9/11: the unanswered questions By William Bowles

11 July 2003

So the real reason for the invasion of Iraq was 9/11, at least that’s what Donald Rumsfeld, US secretary of defence is now telling us, as the mythological WMDs fade into the background. And will this now be the basis for the next round of ‘revelations’ based on Saddam’s connections to Al-Qu’eda? Wait for it, I’m sure it won’t be long in coming.

But if this line is pursued, it could prove to be even more damaging than the WMD fiasco as there is even less evidence to support any kind of connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qu’eda. If anything, the opposite holds true. But I imagine that the argument will go something like this:

Saddam supported Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based anti-Israeli organisation and Hezbollah his also supported by the Iranians who also support Al-Qu’eda and as Hezbollah has been labelled as an international terrorist organisation by the US, then…well you get the picture. It will be guilt by association via a tortuous process of assumed connections between Hezbollah, Al-Qu’eda, the Iranian fundamentalists, and other assorted ‘Islamic extremist’ organisations, Islamic Jehad et al. Given that the groundwork for this has already been done through a concerted disinformation campaign over the past two years that has systematically created the illusion of a vast international network of ‘terrorists’ bent on the overthrow of the ‘US way of life’, persuading the US public should be a pushover. But will it? The Achilles heel of the Al-Qu’eda connection promises to be 9/11 itself.

Blair, get your story straight
The other damaging realisation is that the WMD fiasco is revealing the fundamental difference between the US and the UK position over the reasons for the invasion. Blair’s rationale has always been largely based on the ‘imminent threat’ posed by Saddam’s regime to ‘world peace and Britain’s security interests’ through his possession of WMDs that, we were told, he’d have no hesitation in using because he’d used them before.

In contrast, the US position has always been fundamentally a strategic one, based firmly on US interests:

‘Prevent the rise of Iraq as a dominant and hostile power in the Persian Gulf region, while not allowing its elimination to become an opportunity for domination by a hostile Iran;

Protect Iraq’s energy infrastructure against internal sabotage or foreign attack to return Iraq to global energy markets and ensure that U.S. and world energy markets have access to its resources.’ http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1589.cfmSo what’s it to be? How will Blair square the UK government’s position with that of the US? This is a critical issue for us as it forms the basis for a concerted campaign that needs to be waged firstly, here in the UK and secondly in the US, where according to the surveys that have been conducted, most people believe that Saddam was part of the 9/11 attacks, in spite of the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence supporting the assertion.

9/11: What did they know and when did they know it?
Even more damaging to the US position that attempts to connect Saddam to 9/11 is the increasing demand for full public disclosure of what the US government knew about the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and when they knew it.

‘Why did the United States Air Force fail to scramble interceptor jets — in defiance of all long-standing rules and well-established practice — for almost two hours after it was known that an unprecedented four planes had been hijacked?

How could the world’s most powerful military fail to react throughout a prolonged, horrifying attack on the financial and political capitals of the nation?

How did the FBI know the exact identities of the hijackers within 24 hours of the attacks? If their files were so readily to hand, why hadn’t they been apprehended earlier? After all, several conscientious FBI agents had raised the alarm about a number of known Al Qaeda sympathizers at U.S. flight schools, and had been ignored.

Why did Donald Rumsfeld call for a war on Iraq (not Afghanistan) the morning after the Saudi hijackers had accomplished their attack?

Why did the two squadrons of fighter jets at Andrews Air Force base, 19 kilometres from Washington, not zoom into action to defend the White House, one of their primary tasks?

Why did George Bush sit for half an hour in a Florida classroom, listening to a girl talk about her pet goat, after his chief of staff told him about the second plane? For that matter, why did he pretend that he first learned of the attacks in that classroom, when he had actually been briefed as he left his hotel that morning?

Why has there been no public investigation into the billions of dollars ‘earned’ by insider trading of United and American Airlines stock before 9/11?’ http://dc.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=69184&group=webcast

So far, there have been no credible answers to any of these questions from the US government and many more that need to asked about US involvement with the bin Laden family, Saudi Arabia’s connections to Rumsfeld, Cheney, Carlucci, James Baker II via their involvement with the Carlyle Group and its connections to the Bush family.

Is it too incredible to believe that the US government knew about the attacks in advance and chose to turn a blind eye to them, in order to create a situation conducive to advancing its strategic objectives in both Afghanistan and Iraq? If the way the 9/11 investigations have been (mis)handled are any indication, then it’s clear the US government has a lot to hide and with good reason. Exposure of US complicity in 9/11 would be absolutely catastrophic not only for the Bush administration but also for the Blairg overnment and the entire ‘war against terror’ campaign.

Of course, the usual deriding of ‘conspiricists’ will be rolled out by the media and the government, this is to be expected. However, it’s not just the ‘usual suspects’ who are casting a suspicious eye over the Bush administration’s involvement in the run-up to 9/11. Leading figures in the US government, not happy with so many unanswered questions are pushing for a fuller disclosure of what the Bush administration knew and when they knew it.

According to a story in the Miami Herald(10/07/03) about the long-awaited report on the 9/11 attacks:

‘Former Rep. Tim Roemer, who served on the House Intelligence Committee and who has read the report, said it will be ”highly explosive” when it becomes public.’

Chief amongst the allegations contained in the report are:

‘More information on ties between the Saudi royal family, government officials and terrorists. The FBI may have mishandled an investigation into how two of the Sept. 11 hijackers received aid from Saudi groups and individuals.

A coherent narrative of intelligence warnings, some of them ignored or not shared with other agencies, before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a “spectacular attack.”

The final report was completed in December. Since then a working group of Bush administration intelligence officials has ”scrubbed” the report, objecting to additional public disclosures.’But perhaps the most damning evidence of US government complicity in the 9/11 attacks resides in How and Why America was Attacked, September 11th, 2001 by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed which I have referred to in previous articles. Below are the major elements of Ahmed’s argument for US government involvement in the September 11 attacks:

  • ‘How could our intelligence services fail to thwart such an ambitious project as 9/11?
  • Why did our government immediately point the finger at Bin Laden, yet refuse to release the evidence? Were they loath to reveal their complicity, if they had been monitoring the ‘Boeing Bombing’ plot all along, and let it happen?
  • Why did the White House ram through legal measures immediately after the attacks that essentially repeal the Bill of Rights and the Freedom of Information Act?
  • An investment from the bin Laden family started George Bush Jr. in business, and the war in Afghanistan will make the Bush family richer.
  • The activities of a former U.S. Army Sergeant who trained Al-Qaeda and participated in the Embassy bombings suggest that the U.S. continues to protect bin Laden as a strategic asset.
  • Members of Al-Qaeda were trained in terrorism by the CIA in the USA, and the hijackers themselves were trained by the U.S. military.
  • The U.S. financially supported the Pakistani secret services, which funded presumed hijacker Mohammed Atta.
  • A crescendo of warnings from intelligence services around the world in early September were selectively ignored, while high-level orders were issued to block investigations of suspected terrorists linked to Bin Laden.
  • Three FBI officers testified that they had known the names of the hijackers and the date of the planned attack weeks before it happened, but were muzzled by superiors under threat of prosecution; their counsel was the U.S. Congress’ chief prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment case.
  • Standard operating procedure is for Air Force fighters to intercept hijacked planes immediately, but this was not done until it was all over on September 11, an hour and a half after the World Trade Center was hit.’

The Carlyle connection
The Carlyle Group, a private equity corporation with an estimated value of between $12-16 billion and investments in 164 companies worldwide stood to benefit both from the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention its close financial connections to the House of Saud and the bin Laden family business interests in the Carlyle group. It also benefits from the increase in the US arms buildup through contracts it has won for the ‘reconstruction’ of Iraq and major weapons projects for the US army. It’s the nation’s 11th largest defence contractor.

At the very least, there are serious conflicts of interest involved, not the least of which are the Bush family’s financial involvement in the Carlyle Group:

”Carlyle is as deeply wired into the current administration as they can possibly be,’ said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit public interest group based in Washington. ‘George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration’s decisions, through his father’s investments. The average American doesn’t know that and, to me, that’s a jaw-dropper.” http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0305-03.htm

”It’s the first time the president of the United States’ father is on the payroll of one of the largest U.S. defense contractors,’ said Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Policy and one of Carlyle’s most ardent critics.

‘Between Baker and Carlucci, not to mention dear old dad, the relationship of the president with this particular company is as tight and close as, well, anyone can imagine.” http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.11F.Arms.Carlyle.htm

But perhaps the most disturbing issue is the way in which Carlyle benefited from 9/11 through, in part, its ownership of United Defense Industries, a company that prior to 9/11 was up for sale by Carlyle:

‘First came the Bush administration’s proposed 2002 defense budget. The document landed in Congress in June 2001, and it included an 11% hike in defense spending, including full funding for the Crusader b.

Bolstered by the good news and the prospects for the company, Carlyle took its first dividends from United Defense on Aug. 13: $289.7 million.

Twenty-nine days later, the two hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers, while another hit the Pentagon.

President Bush declared war on terrorism, defense industry stocks were suddenly hot and, just five weeks later, Carlyle was ready to take United Defense Industries public.

On Oct. 22, United Defense filed its stock-offering prospectus with the SEC.

‘The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have generated strong Congressional support for increased defense spending,’ the prospectus declared. ‘We believe that domestic and international defense spending will grow over the next several years as a result of an increased focus on national security by the U.S. government and its allies.’

A month later, Carlyle took $92 million more in dividends out of United Defense.” http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.11F.Arms.Carlyle.htm

‘Bin Laden Family Could Profit From a Jump In Defense Spending Due to Ties to U.S. Bank’, by Daniel Golden, James Bandler, and Marcus Walker, The Wall Street Journal, 9/28/01After the WSJ story, Judicial Watch spokesman Larry Klayman posted a release upping the ante. He was again ignored by the mainstream when he said, ‘This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the President’s father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible. President Bush should not ask, but demand, that his father pull out of the Carlyle Group.’

And in another story which surfaced in the Portugese press (The News, Portugal’s English language Weekly, 4 April 2003) but died everywhere else, the Bush/Carlyle/bin-Laden/Harken connections makes embarrassing reading:

‘It [Carlyle] also holds a majority of shares in the Seven Up company and Federal Data Corporation, supplier of air traffic control surveillance systems to the US Federal Aviation Authority. The 12 billion dollar company has recently signed contracts with United Defence Industries to equip the Turkish and Saudi Arabian armies with aviation defence systems.

Top of the meeting’s agenda [in Lisbon] is expected to be the company’s involvement in the rebuilding of Baghdad’s infrastructure after the cessation of current hostilities. Along with several other US companies, the Carlyle Group is expected to be awarded a billion dollar contract by the US Government to help in the redevelopment of airfields and urban areas destroyed by Coalition aerial bombardments.

The financial assets of the Saudi Bin laden Corporation (SBC) are also managed by the Carlyle Group. The SBC is headed up by members of Osama bin Laden’s family, who played a principle role in helping George W. Bush win petroleum concessions from Bahrain when he was head of the Texan oil company, Harken Energy Corporation – a deal that was to make the Bush family millions of dollars. Salem, Osama bin Laden’s brother, was represented on Harken’s board of directors by his American agent, James R. Bath.

The connection between the Bush and bin Laden families can also be traced to the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in the 1990s. Members of the Anglo Pakistani bank’s board of directors included Richard Helms and William Casey, business partners of George Bush senior and former CIA agents. During their time at BCCI both Helms and Casey worked alongside fellow director, Adnan Khasshoggi, who also represented the bin Laden family’s interests in the US.

The Portugal News has been told by a reliable source that the Carlyle Group meeting in Lisbon will discuss the relationship between the Saudi Bin laden Corporation (SBC) and Osama bin Laden. Many US officials claim that the SBC continues to finance his political activities, and has done so for many years. If true, this would place George Bush senior and his colleagues at the Carlyle Group in an embarrassing position. As managers of SBC’s financial investments they might well be accused of indirectly aiding and abetting the United States’ number one enemy.’ http://globalresearch.ca/articles/NEW304A.htmlCarlyle is strategically positioned right at the heart of US government policy to extract the maximum capital from the shape and direction of policy:

‘For 14 years now, with almost no publicity, the company has been signing up an impressive list of former politicians – including the first President Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker; John Major; one-time World Bank treasurer Afsaneh Masheyekhi and several south-east Asian power brokers – and using their contacts and influence to promote the group. Among the companies Carlyle owns are those which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military, and its celebrity employees have long served an ingenious dual purpose, helping encourage investments from the very wealthy while also smoothing the path for Carlyle’s defense firms.’ http://www.hereinreality.com/carlyle.com

THE CARLYLE GROUP: An ex-presidents’ club runs the world’s largest private firm that profits selling weapons to all sides! [Guardian] ANYONE NOTICE ANYTHING IMPROPER HERE? Carlyle profits from ‘War on Terrrorism’ and Missile Defense Systems and Oil ‘…since the start of the ‘war on terrorism’, the firm – unofficially valued at 3.5 billion (British pounds)- has taken on an added significance. Carlyle has become the thread which indirectly links American military policy in Afghanistan to the personal financial fortunes of its celebrity employees, not least the current president’s father. And, until earlier this month, Carlyle provided another curious link to the Afghan crisis: among the firm’s multi-million-dollar investors were members of the family of Osama bin Laden.’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/wtccrash/story/0,1300,583869,00.html

Crony Capitalism Goes Global [The Nation, by Tim Shorrock, 03/15/02] Right wing politicians using influence to influence, and then they profit from weapons sales and war:

‘…By hiring enough former officials to fill a permanent shadow cabinet, Carlyle has brought political influence to a new level and created a twenty-first-century version of capitalism that blurs any line between politics and business. In a sense, Carlyle may be the ultimate in privatization: the use of a private company to nurture public policy–and then reap its benefits in the form of profit. Although the fund claims to operate like any other investment bank, it’s undeniable that its stable of statesmen-entrepreneurs have the ability to tap into networks in government and commerce, both at home and abroad, for advance intelligence about companies about to be sold and spun off, or government budgets and policies about to be implemented, and then transform that knowledge into investment strategies that dovetail nicely with US military foreign and domestic policy. ‘ –  http://www.thenation.com/doc.html?i=20020401&s=shorrock

CalPERS, Carlyle profit from Afghan war [SF Chronicle, David Lazarus, 02/04/02]: ‘Critics of the Carlyle Group have grown increasingly vocal in recent weeks, particularly over the perception that a private organization with unmistakable links to the White House is benefiting from America’s military action in Afghanistan.’ – http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/12/02/BU172807.DTL

Incompetence or complicity?
Of course, it’s one thing to accuse the Bush administration of crass incompetence and another to accuse it of actual complicity through a process of ‘benign neglect’ but either way, it casts an entirely different light on the subsequent events, and the rationale for the attack and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq collapses like a house of cards. After all, why did the US government ignore all the warnings of an impending attack? Why did it obstruct subsequent investigations? What did it have to have to hide? Until these questions are answered, a cloud, even larger than the one that hung over the World Trade Center, hangs over the all the events that have transpired since.

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