The Bush administration is sitting on a ticking time-bomb that may be just about to go off. The chairman of the 9/11 Commission, charged with discovering the truth about that seminal event, is taking his job very seriously: and that means President Bush is in some potentially very big trouble. CBS News reports:
“‘As you read the report, you’re going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn’t done and what should have been done,’ [Kean] said. ‘This was not something that had to happen.'”
No doubt the Commission report will deal with the more well-known examples of what appears to be sheer incompetence at the highest levels of the U.S. government the bungling of the Zacarias Moussaoui case, ignoring evidence coming in from Arizona and elsewhere but we may be in for more shocking revelations, as CBS hints:
“Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those positions, Kean said, ‘Yes, the answer is yes. And we will.’
“Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton.”
Kean, a Republican former governor of New Jersey, is stirring up a hornets’ nest: this, and not the conduct (or misconduct) of the war may prove the President’s undoing. The Kean Commission is hitting the administration in its most vulnerable spot: 9/11 happened on their watch, after all, and yet the biggest terrorist attack in American history did not cost a single high-ranking official his or her job.
What sort of “major revelations” might come out is impossible to say. But this renewed attention to the question of what happened in the crucial months prior to 9/11 is bound to bring up the question of foreknowledge of warnings that were issued, might have been issued, and weren’t issued.
In addition to alarm bells going off inside our own law enforcement apparatus, we also received alerts from a number of foreign intelligence agencies: As readers of my recently released book, The Terror Enigma, will know, the Brits, the French, the Russians, the Germans, and even the Argentines sent us clear warnings that were either brushed aside or just not acted on. A number of Middle Eastern spooks also sent warnings, including the Moroccans, the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Israelis.
The role of the Israelis may prove to be particularly interesting, as a pertinent and much-asked question is raised yet again: just what were the FBI, CIA, and other law enforcement agencies doing while the 19 hijackers were living in our midst, planning to dive-bomb the Pentagon and the World Trade Center? Readers of The Terror Enigma will know that they had a lot on their plates at the time:
“In the months prior to 9/11, the Mossad had launched a major covert operation in the U.S., involving hundreds of agents, who not only kept a close watch on the terrorists, but also effectively blinded U.S. anti-terrorism investigators to the activities of Al Qaeda on American shores. The evidence is in the U.S. government’s own documents, leaked by its own employees, and in its public pronouncements before the decision was made to quash this story at any cost.”Kean and his fellow commissioners have access to the same documents, the same leaks, and the same publicly available information that I do. The Israeli connection to 9/11 may be about to blow sky high.
The Kean Commission is not being watched very closely in the media, but the recent resignation of former U.S. Senator Max Cleland is not a good sign. Cleland had been a vociferous opponent of White House efforts to stonewall the Commission. They shut him up with a plush appointment to the Export-Import Bank board. A man’s gotta live: Cleland, I’m told, was broke.
Chairman Kean, however, seems not to be intimidated by the absolute refusal of nearly every government agency including the New York City government to cooperate with the Commission in any way. He’s slapping all kinds of people with subpoenas, and more power to him.
The real weapons of mass destruction feared by this administration aren’t in Iraq, they’re in New Jersey in the form of four New Jersey widows who lost their husbands on 9/11. These ladies are largely responsible for lobbying to have this Commission created in the first place, over opposition from the White House and the leadership of both parties in Congress. Disdaining Condolezza Rice’s denial that anyone could have predicted a terror attack utilizing an airliner as a bomb, Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four, asks:
“How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility?”
To heck with former Senator and noted war criminal Bob Kerrey, who was appointed to take Cleland’s place: why not appoint Kristen Breitweiser to the Commission? Surely she qualifies as an “expert" on the subject, not only because she is unusually knowledgeable on the subject, and because she is asking questions that none dare ask. Who has more of a right to be seated on this Commission and more of a motivation to get at the truth?
9/11 was the seminal event of our time, but we can’t understand its consequences until we know how it might have been prevented. Because it could have been prevented, for one, by our Israeli “allies” who were “watching the hijackers 24/7,” as Die Zeit, the respected German weekly magazine, put it.Sure, the Israelis warned us: in August 2001 an Israeli delegation traveled to Washington and informed U.S. officials of a possible attack on an overseas target, but offered no other details.
This administration frames its policy of preemptive imperialism entirely in terms of 9/11, and it is impossible to counter their program of perpetual war without refuting the central myth of the War Party’s theology. We are told that 9/11 ushered in a new era in which the ordinary rules of morality and common sense are repealed, where we must stand practically alone but for a reluctant Britain and an overeager Israel against the whole world. It’s “us against them.”
But as we zoom in on the details, and focus on the crucial months before 9/11, the picture that emerges is more complex than “us versus them.” “You’re either with us,” intoned George W. Bush, “or with the terrorists.” What the Kean Commission promises to raise is the vital question of what is meant by complicity.
In the context of 9/11, complicity means nothing less than a monstrous crime on the same level as the hijackers’, if not worse. For Mohammed Atta and his fellow death cultists were avowed enemies of America, openly sworn to destroy us by any means. The Israelis, on the other hand, are supposed to be our bosom buddies.
But if Israeli spooks really were living “next door to Mohammed Atta,” as Die Zeit put it, they must have known something. So why didn’t they tell us?
I’m often asked what is the key to understanding how we got where we are today embroiled in a senseless and increasingly out-of-control war in Iraq, threatened by terrorists at home and abroad, hated across the globe. (Right up there with Israel). To those looking for such “root cause” explanations, I can do no better than to say: read The Terror Enigma. It will change everything about the way you look at 9/11 and all the sorrow that followed.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
I was going to write about a recent conference co-sponsored by the Hudson Institute and The New Republic magazine, “Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?”, but I see that Michelle Goldberg has done such an incisive job that anything I might add would be superfluous. Here’s a delicious taste:
“Aside from Marshall, few of the assembled were interested in contemplating the possible end of the zeitgeist that has empowered them, especially the day after the triumphant capture of Saddam. The real theme of the conference, then, wasn’t “Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?” It was more like, ‘Are Critics of Neoconservatism Paranoid Anti-Semites Who Live in a Fantasy World?’ In his introduction, Perle ascribed the left’s “obsession with neoconservativism” to its “visceral anti-Americanism.” Yet if the left is obsessed with neoconservatives, neoconservatives are becoming obsessed with that obsession.”
Go here to watch the actual conference, if you can stand it. Even if he was badly outnumbered and down with a cold to boot, Joshua Marshall did a great job standing toe-to-toe with Richard Perle and his fellow Nazgul.
Goldberg’s excellent piece, “Is this the neoconservative century?” is posted on Salon.com, which requires the reader to either subscribe or get a “day pass” by watching an ad. The effort, I believe, is well worth it. On the basis of just this single piece, I would consider subscribing.