Reply to ZNet Commentary of May 22, 2002
"What Did Bush Know, When?"
by John McMurtry
>>printable version

Michael Albert joins the corporate media, the Republican Party and most of the Washington establishment in his blanket abuse of forensic questions on 9-11. The argument that relevant decision setters in the Bush Jr. executive covertly allowed the pathway of 9-11 to go ahead to serve this regime's massive interests in its occurrence is not seriously considered. It is to denounced by "the left" as well as the right.

So far this group-think campaign to stop unpatriotic questions on 9-11 has broadly succeeded. The most telling documented evidence has been altogether ignored, and not a jot of counter-evidence has been thought necessary to disconfirm the foreknowledge hypothesis. Instead we are once more treated to name-calling with no refutive substance. But we should at least pause on the documented facts which have been repressed before shouting them down. They include the prior resignation and subsequent death of the F.B.I. Director of Anti-Terrorism, John O'Neill, who was prevented from investigation of Saudi involvement prior to 9-11. They also include the September 4-11 visit to Washington of C.I.A.-allied Pakistan's chief of national intelligence, Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad of the I.S.I., who helped to organize Al Qaeda and who wired $100,000 to the leader of the 9-11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, a few weeks earlier. Then there is the final tell-tale fact of a stand-down of standard intercept routines on the hijacked jumbo jets which flew around the U.S. Air Force's backyard for up to two hours with no attempt to intervene until after the World Trade Centre buildings and the Pentagon had been dive-bombed.

The Underlying Pattern

Shocking attacks on symbols of American power as a pretext for aggressive war is, in fact, an old and familiar pattern of the American corporate state. Even the sacrifice of thousands of ordinary Americans is not new, although so many people have never died so very fast. This scale of the 9-11 massacre is what makes most people doubt that even the ilk of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush Jr. could be complicit in such a crime. There is a point to be made here. It is indeed likely that the deaths were not anticipated because of the unexpected tidal downsweep of igniting jet fuel through the Twin Tower elevator shafts. Even the most experienced New York firefighters were astonished by the building collapses that thus occurred.

Yet the nearly 3000 deaths, including many foreign citizens, was far fewer than the number of stand-by civilians killed by the war criminal U.S. carpet-bombing of Afghanistan afterwards, none of which touched bin Laden. But that was not really the point. Bin Laden has been running around untouched under U.S. security surveillance for years with reported face-to-face meetings with U.S. intelligence operatives prior to 9-11. The basic point is that the U.S. "secret government" (Bill Moyers' phrase) has a very long record of contriving attacks on its symbols of power as a pretext for the declaration of wars, with an attendant corporate media frenzy focusing all public attention on the Enemy to justify the next transnational mass murder. This pattern is as old as the U.S. corporate state - from the sinking of the battleship Maine to start the Spanish-American War in 1898, through the fabricated attack on the U.S. battleship Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 along with the fabricated attack by Egypt on the client-state Israel in 1967, to a reiteration of the same general pattern in setting up the War Against Iraq from 1991 on - a war that has murdered by bombing and embargo intent an average of 5000 Iraqi children every month since. This executive branch war is still in motion. It started and it continues by the same overall pattern as 9-11. In the case of Iraq, the war was precipitated by the green light given by the U.S. Ambassador, April Glaspie, who said that the U.S. was "neutral" regarding the climaxing dispute over oilfields between Iraq and Kuwait just before Saddam ordered troops into Kuwait. "Saddam fell into the trap" were the insider words of Jordan's foreign minister after the event.

Throughout there is one constant to this long record of hoodwinking the American public into bankrolling ever rising military expenditures and periodic wars for corporate treasure. This decision structure ruled before and through 9-11, and has escalated after it - to fabricate or construct shocking attacks on U.S. symbols of power to provide the pretext and the public rage to launch wars of aggression against convenient and weaker enemies by which very major and many-leveled gains are achieved for the U.S. corporate-military complex.

Since 9-11, everything has become possible. First of all, the world-wide movement against U.S. corporate state globalization can be and has been squashed by calling everything that moves out of line a "terrorist threat", especially the increasing hundreds of thousands of demonstrators on the streets before 9-11. At the same time, Bush Jr.'s fraudulent election and presidential incapacity can be mythically transformed into the noble cause of "The U.S. President at War" of whom no criticism is acceptable.

What, we might ask, would have happened with the Florida recount without 9-11? Now everything is vindicated in the past as well as the future. Any corporate-state action anywhere in the world is justifiable. The "war without end" has no limit. And so the Cheney-Rumsfeld wet dream has been on automatic pilot for almost a year, with a unilateral war on Iraq promised as soon as Afghanistan is finished, perhaps before. What is next?

Consider this earlier Republican version of 9-11. "Operation Northlands" was a unanimous Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to "contrive" the occurrence of an atrocity against U.S. citizens by Castro's Cuba to justify a full-out U.S. invasion. Its scenarios included planting bombs and shooting down a U.S. passenger plane.

There are many variations on this structure of geostrategic thinking. I analyze this regulating pattern in my new book, Value Wars, from Pluto Press. As Nazi state minister, Herman Goering, explained the master logos of pretext. "It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the opposition for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." Above all, denounce those who recognize this pattern itself.

Unfortunately, Michael Albert's article, "What Did Bush Know, When?" conforms to the very geo-strategic pattern. He attacks those who ask questions about the Bush administration's foreknowledge of 9-11, and he ignores all the vast gains of the event for the Bush faction - a justifying pretext for draconian curtailment of civil rights in America, a war on the widely starving people of Afghanistan to control Central Asian oil routes and geostrategic sites, a new zero tolerance for "terror threatening" street demonstrations against the corporate globalization agenda which had attained uncontrollable international dimensions prior to 9-11, vast new pork-barrel handouts to the military-corporate apparatus at all levels, and a public relations field-day to juice up a corporate president who was a public joke before 9-11's turning point of global power direction.

America's Reichstag Fire

Interestingly, much the same lid as we have seen since 9-11 was put on inquiries and suspicions of who was behind "the Reichstag fire" of February 27, 1933 in Germany , a dramatic destruction of the symbolic federal parliament which gave Hitler's Nazis their pretext for sweeping new powers and transnational military aggression which eventually led to the Second World War. German leftists, however, were too busy scrambling to avoid the blame falling on them and displacing political fault onto the Social Democrats for ignoring "the real issues".  The Social Democrats and the rest of the left, meanwhile, remained silenced enough for the fabricated "mortal strike against the German people" to succeed in mobilizing the enraged public into acceptance of a fascist state. The rest is history.

Although the gains of 9-11 are greater for the axes of U.S. corporate and executive power than was won by the Reichstag Fire for the Nazis, Albert and others astonishingly decouple the issue of foreknowledge of 9-11 from the interests it served and the terrible violations of innocent peoples' lives it has justified. Instead, he inverts these very consequences into the reason to stop the questions! The effects of bombing Afghanistan, Bush's "globalization policies", and his "repressive civil legislation "are disconnected from their enabling antecedent of 9-11, and then turned against investigating those who alone benefited from its occurrence.

Here the hallmark of any rule by ignorance and fear - the delinkage of effects from causes - is internalized by "the left" itself. Its public voices too demand, as Albert, Solomon and others do, that "the left" ignore the decision sequence preceding the linchpin event itself!

In Albert's case, the reasoning is especially bizarre. He implies we should not ask hard questions about the self-serving negligence of the Bush executive for the 9-11 attack because liberals are "hypocrites" and liberals are asking these questions. The argument is as stunningly sectarian as it is illogical, but endemic to the post-9-11 American culture.

The group-think complicity in the connected and documented web of decisions leading through 9-11 to our sorry state today may eventually unravel, but not as long as the deep questions and the repressed facts are not discussed.



John McMurtry PhD, FRSC

June 3 2002