Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


UQ Wire: The Perfect Alibi (Part I)

Distribution via the Unanswered Questions Wire
Sign up for the wire at:
Unanswered Questions : Thinking for ourselves.

The View from Benedict

The Perfect Alibi (Part I)
... and why the administration isn't using it.


See also... UQ Wire: The Perfect Alibi (Part II)

Anyone keeping track knows that the administration has taken a hammering by the new Richard Clarke book, the 9/11 hearings, and Condi's refusal to testify under oath at those. With reluctance, they have finally given in regarding Condi's testimony, and in an almost laughable "compromise", Bush and Cheney will appear together -- in private and not under oath -- before commission members on some undisclosed date in the near future. Condi is obviously going to need some help, and to that end, the administration has trotted out what they hope will be the perfect alibi for the whole mess: National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-9. From Reuters(UK) comes the story:

The White House, feeling the heat over charges that President George W. Bush failed to make terrorism an urgent priority before September 11, has released documents showing that one week before the 2001 attacks he ordered plans for military action against al Qaeda.

Portions of a September 4, 2001, national security presidential directive were released as plans were set for national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly on April 8 before the September 11, 2001, commission."

...The September 4 presidential directive called on Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to plan for military options 'against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air Defence, ground forces, and logistics.'

It also called for plans against al Qaeda and 'associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control-communications, training, and logistics facilities.'

Now, you can't get this from Reuters anymore because they've pulled it (as has Wired News -- if you look elsewhere in the U.S. media, you'll find a sentence or two buried deep within articles focusing on other related topics), but newspapers in the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and elsewhere have headlined it. This is quite curious, because this is really is an extraordinary story: The administration had actually called for a war against Afghanistan before September 11th, which of course takes away from September 11th as a reason for that war. And to think that they called me crazy nine months ago when I first reported this. Now even the administration is admitting this.

To read the various U.S. stories that actually report this is to become very confused. There are differences between them that are often totally at odds with each other. One might think that the writers were actually reporting from different planets, or if one were cynical, one might think that the administration simply hasn't fully flushed out how they want to spin this story. One sparsely-reported point, for example: The official date on NSPD-9 is September 4th, a full seven days before 9-11. This however is the date that NSPD-9 was first placed on the President's desk for his signature, but it was revised several times before the President actually signed it on September 17th. A more curious but entirely unreported point: If the document was not in final form on 9-11, why is attacking the Taliban mentioned first and attacking al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9-11, mentioned only second? Oh, to see those earlier pre-9-11 drafts, but of course, that will never happen.

For it's part, the rationale of the administration is obvious. With a date of September 4th on this document, the administration gets to say, "See? Richard Clarke was wrong. We were working on terrorism before 9-11!" Well, this document comes close but doesn't actually say that. What it does is say that the administration was working on a war with Afghanistan before 9-11, and the administration is hoping that everyone will simply assume that these are one and the same. If people do, then NSPD-9 is the "perfect alibi", ... except that it isn't.

NSPD-9 is first mentioned in conjunction with the 9-11 commission by Donald Rumsfeld in his prepared remarks before that commission. It is again mentioned by Richard Clarke during his Meet The Press interview, with Clarke then calling for its declassification, clearly feeling that this would vindicate his claims that the administration was slow to move on terrorism. Indeed, while NSPD-9 was clearly worked on well before it reached the President's desk, NSPD-5 (Review of U.S. Intelligence - still classified) suggests that the administration only started to seriously consider terrorism intelligence in May of 2001, four months after it took office. NSPD-5 called for the creation of two panels to study U.S. intelligence capabilities, but it is unclear what if anything these two panels ever did or if they were even assembled. They may very well have been, but the administration's recent appointment of a new commission to do the exact same thing (second article) suggests otherwise.

All of this suggests of course that NSPD-9 is anything but the "perfect alibi". For the administration, if it works, fine, but in declassifying a portion of this directive, the administration is showing how very desperate Clarke's revelations have made it. This is a high risk strategy, and could well backfire before a press willing to look more closely (connect the dots), something they have obviously not yet done.

The problem begins of course with Dick Cheney's extraordinary suggestion (there is a reason this man tries to stay out of the spotlight) that Richard Clarke was "out of the loop". As Josh Marshall pf correctly points out here, if Clarke was given the terrorism oversight job by NSC chief Condoleezza Rice, how could he possibly have been out of the loop? Yet, as Clarke has said, not much was going on within the administration regarding terrorism for a good bit of time, at least to his tastes. Could both of these men be telling the truth? In fact, yes, but only if Cheney is not talking about the "loop" that Clarke is.

Up until shortly after 9-11, Richard Clarke was the administration's "go to" man on terrorism. If it was about terrorism, Richard Clarke was involved. After 9-11, he states that he learned within days that Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were clearly planning to use 9-11 as an excuse to attack Iraq. Indeed, a Vanity Fair article out this week details a meeting between George Bush and Tony Blair just 9 days after 9/11, during which Bush tells Blair that Iraq is next after Afghanistan and Blair essentially agrees. Clarke himself wants nothing to do with this, and so a reassignment (satisfactory to him) takes place. The important thing to note however is that until this point, Clarke is the terrorism czar for the administration.

It is in his role as terrorist czar that Clarke brought forward with him from the Clinton administration some sort of plan for getting to Osama bin Laden that clearly involves the use of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. While the specific level of detail to which this plan had been developed at that time has not been disclosed, Clarke's comments regarding it clearly suggest that it was well beyond the conceptual stage. It is a plan that is soon presented in some fashion to members of the new Bush administration, but within weeks (February 13th) of the inauguration, NSPD-1 (not classified) is issued. NSPD-1 does a number of things, but two are critical. First, NSPD-1 eliminates inter-agency (intelligence) work groups, forcing all intelligence sharing between the various agencies (FBI, CIA, DIA, etc.) through the administration's senior staff. Second, it forces Richard Clarke to the second tier. Richard Clarke is now "out of the loop", and he will not get back into the loop until NSPD-9. These two things will prove to be fatal on 9-11.

UQ Wire: The Perfect Alibi (Part II)

**** THIS PART ENDS ****

STANDARD DISCLAIMER FROM UQ.ORG: does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the above article. We present this in the interests of research -for the relevant information we believe it contains. We hope that the reader finds in it inspiration to work with us further, in helping to build bridges between our various investigative communities, towards a greater, common understanding of the unanswered questions which now lie before us.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news