- The 9/11 Commission Report
- Does 9/11 Truth Have A Chance?; Paul Craig Roberts
- Ignorance Is Strength; Corbett Report
- The Terrorism Issue that Wasn’t Discussed; Gareth Porter
- Scott Horton Interviews Glenn Greenwald
- Was There an Alternative? Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later; Noam Chomsky.
This blog will make more sense if the previous blog from September 11, 2011 first
In the recent decades of my life, at least since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, those who question or provide alternative explanations to the official declarations of government commissions formed to present findings of "truth" about the more disturbing events in our lives, have been labeled as "conspiracy theorists." We have been taught by the propaganda of corporate media and government that "conspiracy theorists" are simply "nutcases" and "crackpots," crazy, deranged, and probably dangerous people that we must quickly disregard and who should be treated with suspicion. The effect of the demonization, of course, is to prevent people from carefully examining the facts contained in these alternative theories, because, after all, they are just the conspiracy theories of paranoids.
In some cases the falseness of the alternative theory may be obvious, which only reinforces the officially supported idea that any alternative explanation is but the imaginings of another crackpot. The "facts" of other alternative theories are thus left unexamined by most folks eager to avoid being deemed crazy by their peers. As a skeptic and a biologist/naturalist trained in the sciences, with the equivalent of a minor in chemistry, and who has a love of sociology, I have tended to want to hear out the "crackpots" and many others. On some occasions, the facts they present, scientific or otherwise, are compelling, but may not be readily understood by those without scientific training, so it is often easier for some folks to go with the "official" government theories, or, on occasion, to go with the "conspiracy theorists," depending upon their experience and emotional inclination. The major problem for all of us is that we are trained by the educational system of indoctrination to believe that the system and government are truthful, and are looking out for our best interest. Due to our conditioning, it is then, even in the face of the lies we were told about Iraq, sometimes difficult to challenge government pronouncements concerning the truth about events that seem to threaten all of us, and especially to give any credence to the idea that our government may purposefully endanger or deceive us.
The problem then in finding the truth, in most cases, is to examine the scientific facts. This effort, especially for those with no scientific education, is particularly difficult, when there are two competing versions of the "facts." In that case, whether it be the debate about global warming and climate change, or the collapse of the towers at "ground zero," one may look to the motivations, number, and qualifications, of experts on both sides, even if the media tries to suppress them. My mind, after examining the arguments and facts, says there are compelling reasons to doubt the official government version of the events that occurred on 9/11/01.
That said, here are more articles about 9/11.
The 9/11 Commission Report
Also, check out--Philip Zelikow, Executive Director
Does 9/11 Truth Have A Chance?
By Paul Craig Roberts
September 11, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- -- In the US on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, politicians and their presstitute media presented Americans with “A Day of Remembrance,” a propaganda exercise that hardened the 9/11 lies into dogma. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Canada, at Ryerson University the four-day International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001, came to a close at 5pm.
During the four days of hearings, distinguished scientists and scholars and professional architects and engineers presented the results of years of their independent research into all aspects of 9/11 to a distinguished panel consisting of the honorary president of the Italian Supreme Court who was an investigative judge who presided over terrorism cases and three distinguished scholars of high renown and judgment. The distinguished panel’s task is to produce a report with their judgment of the evidence presented by the expert witnesses.
The Toronto Hearings were streamed live over the Internet. I was able to watch many of the presentations over the four days. I was impressed that the extremely high level of intelligence and scientific competence of the witnesses was matched by a high level of integrity, a quality rare in US politics and totally absent in the American media.
As I stressed in my recent interview about 9/11 with Jim Corbett and Global Research, I am a reporter, not an independent researcher into 9/11. I pay attention when the fact-based community finds problems with the official propaganda. Perhaps this reflects my age. My generation was raised to believe in evidence and the scientific method. George Orwell and other writers warned us of the consequence of succumbing to government propaganda as a result of disinterest in the truth or government manipulation of one’s patriotism.
My ability to serve as a reporter of scientific evidence is enhanced by my having a Bachelor of Science from Georgia Tech, a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and post-graduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University, where my professor was the distinguished physical chemist and philosopher, Michael Polanyi. In the 1960s, I was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, in order to provide together with Polanyi to the science students at Berkeley a course in Polanyi’s unique contributions to knowledge. Polanyi’s illness prevented the course from happening and condemned me to being a mere economist.
This does not mean that I am infallible or that my reporting is correct. If my reporting stimulates you, go to the presentations, which I believe will continue to be available online, and if not, some edited CD will be available. Try http://www.ustream.tv/channel/thetorontohearings
As one whose own contributions to economics, now belatedly recognized, are “outside the box,” I am responsive to those who can escape peer pressure in order to advance truth. Here are some of the important things I learned from the Toronto Hearings.
The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, a government agency) reports on the twin towers and building 7 are fraudulent. Witnesses at the Toronto Hearings proved that building 7 was a standard controlled demolition and that incendiaries and explosives brought down the twin towers. There is no doubt whatsoever about this. Anyone who declares the contrary has no scientific basis upon which to stand. Those who defend the official story believe in miracles that defy the laws of physics.
A nano-chemist from the University of Copenhagen, who together with a scientific team spent 18 months investigating the chemical and physical properties of dust from the towers, found evidence of nano-termite in the dust and quantities of particles not naturally formed by office or normal building fires that indicate another explosive was also present.
These findings explain the extreme high temperatures that produced the molten steel for which indisputable evidence exists. In the orchestrated cover-up, NIST denies that molten steel is present as its presence is inconsistent with the low temperatures that NIST acknowledges building fires can produce.
Physicist David Chandler proved beyond all doubt that building 7 fell over its visible part (other buildings obscure the bottom floors) at free fall speed, an unambiguous indication that explosives had removed all supporting columns simultaneously. There is no possibility whatsoever according to the laws of physics that building 7 fell for the reasons NIST provides. The NIST account is a total denial of known laws of physics.
Many other powerful points were made at the conference that I will not report, at least not at this time, because the revelation of malevolence is so powerful that most readers will find it a challenge to their emotional and mental strength.
Psychologists explained that there are two kinds of authority to which people submit. One is to the authority of people in high positions in the government. The belief that “our government wouldn’t lie to us” is pervasive, especially among patriots. The other source of authority is experts. However, to believe experts a person has to be educated and open-minded and to trust scientific, professional, and scholarly integrity.
In recent years in America, scientific and scholarly authority has come into disrepute among Christian evangelicals who object to evolution and among anti-intellectual Tea Party adherents who object to “elitists,” that is, objection to knowledge-based persons whose knowledge does not support Tea Party emotions.
In other words, qualified, knowledgeable people who tell people what they do not want to hear are dismissed as “the enemy.” Much of the American population is set up to believe government propaganda. Without an independent media, which the US no longer has, people are taught that only “conspiracy kooks” challenge the government’s story. Even on the Internet, this is a main theme on Antiwar.com and on CounterPunch.org, two sites that protest America’s wars but accept the 9/11 propaganda that justifies the wars.
This is the reason that I think that the US is moving into an era where the emotional needs of the population produced by government propaganda overwhelms science, evidence, and facts. It means the abolition of accountable government and the rule of law, because protection from terrorists is more important.
The fact-based world in which “we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead” is being displaced by dogma. Anyone who doubts “our government” is an anti-American, Muslim-loving, pinko-liberal commie, who should be arrested and waterboarded until the culprit confesses that he is a terrorist.
The event of 9/11 is now outside the realm of fact, science, and evidence. It is a dogma that justifies the Bush/Cheney/Obama war crimes against Muslims and their countries.
Obama regime appointee Cass Sunstein, a Chicago and Harvard Law School professor, thinks the 9/11 movement, for challenging the official “truth”, should be infiltrated by US intelligence agents in order to shut down the fact-based doubters of government propaganda.
When a law professor at our two most prestigious law schools wants to suppress scientific evidence that challenges government veracity, we know that in America respect for truth is dead.
The notion that a country in which truth is dead is a “light unto the world” is an absurdity.
Ignorance Is Strength
9/11: A Conspiracy Theory
Video By Corbett Report
The Terrorism Issue that Wasn’t Discussed
By Gareth Porter
September 11, 2011 -- In the commentary on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the news and infotainment media have predictably framed the discussion by the question of how successful the CIA and the military have been in destroying al Qaeda. Absent from the torrent of opinion and analysis was any mention of how the U.S. military occupation of Muslim lands and wars that continue to kill Muslim civilians fuel jihadist sentiment that will keep the threat of terrorism high for many years to come.
The failure to have that discussion is not an accident. In December 2007, at a conference in Washington, D.C. on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin offered a laundry list of things the United States could do to reduce the threat from al Qaeda. But he said nothing about the most important thing to be done: pledging to the Islamic world that the United States would pull its military forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq and end its warfare against those in Islamic countries resisting U.S. military presence.
During the coffee break, I asked him whether that item should have been on his list. “You’re right,” he answered. And then he added, “But we can’t do that.”
“Why not,” I asked.
“Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”
His explanation was obviously bogus. But in agreeing that America’s continuing wars actually increase the risk of terrorism against the United States, Benjamin was merely reflecting the conclusions that the intelligence and counter-terrorism communities had already reached.
The National Intelligence Estimate on “Trends in Global Terrorism” issued in April 2006 concluded that the war in Iraq was “breeding deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim World and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” It found that “activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.” And in a prophetic warning, it said “the operational threat from self-radicalized cells will grow in importance…particularly abroad but also at home.”
Given the way intelligence assessments get watered down as they ascend the hierarchy of officials, these were remarkably alarming conclusions about the peril that U.S. occupation of Iraq posed to the United States. And that alarm was shared by at least some counter-terrorism officials as well. Robert Grenier, who had been head of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center in 2005-06, was quoted in the July 25, 2007 Los Angeles Times as saying the war “has convinced many Muslims that the United States is the enemy of Islam and is attacking Muslims, and they have become jihadists as a result of their experience in Iraq.”
As the war in Iraq wound down, the U.S. war in Afghanistan — especially the war being waged by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) — was generating more hatred for the United States. As JSOC scaled up its “night raids” in Afghanistan, it never got the right person in more than 50 percent of the raids, as even senior commanders in JSOC recently admitted to the Washington Post. That indicated that a very large proportion of those killed and detained were innocent civilians. Not surprisingly, the populations of entire districts and provinces were enraged by those raids.
If there is one place on earth where it is obviously irrational to antagonize the male population on a long-term basis, it is the Pashtun region that straddles Afghanistan and Pakistan, with its tribal culture of honor and revenge for the killing of family and friends.
Meanwhile, after fleeing from Afghanistan to Pakistan in 2001, al Qaeda had rebuilt a large network of Pashtun militants in the Pashtun northwest. As the murdered Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad recounted in Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, President Pervez Musharraf, under pressure from Washington, began in 2003 to use the Pakistani army to try to destroy the remnants of al Qaeda by force with helicopter strikes and ground forces. But instead of crushing al Qaeda, those operations further radicalized the population of those al Qaeda base areas, by convincing them that the Pakistani government and army was merely a tool of U.S. control.
Frustrated by the failure of Musharraf to finish off al Qaeda and by the swift rise of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the Bush administration launched a drone war that killed large numbers of civilians in northwest Pakistan. An opinion survey by New American Foundation in the region last year found that 77 percent believed the real purpose of the U.S. “war on terror” is to “weaken and divide the Muslim world” and to “ensure American domination.” And more than two-thirds of the entire population of Pakistan view the United States as the enemy, not as a friend, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
The CIA and the Bush and Obama administrations understood that drone strikes could never end the threat of terrorist plots in Pakistan, as outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden had told the incoming President, according to Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars. And if Obama administration didn’t understand then that the drone war was stoking popular anger at the government and the United States, it certainly does now. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has pointed out that “hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan” because of the drone strikes.
Yet the night raids and the drone strikes continue, as though the risk of widespread and intense anger toward the United States in those countries doesn’t make any difference to the policymakers.
There is only one way to understand this conundrum: there are winners and losers in the “war on terrorism”. Ordinary Americans are clearly the losers, and the institutions and leaders of the military, the Pentagon and the CIA and their political and corporate allies are the winners. They have accumulated enormous resources and power in a collapsing economy and society.
They are not going to do anything about the increased risk to Americans that the hatred their wars have provoked until they are forced to do so by a combination of resistance from people within those countries and an unprecedented rebellion by millions of Americans. It’s long past time to start organizing that rebellion.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigation journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy.
Scott Horton Interviews Glenn Greenwald
Scott Horton, September 11, 2011
Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com blogger and author of With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, discusses a 9/11 retrospective alternative to the mainstream media’s distorted coverage; how the national security state has eroded our freedoms and eliminated government accountability; the surprising near-majority of Americans who recognize the root cause of terrorism and don’t believe in trading freedom for security; why a “free press” doesn’t guarantee that the truth is readily available; why everyone should care about Muslims losing their civil rights; how the PATRIOT Act, supposedly a tool for fighting terrorism, is used more often for drug, immigration and financial investigations; and the lack of a political process for changing the system (switching between Democrats and Republicans every few years doesn’t accomplish anything).
Forget the rest of this article--listen to the audio just below!:
MP3 here. (26:55)
For many other interesting interviews, see AntiWar Radio with Scott Horton.
Glenn Greenwald was a constitutional lawyer in New York City, first at the Manhattan firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and then at the litigation firm he founded, Greenwald, Christoph. Greenwald litigated numerous high-profile and significant constitutional cases in federal and state courts around the country, including multiple First Amendment challenges. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law (1994) and a B.A. from George Washington University (1990). In October of 2005, Greenwald started a political and legal blog, Unclaimed Territory, which quickly became one of the most popular and highest-trafficked in the blogosphere.
Upon disclosure by the New York Times in December 2005 of President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program, Greenwald became one of the leading and most cited experts on that controversy. In early 2006, he broke a story on his blog regarding the NSA scandal that served as the basis for front-page articles in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, all of which credited his blog for the story. Several months later, Sen. Russ Feingold read from one of Greenwald’s posts during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Feingold’s resolution to censure the president for violating FISA. In 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd read from Greenwald’s Salon blog during floor debate over FISA. Greenwald’s blog was also cited as one of the sources for the comprehensive report issued by Rep. John Conyers titled “The Constitution in Crisis.” In 2006, he won the Koufax Award for best new blog.
Greenwald is the author of A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok and Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics.
For more articles on 9/11, see the earlier post.
Was There an Alternative?
Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later
By Noam Chomsky
We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of September 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world. On May 1st, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of elite US commandos, Navy SEALs, after he was captured, unarmed and undefended, in Operation Geronimo.
A number of analysts have observed that although bin Laden was finally killed, he won some major successes in his war against the U.S. "He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them," Eric Margolis writes. "'Bleeding the U.S.,' in his words." The United States, first under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, rushed right into bin Laden’s trap... Grotesquely overblown military outlays and debt addiction... may be the most pernicious legacy of the man who thought he could defeat the United States” -- particularly when the debt is being cynically exploited by the far right, with the collusion of the Democrat establishment, to undermine what remains of social programs, public education, unions, and, in general, remaining barriers to corporate tyranny.
That Washington was bent on fulfilling bin Laden’s fervent wishes was evident at once. As discussed in my book 9-11, written shortly after those attacks occurred, anyone with knowledge of the region could recognize “that a massive assault on a Muslim population would be the answer to the prayers of bin Laden and his associates, and would lead the U.S. and its allies into a ‘diabolical trap,’ as the French foreign minister put it.”
The senior CIA analyst responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden from 1996, Michael Scheuer, wrote shortly after that “bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. [He] is out to drastically alter U.S. and Western policies toward the Islamic world,” and largely succeeded: “U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.” And arguably remains so, even after his death.
The First 9/11
Was there an alternative? There is every likelihood that the Jihadi movement, much of it highly critical of bin Laden, could have been split and undermined after 9/11. The “crime against humanity,” as it was rightly called, could have been approached as a crime, with an international operation to apprehend the likely suspects. That was recognized at the time, but no such idea was even considered.
In 9-11, I quoted Robert Fisk’s conclusion that the “horrendous crime” of 9/11 was committed with “wickedness and awesome cruelty,” an accurate judgment. It is useful to bear in mind that the crimes could have been even worse. Suppose, for example, that the attack had gone as far as bombing the White House, killing the president, imposing a brutal military dictatorship that killed thousands and tortured tens of thousands while establishing an international terror center that helped impose similar torture-and-terror states elsewhere and carried out an international assassination campaign; and as an extra fillip, brought in a team of economists -- call them “the Kandahar boys” -- who quickly drove the economy into one of the worst depressions in its history. That, plainly, would have been a lot worse than 9/11.
Unfortunately, it is not a thought experiment. It happened. The only inaccuracy in this brief account is that the numbers should be multiplied by 25 to yield per capita equivalents, the appropriate measure. I am, of course, referring to what in Latin America is often called “the first 9/11”: September 11, 1973, when the U.S. succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet’s brutal regime in office. The goal, in the words of the Nixon administration, was to kill the “virus” that might encourage all those “foreigners [who] are out to screw us” to take over their own resources and in other ways to pursue an intolerable policy of independent development. In the background was the conclusion of the National Security Council that, if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world.”
The first 9/11, unlike the second, did not change the world. It was “nothing of very great consequence,” as Henry Kissinger assured his boss a few days later.
These events of little consequence were not limited to the military coup that destroyed Chilean democracy and set in motion the horror story that followed. The first 9/11 was just one act in a drama which began in 1962, when John F. Kennedy shifted the mission of the Latin American military from “hemispheric defense” -- an anachronistic holdover from World War II -- to “internal security,” a concept with a chilling interpretation in U.S.-dominated Latin American circles.
In the recently published Cambridge University History of the Cold War, Latin American scholar John Coatsworth writes that from that time to “the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of non-violent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites,” including many religious martyrs and mass slaughter as well, always supported or initiated in Washington. The last major violent act was the brutal murder of six leading Latin American intellectuals, Jesuit priests, a few days after the Berlin Wall fell. The perpetrators were an elite Salvadorean battalion, which had already left a shocking trail of blood, fresh from renewed training at the JFK School of Special Warfare, acting on direct orders of the high command of the U.S. client state.
The consequences of this hemispheric plague still, of course, reverberate.
From Kidnapping and Torture to Assassination
All of this, and much more like it, is dismissed as of little consequence, and forgotten. Those whose mission is to rule the world enjoy a more comforting picture, articulated well enough in the current issue of the prestigious (and valuable) journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The lead article discusses “the visionary international order” of the “second half of the twentieth century” marked by “the universalization of an American vision of commercial prosperity.” There is something to that account, but it does not quite convey the perception of those at the wrong end of the guns.
The same is true of the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which brings to an end at least a phase in the “war on terror” re-declared by President George W. Bush on the second 9/11. Let us turn to a few thoughts on that event and its significance.
On May 1, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed in his virtually unprotected compound by a raiding mission of 79 Navy SEALs, who entered Pakistan by helicopter. After many lurid stories were provided by the government and withdrawn, official reports made it increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law, beginning with the invasion itself.
There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 79 commandos facing no opposition -- except, they report, from his wife, also unarmed, whom they shot in self-defense when she “lunged” at them, according to the White House.
A plausible reconstruction of the events is provided by veteran Middle East correspondent Yochi Dreazen and colleagues in the Atlantic. Dreazen, formerly the military correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, is senior correspondent for the National Journal Group covering military affairs and national security. According to their investigation, White House planning appears not to have considered the option of capturing bin Laden alive: “The administration had made clear to the military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command that it wanted bin Laden dead, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the discussions. A high-ranking military officer briefed on the assault said the SEALs knew their mission was not to take him alive.”
The authors add: “For many at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency who had spent nearly a decade hunting bin Laden, killing the militant was a necessary and justified act of vengeance.” Furthermore, “capturing bin Laden alive would have also presented the administration with an array of nettlesome legal and political challenges.” Better, then, to assassinate him, dumping his body into the sea without the autopsy considered essential after a killing -- an act that predictably provoked both anger and skepticism in much of the Muslim world.
As the Atlantic inquiry observes, “The decision to kill bin Laden outright was the clearest illustration to date of a little-noticed aspect of the Obama administration's counterterror policy. The Bush administration captured thousands of suspected militants and sent them to detention camps in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, by contrast, has focused on eliminating individual terrorists rather than attempting to take them alive.” That is one significant difference between Bush and Obama. The authors quote former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who “told German TV that the U.S. raid was ‘quite clearly a violation of international law’ and that bin Laden should have been detained and put on trial,” contrasting Schmidt with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who “defended the decision to kill bin Laden although he didn't pose an immediate threat to the Navy SEALs, telling a House panel... that the assault had been ‘lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.’"
The disposal of the body without autopsy was also criticized by allies. The highly regarded British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, who supported the intervention and opposed the execution largely on pragmatic grounds, nevertheless described Obama’s claim that “justice was done” as an “absurdity” that should have been obvious to a former professor of constitutional law. Pakistan law “requires a colonial inquest on violent death, and international human rights law insists that the ‘right to life’ mandates an inquiry whenever violent death occurs from government or police action. The U.S. is therefore under a duty to hold an inquiry that will satisfy the world as to the true circumstances of this killing.”
Robertson usefully reminds us that “[i]t was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Osama bin Laden -- the Nazi leadership -- the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution ‘would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride... the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear.’”
Eric Margolis comments that “Washington has never made public the evidence of its claim that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks,” presumably one reason why “polls show that fully a third of American respondents believe that the U.S. government and/or Israel were behind 9/11,” while in the Muslim world skepticism is much higher. “An open trial in the U.S. or at the Hague would have exposed these claims to the light of day,” he continues, a practical reason why Washington should have followed the law.
In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress “suspects.” In June 2002, FBI head Robert Mueller, in what the Washington Post described as “among his most detailed public comments on the origins of the attacks,” could say only that “investigators believe the idea of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, the actual plotting was done in Germany, and the financing came through the United Arab Emirates from sources in Afghanistan.”
What the FBI believed and thought in June 2002 they didn’t know eight months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know) to permit a trial of bin Laden if they were presented with evidence. Thus, it is not true, as President Obama claimed in his White House statement after bin Laden’s death, that “[w]e quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda.”
There has never been any reason to doubt what the FBI believed in mid-2002, but that leaves us far from the proof of guilt required in civilized societies -- and whatever the evidence might be, it does not warrant murdering a suspect who could, it seems, have been easily apprehended and brought to trial. Much the same is true of evidence provided since. Thus, the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden’s role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted.
There is much talk of bin Laden's “confession,” but that was a boast, not a confession, with as much credibility as my “confession” that I won the Boston marathon. The boast tells us a lot about his character, but nothing about his responsibility for what he regarded as a great achievement, for which he wanted to take credit.
Again, all of this is, transparently, quite independent of one’s judgments about his responsibility, which seemed clear immediately, even before the FBI inquiry, and still does.
Crimes of Aggression
It is worth adding that bin Laden’s responsibility was recognized in much of the Muslim world, and condemned. One significant example is the distinguished Lebanese cleric Sheikh Fadlallah, greatly respected by Hizbollah and Shia groups generally, outside Lebanon as well. He had some experience with assassinations. He had been targeted for assassination: by a truck bomb outside a mosque, in a CIA-organized operation in 1985. He escaped, but 80 others were killed, mostly women and girls as they left the mosque -- one of those innumerable crimes that do not enter the annals of terror because of the fallacy of “wrong agency.” Sheikh Fadlallah sharply condemned the 9/11 attacks.
One of the leading specialists on the Jihadi movement, Fawaz Gerges, suggests that the movement might have been split at that time had the U.S. exploited the opportunity instead of mobilizing the movement, particularly by the attack on Iraq, a great boon to bin Laden, which led to a sharp increase in terror, as intelligence agencies had anticipated. At the Chilcot hearings investigating the background to the invasion of Iraq, for example, the former head of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 testified that both British and U.S. intelligence were aware that Saddam posed no serious threat, that the invasion was likely to increase terror, and that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalized parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an “attack on Islam.” As is often the case, security was not a high priority for state action.
It might be instructive to ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos had landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic (after proper burial rites, of course). Uncontroversially, he was not a “suspect” but the “decider” who gave the orders to invade Iraq -- that is, to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country and its national heritage, and the murderous sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region. Equally uncontroversially, these crimes vastly exceed anything attributed to bin Laden.
To say that all of this is uncontroversial, as it is, is not to imply that it is not denied. The existence of flat earthers does not change the fact that, uncontroversially, the earth is not flat. Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Stalin and Hitler were responsible for horrendous crimes, though loyalists deny it. All of this should, again, be too obvious for comment, and would be, except in an atmosphere of hysteria so extreme that it blocks rational thought.
Similarly, it is uncontroversial that Bush and associates did commit the “supreme international crime” -- the crime of aggression. That crime was defined clearly enough by Justice Robert Jackson, Chief of Counsel for the United States at Nuremberg. An “aggressor,” Jackson proposed to the Tribunal in his opening statement, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as “[i]nvasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State ….” No one, even the most extreme supporter of the aggression, denies that Bush and associates did just that.
We might also do well to recall Jackson’s eloquent words at Nuremberg on the principle of universality: “If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”
It is also clear that announced intentions are irrelevant, even if they are truly believed. Internal records reveal that Japanese fascists apparently did believe that, by ravaging China, they were laboring to turn it into an “earthly paradise.” And although it may be difficult to imagine, it is conceivable that Bush and company believed they were protecting the world from destruction by Saddam’s nuclear weapons. All irrelevant, though ardent loyalists on all sides may try to convince themselves otherwise.
We are left with two choices: either Bush and associates are guilty of the “supreme international crime” including all the evils that follow, or else we declare that the Nuremberg proceedings were a farce and the allies were guilty of judicial murder.
The Imperial Mentality and 9/11
A few days before the bin Laden assassination, Orlando Bosch died peacefully in Florida, where he resided along with his accomplice Luis Posada Carriles and many other associates in international terrorism. After he was accused of dozens of terrorist crimes by the FBI, Bosch was granted a presidential pardon by Bush I over the objections of the Justice Department, which found the conclusion “inescapable that it would be prejudicial to the public interest for the United States to provide a safe haven for Bosch.” The coincidence of these deaths at once calls to mind the Bush II doctrine -- “already… a de facto rule of international relations,” according to the noted Harvard international relations specialist Graham Allison -- which revokes “the sovereignty of states that provide sanctuary to terrorists.”
Allison refers to the pronouncement of Bush II, directed at the Taliban, that “those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves.” Such states, therefore, have lost their sovereignty and are fit targets for bombing and terror -- for example, the state that harbored Bosch and his associate. When Bush issued this new “de facto rule of international relations,” no one seemed to notice that he was calling for invasion and destruction of the U.S. and the murder of its criminal presidents.
None of this is problematic, of course, if we reject Justice Jackson’s principle of universality, and adopt instead the principle that the U.S. is self-immunized against international law and conventions -- as, in fact, the government has frequently made very clear.
It is also worth thinking about the name given to the bin Laden operation: Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound that few seem able to perceive that the White House is glorifying bin Laden by calling him “Geronimo” -- the Apache Indian chief who led the courageous resistance to the invaders of Apache lands.
The casual choice of the name is reminiscent of the ease with which we name our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Blackhawk… We might react differently if the Luftwaffe had called its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy.”
The examples mentioned would fall under the category of “American exceptionalism,” were it not for the fact that easy suppression of one’s own crimes is virtually ubiquitous among powerful states, at least those that are not defeated and forced to acknowledge reality.
Perhaps the assassination was perceived by the administration as an “act of vengeance,” as Robertson concludes. And perhaps the rejection of the legal option of a trial reflects a difference between the moral culture of 1945 and today, as he suggests. Whatever the motive was, it could hardly have been security. As in the case of the “supreme international crime” in Iraq, the bin Laden assassination is another illustration of the important fact that security is often not a high priority for state action, contrary to received doctrine.
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous bestselling political works, including 9-11: Was There an Alternative? (Seven Stories Press), an updated version of his classic account, just being published this week with a major new essay -- from which this post was adapted -- considering the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks.
Copyright 2011 Noam Chomsky