Sunday, September 12, 2004

9/11 Plus Three

by Mark Dunlea

(Mark Dunlea is the author of Madame President: The Unauthorized Biography of the First Green President, which imagines what would have happened if a Green was president on 9/11.

I drove to New York City for a friend's wedding the Saturday after September 11.

I stared in disbelief at the smoke rising from the ashes of the World Trade Center as I crossed the George Washington bridge.

I am still haunted by the images of people hurtling to their deaths, flying down the outside of the Tower to escape some worse fate inside. From watching the towers slowly ride their way into the ground over and over again, killing at that point an unknown thousands of individuals.

I was struck by how normal things seemed that Saturday just a few miles north of Ground Zero, as people rollerbladed and carried their NY Times past the makeshift memorials in front of loved one's apartments. It is amazing how some people were able to so quickly recover, to move on with their lives.

To follow President Bush's suggestion that we go shopping at the malls while he took care of things.

I was not one of them.

The daily pain has receded after three years. The anger has not.

Much of my anger comes from the manipulation of 9/11 by politicians and the media while both groups refuse to seek the truth to 9/11.

I am mad that 9/11 became an excuse to unleash American military forces in pursuit of a global American empire in support of corporate globalization, rather than as an opportunity to strengthen the rule of international law and promote a different vision of the world, one dedicated to peace and justice.

I am mad that the dark forces within the Bush administration used 9/11 to increase their power while the Democrats stood and cheered.

I am mad that so little effort has been made to hold accountable those who helped kill so many innocent people on 9/11.

A poll released by Zogby International last week found that half of New York City resident - and more than 40% statewide - believed that the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 terrorist threats beforehand but failed to take action to prevent it.

The real question is not whether the Bush administration allowed 9/11 to happen, but why? Was it criminal negligence? Stupidity?

We know that the neoconservatives in the national security team around Cheney and Rumsfeld were looking for another Pearl Harbor to provide an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Did they seriously underestimate how much damage a terrorist attack in America by al-Qaida could accomplish?

I understand why President Bush has done every thing he can to prevent a true, independent, nonpartisan investigation into 9/11. He only agreed to the bipartisan cursory examination of 9/11 because of the relentless moral pressure from the family members of the victims. Even then he had the gall to appoint Henry Kissinger as the Chair of the Commission. Kissinger had presided over America's own 9/11 terrorist attack, the killing of Presidential Allende and his government thirty years previously.

I guess that the Democrats think it is more important to preserve the foreign policy apparatus than to force Bush to come clean on 9/11. It seems that their foreign policy disagreements with Bush isn't over creating a global America empire, it has to do with how to consult Europe and Japan. The commissioners that finally were chosen were all career members of the foreign policy establishment who fulfilled their mission of avoiding the tough questions

One question that the Commission in their final report said was unimportant was who actually paid for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their rationale was that since al Qaida is so well funded - largely from the wealth of Saudi Arabia's ruling clan - it made little difference who actually paid the bill for 9/11. I thought about this as I watched Governor Pataki hold a press conference to condemn two Albany Muslims as "terrorists" - for allegedly participating in a money laundering scheme initiated by the FBI. I wondered why Pataki and the media weren't asking about the money laundering scheme for 9/11? For instance, why did the Pakistani Intelligence Service wire $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the "lead" hijacker? Why create fake terrorist schemes when we know so little about the real one? Where is the 9/11 hijackers support network?

A recent AP story said that Pataki often does three media events a week highlighting 9/11. Why has he never demanded to know who killed 3,000 people in NYC three years ago? He loves to attack local prosecutors when they decline to pursue the death penalty. Why doesn't he attack the failure of the Manhattan District Attorney to prosecute the 9/11 case? Why hasn't he put together a New York State committee to investigate 9/11?

Some hope that the courts will finally help uncover the truth about 9/11. Last week, the financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald who lost more than 300 employees in the World Trade Center murders sued the Saudi Arabia government for billions for their role in 9/11. At least one other such lawsuit has been filed by other family members. But can they find judges that will be willing to stand up to Bush and Congress?

The other big mystery of 9/11 is why does the American media not pursue the truth? The media banged the drums for war loudly on 9/11 and the following days. Perhaps they felt it was their patriotic duty but it was chilling to witness. The American media has repeatedly refused to pursue obvious lines of questioning about 9/11. There are a few exceptions of course - most notably Amy Goodman and Jim Ridgeway. The easiest answer is the increasing corporate ownership of the media, starting with companies that are part of the military-industrial complex, like GE and Westinghouse which own two of the major national networks. But I sense the answer goes deeper. Perhaps they are afraid of the answers - or what the pursuit of the truth will do to their careers. The treatment of late night talk show host Bill Maher after his 9/11 comments sent a strong warning.

The Bush administration was recently forced to rewrite their annual report to admit that terrorism has increased in the world, not decreased. And it is clear that Bush diverted forces from pursuing al Qaeda and other terrorists in order to invade Iraq to increase American control of the world's dwindling oil supplies.

The war on terrorism has been a disaster. And the dangers of such a war is shown in the recent horrific murders of hundreds of children, teachers and parents in Russia. These murders and callous disregard of life were the unfortunate but easily foreseen byproduct of a decade of Russian bombing into obliteration of their opponents in Chechnya. Russia and Chechnya are our future under Bush. Ruthless behavior only prompts one's opponent to more war and violence, as the ties to civilized behavior are destroyed on all sides.

It is not too late for America to follow a different response to 9/11. The American people can still demand that their leaders use 9/11 as opportunity to create a world based on our best values, not our worse ones - greed, fear and lying.

The first step is to demand the truth about 9/11.


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