9/11, growing disbelief at US government's account a decade later…

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By rahnuma ahmed

Today, September 11, 2011, is the tenth anniversary of the attacks on New York city’s Twin Towers, and the Pentagon.

Eleven days after the attack, president Bush, in his address to a joint session of the Congress had said, the attacks were carried out by al Qaeda, a “collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations” because they hate our freedoms. Freedom of religion, speech, vote, and assembling and disagreeing with each other. Briefly put, a hatred for the American way of life. They kill not only to end lives “but to disrupt and end a way of life.” “They stand against us because we stand in their way” (September 20, 2001).
But?and I hope this will give grounds for thought to readers and friends, who still cling to the idea that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks, for the deaths of three thousand innocent civilians?the Bush administration had decided by 11am, September 11, 2001 that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. Prior to conducting an indepth police investigation.
That same evening, at 9:30pm, a War Cabinet, with a select number of top intelligence and military advisors, was formed. That very night, at 11:00pm, a mere 12 hours after Bush administrators had declared al Qaeda to be responsible, the `War on Terror’ was officially launched (Michel Chossudovsky, The Truth Behind 9/11, Global Research, September 11, 2008).
Less than 4 weeks later, Afghanistan was bombed and invaded. The occupation, as we know, continues. And US troops, as recent press reports indicate, may stay in Afghanistan until 2024. Continue reading “9/11, growing disbelief at US government's account a decade later…”

IMPERIAL COWARDICE: Remote control killing in Pakistan

by?Rahnuma Ahmed

  • WAR is, said Major General Smedley Butler, twice-recipient of the Medal of Honour (1914, 1915), ?a racket?. He had seen it from close(st) quarters and had turned into an outspoken critic of the US military-industrial complex. Describing what his life?s efforts had been devoted to, he wrote:??I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents? (War is a Racket, 1935).
  •  Piloting a drone requires much less talent or experience than piloting a real plane. It is more like doing well in ?a video game?

    Piloting a drone requires much less talent or experience than piloting a real plane. It is more like doing well in ?a video game?

    If Smedley Butler was living, he?d probably have agreed with Peter Ustinov the playwright, who said recently, ?Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.?

  • If passions do not rage to transform hostilities into outright war, ?false flag? operations may be staged. The Japanese did not ?sneakily? attack Pearl Harbour. Their encryption codes had been broken and Washington knew what was going to happen. But the US president decided to withhold the information from his commanders at Pearl Harbour. One hundred and sixty-three American soldiers were killed, 396 wounded, 6 tank landing ships sank. Why? Roosevelt, so the story goes, wanted a piece of the war pie.
  • More recently, Iraq?s WMD myth was manufactured, packaged and presented. Aided by the Clinton administration?s deliberate sabotaging of UN weapons inspection in Iraq, it created the predictable western outrage needed to justify George Bush?s invasion of Iraq.The September 11 Twin Tower attacks have been dubbed the ?New? Pearl Harbour by the leader of the 9/11 Truth Movement, David Ray Griffin. The questions raised by the movement which remain unanswered in the government appointed committee report, speak of, at its best, the criminal negligence of the Bush administration; at its worst, complicity.
  • Obama?s expansion of push button execution
    IN HIS recent West Point speech, US president Barack Obama announced his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, to fight al-Qaeda which had attacked the US on September 11th (in the words of Bush, it was a ?faceless? and ?cowardly? act), and is now operating in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Even though al-Qaeda?s members are now, according to James Jones, his national security adviser, as few as 100).
    What Obama did not mention was another decision that was taken to ?parallel? the troop surge in Afghanistan: an expansion in the CIA-led killer drone campaign in Pakistan. An act which will lead to more drone strikes against militants. More US spies in Pakistan. An increased CIA budget for its operations. And thereby, more of what critics term, ?push-button? executions. A state of affairs where the US administration is, Guantanamo-style, judge, jury, executioner ? all in one. These executions, or targeted assassinations, or extrajudicial killings are not executions, or targeted assassinations, or extrajudicial killings. The war on terror has changed all that. Terrorists are no longer criminals. They are combatants. Killing them is part of warfare. And the globe is the battlefield.
    In a recent New Yorker magazine article and in several interviews, Jane Mayer who has extensively researched on Predator drones informs us, there are two drone programmes, one is part of the US military-run programme, the other, is run by the CIA. The former, she says, is carried out transparently. There are after-action reports, there is a chain of command. But the CIA?s drone campaign is a ?secret targeted-killing program?, one that is executed in places where the US is not at war. ?It?s a whole new frontier in the use of force.? We don?t know, she says, who is on the target list? How do you get on the list? Can you get off the list? Who makes the list? And, eerily, Where is the battlefield? Where does the battlefield end?
    President Obama had promised ?change?, and there has been change in the drone attacks. In its first ten months his administration carried out as many drone attacks as did the Bush administration in its last three years. Drone strikes are a new hot favourite in US ruling circles for not ?risking a single American soldier on the ground? (Reuters), and less collateral damage than from an F-16. CIA director Leon E Panetta has called them ?the only game in town.? But reliable information on casualties is difficult to assess since the Zardari government does not allow anyone, neither journalists, nor aid groups into the area. According to a recently released New America study, ?Since 2006, our analysis indicates, 82 U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have killed between 750 and 1,000 people. Among them were about 20 leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied groups, all of whom have been killed since January 2008.? The rest of those killed? Footsoldiers in the militant organisations, or civilians.
    Piloting a drone requires much less talent or experience than piloting a real plane. It is more like doing well in ?a video game?, and is work that has been outsourced by the CIA to civilians, to those who are not even US government employees. While sitting at CIA headquarters in Langley (Virginia), a drone pilot can view and hone in on a target tens of thousands of miles away. Someone like, for instance, Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader in Pakistan, who was killed in a drone assassination on August 5th this year. Live video feed captured by the infrared camera of an undetected Predator drone hovering two miles away had relayed close-up footage of Mehsud reclining on the rooftop of his father-in-law?s house, in Zanghara (South Waziristan), on a hot summer night. The CIA remotely launched two Hellfire missiles from the Predator. ?After the dust cloud dissipated, all that remained of Mehsud was a detached torso. Eleven others died: his wife, his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, a lieutenant, and seven bodyguards.?
    But Mehsud ? targeted and assassinated to elicit the Zardari government?s support for these incursions into Pakistan?s sovereignty ? had not been an easy shoot. Mayer tells us, success came only after 16 strikes had been carried out over a period of 14 months, killing a total of 538 persons, of whom 200-300 were bystanders.
    But who cares for native deaths? The less the (American) body bags, the less the (American) blood spilled, the more likely the public acceptance of war. As for the drone pilots, as former congressperson for New York, James Walsh (R) had said ecstatically, it allows them to be ?literally fighting a war in Iraq and at the end of their shift be playing with their kids in Camillus.?
    And, why not? Who says ?gangster capitalism? contradicts with Western family values?
    ?Everything is permitted?

    HONOUR and war are said to be inseparable.
    I think, no longer. Virtual war is cowardly. For, as John Berger reminds us, there has never been a war in which disparity?the inequality of firepower?has been greater. On the one hand, satellite surveillance night and day, B52s, Tomahawk missiles, cluster bombs, shells with depleted uranium, computerised weapons. And increasingly, one sees the American dream materialise, a ?no-contact war?. On the other, sandbags, elderly men brandishing the pistols of their youth, wearing torn shirts and sneakers, armed with a few Kalashnikovs.
    What courage does the American warrior show through pushing his joystick while sitting in Langley? Should not the Medal of Honour be disbanded? Or better still, re-named Medal of Cowardice? For remote-control killings? Killings best-described in George Bush?s words, as ?faceless? acts?
  • And what about those who decide? Those who push the bigger joystick? In Shakespeare?s plays, says Stephen Greenblatt, the ruler serves as a model and a test case. ?If his actions go unpunished, then, to paraphrase Dostoevsky, everything is permitted.?
    Has everything already become permitted? For, as Macbeth had said, ?I am in blood; stepp?d insofar that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as to go o?er.?
    First published in New Age on 7th December 2009

    `Conspiracy theories.' Learning from 9/11

    By Rahnuma Ahmed

    The truth is, conspiracies sometimes do occur.

    Michael Meacher, current Labour MP, former British minister for the environment

    `Bangladeshis love conspiracy theories’ was a comment I came across in foreign news reports, news analyses and blog talk soon after the BDR rebellion. Somewhat piqued, I thought, surely that’s not something essentially Bangladeshi? And, surely not more than the Bush administration?

    Contending accounts of 9/11

    Nagging disbelief about many aspects of the official story has seen the rise of a movement, initially grassroots, but later joined by professionals — pilots, architects, engineers, scientists, firefighters, lawyers, medical professionals, former intelligence officers including FBI and CIA whistleblowers, politicians — that has come to be known as the 9/11 Truth Movement, extending from America to Europe, and beyond. Its members have raised hard-nosed questions based on rigorous and meticuluously detailed research, serving to sideline the crackpots, and to turn it into a serious community of truth-seekers, seeking to expose the official lies and cover-up surrounding the events of September 11th, 2001. And, seeking justice and redress for those wronged on September 11th, or as a result of those events. One of its central demands is the complete disclosure of all records and evidence.

    The mainstream press, both in the US and in other western countries, generally refer to the members of the movement, as conspiracy theorists. Matthew Rothschild, in Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracies, Already writes, “Here’s what the conspiracists believe: 9/11 was an inside job. Members of the Bush administration ordered it, not Osama bin Laden. Arab hijackers may not have done the deed. The Twin Towers fell not because of the impact of the airplanes and the ensuing fires but because of explosives. I’m amazed at how many people give credence to these theories.” (September 2006).

    But, as Dr David Ray Griffin, professor of philosophy of religion and theology, and a renowned author of a series of eye-opening books on 9/11 (The New Pearl Harbour: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, 2004; The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions And Distortions, 2004) points out, many journalists avoid `getting empirical’ about 9/11. Professor Griffin, in a televised lecture available on YouTube says, what Matthew Rothschild should have added, was: `Here’s what the government conspiracists believe: 19 hijackers with knives and box cutters defeated the most sophisticated defense system in history. Hani Hanjour, who could barely fly a Piper Cub, flew an astounding trajectory to crash Flight 77 into the Pentagon, the most well-protected building on the planet. Other hijacker pilots, by flying planes into two buildings of the World Trade Centre, caused three of them to collapse at virtually free-fall speed, straight down. I’m amazed at how many people give credence to these theories.’

    Professor Paul Zarembka (State University of New York, Buffalo, editor of The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, publ. 2006) also dismisses the official account, he calls it `absurd.’ If you just relaxed and dreamed it up no one would believe that the US could be taken out by 19 hijackers. If this had happened in Russia, we would have laughed it out. We wouldn’t have believed that they would let it happen. I don’t know exactly who did it but the evidence points that it was done internally.

    But, Michael Keefer, professor of English at the University of Guelph, Ontario says, disbelieving the official account is taboo. And it is so, because of the people’s contract, the implicit contract that they [western peoples] have with their governments. Namely, that the government will kill others, and not us. That it will not turn against us. Or, in the words of a young protester at one of the 9/11 Truth Movement rallies that I watched on YouTube, In the US, the people are convinced that the government loves them. But if it was, say Russia, if you say something bad about the government, people are likely to listen to what you have to say.

    Andreas von Bulow, former German defense minister (in Helmut Schmidt’s government), finds the official account `totally incredible’. Convinced that it was a covert operation, Bulow argues, `It was a highly sophisticated operation. Who [else] was capable of doing it? It was not possible for a non-inside force, to do it.’ And the reasons? To influence and brainwash the American people into a “long, long, ongoing conflict with the Muslim world,” to get “the last oil reserves which we need for the next decades before the oil age” goes out. But, how could a government, one that leads the world’s most powerful democracy, entertain the idea, let alone carry it out, of doing something as heinous, as immoral, and well, outright murderous? Bulow’s words are chillingly clear, `It’s a form of war. In war, it’s acceptable for people to die, even on your own side.”

    But could so large an operation, one that must have involved hundreds, if not thousands of people, remain a secret? Professor Griffins offers an interesting instance from history. The Manhattan project to build nuclear bomb involved 100,000 workers, it was kept so secret that even vice-president Harry Truman didn’t know about it until he became president.?

    Who Benefited from 9/11?

    `Cui Bono?’ is the question that any good investigator asks after a crime has been committed. In other words, who benefited from 9/11??
    The answers, 9/11 truth-seekers claim, are contained in `Rebuilding America’s Defenses. Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century’, a PNAC (Project for the New American Century) document drafted by the US military machine’s think-tank. `This is about control of middle-eastern oil,’ says Meacher. `It indicates that America is aiming for global leadership both militarily and economically and what it says, is, I think, chilling. It says if we are going to transform America to tomorrow’s dominant force, that’s their phrase, then it’s going to be a long process. Unless there is a catastrophic and catalysing event — like a new Pearl Harbour.’
    And, 9/11 took place 12 months later.
    Who benefited? As many 9/11 truth-seekers point out, Iraq didn’t, nor did Saddam Hussein, nor al-Qaeda, nor any of the Arab countries. But Larry Silverstein did. He had acquired the lease of the WTC complex a few weeks before 9/11, had re-worked the insurance policy to cover terrorist attacks, and after what is known as `Twin Tower’, received $7 billion in compensation. For an original investment worth $15 million only! So did those who took part in insider trading on the stocks of parent companies of American Airlines (AMR) and United Airlines (UAL), bringing in profits running to millions, possibly, as high as a billion dollars. And, the PNAC group, did. As did Dick Cheney (Halliburton), the arms industry (`there’s nothing better for the arms industry than a war’), the Bush family (Carlyle group), US oil companies (the oil pipeline from the Caspian oil fields to Afghanistan was signed the day after Karzai was installed), the US government (provided it with the excuse to pursue its goal of a new world order by means of war).

    The 9/11 Commission: neither structurally nor procedurally independent

    President Bush resisted forming an investigatory commission for a year. The 9/11 Commission that was subsequently formed was, despite its stated intention, neither `independent’, nor `impartial’, nor `thorough’. Bryan Sacks (a contributor to The Hidden History of 9/11) writes, it was structurally compomised by bias-inducing connections to subjects of the investigation (for instance, its executive director Philip Zelikow worked closely with Condoleeza Rice, was also her co-author). It was also procedurally compromised, on three counts. It failed to take up promising lines of inquiry, to force the release of key documents that were closely guarded by the Bush administration, the FBI and various intelligence sources. It distorted information about pre-9/11 military preparedness, foreknowledge of the attacks or similar attacks. It omitted information related to the funding of the plot and the specific whereabouts of key officials (foremost among them, vice-president Dick Cheney) on the morning of September 11, 2001.

    These two key features, writes Sacks, converged to produce a report that unquestioningly accepted the official version that left unchallenged key myths associated with American exceptionalism (`the US government loves its people,’ `it would not conspire against them’).

    Lessons for us

    The new US administration led by Barack Obama speaks of change. Will the change be substantive? Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, who has done ground-breaking research on 9/11, thinks not. Obama’s arrival is “set to rehabilitate American hegemony and restore some sense of credibility and even respectability to US military and financial power” in the context of Bush administration’s trampling of? “any semblance of half-decent PR” during the last eight years. And even though Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State recently said that the use of the phrase `war on terror’ was to be discontinued, Obama’s formal request to Congress for $83.4 billion in ?emergency? supplemental funding to pay for the continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his words to students in Strasbourg, “those terrorists are still plotting today. And there — if there is another al Qaeda attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe, in a European city,” sound ominous to my ears. ?

    Although our Commerce Minister, who is also coordinator of the investigations into the BDR rebellion has become more reticent recently, no longer chattering about the alleged mutineers links to Islamic militants, and the JMB, the incidents of custodial deaths, and allegations of torture cast doubts on the credibility of the evidence that is being gathered. One can only hope that the government will learn its lessons from the 9/11 Truth Movement, and that its investigative committee will not produce a report that is neither `independent’, nor `impartial’, nor `thorough’.