THE TRUTH ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread
THE TRUTH ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11
Wed Aug 7, 9:02 PM ET
By Ted Rall
It's Time for Our Government to Answer Questions
NEW YORK-A year has passed since September 11th. Yet we, the American people, still don't know exactly what happened. There are still no plans for a public investigation of how more than 3,000 Americans lost their lives, what could have been done to prevent the attacks or reduce their impact.
Secrecy has been the watchword of the obsessively inscrutable Bush administration. So preoccupied are they with keeping the people's business away from the people that, rather than spark a national discussion of what went wrong and what we could do better, these public servants are asking members of Congress to take lie-detector tests-to find out who's been leaking plans to attack Iraq.
Without a doubt, military intelligence requires secrecy. But there is no conceivable national security interest in keeping Americans in the dark about September 11th, a horribly public mass murder that devastated our national sense of invulnerability. A crisis whose first few weeks were marked by patriotic unity rapidly devolved into a divisive "war on terrorism" marked by opportunistic assaults on the Bill of Rights, old-fashioned oil wars and a cynical neo-McCarthyism whereby those who question Bush and the Republican Party are smeared as "anti-American." "United we stand" bumper stickers aside, the terrorists have skillfully turned us against each other: citizen against immigrant, Republican against Democrat, Christian against Muslim. Secrecy only deepens those divisions.
To hell with closed-door Congressional hearings. America needs a full, open, publicly-televised investigation into 9-11, and it needs it last October. Using the post-JFK assassination Warren Commission as a model is a start, though that panel's lack of openness fed conspiracy theories that continue to cause Americans to distrust their government four decades later. The best way to avoid alienating the public from its public servants is to keep an investigation 100 percent transparent.
During times of crisis both the electorate and the elected forget that this country belongs to the former. The latter are lackeys, not the other way around! As American citizens and taxpayers, therefore, we deserve-and should demand-honest answers to the following still-unanswered questions:
What did Bush know and when did he know it? A few months ago it was revealed that, while vacationing in Crawford, Texas on August 6, 2001, Bush had received an "analytical report" warning from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice ( news - web sites) that a terrorist attack was imminent. What was the exact nature of that warning? How detailed was it? Should Bush have cut short his vacation and headed back to Washington? The administration has stonewalled on this issue, but they can only allay suspicions of a September Surprise by coming clean now about the briefings he received before 9-11.
Did Echelon cough up the 9-10 warnings? The National Security Agency acknowledges that it "intercepted" two messages (one said "tomorrow is zero hour") from terrorists indicating that the next day, September 11th, would be the date of a major attack. Unfortunately, those messages weren't processed and evaluated until it was too late, on September 12th. The NSA maintains a sophisticated voice- and keyword-recognition computer system called Echelon. A former NSA director told the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur that Echelon uses automation to monitor every phone call, fax transmission, e-mail and wire transfer in the world. Did the 9-10 warning come from Echelon? Is Echelon being used to monitor ordinary Americans? Is there any way to speed up the rate at which the NSA processes important intercepts?
Why didn't our Air Force shoot down the hijacked planes? Air traffic controllers lost contact with all four aircraft within minutes of takeoff. Two were off course and ignored controllers for more than an hour and a half, yet the mightiest air defense network in the world failed to prevent the suicide bombers from striking their targets. Did overworked air traffic controllers fail to notice the errant planes? How long did it take them to get the word to military authorities? Did a bureaucratically inept Air Force fail to react quickly enough?
Why were only 12 jets patrolling U.S. airspace? According to The New York Times, only 12 Air Force National Guard planes, most of them on the ground, were assigned to patrol the entire continental United States at the time of the attacks. Whose judgment determined that this level of protection was adequate? What would happen in the event of a nuclear first strike against the U.S.? Would an increased budget have increased that number, and what is our current field strength?
What is American policy concerning hijackings? Had an Air Force jet successfully intercepted one of the doomed flights, would its pilot have been ordered to shoot it down? If so, would that order have had to come from the president, or would a lower-ranked official be sufficient? If a shooting were authorized, would it ever be implemented over a densely-populated area? Passengers need to know where they stand before they board a plane.
Was United Flight 93 shot down over Pennsylvania? The Pentagon ( news - web sites) has neither denied shooting down United 93 nor confirmed that its heroic passengers caused the flight to crash while trying to wrest its controls from the hijackers. The flight was airborne some two and a half hours before crashing outside Shanksville, leading many to speculate that it was fired upon to protect the White House or other likely targets in Washington. It seems unlikely that a cockpit voice recording of a struggle between passengers and jihadis exists; if it did, why not release such an inspiring artifact to a public hungry for inspiration? All 9-11 flight information, including any Flight 93 recordings, ought to given to the media. And it's time for the military to indicate whether or not they, rather than the passengers, brought down the jet.
Why didn't federal law require reinforced cockpit doors? This common-sense proposal had been adopted by carriers in other countries years earlier, but not in the United States. Did the airlines lobby against the move because of increased costs? If so, which airlines? And which federal officials and/or members of Congress are criminally responsible for jeapordizing the safety of the flying public for the sake of a few bucks?
Who locked the roof doors at the World Trade Center? During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, hundreds of workers escaped smoke by going to the roofs. On September 11th hundreds died when they went up dozens of flights of stairs only to find those same roof doors locked. Why did city fire officials order those doors locked between 1993 and 2001, and more importantly, why didn't they post notices through the World Trade Center complex to advise that roof doors would no longer be unlocked? Prosecutions may be in order for criminal negligence.
Who skimped on FDNY communications? Scores of New York firefighters died in the stairwells of the World Trade Center after they'd been ordered to evacuate the buildings-because they couldn't hear those orders on their antiquated radio system. The fire department had requested up-to-date equipment years earlier. Which city officials refused to allocate the necessary funding, causing firefighters to die needlessly? Do the FDNY and other urban fire departments now have better communications?
How much asbestos was released by the World Trade Center collapse? World Trade was one-third completed when builders stopped using asbestos fire retardant, which means that the equivalent of four normal-width 60-story skyscrapers full of a banned carcinogen was pulverized and released in a cloud that blanketed lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Environmental Protection Agency ( news - web sites) has never come clean on what may eventually become known as America's Chernobyl, but New Yorkers deserve to know the full extent of their exposure.
Why was the Pentagon so vulnerable? Not only did Defense Department employees perish at the Pentagon, the attack revealed that even the headquarters of American military power can be successfully targeted. Does the Pentagon have a surface-to-air missile system that could avert similar catastrophes in the future? If not, one should be constructed.
What about the other knives? After American planes were grounded, investigators found box cutters attached under seats on Delta flights out of Boston's Logan airport and from Atlanta bound for Brussels. Was anyone ever arrested in connection with would-be hijackings of these other flights? What were the intended targets of those aborted hijackings? Were those box cutters, and those on the four hijacked flights, placed there by personnel who service aircraft ("These look like an inside job," a U.S. official told Time magazine) or were they smuggled aboard through lax security checkpoints by would-be hijackers?
Were there other plots? American officials have questioned thousands of individuals in connection with 9-11. Have they uncovered other schemes intended for that day, or for later on?
Did anyone take responsibility or make demands? It's difficult to imagine that the group that carried out an act as expensive and carefully-planned as 9-11 chose not to claim credit for it. Furthermore, terrorist organizations typically make demands-requests for changes in policy, say, or the release of political prisoners. Secretary of State Colin Powell ( news - web sites) initially promised to provide proof of Osama bin Laden ( news - web sites)'s Al Qaeda group's leading role as instigators of 9-11, but have since reneged on that pledge. Moreover, that assertion doesn't fit bin Laden's known methods; rather than plan or carry out operations himself, he usually agrees to fully or partially fund plots conceived and executed by other Islamist groups. If the Bush Administration received communiqués from a group or groups claiming responsibility for 9-11, Americans need to know that.
When did the U.S. decide to invade Afghanistan ( news - web sites)? As recently as April 2001, the Bush Administration funneled millions of dollars in aid to the Taliban in order to reward the hardline Islamic regime for virtually eliminating opium production. By June, however, relations had cooled noticeably and invasion plans were being prepared. Would we have invaded Afghanistan if September 11th hadn't happened? Were there any discussions between future U.S. puppet Hamid Karzai and the Bush Administration before or immediately after 9-11?
Where was Osama on 9-11? Afghans told reporters that bin Laden and his entourage fled Afghanistan for Kashmir ( news - web sites) on September 10th, yet military officials were saying as late as January that the world's most wanted man was holed up in the Tora Bora region. Did the U.S. really know where Osama was on 9-11, and if so, where was he? Why weren't American commandos inserted into Afghanistan or Pakistan in order to apprehend him? If the U.S. knew that he had left Afghanistan, is this why it refused to negotiate with the Taliban for his extradition?
How many civilians died in Afghanistan? Perhaps the most deliberately underreported story of 2001-2002 was the number of Afghan civilians killed by American bombs, missiles, mines and bullets. (Estimates begin at CNN's conservative 3,500.) While the Pentagon's argument that it's difficult to track these things from satellites and high-flying planes rings true, there's no doubt that they know more than they care to admit. We deserve to know how many innocent people our taxdollars have killed, and how many of their relatives now have reason to despise America.
Is the government spying on American citizens? Not only is the federal government asking postal workers and meter readers to report on anything unusual they see in our homes, anecdotal evidence suggests that opponents of administration policy are being targeted for wiretaps and other forms of harassment and intimidation by government intelligence agencies. Obviously there is no place for such retro-Cold War behavior in this country; the FBI ( news - web sites), CIA ( news - web sites) and NSA must reveal and cease all such unconstitutional activities against Americans.
Why doesn't the Bush Administration want a real investigation of 9-11? The House and Senate, whose intelligence committees are now meeting in private, are considering bills that would set up limited, closed-door independent investigative panels, but Bush has stymied even those watered-down efforts at openness, arguing they "would cause a further diversion of essential personnel from their duties fighting the war." What is he hiding? Americans pay Bush's salary, and Americans deserve to know what he's doing.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2002
Ted Rall is a radical anti-american communist, and he is a member of the axis of evil.
-- Pugsly (email@example.com), August 10, 2002.
Ted Rall is a media whore who makes his living selling BS to suckahs like you.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2002.
LOL! It's a hell of a lot closer to truth than any of the total bullshit that your hero Dumbya is trying to sell us!
-- (email@example.com), August 10, 2002.
You guys are all fucked up.
The whole 9-11 was an elaborate CIA plot to get us back to Iraq. Guess it worked.
-- Jack Booted Thug (governmentconspiracy@NWO.com), August 10, 2002.
If you like Ted Rall, you'll have an orgasm over Clyde Lewis! LOL.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 10, 2002.
The 9/11 disaster was caused by a Y2K bug in the air traffic control system. The people who died obviously didn't have enough beans and rice to same them.
-- (email@example.com), August 11, 2002.