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Mounting EvidenceWhy We Need a New Investigation Into 9/11
By Paul W. Rea
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Paul W. Rea, PhD
All right reserved.
Chapter One"The Eye Begins to See": 9/11 in Meaningful Contexts
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
—Justice William O. Douglas
The ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus famously observed that "in war, truth is the first casualty." Today, however, this strikes us as an understatement: given so many wars, truth has died a thousand deaths. Generating war propaganda may be "the world's second oldest profession," and today its practitioners are very well paid.
Even when truth survives, it's often hidden within a thicket of distortions, half truths, and outright lies. Prof. Peter Phillips of Project Censored alerts us to a "truth emergency" in which "we're awash in a sea of information but left without contexts for real understanding" (M. Huff Censored 2011 pp. 221-229). True, we live in the "information age," blessed by all the possibilities enabled by the internet, but we also live in a time of misinformation, disinformation, and just plain info overload. Confusing information with understanding, we face a crisis of meaning—of knowledge framed so we can act on it.
While today's shortage of readily available, accurate, meaningful knowledge has many causes, two stand out: secrecy and suppression. Many, even most government officials and corporate media outlets perceive sharing the truth as contrary to their interests. This said, certain "sensitive" areas are particularly prone to secrecy and suppression.
Areas of Special Secrecy and Suppression
All matters nuclear have long been shrouded in secrecy and subjected to suppression. Taking one example among many, How was it possible, when all of Europe was finding fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, that the French government could doggedly deny that radioactive dust had fallen on France? (DVD: The Story of Chernobyl). Even after all the media coverage devoted to the Fukushima disaster, how many of us understand how governments treat nuclear power?
Compounding the problem, many of our fellow citizens aren't paying much attention, and even fewer are demanding the truth. As American humorist Josh Billings quipped, "scarce as truth is, the supply has always exceeded the demand" (www.quotedb.com/quotes/1588). As a result, the public is fed—and too often swallows—readily available junk food for thought.
The 9/11 tragedy is another area of especially intense secrecy and suppression. Pulling together solid facts about 9/11 is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, lost, or destroyed—and with still others impounded by government agencies. The picture that emerges is incomplete, riddled with holes.
More broadly, few areas are more beset by a lack of candor than national security and military matters. Because 9/11 lies at the intersection of these realms, and because this watershed event threatened to expose powerful interests, it's been a bastion of especially strong resistance to truth-telling. When the air-defense failures raised questions about the ability of the federal government to protect citizens, they activated the usual mechanisms for evasion: adoption of an Official Story, media spin, distortion, suppression, and denial.
A Closer Look at the 9/11 Commission
Whatever its other failings, the 9/11 Commission didn't let facts get in the way of telling a good story. Comprised almost entirely of Washington insiders, the Commission—as we'll see later—was most interested in covering for both parties as well as for the federal agencies most implicated in the debacle. The Commission seemed especially keen on buffing the tarnished image of the Pentagon brass.
When the Commission finished its work in 2004, three months before George Bush and Dick Cheney were up for election, it seemed obvious to many that it didn't want to be held responsible for their defeat. Wanting to appear bipartisan, the Commission basically said, "Clinton was somewhat at fault, and Bush was somewhat at fault, but nobody was responsible." Early on, its Report made it clear that it would establish "no individual blame" (Report p. xiv). How could no one be held responsible for the biggest national-security failure in the nation's history?
Vietnam veteran and former senator Max Cleland resigned from the Commission in disgust, calling the charade a "national scandal." Citing dogged stonewalling at the White House, Sen. Cleland charged "the president ought to be ashamed" (Salon 11/21/03). Benjamin DeMott, Professor Emeritus at Amherst and an insightful cultural critic, described the Report as "a cheat and a fraud..... a series of evasive maneuvers that infantilize the audience, transform candor into iniquity, and conceal realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation" (Harper's 10/04).
In 2004, even before the 9/11 Commission came out with its Report, it had become obvious that its conclusions would be woefully inadequate. The commissioners were fully aware they'd been lied to: at a secret meeting, they even "debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation" (Wash. Post 8/2/04). Aside from being politically awkward, such a referral would have proved risky, because any fair investigation would have found the Commission lying every bit as much as the Pentagon.
Since that time, co-chairs Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton have made significant admissions. They've acknowledged that they not only knew the CIA "made a conscious decision" to stonewall their requests for documents, but the Pentagon's initial timeline for its responses to the attacks "may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the Commission and the public" (NYT 12/22/07).
John Farmer, the Commission's own senior counsel, has revealed that "the official version ... is almost entirely untrue.... there was a decision not to tell the truth to the American people" (Farmer Ground Truth p. 4). Former commissioner and US Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) called 9/11 "a 30-year-old conspiracy," yet the Commission's probe seldom extended back beyond three or four years. Before it ever got underway, the inquiry was compromised by its narrow scope and lack of real independence.
Regardless of who was responsible for 9/11, the resulting cover-up was itself a State Crime Against Democracy (SCAD): offered a distorted account of a national tragedy. When one compares the Commission's standard narrative with the known facts, things don't add up. September 11 widow and activist Kristen Breitweiser, one of the "Jersey Girls" (the 9/11 widows who pushed for an investigation), has observed that "it's been said that terrorists only have to get it right once and defenders have to get it right every time; but those terrorists weren't just lucky once, they were lucky over and over again" (DVD "9/11: Press for Truth").
In the Official Story, the laws of probability don't seem to apply. Skeptics have pointed to the sheer number of facts that don't square with the standard accounts. While the Official Story presented the alleged hijackers as strict fundamentalist Muslims devoted to Allah, their personal habits included using alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine, and hiring prostitutes (A. Collins My Jihad p. 248). Inconsistencies and contradictions abound. The Pentagon issued three different official timelines attempting to explain its failure to intercept any of the four airliners, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gave three different accounts of his whereabouts during the attacks (Griffin 9/11 Commission Report pp. 141-43, 217-219). Cheney told one tale, but the Commission told another on his behalf. Such contradictory accounts inevitably compromise credibility. Yet the contradictions extend far beyond these. When one pulls on the loose fibers, the whole yarn unravels.
Today, a decade after the tragedy, the trail may look cold, the clues hard to find. Fortunately, though, the ensuing years haven't gone to waste. Researchers have made remarkable discoveries, and the prospects for better understanding have never looked more compelling.
Imperatives for Seeking the Truth
Among the reasons for us to look more deeply into 9/11, five seem most apt to help restore American democracy:
To Honor the Victims and Ensure Them Justice
On 9/11, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed; to honor them, we need to find out who, beyond nineteen hijackers and a few al Qaeda leaders, might have been involved in the largest national-security failure in American history. So far, no one has been held accountable. Insisting on accountability and justice is the highest form of respect Americans can pay to those victimized by the attacks.
To Promote Political Awareness and Critical Thinking
It was Euripides, the sharpest skeptical thinker among the Greek playwrights, who concluded that "man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe." More recent political thinkers, from James Madison to Bill Moyers, have also understood that knowledge and the ability to use it are crucial in any democracy. That's why Thomas Jefferson furnished his amazing collection of books, the largest in the new republic, to help establish the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jefflib.html).
Unlike Jefferson, though, most of us don't have time to plow through Gibbon's three-volume Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. We need history that's readily available, instructive, and useful. As the founders understood, knowledge of political history helps citizens curtail potential abuses of power. The moves of the tricksters are hardly new, and the ability to spot them is immensely empowering. Seeing patterns among past "trigger" and traumatic events promotes better understanding of current instances, including 9/11. If critical thinking involves questioning our most cherished assumptions, contrived provocations provide great opportunities to see how the real world works.
To Challenge the War on Terror Americans may groan beneath the burden of a huge national debt, but they don't always consider the full costs of what G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney defined as "endless war" (Wash. Post 10/4/01). Like the Cold War, the Global War on Terror has helped obscure the underlying reasons for military action, which include resources, profits, power, and status—all "the privileges of empire." While many conscientious citizens have opposed individual wars, fewer challenge their underlying premise—what revered policy analyst Richard Falk called the Global Domination Project. This push for power, profit, and status, Dr. Falk explains, has long driven much of US foreign policy (PBS "Frontline" 4/12&25/03). While the Global Domination Project isn't the same as old- fashioned colonialism and world conquest, it does involve an ongoing attempt to use military, economic, and diplomatic power to grab the lion's share of the goodies.
Moreover, endless global war has extracted many unforeseen and hidden costs. Canadian researcher Elizabeth Woodworth has articulated what is little understood: "The September 11 attacks have done more to shape world conflict in this century than any other event. More resources are being committed to the resulting War on Terror than to the foundational issue of the survival of our ecosystem. Additionally, the War on Terror is being waged in the oil-rich Middle East, whose promise of vast oil supplies is delaying the development of alternative energy sources" (Foreign Policy Journal 10/24/10). If the United States can't afford "endless war," neither can our increasingly beleaguered planet.
The costs in money alone are staggering. When all the national-security- related expenses from other budgets are factored in, American taxpayers pay closer to a trillion dollars a year in military spending (Stockholm Intl. Peace Res. Inst.). By mid 2011, the astronomical costs for Afghanistan and Iraq had surpassed four trllion dollars (Pacifica "Democracy Now!" 6/2911). A few trillion here, a few trillion there; it can add up to real money.
Adding to the burden, taxpayers also subsidize the 737 US bases worldwide (www.alternet.org/story/47998). These, too, are manifestations of the Global Domination Project. While many of these serve no military purpose, they do provide protection and cover for espionage operatives, often as launching pads for "special operations," known in the trade as "black ops." In 2011, returning from a trip to Afghanistan, retired Army Col. Ann Wright tallied 400 bases in that country alone (Maui Times 1/23/11). At Super Bowl parties, fans still lift a Bud when announcers "proudly welcome members of America's armed forces viewing in 177 nations around the world" (Fox 2/6/11). They don't tout the 737 bases, however. Such an outlandish number is hardly something to cheer about.
Despite the cancellation of some new weapons, military spending has grown under Obama (SF Chron. 2/7/11). Today, the United States outspends the other top fifteen militaries together (www.costofwar.com). Given the burden of the national debt, the state of the economy, and the decline of democratic and social institutions at home, these massive expenditures are something the nation can now ill afford—if it ever could.
To Help Restore Civil Liberties
If the Waron Terror has provided pretexts for disastrous wars and ballooning military budgets, it's also supplied a "rationale" for the Department of Homeland Security and other stateside mechanisms of control. Since 9/11, Americans have seen extensive curtailment of their liberties, many of them constitutionally "guaranteed." Invasions of privacy have come from several directions—from warrantless wire tapping to airport security scanners to expanded no-fly lists. In an excellent piece of investigative journalism, Dana Priest and William Arkin have documented not just the expanding military but also the burgeoning "clandestine services." These overlapping spy agencies, their research demonstrated, are "growing beyond control" (Wash. Post 7/16/10).
Secret prisons, another feature of the War on Terror, can hardly be dismissed as "over there." In a passionate wakeup call, human rights activist Naomi Wolf has warned of encroachments on our freedoms, letting Guantánamo symbolize many other "dark sites": "We should worry about the men held at Guantánamo, because history shows that stripping prisoners of their rights is intoxicating not only to leaders but to functionaries. How easy it is for even decent people to become desensitized and act as instruments of evil" (Wolf End of America p. 48).
It's one thing to condemn extralegal incarceration; it's another to realize that policies conceived with limited application often come home to haunt us.
When foreigners are detained in solitary confinement without ever being charged, it becomes more likely that similar legal violations will happen to Americans at home. During the Bush years, most of the world cringed at the mistreatment of prisoners. More recently, however, Americans faced the equally outrageous mistreatment of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning Jr. Charged with unauthorized disclosure of information to Wikileaks, Private Manning was held at a Marine base in Virginia. Stripped to his underwear, Manning languished for many months in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day (Pacifica "Democracy Now!" 1/24/11) until public outcry forced a move to more humane conditions.
Similarly, the same "private contractors" who've killed civilians overseas have killed civilians at home. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina afforded opportunities to expand reliance on private security firms into domestic situations. In complete violation of law and morality, Blackwater Worldwide (Xe) gunned down a peaceful group of African-American "gangbangers" in New Orleans (J. Scahill Blackwater pp. 327-29). When a country has staged provocations for war, subverted elected governments, trained foreign armies in torture techniques (SOAW.org), and assassinated leaders abroad for many decades, should it surprise us when it applies these strategies at home?
Excerpted from Mounting Evidence by Paul W. Rea Copyright © 2011 by Paul W. Rea, PhD. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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