Posts Tagged ‘9-11 Attacks’

A conspiracy theory of conspiracy theories

October 28, 2015

I’m not one for conspiracy theories.  One reason is that they divert attention from the proven bad things we already know about.

Sometimes it seems to me that there is a conspiracy to spread bogus conspiracy theories in order to divert attention from the actual existing conspiracies.

Whether or not there are unanswered questions about the 9/11 attacks, there are plenty of such questions about the anthrax attacks that came a week later.  Yet the anthrax attacks are virtually forgotten.

And whether or not the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy, it seems obvious to me that the killings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and of Malcolm X were conspiracies.  Yet while there is a whole Kennedy assassination industry, there is little interest in the King and Malcolm X assassinations.

When the 9/11 attacks took place, my thought was that a tiny group of criminal conspirators had got lucky.   I saw nothing improbable in a bunch of fanatics taking control of airplanes and flying them into buildings, but I also saw no reason to expect this to happen on a regular basis.

Bruce Ivins

Bruce Ivins

It was the anthrax attacks, coming a week later, that made me think my nation was under siege.  I thought this was going to be what the United States was going to be in for—constant attacks, each one radically different from the other.

At the same time, the identity of the targets seemed strange.   The anthrax attacks consisted of mailing of powders mixed with spores of anthrax bacteria to ABC, CBS and NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer, and two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, and Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Senate judiciary committee.

Why would Muslim terrorists single out these particular individuals?  These are targets you would pick if you were trying to stampede public opinion into committing to a “war on terror”.

Initial reports speculated that the anthrax was made in a supposed germ warfare laboratory under the control of Saddam Hussein.   In 2002, the Department of Justice named Steven J. Hatfill, a virologist, as a “person of interst” in the case, but he was never charged.   Then suspicion shifted by Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher at Fort Detrick, who committed suicide before the FBI was ready to prosecute.

Maybe Ivins really was the culprit, and maybe he acted alone.  I don’t know enough to argue otherwise.  All I know is that there wasn’t enough proof to put him on trial.

There also are unanswered questions about the assassinations of Dr. King and Malcolm X.

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Fourteen years after 9/11

September 11, 2015

During the months following the 9/11 attacks, I was surprised and shocked by how quickly the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were wiped off the blackboard, and how easily practices such as torture and assassination, which I had thought of as the defining characteristics of totalitarian countries, became accepted as normal.

I blamed George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and I hoped that as a result of the 2004 and then the 2008 election that country would return to what I regarded as normal.  It took me a long time to realize that the country I was living in was different from what I thought it was.

Terrorists in Sept. 11, 2001, killed more than 3,000 Americans, but what we did to ourselves and the world was worse.

Tom Englehardt, editor of TomDispatch, expressed very well what has happened:

shutterstock_308882264-600x726Fourteen years later and do you even believe it? Did we actually live it? Are we still living it? And how improbable is that?

Fourteen years of wars, interventions, assassinations, torture, kidnappings, black sites, the growth of the American national security state to monumental proportions, and the spread of Islamic extremism across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa.

Fourteen years of astronomical expense, bombing campaigns galore, and a military-first foreign policy of repeated defeats, disappointments, and disasters.

Fourteen years of a culture of fear in America, of endless alarms and warnings, as well as dire predictions of terrorist attacks.

Fourteen years of the burial of American democracy (or rather its recreation as a billionaire’s playground and a source of spectacle and entertainment but not governance).

Fourteen years of the spread of secrecy, the classification of every document in sight, the fierce prosecution of whistleblowers, and a faith-based urge to keep Americans “secure” by leaving them in the dark about what their government is doing.

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The Saudi roots of ISIS and the 9/11 attacks

September 22, 2014

It is impossible for the United States armed forces to put an end to Islamic jihadist terrorism.

That is because Al Qaeda, ISIS and their ilk have their roots in a country that is off limits to American military action.

In the same of fighting terrorism, the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, helped overthrow the government of Libya, is working to overthrow the government of Syria and has imposed sanctions on Iran.

President Obama visits Saudi Arabia in March

President Obama visits Saudi Arabia in March

Yet the U.S. government does not touch Saudi Arabia.   Osama bin Laden was a Saudi and so were most of the 9/11 hijackers.  Sections of a Senate report that allegedly implicate elements of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks have been blacked out and declared as classified information.

The Saudi government, along with Qatar and other Gulf sheikdoms, provided the funding for ISIS and the other radical jihadist groups now fighting  in Syria and Iraq.  All these groups are adherents of Wahhabism, the most radical and intolerant Islamic sect, which is based in Saudi Arabia and supported by the Saudi government.

Why would the U.S. government, through Republican and Democratic administrations, tolerate such a situation?

The U.S. “deep state”—the permanent part of the government that is untouched by elections—is committed to protecting Saudi Arabia in return for Saudi help in regulating oil prices and oil supply.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest countries, and one of its weakest.  The sparse Saudi population is incapable of defending the country against stronger nations such as Iraq or Iran.  But none of those nations dare attack Saudi Arabia so long as the nation is under the protection of the U.S. military.

The problem is that the source of the Saudi monarchy’s power, the force that enabled the House of Saud to conquer the Arabia peninsula in the first place, is the support of the Wahhabi movement, a highly strict Muslim sect which regards all other Muslims as untrue to the faith.

Wahhabi teachings are incompatible with the self-indulgent lives of many rich Arabs, including some of the members of the Saudi royal family, so the Saudis buy them off by subsidizing Wahhabi schools throughout the Muslim world, and supporting Wahhabi jihads, which, conveniently, are usually against nations such as Iran, Syria or the Shiite government of Iraq that are rivals to Saudi power.

The CIA on occasion found them useful tools as, for example, the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime in Libya and the ongoing fight against the Assad regime in Syria.

Bandar-Rice-Bush-King-Abdullah

President Bush receives a Saudi delegation

The Saudis meanwhile have close ties with American politicians and business executives.  Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, was a leading light on the Washington social scene.  He was so close to the Bush family that his nickname was Bandar Bush.

Matt Stoller wrote an excellent article about this for the Medium news site.  He pointed out that the Saudi monarchy is not a unified government, but consists of different factions with different aims.  The Saudi leaders have to be concerned with keeping a balance of power between the different factions and are not in a position to act decisively against any one of them.

The same is true of the government of Pakistan, which he didn’t mention.  Evidently there are factions in Pakistan’s government that are pro-Taliban, factions that are anti-Taliban and factions that think the Taliban is useful in fighting proxy wars against India.

Such a balance of power cannot be maintained forever.  Sooner or later there will have to be a showdown the Saudi monarchy and radical jihadist fanatics. which the monarchy may not win.

Last week the top Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa condemning ISIS and calling for public executions of its members.  Saudi Arabia has staged public executions of ISIS members.  That’s a welcome change.  I wish I knew enough to judge whether the change is permanent and whether the crackdown applies to top people in the Saudi power structure.

I must confess I don’t know what to do to prevent a jihadist takeover of Saudi Arabia, or what to do when and if it happens.  But if we Americans can bring our covert foreign policy out into the open, and discuss what to do, we at least will not be taken by surprise.

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees free speech to all Americans.   Article One, Section 6, says Senators and Representatives cannot be called to account outside of Congress for anything they say on the floor of Congress.   It is high time they exercise these rights and powers.

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