Monday, September 11, 2006

September Eleven

Monday Edition: Sept. 11, 2001 -- Monday Edition: Sept. 11, 2001 -- The Day the Web Grew Up

The newspaper covers... Living memorials... The number 11.



Remember, but know the truth.


Perfect opportunity to confess, repent, ask for forgiveness .... nah he is too busy wallowing as hero. Wonder if he will shed one tear, for those, I wana see him really cry.

The past is just that past, but we learn and do not forget, teach your children well.


Hijacking Catastrophe: The Legacy of 9/11


with Ray McGovern, Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and conducted early morning daily briefings with George Bush. He recently attracted wide-spread attention when he publicly confronted Donald Rumsfeld about his claims concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches and with the midterm election just two months away, McGovern tells us how the President succeeded in hijacking catastrophe - making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear of torture and why we’re knee deep in the big muddy and the big fool says to push on and on and on now on the road to Iran.


Call 911: Workers In Peril at Ground Zero! with representatives of the WTC Monitoring & Treatment Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the NY Environmental Law & Justice Project, Restaurant Opportunity Center, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops Recent attention has focused on the struggle to get care and compensation for the nearly 40,000 hitherto forgotten workers who labored on the WTC cleanup under unsafe working conditions. After years of protests, some of their concerns are now being met. But still out the public view are the concerns of residents, students, and employees in the WTC area who were exposed to poisonous air toxins when they were prematurely encouraged to return, the exploitative working conditions at Ground Zero and the thousands of workers who lost their jobs at and around the WTC. Much of the $20 billion pumped into NYC by the federal government went to line the pockets of wealthy companies to supposedly keep them downtown. As the new book "Lost Towers" documents, the working victims of the WTC disaster were left to fend for themselves proving once again that disaster capitalism takes care of the moguls first. Exploitation and callousness in the redevelopment of the site has led to one of the worst occupational disasters in American history- with 58 workers dead,
& 17,400 injured or sick.


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It don't matter how bad 'they' are, we don't have to let 'them' make us bad.



September 10, 2006

At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics
By DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 — Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden henchman captured by the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was bloodied and feverish when a C.I.A. security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002. Bullet fragments had ripped through his abdomen and groin during a firefight in Pakistan several days earlier when he had been captured.

The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.

President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

Some of those interviewed offered sharply contrasting accounts, but all said that the disagreements were intense. More than four years later, these disputes are foreshadowing the debate that Mr. Bush’s new proposals are meeting in Congress, as lawmakers wrangle about what rules should apply as terrorism suspects are captured, questioned and, possibly, tried before military tribunals.

A reconstruction of Mr. Zubaydah’s initial days of detention and interrogation, based on accounts by former and current law enforcement and intelligence officials in a series of recent interviews, provides the first detailed account of his treatment and the disputes and uncertainties that surrounded it. The basic chronology of how the capture and interrogation unfolded was described consistently by sources from a number of government agencies.

The officials spoke on the condition that they not be identified because many aspects of the handling of Mr. Zubaydah remain classified and because some of the officials may be witnesses in future prosecutions involving Mr. Zubaydah.

This week, President Bush said that he had not and never would approve the use of torture. The C.I.A. declined to discuss the specifics of the case on the record. At F.B.I. headquarters, officials refused to publicly discuss the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah, citing what they said were “operational sensitivities.”

Some of the officials who were interviewed for this article were briefed on the events as they occurred. Others were provided with accounts of the interrogation later.

Before his capture, Mr. Zubaydah was regarded as a top bin Laden logistics chief who funneled recruits to training bases in Afghanistan and served as a communications link between Al Qaeda’s leadership and extremists in other countries.

As interrogators dug into his activities, however, they scaled back their assessment somewhat, viewing him more as the terror network’s personnel director and hotelier who ran a string of guest houses in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Zubaydah’s whereabouts in Pakistan had been determined in part through intercepted Internet communications, but for days after his capture his identity was in doubt. He had surgically altered his appearance and was using an alias. But when agents used a nickname for Mr. Zubaydah, he acknowledged his true identity, which was confirmed through analysis of his voice, facial structure and DNA tests.

By all accounts, Mr. Zubaydah’s condition was rapidly deteriorating when he arrived in Thailand. Soon after his capture, Mr. Zubaydah nearly died of his infected wounds. At one point, he was covertly rushed to a hospital after C.I.A. medical officers warned that he might not survive if he did not receive more extensive medical treatment.

According to accounts from five former and current government officials who were briefed on the case, F.B.I. agents — accompanied by intelligence officers — initially questioned him using standard interview techniques. They bathed Mr. Zubaydah, changed his bandages, gave him water, urged improved medical care, and spoke with him in Arabic and English, languages in which he is fluent.

To convince him they knew details of his activities, the agents brought a box of blank audiotapes which they said contained recordings of his phone conversations, but were actually empty. As the F.B.I. worked with C.I.A. officers who were present, Mr. Zubaydah soon began to provide intelligence insights into Al Qaeda.

For the C.I.A., Mr. Zubaydah was a test case for an evolving new role, conceived after Sept. 11, in which the agency was to act as jailer and interrogator for terrorism suspects.

According to accounts by three former intelligence officials, the C.I.A. understood that the legal foundation for its role had been spelled out in a sweeping classified directive signed by Mr. Bush on Sept. 17, 2001. The directive, known as a memorandum of notification, authorized the C.I.A. for the first time to capture, detain and interrogate terrorism suspects, providing the foundation for what became its secret prison system.

That 2001 directive did not spell out specific guidelines for interrogations, however, and senior C.I.A. officials began in late 2001 and early 2002 to draw up a list of aggressive interrogation procedures that might be used against terrorism suspects. They consulted agency psychiatrists and foreign governments to identify effective techniques beyond standard interview practices.

After Mr. Zubaydah’s capture, a C.I.A. interrogation team was dispatched from the agency’s counterterrorism center to take the lead in his questioning, former law enforcement and intelligence officials said, and F.B.I. agents were withdrawn. The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.

In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.

At times, Mr. Zubaydah, still weak from his wounds, was stripped and placed in a cell without a bunk or blankets. He stood or lay on the bare floor, sometimes with air-conditioning adjusted so that, one official said, Mr. Zubaydah seemed to turn blue. At other times, the interrogators piped in deafening blasts of music by groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sometimes, the interrogator would use simpler techniques, entering his cell to ask him to confess.

“You know what I want,” the interrogator would say to him, according to one official’s account, departing leaving Mr. Zubaydah to brood over his answer.

F.B.I. agents on the scene angrily protested the more aggressive approach, arguing that persuasion rather than coercion had succeeded. But leaders of the C.I.A. interrogation team were convinced that tougher tactics were warranted and said that the methods had been authorized by senior lawyers at the White House.

The agents appealed to their superiors but were told that the intelligence agency was in charge, the officials said. One law enforcement official who was aware of events as they occurred reacted with chagrin. “When you rough these guys up, all you do is fulfill their fantasies about what to expect from us,” the official said.

Mr. Bush on Wednesday acknowledged the use of aggressive interview techniques, but only in the most general terms. “We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking,” Mr. Bush said. He said the C.I.A. had used “an alternative set of procedures’’ after it became clear that Mr. Zubaydah “had received training on how to resist interrogation.

“These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations,’’ Mr. Bush said. “The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.’’

In his early interviews, Mr. Zubaydah had revealed what turned out to be important information, identifying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — from a photo on a hand-held computer — as the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Zubaydah also identified Jose Padilla, an American citizen who has been charged with terrorism-related crimes.

But Mr. Zubaydah dismissed Mr. Padilla as a maladroit extremist whose hope to construct a dirty bomb, using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials, was far-fetched. He told his questioners that Mr. Padilla was ignorant on the subject of nuclear physics and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material.

Crucial aspects of what happened during Mr. Zubaydah’s interrogation are sharply disputed. Some former and current government officials briefed on the case, who were more closely allied with law enforcement, said Mr. Zubaydah cooperated with F.B.I. interviewers until the C.I.A. interrogation team arrived. They said that Mr. Zubaydah’s resistance began after the agency interrogators began using more stringent tactics.

Other officials, more closely tied to intelligence agencies, dismissed that account, saying that the C.I.A. had supervised all interviews with Mr. Zubaydah, including those in which F.B.I. agents asked questions. These officials said that he proved a wily adversary. “He was lying, and things were going nowhere,” one official briefed on the matter said of the early interviews. “It was clear that he had information about an imminent attack and time was of the essence.”

Several officials said the belief that Mr. Zubaydah might have possessed critical information about a coming terrorist operation figured significantly in the decision to employ tougher tactics, even though it later became apparent he had no such knowledge.

“As the president has made clear, the fact of the matter is that Abu Zubaydah was defiant and evasive until the approved procedures were used,” one government official said. “He soon began to provide information on key Al Qaeda operators to help us find and capture those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.”

This official added, “When you are concerned that a hard-core terrorist has information about an imminent threat that could put innocent lives at risk, rapport-building and stroking aren’t the top things on your agenda.”

Douglas Jehl contributed reporting.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company



Remarkable remarks ....



Tomgram: Chernus, Cornered Empire, the Legacy of 9/11

With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, American leaders declared "victory" in the Cold
War no less firmly or repeatedly than our President has promised "victory" in his Global War on Terror -- no less than 12 times , in fact, in an August speech to the American Legion National Convention.

However, as Andrew Bacevich, author ofThe New American Militarism, recentlywrote , victory in our times turns out to be a remarkably quicksilver concept, especially since "the East has solved the riddle of the Western Way of War…

[T]he Arabs now possess -- and know that they possess -- the capacity to deny us victory, especially in any altercation that occurs on their own turf and among their own people."

Triumphantly here today (as your generals sit grinning behind a marble table in one of Saddam's palaces), victory is gone tomorrow (as the IEDs start to explode and the suicide car bombs begin to mount).

In the case of the Cold War, the question remains: Was that victory actually gone yesterday? Was it gone by the time officials danced their victory jigs in the corridors of the Pentagon and the White House?

In retrospect, it may be -- as perceptive scholars of imperial decline like Immanuel Wallerstein have long argued -- that we were already definitively on the way down; or, put another way, that there was no victor but there were two losers in the Cold War; that the Soviet Union, the weaker of the two great powers, simply imploded first; while the U.S., enwreathed in a rhetoric of triumph and self-congratulation, was slowly making its way to the door without waving goodbye.

In the fifteen years since the USSR evaporated, most indices of power, especially military power, have been challenged. To offer but a single sobering example, historian Gabriel Kolko, discussing how destructive power has been "democratized," points out that:

"U.S. power has been dependent to a large extent on the country's highly mobile navy. But ships are increasingly vulnerable to missiles, and while they are a long way from finished, they are more and more circumscribed tactically and, ultimately, strategically… [Iran, for example] possesses large quantities of [cruise] missiles, and US experts believe they may very well be capable of destroying aircraft-carrier battle groups. All attempts to devise defenses against these rockets, even the most primitive, have been expensive failures, and anti-missile technology everywhere has remained, after decades of effort and billions of dollars, unreliable."When, back in the 1960s, Senator J. William Fulbright wrote of "the arrogance of power" as a defining trait of America's leaders, few in power took him seriously. So many years later, the question is: Do our present arrogant leaders have the faintest idea how limited their powers really are?

As Ira Chernus, author of Monsters
To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin
, suggests below, on this fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the leadership of an increasingly cornered empire continues to put its emphasis not just on striking back, but on striking first… and wherever. This is the most dangerous, the most blinding and fearful legacy of the 9/11 attacks. In the long run, it threatens a world in rubble.

Tom



The Day That Changed Everything Wasn't 9/11

By Ira Chernus

Yes, it changed everything -- not September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers collapsed, but November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and left the U.S. at sea, drifting without an enemy in a strange new world.

Through four decades of the Cold War, Americans had been able to feel reasonably united in their determination to fight evil. And everyone, even children, knew the name of the evildoers: "the commies." Within two years after the Wall fell, the Soviet Union had simply disappeared. In the U.S., nobody really knew how to fight evil now, or even who the evildoers were. The world's sole remaining superpower was "running out of demons," as Colin Powell complained.

Amid the great anguish of September 11, 2001, it was hard to sense the paradoxical but very real feeling of relief that flooded across the country. After a decade adrift with no foes to oppose, Americans could sink back into a comfortingly black-and-white world, neatly divided into the good guys and the bad guys, the innocent and the guilty. In the hands of the Bush administration, "terrorists," modest as their numbers might have been, turned out to be remarkably able stand-ins for a whole empire-plus of "commies." They became our all-purpose symbol for the evil that fills our waking nightmares.

Today the very word "terrorist" conjures up anxiety-ridden images worthy of the Cold War era -- images of an unpredictable world always threatening to spin out of control. As then, so now, sinister evil is said to lurk everywhere -- even right next door -- always ready to spring upon unsuspecting victims.

Historians, considering the last decades of our history, are well aware that millions of Americans didn't need the attacks of 9/11 to fear that their world was spinning out of control. As the Cold War waned, profound differences on "values" issues (previously largely kept under wraps) came out of the closet. Societal anxiety rose. Many wondered how long a nation could endure if it had no consensus on "moral matters" and no obvious authority figures to turn to. Many feared they would lose their moral anchor in an increasingly confusing and challenging world.
This was the real terror that the Bush administration played upon when the Twin Towers fell. It took no time at all for the President to be right on Manichaean message: " We've seen that evil is real." "

It is enough to know that evil, like goodness, exists." He did not have to say the rest explicitly, because (with a sigh of relief and endless rites of ceremonial mourning) Americans understood it: Goodness exists here in the good old USA. How do we know? Because evil itself attacked us and we are so firmly committed to fighting it.

Such circular logic fed public discourse from the springs of a deeply buried unconscious longing for power, clarity, and innocence. Once again we could stand tall in the world, the dazzling hyperpower of hyperpowers. As long as we were fighting evil, we had to be the good guys. If we weren't so good, why would we be so determined to fight the supposedly new evil of global terrorism?
Of course, it worked the other way around, too: The only way to prove that we were good was by hunting out and fighting evil. If we were to keep on feeling certain that we were the good guys, a steady supply of bad guys was a necessity -- and the post-Cold War decade just hadn't done its job providing them. So it could easily seem more appealing to launch a generational Global War on Terror that would keep the "terrorists" around permanently. What better way to keep on proving our virtue than by combating and containing them forever?

The New Normalcy

The neoconservatives understand all this perfectly well -- and well before September 11, 2001. For years, they had dreamed of preserving American virtue (and American global dominance) by flaunting American military might. They just needed an ongoing series of excuses to do the flaunting. The attacks of 9/11 gave them their chance.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice (all products of the Cold War era) said it clearly in the weeks following the attack. Their new war would not be a straightforward World War II-style march to victory. It would be more like… well, the war they knew, the Cold War, with its endless string of conflicts, crises, containments, and battles in the frontier lands of what used to be called the Third World. And it would be forever.

As Cheney put it, " There's not going to be an end date when we're going to say, ‘There, it's all over with.'" And he classically summed things up this way: "Many of the steps we have now been forced to take will become permanent in American life. … I think of it as the new normalcy.'' The neocons were glad to see the war on terrorism revive memories of the days when -- they imagine -- we contained the commies, learned to stop worrying, and loved the bomb (despite all its terror).

It was a strange love that they remembered so fondly. Polls made it clear that we never really stopped worrying then -- and polls make it clear that we still haven't now. Now, as then, we just bury the terror ever deeper and console ourselves as best we can with the mercilessness of our enemies and the relative safety of our own neck of the woods.

A recent poll tells us that only 14% of Americans feel safer now than they did five years ago. Seventy-nine percent expect another attack on U.S. soil within the next year, and 60% think it's likely in the next few months. Four out of five say that "we will always have to live with the threat of terrorism," though only one in five admits to being "personally very concerned about an attack" in his or her own area. A Florida woman captured the prevailing mood when she told a reporter: "When I stop to think about it, I don't feel very safe. But then again, on a day-to-day basis, I feel fine." As Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, put it: "It's like we live in two parallel existences."

Those words should sound awfully familiar to anyone who lived through the Cold War years. The war on terrorism has revived the Cold War mindset, in which we are all citizens of a national insecurity state. The terror of impending annihilation from a vast, conspiratorial, and evil enemy has again become the vague backdrop of everyday life. To assure ourselves of our absolute goodness, we must see the enemy as absolute evil; not a collection of human beings bent on harming us, but a network of monsters bent on -- and capable of -- destroying us utterly. In other words, Cheney's "new normalcy" is but a version of an older, deeper apocalyptic terror. Every loss -- of a diplomatic conflict or an economic tussle or a pair of skyscrapers -- is once again framed as a portent of looming doom for the nation. Any successful attack upon us, we are told, could bring down the curtain of Armageddon.
Here's the irony. Unlike the nuclear-armed Soviet Union in the Cold War years, terrorists cannot actually threaten to obliterate our country or destroy the planet. But each apocalyptic warning of war to the death by the Bush administration only hastens another kind of loss -- the loss of the American imperial power they so prize.

Cornered Empire?

Even if actual extinction doesn't threaten, when it seems to, a nation, like an animal, is tempted to fight back with no holds barred. That's the attitude Bush and the neocons have tried to inculcate since 9/11. It's the only attitude, they insist, that can save America's military might and moral fiber. Indeed, for hard-core neocons, the main point of their global-war-on-terror policies is to revive this very Cold War mentality.

Yet those policies have obviously backfired terribly. The war on terrorism was supposed to build a new American century -- a unipolar world in which the U.S. would reign supreme. But every day it looks more and more like the 21st century will be the multipolar century, with any number of powerful nations and regional groupings successfully challenging U.S. economic, diplomatic, and military preeminence.
Bush and his neocon advisors certainly don't bear all the blame for an American imperial decline. But their utter misreading of the nature of U.S. military power and their lack of interest in economic and diplomatic realities has certainly hastened along a process that, in some fashion, was bound to happen anyway.
The United States reached the peak of its power in the late 1940s. The meat-grinder of World War II had chewed up all the other great powers and their colonial empires, too. In the ensuing decades, as the others recovered and once-dominated nations like China and India broke free and gained traction, the world moved inevitably toward a multipolar future.

Cold war presidents from Truman to Reagan hastened the process by building up U.S. allies like Germany and Japan in order to stave off the evil empire. And they sometimes even heeded the call of those allies to refrain from using military force (or too much of it anyway), lest a global war be triggered. Empowering our allies, while keeping them militarily subservient, actually helped them grab a bigger slice of the global economic pie, encouraging the rise of multipolarism. Big mistake, the neocons declared as, after 9/11, they set the Bush administration on an aggressive course of unilateralism, aiming at their dream of a New-Rome-style unipolarism.

Looking back, it's easy to see what a big mistake they made -- even in their own terms. Their unilateralism and militarism accelerated to near warp speed the decline of U.S. power and influence around the world. Every military blow or threatened blow only multiplied American enemies; every shock-and-awe action only created more opposition, even from increasingly standoffish allies. In the years to come, for an economically weakened "last superpower," there will be more and more occasions, on more and more fronts, when the U.S. will meet its match and have to back down. None of these will spell doom for us. But in context of the national insecurity state, they're likely to be framed as apocalyptic defeats, harbingers of the end time itself, and, above all, good reason to fight back blindly with all our might.

This is the vicious circle from Hell. The Bush administration's aggressive policies weaken U.S. power. Then its officials try to frighten the public into supporting the very same aggressive policies. We were stuck in a similar cycle, only half-recognized, throughout the Cold War years, and there's no end in sight. So far, it looks like not much has changed at all since 9/11.

But we don't have to stay stuck. There's nothing inevitable about history. Some 160 years after the French Revolution, Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was asked how that event had changed the world. "It's too soon to tell," Zhou replied impishly. Five short years after 9/11, it's way too soon to tell if the attacks of that day actually "changed everything," or if they changed much of anything at all.
Already, there is a growing awareness that the Bush Global War on Terror is doing more harm than good. Even from the foreign policy elite we can hear (though still often faintly) voices saying it's time to call it off. For now, the talk is narrowly focused on our imperial well-being -- the weakening of U.S. power and interests around the world.

Perhaps, as losses mount, Americans will eventually see the more important truth: Simplistic moralism and a pervasive fear of apocalyptic disaster weaken our society here at home. They make every step toward positive change look like a looming danger and that plays right into the hands of conservatives who are dedicated to preventing the change we need so badly. If the failed war on terror eventually teaches us this lesson, 9/11 will turn out to be the day that did indeed change everything.
Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His latest book is Monsters To Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin. He can be contacted at chernus@colorado.eduCopyright 2006 Ira Chernus



On 9/11, New Yorkers faced the fire in the minds of menHollywood's attempts to mark the 2001 attacks ignore their political context and the return to history they symbolise
Slavoj Zizek
Monday September 11, 2006
The Guardianhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,,1869546,00.html

Two Hollywood films mark 9/11's fifth anniversary: PaulGreengrass's United 93 and Oliver Stone's World TradeCenter. Both adopt a terse, realistic depiction ofordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Thereis undoubtedly a touch of authenticity to them and mostcritics have praised their sober styles and avoidance of sensationalism. But it is the touch of authenticitythat raises some disturbing questions.

The realism means that both films are restrained fromtaking a political stance and depicting the widercontext of the events. Neither the passengers on United 93 nor the policemen in WTC grasp the full picture. All of a sudden they find themselves in a terrifying situation and have to make the best out of it. This lack of "cognitive mapping" is crucial. All we seeare the disastrous effects, with their cause so abstract that, in the case of WTC, one can easily imagine exactly the same film in which the twin towers would have collapsed as the result of an earthquake.

What if the same film took place in a bombed high-risebuilding in Beirut? That's the point: it cannot take place there. Such a film would have been dismissed as "subtle pro-Hizbullah terrorist propaganda". The resultis that the political message of the two films resides in their abstention from delivering a direct political message.

It is the message of an implicit trust inone's government: when under attack, one just has to do one's duty. This is where the problem begins. The omnipresent invisible threat of terror legitimises the all-too-visible protective measures of defence. The difference of the war on terror from previous 20th-century struggles, such as the cold war, is that while the enemy was once clearly identified as the actually existing communist system, the terrorist threat is spectral.

It is like the characterisation of Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction: most people have a dark side, she had nothing else. Most regimes have a dark oppressive spectral side, the terrorist threat has nothing else. The power that presents itself as being constantly under threat and thus merely defending itself against an invisible enemy is in danger of becoming a manipulative one. Can we really trust those in power, or are they evoking the threat to discipline and control us? Thus, the lesson is that, in combating terror, it is more crucial than ever for state politics to be democratically transparent. Unfortunately, we are now paying the price for the cobweb of lies and manipulations by the US and UK governments in the past decade that reached a climax in the tragicomedy of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Recall August's alert and the thwarted attempt to blow up a dozen planes on their way from London to the US. No doubt the alert was not a fake; to claim otherwise would be paranoiac. But a suspicion remains that it was a self-serving spectacle to accustom us to a permanent state of emergency. What space for manipulation do such events - where all that is publicly visible are the anti-terrorist measures themselves - open up? Is it not that they simply demand too much from us, the ordinary citizen: a degree of trust that those in power lost long ago? This is the sin for which Bush and Blair should never be forgiven. What, then, is the historical meaning of 9/11? Twelve years earlier, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell.

The collapse of communism was perceived as the collapse of political utopias. Today, we live in apost-utopian period of pragmatic administration, since we have learned the hard lesson of how noble political utopias can end in totalitarian terror. But this collapse of utopias was followed by 10 years of the big utopia of global capitalist liberal democracy.

November 9 thus announced the "happy 90s", the Francis Fukuyama dream of the "end of history", the belief that liberal democracy had, in principle, won, that the search was over, that the advent of a global, liberal community was around the corner, that the obstacles to this Hollywood happy ending are merely local pockets of resistance where the leaders have not yet grasped that their time is over.

September 11 is the symbol of the end of this utopia, a return to real history. A new era is here with new walls everywhere, between Israel and Palestine, around the EU, on the US-Mexico and Spain-Morocco borders. It is an era with new forms of apartheid and legalised torture. As President Bush said after September 11, America is in a state of war.

But the problem is that the US is not in a state of war. For the large majority, daily life goes on and war remains the business of state agencies. The distinction between the state of war and peace is blurred. We are entering a time in which a state of peace itself can be at the same time a state of emergency.

When Bush celebrated the thirst for freedom in post-communist countries as a "fire in the minds of men", the unintended irony was that he used a phrase from Dostoevsky's The Possessed, where it designates the ruthless activity of radical anarchists who burned avillage: "The fire is in the minds of men, not on the roofs of houses." What Bush didn't grasp is that on September 11, five years ago, New Yorkers saw and smelled the smoke from this fire.

Slavoj Zizek is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, szizek@yahoo.com



The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts : How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
Weekend Edition September 9/10 , 2006http://www.counterpunch.org/

You trip over one fundamental idiocy of the 9/11 conspiracy nuts -- -- the ones who say Bush and Cheney masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- in the first paragraph of the opening page of the book by one of their high priests, David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor. "In many respects, "Griffin writes, "the strongest evidence provided by critics of the official account involves the events of 9/11 itself... In light of standard procedures for dealing with hijacked airplanes... not one of these planes should have reached its target, let alone all three of them.

"The operative word here is "should". One characteristic of the nuts is that they have a devout, albeit preposterous belief in American efficiency, thus many of them start with the racist premise that "Arabs incaves" weren't capable of the mission. They believe that military systems work the way Pentagon press flacks and aerospace salesmen say they should work. They believe that at 8.14 am, when AA flight 11 switched off its radio and transponder, an FAA flight controller should have called the National Military Command center and NORAD. They believe, citingreverently (this is from high priest Griffin) "the USAir Force's own website", that an F-15 could have intercepted AA flight 11 "by 8.24, and certainly no later than 8.30".

They appear to have read no military history, which is too bad because if they did they'd know that minutely planned operations - let alone responses to an unprecedented emergency -- screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of stupidity, cowardice, venality, weather and all the other whims of providence.

According to the minutely prepared plans of the Strategic Air Command, an impending Soviet attack would have prompted the missile silos in North Dakota to open, and the ICBMs to arc towards Moscow and kindredtargets. The tiny number of test launches actually attempted all failed, whereupon SAC gave up testing. Was it badly designed equipment, human incompetence, defense contractor venality or... CONSPIRACY? (In thatcase, presumably, a Communist conspiracy, as outlined by ancestors of the present nuts, ever intent on identifying those who would stab America in the back.)

Did the British and French forces in 1940 break and flee a Wehrmacht capable of only one lunge, because of rotten leadership, terrible planning, epic cowardice, or ... CONSPIRACY? Did the April 24, 1980 effort to rescue the hostages in the US embassy in Teheran failbecause a sandstorm disabled three of the eight helicopters, because the helicopters were poorly made, because of a lousy plan or because of agents of William Casey and the Republican National Committee poured sugar into their gas tanks in yet another CONSPIRACY?

Have the US military's varying attempts to explain why F-15s didn't intercept and shoot down the hijacked planes stemmed from absolutely predictable attempts to cover up the usual screw-ups, or because of CONSPIRACY? Is Mr Cohen in his little store at the end of the block hiking his prices because he wants to make a buck, or because his rent just went up or because the Jews want to take over the world? August Bebel said anti-Semitismis the socialism of the fools. These days the 9/11 conspiracy fever threatens to become the "socialism" of the left, and the passe-part out of many libertarians.

It's awful. My in-box overflows each day with fresh "proofs" of how the WTC buildings were actually demolished, often accompanied by harsh insults identifying me as a "gate-keeper" preventing the truth from getting out. I meet people who start quietly, asking me "what I think about 9/11". What they are actually trying to find out is whether I'm part of the coven. I imagine it was like being a Stoic in the second century A.D. going for a stroll in the Forum and meeting some fellow asking, with seeming casualness, whether it's possible to feed 5,000 people on five loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

Indeed, at my school in the 1950s the vicar used tourge on us Frank Morison's book, Who Moved The Stone? It sought to demonstrate, with exhaustive citation from the Gospels, that since on these accounts no human had moved the stone from in front of Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, it must beyond the shadow of a doubt have been an angel who rolled it aside and let Jesus out, so he could astonish the mourners and then Ascend. Of course Morison didn't admit into his argument the possibility that angels don't exist, or that the gospel writers were making it up.

It's the same pattern with the 9/11 nuts, who proffer what they demurely call "disturbing questions", though they disdain all answers but their own. They seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant. Like mad Inquisitors, they pounce on imagined clues in documents and photos, torturing the data -- as the old joke goes about economists -- till the data confess. Their treatment of eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence is whimsical. Apparent anomalies that seem to nourish their theories are brandished excitedly; testimony that undermines their theories - like witnesses of a large plane hitting the Pentagon -- is contemptuously brushed aside.

Anyone familiar with criminal, particularly death penalty defense - I had such an opportunity for a number of years - will know that there are always anomalies the prosecution cannot account for and that the defense teams can exploit, in hopes of swaying a jury either in the guilt or penalty phase of a trial. Time and again I would see the defense team spend days and weeks, even months, back-checking on a possibly vulnerable link in the evidentiary chain that could be attacked, at least to the all-important level of creating "reasonable doubt" in the mind of a juror. Expert witnesses would be imported at great expense --unlike states such as Texas, the justice system of California is generous in the provision of money for death penalty defense -- to challenge the prosecution's forensic evidence. Such challenges weren't hard to mount. Contrary to prosecutorial claims, there is far less instrinsic certainty in forensic evaluation than is commonly supposed, as regards finger prints, landing marks on bullets and so forth.

But minute focus of a death penalty defense team on one such weak link often leads to a distorted view of the whole case. I remember more than one case where, afterweeks of interviewing witnesses at one particular crime scene, the defense's investigator had collected enough witness reports to mount a decent attack on this aspect of the prosecution's overall case. At least this is what I thought, hearing the daily bulletins of the investigator. But when, in such instances, the camera pulled back, so to speak, and I saw the prosecution's whole case - chain of evidence, cumulative witness statements, accused's own movements and subsequent statements - it became clear enough to me and, in that case to the juries , that the accused were incontestably guilty. But even then, such cases had avigorous afterlife, with the defense trying to muster up grounds for an appeal, on the basis of testimony and evidence withheld by the prosecution, faulty rulings by the judge, a prejudiced jury member and so on. Aseemingly "cut and dried case" is very rarely beyond challenge, even though in essence it actually may well be just that, "cut and dried".

Anyone who ever looked at the JFK assassination will know that there are endless anomalies and loose ends. Eyewitness testimony - as so often - is conflicting, forensic evidence possibly misconstrued, mishandled or just missing. But in my view, the Warren Commission, as confirmed in almost all essentials by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the fatal shots from the Schoolbook Depository. The evidentiary chain for his guilt is persuasive, and the cumulative scenarios of the conspiracy nuts entirely unconvincing. But of course - as the years roll by, and even though no death bed confession has ever buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios -- the nuts keep on toiling away, their obsessions as unflagging as ever.

Naturally, there are conspiracies. I think there is strong evidence that FDR did have knowledge that a Japanese naval force in the north Pacific was going to launch an attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt thought it would be a relatively mild assault and thought it would be the final green light to get the US into the war.

Of course it's very probable that the FBI or US military intelligence, even the CIA, had penetrated the Al Qaeda team planning the 9/11 attacks; that intelligence reports - some are already known - piled up in various Washington bureaucracies pointing to the impending on slaught and even the manner in which it might be carried out.

The history of intelligence operations is profuse with example of successful intelligence collection, but also fatal slowness to act on the intelligence, along with eagnerness not to compromise the security and future usefulness of the informant, who has to prove his own credentials by even pressing for prompt action by the plotters. Sometime an undercover agent will actually propose an action, either to deflect efforts away from some graver threat, or to put the plotters in a position where they can be caught red-handed. In their penetrations of environmental groups the FBI certainly did this.

Long before the Yom Kippur war, a CIA analyst noted Egyptian orders from a German engineering firm, and deduced from the type and size of equipment thus ordered that Egypt was planning an attack across the Suez canal. He worked out the probable size of the Egyptian force and the likely time window for the attack. His superiors at the CIA sat on the report. When the Egyptian army finally attacked on October 6, 1973 the CIA high command ordered up the long-buried report, dusted it off and sent it over to the White House, marked "current intelligence". Was there a "conspiracy" by the CIA high command to allow Israel to be taken by surprise? I doubt it.

Bureaucratic inertia and caution prevailed, until the moment came for decisive CYA acitvity. The nuts make dizzying "deductive" leaps. There is a one particularly vigorous coven which has established to its own satisfaction that the original NASA moon landing was faked, and never took place. This "conspiracy" would have required the complicity of thousands of people, all of whom have kept their mouths shut. The proponents of the "fake moon landing" plot tend to overlap with the JFK and 9/11 nuts.

One notorious "deductive" leap involves flight 77, which on 9/11 ended up crashing into the Pentagon. There are photos of the impact of the "object" -- i.e., the Boeing 757, flight 77 -- that seem to show the sort of hole a missile might make. Ergo, the nuts assert, it WAS a missile and a 757 didn't hit the Pentagon. As regards the hole, my brother Andrew -- writing a book about Rumsfeld and the DoD during his tenure -- has seen photos taken within 30 minutes of Pentagon impact clearly showing outline of entire plane including wings. This was visible momentarily when the smoke blew away.

And if it was a missile, what happened to the 757? Did the conspirators shoot it down somewhere else, or forceit down and then kill the passengers? Why plan to demolish the towers with pre-placed explosives if your conspiracy includes control of the two planes that hit them. Why bother with the planes at all. Why blame Osama if your fall guy is Saddam Hussein? Why involve the Israeli "art students".

The nuts simultaneously credit their targets - the Bush-Cheney "conspirators" -- with superhuman ingenuity and grotesque carelessness. In Webster Griffin Tarpley's book "9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA" he writes that "in an interview with Parade magazine, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also referred to the object which hit the Pentagon as a ˜missile'. Was this a Freudian slip by the loquacious defense chief?" (And, a nut might add, is it mere coincidence that Webster Griffin Tarpley shares one of his names with David Ray Griffin?

The demolition scenario is classic who-moved-the-stonery. The WTC towers didn't fall down because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port Authority, and because they were struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, they fell because Dick Cheney's agents methodically planted demolition charges in the preceding days. It was a conspiracy of thousands, all of whom -- party to mass murder -- have held their tongues ever since.

The "conspiracy" is always open-ended as to the number of conspirators, widening steadily to include all the people involved in the execution and cover-up of the demolition of the Towers and the onslaught on the Pentagon, from the teams acquiring the explosives and the missile, inserting the explosives in the relevant floors of three vast buildings, (moving day after day among the unsuspecting office workers), then on 9/11 activating the detonators.

Subsequently the conspiracy includes the disposers of the steel and rubble, the waste recyclers in Staten Island and perhaps even the Chinese who took the salvaged incriminating metal for use in the Three Gorges dam, where it will submerged in water and concretye for ever. Tens of thousands of people, all silent as the tomb to this day.

Of course the buildings didn't suddenly fall at a speed inexplicable in terms of physics unless caused by carefully pre-placed explosives, detonated by the ruthless Bush-Cheney operatives. High grade steel canbend disastrously under extreme heat. People inside who survived the collapse didn't hear a series of explosions. As discussed in Wayne Barrett and Dan Collin's excellent book Grand Illusion, about Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, helicopter pilots radioed warnings nine minutes before the final collapse that the South Tower might well go down and, repeatedly, as much as 25 minutes before the North Tower's fall.

What Barrett and Collins brilliantly show are the actual corrupt conspiracies on Giuliani's watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with radios that didn't work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire protection, the mayor's catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn't have unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn't have been told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have heard the helicopter warnings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.

That's the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The nuts disdain the real world because, like much of the leftand liberal sectors, they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders.) The Conspiracy Nuts have combined to produce a huge distraction, just as Danny Sheehan did with his Complaint, that mesmerized and distracted much of the Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement in the 1980s, and which finally collapsed in a Florida courtroom almost as quickly as the Towers.*

Footnote: I should add that one particular conspiracy nut, seeing that Roosevelt's grandson Ford - a schoolteacher in Los Angeles - was for a while, some years ago, on the board of Counter Punch's parent non-profit, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity - wrote an enormous onslaught on CounterPunch a while ago, "proving" to his own satisfaction that CounterPunch was a pawn of the Democratic Party, the CIA and kindred darker forces. I suppose the fact that CounterPunch attacked the Democratic Party and the CIA on a weekly basis was just one more example of our cunning in deflecting suspicion away from our true sponsors.

The fact that from time to time that we also quite regularly attacked FDR - and posited his foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor - should again be taken as evidence of our cunning in deflecting suspicion away from Ford's supervisory roile in our affairs. In fact we'd put Ford on the board in the hopes (vain, as they turned out to be) that he would persuade film stars to give CounterPunch money. A much shorter, earlier version of the column ran inthe print edition of The Nation that went to press last Thursday.



Yeah I am one of those 'nuts', 'they' did it.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other news, the other 911
side bar, Kissinger being sued
What is said
Asked the right questions?

Mon Sep 11, 11:50:00 PM EDT  

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