claimed that the series of incidents culminated with Jenkins threatening him in a workplace incident that was witnessed by no one.
As the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who supported Jenkins in her ordeal with the agency, summarized:
“Dr. Cate Jenkins, a senior chemist with more than three decades of agency tenure, publicly charged that due to falsified EPA standards, First Responders waded into dust so corrosive that it caused chemical burns deep within their respiratory systems. After raising the issue to the EPA Inspector General, Congress and the FBI, Dr. Jenkins was isolated, harassed and ultimately removed from her position on December 30, 2010 by EPA, based upon an un-witnessed and contested claim that the soft-spoken, petite childhood polio survivor threatened her 6-foot male supervisor.”
Continuing through a series of appeals, legal wrangling and bureaucratic red tape, Jenkins succeeded in having her employment reinstated in 2012.
AMY GOODMAN: A government whistleblower who was fired after exposing the dangers of asbestos and dust on workers at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 has been reinstated to her job following a federal court decision. Cate Jenkins, a chemist who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency, was the first EPA official to warn that dust in the air around the World Trade Center could pose a serious health risk. But the head of the EPA at the time claimed there was no reason for concern. Jenkins accused the EPA of intentionally hiding the dangers of air pollution at Ground Zero. She was fired in 2010. A federal court has now ruled Jenkins must be reinstated and given back pay.
SOURCE: Democracy Now, May 8, 2012
Incredibly, even this was not the end of Jenkins’ ordeal.
Instead of returning her to her daily work duties in 2012 as ordered, the EPA instead kept Jenkins on paid administrative leave and then re-filed the same charges against her in 2013. Less than a year after being ordered to give her her job back, the agency was instead trying to take it away again, saying that Jenkins had failed to prove that the EPA was retaliating for her whistleblowing.
The agency’s move was especially galling, given that Jenkins had yet to be given a chance to prove her case. Part of the reason that the EPA had been ordered to restore Jenkins to her job was because the agency had been found to have destroyed records pertaining to her case and otherwise obstructed discovery. In fact, her case that the EPA had retaliated against her for her whistleblowing was still before the Department of Labor.
The entire legal ordeal proceeded for years, finally coming to an end in 2018—a full eight years after the agency’s first attempt to fire her—when the Department of Labor confirmed a 2015 decision that the EPA had “retaliated against [Jenkins] for her reports to Congress and the FBI, and to the public through the media, about her allegations of violation of environmental laws and regulations by the EPA in connection with the rescue and cleanup operations at the WTC, in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.”
After nearly two decades of research and whistleblowing and almost ten years of legal nightmare, Jenkins was finally vindicated. She had been unjustly fired for attempting to call attention to the agency’s wrongdoings, and she was restored to her position.
But although this victory is to be celebrated, it comes as slim comfort to those seeking justice for the victims of 9/11, not just those killed in the buildings that day, and not just the victims of the wars that have been waged in the name of September 11th, but the victims of the toxic dust that Cate Jenkins and others have been warning about since the events unfolded.
And meanwhile, those who pushed the deadly lies about the air quality have moved on with their lives, continuing their careers and only occasionally being confronted by the independent media that is still attempting to shed light on the story.
DERRICK BROZE: Ms. Whitman, I appreciate your talk in there. You guys mentioned voting and the power of shaming voters. I feel like there’s probably a lot of folks who feel like you might need to be shamed since it’s been 17 years since 9/11 and nearly 10,000 people are now sick with 9/11-related illnesses. And I know you apologized about it two years ago and you were cleared in the courts, but all evidence points to your time in the Bush administration clearly led to people being sick and led to people getting cancer and other 9/11-related illnesses.
WHITMAN: Everything that I said was based on the best available science at the time. Science has progressed now. I think we found things that we didn’t know then. But I never said anything that wasn’t predicated on what the scientists told me. That morning—every morning—I had a conference call with the scientists: “What is safe to say? What can I say? What shouldn’t I say?” And they kept repeating that they were seeing nothing in their studies that show that there was a long-term health consequence from the air in Manhattan in general and Lower Manhattan in general.
SOURCE: Christine Todd Whitman (Fmr EPA head) Confronted About 9/11 First Responder Deaths
They may not be the lies we think of when we think of the lies of 9/11—lies which led to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan and contributed to the illegal invasion of Iraq—but the EPA’s lies about the World Trade Center dust, too, have proven deadly.
And, like a Cassandra cursed with the ability to foresee a grim future that she could not prevent, Cate Jenkins spent decades of her life warning of the consequences of those lies. And for her service, she faced years of persecution. Worst of all, her warnings were dismissed until they could no longer be denied.
And there are still those who claim that 9/11 does not have its whistleblowers.
WHITMAN: To say [that] because a draft press release changes that somehow that’s nefarious manipulation is . . . It’s mind-boggling that you leap to that conclusion.
Watch this video on BitChute / DTube / YouTube or Download the mp4
JEFF ROSSEN: So now they’re walking back toward the World Trade Center. And as we keep letting you hear the personal stories the survivor stories of exactly what happened inside the World Trade Center when that first plane went in—and of course the collapses since then—we’re going to bring more of those to you now. Barry Jennings, you were on the eighth floor. You work for the city housing department. Explain to me the moment of impact.
BARRY JENNINGS: Well, me and Mr. Hess, the corporation counsel, were on the 23rd floor. I told him, “We gotta get out of here.” We started walking down the stairs. We made it to the 8th floor [later clarified to be the 6th floor]. Big explosion! Blew us back into the 8th floor. And I turned to Hess and I said, “This is it, we’re dead. We’re not gonna make it outta here. . . .”
I took a fire extinguisher and I bust the window out. This gentlemen heard my cries for help. This gentleman right here. And he said kept saying “Stand by, somebody’s coming to get you.” They could they couldn’t get to us for now because they couldn’t find us. You thought that was it. I thought . . . I go, “We’re dead.” I thought that was it. I started praying to Allah that that’s it, we’re going.
SOURCE: Barry Jennings – 9/11 Early Afternoon ABC7 Interview
In 2001, Barry Jennings was the Deputy Director of Emergency Services for the New York City Housing Authority. After the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 AM on the morning of 9/11, Jennings was called to the city’s Office of Emergency Management in World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7) along with Corporation Counsel Michael Hess to help coordinate the emergency response. Entering Building 7 together before the strike on the South Tower at 9:03 AM, Jennings and Hess were surprised to discover that the office had been abandoned. Receiving a phone call from his superior, Jennings was warned to leave the building immediately. Descending via the stairwell, Jennings and Hess reached the 6th floor before an explosion blew them back up to the 8th floor, trapping them inside the building. After hours of chaos and confusion, including the collapse of the Twin Towers and repeated attempts to draw the attention of first responders, the pair were finally rescued by firefighters.
Hours later, World Trade Center Building 7, also known as the Salomon Brothers Building, collapsed at free-fall acceleration directly into the path of most resistance. After seven years of investigation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) determined that the building had not come down due to explosives or controlled demolition, as many alleged, or due to structural damage from the collapse of the Twin Towers, an explosion in the building’s fuel oil systems, or any of the other suggestions that had been put forward and retracted by NIST over the course of its investigation. Instead, NIST spokesman Shyam Sunder insisted that the building had collapsed due to ordinary office fires.
SHYAM SUNDER: The collapse of World Trade Center 7 on 9/11 was a rare event. Our study has identified thermal expansion as a new phenomenon that can cause the collapse of a structure. For the first time, we have shown that fire can induce a progressive collapse.
SOURCE: Investigation of World Trade Center Building 7
Jennings’ remarkable story was captured by Jeff Rossen, reporting on the ground for WABC-TV, just moments after he and Hess had been rescued from the building. But it wasn’t until several years later that Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, the creators of Loose Change—the first viral internet documentary—discovered the clip of that interview from the day of 9/11 and realized that Jennings’ testimony was one of the few eyewitness accounts of one of the deepest mysteries of that day: The destruction of WTC 7.
JASON BERMAS: So while we were doing research for, obviously, our next cut of the film, Loose Change: Final Cut—you know, Loose Change Second Edition gave us a real opportunity to go around doing investigation. And we had had so much archived footage sent to us, because this was long before the days of the internet where you get something high-quality on the spot. And Dylan found footage of Barry Jennings that had been unedited that we had not seen that really suggested that he was absolutely in Building Seven.
And we also correlated that with him being with Michael Hess. And Michael Hess was the right-hand man of Giuliani. He was the city corporation counsel. Here’s a still shot of him behind me. And then you can see him here sitting next to Giuliani, so pretty much as close as it gets. And, you know, we made this connection. And actually I had reached out to Hess via email. I heard nothing back—and to, you know, the proper parties, nothing back.
But Dylan tracked down Barry Jennings in his city office and Barry did respond. And Barry said, “Come on down!” So me and Dylan went down with the camera, and once we got in there and started talking to him, I remember like the first thing that I saw—you know, he was obviously, I’d say, not the highest up guy, but very—you know, he had his own office, he was well respected. He had the key to the city. You know, he had talked about the key to the city after this event, and he even told us how he had seen Loose Change Second Edition. Basically, what I can remember: He was pretty sympathetic to our cause. He talked to us about Fahrenheit 9/11.
And from there we tried to find a spot to get him, and I remember he drove us out there. We were in the back, one of his suits hanging up. I remember we even talked about his family, you know, being out in Long Island. Very friendly guy. And we got him on the pier.
And listen: The interview is what it is. We’ve released it in full. We didn’t add anything. We didn’t coerce the guy. And I think what he says is about as telling as it gets.
“As telling as it gets.”
Indeed, Barry Jennings’ story is telling. As the only documented eyewitness testimony of the events taking place inside World Trade Center 7 during the hours of the attack, the accounts of Barry Jennings and Michael Hess are essential to coming to an understanding of the destruction of that building. And, most telling of all, it contradicts the official, government-approved story of Building 7’s destruction in many important ways.
BARRY JENNINGS: As I told you guys before, it was very funny. I was on my way to work and the traffic was excellent. I received a call that a small Cessna had hit the World Trade Center. I was asked to go and man the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) at World Trade Center 7 on the 23rd floor.
As I arrived there, there were police all in the lobby. They showed me the way to the elevator. We got up to the 23rd floor, me and Mr. Hess, who I didn’t know was Mr. Hess at the time. We got to the 23rd floor. We couldn’t get in. We had to go back down. Then security and the police took us to the freight elevators, where they took us back up and we did get in.
Upon arriving into the OEM EOC [Emergency Operations Center], we noticed that everybody was gone. I saw coffee that was on the desk. The smoke was still coming off the coffee. I saw half-eaten sandwiches. And only me and Mr. Hess were up there.
After I called several individuals, one individual told me to leave, and leave right away. Mr. Hess came running back in. He said, “We’re the only ones up here, we gotta get out of here.” He found the stairwell. So we subsequently went to the stairwell and were going down the stairs.
When we reached the 6th floor, the landing that we were standing on gave way. There was an explosion and the landing gave way. And I was left there, hanging. I had to climb back up. And now I had to walk back up to the 8th floor. After getting to the 8th floor, everything was dark. It was dark and it was very, very hot. Very hot.
I asked Mr. Hess to test the phones as I took a fire extinguisher and broke out the windows. Once I broke out the windows, I could see outside below me. I saw police cars on fire. Buses on fire. I looked one way, the building was there. I looked the other way, it was gone.
I was trapped in there for several hours. I was trapped in there when both buildings came down.
The firefighters came. They came to the window. Because I was going to come out on the fire hose. I didn’t want to stay any longer. It was too hot. I was gonna come out on the fire hose. They came to the window and they started yelling, “Do not do that. It won’t hold you.” And then they ran away.
See, I didn’t know what was going on. That’s when the first tower fell. When they started running, the first tower was coming down. I had no way of knowing that.
Then I saw them come back. Now I saw them come back with more concern on their faces. And then they ran away again. The second tower fell. So as they turned and ran the second time, the guy said, “Don’t worry, we’ll be back for you.” And they did come back.
This time they came back with 10 firefighters. And they kept asking, “Where are you? We don’t know where you are.” I said, “I’m on the north side of the building.” Because when I was on the stairs, I saw “North Side.”
All this time, I’m hearing all types of explosions. All this time, I’m hearing explosions. And I’m thinking that maybe it’s the buses around me that were on fire, the cars that were on fire. I don’t see no . . . you know? But I’m still hearing these explosions.
When they finally got to us and they took us down to what they called the lobby . . . Because I asked them when we got down there, I said, “Where are we?” He said, “This was the lobby.” And I said, “You gotta be kidding me.” It was total ruins. Total ruins. Now keep in mind: When I came in there, the lobby had nice escalators. It was a huge lobby. And for me to see what I saw was unbelievable.
And the firefighter that took us down kept saying, “Do not look down!” And I kept saying, “Why?” He said, “Do not look down.” And we were stepping over people. And, you know, you can feel when you’re stepping over people.
They took us out through a hole, that . . . I don’t know who made this hole in this wall. That’s how they got us out. They took us out through a hole through the wall to safety.
As they were taking me out, one firefighter had fallen. I believe he was having a heart attack. But before that, this big giant police officer came to me. And he said, “You have to run!” I said, “I can’t run. My knees are swollen.” He said, “You’ll have to get on your knees and crawl, then!” He said, “Because we have reports of more explosions.” And that’s when I started crawling, and I saw this guy fall behind me. His comrades came to his aid and they dragged him to safety.
I was looking for an ambulance for my knees, and at that time they told me we gotta walk 20 blocks to a refuge. Before I got there, Eyewitness News grabbed me and started interviewing me.
And that’s basically it.
SOURCE: Barry Jennings Uncut
To those unfamiliar with the official story of WTC 7, this might seem like just another account of the terror, confusion and heroism that the victims of that day faced during their harrowing ordeal.
But this is not the case. Jennings’ story is in fact full of details that directly contradict NIST’s pronouncements on the destruction of the building.
Most notably, Jennings’ vivid description of the explosions that were taking place in the building during his ordeal is in direct contradiction to NIST’s assertion in its FAQ on WTC 7 that, although NIST “investigated the possibility” of explosions contributing to the building’s demolition, “NIST concluded that blast events inside the building did not occur and found no evidence supporting the existence of a blast event.”
In fact, not only is there ample evidence, available to anyone interested, that there were explosions going on in the building shortly before it went down, but Jennings’ personal account confirms that there were numerous explosions taking place inside WTC 7 in the morning, hours before the building was destroyed.
The BBC, in its “Conspiracy Files” program on “The Third Tower,” tries to muddy the waters by implying that the explosions that Jennings testified to were in fact the dust and debris from the Twin Towers’ demolitions impacting Building 7.
JENNINGS: At that time I received a phone call from one of my higher-ups and he said, “Where are you?” and I said, you know, “The emergency command center.” And then he came back, he said, “Get out of here get out of the area.”
NARRATOR: At 9:59 the 1,300-foot South Tower collapses.
[. . .]
JENNINGS: I wanted to get out of that building in a hurry so I started—instead of taking one step at a time, I’m jumping landings. When I reach down to the 6th floor, with this eerie sound the whole building went dark and the staircase that I was standing on just gave way.
NARRATOR: At 10:28 the North Tower collapses in just 11 seconds.
SOURCE: BBC Conspiracy Files: The Third Tower
With their editing and narrative intrusions, the BBC makes it seem that the explosions that Jennings and Hess experienced were just remnants of the Twin Towers hitting WTC 7. But in his interview with Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas, Jennings was completely adamant that he could still see both towers standing after the explosions happened.
JENNINGS: What happened was, when we made it back to the 8th floor—as I told you earlier, both buildings were still standing, because I looked. [He points] Two. [He pauses] I look one way, look the other way—now there’s nothing there.
When I got to the 6th floor, there was an explosion—that’s what forced us back to the 8th floor. Both buildings were still standing.
Keep in mind, I told you the fire department came . . . and ran. They came twice. Why? Because tower 1 fell and then tower 2 fell. And then when they came back, they came back, they came back all concerned like to get me the hell out of there. And, and they did. And we got out of there.
I got into the building a little before nine. . . . A little after nine. I didn’t get out of there until, like, 1:00.
It is important to note that Jennings’ story does not present a different view of the official story of 9/11; it undermines that story entirely. Multiple explosions taking place in the lower floors of Building 7 before the Twin Towers’ destruction shows that NIST was wrong to dismiss the possibility of explosive demolition of WTC 7. Given that the explosions that trapped Jennings and Hess was not falling debris from the Twin Towers and was not a fuel oil tank explosion—a point stressed by Jennings and confirmed by NIST—then the most likely possibility—pre-planted explosives that were timed to go off during the attacks—remains not only uncontested, but unconsidered by NIST or any other investigative agency.
Indeed, the 9/11 Commission—which called Jennings in to question him about his story in one closed-door meeting that was never followed up—did not even mention the stunning, symmetrical, free-fall demolition of World Trade Center Building 7 in its final report on the attacks. The BBC, as we have seen, attempted to bring Jennings’ story in line with the official story by purposely misleading its viewers about the timeline that Jennings himself insisted on. And NIST, infamously, took seven years to finally offer an account of Building 7’s collapse; an account so absurd as to be self-refuting:
SUNDER: Here’s a video taken on 9/11 that shows WTC 7 collapsing. Note the kink in the East penthouse and the progression of the screening wall and the West penthouse collapsing from East to West. Here is our structural model showing the building collapsing, which matches quite quite well with the video of the event.
Most remarkable of all, and conveniently left out of the account of every so-called “debunker” of Jennings’ testimony, is what Jennings himself felt about the destruction of Building 7.
JENNINGS: Well, I’m just confused about one thing and one thing only. Why World Trade Center 7 went down in the first place. I’m very confused about that. I know what I heard. I heard explosions.
The explanation I got was it was the fuel oil tank. I’m an old boiler guy. If it was a fuel oil tank, it would have been one side of the building. When I got to that lobby, the lobby was totally destroyed. It looked like King Kong had came through it and stepped on it. It was so destroyed, I didn’t know where I was. And it was so destroyed, they had to take me out through a hole in the wall. A makeshift hole that I believe the fire department made to get me out.
Given Barry Jennings’ personal experience, what did he make of the BBC’s attempts to alter the timeline of his story? How did he react to the official government viewpoint that no explosions took place in the building that day? What did he think of NIST’s refusal to even examine the evidence of controlled demolition of WTC 7 or their own computer-generated model of how “thermal expansion” and regular office fires brought down a 47-story steel-framed office tower?
Sadly, we will never know. When Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas released a small clip of their interview, Jennings’ job was threatened and he asked that the interview not be included in Loose Change: Final Cut. The full interview was not released until after the BBC released their Third Tower documentary in which Jennings claimed to be unhappy with how his testimony was “portrayed” by Avery and Bermas.
No further interview or follow-up with Jennings about his comments or about the way the BBC portrayed his story was possible. In September 2008, just as NIST was presenting its final report concluding that WTC 7 had spontaneously collapsed from ordinary office fires, it was reported that Barry Jennings had passed away in hospital the month before. No further details of his death were offered.
Dylan Avery, seeking to bring closure to Barry Jennings’ life, answer questions about his death, and honor the bravery of a 9/11 survivor who spoke the truth even when it was unpopular, hired a private investigator to determine the circumstances of Jennings’ death. In a remarkable and bizarre turn of events, however, after pursuing the case, the investigator referred the matter to the police, refunded his fee, and told Avery never to contact him again. To this day, no time or cause of death of Barry Jennings has ever been publicly announced or confirmed.
Despite the sad and confused ending of this tale, there is still hope. Hope that the courage Jennings had in standing up and telling the truth—even though it was not what the government, NIST, or the promoters of the official 9/11 story wanted to hear—will not be wasted. Hope that, ultimately, the historical record, and the truth itself, will out.
BERMAS: I think the strongest lesson to be learned about Barry Jennings is that the historical record is the historical record, no matter how hard you try to spin it. For instance, you know, now with these Dark Overlord documents leaking, there’s litigation talking about the transformers being blown up in the bottom of the building. OK, now if that had happened, we would have had a visual event much like what happened with the Con Edison transformer blowing less than six months ago. It did not happen. And yet on paper and litigation and in official documents it does again and again. Well, it’s a cover-up.
The man stepped over bodies. We know that happened. He and Hess both talked about internal explosions. That building housed the CIA, the Secret Service, the SEC. I mean, I could go on. It’s unbelievable.
And I really hope with this latest litigation we finally get to the truth, no matter what. And I would hope that Barry would want the truth, no matter what he may have said in that BBC documentary. Because I spent time with the man. I was in his back seat, and he sure as hell wanted the truth then.
And so now, all these years later, those who are still seeking the truth are left in the same position as Barry Jennings himself was when he first talked to Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas: Looking at his own experience inside WTC 7 on 9/11 and the government’s official explanation of those experiences, and realizing that the two do not add up. Jennings and the other 9/11 whistleblowers are those special few who can stand up and say that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.
JENNINGS: Well, I’m just confused about one thing and one thing only. Why World Trade Center 7 went down in the first place. I’m very confused about that. I know what I heard. I heard explosions.
MICHAEL SPRINGMANNWatch this video on BitChute / DTube / YouTube or Download the mp4
In the days after September 11th, 2001, while the toxic dust was still settling on Lower Manhattan, details began to emerge about the terrorists who had allegedly hijacked the fateful 9/11 flights. Names and pictures were released to the public and broadcast around the world. Ziad Jarrah. Hani Hanjour. Marwan al-Shehhi. Mohamed Atta. Even before the official story had begun to coalesce, the foreign faces and unfamiliar names flashing across the screens seared themselves into the consciousness of a traumatized public and left little doubt: This attack was the work of Muslim terrorists.
But at the same time, information began to come out that created problems for this narrative. Reports of these devout Muslim fundamentalists drinking alcohol and partying in strip clubs. Revelations that two of the suspects had been allowed into the US after being identified as Al Qaeda agents. Confirmation that these same agents lived with an FBI asset while in the US. And even the testimony of a senior military intelligence official that a counter-terror program had been specifically warned not to investigate Mohamed Atta in the lead-up to 9/11.
WYATT ANDREWS: According to Congressman Kurt Weldon, it was a secret Pentagon intelligence unit code named Able Danger that knew a year before 9/11 that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was in the United States and connected to Al Qaeda.
CONGRESSMAN KURT WELDON: And as you can see, they identified Mohamed Atta’s cell.
ANDREWS: In the summer of 2000, he says, the Pentagon’s special ops command had identified two terrorist cells inside the US, and knew of the connection between Atta and three other men who became hijackers. When the agents recommended telling the FBI, Weldon says Clinton administration lawyers said “No,” because Atta was in the country legally and could not be targeted by military intelligence.
WELDON: And their recommendation to bring the FBI in, to take that cell out, which was ignored, and they were told you can’t do that.
ANDREWS: So a year before 9/11 they had their picture—they had the picture of Mohamed Atta--
ANDREWS: And they knew roughly where he was?
SOURCE: Able Danger – CBS, CNN News, August 9, 2005
But of the many bizarre pieces of the alleged 9/11 hijacker puzzle, none gets closer to the heart of the mystery than the seemingly innocuous revelation that 14 of the alleged hijackers’ visas to enter the United States had been issued at the same office: the US consulate in Jeddah. That so many of the visas were issued from a single office may seem like a minor footnote at first glance, but it is not. In fact, the Jeddah consulate is not just another US consular office. It has a history of issuing visas to terrorists at the request of the CIA.
Just ask Michael Springmann.
J. Michael Springmann was a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service who joined the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, serving as an economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart from 1977 to 1980 and as a commercial attaché in New Delhi from 1980 to 1982. In 1987, having passed the foreign service exam and gone through an orientation program, Springmann was assigned to the Jeddah consulate in Saudi Arabia.
Whatever he was expecting to find awaiting him in his new office, it’s safe to say that it didn’t take long for Springmann to find that the reality was going to be very different. As he writes in his exposé of his time at the Jeddah consulate, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World, “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a mysterious and exotic place, but it was nowhere near as exotic and mysterious as the American consulate general on Palestine Road.”
J. MICHAEL SPRINGMANN: Well, when I got to Saudi Arabia I began hearing all kinds of strange things about the problems my predecessor had made for me. I heard this in fact from Walter Cutler, the American ambassador, just before I left. He spent 45 minutes telling me about all the problems that my predecessor Greta Holtz had created, and I thought, “Gee, she’s going to make my career for me!”
And I get to Jeddah and I’m being requested: “It’s your decision of course, Mike, but we have this problem here with this visa and we have an especially good contact and we’d like to have the person get a visa to come to the United States. Can you do it?” And I’d interview them and I’d give them the visa.
And after a while, these people began to be really strange characters that had no ties to either Saudi Arabia or to their own country and I would refuse them. And I would get a rocket from the Consul General, Jay Freres, who’s dead now, about, “Why didn’t you issue the visa? This guy is a good contact.”
I said, “Well, he couldn’t prove he had any ties either to Saudi Arabia or to his own country that was strong enough to make him return from the United States to Saudi Arabia or to his own country.” There’s no set list of contacts and connections, but it’s things like having a job, having businesses, having property, having family, something that would prevent you from staying in the United States and disappearing into the woodwork.
And it got to the point where it was, “Either issue the visa or you’re not going to work for the State Department anymore.” And as time went by I found out that, of some 20 Americans, there were only three, including myself, that I knew for a certainty to work for the Department of State. The rest worked for the CIA or the National Security Agency.
Eventually reassigned as a political/economic officer in Stuttgart and, finally, as an economic analyst for the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, it took years for Springmann to fully comprehend the story that he had found himself in the middle of during his time at the Jeddah consulate. A key piece of that puzzle was provided when Springmann returned to the US and talked to journalist Joseph Trento, who informed him that the Jeddah office was being used by the CIA to ship in Osama Bin Laden’s associates for training in the US.
SPRINGMANN: So I came across Joe Trento, the journalist, in the middle of all of this, and he said, “Well, what you were doing in Saudi Arabia was issuing visas to the Mujahedin who were being recruited for Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.” And then the penny dropped and my eyes were opened and I said, “Yeah! That explains why they got so ferocious when I said no to these visas and why they stonewalled me when I tried to find out what was going on.”
I was talking formally to people. I talked formally to the Bureau of Consular Affairs when I was in Washington on the advice of the consul for consular affairs in Riyadh. And then I talked to the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs for the House of Representatives. I talked to the Government Accountability Office, which is a watchdog for Congress on the executive branch, and got nowhere. People just didn’t want to talk to me. And I said, “Well, this is really strange.”
And it bears out exactly what Trento had said: that they had an intelligence operation going on. And according to Joe, the reason they didn’t tell people in Jeddah about this was they wanted plausible deniability. They wanted to be at arm’s length from what people were saying and saying, “Well oh, gee. We didn’t know anything about that. He made a mistake. He didn’t get with the program. He didn’t know what was going on. He was violating the law. Put him in jail. Fine him.” Whatever.
Although the idea seems outlandish from a post-9/11 perspective, at the time it was not particularly surprising. The CIA had worked with Osama Bin Laden and other so-called “Mujahedin,” including many Saudis who had been drawn to Afghanistan to fight America’s arch-enemy, the Soviets, during the Afghan War. There were glowing articles framing Bin Laden as an “Anti-Soviet warrior” who was “on the road to peace” in mainstream publications well into the 1990s. And in the weeks after 9/11 it was even reported in the pages of Newsweek that in the late 1980s—precisely at the time that Springmann was stationed at the Jeddah consulate—”the veterans of the [Mujahedin’s] holy war against the Soviets began arriving in the United States—many with passports arranged by the CIA.”
One infamous example of an intelligence agency helping a known terrorist to enter the United States in this period came in the case of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “Blind Sheik.” In December 1990 it was revealed that the Blind Sheik had “slipped into the United States” despite being on a State Department terrorist watch list. At the time, the State Department insisted “[t]hey made a mistake” by issuing him a tourist visa from the United States Embassy in Khartoum. But three years later, the truth finally came out. As The New York Times reported in 1993 after a State Department inspector general investigation: “Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism.”
In this context, the revelation that Springmann was being directed by the CIA to let Mujahedin into the US for training was not unthinkable or outlandish conspiracy conjecture. On the contrary, it was practically expected.
As Springmann himself admits, if he had simply been informed at the time that the CIA was helping to facilitate such an operation in support of their foreign policy goals against the Soviet Union, he probably would have went along with it.
SPRINGMANN: And you know it goes back to Trento saying, “Well, they wanted somebody—some ‘schlub’ is his word—to be there and take the heat if something went wrong. And at the time I was dumb enough that if they’d explained it to me, “Yes, we’re recruiting the Mujahedin” I would have said, “Well, yeah, OK, this is an important foreign policy goal. I hate those godless communist bastards! So yeah, I’ll go with this.” But they never did.
And it would have saved a lot of effort on my part and saved a lot of embarrassment on their part, because I’ve been writing and talking about this for the last 25 years.
Springmann’s attitude is reflective of much of the American public’s perception of Muslim terrorists in the late 1980s. As tools of US foreign policy—convenient pawns to be wielded on the global chessboard against America’s enemies—they were not regarded as enemies themselves, but embraced as “freedom fighters” and “anti-Communist warriors.”
KENNETH BRANAGH: US National Security Adviser Brzezinski flew to Pakistan to set about rallying resistance. He wanted to arm the Mujahedin without revealing America’s role. On the Afghan border near the Khyber Pass, he urged the Soldiers of God to redouble their efforts.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You will go back to it one day, because your fight will prevail and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.
SOURCE: Soldiers of God
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: The goal of the United States remains a genuinely independent Afghanistan, free from external interference, an Afghanistan whose people choose the type of government they wish, an Afghanistan to which the four million refugees from Soviet aggression may return in safety and, yes, in honor.
On behalf of the American people, I salute Chairman Khalis, his delegation, and the people of Afghanistan themselves. You are a nation of heroes. God bless you.
SOURCE: Remarks Following a Meeting With Afghan Resistance Leaders and Members of Congress
But that was before “the day that changed everything.”
After the FBI released their list of suspected 9/11 hijackers, it didn’t take long for questions to emerge about these men, their background, and their travels. What paper trail and travel documents had been left in their wake? How did they obtain their visas to enter the US? Where did they obtain them? When? Which consular officers were in charge of issuing the visas, and were there any irregularities in the process?
It took years for these questions to be answered, but when they were, the results were scarcely believable. Not only had 14 of the alleged hijackers’ visas been obtained from the same Jeddah consulate that the CIA had used to funnel terrorists to the US during Springmann’s tenure, but 12 of those visas were issued by a single consular officer: Shayna Steinger.
A Columbia University graduate with no apparent foreign service background, Steinger was appointed as a consular officer in 1999 and arrived in Jeddah for her first foreign service assignment on July 1, 2000. From that point on, she proceeded to issue the visas to more than half of the alleged hijackers, many of them based on incomplete applications and fraudulent documents.
Saeed al Ghamdi received two visas, one in September, 2000, and the other in June, 2001. His second application was incomplete, lied about his earlier visa and was linked to a different passport with fraudulent features. Both visa requests were approved by Shayna Steinger.
Hani Hanjour received a visa from Steinger in September 2000, just two weeks after she rejected his first application. In subsequent investigations, she gave conflicting accounts of why she denied Hanjour’s visa the first time and why she issued it the second time.
Despite numerous errors on their applications which normally would have gotten them rejected, on October 24, 2000, Steinger issued visas to both Waleed and Wail Alshehri.
And, later that week, despite an incomplete application and suspicious indicators in his passport, Steinger issued a visa to Ahmed Alnami.
From the time of her arrival at Jeddah until just weeks before the attacks, the pattern continued: Men with incomplete, error-ridden applications and fraudulent or suspicious documents had their visas rubber-stamped by Steinger and, in September, their names and faces ended up on the FBI’s hijack suspect list.
In researching his book, Springmann tracked down and confronted Steinger about her time at Jeddah and her role in issuing these visas.
SPRINGMANN: So in the course of doing more research I ran across Jon Gold, who was a 9/11 researcher and an activist, and he came up with Shayna Steinger’s name. She was my successor several times removed who was in Jeddah and who had issued visas to 11 of the 15 Saudis who got the visas in Saudi Arabia to go fly airplanes into American buildings. I said, “Wait a minute. What is this?”
She was hired out of Columbia University with no real background in foreign affairs that I could see at a very high “GS” or foreign service level of about an FSO-4, which is maybe a GS-13, I guess, in the civil service. And she went on for a full 20 years with the State Department and retired, if she in fact worked for State. And after a bit I came across—or, actually, a journalist came across me and said, “Look, I found Shayna Steinger out in Iowa. Do you want to talk to her about your experience and her experience and compare them?”
So I did. I called her up. I found her phone number and she was living with her mother. And we had a bit of a fight to get her to talk to me, and I said, “Look, you either talk to me or I’ll write an article about it.” So she finally broke down and we talked, but only in general terms, saying, “Well, yes, I did the right thing. I did what I was told. They did an investigation. They cleared me.”
And I said, “Well, what was the story? You know, my understanding was they were recruiting terrorists for the Mujahedin to come to the US for training at US military facilities, generally on the East Coast. And they even had 52 recruiting offices in the United States, including one in Washington, D.C., but I could never find any background exactly where they were located.”
And she said, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just did what I was told.” And it was kind of like talking to my cats sometimes. They were there and they knew you were talking to them but they didn’t give you any real good answers. So the book went out. It’s never been challenged by the government, but it’s gotten me interviewed, such as with you and with a lot of September 11th people.
Like so many of the 9/11 whistleblowers, Springmann paid a heavy price for his desire to tell the truth. His refusal to bow to the CIA and issue visas to unqualified applicants during his time at Jeddah, his refusal to stop asking questions about the operation he had been involved in after he was transferred elsewhere, and his refusal to stop speaking about the visas for Al Qaeda long after he left the State Department have had drastic repercussions on his career and his personal life.
SPRINGMANN: Once I was out of State I found I couldn’t get a job anywhere. I mean, I spoke several languages to a greater or lesser extent, I had experience working on three continents, I knew how to manage offices. I couldn’t get a job, and I got the impression after a bit that I was being blacklisted.
So I hired one of these resume checking services out in California and asked them to ask around. So they called up Day Mount and pretended to be someone hiring me and wanted to know how I was as an employee in Jeddah and what he thought of me and could he think of anything that special that I had done. And he said, “Well, I can’t think of anything really right off the bat,” and he came up with these weasel-worded responses to their questions, which gave the impression that, no, you shouldn’t hire this guy. But he didn’t come out and say that, but it was by implication very, very clear that Mike Springmann is not to be touched.
So then I went to law school and worked at getting a job after law school. I started asking around when I was in law school. I interned in various organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union. I talked to various national security organizations and found out that I couldn’t get a job again to save my soul.
[. . .]
I tried writing. I tried everything I could think of. And while collecting unemployment I was told to issue them reports on how many people I talk to during the week, and I would send page after page after page in of companies I applied to that I had hoped would fit my talents and abilities, but got nowhere.
So I figured, you know, the government is still in there pitching, trying to keep me out of any kind of a gainful employment, because that’s how you get rid of people permanently. They don’t have any money, they can take your house, you have no money to do anything except put food on the table, if you can. So it was a very nasty few years.
And for all of this sacrifice, we are still no closer to learning the truth about the Jeddah consulate and the CIA operations there than we were two decades ago. That 14 of the 19 alleged hijackers received their visas from the same office—12 from the same consular officer—is just the start of a deep and largely unexplored rabbit hole that brings not just the travel patterns or the intelligence connections but the very identity of those suspects into question.
Biographical details and pictures of two separate Ziad Jarrahs have been released to the public, and in fact multiple photographs of a number of the alleged hijackers appear to be pictures of entirely different people. A Waleed Al Shehri appeared alive and well in Morocco after 9/11 to protest the use of his name and photograph in stories about the supposed hijackers, and he was joined by an Abdulrahman al-Omari in Jeddah, who the FBI were forced to apologize to for falsely naming as a suspect. Newsweek reported that five of the alleged hijackers received training at secure U.S. military installations in the 1990s. Amidst the confusion, FBI Director Robert Mueller was forced to admit that the Bureau was “not certain” as to the identity of several of the men on their suspect list.
These issues remain untouched and largely forgotten by a public that, through a process of suggestion and association, have come to believe largely without question that the 19 faces in the iconic “hijacker line-up” are the perpetrators of 9/11. It is only through the story of people like Mike Springmann that we can begin removing those layers of lies and obfuscations from the story of 9/11 and come to a better understanding of the truth.
And, in the end, that idea—that we can get closer to the truth, that wrongs can be righted and lies exposed—is the idea that motivates whistleblowers like Mike Springmann. Whistleblowers who have come forward at great personal expense to shine light on these long-buried and inconvenient truths.
SPRINGMANN: I think, you know, I have to look at what I did and look at myself, and, as the story goes, look at your face in the mirror every morning. But I’ve been reading some emails sent to me by a good lawyer contact, lobbyist and attorney, on stoicism. And there have been things from Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and other folks. And one of the things that I saw was their comment that--memento mori—that you expect to die and you don’t fear death. You don’t look forward to death, but at the end of the day you think, “Well, what have I done this day, the last day that might be the rest of my life? I may not wake up tomorrow morning. Have I balanced the accounts? Have I done something of substance? Have I tried to rectify a wrong. Have I tried to do something good to balance out the evil in the world?”
[. . .]
So that’s one of the reasons why I keep doing this. I figure if I’ve got nothing else to do for the rest of my life, I’ve got to square the balance, and, regrettably, I’ve got to say, educate the ignorant if I can.
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZWatch this video on BitChute / DTube / YouTube or Download the mp4
When people talk of the bravery exhibited by ordinary men and women during the traumatic hours of the 9/11 attacks, they are talking about people like William Rodriguez. Indeed, of the many stories of selflessness and courage to have emerged from that fateful day, it would be difficult to find one more heroic than that of William Rodriguez, dubbed the “last man out” because, as a janitor holding a master key to the buildings, he risked his life till the very moment of the Tower’s destruction, helping those trapped inside the Towers to escape.
RAMON TAYLOR: William Rodriguez was working as a janitor at the World Trade Center when the towers were attacked. Using a master key, he ran to open as many doors as he could before exiting and becoming buried alive.
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ: So they started looking under the rubble, and once I got pulled from under the rubble I was—after, I was in shock. Why? Because I couldn’t find any of those buildings.
SOURCE: 9/11 Survivor Recounts His Experience
SADE BADERINWA: Rodriguez had one of only five master keys to unlock the doors in the middle stairwell and lead firefighters up floor by floor.
RODRIGUEZ: So I went and I picked up the man in the wheelchair and I started going down. The building started to oscillate so hard.
BADERINWA: He saved several lives that day. Then suddenly Rodriguez heard a terrible rumbling like the sound of an earthquake.
RODRIGUEZ: I saw—it was a total disaster. And all I hear is “Run! Run! Run!
BADERINWA: Like so many others, Rodriguez ran from the cloud of debris and dove under a fire truck.
SOURCE: William Rodriguez on the news on 9-11-06
WILLIAM RODRIGUEZ: We went up by the stairs with the Port Authority police to start rescuing people. A lot of people were coming out, but there was a lot of people that stayed there. And we brought a lot of people on wheelchairs and a lot of people on gurneys, all [the] people that couldn’t make it because there was no elevator service. The elevator went out.
SOURCE: CBS – 9-11 William Rodriguez interview 9/11 NIST FOIA – WCBS Dub2_30
REPORTER: The World Trade Center towers were built as a class “A” building. That means that, in the case of a fire, every third floor in both towers is closed to prevent a backdraft. It is the reason that Rodriguez’ master key was so crucial to getting people out.
RODRIGUEZ: It was hard. The amount of heat that was generated because of the fire was coming down. The smoke . . . It was an acrid smoke because you could feel it on your throat.
REPORTER: He saw firefighters carrying a hundred pounds’ worth of equipment on their backs waiting for a freight elevator that would never come. That elevator was demolished. So Rodriguez led them up another way, using a back pathway that only he knew. After the sky lobby collapsed he finally listened to police, who told him to get out. He was not prepared for what he was about to see.
RODRIGUEZ: When I look around I find all the bodies of the people that jump out of the building. They came out of the building and they say, “I saved myself!” And a piece of debris came in and killed them.
SOURCE: 9/11 Tribute – Custodian William Rodriguez
As one of the heroes of that day, a man whose story encapsulates all the tragedy and drama of 9/11, William Rodriguez is no stranger to the glare of the media spotlight. Not only has he been interviewed for dozens of news programs and reports on the events of September 11, 2001, and been featured as a spokesman for the survivors at multiple events and on many reports, he has also been awarded for his courage that day and even invited to a White House dinner, where he was honored by President Bush for his bravery.
But carefully curated from most mainstream reports on Rodriguez’ remarkable story is an equally remarkable fact: This 9/11 hero is in fact a 9/11 whistleblower, someone who has contradicted the official story of the September 11th attacks from day one. According to Rodriguez, the first explosion that he felt that day was not the impact of the plane nearly 100 stories above him, but an explosion below him, from one of the sub-basement levels.
RODRIGUEZ: That morning I was supposed to be there at 8 o’clock in the morning every day. I called my supervisor because I was not going to work, I was gonna take a sick day. Made it there at 8:30 in the morning, go straight to the lobby, down to the basement.
The building has six sub-levels of basement: B1, B2 . . . all the way down to B6. Basement six, basement five, all the way up to basement one were all Port Authority areas. Some of them have parking for tenants, some of them have storage. B1 office . . . B1 level is where they have the support office for my company, the cleaning company, American Building Maintenance.
So I was talking to the supervisor, and at 8:46 we hear “BOOM!” An explosion so hard that pushed us upwards in the air. Upwards. And it came out from below us. From the mechanical room that was right below us. And it was so loud and so powerful that all the walls cracked, the false ceiling fell on top of us, the sprinkler system got activated, and everybody started screaming so loud because they didn’t know what was going on.
And the first thing I’m going to say is that a generator just blew up on the B2 level—the level below me. And everybody’s screaming. And when I’m going to verbalize it, six to seven seconds after, we hear “BAH!” The impact all the way on the top of the building of the plane.
Two different events separated by almost seven seconds. Separated by time. And now, I work in the building for 20 years. I know the difference of the sound coming from the top and one from the bottom.
So when everybody started—”What the heck is going on?”—a person comes running into the office saying, “Explosion! Explosion!” His hands extended, all the skin pulled from under his armpits on both arms. Hanging! And we thought it was clothing—it was part of his clothes—until he gets closer. He was coming like this, like a zombie. “Explosion! Explosion!” And when I looked at him, I realized it was his skin. Like when you take off a glove and you let it hang. And when I get to see his face, all this part was hanging off his face and everybody started screaming in horror. And I say, “Don’t move!” The guy was a black guy named Felipe David. Worked for a company called Aramark.
SOURCE: William Rodriguez’s story
Rodriguez’ story provides startling and credible eyewitness testimony that undermines the official myth that there were no explosives in the Twin Towers that morning. Rodriguez is insistent on a number of points: That there was a loud and distinct noise at 8:46 AM, that it came from beneath them in the sub-basement level and blew them upwards, and that it notably preceded the sound of the plane impact above them. This has led Rodriguez to conclude that there was an explosion in the sub-basement before the plane impacted the North Tower, something which the 9/11 Commission and other official government investigations into the attacks denies.
And, importantly, Rodriguez has been telling this same story—including the same detail about Felipe David—since the day of 9/11 itself.
AARON BROWN: William Rodriguez is a maintenance worker at the Trade Center, I believe. In any case, he’s on the phone with us now. Mr. Rodriguez, can you hear me?
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I can hear you clearly.
BROWN: Tell me where you were when—well, which of the two buildings were you in?
RODRIGUEZ: I work on the Building One. The one that got hit the first time.
BROWN: Tell me what happened.
RODRIGUEZ: I was on the basement, which is a support floor for the maintenance company. And we hear like a big rumble—not like an impact, like a rumble—like something . . . like moving furniture on a massive way. And all of a sudden we hear another rumble and a guy comes running—running—into our office, and all his skin was off his body. All his skin. We went crazy. We started screaming. We told him to get out. We took everybody out of the office, outside to the loading dock area. And then I went back in. And when I went back in I saw people—I heard people that were stuck on an elevator—on a freight elevator, because all the elevators went down. And water was going in and they were probably getting drowned. And we get a couple of pipes and open the elevator and we got the people out.
SOURCE: William Rodriguez interview, CNN, 13:33, 9/11
If it were only William Rodriguez who heard, saw and experienced explosions inside the Twin Towers that morning, then such testimony would be easy enough to rationalize away. Maybe Rodriguez had become confused in the chaos of that morning. Maybe he had interpreted the sound and explosion incorrectly. Maybe he was lying to gain attention.
But William Rodriguez is not the only person who heard, saw and experienced explosions inside the Twin Towers that morning. In fact, hundreds of people, including office workers, police, firefighters and others have reported explosions all throughout the morning, from before the moment of plane impact all the way up to the explosive demolition of the towers themselves.
FEMALE BYSTANDER: What was it like?
TYRONE JOHNSON (FDNY LADDER 24): Horrible. The whole building just collapsed on us. Inside the lobby.
MALE BYSTANDER: Was that a secondary explosion?
JOHNSON: Yes, it was. Definitely a secondary explosion. We was inside waiting to go upstairs and on our way upstairs the whole fucking thing blew. And it just collapsed on everybody inside of the lobby.
MALE BYSTANDER: That must be the first tower coming down--
JOHNSON: I don’t know about the first one, but the second one . . . It was terrible. Then there was a third one, too, after that one.
MALE BYSTANDER: There was an explosion after that?
JOHNSON: Yes, there was. Everybody was just inside the building, waiting to go upstairs and it just let loose. Everything just let loose inside the building.
MALE BYSTANDER: So what you’re telling me is that there was the plane or whatever hit the building, then a secondary explosion--
JOHNSON: There was like three explosions after that. We came in after the fire—We came when the fire was going on already. We was in the staging area inside the building, waiting to go upstairs. And then an explosion. The whole lobby collapsed on the lobby inside.
SOURCE: 9/11 FireFighters – THREE Explosions After Plane Hit WTC
REPORTER: And you were working there?
KENNY JOHANNEMAN: Yes, I was right there. I was in the B—I was down in the basement. Came down. All of a sudden the elevator blew up. Smoke. I dragged a guy out. His skin was hanging off and I dragged him out. And I helped him out to the ambulance.
SOURCE: 9/11 Eyewitness to Twin Towers Basement Explosion?
REPORTER: Arthur Del Bianco is one of the lucky few, able to tell a tale of survival from a hospital bed.
ARTHUR DEL BIANCO: All of a sudden there was, like, “BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!” Like bullet shots. And then, all of a sudden, three tremendous explosions and everything started coming down.
SOURCE: 9/11 Eyewitnesses to WTC Demolition Explosions
EYEWITNESS: I think a bomb went off in the lobby first, then a plane hit the building. Then another plane hit the other building. But when I was coming through the doors on the other side of the Trade Center, something—either they blew the lobby up, or something. Because it blew the glass out of the doors and knocked us all down and I got a—smoke and everything on me.
SOURCE: 9/11 Eyewitnesses to WTC Demolition Explosions
Fireman 1: We made it outside, we made it about a block--
Fireman 2: We made it at least two blocks and we started running. Floor by floor, it started popping out--
Fireman 1: It was as if they had detonated–as if they were planning to take down a building. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM--
Fireman 2: All the way down. I was watching it and running.
SOURCE: Bombs + Explosions at the WTC Complex on 9/11/01
These stories, collected haphazardly by reporters at the scene that day, paint a very different picture of 9/11 than that portrayed by NIST and the 9/11 Commission. Rather than a progressive collapse due to fire and burning jet fuel, these stories suggest that what was happening inside the Twin Towers that morning was in fact a series of explosive events. Explosive events that were powerful enough to cause internal collapses within the buildings well below the points of the plane impact and fires, and even, according to multiple witnesses, events that preceded the impact of the plane.
But is there more systematic and rigorously collected evidence of these explosions? Is there a repository of such testimony that would confirm what Rodriguez and many others have affirmed since the day of 9/11 itself: namely, that there were explosions taking place inside the buildings that morning?
In fact, there is such a repository. In the wake of 9/11, New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen ordered the collection of oral testimony from firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians who responded to the attacks that morning. That collection, amounting to more than 12,000 pages of testimony from 503 people, was then promptly sealed. It took a lawsuit and four years of court battle for the collection to be finally released to the public.
One of the researchers who spent time poring over that testimony was Graeme MacQueen, a retired associate professor at McMaster University and the former director of that university’s Peace Studies Center. What he found in that repository of oral history, and presented in a scholarly article for The Journal of 9/11 Studies, was an unmistakable pattern: Time after time, these first responders reported experiencing explosions in the Twin Towers. Explosions that cannot be accounted for in NIST’s official explanation of the towers’ destruction.
GRAEME MACQUEEN: There is other eyewitness explosion evidence that corroborates Rodriguez, at least in a general way. Meaning that there were people talking about explosions in the basement. There were lots of people talking about tremendous explosions and fire in some of the elevators—blowing the doors off elevators.
And some of this testimony can be found on the internet. I found some of it in the FDNY oral histories. You know, firefighters talking about the doors being blown off elevators.
And so there was some kind of very destructive event. Also the windows in the lobby, which were very strong windows, were blown out by the time most of the firefighters got there. And as one of them said, it looked like a plane hit the lobby.
There were other explosions that went off over the next hour or so, before the buildings started to come down. And when they came down, there were patterns of explosion from around the point of plane impact all the way down. Apparently we were supposed to believe that the building was coming down because of structural failure. But again, these were timed very well to go off in a particular way.
This is one of the reasons we know that these were explosions and that this was a controlled demolition. There were patterns. And they were explosions that were extremely strong, taking out these massive buildings and pulverizing them in less than 20 seconds. This was not structural failure.
Rodriguez’ story was not some fanciful invention that he spun during the most dramatic and horrific hours of his life; it is a story that fits into a pattern of explosive testimony related by many other witnesses that day. It is also a story that is deeply uncomfortable for those in the government and the media who were eager to celebrate the acts of bravery New Yorkers committed that day, but who will never report the explosive truth about the events at the World Trade Center that demolishes the official government conspiracy theory of 9/11.
It is remarkable that Rodriguez, immediately recognized and celebrated for his heroism on that day, would continue to insist on his story even as the official story—the one that insisted there were no explosives used that day—began to take shape. But he did. For years, Rodriguez used his speaking opportunities on mainstream media and at memorials and commemoration events to inform the public about explosions in the Twin Towers that morning.
Unsurprisingly, despite the attention and accolades he received for his remarkable story in the early days of 9/11, he soon found himself becoming persona non grata in the mainstream media because he refused to go along with the official lies about what happened that morning.
RODRIGUEZ: It says, “Safety Fire Department of New York.”
ANASTASIA CHURKINA: A rescue jacket he wore over his torn shirt. A lantern from the rubble.
RODRIGUEZ: It doesn’t work, but another memory from 9/11.
CHURKINA: And a piece of marble from high up on the 44th floor. This saved for a decade.
RODRIGUEZ: I put it in my pocket because it was just such a shocking realization.
CHURKINA: As well as memories that he relives every single day.
RODRIGUEZ: And I was pulled on the rubble and I started looking for all the people and I only found pieces of human beings.
CHURKINA: William Rodriguez, a janitor in the Twin Towers for almost 20 years and 9/11 survivor who saved hundreds of lives on September 11th by unlocking door after door for firefighters and dragging out at least a dozen people with his own bare hands. Known as the “last man out” before the World Trade Center collapsed, his unlikely story had the media glued to him like bees to honey. Becoming a voice for the victims, Rodriguez was honored as an American hero, only to be left homeless in the aftermath of the tragedy.
RODRIGUEZ: Funny thing: I will give the 800 number on camera, and when I called the 800 number they denied me the help.
CHURKINA: And shunned by the mainstream media soon after.
RODRIGUEZ: Censorship. I believe that censorship started from the very beginning, because when I was telling my story they told me, “Oh, cut this out. Cut this out.”
CHURKINA: No longer sweetheart of American broadcasts, William now talks mostly to foreign outlets. The reason: His version of 9/11 differed from the official scenario.
NEWS REPORT: It was the first hijacked plane that hit the--
RODRIGUEZ: “It was the first hijacked plane.” No, hello! That was an explosion before the plane hit the tower.
SOURCE: 9/11 survivor censored by media
Even more remarkably, Rodriguez went beyond simply telling the truth about what he witnessed that day.
Little known even to those who are familiar with his story is that Rodriguez has used his notoriety and media opportunities to advocate for 9/11 survivors who are suffering from the health effects incurred in the aftermath of the towers’ destruction. He has even taken the fight for 9/11 Truth to the political arena, forcing the government’s hand in convening a public commission to investigate the attacks, something that the Bush administration fought tooth and nail to prevent.
RODRIGUEZ: The 9/11 Commission is a book of 576 pages . . . 576 pages of lies. Because the 9/11 Commission exists because I went with three other people to Congress to ask that we wanted a formal investigation of the events of 9/11. And you may remember that the president said, “We don’t need an investigation. We know who did it.” That was the wrong thing to say to the families. We had the right and we wanted to know. So we pressed for an investigation. They didn’t want it.
So we used a technique that they have used against a lot of the people with the excuse of the war. We put widows, we put wives, we put fathers that love their loved ones on every television show and every news network to ask for an investigation. And they couldn’t handle the emotional toll that that will create on the American public. So we got the investigation.
I testified behind closed doors. They didn’t want me to do the testimony in an open hearing. Everything else—everybody else—open hearings. You saw the hearings. Mine was behind closed—I agreed because I did not know what was the process and I thought up to that point that they were going to do the right thing.
We created a family steering committee and we gave the Commission 168 questions to answer. We only have 22 of those questions answered. We wanted to have a family member to be part of the Commission, and they say, “We don’t want to allow that because they will have access to national security papers” and a lot of flimflam and baloney. We never got it. So we have to press for questions to be answered. We never got those answers.
Up to that point we thought that they were going to do the right thing. The final report shows up . . . What a surprise! My whole testimony was omitted. It doesn’t appear. 27 people that I gave them to interrogate, they didn’t call them. Not even one of them.
SOURCE: What Really happened on 9/11? – William Rodriguez
That the 9/11 Commission’s work was subverted and undermined by conflicts of interest and deliberate cover-up is perhaps to be expected. But the efforts of people like William Rodriguez have been instrumental in advocating for those left quite literally in the dust of 9/11. Those whose stories are too problematic for the official 9/11 narrative to be given any credence or attention.
As Graeme MacQueen points out, the story told by William Rodriguez and the other witnesses to explosions in the Twin Towers that day is not a peripheral issue or a minor footnote in the story of 9/11. On the contrary, it is of central importance. Either Rodriguez and the other witnesses to explosions independent of the planes and fires are wrong, or they are right. And if they are right, we are forced to the conclusion that the official story of 9/11 is not just mistaken, but that it is a deliberate fraud that has been perpetrated on the American public—and the broader public around the world—for nearly two decades.
MACQUEEN: Well, that would obviously indicate that somehow this building was wired for explosions and that there had been a plan made in advance of the plane attacks to destroy this building. And that means the official story about, you know, Mohamed Atta and the other 18 hijackers flying planes is an incorrect story.
That it indicates that there was—to use the classic word—an inside job. Somehow, insiders—deep insiders—got in the building and readied it for annihilation on that day. It also indicates that the story we’ve been told is false, and really knowingly false. Because, of course, Rodriguez and many other eyewitnesses to explosions were ignored, or silenced, or lied about by the official investigating agencies. Which means that the whole 9/11 story is a fraud.
Ultimately, the story of Rodriguez is important, not just for what it tells us about the official 9/11 narrative, or even for what it tells us about the way that power operates in society. It is important because it shows us what ordinary men and women are capable of in extreme situations. It reminds us that, in times of distress, we are still capable of coming together to help those around us. And it provides us with an example of someone who will not stop telling his truth, even when it becomes unpopular.
RODRIGUEZ: Our wounds are still open. We’re still hurting. We’re still going through the process of traumatic shock syndrome—PTSD.
You call me a hero, I call myself a survivor. For me, the heroes died on 9/11, in my opinion, because they died helping others. I just had the only tool available for me at that time to do great things, so I was—I’m a survivor. I have that survival skill. Why did I survive and my friends didn’t?
And now, 16 years after, it hits me stronger because I see the families. I see new families that came out from people that I saved and I always wonder, you know, what would have happened if those people that I lost—those 200 friends—will be alive today. It hits you. It hits you hard. So 16 years after, we’re still dealing with the backlash of what happened on that day.
9/11 changed me. It changed the world. We all know that. But it changed me in more ways than I expected.
SOURCE: The MSM Censored Full Story of William Rodriguez
THE COMMISSIONERSWatch this video on BitChute / DTube / Minds.com / YouTube or Download the mp4
Of all the 9/11 whistleblowers, perhaps the most noteworthy are the 9/11 Commissioners themselves.
The 9/11 Commission (formally “The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States”) was set up by President George W. Bush, who dragged his heels a full 441 days before finally establishing a body to investigate the events of September 11, 2001, and “to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding” them. But that remarkable gap between the events and the empaneling of the Commission was not due to mere laziness; Bush actively resisted any investigation for as long as he could, taking the extraordinary and unprecedented step of personally asking Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit Congress’ investigation into those events.
It was only when the political pressure to form a commission of inquiry became too great for Bush to resist that he authorized the commission and nominated a chairman: Henry Kissinger.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Today I’m pleased to announce my choice for commission chairman: Dr. Henry Kissinger.
REPORTER: Dr. Kissinger, do you have any concerns about once the commission begins it work and fingers point to valuable allies—say, Saudi Arabia for example—what policy implications could this have for the United States, particularly at this delicate time?
HENRY KISSINGER: I have been given every assurance by the President that we should go where the facts lead us.
SOURCE: Henry Kissinger and the 9/11 Commission
Kissinger’s reputation as a cover-up artist and tool of the political establishment was such that even The New York Times speculated that Bush’s nomination of him showed that the president wanted to contain the investigation into 9/11, not enable it. 9/11 victims’ family members, similarly concerned that Kissinger was being appointed to run a cover-up commission, challenged him to his face to release the client list of his political consulting business.
NARRATOR: Several family members approached Kissinger and requested a meeting at his office in New York. Prior to the meeting, Kristen Breitweiser conducted a thorough investigation of Kissinger’s potential conflicts of interest.
PATTY CASAZZA: Probably much to the chagrin of some of the people in the room, Lorie (Van Auken) asked some very pointed questions. “Would you have any Saudi-American clients that you would like to tell us about?” And he was very uncomfortable, kind of twisting and turning on the couch. And then she asked “whether he had any clients by the name of Bin-Laden.” And he just about fell off his couch.
NEWS REPORTER: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger stepped down from the position Friday.
MINDY KLEINBERG: We thought the meeting went well.
SOURCE: 9/11: Press For Truth
The next morning, Kissinger resigned his post as head of the 9/11 Commission and former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton were appointed chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, to take his place.
Remarkably, the suggestions of political cover-up did not end there, nor were they confined to a marginalized “lunatic fringe” of “conspiracy theorists” derided by the establishment media. The remarkable and almost completely unreported fact is that six out of the 10 commissioners--Kean and Hamilton, as well as Bob Kerrey, Tim Roemer, John Lehman and Max Cleland—have all expressed concern that the Commission was misled, stymied, hampered by conflicts of interest, and, ultimately, forced to participate in a politically motivated cover-up.
In their book, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, and in press conferences and interviews at the time the report was released, Kean and Hamilton famously remarked that the commission had been “set up to fail.”
EVAN SOLOMON: Even Lee Hamilton, the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission itself, admits to us that the process he headed up was seriously flawed.
LEE HAMILTON: So there are all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail. We got started late. We had a very short time frame; indeed we had to get it extended. We did not have enough money. They were afraid we were going to hang somebody.
SOURCE: 9/11 Commission “Failed” – Lee Hamilton – CBC
THOMAS KEAN: But it was very difficult. And Lee and I write in our book that we think the commission in many ways was set up to fail.
SOURCE: Hamilton and Kean on September 11 Terrorist Attacks
As it turns out, the majority of the commissioners felt that the commission had been lied to, deliberately obstructed, undermined by the White House, or set up with staff that had conflicts of interest in the investigation.
One of these concerned commissioners, Max Cleland, resigned because the commission had been “deliberately compromised by the President of the United States.”
Commissioner John Lehman, meanwhile, admitted on NBC Nightly News that the Commission had to go through Karl Rove and other senior White House members to access key documents in their investigation and that “[w]e purposely put together a staff that had—in a way—conflicts of interest,” stressing, lest there be any doubt, that “[a]ll of the staff had, to a certain extent, some conflict of interest.”
Commission members even considered bringing criminal charges against Pentagon officials who had deliberately lied to them about the military’s complete lack of response on that day.
But perhaps the most cryptic of all the dissenting commissioners was Bob Kerrey. In 2009 he remarked that 9/11 was a “30-year old conspiracy,” but no mainstream reporter has ever followed up with him to clarify this statement.
JEREMY ROTHE-KUSHEL: Do you support a criminal investigation into 9/11? Because I know yours was an exposition. It was not a criminal investigation.
BOB KERREY: I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I mean, I do support a permanent commission to examine not just that but lots of other things in this area.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: But if it’s a permanent cover-up then it’s—I mean, if it is an act of war and it’s hiding things—which everyone on your Commission knew, that the Pentagon was changing their stories, lying to you—then it’s a cover-up of an act of war, and under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution it’s treason. So unless we get to the very bottom of it then we’re still talking a treasonous exposition.
KERREY: This is a longer conversation, I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the bottom of it.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: We have to or we can’t save our country, sir.
KERREY: I don’t think—well, if that’s the condition upon which we’re going to be saving our country—because the problem is, it’s a 30-year-old conspiracy.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: No, I’m talking about 9/11.
KERREY: That’s what I’m talking about.
ROTHE-KUSHEL: Oh, you are. You mean . . .
KERREY: Anyway, I gotta run.
SOURCE: 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey finally confesses 9-11 Commission could not do it’s job – Part 3 of 3
It is utterly remarkable that the 9/11 Commission and its final report are still held up as the final word on the events of September 11, 2001, when a majority of its own Commissioners admit that the commission was a cover-up and did not get to the bottom of the story. Even more remarkable is that this fact has never even been mentioned, let alone examined, in any mainstream media report. And, despite the fact that the majority of Americans believe the government is concealing what it knows about the events of September 11th from the public, to this day anyone who raises questions about the Commission or its findings is treated as a conspiratorial loony by those same media personalities who refuse to report on the 9/11 Commission’s own whistleblowers.
It should be apparent by this point that the old argument that “someone would have talked” is not just fallacious, but factually incorrect. There have, in fact, been numerous whistleblowers with documentable evidence of the frauds and fictions that have been constructed around the official 9/11 narrative. Their disclosures put the “but someone would have talked” doubters in an uncomfortable predicament: Either they are lazy—boldly pronouncing on issues they have not themselves bothered to investigate—or they are lying.
What is especially galling when the so-called “skeptics” use the “someone would have talked” fallacy is that the whistleblowers have in fact done everything possible to publicize their stories—holding press conferences, filing formal appeals, joining whistleblower organizations, and making themselves available for interviews. For their heroic efforts, these brave men and women have been fired from their jobs, shunned by former colleagues, smeared by the mainstream media, and ignored by the public.
“Someone would have talked.” Indeed, numerous “someones” have talked. Some of them have even screamed. But when their cries are ignored, the stories of the 9/11 whistleblowers sound like the proverbial trees falling in the forest with no one around to hear them. Unless and until we give these valiant men and women a voice, then we will never hope to learn the truth about 9/11.
In the modern age of democracy and volunteer armies, a pretense for war is required to rally the nation around the flag and motivate the public to fight. That is why every major conflict is now accompanied by its own particular bodyguard of lies. From false flag attacks to dehumanization of the “enemy,” here are all the examples you’ll need to help debunk a century of war lies.
Forget for one moment everything you’ve been told about September 11, 2001. Instead let’s ask ourselves one question: What was 9/11? A terrorist atrocity? An attack on America? The first salvo in a new war? “A day that changed everything”?
The question may seem simple, but how we answer it is of vital importance. It determines how we proceed with our investigation of that day. And once you strip away the emotional rhetoric and the fear-inducing imagery, we’re left with a simple truth: 9/11 was a crime. And as with any crime, there is one overriding imperative that detectives must follow to identify the perpetrators: Follow the money.
This is an investigation of the 9/11 money trail.
The 9/11 Heist
In 1998, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to privatize the World Trade Center, the complex of office towers in Lower Manhattan that they had owned and operated since their construction in 1973. In April 2001 an agreement was reached with a consortium of investors led by Silverstein Properties, and on July 24th, 2001, Larry Silverstein, who already owned World Trade Center Building 7, signed a 99-year lease for the Twin Towers and Buildings 4 and 5.
The lease was for $3.2 billion and was financed by a bridge loan from GMAC, the commercial mortgage arm of General Motors, as well as $111 million from Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre, individual real estate investors. Silverstein Properties only put down $14 million of its own money.
The deal was unusual in a variety of ways. Although the Port Authority carried only $1.5 billion of insurance coverage on the WTC complex, which earlier that year had been valued at $1.2 billion, Silverstein had insisted on doubling that amount, insuring the buildings for $3.55 billion. Silverstein’s insurance broker struggled to put that much coverage in place and ultimately had to split it among 25 dealers. The negotiations were so involved that only temporary contracts were in place for the insurance at the time the lease was signed, and by September the contracts were still being finalized.
Silverstein’s group was also explicitly given the right to rebuild the structures if they were destroyed—and even to expand the amount of retail space on the site if rebuilding did take place.
Within hours of the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th, Silverstein was on the phone to his lawyers, trying to determine if his insurance policies could “construe the attacks as two separate, insurable incidents rather than one.” Silverstein spent years in the courts attempting to win $7.1 billion from his $3.55 billion insurance policy and in 2007 walked away with $4.55 billion, the largest single insurance settlement ever. As soon as the deal was announced, Silverstein sued United and American Airlines for a further $3.5 billion for their “negligence” in the 9/11 attacks, a claim that was struck down by the courts but is still on appeal.
Perhaps even more outrageously, in a secret deal in 2003, the Port Authority agreed to pay back 80% of their initial equity in the lease, but allowed the Silverstein group to maintain control of the site. The deal gave Silverstein, Goldman and Cayre $98 million of the $125 million they put down on the lease, and a further $130 million in insurance proceeds that were earmarked for the site’s rebuilding.
In the end, Silverstein profited from the 9/11 attacks to the tune of $4.55 billion and counting.
But that’s the 9/11 insurance heist you saw. There was a much deeper, more complex, and well-hidden heist that was taking place behind closed doors on September 11, 2001, deep in the heart of the World Trade Center itself.
Marsh & McLennan is a diversified risk, insurance and professional services firm with over $13 billion in annual revenue and 57,000 employees. In September of 2001, 2,000 of those employees worked in Marsh’s offices in the World Trade Center. Marsh occupied floors 93 to 100 of the North Tower, the exact area of the impact and explosion.
In the year prior to 9/11, Marsh had contracted with SilverStream software to create an electronic connection between Marsh and its clients for the purpose of creating “paperless transactions.” SilverStream had already built internet-based transactional and trading platforms for Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Banker’s Trust, Alex Brown, Morgan Stanley and other financial services firms that were later involved in 9/11, but this new project was unlike anything that had been attempted before.
Richard Andrew Grove, the salesperson who handled the Marsh & McLennan project for SilverStream, explains.
RICHARD GROVE: In 2000 SilverStream was contracted by Marsh to provide a technological solution beyond what we had done for any of the above-named companies; insofar as it would be used to electronically connect Marsh to its major business partners via internet portals, for the purpose of creating “paperless transactions” and expediting revenue and renewal cycles, and built from the ground up at the client’s site.
SilverStream provided a specific type of connectivity that was used to link AIG and Marsh & McLennan—the first two commercial companies on the planet to employ this type of transaction—and in fact Marsh was presented with something called the ACORD Award in the summer of 2001 for being the first commercial corporation to do so…. And what you should take away from that is this: it means that no other companies were doing this type of transaction. So the question in your mind should be: What then were Marsh and AIG doing, and why did they need to leverage technologies that no other commercial entity on the face of the earth needed to conduct business?
Once securing the contract, SilverStream then stationed approximately 30-to-40 developers at Marsh, and this team was led by two-to-three managers, with whom I liaised to ensure delivery of the “solution” that was promised. The development team regularly worked late into the night, if not all night, and sometimes worked seven days a week in order to adhere to Marsh’s indicated pre-September 11th deadline.
(SOURCE: Project Constellation)
But it was not long before severe irregularities in the billing of the account for this project led Richard Grove into the heart of a deeper mystery about the software, and about the work he was engaged in.
RICHARD GROVE: I first noticed fiscal anomalies with respect to the Marsh.com project, when I was in a meeting on the 98th floor in October of 2000 with a gentleman named Gary Lasko. Gary was Marsh’s North American Chief Information Officer, and that particular afternoon a colleague and I helped him identify about $10,000,000 in suspicious purchase orders—after I recognized that certain vendors were deceiving Marsh, and specifically appeared to be selling Marsh large quantities of hardware that were not necessary, as this was later confirmed by Gary.
I brought my concerns up to executives inside of SilverStream, and I was urged to keep quiet and mind my own business. I went to an executive at Marsh, and he advised me to do likewise…. But then I mentioned it to a few executives at Marsh whom I could trust—ike Gary Lasko…and Kathryn Lee, Ken Rice, Richard Breuhardt, John Ueltzhoeffer—people who became likewise concerned that something untoward was going on.
The concerned colleagues I just mentioned were murdered on September 11th, and the executives who expressed dismay at my concerns are alive and free today because of it.
I feel that it’s no coincidence, as the Marsh executive who urged me to drop my line of inquiry made sure that his personnel, who I just mentioned, were in the office bright and early for a global conference call before the staff meeting upon which I was to intrude—a conference call which I was informed this executive in question conducted but attended from the safety of his Upper West Side apartment.
(SOURCE: Project Constellation)
The global conference call with Marsh’s IT staff on the morning of 9/11, a meeting that included the staff who were investigating the suspicious billing on the SilverStream deal, was confirmed in a 2006 interview with Marsh’s then-Chief Information Officer, Ellen Clarke.
Richard Grove had been asked to attend the meeting but was stuck in traffic on the way to the Towers when the attack began. His friends at Marsh were not so lucky: 294 Marsh employees, including all of the participants in the conference call in the North Tower, died that morning. Meanwhile the Marsh executive who had scheduled the meeting, the same one who had asked Grove to drop the issue of the billing anomalies, was safe in his apartment, attending the meeting via telephone.
So what was the Marsh.com project really about? Why was it so important for it to be finished before September 11th, and what kind of transactions did it enable? More importantly, what information was lost when the data center on the 95th floor of the North Tower suffered a direct hit on 9/11 and the buildings were demolished?
A partial answer comes from reports that emerged in late 2001: that a German firm, Convar, had been hired to reconstruct financial data from the hard disks recovered at Ground Zero. The firm talks about this work in its promotional videos.
September the 11th, 2001. The whole world is in shock following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Convar has some solutions to offer.
Data stored on countless hard drives retrieved from the collapsed towers was believed to have been lost, but Convar’s specialists can render irreplaceable information readable again at Europe’s only high-security data recovery center. Burnt, crushed or dirty storage media are ready to relinquish their secrets by the time we finish.
(SOURCE: CONVAR – Repair & Service Center)
More details on the work come from an IDG News Service story posted to CNN.com in December 2001. Under the headline “Computer disk drives from WTC could yield clues,” the article notes: “An unexplained surge in transactions was recorded prior to the attacks, leading to speculation that someone might have profited from previous knowledge of the terrorist plot by moving sums of money. But because the facilities of many financial companies processing the transactions were housed in New York’s World Trade Center, destroyed in the blasts, it has until now been impossible to verify that suspicion.”
A Reuters article from the same time, later posted to Convar’s website, offers revealing glimpses into the investigation’s early results. It quotes Peter Herschel, Convar’s director at the time.
“The suspicion is that inside information about the attack was used to send financial transaction commands and authorizations in the belief that amid all the chaos the criminals would have, at the very least, a good head start. Of course it is also possible that there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the unusual rise in business volume. It could turn out that Americans went on an absolute shopping binge on that Tuesday morning. But at this point there are many transactions that cannot be accounted for. Not only the volume but the size of the transactions was far higher than usual for a day like that. There is a suspicion that these were possibly planned to take advantage of the chaos.”
It also quotes Richard Wagner, one of the companies data retrieval experts. “There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the mainframes were destroyed.”
Was the revolutionary electronic trading link between AIG and Marsh being used to funnel money through the World Trade Center at the time of the attack? Were the attack perpetrators hoping that the destruction of Marsh’s data center, on the 95th floor at the dead center of the North Tower explosion, would conceal their economic crime?
One piece of corroborating evidence for this idea comes from author and researcher Michael Ruppert, who reported in 2004 that immediately before the attacks began, computer systems in Deutsche Bank, one of SilverStream’s other e-link clients, had been taken over from an external location that no one in the office could identify.
MICHAEL RUPPERT: Within, I would guess — I’d have to go back and look at the book, but it was no more than a week of the attacks — I was being contacted by a lot of people, from inside official sources who were raising a lot of questions. This one particular person was extremely credible. They absolutely convinced me they had been an employee of Deutsche Bank in the Twin Towers, and they told me very clearly that in the moments right before the attacks and during the attack — there was a 40-minute window between the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center and the second plane — that Deutsche Bank’s computers in New York City had been “taken over.” Absolutely co-opted and run. There was a massive data purge, a massive data download, and all kinds of stuff was moving.
And what this person said very clearly was that no one in the Deutsche Bank offices in the towers at the time had the ability to prevent what was going on from any of their terminals.
(SOURCE: Terror Trading 9/11)
Sadly, no answer to the questions raised by these accounts is forthcoming from Convar. After the initial reporting on the investigation, which noted that the company was working with the FBI to recover and analyze the data, Convar now refuses to talk about the information they discovered.
DUTCH REPORTER: Is it true that large amounts of money were transferred illegally out of the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11, just before the attacks?
CONVAR SPOKESMAN: If you would look on the website, I would say “Yes.”
DUTCH REPORTER: Uh huh.
CONVAR SPOKESMAN: Because that was the information from a previous release.
DUTCH REPORTER: Uh huh.
CONVAR SPOKESMAN: If you were to ask me today I would need to tell you I could not give you any additional information about that. I’m really sorry about…
DUTCH REPORTER: What if I were to ask you one year ago? What would you have…
CONVAR SPOKESMAN: I would have said that what we have there is what we said before. Yes, exactly.
(SOURCE: Dutch TV show Zembla investigates 9/11 theories)
At the time of 9/11, Marsh’s chief of risk management was Paul Bremer, the former managing director of Kissinger and Associates who went on to oversee the US occupation of Iraq. On the morning of 9/11 he was not in his office at Marsh & MacLennan, but at NBC’s TV studio, where he was delivering the official story of the attack.
NBC4 ANCHOR #1: Can you talk to us a little bit about…about…who could…I mean, there are a limited number of groups who could be responsible for something of this magnitude, correct?
PAUL BREMER: Yes, this is a very well-planned, very well-coordinated attack, which suggests it is very well-organized centrally, and there are only three or four candidates in the world really who could have conducted this attack.
NBC4 ANCHOR #2: Bin Laden comes to mind right away, Mr. Bremer.
PAUL BREMER: Indeed, he certainly does. Bin Laden was involved in the first attack on the World Trade Center which had as its intention doing exactly what happened here, which was to collapse both towers. He certainly has to be a prime suspect. But there are others in the Middle East, and there are at least two states, Iran and Iraq, which should at least remain on the list of potential suspects.
NBC4 ANCHOR #2: I don’t recall anything like this. Pearl Harbor happened a month before I was born and I hear my parents talk about that as a seminal event in their lives all the time. I’m not aware of anything like this in the United States before. Americans are now — I think it’s fair to say — really scared. Should we be?
NBC4 ANCHOR #1: This is a day that will change our lives, isn’t it?
PAUL BREMER: It is a day that will change our lives, and it’s a day when the war that the terrorists declared on the United States — and after all, they did declare a war on us — has been brought home to the United States in a much more dramatic way than we’ve seen before, so it will change our lives.
(SOURCE: Paul Bremer interview, NBC)
9/11 Insider Trading
On September 12, 2001, before the dust had even settled on Ground Zero, the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into a chilling proposition: that an unknown group of traders with advance knowledge of the 9/11 plot had made millions betting against the companies involved in the attacks.
ANTONIO MORA: “What many Wall Street analysts believe is that the terrorists made bets that a number of stocks would see their prices fall. They did so by buying what they call ‘puts.’ If you bet right the rewards can be huge. The risks are also huge unless you know something bad is going to happen to the company you’re betting against.
DYLAN RATIGAN: This could very well be insider trading at the worst, most horrific, most evil use you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
ANTONIO MORA: One example, United Airlines. The Thursday before the attack more than two thousand contracts betting that the stock would go down were purchased. Ninety times more in one day than in three weeks. When the markets reopened, United’s stock dropped, the price of the contracts soared, and someone may have made a lot of money, fast.
DYLAN RATIGAN: $180,000 turns into $2.4 million when that plane hits the World Trade Center.
ANTONIO MORA: It’s almost the same story with American Airlines.
DYLAN RATIGAN: That’s a fivefold increase in the value of what was a $337,000 trade on Monday (September 10, 2001).
ANTONIO MORA: All of a sudden becomes what?
DYLAN RATIGAN: $1.8 million.
ANTONIO MORA: And there’s much more, including an extraordinarily high number of bets against Morgan Stanley and Marsh & McLennan, two of the World Trade Center’s biggest tenants. Could this be a coincidence?
DYLAN RATIGAN: This would be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind if it was a coincidence.”
(SOURCE: 9/11 Wall Street Blames Put Option Inside Trading On Terrorists)
Although the put options on American and United Airlines are usually cited in reference to the 9/11 insider trading, these trades only represent a fraction of the suspicious trades leading up to the attack. Between August 20th and September 10th, abnormally large spikes in put option activity appeared in trades involving dozens of different companies whose stocks plunged after the attack, including Boeing, Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Munich Re and the AXA Group.
Traders weren’t just betting against the companies whose stocks dove after 9/11, however. There was also a sixfold increase in call options on the stock of defense contractor Raytheon on the day before 9/11. The options allowed the traders to buy Raytheon stock at $25. Within a week of the attack, as the American military began deploying the Raytheon-supplied Tomahawk missiles they would eventually use in the invasion of Afghanistan, the company’s share price had shot up 37% to over $34.
The SEC weren’t the only ones interested in this particular 9/11 money trail, either. Investigations into potential insider trading before the attacks were opened by authorities around the globe, from Belgium to France to Germany to Switzerland to Japan. It wasn’t long before this global financial manhunt started yielding clues on the trail of the terror traders.
On September 17th, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Martino, addressing Italian Consob’s own investigation into potential 9/11 trading, said: “I think that there are terrorist states and organizations behind speculation on the international markets.”
By September 24th, the Belgian Finance Minister, Didier Reynders, was confident enough to publicly announce Belgium’s “strong suspicions that British markets may have been used for transactions.”
The president of Germany’s central bank, Ernst Welteke, was the most adamant: “What we found makes us sure that people connected to the terrorists must have been trying to profit from this tragedy.”
These foreign leaders were not alone in their conviction that insider trading had taken place. University of Chicago finance professor George Constantinides, Columbia University law professor John Coffee, Duke University law professor James Cox and other academics as well as well-known options traders like Jon Najarian all expressed their belief that investors had traded on advance knowledge of the attacks.
The scale of the SEC investigation was unprecedented, examining over 9.5 million securities transactions, including stocks and options in 103 different companies trading in seven markets, 32 exchange-traded funds, and stock indices. The probe drew on the assistance of the legal and compliance staff of the 20 largest trading firms and the regulatory authorities in ten foreign governments. The Commission coordinated its investigation with the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Treasury.
The result of this investigation?
“We have not developed any evidence suggesting that those who had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks traded on the basis of that information.”
Although this sounds like the investigation did not find evidence of insider trading, a second look reveals the trick; they are not saying that there was no insider trading, only that there is no evidence that “those who had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks” participated in such trading. But this begs the question: Who had that advance knowledge, and how did the SEC determine this?
The 9/11 Commission Report begs the question even more blatantly in their treatment of the anomalous put option activity on United Airlines stock on September 6: 95% of the puts were placed by “a single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda.” Again, it is taken as a foregone conclusion that a lack of ties to “al Qaeda” means there could not have been advance knowledge of the attack, even if the evidence shows insider trading took place.
To be sure, insider trading almost certainly did take place in the weeks before 9/11. Although some have used the Commission report to conclude that the story was debunked, the intervening years have seen the release of not one, not two, but three separate scientific papers concluding with high probability that the anomalous trading was the result of advance knowledge.
In “Unusual Option Market Activity and the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001,” University of Chicago professor Allen Poteshman concluded: “Examination of the option trading leading up to September 11 reveals that there was an unusually high level of put buying. This finding is consistent with informed investors having traded options in advance of the attacks.”
In “Detecting Abnormal Trading Activities in Option Markets,” researchers at the University of Zurich used econometric methods to confirm unusual put option activity on the stocks of key airlines, banks and reinsurers in the weeks prior to 9/11.
And in “Was There Abnormal Trading in the S&P 500 Index Options Prior to the September 11 Attacks?” a team of researchers concluded that abnormal activity in the S&P index options market around the time of the attack “is consistent with insiders anticipating the 9-11 attacks.”
The only question, then, is who was profiting from these trades and why was no one ever indicted for their participation in them?
One lead is pursued by researcher and author Kevin Ryan. In “Evidence for Informed Trading on the Attacks of September 11,” he examines an FBI briefing document from 2003 that was declassified in 2009. It describes the results of FBI investigations into two of the pre-9/11 trades that the Bureau had identified as suspicious, including the purchase of 56,000 shares of Stratesec in the days prior to 9/11. Stratesec provided security systems to airports (including, ironically, Dulles Airport, as well as the World Trade Center and United Airlines) and saw its share price almost double when the markets re-opened on September 17th, 2001.
The trades traced back to a couple whose names are redacted from the memo, but are easily identifiable from the unredacted information: Mr. and Mrs. Wirt D. Walker III, a distant relative of the Bush family and business partner of Marvin Bush, the President’s brother. The document notes that the pair were never even interviewed as part of the investigation because it had “revealed no ties to terrorism or other negative information.”
In addition to begging the question, this characterization is provably false. As Ryan noted in a conversation with financial journalist Lars Schall:
KEVIN RYAN: “Wirt Dexter Walker at Stratesec hired several people from a company called The Carlyle Group, and The Carlyle Group had Bin-Laden family members as investors. Also Wirt Walker’s fellow (inaudible) director James Abrahamson was a close business associate of a man named Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani businessman and Mansoor Ijaz claimed to be able to contact Osama Bin-Laden on multiple occasions.
So there does seem to be some circumstantial evidence indicated that these people were connected to Al-Qaeda, at least to the point where we should investigate.
LARS SCHALL: And isn’t it also true that some members of the Bin-Laden family were actually in Washington at the gathering of The Carlyle Group on 9/11?
KEVIN RYAN: That’s true. The Carlyle Group had a meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington on September 11th and present there were former President George H. W. Bush, James Baker and the brother of Osama Bin-Laden. I believe his name was Salem, I can’t recall his exact name. But they were there, investors from the Bin-Laden family meeting with Carlyle Group representatives in Washington on September 11th.”
(SOURCE: Terror Trading 9/11)
Was this why the FBI thought better of questioning him over his highly profitable purchase of Stratesec shares right before 9/11?
The CIA figures prominently in another line of investigation. One suspicious United Airlines put option purchase that was investigated by the FBI involved a 2,500-contract order for puts in the days before 9/11. Instead of processing the purchase through United Airlines’ home exchange, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, the order was split into five 500-contract chunks and run through five different options exhchanges simultaneously. The unusual order was brokered by Deutsch Bank Alex. Brown, a firm that until 1998 was chaired by A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, a former consultant to CIA director James Woolsey who at the time of 9/11 was himself the Executive Director of the CIA.
MICHAEL C. RUPPERT: So right after the attacks of 9/11 the name Buzzy Krongard surfaced, it was instant research that revealed that Buzzy Krongard had been allegedly recruited by CIA Director George Tennant to become the Executive Director at (the) CIA, which is the number three position, right before the attacks.
And Alex Brown was one of the many subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank, (which was) one of the primary vehicles or instruments that handled all of these criminal trades by people who obviously knew that the attacks were going to take place where, how and involving specific airlines.
(SOURCE: Terror Trading 9/11)
Perhaps the most frank admission of insider trading is notable for three things: It was recorded on video, it has never been investigated by any agency or law enforcement official, and it was made by former CIA agent and frequent foreign policy commentator Robert Baer, the real-life inspiration for the character portrayed by George Clooney in “Syriana.” Talking to citizen journalists after a speaking event in Los Angeles in 2008, Baer was recorded on video making a startling assertion about 9/11 insider trading:
JEREMY ROTHE-KUSHEL: …the last thing I want to leave you with is the National Reconnaissance Office was running a drill of a plane crashing into their building and you know they’re staffed by DoD and CIA…
ROBERT BAER: I know the guy that went into his broker in San Diego and said “Cash me out, it’s going down tomorrow.”
JEREMY ROTHE KUSHEL: Really?
ROBERT BAER: Yeah.
STEWART HOWE: That tells us something.
ROBERT BAER: What?
STEWART HOWE: That tells us something.
ROBERT BAER: Well, his brother worked at the White House.
(SOURCE: WeAreChangeLA debriefs CIA Case Officer Robert Baer about apparent Mossad and White House 9/11 foreknowledge)
This truly remarkable statement bears further scrutiny. If Baer is to be believed, a former CIA agent has first-hand knowledge that a White House insider had foreknowledge of the attacks, and to this day not only has Baer never revealed the identity of this person, but no one has questioned him about his statement or even attempted to pursue this lead.
So how is it possible that the SEC overlooked, ignored, or simply chose not to pursue such leads in their investigation? The only possible answer, of course, is that the investigation was deliberately steered away from such persons of interest and any connections that would lead back to foreknowledge by government agencies, federal agents, or their associates in the business world.
Unfortunately, we will likely never see documentary evidence of that from the Commission itself. One researcher requesting access under the Freedom of Information Act to the documentary evidence that the 9/11 Commission used to conclude there had been no insider trading received a response that stated “that the potentially responsive records have been destroyed.”
Instead, we are left with sources that refuse to be identified, saying that CBOE records of pre-9/11 options trading have been destroyed and [with] second-hand accounts of traders who had heard talk of an event in advance of 9/11.
In a round-about way, perhaps the 9/11 Commission reveals more than it lets on when it tries to dismiss key insider trades with the pithy observation that the traders had no conceivable ties to Al Qaeda. If those with foreknowledge of the attacks weren’t connected to Al Qaeda, what does that say about the identity of the real 9/11 perpetrators?
ANTONIO MORA: ABC News has now learned that the Chicago Board of Options Exchange launched their investigation into the unusual trading last week. That may have given them enough time to stop anyone from profiting from death here in the U.S. It may also give investigators, Peter, a “hot trail” that might lead them to the terrorists.
PETER JENNINGS: Thanks very much. As a reminder of the complications here, the Secretary of the Treasury said here today of this investigation, “You’ve got to go through ten veils before you can get to the real source.”
ANTONIO MORA: Yeah.
PETER JENNINGS: Thanks, Antonio.
(SOURCE: 9/11 Wall Street Blames Put Option Inside Trading On Terrorists)
PTech and Vulgar Betrayal
PTech was a Quincy, Mass.-based company specializing in “enterprise architecture software,” a type of powerful computer modeling program that allows large-scale organizations to map their systems and employees and to monitor them in real time. The person running this software has a “God’s-eye” view of processes, personnel and transactions, and even the ability to use this data to foresee problems before they happen and to intervene to stop them from happening.
As a senior consultant working on risk management for JPMorgan at the time of 9/11, Indira Singh was looking for exactly this type of software to implement the bank’s next-generation risk blueprint. In her search for the ultimate risk management software, PTech’s name was floated as the best candidate for the task.
INDIRA SINGH: I had a good life. I did “risk” at JP Morgan Chase, just to take a break from all the heavy stuff. What I’d do was to devise a way to monitor everything going on in a very large company to stop big problems from happening. There is that little cloud there and my very bizarre picture of how I think about this problem. I am a person who was merging two disciplines: Risk Management and something called “Enterprise Architecture” which is fairly esoteric but at the end of the day, we seek to prevent large problems from happening anywhere in a large global enterprise.
At JP Morgan I was working on the next generation “risk blueprint” which is all about how to prevent these things from happening. Bad business practice such as money laundering, rogue trading and massive computer failures, anything you could imagine (that) could go wrong.
I had a lot of leeway consulting as a “Senior Risk Architect” to think out of the box and actually get my ideas implemented. I was funded out of a strategic fund, I reported to the directors and I was pretty happy. JP Morgan thought very highly of me and they were thinking of funding, in conjunction with my project in D.C., the next-generation risk software.
What I need to do (and) what I did was (find) a really smart piece of software. Really, really smart. It’s job would be to think about all of the information and this is where you may connect a dot. The job of this software would be to think about all of the information that represented what was going on in the enterprise at any given time as bank business was being transacted world-wide. For example, it would (act) as a surveillance software that looked for trading patterns that indicated that someone was up too no good and then do something about it: send a message somewhere, send transaction information somewhere, perhaps shut their system down, perhaps shut another system down, perhaps start something else up elsewhere. This type of capability is very, very essential in today’s world.
However this kind of software is not found in Microsoft or not even in IBM. A small group of very esoteric software companies make this kind of enterprise software and it is very pricey. So you can’t afford to pick wrong and I asked all my colleagues who were industry gurus; what would they recommend for this?
My buddies recommended PTech.
(SOURCE: 9/11 Omission Hearings – Indira Singh Reads Sibel Edmonds’ Letter – 9/9/2004)
Indeed, it’s not difficult to see why PTech came so highly recommended. Given the nature of this sensitive risk-management work, only a company with experience delivering software to large-scale organizations with secrets to protect would fit the bill, and in this regard PTech did not disappoint. Their client roster included a veritable who’s who of top-level corporate and governmental clients: the FBI, the IRS, NATO, the Air Force, the Naval Air Command, the Departments of Energy and Education, the Postal Service, the US House of Representatives, the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, even the White House.
From the inner sanctum of the White House to the headquarters of the FBI, from the basement of the FAA to the boardroom of IBM, some of the best-secured organizations in the world running on some of the most-protected servers housing the most sensitive data welcomed PTech into their midst. PTech was given the keys to the cyber kingdom to build detailed pictures of these organizations, their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and to show how these problems could be exploited by those of ill intent. But like all such systems, it could be exploited by those of ill intent for their own purposes, too.
Given the nature of the information and secrets being kept by its clients, it should come as no surprise that many of PTech’s top investors and employees were men with backgrounds that should have been raising red flags at all levels of the government. And as it turns out, at least one of these men did raise red flags with a pair of diligent FBI field agents.
In the late 1990s, Robert Wright and John Vincent—FBI special agents in the Chicago field office—were running an investigation into terrorist financing called Vulgar Betrayal. From the very start, the investigation was hampered by higher-ups; they were not even given access to the computer equipment needed to carry out their work. Through Wright and Vincent’s foresight and perseverance, however, the investigation managed to score some victories, including seizing $1.4 million in terrorist funds. According to Wright, “these funds were linked directly to Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi.”
Yasin al-Qadi is a multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist who, according to business associates, liked to boast of his relationship with former Vice President Dick Cheney. But in the late 1990s he was sanctioned by the UN Security Council for his suspected links to Al Qaeda, and after 9/11 he was put on a terrorist watch list by the US Treasury for his suspected ties to terrorist financing.
During the 1990s, as Vulgar Betrayal was being thwarted from opening a criminal investigation into his activities, the Qadi-backed investment firm Sarmany Ltd. became an “angel investor” to a software startup called PTech, providing $5 million of the initial $20 million of capital that got PTech off the ground.
At the time, PTech’s CEO denied that al-Qadi had any involvement with the company other than his initial investment, but the FBI now maintains he was lying and that in fact al-Qadi continued investing millions of dollars in the company through various fronts and investment vehicles. Company insiders told FBI officials that they were flown to Saudi Arabia to meet PTech’s investors in 1999 and that al-Qadi was introduced as one of the owners. It has also been reported that Hussein Ibrahim, PTech’s chief scientist, was al-Qadi’s representative at PTech and al-Qadi’s lawyers have admitted that al-Qadi’s representative may have continued to sit on PTech’s board even after 9/11.
Ibrahim himself was a former president of BMI, a New Jersey-based real estate investment firm that was also one of the initial investors in PTech and provided financing for PTech’s founding loan. PTech leased office space and computer equipment from BMI and BMI shared office space in New Jersey with Kadi International, owned and operated by none other than Yassin al-Qadi. In 2003, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said: “BMI held itself out publicly as a financial services provider for Muslims in the United States, its investor list suggests the possibility this facade was just a cover to conceal terrorist support.”
Suheil Laheir was PTech’s chief architect. When he wasn’t writing the software that would provide PTech with detailed operational blueprints of the most sensitive agencies in the U.S. government, he was writing articles in praise of Islamic holy war. He was also fond of quoting Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden’s mentor and the head of Maktab al-Khidamat, which was the precursor to Al-Qaeda.
That such an unlikely cast of characters were given access to some of the most sensitive agencies in the U.S. federal government is startling enough. That they were operating software that allowed them to map, analyze and access every process and operation within these agencies for the purpose of finding systemic weak points is equally startling. Most disturbing of all, though, is the connection between PTech and the very agencies that so remarkably “failed” in their duty to protect the American public on September 11, 2001.
BONNIE FAULKNER: Could you describe the relationship of PTech with the FAA? PTech worked with the FAA for several years, didn’t they?
INDIRA SINGH: Yes. It was a joint project between PTech and MITRE. It is interesting. They were looking at, basically, holes in the FAA’s interoperability with responding with other agencies—law enforcement—in the case of an emergency such as a hijacking.
They were looking for the escalation process—what people would do, how they would respond in case of an emergency—and find the holes and make recommendations to fix it. Now if anyone was in a position to understand where the holes were, PTech was, and that is exactly the point: if anybody was in a position to write software to take advantage of those holes, it would have been PTech.
BONNIE FAULKNER: Was there a reference to PTech having operated in the basement out of the FAA?
INDIRA SINGH: Yes. Typically, because the scope of such projects are so over-arching and wide-ranging, when you are doing an enterprise architecture project, you have access to how anything in the organization is being done, where it is being done, on what systems, what the information is. You have carte blanche.
If it is a major project that spends several years, the team that comes in has, literally, access to almost anything that they want because you are operating on a blueprint level, on a massive scale. So, yes, they were everywhere, and I was told that they were in places that required clearances. I was told that they had log-on access to FAA flight control computers. I was told that they had passwords to many computers that you may not, on the surface, think has anything to do with finding out holes in the system, but let’s say you isolated part of a notification process that was mediated by computer and you wanted to investigate it further, then you would typically get log-on access to that computer. From that, back upstream or downstream. So, who knows?
From my own experience I could have access to almost anything I wanted to in JP Morgan Chase. And did not, for the reason that if anything went wrong, I did not want to have the access. But if you were up to no good as an enterprise architect with such a mandate, you typically could have access to anything.
(SOURCE: Guns n Butter: Indira Singh, PTech and the 911 software)
So who was really behind PTech? Did Ziade, Ibrahim and the others somehow evade the due diligence of all of the government agencies and multinational corporations that PTech contracted with? Did PTech just happen to end up working on the interoperability of the FAA and the Pentagon systems on the morning of 9/11? Did al-Qadi’s friend Dick Cheney really know nothing of Qadi’s connections or activities? Was this all some devious Al Qaeda plot to infiltrate key systems and agencies of the US government?
Not according to the people who were really investigating the company.
INDIRA SINGH: Who’s really behind PTech is the question. Correct. I asked that of many intelligence people who came to my aid as I was being blacklisted and I was told: “Indira, it is a CIA clandestine operation on the level of Iran-Contra.” And I have reason to believe this because CARE International is a renamed version of Al Kifah, which was the finding arm for WTC 93, prior to Al Kifah it was called Maktab al-Khidamat which was the funding arms for the Afghani mujahidin. It was how the moneys got to Osama Bin-Laden through the Pakistani ISI.
I asked the FBI in Boston: ‘”How come Mak was being run out of Ptech and 9/11?” and that jived with a lot of what intel was telling me that “it’s a CIA front, shut up and go away.” At that level I said “Well why doesn’t the FBI take advantage of their celebrated difference with the CIA’ and I was told ‘because at that level they work together.”
(SOURCE: 9/11 Omission Hearings – Michael Ruppert & Indira Singh Q&A – 9/9/2004)
So what did the 9/11 Commission have to say about PTech? Absolutely nothing. The co-chair of the commission, Thomas Kean, had been involved in a $24 million real estate transaction with BMI, one of the PTech investors, but no mention was made of that at the time and the Commission never looked into PTech or its activities on 9/11.
Meanwhile, Cheney’s friend al-Qadi has since been removed from the Swiss, European, UN Security Council and US Treasury terrorist sanctions lists.
And Robert Wright? After Vulgar Betrayal was shut down, the FBI did eventually raid PTech’s offices in December 2002…but not before the company was given advance warning of the “raid.” The very next day then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge declared that PTech “in no way jeopardizes the security of the country.”
Oussama Ziade is still wanted by the FBI for lying about al-Qadi’s involvement with the company, but the case is now cold.
ROBERT WRIGHT: To the families and victims….of September 11th…on behalf of John Vincent, Barry Carnaby and myself…we’re sorry.
(SOURCE: 9-11 FBI Whistleblower Robert Wright Testimony)
The Pentagon’s Missing Trillions
DONALD RUMSFELD: The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.
(SOURCE: Defense Business Practices)
On September 10, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared a new war. Not a war on a shadowy terrorist organization in Afghanistan, or even a war on terror, but a war on the Pentagon itself.
DONALD RUMSFELD: The adversary is closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.
(SOURCE: Defense Business Practices)
Perhaps it is no surprise that Rumsfeld felt compelled to declare a war on the Pentagon’s bureaucracy. The issue of the Pentagon’s $2.3 trillion accounting nightmare had been dogging him since his confirmation hearings in January of 2001. Although Rumsfeld was interested in pushing forward a modernization of the military that was projected to cost an additional $50 billion in funding, that agenda was politically impossible in the face of the Department of Defense’s monumental budget problem.
SEN. BYRD: How can we seriously consider a $50 billion increase in the Defense Department budget when DoD’s own auditors—when DoD’s own auditors—say the department cannot account for $2.3 trillion in transactions in one year alone.
Now, my question to you is, Mr. Secretary, what do you plan to do about this?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Decline the nomination! (Laughs.) (Laughter.) Ah! Senator, I have heard --
SEN. BYRD: I don’t want to see you do that! (Laughter.)
SEN. LEVIN: (Sounds gavel.) We’ll stand adjourned, in that case! (Laughter.)
DONALD RUMSFELD: Senator, I have heard some of that and read some of that, that the department is not capable of auditing its books. It is — I was going to say “terrifying.”
(SOURCE: Defense Secretary Nomination Hearing Jan 11 2001)
“Terrifying” only begins to describe the problem.
The Department of Defense’s own Inspector General report for Fiscal Year 1999 noted that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service had processed $7.6 trillion of department-level accounting entries in that year. Of that amount, only $3.5 trillion could be properly accounted for. $2.3 trillion in transactions were fudged to make entries balance, run through without proper documentation, or made up entirely. The Inspector General’s office did not even examine the other $1.8 trillion in transactions because they “did not have adequate time or staff to review” them.
In 2002 one DFAS accountant blew the whistle on the problem and the cover-up that was underway to stop investigators from finding out where the money went.
VINCE GONZALES: $2.3 trillion with a “T.” That’s 8,000 dollars for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.
JIM MINNERY: We know it’s gone, but we don’t know what they spent it on.
VINCE GONZALES: Jim Minnery, a former Marine turned whistleblower, is risking his job by speaking out for the first time about the millions he noticed were missing from one defense agency’s balance sheets. Minnery tried to follow the money trail, even crisscrossing the country looking for records.
JIM MINNERY: The director looked at me and said, “Why do you care about this stuff?” That took me aback, you know. My supervisor asked me why I care about doing a good job.
VINCE GONZALES: He was reassigned, and says officials then covered up the problem by just writing it off.
JIM MINNERY: They’ve got to cover it up.
(SOURCE: 9-11 Pentagon missing $2.3 trillion)
As Comptroller of the Pentagon from 2001 to 2004, Dov Zakheim was the man tasked with solving this problem.
DONALD RUMSFELD: There are all kinds of long-standing rules and regulations about what you can do and what you can’t do. I know Dr. Zakheim’s been trying to hire CPAs because the financial systems of the department are so snarled up that we can’t account for some $2.6 trillion in transactions that exist, if that’s believable. And yet we’re told that we can’t hire CPAs to help untangle it in many respects.
REP. LEWIS: Mr. Secretary, the first time and the last time that Dov Zackheim and I broke bread together, he told me he would have a handle on that 2.6 trillion by now. (Laughter.) But we’ll discuss that a little --
DONALD RUMSFELD: He’s got a handle; it’s just a little hot. (Laughter.)
(SOURCE: Testimony before the House Appropriations Committee: FY2002 Budget Request)
From 1987 to 2001, Zakheim headed SPC International, a subsidiary of System Planning Corporation, a defense contractor providing airwarfare, cybersecurity and advanced military electronics to the Department of Defense and DARPA. SPC’s “Radar Physics Laboratory” developed a remote control system for airborne vehicles that they were marketing to the Pentagon prior to 9/11.
Zakheim was also a participant in drafting “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a document that called for a sweeping transformation of the US military, including the implementation of the $50 billion missile defense program and increased use of specialized military technologies. The paper even noted how “advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”
“Rebuilding America’s Defenses” was a white paper produced by the Project for a New American Century, a group founded in 1997 with the goal of projecting American global dominance into the 21st century. Joining Zakheim in the group were a host of other neocons who ended up populating the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Jeb Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld. In their September 2000 document, the group lamented that their plan for transforming the military was not likely unless a defining event took place, one that would galvanize public opinion: “[T]he process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”
DONALD RUMSFELD: We know that the thing that tends to register on people is fear, and we know that that tends to happen after there’s a Pearl Harbor, tends to happen after there’s a crisis. And that’s too late for us. We’ve got to be smarter than that. We’ve got to be wiser than that. We have to be more forward-looking.
There’s a wonderful book on Pearl Harbor by Roberta Wohlstetter, and a forward by Dr. Schelling, that talks about this problem of seeing things happen and not integrating them in your mind and saying, “Yes, we need to be doing something about that now,” that I reread periodically because it’s so important.
(SOURCE: Defense Secretary Nomination Hearing Jan 11 2001)
And on 9/11/2001, America received its new Pearl Harbor.
The attack on the Pentagon struck Wedge One on the west side of the building. An office of the U.S. Army called Resource Services Washington had just moved back into Wedge One after renovations had taken place there. The office was staffed with 45 accountants, bookkeepers and budget analysts; 34 of them were killed in the attack.
A 2002 follow-up report from the DoD Inspector General on the missing trillions noted that a further $1.1 trillion in made up accounting entries were processed by the Pentagon in fiscal year 2000, but they did not even attempt to quantify the missing funds for 2001. The Secretary of the Army, Thomas White, later explained they were unable to produce a financial report for 2001 at all due to “the loss of financial-management personnel sustained during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.”
Before becoming Secretary of the Army, Thomas White was a senior executive at Enron. Enron was one of the largest energy companies in the world, posting a $111 billion profit in 2000 before being exposed as an elaborate corporate accounting fraud in 2001. The SEC, which investigated the Enron scandal, occupied the 11th to 13th floors in World Trade Center Building 7, and their offices were destroyed on 9/11, destroying 3,000 to 4,000 documents on active investigations in the process.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rumsfeld’s War on the Pentagon’s Bureaucracy did not yield the results he promised. By 2013, the unaccountable money in the Pentagon’s coffers had reach $8.5 trillion.
REPORTER: The latest scandal to hit Washington comes from a report revealing the Pentagon “misplaced” $8.5 trillion. Military leaders have also been found ordering subordinates to doctor books to hide the missing money. This is the conclusion of a special report by Reuters.
One former Pentagon employee, Linda Woodford, said she spent 15 years there falsifying financial records. Woodford had a job checking Navy accounting records against figures supplied by the Treasury Department. She said money was missing from the report every month.
(SOURCE: $8.5 Trillion Missing From Pentagon Budget)
GAYANE CHICHAKYAN: National security expert Steve Miles is here with me to help us crunch these numbers. $8.5 trillion unaccounted for?
STEPHEN MILES: That’s a lot of money. This is the kind of thing that you would think would bring Capitol Hill to a screeching halt. There’d be hearings almost every day. You’d have various committees looking into it. None of that. It just leads to massive waste and there can be all sorts of fraud that you don’t know about.
Just one example, when the Inspector General looked at Iraq — which was a lot of money, but in the grand scheme just a portion of the money the U.S. spent — what they found was about $50 billion of the money the U.S. spent there was wasted and about $6 billion was completely lost. They had no idea where it went, it was completely unaccounted for. Put that in perspective. That’s about the amount of money that other countries would spend on their defense, total. And that’s just the loose pocket change that we lost in the couch.
GAYANE CHICHAKYAN: One thing I found very interesting in this report is that the Pentagon apparently uses standard operating procedure to enter false numbers, or so-called “plugs,” to cover lost or missing information in their accounting in order to submit a balanced budget to the Treasury. So they can write in everything.
STEPHEN MILES: This is probably the most shocking part of this. They get to the end of the day and they say, “Oh, there’s money missing, what do we do?” “Well, we’ll just put a number in there that says it’s there and we’ll sort it out later.” Again this is the type of operating practice that if you did it in your own business—if you try to do it with your own taxes for the government—they’d haul you off to jail.
(SOURCE: Black Budget: US govt clueless about missing Pentagon $trillions)
But then, given that the trillions have never been accounted for, and given that American defense spending soared to record levels after the attack, perhaps Rumsfeld’s war on the Pentagon, the one he announced on September 10th, was successful after all. And perhaps September 11th was the key battle in that war.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it.
(SOURCE: Defense Business Practices)
Insurance scams and insider trading, electronic fraud and Vulgar Betrayal, missing money and evidence destroyed. There are at least 8.5 trillion reasons to investigate the money trail of 9/11.
Curious, then, that the US government’s final word on the attacks, the 9/11 Commission Report, concluded that the money trail was not worthy of investigation at all. In Chapter Five of the report, the commission noted: “To date, the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.”
9/11 was a crime. And as every detective knows, the first rule of criminal investigation is to follow the money. So why did the 9/11 Commission specifically reject this rule?
The answers to 9/11 are not going to come from the suspects of the crime. Instead, it’s up to investigators to continue to unearth the true evidence on the 9/11 money trail.
Follow the money…
9/11 was a crime. This should not be a controversial statement, but given how 9/11 was framed as a terrorist attack or even an “act of war” from the very moment that it occurred, it somehow is. If we lived in a world of truth and justice, 9/11 would have been approached as a crime to be solved rather than an attack to be responded to.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we did live in such a world. If there were some crusading District Attorney who actually wanted to prosecute the crimes of 9/11, how would he begin? Where would he start to unravel a plot so immense, one involving so many layers of obfuscation and the active collusion of some of the most powerful members of the perennial ruling class of America, the deep state?
Like a prosecutor trying to bring down a mafia kingpin, it is unlikely that such an investigation would start by bringing the suspected mastermind of the plot to trial. Such a vast and intricate operation would be picked apart from the outside, starting with people on the periphery of the plot who could be forced to testify under oath and who could provide leads further up the ladder. As more and more of the picture was filled in, the case against the inner clique who ran the operation would begin to strengthen, and, gradually, more and more central figures could be brought to trial
We may not live in a world where such a criminal investigation is taking place, but we are trying the crimes of 9/11 in the court of public opinion. There are still untold millions who think of 9/11 truth as a fringe movement driven by rash speculation and unwarranted leaps of logic. So what if we “prosecuted” some of these peripheral figures—the ones who are demonstrably and provably involved in the events of that day or the cover up of those crimes—in that court of public opinion?
Over the course of The Corbett Report’s existence, I have looked at many figures who no doubt feature more prominently in the 9/11 plot itself from an operational standpoint: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Larry Silverstein, Dov Zakheim, Paul Bremer, Richard Armitage. Today we will look at some of the other suspects in that crime; not ringleaders or masterminds, not even people who were likely to know about the plot ahead of time. But those who helped cover up those crimes for the real perpetrators.
These are the stories of the 9/11 Suspects.
Skip to Rudy Giuliani / Christine Todd Whitman / Philip Zelikow / Robert Baer / Ralph Eberhart / Dancing Israelis
Suspect #1: Rudy Giuliani
After stepping down as mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani tried to launch himself as a national political leader on the back of the single defining event of his career.
In the end he failed miserably, with voters immediately seeing his ploy for what it was: base political pandering.
But what many do not realize is that Giuliani’s case is not just that of another ghoulish politician parading on the corpses of those who died on his watch for his own political gain.
On the day of 9/11, while the remains of the twin towers and WTC7 were still smoldering, one of Mayor Giuliani’s first concerns was clearing away the evidence from the crime scene.
RUDY GIULIANI: We were able to move 120 dump trucks out of the city last night, which will give you a sense of the work that was done overnight.
1st NY RESIDENT: It’s wild out here. They just keep coming look! It doesn’t stop. There’s more, I keep thinking it’s the end but it’s not.
(SOURCE: Donald Trump Commission on TERRORISM NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani = Criminal Destruction of Evidence WTC)
Despite reassurances that the rapid removal of the evidence from Ground Zero was important for “emergency access,” this process went far beyond merely clearing a path for rescue workers. As Erik Lawyer, founder of Firefighters for 9/11 Truth points out, the massive operation to haul away over 1.5 million tons of debris and to sell much of the steel to Chinese firm Baosteel at discount prices was not just an overzealous approach to clearing the area, but was itself a crime.
ERIK LAWYER: 9/11 was the greatest loss of life and property damage in U.S. fire history. This should of been the most protected, preserved, over-tested and thorough investigation of a crime scene in world history. Sadly it was not. What was it? Well, we know from their (NIST) admission the majority of the evidence was destroyed. Like Richard (Gage) said, (in) 22 years of experience I’ve seen a lot of crime scenes, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.I was out at the site, I saw trucks leaving faster than anywhere I’ve ever seen but I accepted it at the time and for years I accepted it because it was a recovery and rescue operation and that’s normal to have something like going. Again, we’d never seen anything like it but that was expected.
What I didn’t know for years was what was going on behind the scenes was that evidence was being destroyed when it was shipped off. By their own admission, the NIST investigation of Tower 7 had no physical evidence. How do you investigate a crime when you’ve destroyed all the evidence? It doesn’t make sense.
They also admit that they refused to test for explosives or residue of thermite. Now this is what I’m going to go into real quickly is that there are national standards for for an investigation. That’s what all of us are asking fir. An investigation that follows national standards and holds people accountable.
(SOURCE: Fire Fighter Erik Lawyer Slams NIST And The 9/11 “Investigation“)
Needless to say, an investigation of the 9/11 crime scene following the national investigation standards has never been conducted and never will be as Giuliani oversaw the illegal destruction of the evidence itself.
To add insult to this injury, in 2003 New York City Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch revealed that in the mad scramble to get rid of the crime scene evidence, human remains from the World Trade Center had been left at the Fresh Kills landfill where the debris was sorted and the steel was sold. In 2007 Eric Beck, a senior supervisor of the recycling facility that sifted the debris, admitted that some of those human remains ended up in a mixture that was used to pave roads and fill potholes in New York City.
But as grotesque as such revelations are, they are not the most shocking part of Giuliani’s 9/11 story.
In the late 1990s the Mayor oversaw the creation of a state-of-the-art $13 million emergency command center to coordinate the city’s disaster recovery and response efforts. Located on the 23rd floor of World Trade Center Building 7, just across Vesey Street from the Twin Towers, the center—dubbed by local press at the time as “Giuliani’s bunker”—included reinforced, bulletproof, and bomb-resistant walls, its own air supply and water tank, beds, showers to accommodate 30 people, and three backup generators. It could be used to monitor all of New York’s emergency communications frequencies and was staffed 24 hours a day.
And yet, remarkably, on the morning of 9/11, neither Mayor Giuliani nor any other city personnel or police or fire department officials were in the bunker after the Twin Tower strikes.
BARRY JENNINGS: As I told you guys before it was very, very funny. I was on my way to work and the traffic was excellent, I received a call that a small Cessna had hit the World Trade Center. I was asked to go and man the Office of Emergency Management.
Upon arriving into the OEM EOC, we noticed that everybody was gone. I saw coffee that was on a desk, the smoke was still coming off the coffee. I saw half-eaten sandwiches.
(SOURCE: Barry Jennings WTC 7 (Explosions) Interview)
So why wasn’t the Mayor and the city’s emergency personnel in the location that had been purpose built for just such an event? According to Giuliani, they had been told to evacuate because they had been given a warning that the Twin Towers were going to collapse. A warning that was evidently not passed on to any of the emergency personnel that were still working in the buildings.
RUDY GIULIANI: I went down to the scene and we setup headquarters at 75 Barkley Street, which was right there with the Police Commissioner, the Fire Commissioner, the head of Emergency Management and we were operating out of there when we we’re told that the World Trade Center was going to collapse.
And it did collapse before we could actually get out of the building. So we were trapped in the building for 10-15 minutes and finally found an exit, got out, walked North and took a lot of people with us.
(SOURCE: ABC Sept. 11, 2001 12:41 pm – 1:23 pm ABC 7, Washington, D.C.)
Giuliani in his own words has admitted that he was warned that the World Trade Center was going to collapse. This despite the fact that there was no possible way for this to be predicted in the first hour of the unfolding disaster. Even more incredibly, despite being given this warning, no effort was made to pass it on to the police, firefighters and other responders who were still working in and around the buildings.
When, precisely, was this warning given, and by whom? Why, despite acting on this warning himself, did Giuliani make no effort to pass the warning on to others?
Predictably, when confronted with these questions by activists during his 2008 presidential campaign, Giuliani merely smiled and denied that he had ever received such a warning.
SABRINA RIVERO: You reported to Peter Jennings that on 9/11 that you knew that the World Trade Center Towers were going to collapse. No steel structure has ever in history has ever collapsed due to a fire.
How come the people in the building weren’t notified and who else knew about this and how do you sleep at night?
RUDY GIULIANI: Ma’am, I didn’t know that the towers were going to collapse.
TOM FOTI: You reported it Peter Jennings. You indeed said that you were notified that the towers were going to collapse while you were inside. Not sure exactly where you were prior to, but you said it on ABC video with Peter Jennings in an interview, that you were aware that the towers were going to collapse in advance.
We’d like to know who told you the towers were going to collapse in advance, Sir?
We’d also like to know who else you told?
RUDY GIULIANI: Well the fact is that I didn’t realize that the towers would collapse. I never realized that.
(SOURCE: WeAreChange Confronts Giuliani on 9/11 Collapse Lies)
So where was the Mayor on 9/11? On Pier 92, which was already set up as a functional command center due to a full-scale emergency “drill” by FEMA that, by a remarkable coincidence, had been scheduled for the following day.
RUDY GIULIANI: . . . and we selected Pier 92 as our Command Center. The reason Pier 92 was selected as the Command Center was because on the next day, on September 12th, Pier 92 was going to have a drill. It had hundreds of people here from FEMA, from the Federal Government, from the State Emergency Management Office and they were getting ready for a drill for a bio-chemical attack. So that was going to be the place they were going to have the drill, the equipment was already there. So we were able to establish a Command Center there within 3 days that was 2 and a half to 3 times bigger than the Command Center that we had lost at 7 World Trade Center and it was from there that the rest of the search and rescue effort was completed.
(SOURCE: 9/11 Commission Hearings May 19, 2004)
Mayor Giuliani oversaw the illegal destruction of the 9/11 crime scene and is criminally liable for the deaths of hundreds of emergency workers for not passing on prior warnings about the collapses of the Twin Towers.
It is no wonder, then, that the Fire Department of New York so passionately detest Giuliani for his actions in disgracing their fallen brothers and covering up the 9/11 crime.
HAROLD A. SCHAITBERGER: Rudy Giuliani has used the horrible events of September 11th, 2001, to create a carefully crafted persona. But the fact is what Rudy portrays is not a full picture of the decisions made that led, in our view, to the unnecessary deaths of our FDNY members and the attempt to stop the dignified recovery of those lost.
The urban-legend of “America’s Mayor” needs to be balanced by the truth.
(SOURCE: Giuliani Gets Exposed As Fraud by Firefighters)
So what is the reward for Giuliani’s criminal actions on 9/11? An offer to become the head of the Department of Homeland Security in the event of a Trump presidency, of course.
This is the state of American politics, and this is precisely why a true investigation of what happened on 9/11 never has, and never will, be conducted by the US government itself.
Suspect #2: Christine Todd Whitman
The “dust lady” photo has become one of the iconic images of 9/11. The image of a woman, shocked and disoriented, completely covered in dust from the demolition of the Twin Towers, brings the nearly incomprehensible events of that day down to a human scale.
But of course the “dust lady” was not the only one to feel the effects of the blanket of dust that descended on Manhattan after the towers fell. In the hours, days, and weeks that followed, thousands upon thousands of victims, first responders, emergency personnel, clean up crews, and residents were subjected to the poisonous stew of asbestos, benzene, mercury, lead, cadmium and other particulates from which many are now dying.
CBS REPORTER: Dr. David Prezant, Chief Medical Officer with the New York Fire Department, spent 7 years examining more than 10,000 fire-fighters. Those who were at the World Trade Center site after 9/11 and those who weren’t.
DR. DAVID PERZANT: And we found an increase in all cancers, combined. A 19% increase in cancers compared to the non-exposed World Trade Center group.
(SOURCE: 9/11 first responders and cancer)
ABBY MARTIN: Talk about the most pressing medical issues facing 9/11 first responders right now.
JOHN FEAL: Cancer. In the beginning, in the first few years it was respiratory but now it’s cancers and this is just the first wave of cancers, the blood cancers, the leukemias, the organ cancers but in 5 or 10 more years you’re going to see the asbestos cancers. There will be another wave of cancers and like I tell everybody, this is a generation long issue and a generation long illness.
(SOURCE: 9/11 Cancers Killing First Responders | Think Tank)
KEN GEORGE: Every morning I wake up I gotta take 33 pills within the course of the day. At 47 years old I have lungs of an 80 year old man that would’ve been a smoker. People say you have to forget about 9/11 and I say how could I forget about 9/11 when every morning I gotta take this medication and walk around with an oxygen tank.
(SOURCE: NYC 9/11 Rescuers Experience Lingering Health Problem)
If the brave men and women who had rushed to the World Trade Center in the chaotic days after 9/11 to help with the search and rescue had done so knowing the risks they were facing, that would be one thing. But of course they did not. They had been given false assurances by Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator who assured the public just days into the clean up that the air was safe to breathe.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: We know asbestos was in there, was in those buildings. Lead is in the those buildings. There are the VOC’s [Volatile Organic Compounds], however, the concentrations are such that they don’t pose a heath hazard.
(SOURCE: Christie Whitman says air is safe days after 911)
As the weeks and months dragged on, Whitman, the EPA and its officials made statement after statement after statement reaffirming that contaminant levels were “low or non-existent” and that the air quality in Manhattan posed “no public health concern.”
We now know that these reassurances were outright lies. On September 18th, the very same day that Whitman and the EPA were encouraging New Yorkers to return to work, the agency detected sulfur dioxide levels in the air so high that “according to one industrial hygienist, they exceeded the EPA’s standard for a classification of ‘hazardous.'” By that time, first responders were already reporting a range of health problems, including coughing, wheezing, eye irritation and headaches.
The evidence continued to pour in that there were serious health concerns for those in and around Manhattan, but the information was suppressed almost as quickly as it was discovered. When a local lab tested dust samples from near the WTC site and found dangerous concentrations of fiberglass and asbestos, the New York State Department of Health warned local labs that they would lose their licenses if they processed any more “independent sampling.” When US Geological Survey scientists began performing tests on their own dust samples, they were shocked at the “alphabet soup of heavy metals” they found in it. They forwarded this information to the EPA, but the agency continued to assure the public that there was no evidence of long term health risks.
The drama continued to unfold as information poured in about benzene, lead and other environmental toxins. Yet on September 18th the EPA specifically advised the public against wearing respirators outside the World Trade Center restricted area. Then, just two weeks later, the agency distributed respirators to their own staffers at the EPA’s Region 2 building on Broadway Street.
As scientists, industrial hygenists, and even other government officials began to accuse the EPA of covering up the true extent of the problem in New York, the agency continued with its dogged assertion that the air was safe to breathe.
It wasn’t until 2003 that the EPA’s own Inspector General revealed that the White House had been editing the agency’s press releases all along, finding that “the White House Council on Environmental Quality influenced, through the collaboration process, the information that EPA communicated to the public through its early press releases when it convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.”
When new documents were released to the public in 2011 on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it was discovered that this editing was even worse than originally feared.
ANTHONY DePALMA: There were clear warnings. Specifically on Water Street, which for those people in this area know is not far from Wall Street, that showed that the levels of contaminates in the air was too high people to go back. That (warning) was removed which was bad enough and then replaced with a recommendation that people go back to work. They were urged to go back. Even thought the early samples were showing that there were high-levels of contaminates.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you point out also that in many cases they (EPA) were telling people that is was safe before they had even finished conducting initial tests.
ANTHONY DePALMA: In one email exchange that happens on the 13th (of September), so it’s just a day and a half later, the people in Washington at the White House Council on Environmental Quality are telling the people up here, “Hey, Christine Whitman is coming up. She’s going to talk to reporters because all of the results so far have been so positive.”
Well, all of the results so far showed almost nothing because there were almost no results and yet they were committed to this message of reassurance despite the facts. And that’s not the way it should happen.
(SOURCE: 9/11 Debris Linked to Cancer, Details Emerge on How Officials Downplayed Ground Zero Dangers)
Outraged at the fact that they had been lied to and their lives put at risk, residents and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn sued Whitman and the EPA in 2004. In a 2006 ruling allowing the class action lawsuit to proceed, Judge Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan excoriated Whitman, finding that her baseless assurances that the air was safe “increased, and may have in fact created, the danger” to people living and working in the area. Ruling that the EPA did, in fact, make “misleading statements of safety” about the air quality, Judge Batts said: “The allegations in this case of Whitman’s reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks are without question conscience-shocking.”
Batts’ decision was overturned by a panel of judges in 2008, who ruled that misleading the public and contributing to the health problems and deaths of untold Ground Zero workers was not conscience shocking enough to override her immunity from prosecution as a federal agent.
If Whitman has a conscience at all, it is evidently not shocked by any of these accusations. She has not only never conceded guilt or even expressed sorrow for the ongoing sickness and deaths that her action helped bring about, she has repeatedly defended the actions of herself and the EPA in general.
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: Statements that EPA officials made after 9/11 were based on the judgement of experienced environmental and health professionals at the EPA, OSHA and the CDC, who had analyzed the test data that 13 different organizations and agencies were collecting in Lower Manhattan.
I do not recall any EPA scientist or experts responsible for viewing this data ever advising me that the test data from Lower Manhattan showed that the air or water proposed long-term health risks for the general public.
(SOURCE: Air Contamination at Ground Zero – C-Span)
Whitman’s lies are not just those of another self-serving politician looking to save their job or stay out of jail. They are the lies of someone who has contributed to the deteriorating health and even the death of thousands of innocent men and women.
For the victims of Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and all of the other agencies and officers who lied to the public about the health risks in New York, 9/11 is not a single day of horror that occurred a decade and a half ago. It is a slowly unfolding nightmare, one that every day brings them one step closer to their grave.
The “dust lady” is one of the icons of the tragedy of that day. Should it be any surprise, then, that she, too, was ravaged by 9/11 related diseases and ultimately died of cancer last year?
She was not the first person to die from the aftermath of 9/11. And, thanks to Christine Todd Whitman and the liars at the EPA who have consigned untold thousands to a similar fate, she will not be the last.
DAVID MILLER: My name is David Miller. On September 11, 2001, along with hundreds of my fellow troops I went to Ground Zero. No one asked us. No orders were given. We went because our city, our country, our neighbors were under attack and we knew what to do, or at least we thought we did.
On September 13th we marched back in, in groups of twos and threes at first and then dozens until there must of been more than 200 of us. Carrying ropes, ladders, tools of every kind back into the smoke and the poison and rubble were we reached an intersection with hundreds of civilians cheering us on. Our uniforms were torn and soiled, our resolve was simple. To stay and dig as long as we had any hope to save anybody.
I want to tell you about how sick some of these brave men and women have become. I want to tell about how the Mayor refused to accept the fact that not dozens, not hundreds but many thousands of us were contaminated, sickened and poisoned by the most toxic combinations of building materials in the history of disaster relief and that for 5 terrible years he ignored that fact. 5 years of our family members watching us drop dead.
And every time Popular Mechanics calls the people of this movement, nuts, these propagandists—professional liars and tools who can not even by any stretch of the imagination be considered journalists—strike another nail into the coffin of another rescue worker
(SOURCE: The 9/11 Chronicles: Part One, Truth Rising)
Suspect #3: Philip Zelikow
It took President Bush an extraordinary 441 days after 9/11 to establish a commission to investigate the events of September 11, 2001. And it was not just the case that Bush was slow in acting; he actively resisted any investigation for as long as he could, taking the extraordinary and unprecedented step of personally asking Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit Congress’ investigation into those events.
In the end, the commission was severely underfunded, severely rushed, and, as commission chairman, Thomas Kean, later admitted:
THOMAS KEAN: We think the (9/11) Commission in many ways was set up to fail.
(Source: C-SPAN: Thomas Kean Speaks at the National Press Club – September 11, 2006)
But the most unmistakable sign that Bush was only interested in appointing a cover up commission to “investigate” the largest attack on US soil in modern history was his initial choice for commission chairman.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Today I’m pleased to announce my choice for commission chairman: Dr. Henry Kissinger.
REPORTER: Dr. Kissinger, do you have any concerns about once the commission begins it work and fingers point to valuable allies, say Saudi Arabia for example, what policy implications could this have for the United States particularly at this delicate time?
HENRY KISSINGER: I have been given every assurance by the President that we should go where the facts lead us.
(Source: Henry Kissinger and the 9/11 Commission)
Not even the New York Times could believe that Henry Kissinger, the consummate Washington insider, could pretend to conduct an independent fact-finding investigation into 9/11. “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,” The Times editorialized after the announcement.
Kissinger may have been prepared for such polite disagreement with his appointment. But he was not prepared to meet the 9/11 widows whose tireless efforts had forced the creation of the commission in the first place.
NARRATOR: Several family members approached Kissinger and requested a meeting at his office in New York. Prior to the meeting Kristen Breitweiser conducted a thorough investigation of Kissinger’s potential conflicts of interest.
PATTY CASAZZA: Probably much to the chagrin of some of the people in the room, Lorie (Van Auken) asked some very poignant questions. “Would you have any Saudi-Amercian clients that you would like to tell us about?” and he was very uncomfortable kind of twisting and turning on the couch and then she asked, “whether he had any clients by the name of Bin-Laden?” And he just about fell off his couch.
NEWS REPORTER: Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, stepped down from the position Friday.
MINDY KLEINBERG: We thought the meeting went well.
(Source: 9/11: Press For Truth)
Kissinger was dethroned and the commission went ahead under chairman Thomas Kean and vice chair Lee Hamilton. But while Kissinger’s appointment and resignation received all the attention, the White House was busy slipping another agent into the commission through the back door.
In January of 2003, just weeks after Kissinger stepped down, it was quietly announced that Philip D. Zelikow would take on the role of executive director. As executive director, Zelikow picked “the areas of investigation, the briefing materials, the topics for hearings, the witnesses, and the lines of questioning for witnesses.” In effect, this was the man in charge of running the investigation itself.
So who was Philip Zelikow? The commission’s press release announcing his position described him as “a man of high stature who has distinguished himself as an academician, lawyer, author and public servant.” Although they noted his position at the University of Virginia and his previous role as executive director for the National Commission on Federal Electoral Reform, curiously missing from this brief bio are the multiple conflicts of interest that show how the Bush administration essentially put one of its own in charge of investigating how the Bush administration “failed” on 9/11.
In 1995 he coauthored a book with Bush’s national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice.
He was part of the transition team that helped the Bush administration take over the White House from the Clinton administration.
He was even a member of Bush’s post-9/11 Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
But perhaps most incredibly, Zelikow actually authored the Bush administration’s 2002 “National Security Strategy” that outlined the preemptive war doctrine that would be used against Iraq. This, however, is something that not even 9/11 commissioners Kean or Hamilton themselves knew at the time the commission was formed.
PHILIP SHENON: (Philip) Zelikow was the author of a very important document issued by the White House in September 2002 that really turned military doctrine on it’s head and said that the United States could become involved in preemptive war, preemptive defense. That we could attack a nation that didn’t pose an immediate military threat to this country. And obviously in September of 2002 it sure appeared that that document was being written with one target in mind: Iraq.
Now as I say, the author of the document at the time was anonymous. We didn’t know that Philip Zelikow had written this thing and that becomes known I think widely on this day, if only in the final months of the 9/11 Commission investigation and it appeared to pose yet another conflict of interest for Zelikow.
MICHAEL DUFFY: Just to be clear, the pre-emptive doctrine comes out in September of 2002. The Commission is created formally in . . .
SHENON: December 2002.
DUFFY: . . . and do Kean and Hamilton, when they hire Zelikow, are they aware of his role as the author of the preemptive doctrine?
SHENON: I don’t believe so.
(Source: After Words with Philip Shenon, March 2008)
These conflicts of interest were not merely theoretical. After the victims’ family members discovered Zelikow’s links to the Bush administration, he was forced to recuse himself from the proceedings of the commission (which he himself was directing) that had to do with the Bush White House transition or the National Security Council.
Hearing of Zelikow’s appointment, former counter terrorism czar Richard Clarke (who Zelikow helped to demote during the Bush transition), remarked that “The fix is in,” wondering aloud: “Could anyone have a more obvious conflict of interest than Zelikow?”
Key staffers and even one of the commissioners threatened to quit the commission altogether when learning of Zelikow’s history.
When the 9/11 victims’ family members discovered Zelikow’s links, they protested his appointment. But unlike with Kissinger, this time their concerns were dismissed and Zelikow plowed ahead.
As even Zelikow himself admits, his ties to the very figures he was supposedly investigating are a legitimate concern, and any real investigation of the 9/11 cover up would begin with him.
PHILIP ZELIKOW: There’s a whole welter of conspiracy theories about 9/11 floating around the internet, on videocasettes. There’s a whole cottage industry in this, which if you haven’t read much about it then you’re a fortunate person. I get a lot of this. I actually figure very largely in a number of key conspiracy theories. [Laughter]
No, to be fair, I worked with Condi Rice, right? I worked with her in the administration of Bush 41, so I guess I could be read as a plausible henchman executing a cover up. And it’s a legitimate concern, especially if I hadn’t had 81 other staffers keeping their eagle eye on me.
(Source: Road to 9/11 : and where we are today)
Conveniently left out of Zelikow’s story about the “81 staffers” keeping their eye on his decisions is that they were staffers who were hired by him and under his complete control. In fact, Zelikow took over the hiring of the commission staff and even stopped staffers from communicating directly with the commissioners themselves. In the first few months, the 9/11 commissioners themselves rarely even visited the commission because Zelikow denied them their own offices or the ability to hire their own staffers.
The most remarkable example of Zelikow’s dictatorial control came in March 2003, just three months into the commission’s 16-month investigation began. It was at that time, before the commission had even convened a single hearing, that Zelikow, along with long-time associate and commission consultant Ernest May, co-wrote a complete outline of the final report.
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Before the staff even had its first meeting, Zelikow had written, along with his former professor, Ernest May, a detailed outline of the commission’s report, complete, as Shenon put it, with chapter headings, sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings. When Kean and Hamilton were later shown this outline they worried that it would be seen as evidence that the report’s outcome had been predetermined, so the three of them decided to keep it a secret from the rest of the staff.
When the staff did finally learn about this outline a year later they were alarmed. Some of them circulated a parody entitled ‘The Warren Commission Report: Preemptive Outline.’ One of its chapter headings read: ‘Single Bullet: We Haven’t Seen the Evidence Yet, But Really, We’re Sure.’ The implication was that the crucial chapter in the Zelikow-May outline could have been ‘Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: We Haven’t Seen the Evidence Yet, But Really, We’re Sure.’
(Source: The Toronto Hearings on 9/11 Uncut – David Ray Griffin – Day 1)
So what exactly did Zelikow do as executive director?
He allowed information in the commission’s final report derived from illegal CIA torture sessions, despite not having access to the evidence of those sessions themselves (which were later illegally destroyed). This included the testimony of alleged “9/11 mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was waterboarded 183 times in a single month, whose children were kidnapped by the CIA, who was told that his children were going to be tortured with insects, and who eventually confessed to a whole series of plots, including bombing a bank that didn’t exist at the time he was arrested. More than one quarter of the footnotes in the final commission report source from this torture testimony, and as Zelikow himself admitted, “quite a bit, if not most” of the commission’s information on the 9/11 plot itself came from this testimony.
Zelikow denied interviews and documents to staffers investigating the Saudi connection to the attacks, eventually firing one of them and removing the text of their investigation from the final report.
He personally rewrote a commission staff statement to suggest a systematic link between Al Qaeda and Iraq before 9/11, outraging the authors of the original statement.
He worked behind his own staffer’s back to stop them from serving the Pentagon a subpoena to answer about information NORAD was withholding from the commission.
He sat on a proposal to open a criminal investigation into FAA and military officials who lied to the commission for months, and then forwarded that proposal not to the Justice Department, who could have brought criminal charges, but to the Inspector General, who could not.
And he covered up information on Able Danger, a military intelligence team that had identified several of the alleged 9/11 hijackers in the country before 9/11.
Col. ANTHONY SHAFFER: After the initial disclosure, Dr. Zelikow came to me at the end of the meeting, gave me his card and said: “What you said today is critically important. Very important. Please come see me when you return to Washington, D.C.”
I returned to Washington, D.C., January 2004, call in, they say “We want to see you, stand by.” Nothing happens.
A week goes by. I call again, they say: “We don’t need you to come in. We have all the information on Able Danger we need, thank you anyway.” And that was where it ended.
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: Alright, so the information that you told Dr. Zelikow in Afghanistan about the CIA interfering with your ability to provide actionable intelligence to the United States government–intelligence that might have helped them find out who caused, 9/11–you were not permitted to testify about it?
Col. ANTHONY SHAFFER: That’s correct.
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: OK.
(Source: Judge Napolitano Exposing 9-11 Cover-Up With Col. Anthony Shaffer)
From the initial outline to the final report, Zelikow carefully guided the process, hiring and firing the staff, directing their research efforts, deciding on witnesses, scrubbing information, and shielding his former colleagues in the White House from criticism.
But perhaps more remarkable than the fact that “the fix was in” from the moment he took over the commission and began working on the predictive outline of the final report, is that he had in fact written about 9/11 and its eventual aftermath in 1998, three years before September 11th.
In an article entitled “Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger,” written for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Foreign Affairs in November 1998, Zelikow and co-authors Ashton Carter and John Deutsche ask readers to imagine a catastrophic act of terrorism like the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently.
Zelikow’s amazing prediction becomes somewhat less remarkable when we learn his own self-described expertise in the creation and management of “public myth.” In a separate 1998 article on public myths, Zelikow identifies “generational” myths that are “formed by those pivotal events that become etched in the minds of those who have lived through them,” before noting that the current set of public myths, formed during the New Deal in 1933, are currently fading.
Convenient for Zelikow, then, that the “Pearl Harbor” event that would define the next “generational” myth, known as the “War on Terror,” would arrive just three years later, and that he would be in charge of the commission tasked with creating and managing the public perception of that myth.
Indeed, given his central role in the cover up of 9/11 and deflecting concern away from legitimate 9/11 suspects, any true investigation into the events of September 11th would involve a thorough interrogation of Philip D. Zelikow.
Suspect #4: Robert Baer
A 21 year veteran of the CIA, Robert Baer is billed as “one of America’s most elite intelligence case officers.” Having worked field assignments in Lebanon, Sudan, Morocco, Iraq and other international hotspots, he was praised by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh as “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East.”
He has written multiple books based on his experiences with the agency. He has worked as a consultant on documentary and television projects. He regularly appears as a commentator on CNN and other news outlets, and he writes a regular column on intelligence matters for Time. George Clooney’s character in Syriana, Bob Barnes, is based on Baer and his experiences with the CIA.
“… and 90% of what’s left is in the Middle East. This is fight to the death.”
“I think we’ve got something that utilizes your … specific skills set.
“His moneys in a lot of dark corners.”
CLOONEY: “I want you to take him from his hotel, drug him, put him in the front of a car and run a truck into him at 50 miles an hour.”
“It’s good to have you back in town, Bob.”
(Source: ‘Syriana’ Trailer)
Robert Baer retired from the CIA in 1997 and received the agency’s Career Intelligence Medal the following year.
In short, he is a serious and well-respected career intelligence official.
All of this makes it particularly stunning that in 2008 he told a team of citizen journalists in Los Angeles that he knew a man who “cashed out” the day before 9/11.
JEREMY ROTHE-KUSHEL: …the last thing I want to leave you with is the National Reconnaissance Office was running a drill of a plane crashing into their building and you know they’re staffed by DoD and CIA…
ROBERT BAER: I know the guy that went into his broker in San Diego and said ‘cash me out, it’s going down tomorrow.’
JEREMY ROTHE-KUSHEL: Really?
ROBERT BAER: Yeah.
STEWART HOWE: That tells us something.
ROBERT BAER: What?
STEWART HOWE: That tells us something.
ROBERT BAER: Well his brother worked at the White House.
(SOURCE: WeAreChangeLA debriefs CIA Case Officer Robert Baer about apparent Mossad and White House 9/11 foreknowledge)
Given Robert Baer’s experience and training, it is difficult to comprehend just how significant the information that he just casually admits here really is. We are left with only two possibilities: either Baer is lying, or he has direct knowledge of someone “whose brother worked at the White House” who had foreknowledge of the 9/11 plot. There is no middle ground here.
The man Robert Baer claims to know is at least an accessory before the fact to the crimes of 9/11, if not an actual accomplice or co-conspirator in those crimes. By failing to report this information to the investigative authorities, Baer leaves himself open to being an accessory after the fact to those same crimes.
Title 18 Section 3 of the US Code defines the criteria for an “Accessory After the Fact” to a crime committed against the United States:
Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.
Given the exceptionally grave nature of this admission and its repercussions, one would suppose that Baer has been questioned by other media and/or the FBI and made to discuss in detail precisely who it was who cashed out and how he knew about the 9/11 plot in advance. But one would be wrong. Since making this stunning admission to the cameras of We Are Change Los Angeles, no one has ever asked Baer for more information about the case.
So what does Robert Baer say about the possibility of a 9/11 inside job?
In 2007, writing about the CIA’s admission that they illegally destroyed the videotaped interrogations of high profile terror suspects, Baer said:
I myself have felt the pull of the conspiracy theorists — who believe that 9/11 was an inside job, somehow pulled off by the U.S. government. For the record, I don’t believe that the World Trade Center was brought down by our own explosives, or that a rocket, rather than an airliner, hit the Pentagon. I spent a career in the CIA trying to orchestrate plots, wasn’t all that good at it, and certainly couldn’t carry off 9/11. Nor could the real pros I had the pleasure to work with.
But just one year before he gave a very different answer to Thomas Hartmann on his radio show.
THOMAS HARTMANN: So are you personally of the opinion, obviously you can’t speak for the CIA or your previous activities with the agency, but are you of the opinion that there was an aspect of “inside job” to 9/11 within the U.S. Government?
ROBERT BAER: There’s that possibility. The evidence points at it.
HARTMANN: And why is not being investigated?
BAER: Why isn’t the WMD story being investigated? Why hasn’t anybody been held accountable for 9/11? I mean, we held people accountable after Pearl Harbor. So why has there been no change of command, why have there been no political repercussions? Why has there not been any sort of exposure on this? It really makes you wonder.
(Source: Robert Baer on 9/11)
So why is Robert Baer hiding the identity of a 9/11 accomplice or co-conspirator? And will the FBI be asking him for details of this story any time soon? Until the American public show some interest in this shocking admission, it is unlikely that anything will happen.
Suspect #5: Gen. Ralph Eberhart
According to the official story of September 11, 2001, four hijacked airliners flew wildly off course over the most sensitive airspace in the United States for 109 minutes without being intercepted by a single fighter jet. As Commander-in-Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command on 9/11, General Ralph Eberhart was in charge of the largest failure to defend North American airspace in history.
Rather than accepting blame for his command’s complete lack of response that morning, however, or even expressing regret about what had occurred, General Eberhart instead spent the rest of his career attempting to pin the blame for this failure squarely on the FAA.
GEN. EBERHART: You’ve read a lot over the last two and a half years about what NORAD did and did not do that morning and should have done in the years and months leading up to that attack. Ground truth is that NORAD was charged to support the FAA in the event of a hijacking. Our role was to respond to the request from FAA to get airborne, fly, shadow the hijacked airplane, say whether the hijacked airplane was following the instructions of the air traffic controller, of FAA, and in the terrible situation that that plane crashed, or that airplane exploded in mid-air, document that tragedy.
(Source: Homeland Defense in the Global War on Terrorism)
Although Eberhart’s version of events was cemented into place as the official story of 9/11 propounded by the 9/11 commission, they are in fact self-serving lies.
In Eberhart’s version of events, NORAD is completely subordinate to the FAA. In reality, however, NORAD is specifically tasked with dealing with such events itself, not waiting passively for FAA orders. NORAD’s own regulations for dealing with hijacked jets specifically state that “FAA Authorization for Interceptor Operations is not used for intercept and airborne surveillance of hijacked aircraft within the [continental United States].”
These standard operating procedures were not merely theoretical, or some obscure regulation that would have been unfamiliar to the four-star general in charge of defending American airspace. In the year 2000 alone, NORAD scrambled fighters in response to “unknowns”–pilots who didn’t file or diverted from flight plans or used the wrong frequency–129 times.
Perhaps even more remarkable, however, is that Eberhart and NORAD offered not one, not two, not three, but four separate timelines of their complete lack of response that morning. The first, offered by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers just two days after the attacks during his confirmation hearings in the Senate, claimed that not a single fighter was scrambled to intercept any of the airliners until after the incident at the Pentagon. One week later, NORAD released a partial timeline that indicated they had in fact received advance notification about three of the planes with as much as 20 minutes warning, more than enough time for the planes to have been intercepted. A third story emerged in May 2003; this time, NORAD was only contacted about Flight 175 at 9:05, 3 minutes after it crashed into the south tower. The official story, found in the 9/11 Commission’s final report, was that NORAD received no advance notice of any of the flights. Eberhart and the military were completely exonerated.
However, Eberhart had testified in October 2001 that NORAD had been notified about Flight 77 at 9:24 AM. The 9/11 Commission determined that this was a lie. Regardless of the truth or untruth of any of these accounts, the simple fact is that, according to the 9/11 Commission itself, Eberhart had lied to Congress, which is in fact a crime. By the 9/11 Commission’s own account, Eberhart should have been tried.
But Eberhart’s lies do not end there.
GEN. EBERHART: Many people will talk about that they knew that there was going to be an attack. They knew that people were going to take over an aircraft and fly it into a building. I can tell you that there was no credible intelligence at that time to go build a defense against that type of attack. Tragically, we were wrong. We were wrong.
(Source: Homeland Defense in the Global War on Terrorism)
Once again, Eberhart’s depiction of events is a self-serving and easily demonstrable lie.
Not only had NORAD envisioned such a scenario, they had been training for it extensively in the years leading up to 9/11. Between October 1998 and September 2001, NORAD had conducted 28 exercise events involving hijackings. At least five of those hijack scenarios involved “a suicide crash into a high-value target.” Furthermore, at least six of the exercises took place completely within American airspace, putting to rest the oft-heard excuse that NORAD wasn’t prepared for threats from within the US.
Another note that would be of interest to prosecutors looking at potential foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks pertains to Eberhart’s dual role as Commander-in-Chief of US Space Command, where he was responsible for setting something called the “Infocon threat level.” Established in March 1999, the Infocon threat level was designed as a measure of the threat to Defense Department computer systems and networks and different levels required different protocols for securing communications and information systems. At 9:09 PM on September 10, 2001, less than 12 hours before the attacks began, Eberhart reduced Infocon to Level 5 , the lowest threat level, making it easier for hackers to compromise Defense Department systems and controls. Eberhart has never been asked about this change in the public record.
There are a laundry list of other questionable actions that Eberhart took on 9/11:
Ralph E. Eberhart remains at large.
Suspect #6: The Dancing Israelis
DAN RATHER: Some evil is just … it can’t be explained.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Are these people happy? Are they joyous now? Are they celebrating? Thank God?
DAN RATHER: Oh absolutely, they’re celebrating. There’s one report, this has not been confirmed but there is several eye[witness] reports that there was a cell, one of these cells across the Hudson River. And they got on the … this is the report and I emphasize that I don’t know this for a fact but there’s several witnesses who say this happened. They got on the roof of a building to look across, they knew what was gonna happen. They were waiting for it to happen and when it happened they celebrated. They jumped for joy.
(SOURCE: The Late Show with David Letterman – 09/17/01)
In the days after 9/11, while Ground Zero continued to smolder, millions heard Dan Rather and various media outlets repeat vague and unconfirmed reports of arrests that took place that day. These rumors held that Middle Eastern men, presumably Arabs, were arrested in explosive-packed vans in various places around the city on September 11th, and that some had even been photographing and celebrating those events. What most do not realize is that those reports were not mere rumors, and we now have thousands of pages of FBI, CIA and DOJ reports documenting those arrests.
MARIA: I grabbed my binoculars and I’m trying to look at the Twin Towers but what caught my attention was down there I see this van parked and I see 3 guys on top of the van. They seemed to be taking a movie and I could see that they were like happy and laughing. They didn’t look shocked to me, you know what I mean? They didn’t look shocked.
(SOURCE: The Five Dancing Israelis – 9/11/2001 – Our Purpose Was To Document The Event)
The men were spotted shortly after 8:46 AM, yet somehow at this early stage, just minutes after the first plane strike on the World Trade Center, they were already positioned in a parking lot in Liberty State Park, taking pictures of the towers and celebrating. They left the scene shortly after being spotted and at 3:31 PM the FBI issued an all points bulletin advising officers in the Greater New York area to be on the lookout for a “White, 2000 Chevrolet van…with ‘Urban Moving Systems’ sign on back.”
At 3:56 PM, the van was spotted traveling eastward on State Route 3 in New Jersey and pulled over by Officer Scott DeCarlo and Sgt. Dennis Rivelli of the East Rutherford police department. Inside they found five men: Sivan Kurzberg and his brother, Paul, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner, and Omar Marmari.
BERNICE STEGERS: A major terrorist man-hunt began and, just 6 hours after the attack, the van was stopped at a roadblock by patrolman Scott De Carlo.
SCOTT De CARLO: We were asked to detain the van and the passengers. They were just removed from the vehicle, patted down for safety precautions and detained.
I think once the FBI arrived, one of them stated that they were on our side or something to that effect.
(SOURCE: The 9/11 Conspiracies – Ch 4)
According to the police report of the incident, Sivan Kurzberg told Officer DeCarlo: “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.”
Their official story: they were just Israeli tourists working for a moving company who had heard about the first World Trade Center strike and rushed to get a better view of the events.
BERNICE STEGERS: They told interrogators they were working for Urban Moving, a shipping and storage firm run by an Israeli businessman, who often employed Israeli students without work permits. The men say there was an innocent explanation for what was found in the van. and their behavior on 9/11. They were, they say, “simply on a working holiday.”
PAUL KURZBERG: We heard in the news that one of the plane was crashing down the buildings and we thought it was an accident at the beginning. So, we went up to the roof of Urban Moving and we saw the building burning.
YARON SCHMUEL: There is a better view from a building in Jersey that is up a hill, straight-line to the World Trade Center. We decided to go up there, it’s 2-3 minutes from the office, stand over there and take some pictures. Everyone wants pictures like this in his camera.
(SOURCE: The 9/11 Conspiracies – Ch 4)
Although this narrative is still trotted out when the story of the dancing Israelis is raised in the media, it is an easily demonstrable lie.
FBI reports confirm that the men were not taking somber pictures of a horrific event. When their 76 pictures were developed, they revealed the men had indeed been celebrating; smiling, hugging each other, and high-fiving. One of the pictures even featured Sivan Kurzberg holding a lighter up with the burning tower in the background.
And these were no ordinary tourists. Oded Ellner had $4,700 stuffed into his sock. They lied to the police about where they had been that morning. They were carrying plane tickets for immediate departure to different places around the globe. The FBI confirmed that two of the men had ties to Israeli intelligence and came to suspect that they had indeed been on a mission for the Mossad.
And of course, after returning to Israel Ellner claimed on national Israeli TV that they had been sent there “to document the event.”
ODED ELLNER (Translation): And at that point we were taken for another round of questioning. This time related to us allegedly being members of Mossad.
The fact of the matter is, we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.
(SOURCE: Inside Israel)
Their purpose was to “document the event”? But how could they possibly have known what “event” they were documenting at that point, before the second plane strike when those few who even knew about the situation had assumed it to be an accident or pilot error?
And when did they arrive at the parking lot to “document the event” anyway?
The FBI reports show how the men gave confused and often conflicting accounts of when and how they learned about what was happening and when they arrived at the parking lot. Oded Ellner even said they had arrived their shortly after 8:00 AM, which would have been 45 minutes before the attacks even began [see page 45 here]. This is in line with one of the eyewitnesses that had placed their Urban Moving Systems van at the parking lot at 8:00 AM [see page 33 here]. How could they have been in place and ready to “document the event” unless they knew what was about to happen?
Anyway you cut it, this story is unbelievable. Men with documented connections to Israeli intelligence and working in the United States without appropriate permits were detained after having been caught celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center at a time when no one knew that the WTC strike was an attack. So surely these men are locked behind bars to this day, right? Surely they were transferred to Guantanamo and held without trial for 15 years as part of the “War on Terror,” weren’t they?
No. They were immediately transferred to federal custody, held for 71 days, and then deported back to Israel. The owner of the “Urban Moving Systems” company that had employed them, Dominik Suter, was investigated by the FBI, too. They concluded that “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation” and even seized records and computer systems from the company’s offices. When they went back to question him again on September 14th, he had fled back to Israel.
And what about the dancing Israelis’ pictures themselves? The Justice Department destroyed their copies on January 27, 2014.
And these intelligence agents on an intelligence mission who were there to “document the event” of 9/11 before anyone knew 9/11 was taking place? Don’t worry, they were just spying on Arab terrorists.
ELIZABETH VARGAS: And while the FBI or certain sources might believe that in fact they were Israeli intelligence, they don’t believe that the US was a target. That they were actually investigating Muslim groups?
JOHN MILLER: They believe if this was an intelligence operation by Israel, that it was focused on the Islamic groups and charities that raise money for groups that are considered by US Law Enforcement and others terrorist groups. You’ll note that after September 11th, the US moved on many of these groups with indictments, arrests, raids on their headquarters, something that hadn’t happened prior to this.
ELIZABETH VARGAS: These are groups that Israel believe have been funding Hamas and other terrorists organizations?
JOHN MILLER: Groups that are responsible for most of the suicide bombings there.
(SOURCE: ABC News 20/20 preview – June 21, 2002)
But this story is not merely preposterous on its face; even the implications of this story are themselves preposterous. If indeed the “official story” is a ridiculous lie, then are we to believe that these crack Israeli Mossad operatives who were presumably aware of the attack that was about to take place had been sent to photograph the burning tower from a parking lot across the Hudson River? And that these specially trained intelligence professionals on their super secret mission were celebrating, high-fiving and going out of their way to be noticed in performance of their task? This is equally preposterous.
The only other possible conclusion is that these men were serving merely as a distraction. That they were not there to photograph for Israeli intelligence one of the most heavily photographed scenes in the world on that morning, but instead to be noticed and arrested as a way to divert attention from a much bigger and more sinister story.
So if they were meant to distract from a bigger story, what story could that possibly be?
BRIT HUME: It has been more than 16 years since a civilian working for the Navy was charged with passing secrets to Israel. Jonathan Pollard pled guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and is serving a life sentence. At first Israeli leaders claimed Pollard was part of a rogue operation but later took responsibility for his work.
Now, Fox News has learned some US investigators believe that there are Israelis again very much engaged in spying in and on the US. Who may have known things they didn’t tell us before September 11th. Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron has details in the first of a 4 part series.
CARL CAMERON: Since September 11th more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained. Either under the new PATRIOT anti-terrorism law or for immigration violations.
A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the Unites States.
There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are “tie-ins” but when asked for details he flatly refused to describe them saying: “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about the evidence that has been gathered. It is classified information.
Asked this week about another sprawling investigation and the detention of 60 Israelis since September 11th, the Bush administration treated the questions like hot potatoes.
ARI FLEISCHER: I would just refer you to the Department of Justice with it. I’m not familiar with the report.
COLIN POWELL: I’m aware that some Israeli citizens have been detained. With respect to why they are being detained and the other aspects of your question, whether it’s because they are in intelligence services or what they were doing, I will defer to the Department of Justice and the FBI to answer that.
CARL CAMERON: Beyond the 60 apprehended or detained and many deported since September 11th, another group of 140 Israeli individuals have been arrested and detained in this year. In what government documents describe as, “An organized intelligence gathering operation designed to “penetrate government facilities.” Most of those individuals said they had served in the Israeli military, which is compulsory there, but they also had, most of them, intelligence expertise and either worked for AMDOCS or other companies in Israel that specialize in wiretapping. Earlier this week the Israeli Embassy here in Washington denied any spying against or in the United States.
[. . .]
BRIT HUME: Carl, what about this question of advanced knowledge of what was going to happen on 9/11? How clear are investigators that some Israeli agents may have known something?
CARL CAMERON: Well it’s very explosive information obviously and there is a great deal of evidence that they say they have collected. None of it necessarily conclusive. It’s more when they put it all together a big question they say is, “How could they have not have known?” Almost a direct quote, Brit.
(SOURCE: Israeli software spying on US – FOX – Dec 2001)
The most phenomenal part of this report is not that it was eventually erased from the web by Fox News itself, but that it ever made it to the air at all. In December of 2001, Fox News investigative reporter Carl Cameron filed an explosive 4-part series that went in-depth into an Israeli art student spying ring that had been under investigation before 9/11, extensive Israeli wiretapping of sensitive US government communications, and the 60 Israeli spies that were detained in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Unsurprisingly, the story was quickly dropped and no mainstream journalists dared to continue probing into the matter.
This is the real story of Israeli spies and 9/11; not some vague rumours about some dancing Israelis but an FBI dragnet that swept up the largest foreign spying ring ever caught red-handed on American soil. And although the FBI were convinced that these spies knew about 9/11 in advance, their investigations were stifled and the issue was swept under the rug. Rather than making Israel enemy number one in the war on terror, Israel remains to this day the US’ “most important ally.”
HILLARY CLINTON: And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected President, the United States will re-affirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israels security.
(SOURCE: Hillary Clinton AIPAC Full Speech – March, 2016)
DONALD TRUMP: In 2001, weeks after the attacks on New York City and on Washington and frankly the attacks on all of us, attacks that were perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalists, Mayor Rudy Giuliani visited Israel to show solidarity with terror victims. I sent my plane because I backed the mission for Israel 100%.
(SOURCE: Donald Trump AIPAC Full Speech – March, 2016)
But perhaps this is understandable. After all, we all remember how Yasser Arafat gloated about 9/11 and said it was good for Palestinians, right?
Oh wait, that wasn’t Yasser Arafat. It was Benjamin Netanyahu.
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli newspaper, Maariv, has reported Israels former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly said the September 11th attacks have been good for Israel. Netanyahu said:
“We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.”
(SOURCE:“Sept 11 was good for Israel” – Democracy Now – April 17, 2008)
DONALD TRUMP: My name is Donald Trump and I’m a big fan of Israel. And frankly a strong Prime Minister, is a strong Israel and you truly have a great Prime Minister in Benajim Netanyahu, there’s nobody like him. He’s a winner, he’s highly respected, he’s highly thought of by all.
And people really do have great, great respect for whats happened in Israel.
So vote for Benjamin, terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.
(SOURCE: Donald Trump Endorsement for Prime Minister Netanyahu)
Given that the ultimate consequence of 9/11 was the beginning of a now 15 year long struggle to transform the Middle East, a struggle that the neocons that went on to populate the Bush administration had been openly advocating since the “Clean Break” policy paper in the mid-1990s, it isn’t hard to see how the September 11th attacks were indeed a boon for Israel. But information linking Israeli spies to advance knowledge of 9/11 remains “classified information.”
In a world of true justice, the dancing Israelis and other Israeli spies with insider advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, who openly celebrated those attacks, would be the targets of the “war on terror,” not its beneficiaries.
This feed contains research, news, information, observations, and ideas at the level of the world.