9/11 – REVISED EDITION

You would think that a spy scandal such as was reported by FBI wiretap translator Sibel Edmonds would rate mile-high headlines. So far, however, the coverage of this story has been limited to the Washington Post and … here. Edmonds claims that one of her fellow translators met with a government official of a foreign country even as the feds were tapping his phone conversations. Edmonds also avers that she was invited to join the foreign organization that was under surveillance, and, when she refused, her family was threatened. The Post still isn’t naming the mysterious "Middle Eastern country" that seems to have penetrated the FBI’s innermost secrets, but last week reporter James Grimaldi, who broke the story, had an item in his "Washington Hearsay" column that reveals some of the details of the ongoing cover-up:

"There may be various efforts to prompt Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) into jump-starting judicial hearings; congressional sources believe that’s why some anonymous senator has placed a hold on a bill by Leahy and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). The bill would give FBI employees federal whistleblower protection.

I can think of a few other reasons for the hold. Although it’s too late to silence Rowley, Senator Anonymous clearly doesn’t want to hear what Ms. Edmonds has to say. Her position, in any case, is none too good:

"The law is meant to protect people such as FBI agent Colleen Rowley, who recently testified before Congress. Even under that bill, though, protection would be more tenuous for Sibel Edmonds, the latest whistleblower to be fired by the FBI."

That Ms. Edmonds has come forward, anyway, is a tribute to her patriotism – and a reproach to her superiors, whose motives are questionable at best. The "Homeland Security" legislation currently being rammed through Congress would jail whistleblowers like Edmonds, whose story, Grimaldi reports, has been confirmed in its essentials by the FBI. "But Edmonds was fired because she was ‘disruptive,’" he writes with evident disgust, citing a floor speech by Leahy:

“It is not a good management practice for the FBI to fire the person who reports a security breach, while nothing happens to the person who allegedly committed the breach."

It depends, however, on what is being managed. If you’re the head of a spy ring that has infiltrated the top echelons of US law enforcement, and you have the power to muzzle whistleblowers by firing them and then invoking the gods of "national security" to cover the whole thing up – I would call that pretty good management practice. It all depends on what side you’re on.

Speaking of which: can anybody tell me what side the FBI is on? First veteran agent Colleen Rowley steps forward with charges that the high command deliberately obstructed the anti-terrorist effort, specifically blocking the apprehension of Zacarias Moussaoui – and now Edmonds, with an even more alarming story: a spy ring in the agency’s most sensitive top secret division. A cabal that seems to enjoy immunity from whistleblowers….

Oh, there goes Raimondo again, off and running with another one of his wacko conspiracy theories – but then what about William Safire’s story of how the terrorists knew the most closely guarded secrets of the White House? Writing in a September 13 New York Times column, "Inside the Bunker," Safire painted a harrowing portrait of our leaders caught completely off guard on 9/11, and forced to flee for their lives when it became apparent that the terrorists had somehow penetrated the security of their inner sanctum. According to Safire, a “high White House official” told him the following:

"A threatening message received by the Secret Service was relayed to the agents with the president that ‘Air Force One is next.’ According to the high official, American code words were used showing a knowledge of procedures that made the threat credible."

This was confirmed, says Safire, by Karl Rove, who told him Bush was going to return to Washington before the Secret Service "informed him that the threat contained language that was evidence that the terrorists had knowledge of his procedures and whereabouts." One can only agree with Safire’s conclusion:

"That knowledge of code words and presidential whereabouts and possession of secret procedures indicates that the terrorists may have a mole in the White House — that, or informants in the Secret Service, F.B.I., F.A.A. or C.I.A."

Safire’s story of the top-level penetration of the White House is one of the great unsolved mysteries of 9/11. How did the terrorists get the inside knowledge and the technology to deliver a threat directly to the Secret Service – and why would they reveal their capabilities in this way?

Another unsolved mystery is why Safire’s startling revelation didn’t provoke a general outcry, a congressional investigation, or at least some investigative reporting. Is the American media completely brain-dead, or are they simply too intimidated to follow that story?

Sure, there are a lot of nutball conspiracy theories out there. There’s that French guy who says American "right-wingers" bombed the World Trade Center (and presumably the Pentagon, too); and Michael Ruppert, who similarly and idiotically avers that we did it to ourselves. Then there’s Cynthia McKinney and her leftie followers, who, eager to grasp on to any evidence validating their visceral anti-Americanism, seem to have adopted the Ruppertian conspiracy theory whole hog. Look at those crazy, greedy Americans – they blew themselves up just so they could build a Caspian pipeline and make billions for the all-powerful Carlyle Group! It gets even wilder and wackier when we get into theories involving the Queen of England and a secret race of reptilian aliens who live in giant caves beneath the earth.

These whack-jobs are invariably invoked by those who want to discredit any and all deviations from the Official Story, but it is hardly credible to put Safire on the same level as Ruppert. For all the pious complaining about "conspiracy theories" revolving around 9/11 coming from our oh-so-respectable pundits on the left as well as the right, it’s a wonder no one even mentions the reason why Ruppert, McKinney, et al are getting so much attention: because there are a lot of unanswered questions about the events surrounding 9/11, none of which have even been properly asked by the media, let alone answered.

What about the penetration of White House security procedures by individuals purporting to represent the terrorists? What about the claims of Sibel Edmonds that a cabal of spies inside the FBI’s crucial translation division has access to our wiretaps? What about that four-part Fox News series by Carl Cameron that exposed a vast Israeli spy operation in the US? In Cameron’s words.

"Investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it."

When Cameron tried to get specifics, he ran into a brick wall:

"A highly placed investigator said there are -quote – ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, – quote – ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.’"

As we approach the one-year anniversary of 9/11, an attempt to get the truth de-classified is being blocked, if not completely derailed. Hearings are being indefinitely delayed, testimony is being suppressed, witnesses such as Ms. Edmonds are being threatened and the cult of secrecy is even more deeply imbued in government circles. Senators Leahy and Grassley are well-meaning, even heroic, but they can’t do it alone. Congress has abdicated its responsibility, and, as for the "mainstream" media – well, just don’t expect much from them, in any event.

But all is not smooth sailing for the architects of cover-up. While Congress has generally abandoned its constitutional duty as the guardian of our liberties and voice of the people, a few of our elected representatives are beginning to ask questions – and may even be contemplating taking action. Yes, the media is complicit with government officials in enforcing the culture of secrecy, but a few journalists refuse to be intimidated. The truth is leaking out, albeit in dribs and drabs. It may take years, but the events surrounding 9/11 will eventually be revealed. The only question is when.

The War Party has used 9/11 to browbeat and terrorize Americans into supporting a war with no end or limits. But new information about what led to The Day is beginning to cast that seminal event in a new and ominous light. Disdaining these efforts as "conspiracy theories" and "urban myths" is getting increasingly difficult, as the unsolved mysteries of 9/11 accumulate – and people begin demanding answers.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].