Thursday, September 8, 2011

Origins of 9/11

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Published: Thursday 8 September 2011
Major policy developments, including two undeclared wars, were conducted in the name of defeating the perpetrators of 9/11 without the pubic being made aware of the relevant facts.
Robert Scheer

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For a decade, the main ques­tions about 9/11 have gone unan­swered while the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors who sur­vived the at­tacks have never been pub­licly cross-ex­am­ined as to their meth­ods and mo­tives. It is not con­spir­a­to­r­ial but rather ob­vi­ously plau­si­ble to sug­gest that they have been kept out of sight be­cause legal due process, con­sti­tu­tion­ally guar­an­teed to even the most heinous of crim­i­nals, might pro­vide in­for­ma­tion that our gov­ern­ment would find em­bar­rass­ing.  
We re­main in ig­no­rance as to what drove re­li­gious zealots for­merly al­lied with the United States to turn against us, and what was the role of our ally, Saudi Ara­bia, the coun­try of ori­gin for most of the hi­jack­ers and their fi­nanc­ing. Why in the af­ter­math of the at­tack did the United States em­brace Pak­istan, which was one of only three gov­ern­ments (Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates were the oth­ers) to diplo­mat­i­cally rec­og­nize the Tal­iban and which turned out to be har­bor­ing the fugi­tive Osama bin Laden? And why did we in­stead in­vade Iraq, a na­tion known to be en­gaged in a deadly war with bin Laden and his al-Qaida?
How lit­tle we know about the ori­gins of the Sept. 11 at­tacks is laid out in the dis­claimer on Page 146 of the of­fi­cial 9/11 pres­i­den­tial com­mis­sion re­port. A box on that page states clearly that the con­ven­tional nar­ra­tive of how those por­ten­tous events un­folded is based largely on the in­ter­ro­ga­tion under tor­ture of key wit­nesses who have never been per­mit­ted a sin­gle mo­ment in a pub­licly ob­served court of law. 
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As the bi­par­ti­san com­mis­sion­ers rue­fully con­ceded, their ex­am­i­na­tion of the mo­tives, fi­nanc­ing and ac­tions of the al­leged 9/11 per­pe­tra­tors had to “rely heav­ily on in­for­ma­tion from cap­tured al Qaeda mem­bers” that the com­mis­sion­ers, de­spite hav­ing been granted the high­est se­cu­rity clear­ance, were never al­lowed to se­ri­ously vet:
“We sub­mit­ted ques­tions for use in the in­ter­ro­ga­tions but had no con­trol over whether, when, or how ques­tions of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est would be asked. Nor were we al­lowed to talk to the in­ter­roga­tors so that we could bet­ter judge the cred­i­bil­ity of the de­tainees and clar­ify am­bi­gu­i­ties in the re­port­ing. We were told that our re­quests might dis­rupt the sen­si­tive in­ter­ro­ga­tion process.”
That sen­si­tive in­ter­ro­ga­tion process in­cluded the wa­ter­board­ing of the key wit­nesses, led by al­leged 9/11 mas­ter­mind Khalid Sheikh Mo­hammed, who was sched­uled to go on pub­lic, civil­ian trial in Man­hat­tan last spring, until the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion caved in to hys­ter­i­cal Re­pub­li­can-led pres­sure and called off the trial. 
The fear of a pub­lic trial is ap­par­ently that it will be an oc­ca­sion to hu­man­ize the pre­sumed per­pe­tra­tors of bar­baric acts, but by that stan­dard no al­leged mur­derer should ever be tried in civil­ian court. The coun­ter­ar­gu­ment is that we as a so­ci­ety have, from the draft­ing of our Con­sti­tu­tion, been com­mit­ted to due process of law. But an even more com­pelling ob­jec­tion to the pre­sent se­crecy flows not from the in­alien­able rights of the ac­cused to jus­tice but rather from the need to fully in­form the pub­lic as to the dan­gers faced by our so­ci­ety.
Major pol­icy de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing two un­de­clared wars, were con­ducted in the name of de­feat­ing the per­pe­tra­tors of 9/11 with­out the pubic being made aware of the rel­e­vant facts. Surely a pub­lic trial would have re­vealed, to the deep em­bar­rass­ment of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, that there was no con­nec­tion be­tween the 9/11 hi­jack­ers and the gov­ern­ment of Iraq that the United States over­threw.
At the very least, such tes­ti­mony would have shed light on the cozy re­la­tion­ship be­tween the U.S. gov­ern­ment and the key lead­ers of al-Qaida, par­tic­u­larly the Amer­i­can-ed­u­cated Mo­hammed, re­cruited by the CIA to join the fight against the So­vi­ets in Afghanistan. It cer­tainly could also have proved em­bar­rass­ing to for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates, who, dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, op­posed pub­lic tri­als and man­aged last March to get Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to re­verse his pledge of civil­ian tri­als. Gates boasted in his 1996 mem­oir of his long his­tory of work­ing with Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists in Afghanistan, dat­ing to his days in the Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion. As his book pub­lisher bragged at the time, Gates ex­posed “Carter’s never-be­fore re­vealed covert sup­port to Afghan mu­ja­hedeen—six months be­fore the So­vi­ets in­vaded.”
Of course 9/11 changed every­thing; na­tions were in­vaded, tril­lions of dol­lars were wasted, hun­dreds of thou­sands of civil­ian and mil­i­tary lives were lost, tor­ture be­came ac­cept­able and the pub­lic has come to tol­er­ate a daily gov­ern­men­tal as­sault on pri­vacy as nor­mal. But for all of the high drama and cost of the U.S. re­sponse, when it comes to un­der­stand­ing the forces be­hind the at­tack, we still do not know what we are talk­ing about.
This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally posted on Truthdig.

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