Sunday Herald : Five Israelis were seen filming as jet liners ploughed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 ...

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Five Israelis were seen filming as jet liners ploughed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 ...

Were they part of a massive spy ring which shadowed the 9/11 hijackers and knew that al-Qaeda planned a devastating terrorist attack on the USA? Neil Mackay investigates

November 2, 2003

THERE was ruin and terror in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were dancing. As the World Trade Centre burned and crumpled, the five men celebrated and filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out before their eyes.

Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis – and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.

Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause.

After the attacks on New York and Washington, the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was asked what the terrorist strikes would mean for US-Israeli relations. He said: “It’s very good.” Then he corrected himself, adding: “Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans].”

If Israel’s closest ally felt the collective pain of mass civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists, then Israel would have an unbreakable bond with the world’s only hyperpower and an effective free hand in dealing with the Palestinian terrorists who had been murdering its innocent civilians as the second intifada dragged on throughout 2001.

It’s not surprising that the New Jersey housewife who first spotted the five Israelis and their white van wants to preserve her anonymity. She’s insisted that she only be identified as Maria. A neighbour in her apartment building had called her just after the first strike on the Twin Towers. Maria grabbed a pair of binoculars and, like millions across the world, she watched the horror of the day unfold.

As she gazed at the burning towers, she noticed a group of men kneeling on the roof of a white van in her parking lot. Here’s her recollection: “They seemed to be taking a movie. They were like happy, you know ... they didn’t look shocked to me. I thought it was strange.”

Maria jotted down the van’s registration and called the police. The FBI was alerted and soon there was a statewide all points bulletin put out for the apprehension of the van and its occupants. The cops traced the number, establishing that it belonged to a company called Urban Moving.

Police Chief John Schmidig said: “We got an alert to be on the lookout for a white Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration and writing on the side. Three individuals were seen celebrating in Liberty State Park after the impact. They said three people were jumping up and down.”

By 4pm on the afternoon of September 11, the van was spotted near New Jersey’s Giants stadium. A squad car pulled it over and inside were five men in their 20s. They were hustled out of the car with guns levelled at their heads and handcuffed.

In the car was $4700 in cash, a couple of foreign passports and a pair of box cutters – the concealed Stanley Knife-type blades used by the 19 hijackers who’d flown jetliners into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon just hours before. There were also fresh pictures of the men standing with the smouldering wreckage of the Twin Towers in the background. One image showed a hand flicking a lighter in front of the devastated buildings, like a fan at a pop concert. The driver of the van then told the arresting officers: “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.”

His name was Sivan Kurzberg. The other four passengers were Kurzberg’s brother Paul, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari. The men were dragged off to prison and transferred out of the custody of the FBI’s Criminal Division and into the hands of their Foreign Counterintelligence Section – the bureau’s anti-espionage squad.

A warrant was issued for a search of the Urban Moving premises in Weehawken in New Jersey. Boxes of papers and computers were removed. The FBI questioned the firm’s Israeli owner, Dominik Otto Suter, but when agents returned to re-interview him a few days later, he was gone. An employee of Urban Moving said his co-workers had laughed about the Manhattan attacks the day they happened. “I was in tears,” the man said. “These guys were joking and that bothered me. These guys were like, ‘Now America knows what we go through.’”

Vince Cannistraro, former chief of operations for counter-terrorism with the CIA, says the red flag went up among investigators when it was discovered that some of the Israelis’ names were found in a search of the national intelligence database. Cannistraro says many in the US intelligence community believed that some of the Israelis were working for Mossad and there was speculation over whether Urban Moving had been “set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation against radical Islamists”.

This makes it clear that there was no suggestion whatsoever from within American intelligence that the Israelis were colluding with the 9/11 hijackers – simply that the possibility remains that they knew the attacks were going to happen, but effectively did nothing to help stop them.

After the owner vanished, the offices of Urban Moving looked as if they’d been closed down in a big hurry. Mobile phones were littered about, the office phones were still connected and the property of at least a dozen clients were stacked up in the warehouse. The owner had cleared out his family home in New Jersey and returned to Israel.

Two weeks after their arrest, the Israelis were still in detention, held on immigration charges. Then a judge ruled that they should be deported. But the CIA scuppered the deal and the five remained in custody for another two months. Some went into solitary confinement, all underwent two polygraph tests and at least one underwent up to seven lie detector sessions before they were eventually deported at the end of November 2001. Paul Kurzberg refused to take a lie detector test for 10 weeks, but then failed it. His lawyer said he was reluctant to take the test as he had once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.

Nevertheless, their lawyer, Ram Horvitz, dismissed the allegations as “stupid and ridiculous”. Yet US government sources still maintained that the Israelis were collecting information on the fundraising activities of groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mark Regev, of the Israeli embassy in Washington, would have none of that and he said the allegations were “simply false”. The men themselves claimed they’d read about the World Trade Centre attacks on the internet, couldn’t see it from their office and went to the parking lot for a better view. Their lawyers and the embassy say their ghoulish and sinister celebrations as the Twin Towers blazed and thousands died were due to youthful foolishness.

The respected New York Jewish newspaper, The Forward, reported in March 2002, however, that it had received a briefing on the case of the five Israelis from a US official who was regularly updated by law enforcement agencies. This is what he told The Forward: “The assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it.” He added that “the conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs”, but the men were released because they “did not know anything about 9/11”.

Back in Israel, several of the men discussed what happened on an Israeli talk show. One of them made this remarkable comment: “The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.” But how can you document an event unless you know it is going to happen?

We are now deep in conspiracy theory territory. But there is more than a little circumstantial evidence to show that Mossad – whose motto is “By way of deception, thou shalt do war” – was spying on Arab extremists in the USA and may have known that September 11 was in the offing, yet decided to withhold vital information from their American counterparts which could have prevented the terror attacks.

Following September 11, 2001, more than 60 Israelis were taken into custody under the Patriot Act and immigration laws. One highly placed investigator told Carl Cameron of Fox News that there were “tie-ins” between the Israelis and September 11; the hint was clearly that they’d gathered intelligence on the planned attacks but kept it to themselves.

The Fox News source refused to give details, saying: “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.” Fox News is not noted for its condemnation of Israel; it’s a ruggedly patriotic news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch and was President Bush’s main cheerleader in the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq.

Another group of around 140 Israelis were detained prior to September 11, 2001, in the USA as part of a widespread investigation into a suspected espionage ring run by Israel inside the USA. Government documents refer to the spy ring as an “organised intelligence-gathering operation” designed to “penetrate government facilities”. Most of those arrested had served in the Israeli armed forces – but military service is compulsory in Israel. Nevertheless, a number had an intelligence background.

The first glimmerings of an Israeli spying exercise in the USA came to light in spring 2001, when the FBI sent a warning to other federal agencies alerting them to be wary of visitors calling themselves “Israeli art students” and attempting to bypass security at federal buildings in order to sell paintings. A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report suggested the Israeli calls “may well be an organised intelligence-gathering activity”. Law enforcement documents say that the Israelis “targeted and penetrated military bases” as well as the DEA, FBI and dozens of government facilities, including secret offices and the unlisted private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel.

A number of Israelis questioned by the authorities said they were students from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, but Pnina Calpen, a spokeswoman for the Israeli school, did not recognise the names of any Israelis mentioned as studying there in the past 10 years. A federal report into the so-called art students said many had served in intelligence and electronic signal intercept units during their military service.

According to a 61-page report, drafted after an investigation by the DEA and the US immigration service, the Israelis were organised into cells of four to six people. The significance of what the Israelis were doing didn’t emerge until after September 11, 2001, when a report by a French intelligence agency noted “according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida, from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells”.

The report contended that Mossad agents were spying on Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehi, two of leaders of the 9/11 hijack teams. The pair had settled in Hollywood, Florida, along with three other hijackers, after leaving Hamburg – where another Mossad team was operating close by.

Hollywood in Florida is a town of just 25,000 souls. The French intelligence report says the leader of the Mossad cell in Florida rented apartments “right near the apartment of Atta and al-Shehi”. More than a third of the Israeli “art students” claimed residence in Florida. Two other Israelis connected to the art ring showed up in Fort Lauderdale. At one time, eight of the hijackers lived just north of the town.

Put together, the facts do appear to indicate that Israel knew that 9/11, or at least a large-scale terror attack, was about to take place on American soil, but did nothing to warn the USA. But that’s not quite true. In August 2001, the Israelis handed over a list of terrorist suspects – on it were the names of four of the September 11 hijackers. Significantly, however, the warning said the terrorists were planning an attack “outside the United States”.

The Israeli embassy in Washington has dismissed claims about the spying ring as “simply untrue”. The same denials have been issued repeatedly by the five Israelis seen high-fiving each other as the World Trade Centre burned in front of them.

Their lawyer, Ram Horwitz, insisted his clients were not intelligence officers. Irit Stoffer, the Israeli foreign minister, said the allegations were “completely untrue”. She said the men were arrested because of “visa violations”, adding: “The FBI investigated those cases because of 9/11.”

Jim Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, implied that the public would never know the truth, saying: “If we found evidence of unauthorised intelligence operations that would be classified material.” Yet, Israel has long been known, according to US administration sources, for “conducting the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any US ally”. Seventeen years ago, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian working for the American Navy, was jailed for life for passing secrets to Israel. At first, Israel claimed Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but the government later took responsibility for his work.

It has always been a long-accepted agreement among allies – such as Britain and America or America and Israel – that neither country will jail a “friendly spy” nor shame the allied country for espionage. Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Boston’s Political Research Associates and an expert in intelligence, says: “It’s a backdoor agreement between allies that says that if one of your spies gets caught and didn’t do too much harm, he goes home. It goes on all the time. The official reason is always visa violation.”

What we are left with, then, is fact sullied by innuendo. Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit? That’s a conspiracy theory too far, perhaps. But the unpleasant feeling that, in this age of spin and secrets, we do not know the full and unadulterated truth won’t go away. Maybe we can guess, but it’s for the history books to discover and decide.

# See the international reaction to this story

02 November 2003

CSM : Collateral damage

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Collateral damage

Daniel Pearl's widow traces his career, his murder

By Heller McAlpin | October 2, 2003

When Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan, in January, 2002, Americans were reeling from 9/11. They were also ravenous for information about portions of the globe that previously hadn't crossed their radar. Pearl, the Journal's South Asia bureau chief, was trying to figure out who was behind events in a region rampant with virulent anti-American sentiment.

In his wife's words, Daniel Pearl felt he could "change the world by changing the way people think about one another." He was an idealist who sought truth and disparaged sensationalism. Raised in California, he was 38 years old, handsome, charming, and a talented musician who rarely traveled without his mandolin or his Dutch-Cuban-French wife, also a journalist. Although in her sixth month of pregnancy with their first child, Mariane Pearl, a reporter for French television and radio, was with him in Karachi.

But, as Ms. Pearl writes in this passionate, heartbreaking memoir, "I think about how easy it is to reduce this story to a simple tale: handsome hostage husband, pregnant despairing wife.... While simplification of complex events may seem harmless, it isn't."

During her ordeal, she manages to convince Pakistani investigators to cooperate not just with her, but with the FBI. She resists crying on television and "feeding some real-life drama-hungry viewer back home." Similarly, she chastises CNN's Chris Burns in French when he tactlessly asks whether she's seen the appalling video of her husband's decapitation, something she refuses to watch.

Months later, back in Paris, she rails against CBS for airing fragments of the grue- some footage, angrily pointing out that the terrorists made a video because they "knew all along you'd be ratings-hungry enough to broadcast it. They appealed to your instinct, and you gave in."

Mariane Pearl is spirited and refreshingly feisty. "A Mighty Heart," a title that might play better in French, is written for Daniel and their son and in defiance of the terrorists who killed her husband. She and coauthor Sarah Crichton know how to structure a compelling story. Her book reads like a tensely plotted thriller. We find ourselves hoping against hope that things will turn out differently.

Writing in the present tense, she takes us back to January, 23, 2002, when she wakes with her husband sweetly curled around her pregnant body. In her telling, Daniel comes alive as "charmingly goofy," with his propensity towards list-making and scattering his possessions wherever he lands. She writes of their shared idealism and their disparate bloodlines - Daniel's Iraqi Jewish mother and Israeli-born father, her own Dutch-Jewish father and Cuban-black-Hispanic-Chinese mother - the sum of which makes their son Adam genuinely a citizen of the world.

On their last scheduled day in Karachi, Daniel has "meetings stacked up like planes over a crowded airport." His last appointment, at 7 p.m., is with Sheikh Gilani, a radical Muslim cleric whom he believes might have a connection to Robert Reid, the thwarted shoe bomber. Ms. Pearl conveys the intricate planning that goes into such a meeting, the "fixers" and go-betweens and drivers to whom a reporter must entrust his life in order to get an interview or story.

She maintains that Daniel is by nature a cautious person, citing his insistence on backseat seatbelts, the fact that he hasn't rushed to Afghanistan, and a detailed memo on reporter safety, unfortunately ignored, that he sent to his editors at the Wall Street Journal. Of course, snaking out controversial connections among terrorists in Southeast Asia isn't everyone's idea of cautious behavior.

Ms. Pearl lucidly explains important political background, including the battle over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, and the way jihadi militants work through an "endlessly layered" chain of secrecy, which makes tracing terrorist activities exceedingly difficult. She knows almost immediately that Danny "has been kidnapped by men who have kidnapped their own god, by which I mean men who have twisted the concept of jihad, of holy war, into something warped and wrong."

The central portion of "A Mighty Heart" is about the anxious, chicken biranyi-fueled weeks of investigation, with a team Ms. Pearl comes to respect. By the time some of those responsible for Danny's kidnapping are arrested on February 5th, he has already been murdered.

In his recently published book "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" (Melville House), French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy points out disturbing connections between Pakistan's intelligence unit, ISI, Al Qaeda, and Omar Sheikh, the man convicted of arranging Pearl's murder - links that Ms. Pearl also adumbrates. She understands, however, that Danny was murdered because he was Jewish and American, because journalists are frequently suspected of espionage, and as a lesson both to America and to Musharraf for collaborating with America.

When Ms. Pearl and the investigators learn of Danny's murder, we feel their rage, grief, and frustration. Her husband was truly a pearl among swine. Read "A Mighty Heart" and weep, not just for this family, but for the world.

Heller McAlpin reviews books for The Los Angeles Times and The San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.

Washington Monthly : The Post-Modern President

Monday, September 15, 2003

The Post-Modern President

Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French.

By Joshua Micah Marshall | September, 2003

Every president deceives. But each has his own style of deceit. Ronald Reagan was a master of baseless stories -- trees cause more pollution than cars -- that captured his vision of how the world should be. George H.W. Bush, generally conceded to be a decent fellow, tended to lie only in two circumstances: When running for president, or to save his own skin, as in Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton famously lied about embarrassing details of his private life, and his smooth, slippery rhetorical style made some people suspect he was lying even when he was telling the truth.

George W. Bush has a forthright speaking style which convinces many people that he's telling the truth even when he's lying. But in under three years, Bush has told at least as many impressive untruths as each of his three predecessors. (See The Mendacity Index, p.27) His style of deception is also unique. When Reagan said he didn't trade arms for hostages, or Clinton insisted he didn't have sex with "that woman," the falsity of the claims was readily provable--by an Oliver North memo or a stained blue dress. Bush and his administration, however, specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion. In his State of the Union address last January, the president claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda and a robust nuclear weapons program, and that therefore we needed to invade Iraq. Even at the time, many military and intelligence experts said that the president's assertions probably weren't true and were based on at best fragmentary evidence. But there was no way to know for sure unless we did what Bush wanted. When the president said on numerous occasions that his tax cuts--which were essentially long-term rate reductions for the wealthy--would spur growth without causing structural deficits, most experts, again, cried foul, pointing out that both past experience and accepted economic theory said otherwise. But in point of fact nobody could say for sure that maybe this time the cuts might not work.

This summer, when it became clear that Iraq had no active nuclear weapons program--indeed showed no apparent evidence of any weapons of mass destruction at all--that the economy was still losing jobs, and that the administration's own budget office predicted deficits as far as it dared project, Bush's reputation for honesty took a turn for the worse. By the middle of July, only 47 percent of adults surveyed by Time/CNN said they felt they could trust the president, down from 56 percent in March. The president's response to all this was to make yet more confidently expressed, undisprovable assertions. He simply insisted that his tax cuts would create jobs--and who knows? Perhaps someday they will--and that American forces would eventually turn up evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But by then, the press was beginning to pick up on deceptions in other policy areas--the redaction of evidence of global warming in EPA reports, the administration's refusal to provide Congress with any estimates whatsoever about the costs of the occupation of Iraq. The White House seemed guilty of what might be called persistent, chronic up-is-downism, the tendency to ridicule the possibility that a given policy might actually have its predictable adverse consequences, to deny those consequences once they have already occurred, or--failing that--to insist against all evidence that those consequences were part of the plan all along. By late July, even a paragon of establishment conservatism like Barron's columnist Alan Abelson was lamenting the president's "regrettable aversion to the truth and reality when the truth and reality aren't lovely or convenient."

The president and his aides don't speak untruths because they are necessarily people of bad character. They do so because their politics and policies demand it. As astute observers such as National Journal's Jonathan Rauch have recently noted, George W. Bush campaigned as a moderate, but has governed with the most radical agenda of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Indeed, the aim of most of Bush's policies has been to overturn what FDR created three generations ago. On the domestic front, that has meant major tax cuts forcing sharp reductions in resources for future government activism, combined with privatization of as many government functions as possible. Abroad, Bush has pursued an expansive and militarized unilateralism aimed at cutting the U.S. free from entangling alliances and international treaty obligations so as to maximize freedom of maneuver for American power in a Hobbesian world.

Yet this is not an agenda that the bulk of the American electorate ever endorsed. Indeed, poll after poll suggest that Bush's policy agenda is not particularly popular. What the public wants is its problems solved: terrorists thwarted, jobs created, prescription drugs made affordable, the environment protected. Almost all of Bush's deceptions have been deployed when he has tried to pass off his preexisting agenda items as solutions to particular problems with which, for the most part, they have no real connection. That's when the unverifiable assertion comes in handy. Many of the administration's policy arguments have amounted to predictions--tax cuts will promote job growth, Saddam is close to having nukes, Iraq can be occupied with a minimum of U.S. manpower--that most experts believed to be wrong, but which couldn't be definitely disproven until events played out in the future. In the midst of getting those policies passed, the administration's main obstacle has been the experts themselves--the economists who didn't trust the budget projections, the generals who didn't buy the troop estimates, intelligence analysts who questioned the existence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iraq. That has created a strong incentive to delegitimize the experts--a task that comes particularly easy to the revisionists who drive Bush administration policy. They tend to see experts as guardians of the status quo, who seek to block any and all change, no matter how necessary, and whose views are influenced and corrupted by the agendas and mindsets of their agencies. Like orthodox Marxists who pick apart mainstream economics and anthropology as the creations of 'bourgeois ideology' or Frenchified academic post-modernists who 'deconstruct' knowledge in a similar fashion, revisionist ideologues seek to expose "the facts" as nothing more than the spin of experts blinded by their own unacknowledged biases. The Bush administration's betes noir aren't patriarchy, racism, and homophobia, but establishmentarianism, big-government liberalism, and what they see as pervasive foreign policy namby-pambyism. For them, ignoring the experts and their 'facts' is not only necessary to advance their agenda, but a virtuous effort in the service of a higher cause.

Tinker Beltway

To understand the Bush administration's need and propensity for deception one must go back to the ideological warfare of the 1990s, which pitted Bill Clinton's New Democratic agenda against Newt Gingrich's Contract for America Republicanism. Clinton's politics were an updated version of early 20th century Progressivism, with its suspicion of ideology and heavy reliance on technocratic expertise. He argued that while government agencies or our relations with the international community might need reform, they were basically sound, and their proper use was to solve discrete problems. Crime on the rise? Put more cops on the street. Federal budget deficits out of control? Trim federal spending and nudge up taxes on the wealthy. Many in Washington debated whether Clinton's policies would work; some still argue that they didn't. But few ever questioned that their intent was to solve these specific problems.

Newt Gingrich and the House Republicans who came to power in 1995 held a very different, neo-Reaganite view. Deriding the whole notion of a federal response for every crisis, they argued that society's problems could be solved only through a radical reordering, both of government in Washington and of America's relationship with the world. This required tax cuts to drain money out of the Beltway; radically scaling back regulation on business; pulling America out of many international agreements; and cutting funding to the United Nations. The Gingrichites were not pragmatists but visionaries and revolutionaries. They wanted to overthrow the existing structure of American governance, not tinker with it.

The contest between these two worldviews played out during the middle 1990s, and eventually the public rendered its verdict at the ballot box. In 1996, Clinton decisively won re-election and Gingrich's GOP lost seats in the House. Then in 1998, at the height of impeachment, the House GOP lost even more seats ­ marking the first time since 1934 that the party in the White House won seats during a mid-term election--and Clinton's job approval rating soared as high as it ever would during his eight years in office.

Voters had chosen problem-solving moderation over radical revisionism--and perceptive GOP leaders knew it. Following the 1998 electoral setback, they quieted their talk of revolution and mulled over how to soften their image. More and more of them gravitated towards the son of former president George H.W. Bush, the kindler, gentler Republican. Texas governor George W. Bush had a reputation as a pragmatist who made common cause with Democratic leaders in the Texas legislature. He launched his campaign for president not as an ideologue, but as a "compassionate conservative," who spoke the language of progressive problem-solving on issues such as education, and was perfectly willing to use the powers of the federal government to get results. Even when Bush proposed a massive tax cut during the Republican primaries, most commentators dismissed it as a campaign ploy to fend off his more conservative GOP rival, Steve Forbes. After ascending to the presidency without winning the popular vote, Bush was widely expected to compromise on the size of the tax cut.

It soon became clear, however, that Bush would govern very differently from how he ran. Instead of abandoning the tax cut, for instance, he became more determined to pass it, for rather than being a mere ploy, cutting taxes was a fundamental goal of his agenda. Politically, it was a policy on which each part of the once-fractious conservative base could agree on. It also rewarded the party's biggest donors. But most importantly, tax cuts would help shift the very premises of American governance. Republicans had come to view progressive federal taxation as the linchpin of Democrat strength. As Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), an up-and-coming conservative, told The New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann during the 2001 tax debate, "[t]oday fewer and fewer people pay taxes, and more and more are dependent on government, so the politician who promises the most from government is likely to win. Every day, the Republican Party is losing constituents, because every day more people can vote themselves more benefits without paying for it." By this theory, the more the tax burden shifted from upper-middle-class and wealthy voters to those of the middle class, the more average voters would feel the sting of each new government program, and the less likely they would be to support the Democrats who call for such programs. To put it another way, it was a policy designed to turn more voters into Republicans, particularly the middle class. Without massive upper-bracket tax cuts, DeMint worried, "The Reagan message"--smaller government--"won't work anymore."

But telling the majority of voters that your tax policies are designed to shift more of the burden of paying for federal government onto them is not a very effective way of eliciting their support. So, instead, Bush pitched his tax cuts as the solution to whatever problems were most in the news at the time. During the election, he argued that tax cuts were a way to refund to voters part of a budget surplus that people like Alan Greenspan worried was growing too big. By early 2001, it became clear that those surpluses were never going to materialize. So the administration cooked up an entirely new rationale: The tax cut was needed as fiscal stimulus to pull the economy out of an impending recession. In other words, the tax cut that was tailor-made for a booming economy made equally good sense in a tanking one. When the economy eventually began to grow again but only at feeble levels, the administration insisted that things would have been worse without the tax cuts (another assertion impossible to prove or disprove). And when, because of that anemic growth, coupled with gains in productivity, the unemployment rate continued to rise, the administration had yet another excuse: A new round of tax cuts, they said, would generate jobs.

The same technique--invoking the problem of the moment to sell a predetermined policy agenda--came to characterize just about everything the administration would do. Take energy policy. Oilmen like the president and vice-president have wanted to drill in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for years because of their generalized belief that U.S. energy supplies should be exploited as fully and rapidly as possible. But for a public increasingly enamored of the idea of protecting pristine wilderness areas, this rationale was insufficient to get the derricks pumping. Then, while the Bush administration was formulating their energy policy during the spring and summer of 2001, California had an "energy crisis." Suddenly, there was a big problem, and the administration had what it said was the perfect solution: Drilling in ANWR and giving free reign to energy producers. But California's shortage had nothing to do with marginal supplies of oil, and we now know it had everything to do with companies like Enron gaming an ill-conceived energy privatization regime in that state. When that became apparent, the administration didn't skip a beat. 9/11 came soon after, and instead of heading off an energy crisis, the administration pitched drilling in ANWR as a way to safeguard national security by weaning ourselves off from foreign oil supplies. Many pundits have mocked these constantly-shifting rationales as though the administration is somehow confused. But they only seem confused if you assume that the problem needing to be solved actually called forth the policy solution aimed at solving it. Once you realize that the desire for the policy is the parent of the rationale, and not the other way around, everything falls into place.

Trickle Down Deception

Iraq was the most telling example. Many neoconservatives from the first Bush administration had long regretted the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power in 1991. During their years out of power, as these neocons hashed out a doctrine of post-Cold War American military primacy, Saddam's removal moved higher and higher up their list of priorities. He was, after all, the prime obstacle to U.S. dominance of the Middle East. And holding him in check was generating serious diplomatic and military damage in the region. Those plans to remove Saddam shot to the top of the White House's agenda within hours of the 9/11 attacks. The neocons believed that the threat of catastrophic terror required not just taking down al Qaeda but solving the root problem of Islamic terrorism by remaking the entire Middle East. And ousting Saddam was at the center of the plan. Outrage over the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia--put there to contain Saddam--had helped Osama bin Laden recruit his jihadists. And installing a US-backed regime in Baghdad could, the neocons believed, help trigger a domino effect against the old order which would spread secular, democratic regimes throughout the region.

But that was just a theory. In practice, Saddam and al Qaeda were largely unconnected. In fact, the two goals were often at odds with each other. When the Pentagon needed its top special forces to lead the search for Saddam Hussein, Michael Duffy and Massimo Calabresi of Time reported, it simply reassigned the soldiers who had been on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Again, a newly apparent problem ­ the al Qaeda terrorist threat ­ was being used to advance an existing and largely unrelated policy goal.

The effort to make the Iraq-al Qaeda connection stick gave rise to the administration's grandest deception: The charge that Saddam was rapidly reconstituting his nuclear weapons program and might slip a nuclear bomb--or the chemical and biological weapons he was thought to have already--to bin Laden's terrorists. "We know he's got ties with al Qaeda," Bush said at an election rally in November 2002. "A nightmare scenario, of course, is that he becomes the arsenal of a terrorist network, where he could attack America and he'd leave no fingerprints behind." To make that scenario seem plausible, the administration had to muscle all manner of analysts at the CIA, the State Department, and elsewhere. These analysts knew the Middle East best and doubted the existence of any Saddam-al Qaeda link. Nor did they believe that Saddam's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons justified the crisis atmosphere the White House whipped up in the leadup to war.

The clash spilled into public view this summer, after American forces failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at all. The media began to press White House officials on how false nuclear weapons claims had made their way into Bush's State of the Union address and other speeches. Administration officials have given shifting accounts, and tried to frame the story as a matter of procedural breakdown. But one former official of Bush's White House has suggested a more compelling psychological explanation. Writing in National Review Online this past July, former Bush speechwriter David Frum argued that "[t]he CIA's warnings on Iraq matters had lost some of their credibility in the 1990s. The agency was regarded by many in the Bush administration as reflexively and implacably hostile to any activist policy in Iraq. Those skeptics had come to believe that the agency was slanting its information on Iraq in order to maneuver the administration into supporting the agency's own soft-line policies."

We have since learned that it wasn't just mid-level aides who knew about and discounted the CIA's warnings, though we still don't know exactly how far up this dismissive attitude went. But Frum's point rings very true for those who followed the infighting between Bush appointees and the Agency over the last two years. Within the White House, the opinions of whole groups of agency experts were routinely dismissed as not credible, and unhelpful facts were dismissed as the obstructionist maneuverings of bureaucrats seeking to undermine needed change.

Indeed, this same tendency to dismiss expertise shaped the whole war effort. Just before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki--who had focused his tenure on peacekeeping and nation building--said that hundreds of thousands of soldiers would be needed to pacify and control Iraq. Days later, Paul Wolfowitz told another committee that Shinseki didn't know what he was talking about; the occupation, Wolfowitz said, would require far fewer troops. At the time, many took Wolfowitz's evident self-assurance as a sign that he knew something the general didn't. Now, it's clear that it was the other way around, and Wolfowitz was engaging in a typical undisprovable assertion. Senior officials like Wolfowitz set an example that trickled down the bureaucratic ladder. One Pentagon civil servant specializing in Middle East policy described to me how, a few months after 9/11, he was chastised by a superior, a political appointee, for delivering a negative assessment of a proposed policy in a briefing memo to the Secretary of Defense. The civil servant changed his assessment as instructed but still included a list of potential pros and cons. But that wasn't good enough either. The senior official told him, "'It's still not acceptable. Take out all the discussion of the cons and basically write there's no reason why we shouldn't [do this].' I just thought this was intellectually dishonest."

Hide the Baloney

That cavalier dismissal of expert analysis isn't limited to the national security arena. In the summer of 2001, the Bush administration was looking for a decision the President could make on the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research. His Christian conservative base wanted an outright prohibition. But such a ban would have alienated swing voters eager for the therapies that could come from that research, such as cures for Parkinson's disease. As Nicholas Thompson explained in these pages ("Science Friction," July/August 2003), Bush's advisors came up with a scheme they thought would pass muster with both the core and the swing voters: the President would limit research to only those stem cell lines which existed already. But before the decision was announced, federal scientists warned the administration that there simply weren't enough reliable existing lines to be useful to researchers. The White House ignored the warnings, which have subsequently proved all too accurate, and went ahead with the decision, thereby setting back crucial medical research for years.

Look at just about any policy or department of government and you're likely to see the same pattern. In July, Slate's Russ Baker reported that the Bush administration "muzzles routine economic information that's unfavorable." Last year, the administration simply stopped issuing a report that tracks factory closings throughout the country, the better to hide evidence of mass layoffs. The report was reinstated only after The Washington Post happened to notice the cancellation, disclosed only in a footnote to the Department of Labor's final report for 2002, issued on Christmas Eve.

The sidelining of in-house expertise is nowhere more apparent than on the environmental front. This Bush administration came into office just as the consensus was solidifying among scientists that human activity contributes to climate change. That consensus, however, ran counter to key administration goals, such as loosening regulations on coal-burning power plants and scuttling international agreements aimed at limiting fossil fuel emissions. Rather than change its agenda, the administration chose to discredit the experts. As GOP pollster Frank Luntz wrote in a memo just before the 2002 election: "The scientific debate [on global warming] is closing against us but is not yet closed. There is still an opportunity to challenge the science." The idea that global warming was a reality that actually had to be grappled with simply didn't occur to Luntz. Indeed, when questioned about whether administration policies might contribute to global warming, White House spokesmen direct reporters to the small, and rapidly diminishing, group of scientists who still doubt that humans contribute to the problem. In June, when the EPA released an Environmental Progress report, the administration edited out passages that described scientific concerns about global warming.

In any White House, there is usually a tension between the political agenda and disinterested experts who might question it. But what's remarkable about this White House is how little tension there seems to be. Expert analysis that isn't politically helpful simply gets ignored.

The Boys in Striped Pants

Educated, liberal-leaning professionals are apt to see this conflict as an open-and-shut case: Expertise should always trump ideology. This has been the case for over a century, ever since Progressive Era reformers took on corrupt city machines and elevated technocratic expertise above politics. Those early Progressives restructured government by turning functions hitherto run by elected officials over to appointed, credentialed experts. And many of the ways they refashioned government now seem beyond question. Few would challenge, for instance, our practice of assigning decisions at the FDA or CDC to panels of qualified scientists rather than political appointees.

On the other hand, anyone who's worked as a political appointee at the higher levels of government and tried to get anything new done has been frustrated by the myriad ways in which bureaucrats manipulate numbers and information in ways intended to thwart the new agenda and maintain the status quo. There is a long tradition in American politics of finessing policy initiatives past stubborn bureaucrats. Franklin Roosevelt, for instance, routinely used amateur diplomats and personal intermediaries to sidestep the professionals at Foggy Bottom ­ the "boys in striped pants," he called them ­ for fear that they would slow-roll, walk back or generally meddle in his chosen course in international affairs. As the historian Warren Kimball aptly notes, Roosevelt shared the conviction that foreign service officers believed that they had a "priestly monopoly against intervention by members of Congress, journalists, professors, voters and other lesser breeds."

All of this is to say that the Bush administration's unwillingness to be pushed around by the bureaucratic experts or to have their ideas hemmed in by establishment opinion isn't by itself a bad thing. Nor is this administration the first to ignore or suppress unhelpful data or analyses from experts that runs contrary to its agenda-­foolish as such conduct usually proves. But in this administration the mindset of deception runs deeper. If you're a revisionist­someone pushing for radically changing the status quo­you're apt to see "the experts" not just as people who may be standing in your way, but whose minds have been corrupted by a wrongheaded ideology whose arguments can therefore be ignored. To many in the Bush administration, 'the experts' look like so many liberals wedded to a philosophy of big government, the welfare state, over-regulation and a pussyfooting role for the nation abroad. The Pentagon civil servant quoted above told me that the standard response to warnings from the Joint Staff about potential difficulties was simply to say: "That's just the Joint Staff being obstructionist." Even if the experts are right in the particulars--the size of the deficit, the number of troops needed in Iraq--their real goal is to get in the way of necessary changes that have to be made.

Après nous, le déluge

In that simple, totalizing assumption we find the kernel of almost every problem the administration has faced over recent months--and a foretaste of the troubles the nation may confront in coming years. By disregarding the advice of experts, by shunting aside the cadres of career professionals with on-the-ground experience in these various countries, the administration's hawks cut themselves off from the practical know-how which would have given them some chance of implementing their plans successfully. In a real sense, they cut themselves off from reality. When they went into Iraq they were essentially flying blind, having disengaged from almost everyone who had real-world experience in how effective occupation, reconstruction and nation-building was done. And much the same can be said of the administration's take on economic policy, environmental policy, and in almost every sort of policy question involving science. Muzzling the experts helped the White House muscle its revisionist plans through. But in numerous cases it prevented them from implementing even their own plans effectively.

Everyone is compromised by bias, agendas, and ideology. But at the heart of the revisionist mindset is the belief that there is really nothing more than that. Ideology isn't just the prism through which we see world, or a pervasive tilt in the way a person understands a given set of facts. Ideology is really all there is. For an administration that has been awfully hard on the French, that mindset is...well, rather French. They are like deconstructionists and post-modernists who say that everything is political or that everything is ideology. That mindset makes it easy to ignore the facts or brush them aside because "the facts" aren't really facts, at least not as most of us understand them. If they come from people who don't agree with you, they're just the other side's argument dressed up in a mantle of facticity. And if that's all the facts are, it's really not so difficult to go out and find a new set of them. The fruitful and dynamic tension between political goals and disinterested expert analysis becomes impossible.

Doctrinaire as they may be in the realm of policy, the president's advisors are the most hard-boiled sort of pragmatists when it comes to gaining and holding on to political power. And there's no way they planned to head into their reelection campaign with a half-trillion-dollar deficit looming over their heads and an unpredictable, bleeding guerrilla war in Iraq on their hands. At the level of tactics and execution, the administration's war on expertise has already yielded some very disappointing, indeed dangerous results. And if that gets you worried, just remember that the same folks are in charge of the grand strategy too.

How we trained al-Qa’eda

Saturday, September 13, 2003

How we trained al-Qa’eda

by Brendan O’Neill | The Spectator | September 13, 2003
Editor's Note:

The thrust of this article on the collaboration between the Pentagon and Al Qaeda in Bosnia is corroborated by a 1997 report of the Republican Party Committee of the US Congress, which outlines the support provided to the Militant Islamic Base by the US Military under the Clinton administration.

The RPC Report asserts that the Clinton administration --under advice from the National Security Council headed by Anthony Lake-- had "helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base" leading to the recruitment of thousands of Mujahideen from the Muslim world.

For further details see:

The Clinton Administration supported the Militant Islamic Network , 1997 Congressional Report, Republican Party Committee.

The evidence presented in Brendan O'Neill's article in the case of Bosnia confirms that Al Qaeda is not an "outside enemy" but rather a creation of the US military-intelligence apparatus. The same pattern of collaboration between the US military (and indeed NATO) and the Islamic brigades was replicated in Kosovo (1995-99) and Macedonia (2000-2001)

For further details see:

The main justification for this war has been totally fabricated. "Osamagate," Michel Chossudovsky

Michel Chossudovsky, 13 September 2003
The Bosnian war taught Islamic terrorists to operate abroad

For all the millions of words written about al-Qa’eda since the 9/11 attacks two years ago, one phenomenon is consistently overlooked — the role of the Bosnian war in transforming the Mujahideen of the 1980s into the roving Islamic terrorists of today.

Many writers and reporters have traced al-Qa’eda and other terror groups’ origins back to the Afghan war of 1979­1992, that last gasp of the Cold War when US-backed Mujahideen forces fought against the invading Soviet army. It is well documented that America played a major role in creating and sustaining the Mujahideen, which included Osama bin Laden’s Office of Services set up to recruit volunteers from overseas. Between 1985 and 1992, US officials estimate that 12,500 foreign fighters were trained in bomb-making, sabotage and guerrilla warfare tactics in Afghan camps that the CIA helped to set up.

Yet America’s role in backing the Mujahideen a second time in the early and mid-1990s is seldom mentioned — largely because very few people know about it, and those who do find it prudent to pretend that it never happened. Following the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of their puppet regime in 1992, the Afghan Mujahideen became less important to the United States; many Arabs, in the words of the journalist James Buchan, were left stranded in Afghanistan ‘with a taste for fighting but no cause’. It was not long before some were provided with a new cause. From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of Mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs.

The Bosnia venture appears to have been very important to the rise of Mujahideen forces, to the emergence of today’s cross-border Islamic terrorists who think nothing of moving from state to state in the search of outlets for their jihadist mission. In moving to Bosnia, Islamic fighters were transported from the ghettos of Afghanistan and the Middle East into Europe; from an outdated battleground of the Cold War to the major world conflict of the day; from being yesterday’s men to fighting alongside the West’s favoured side in the clash of the Balkans. If Western intervention in Afghanistan created the Mujahideen, Western intervention in Bosnia appears to have globalised it.

As part of the Dutch government’s inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University compiled a report entitled ‘Intelligence and the War in Bosnia’, published in April 2002. In it he details the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamic groups from the Middle East, and their efforts to assist Bosnia’s Muslims. By 1993, there was a vast amount of weapons-smuggling through Croatia to the Muslims, organised by ‘clandestine agencies’ of the USA, Turkey and Iran, in association with a range of Islamic groups that included Afghan Mujahideen and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia were airlifted from the Middle East to Bosnia — airlifts with which, Wiebes points out, the USA was ‘very closely involved’.

The Pentagon’s secret alliance with Islamic elements allowed Mujahideen fighters to be ‘flown in’, though they were initially reserved as shock troops for particularly hazardous operations against Serb forces. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times in October 2001, from 1992 as many as 4,000 volunteers from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, ‘known as the Mujahideen’, arrived in Bosnia to fight with the Muslims. Richard Holbrooke, America’s former chief Balkans peace negotiator, has said that the Bosnian Muslims ‘wouldn’t have survived’ without the help of the Mujahideen, though he later admitted that the arrival of the Mujahideen was a ‘pact with the devil’ from which Bosnia is still recovering.

By the end of the 1990s State Department officials were increasingly worried about the consequences of this pact. Under the terms of the 1995 Dayton peace accord, the foreign Mujahideen units were required to disband and leave the Balkans. Yet in 2000, the State Department raised concerns about the ‘hundreds of foreign Islamic extremists’ who became Bosnian citizens after fighting against the Serbs, and who pose a potential terror threat to Europe and the United States. US officials claimed that one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants had sent operatives to Bosnia, and that during the 1990s Bosnia had served as a ‘staging area and safe haven’ for al-Qa’eda and others. The Clinton administration had discovered that it is one thing to permit the movement of Islamic groups across territories; it is quite another to rein them back in again.

Indeed, for all the Clinton officials’ concern about Islamic extremists in the Balkans, they continued to allow the growth and movement of Mujahideen forces in Europe through the 1990s. In the late 1990s, in the run-up to Clinton’s and Blair’s Kosovo war of 1999, the USA backed the Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbia. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post in 1998, KLA members, like the Bosnian Muslims before them, had been ‘provided with financial and military support from Islamic countries’, and had been ‘bolstered by hundreds of Iranian fighters or Mujahideen ...[some of whom] were trained in Osama bin Laden’s terrorist camps in Afghanistan’. It seems that, for all its handwringing, the USA just couldn’t break the pact with the devil.

Why is this aspect of the mujahideen’s development so often overlooked? Some sensible stuff has been written about al-Qa’eda and its connections in recent months, but the Bosnia connection has been left largely unexplored. In Jason Burke’s excellent Al-Qa’eda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, Bosnia is mentioned only in passing. Kimberley McCloud and Adam Dolnik of the Monterey Institute of International Studies have written some incisive commentary calling for rational thinking when assessing al-Qa’eda’s origins and threat — but again, investigation of the Bosnia link is notable by its absence.

It would appear that when it comes to Bosnia, many in the West have a moral blind spot. For some commentators, particularly liberal ones, Western intervention in Bosnia was a Good Thing — except that, apparently, there was too little of it, offered too late in the conflict. Many journalists and writers demanded intervention in Bosnia and Western support for the Muslims. In many ways, this was their war, where they played an active role in encouraging further intervention to enforce ‘peace’ among the former Yugoslavia’s warring factions. Consequently, they often overlook the downside to this intervention and its divisive impact on the Balkans. Western intervention in Bosnia, it would appear, has become an unquestionably positive thing, something that is beyond interrogation and debate.

Yet a cool analysis of today’s disparate Islamic terror groups, created in Afghanistan and emboldened by the Bosnian experience, would do much to shed some light on precisely the dangers of such intervention.

Brendan O’Neill is assistant editor of spiked-online.

© Copyright Brendan O’Neill 2003
For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement.

NYT : Report on 9/11 Suggests a Role By Saudi Spies

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Report on 9/11 Suggests a Role By Saudi Spies

By JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON | August 2, 2003

The classified part of a Congressional report on the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, says that two Saudi citizens who had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials, according to people who have seen the report.

These findings, according to several people who have read the report, help to explain why the classified part of the report has become so politically charged, causing strains between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Senior Saudi officials have denied any links between their government and the attacks and have asked that the section be declassified, but President Bush has refused.

People familiar with the report and who spoke on condition of not being named said that the two Saudi citizens, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, operated in a complex web of financial relationships with officials of the Saudi government. The sections that focus on them draw connections between the two men, two hijackers, and Saudi officials.

The report urges further investigation of the two men and their contacts with the hijackers, because of unresolved questions about their relationship and whether they had any involvement in the 9/11 plot.

The edited 28-page section of the report, produced by a joint panel of the House and Senate intelligence committees, also says that a Muslim cleric in San Diego was a central figure in a support network that aided the same two hijackers. Most connections drawn in the report between the men, Saudi intelligence and the attacks are circumstantial, several people who have read the report said.

The unclassified parts of the report also suggest a connection between Mr. al-Bayoumi and Saudi intelligence. The report says that ''one of the F.B.I.'s best sources in San Diego informed the F.B.I. that he thought that al-Bayoumi must be an intelligence officer.'' The report also says that ''despite the fact that he was a student, al-Bayoumi had access to seemingly unlimited funding from Saudi Arabia.''

The joint inquiry's investigation of Mr. al-Bayoumi and Mr. Bassnan centered on their activities three years ago when they were living in San Diego. The report concluded that the two men were crucial to understanding the events leading up to the plot, largely because of Mr. al-Bayoumi's extensive contacts with two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, after they settled in San Diego in early 2000. There is no definitive evidence that Mr. Bassnan knew the hijackers, but the report describes him as a close associate of Mr. al-Bayoumi.

One unresolved issue in the classified part of the report concerned Mr. Bassnan's visit to Houston after the attacks. While Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah met with President Bush, Mr. Bassnan met with a Saudi in his entourage, according to the report. It is not known what they discussed.

In San Diego, Mr. al-Bayoumi was employed by a contractor to the Saudi civil aviation authority, and received payments authorized by a Saudi official. But Congressional officials believe he was a ''ghost employee'' of the contractor who did no actual work. The payments authorized by the Saudi official increased significantly after Mr. al-Bayoumi came in contact with the two hijackers in early 2000, the classified part of the report states.

According to the unclassified parts of the report, Mr. al-Bayoumi first befriended Mr. al-Mihdhar and Mr. al-Hazmi in January 2000 when they arrived in Los Angeles from Bangkok, after attending a meeting in Malaysia with other operatives of al Qaeda. The two men stayed in Mr. al-Bayoumi's apartment for several days. He helped them find their own apartment, paid their first month's rent and security deposit, and threw a party to help them get settled in the local Arabic community.

Law enforcement officials have said, though, that Mr. Almidhar repaid Mr. al-Bayoumi and added that there was no evidence Mr. al-Bayoumi or Mr. Bassnan ever provided any other money to Mr. Almidhar or Mr. Hazmi. That point, the officials said, helps to explain why Mr. al-Bayoumi has not been accused of any crime, like providing material support to terrorists.

Law enforcement officials have played down the significance of the connection between Mr. al-Bayoumi and the two hijackers, saying there is no evidence that Mr. al-Bayoumi knew of the 9/11 plot. They dismissed the tone of the report, which they say portrays the possible links between the plot and Saudi Arabian officials as clearer and more direct than is actually known.

F.B.I. and C.I.A. officials have also said that they are not certain why Mr. al-Bayoumi was in San Diego, and that they are not certain of his exact relationship with the Saudi government. Some officials said that even if he was not a professional Saudi intelligence officer, he may have had some informal role. It is possible, they believe, that he was assigned to monitor the activities of Saudi students and other expatriates in the United States.

Investigators said that the role of the Muslim cleric who the report says served as a ''spiritual adviser'' to the two hijackers is central to an understanding of what happened in San Diego. The cleric is not named in the declassified section of the report, but officials identified him as Anwar Aulaqi. He is said to have held meetings with the two hijackers, and when he moved to Falls Church, Va., in 2001, the two hijackers moved as well and began to attend the mosque with which the cleric was now associated. Officials said that the report made clear that the cleric's role needs to be investigated further.

Today, 46 Democratic senators asked that the deleted material be released, saying the national security issues Mr. Bush cited as the reason the material was classified could be addressed by careful editing. Republicans, including Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, a former Intelligence Committee chairman, have also called for its release.

Several Congressional officials familiar with the report say that only a small part of the classified section dealing with the specifics of F.B.I. counterintelligence and counterterrorism activities should remain classified. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said, ''Keeping this material classified only strengthens the theory that some in the U.S. government are hellbent on covering up for the Saudis.''

National Security Council officials are leading an interagency delegation to Saudi Arabia this weekend to discuss with Saudi officials investigations into the financing of terrorism. The Americans may also ask Saudi permission to interview Mr. al-Bayoumi, who is reportedly now in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

After 9/11, Mr. al-Bayoumi was briefly interviewed in Britain, but has never returned to the United States to face in-depth questioning.

CBS : Bush Won't Reveal Saudi 9/11 Info

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Bush Won't Reveal Saudi 9/11 Info

By Lauren Johnston | CBS/AP | July 30, 2003

President Bush refused on Tuesday to release a congressional report alleging possible links between Saudi Arabian officials and the Sept. 11 hijackers. The White House sought to question a Saudi citizen who befriended two of the hijackers.

Bush said he could not comply with a request by the Saudi foreign minister for a chance to clear the Arab kingdom's name because publication of the report could hurt U.S. intelligence operations.

The foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, said he was disappointed but understood.

The information is widely believed to center on Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers. Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied supporting the hijackers.

Sources tell CBS the redacted section lays out a money trail between Saudi Arabia and supporters of al Qaeda, reports CBS White House Chief Correspondent John Roberts.

Among others, it singles out Omar al-Bayoumi, who gave financial assistance to 9-11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar.

The FBI charges al-Bayoumi, an official of the Saudi civil aviation authority, never lacked for money and is believed to have received funds from a charitable trust run by the wife of the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. The Saudis, for all their protestations of cooperating in the war on terror, still refuse to allow the FBI access to al-Bayoumi.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal called suggestions of such links "an outrage to any sense of fairness" and said his country had been "wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity in the attacks."

"Twenty-eight blank pages are now considered substantial evidence to proclaim the guilt of a country that has been a true friend and partner of the United States for over 60 years," the foreign minister said.

After the White House meeting, Saud spoke for about an hour with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He said later she told him U.S. authorities want to question Bayoumi.

Saud said he replied that FBI and CIA agents in Saudi Arabia could freely question Bayoumi, who was questioned already by American, British and Saudi investigators. They found "no proof" of a connection to the terror attacks, Saud told reporters at the Saudi Embassy.

The Saudis have complained that they cannot respond to a report they cannot see. But Bush made plain he has no intention of declassifying the material.

"I absolutely have no qualms at all because there's an ongoing investigation into the 9-11 attacks, and we don't want to compromise that investigation," Mr. Bush said at an earlier news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Rose Garden.

"If people are being investigated, it doesn't make sense for us to let them know who they are," Mr. Bush told reporters before meeting with al-Faisal.

Moreover, Mr. Bush said, "declassification of that part of a 900-page document would reveal sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror. ... It would help the enemy if they knew our sources and methods."

The decision came against a background of controversy over whether officials in Saudi Arabia had connections with the terrorists.

Earlier, citing the Saudi ambassador's claim that his country has "nothing to hide," Sen. Bob Graham called on Mr. Bush to release the report.

Doing so "will permit the Saudi government to deal with any questions which may be raised in the currently censored pages, and allow the American people to make their own judgment about who are our true friends and allies in the war on terrorism," Graham, D-Fla., said in a letter to Mr. Bush. Graham, who co-chaired the inquiry, is a Democratic presidential candidate.

After the report was released last Thursday, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan issued a statement saying that "28 blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people."

"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," he said.

Citing those comments, Graham said Bandar "has joined in asking that the pages be declassified."

House and Senate members released the full, 850-page report finding a series of errors and miscommunications kept U.S. authorities from pursuing clues before the attacks. The 28-page section dealing with "sensitive national security matters" was almost entirely redacted.

© 2003 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Telegraph : Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

Monday, June 23, 2003

Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

by David Rennie | Washington | June 23, 2003

06/23/03: (The Telegraph. UK) The American al-Qa'eda operative unmasked last week as having planned to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge was first detained in March, and has been used by the FBI for months as a double agent, it was reported yesterday.

US authorities waited until last week to announce a plea bargain struck with Iyman Faris, a Pakistani-born lorry driver ordered to scout out terror targets, including the New York landmark.

They did not say that Faris, who was also ordered to study ultralight aircraft, and the possibility of derailing a train into a chemical storage facility in Washington, had been under FBI control for months.

Justice Department officials told Time magazine that Faris was secretly detained about two weeks after the dramatic capture on March 1 in Pakistan of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qa'eda's chief of operations.

Installed in a safe house in Virginia, Faris sent messages to his terrorist commanders by mobile phone and email. "He was sitting in the safe house making calls for us. It was a huge triumph," a senior Bush administration official told Time.

After pleading guilty to offering material support to al-Qa'eda, Faris will be sentenced in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

© Copyright 2003 The Telegraph. UK

Telegraph : Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

Friday, June 20, 2003

Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

Captured al-Qa'eda man was FBI spy

By David Rennie in Washington | June 20, 2003

The American al-Qa'eda operative unmasked last week as having planned to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge was first detained in March, and has been used by the FBI for months as a double agent, it was reported yesterday.

US authorities waited until last week to announce a plea bargain struck with Iyman Faris, a Pakistani-born lorry driver ordered to scout out terror targets, including the New York landmark.

They did not say that Faris, who was also ordered to study ultralight aircraft, and the possibility of derailing a train into a chemical storage facility in Washington, had been under FBI control for months.

Justice Department officials told Time magazine that Faris was secretly detained about two weeks after the dramatic capture on March 1 in Pakistan of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qa'eda's chief of operations.

Installed in a safe house in Virginia, Faris sent messages to his terrorist commanders by mobile phone and email. "He was sitting in the safe house making calls for us. It was a huge triumph," a senior Bush administration official told Time.

After pleading guilty to offering material support to al-Qa'eda, Faris will be sentenced in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Thomas Barnett : Operation Iraqi Freedom could be a first step toward a larger goal: true globalization.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Operation Iraqi Freedom could be a first step toward a larger goal: true globalization.

By Thomas P.M. Barnett and Henry H. Gaffney Jr. | May, 2003

The Bush administration's response to the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 was both swift (the global war on terrorism) and profound (the Department of Homeland Security). With last year's publication of the National Security Strategy, the White House went even further and described - rather boldly - a global future worth creating. By doing so, the Bush administration embraced the notion recently put forth by many experts: that Washington now stands at a historical "creation point" much like the immediate post-World War II years.

When the United States finally went to war again in the Persian Gulf, it was not about settling old scores or simply enforcing U.N.-mandated disarmament of illegal weapons or a distraction in the war on terror. Instead, the Bush administration's first application of its controversial preemption strategy marked a historical tipping point - the moment when Washington took real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization.

This is why the public debate about the war has been so important: It has forced Americans to come to terms with what [the authors] believe is the new security paradigm that shapes this age: Disconnectedness defines danger.

Saddam Hussein's outlaw regime was dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world, from its rule sets, its norms, and all the ties that bind countries together in mutually assured dependence. Understanding this distinction is crucial for our understanding of the tasks that lie ahead as the United States not only wages war against global terrorism but also seeks to make globalization truly global.

As globalization deepens and spreads, two groups of states are essentially pitted against one another: one, countries seeking to align themselves internally to the emerging global rule set (e.g., advanced Western democracies, Vladimir Putin's Russia, Asia's emerging economies); the other, countries that refuse such internal realignment - and thus remain largely "disconnected" from globalization - due to either political/cultural rigidity (the Middle East) or continuing abject poverty (most of Central Asia, Africa, and Central America). [The authors] dub the former the "Functioning Core" of globalization and the latter countries the "Non-Integrating Gap."

Although the United States is recognized as both economic and political-military leader of the Core, our foreign policy did not reflect much unity of vision regarding globalization until the Sept. 11 attack triggered the ongoing war on terrorism. Rather, globalization was treated as a largely economic affair that the U.S. government left to private business, with the government promoting the tariff cuts and regulations that support free trade both at home and abroad. The U.S. security community worried about globalization only to the extent that it fostered the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the actions of certain nefarious transnational actors.

The perturbations of the global system triggered by Sept. 11 have done much to highlight both the limits and risks of globalization, as well as this country's current and future role as "system administrator" to this historical process. For example, the vast majority (almost 95 percent) of U.S. military interventions over the past two decades have occurred within the Non-Integrating Gap. That is, we tend to "export" security to precisely those parts of the world that have a hard time coping with globalization or are otherwise not benefiting from it.

Fulfilling this kind of leadership role will require a new understanding on our part as to the Functioning Core's essential transactions with the Gap, which is - unsurprisingly - the source of virtually all the global terrorism we seek to eradicate.

Living large

Although the United States represents only one-twentieth of the global population, its environmental footprint is dramatically larger. This country consumes roughly a quarter of the world's energy while producing approximately a quarter of the pollution and garbage. Economists will point out that we also produce roughly a quarter of the world's wealth, but frankly, a lot of that stays home, while we tend to import our energy and "export" our pollution. Simply put, we live well beyond our environmental means.

Our economic footprint is equally skewed. As our consistently huge trade deficit indicates, we also tend to live well beyond our economic means. Basically, we count on the rest of the world to finance our sovereign debt, which most countries - like Japan - are willing to do because the U.S. government is such a good credit risk, and the dollar is the closest thing there is to a global reserve currency. There is not a whole lot we should complain about in this deal - basically trading pieces of paper for actual goods. Put these two transactions together and it is easy to see why the United States has benefited from the rise of a global economy.

So what has the United States provided the world in return? Clearly we are a leader in technology and cultural exports, but these are fundamentally private-sector transactions that any advanced economy can provide.

The one U.S. public-sector export that has only increased its global market share with time is security. We account for nearly half the global public spending on security, and unlike any other state, we actually can export it to other regions on a substantial and continuous basis. And that is our fundamental transaction with the global economy: We import consumption and export security.

Sharing our surplus of security with the world is what makes us unique. Any advanced industrial state can sell arms, but only the United States can export stability. Yes, it does engender plenty of anger from some quarters, but from far more it elicits real gratitude - and allowance for our "living large."

Beyond containment

During the Cold War, our policy vis-à-vis the Soviet Bloc was one of containment. The Globalization Era presents a different challenge: The Non-Integrating Gap does not just need to be contained, it needs to be shrunk. Doing so will take decades, however, and in the meantime we need to "firewall" off the Core from the Gap's worst exports: terrorism, narcotics, disease, genocide, and other violent disruptions.

The good news is we already have plenty of experience working the Gap - in fact, it has been the major focus of U.S. military crisis response for the past generation. Four key events in the 1970s marked our fundamental shift from Cold War containment to Gap firewall management:

* détente in Europe;

* OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil shocks of the early 1970s;

* the end of the Vietnam War; and

* the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979.

Prior to this quartet of events, the patterns of the U.S. military's permanent forward deployments and crisis responses were largely in sync - clustered in the Cold War foci of Europe and Northeast Asia. But by the early 1980s, we were clearly out of balance. Most of European Command's response activity had shifted to the Eastern Mediterranean, while most of Pacific Command's responses had slid toward the Persian Gulf.

Logically, the United States created the Central Command at that point, signaling the effective shift of our focus from Cold War containment to Gap firewalling. According to the Center for Strategic Studies (css), in the 1980s the Middle East already accounted for just over half of the four services' combined situation response days (9,288 of 16,795, or 55 percent).

Turning to the css' response data since 1990 gives us an even clearer outline of the Non-Integrating Gap. The maps on this page and the next display U.S. military responses in the post-Cold War era (1990-2002). When a line is drawn around roughly 95 percent of those responses (isolating responses involving Taiwan and North Korea in an otherwise stable northeast Asia), it captures those portions of the world that are either losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows connected with its advance.

Looking at this experience, a simple logic emerges: If a country is either losing out to globalization or rejecting much of the content flows associated with its advance, there is a far greater chance that the United States will end up sending forces at some point. Conversely, if a country is largely functioning within globalization, we tend not to have to send our forces there to restore order or eradicate threats.

Flowing globalization

Four major flows must proceed over the next several decades if globalization is to continue its advance and the Gap is to be shrunk. The U.S. government and its allies in the Core must enable and balance all four of these flows, for the disruption of one will damage the others, leaving the global economy and security environment vulnerable to the sort of system perturbations witnessed in connection with Sept. 11.

Flow of people from Gap to Core. According to the United Nations, by 2050 our global population should peak somewhere around 9 billion people and decline thereafter. This will be a huge turning point for humanity in more ways than one. Take graying: By 2050, the global 60-and-over cohort will match the 15-and-under group at roughly 2 billion each. From that point on, the old will progressively outnumber the young on this planet.

In theory, the aging of the global population spells good news regarding humanity's tendency to wage war, either on a local level or state-on-state. Today, the vast bulk of violence lies within the Gap, where, on average, less than 10 percent of the population is over 60 years of age. In contrast, Core states average 10 percent to 25 percent of their population over age 60. Simply put, older societies are associated with lower levels of conflict because these older societies are emerging out of the success of globalization, with prosperity and fewer children per family.

The big hitch is this: Current U.N. projections say that by 2050, the potential support ratio (psr, or people aged 15-to-64 per one person 65-and-older) in the advanced economies will have dropped from 5-to-1 to 2-to-1, while in the least developed regions the psr still will stand at roughly 10-to-1. That means that worker-to-retiree ratios in the Core will plummet just as the retirement burden there skyrockets - unless the Gap's "youth bulges" flow toward the older Core states. Japan will require more than half a million immigrants per year to maintain its current workforce size, while the European Union will need to increase its current immigrant flow roughly fivefold - but both have great difficulty acceding to that need.

In effect, emigration from the Gap to the Core is globalization's release valve. With it, the prosperity of the Core can be maintained and more of the world's people can participate. Without it, overpopulation and under-performing economies in the Gap can lead to explosive situations that spill over to the Core. One hopeful sign of the future: The Philippines has demonstrated that such flows can be achieved on a temporary deployment or "global commuting" basis without resorting to permanent emigration or generating increased xenophobia in host nations.

Flow of security from Core to Gap. For now, the war on terrorism and our long-term commitment to rehabilitate Iraq have superseded previous Bush administration talk about an East Asian security strategy. These continuing interventions underline the reality that the U.S. military remains in the business of working the bloody seam between the Gap and the Core. In the 1990s, that seam ran from the Balkans to the Persian Gulf, but today it also extends into Central Asia, where we have built a number of "temporary" military bases in former Soviet states to support our operations in Afghanistan - with Russian acquiescence - in a remarkable turn of history.

The reality is that the United States will end up exporting security (e.g., bases, naval presence, crisis response activity, military training) into Central and Southwest Asia for some time to come. For the first half of the 21st century, the primary cluster of security threats will lie in these areas - which also happen to be the supply center of the global energy market (we identify them as a cluster because the ultimate resolutions of individual conflict situations there are highly interrelated):

While the United States already is pursuing an ambitious plan to rebuild much of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, there is little doubt among regional experts that the world is really looking at a lengthy rehabilitation period similar to post-World War II Germany or Japan. The United States might well establish permanent military bases in Iraq, moving them from Saudi Arabia to relieve the political situation there.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue is heading toward a Berlin Wall-like separation. It may eventually involve a United States-led demilitarized zone occupation force. Then we simply would have to wait out a couple of generations of Palestinian anger as that society ultimately is bought off through substantial Core economic aid and the Palestinians reduce their family size as they achieve some economic viability.

Saudi Arabia's dramatic slide in per capita income during the past 20 years signals a downward spiral that will trigger radical political reform and/or substantial internal strife. Forestalling this may require a lot more prodding by the United States if institutional reforms are to occur and the Core is to avoid organizing yet another peacekeeping force. The course of events in Iraq will bear strongly on this evolution.

Assuming the United States remains deeply involved in the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, Iran's mullahs will fear Tehran is next and likely step up their anti-Americanism - if that is possible. The United States therefore will continue its long-term containment strategy until the restive Iranian public prevails in its desire to join globalization.

The combination of prosperity stemming from globalization and the export of U.S. surplus military power has taken "great power war" off the table in region after region. As the 21st century begins, such warfare is essentially unthinkable in the Western Hemisphere, in Europe (where nato members and Russia have joined in a common effort), or for that matter anywhere on the high seas. We hope that in a couple of decades, the same combination of efforts - a mix of economic and security cooperation - makes war unthinkable throughout developing Asia. But for the foreseeable future, it is the export of U.S. security into the Islamic regions of Southwest and Central Asia that remains our most serious international security task. We are witnessing the beginning of a long-term integration effort there, one that will ultimately rival our Cold War effort in Europe in its strategic centrality.

Flow of energy from Gap to Core. Sometime in the next 20 years, Asia will replace North America as the global energy market's demand center. That is because U.S. energy demand will increase rather slowly in the coming decades while Asia's will double. Asia has sufficient coal but will import the vast majority of both natural gas and oil as demand skyrockets.

The great source for all that Asian demand will be Central and Southwest Asia plus Russia. A codependent relationship is already in the making: Energy-strapped Asia increasingly depends on political-military stability in the Middle East, while the no-longer cash-rich Middle East increasingly depends on economic growth in Asia. According to Department of Energy projections, by 2020 Asia will buy just under two-thirds of all the oil shipped out of the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf will account for roughly four-fifths of Asia's oil imports.

Disrupt the flow of Middle East oil, and Asia's full integration into the Core is put at risk as its economies falter. India or China could feel the need to play "great power" in the Gulf if the United States drops that ball. That could create an awkward competition among the Core countries, putting us all at the mercy of the Gap's chronic conflicts.

The United States must enable the smooth flow of energy from the Middle East to Asia because the latter is such an important partner in our global transactions. China and Japan are the two greatest sources of our trade deficit, and Japan long has been a leading buyer of our sovereign debt. China's domestic market may become our greatest export opportunity as it opens up under the World Trade Organization's guidelines. India, meanwhile, supplies half the world's software. In the end, it may not be our oil supply but it most certainly will be our prosperity that we protect when we export security to the Middle East.

Flow of investments from Old Core to New Core. Unprecedented flows of foreign direct investment are required for Asia's energy and other infrastructure requirements, approaching $2 trillion by 2020. Asians themselves will shoulder much of the burden, but plenty more long-term money will have to come from private investors in the United States and Europe, which in combination control roughly two-thirds of the annual global flow of approximately $1 trillion. So not only is Asia (the "New Core") dependent on the Gap for energy, but it is also dependent on the "Old Core" countries (the United States, European Union) for the financing. Put these two realities together, and you begin to understand that China's "rising" is far more about integration with the global economy than Beijing seeking some illusory power or hegemony.

The major problems with Asia's energy demands and investment climate are threefold: Asian governments, especially in China, still play far too large a decision-making role, delaying the rise of private-sector markets; national legal systems are still too arbitrary, meaning the rules are not applied equally to all players; and there are still too many chronic security flash points.

Continuing U.S. military presence in Asia helps deter the "vertical scenarios" of war (e.g., China-Taiwan, India-Pakistan, the Koreas), while enabling markets to emerge and tackle the harder, long-term "horizontal scenarios," such as meeting the region's ballooning energy demands while mitigating the already profound environmental costs. So long as markets can deflate buildup of pressure associated with all this development, none of these horizontal scenarios should segue into vertical shocks, i.e., conflicts. In effect, our military forces occupy both a physical and fiscal space in the region, encouraging Asian states to spend less on defense and more on development - the ultimate security.

Transaction Strategy

The "Transaction Strategy" is nothing more than a U.S. national security vision that recognizes the primacy of these four global flows. That means the U.S. government cannot pursue any national policy - such as the war on terrorism, the preemption strategy, missile defense, or exemptions from the International Criminal Court - in such a way as to weaken this fragile, interdependent balancing act across the globe as a whole. Instead, all security initiatives must be framed in such a way as to encourage and strengthen these system-level bonds. We will accomplish this best by being explicit with both friends and foes alike that U.S. national security policy will necessarily differentiate between the role we need to play within the Core's ever-strengthening security community (i.e., more assurance/deterrence-oriented) and the one we must assume whenever we enter the Gap (more dissuasion/preemption-oriented).

If that is the overarching principle of the Transaction Strategy, then its macro rule set on security can be summarized as follows:

* Do everything feasible to nurture security relations across the Functioning Core by maintaining and expanding our historical alliances.

* Discretely firewall off the Core from the Gap's most destabilizing exports - namely, terrorism, drugs, and pandemic diseases - while working the immigration rule set to provide opportunities to those who can contribute.

* Progressively shrink the Gap by continuing to export security to its greatest trouble spots while integrating any countries that are economic success stories as quickly as possible.

Is this a strategy for a Second American Century? Yes and no. Yes, because it acknowledges that the United States is the de facto model for globalization - the first multinational state and economic union. And yes, because it asserts that U.S. leadership is crucial to globalization's advance. But no, in that it reflects the basic principles of "collective goods" theory, meaning the United States should expect to put in the lion's share of the security effort to support globalization's advance because we enjoy its benefits disproportionately - hence this is a practical transaction in its own right.

Thomas P.M. Barnett is on temporary assignment from the Naval War College as the assistant for strategic futures in the Office of Force Transformation, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Henry H. Gaffney Jr. is a team leader with the Center for Strategic Studies, The CNA Corp., Alexandria, Va.

911 Dossier : The Great 9/11 Coincidence

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The Great 9/11 Coincidence

Jon Rappoport | May 13, 2003

911dossier notes:

The US National Reconnaissance Office, which operates spy satellites, was conducting a simulation of a plane crash into their headquarters (near Dulles Airport in Virginia) on Sept. 11! Here are some articles and further sources. In a nutshell the allegation is: the exercise was deliberately planned as a smokescreen for the 9/11 attacks. Note there are inconsistencies in these reports: was Cheney really in charge? Was the exercise for a hijack or an accidental crash?

The piece by Jon Rappoport is appended with various relevant pieces.

The Great 9/11 Coincidence

Jon Rappoport
May 13, 2003

[Original page source:]

On August 22, 2002, the Associated Press ran a story about 9/11. "Agency planned drill for plane crash last Sept. 11."

" US intelligence agency [NRO, National Reconnaissance Office] was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 [2001] in which an errant aircraft crashed into one of its buildings."

The same morning. As. The 9/11 attacks.

According to the NRO, their exercise was canceled when the real thing began. Barbara Honegger, who worked in the White House under Reagan, points out another coincidence. Researching press reports, she found a 9/16/01 Washington Post story about the pilot of AA flight 77 that, on the morning of 9/11, was said to have crashed into the Pentagon.

The pilot, Charles Burlingame, an ex- F4 Navy flyer, had, as his last Navy mission, helped craft Pentagon response plans in the event of a commercial airliner hitting the Pentagon.

Pilot drafts plan for response to Pentagon hit. Pilot winds up on plane that hits Pentagon.

Honegger states that Dick Cheney was ultimately in charge of the NRO exercise on the morning of 9/11. He was in the White House Situation Room for that purpose.

How do you like all these apples?

The limited hangout on this would be: "The hijackers had found out about the upcoming 9/11 mock exercise. They ran their op on top of that, hoping the confusion between Real and Mock would keep the US government from responding to the actual attacks."

Or, one could take this another step: NRO uses many CIA employees. Some element of the CIA was involved in the tactics of the actual 9/11 attacks. All the above coincidences certainly defy the laws of probability. Since AP eventually ran a story right out in the open about the mock exercise, one would think the Hill would have exploded in outrage. A hearing would have been held pronto. The "bizarre coincidence" would have become front-page news for a week or so.

Didn't happen.

The uncanny ability of the press to suppress---by sheer accident---a story that could have taken the lid off Washington---THAT should have become a story in itself as well.

Didn't happen.

Where did AP get its story from? It got it from a classic limited hangout, revealed in an announcement, in 2002, about an upcoming Homeland Security conference to be held in Chicago. One of the key speakers at the conference would be John Fulton, a CIA officer who worked for NRO. The announcement reads: "On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mr Fulton and his team...were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building. Little did they know that the scenario would come true in a dramatic way that day."


NRO/CIA/Cheney/the White House were nervous about this story coming to light. So a limited hangout was arranged. The conference brochure would admit to part of the truth. Mayor Rudy of NYC was the main speaker at the conference. Perfect.

As in, "See, we're giving you a fascinating tidbit about 9/11. Why in the world would we do this if there were more to the whole thing? We've got Rudy himself on the podium. Don't you think he would go nuts if there were more to this, if his city had been devastated as part of some plan in which the federal government were actually INVOLVED?"

Worked like a charm.

It should be noted that, right after 9/11, the White House denied that the intelligence community had any clue that a-plane-into-a-building was a possible terrorist scenario. When, in fact, a mock exercise for exactly that eventuality was in progress on the morning of 9/11.

There is one other possibility here we need to consider. On the morning of 9/11, THERE WAS NO MOCK EXERCISE UNDERWAY. The whole idea of such an exercise was fabricated to explain otherwise mind-boggling communications traffic among intelligence and military and civilian agencies of the US government----traffic that would have exposed the complete and casual disregard for the very real events that were underway in the air.

"Oh, all THOSE messages? They were just part of the mock exercise. They had nothing to do with the real thing. We were slow to catch on that the actual attacks were happening, because we had this practice deal running. What a coincidence."

When events like 9/11 occur, if you underestimate the devious quality of the cover stories, you can miss the true thread.


today's question...
Brian Salter, qq editor

5 June 2003: Why were 3000 NRO employees sent home after 9/11? There have been a number of disinfo limited hangouts floating around, all of them designed to offer apparently revealing inside details of 9/11 but actually serving the purpose of whitewashing evidence of US govt. complicity. One which has been hanging around for a while centers on the terrorist training exercise that the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) had scheduled the same morning of the attacks. The super-secret NRO happens to be the agency which operates US spy satellites.

A mainstream article about it is here:

The limited hangout build around this is that the 9/11 "terrorists" somehow learned about the secret exercise in advance, and "piggybacked" their own attack on the same date in order to confuse US defences. This is used as a supposed explanation for lack of action on prior warnings, failure of air defences to operate, etc, on the assumption that military and intel personnel thought that everything going on was part of the "exercise". I don't know of any serious 9/11 researcher who finds this a credible overall theory, given the fact that there is an abundance of evidence pointing beyond such a scenario, to official complicity and specific prior knowledge.

This has been discussed very thoroughly among researchers.

That aside, there is an interesting detail in the above article:

"The National Reconnaissance Office operates many of the nation's spy satellites. It draws its personnel from the military and the CIA.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, most of the 3,000 people who work at agency headquarters were sent home, save for some essential personnel, Haubold said."

Sent home... why?? Recently, I heard one alternative speculation about this which deserves some inquiry. Namely, that certain high-ranking NRO staff may have needed this time to eliminate or alter satellite surveillance of the Washington, DC area during the attacks. Note that it has been alleged for years that the US has 24 hour high resolution satellite monitoring of the capitol and surrounding regions, where critical government institutions are located. If so, there would then be a record of Flight 77's flight path and impact. Would there be something there to hide?

With the recent 9/11 Commission hearings on 9/11 air defences having stirred up debate, this is perhaps something to consider.

"Amalgam Virgo 01" NORAD exercise just prior to 911

Amalgam Virgo was a multiagency, bilateral air security exercise sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)

The one in this pdf report happened just prior to 9/11 in the summer of 2001. They didn't know about the attack? So they say.

NORAD-Sponsored Exercise Prepares For Worst-Case Scenarios This year's exercise is a commercial airliner-hijacking scenario -- planned before the Sept. 11 attacks, Snyder said. Last year's exercise, he said, was a scenario involving a cruise missile launched by "a rogue (government) or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast. -
more on Amalgam Virgo and other pre-911 war games (military, biowar, financial crash)

from AMALGAM VIRGO 01 military exercise, June 1 - 2, 2001 (unclassified report)

note the obvious implication of a potential terrorist attack against the US Capitol building in the graphic on the right side (most of the report is about the military response to a cruise missile launched by terrorists into the US - the picture of the Capitol building is the only photo of a potential "target" in the report, although there are graphics simulating an attack on Gulf of Mexico area target)

cover page of Amalgam Virgo report

page 34 of report

Contingency planning Pentagon MASCAL exercise simulates scenarios in preparing for emergencies
archive of article by Military District of Washington on emergency response planning for a plane hitting the Pentagon

A plane crash is simulated inside the cardboard courtyard of a surprisingly realistic-looking model Pentagon. This "tabletop" exercise was designed to help emergency relief personnel better prepare for disasters when they occur.

"Feature: The U.S. Government, Not the Hijackers, 'Chose' the Date of the 9-11 Attacks"

by Barbara Honegger

This is a curious article - it discusses the NRO / CIA "simulation" of the plane crash into the NRO headquarters and supposes that the "terrorists" learned of this exercise and then chose to time their attack when the US air defense system would think that it was merely a simulation, ensuring the real attack's success. It is just as likely that the "simulation" exercise was used by elements in the military / intelligence agencies to distract the air defense apparatus to ensure that the attack would actually succeed. This alternate interpretation is consistent with the theory that the Bush-Cheney administration (and the forces they represent) either saw the attacks coming and chose to let them happen, if not actually planned them.

In other words, the "exercise" could have been the means to confuse those "not in the know" for a critical few minutes in order to let the "American Reichstag Fire" happen. The "piggy back" theory (the hijackers took advantage of the "exercise") doesn't seem to explain the Air Force's curious lethargy during the half-hour between the Second Tower being struck and the Pentagon attack, or why the Pentagon just happened to be hit in the one place that was almost empty ... Andrews AFB is about ten miles from the Pentagon ...

Barbara Honegger gained her 15 minutes of fame in the late 1980s when she quit her post in the Reagan White House and wrote the book "October Surprise," which discussed the 1980 deal between George H.W. Bush and the Iranian revolutionary Islamic regime that was holding US diplomats hostage. Since then, a few other books have been written that talk about the deal, but few politicians have been willing to discuss the "original sin" of the Bush administration - the Reagan/Bush campaign's weapons deal with Ayatollah Khomeini to DELAY the release of the hostages until after the 1980 election to ensure Carter's defeat. In most countries, this would be called a coup d'etat.

book reviews of three books about October Surprise
Honegger, Barbara. October Surprise. New York: Tudor, 1989. 323 pages.

Parry, Robert. Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery. New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1993. 350 pages.

Sick, Gary. October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. New York: Times Books - Random House, 1991. 278 pages. 1980 October Surprise (Reagan/Bush deal with Iran to delay hostage release until after the 1980 Reagan-Carter election)

A web search on "Octopus" and "Danny Casolaro" will also add to this. "On October 19, 1980, Bush was dealing with Khomeini!"
several articles on the October Surprise

Subject: [911truthalliance] Vital Context for May 2001 plane-into-Pentagon emergency response exercise

Hi, Paul -- Fri. 3/28 1:30 p.m.

To place your below-attached ) 9-11 Timeline entry on the Pentagon's May 2001 emergency response exercise on what to do if the Pentagon were hit by a plane:

May 2001 (J): U.S. Medicine magazine later reports:

"Though the Department of Defense had no capability in place to protect the Pentagon from an ersatz guided missile in the form of a hijacked 757 airliner, DoD [Department of Defense] medical personnel trained for exactly that scenario in May (2001)." The tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic and the Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic train inside the Pentagon this month "to fine-tune their emergency preparedness." [US Medicine, Oct. 2001].

into vital context:

1) Pres. Bush publicly announced the appointment of Vice President Cheney to head a new interagency task force on counterterrorism preparedness and emergency response early that same month--on May 8, 2001 (TIME cover story, "The Secret History of 9-11"); and, therefore, in all probability (which is discoverable), the "May 2001" exercise in the below timeline entry was either the first or one of the first actions of that very Cheney counterterrorism response and preparedness Task Force. It is critical to the importance of this connection to note that, after 9-11, the White House felt compelled to lie and deny what on its face should be seen as a positive "we did the right thing and practiced protecting ourselves", and told TIME magazine that the Cheney counterterrorism response task force 'had never been activated' -- a completely noncredible claim given that a) the World Trade Center had already been attacked once on U.S. soil, in 1993; and b) that top Bush Administration officials had been urgently briefed and warned about the "#1 threat to the U.S." of Al Qaeda, bin Laden, etc. even before taking office in January; and c) that part of this now-known pre-inauguration briefing was almost surely the now-just-being-revealed fact (Judicial Watch lawsuit) that Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols met in the Philippines with first WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's (KSM's) nephew, and therefore that Yousef's and KSM's then-already-well-known massive "Bojinka" plot to bomb eleven U.S. airliners (or "use them as bombs") was surely briefed to incoming NSC adviser Rice, Bush, Cheney, etc.

2) The Washington Post reported, in a page 1 story shortly after 9-11, that a Pentagon medic was reading a new Pentagon emergency response manual for what to do in case the building was struck by a civilian airliner just before the Pentagon plane struck the bldg.;

3) The second emergency response exercise to a plane-into-building scenario was on the morning of 9-11 itself, at (at least) the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) headed by a top CIA officer.

4) the main pilot of the 9-11 Pentagon plane, former Navy and then Navy Reservist pilot Charles Burlingame, had recently, in a Reserve assignment at the Pentagon, been part of a Task Force that drafted the Pentagon's emergency response plan on what to do in case a plane hit the building -- which his own plane then did. It is therefore very possible -- in fact extremely likely, if not certain -- that this 'task force' that Flight 77 pilot "Chick" Burlingame was part of was the Cheney counterterrorism preparedness task force, and that the Pentagon plane pilot, therefore, directly knew and even worked with/for Cheney. and

5) Burlingame's 9-11 Pentagon plane not only hit the Pentagon that morning, it struck a Command and Control center for that morning's counterterrorism 'game' exercise, killing most, if not all, of the 'players'. We know this because Army personnel from Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey were on special duty assignment at the Pentagon that morning for an emergency response exercise and were killed when Burlingame's plane hit. Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey also happens to be the headquarters for White House/Presidential communications, including therefore probably also for Air Force One (this is discoverable) -- and recall the warning "Air Force One is next" and the 'secret code' which was called into the White House that morning which WH press secretary Ari Fleischer revealed as a means of explaining why Pres. Bush left Florida for a military base and did not return to the White House. This 'warning' was probably called into the White House, if true, by either the Ft. Monmouth White House communications headquarters and/or the Ft. Monmouth counterterrorism exercise 'game' players temporarily at the Pentagon that morning.

This nexus is completely and totally beyond coincidence, and is the real reason that all facts that could reveal the context in which it can be easily understood by the public are being ruthlessly classified/hidden, as well as the real reason the White House is trying to stifle/kill the Kean/Hamilton 9-11 Commission by delaying release of the classified House/Senate 9-11 Inquiry report, delay/reduce requested funding, etc.


On 9/11, CIA Was Running Simulation of a Plane Crashing into a Building

Was the NRO drill just a coincidence?

Agency planned exercise on Sept. 11built around a plane crashing into a building

JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer Wednesday, August 21, 2002

(08-21) 15:08 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings. But the cause wasn't terrorism -- it was to be a simulated accident. ....