Marc Ash: September 11th, Truthout.Org Report
September 11th, Our Report
By Marc Ash
t r u t h o u t | Executive Director
Monday 11 September 2006
This report is dedicated to those lost.
In this report, we will attempt to clarify to the best of our ability what brought about the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
We will proceed on the premise that persons of Islamic faith and militant resistance to American and Western influence in Islamic countries did carry out the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
To understand the attacks of September 11th, it is important to maintain some historical perspective. The militant Islamic resistance that Western countries are now confronted with has its origins in the Crusades of the Middle Ages. While the Crusades may no longer be important to most Westerners, they are to Muslims. The invaders were called Infidels then, and they still are today.
In Islamic countries, Infidels are not hated for their beliefs but rather for their actions. Western influence over the affairs of Islamic countries over the centuries has been profound, and especially so over the past hundred years. The Middle east, referred to by the West as the Crossroads of the World, has been militarily dominated, economically exploited, and culturally ravaged by the West.
One of the most effective methods for maintaining control of local interests for the purpose of American corporate profit has been using US military might to establish surrogate "sovereign" regimes. Often referred to as "puppet governments," these ruling factions are often repressive, dictatorial and corrupt. The Shah of Iran, the Kuwaiti Royal Family and, yes, Saddam Hussein's Baathists are but a few such examples of governments installed and supported by the US.
There is organized resistance to Western colonial influence in these countries. That resistance has taken on many forms and employed many methods over the years. The most high-profile and most violent organization to emerge over the past quarter century has been al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden. Ironically, bin Laden too was at one time trained and supported by the US. Al-Qaeda is only one of many organizations that foment militant resistance to Western colonialism in Islamic countries. Sometimes those various organizations cooperate, and sometimes they do not.
The attacks of September 11th, 2001, were by no means an isolated occurrence. They were part of a continuing string of attacks orchestrated by bin Laden's network. It should be noted that al-Qaeda appears to be only a part of a larger, continually evolving network of militant resistance cells. The unifying thread appears to be the leaders, rather than the specific organizations themselves.
Clearly, what set the September 11th attacks apart from other attacks attributed to bin Laden's network was the scale. We find the sheer number of hijackers and planes to be key to understanding where our system failed in preventing the attacks. There were 19 hijackers directly involved and four intercontinental aircraft. It was a big operation, not, as some have suggested, a needle in a haystack.
We find that the scale of the 9/11 operation made it visible during its staging. Indeed many of those who would pilot the hijacked aircraft obtained training to do so at accredited US aviation training facilities. Further, their activities did attract the attention of federal authorities, and high priority reports were filed by federal agents alerting their superiors to the danger.
We find the time that elapsed during actual attacks to be very significant. The total time the hijacked planes were known to be in the possession of the hijackers was nearly two hours. That raises the issue of the role played by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). We find that the NORAD system is indeed designed to address, and is quite capable of addressing, this type of attack. We find, further, that no plausible reason has been stated by NORAD officials as to why that system, designed and fully prepared to address such an attack, did not.
We find the greatest single cause of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, to be US and Western domination of the best interests of Islamic nations. We find such intervention, often carried out in recent years by the US military under the umbrella of US National Security, is clearly a detriment to that security. We find that it is the interests of large corporations - particularly those related to the energy and arms industries - that have become the priority for US military planners. We find that such militarily-backed intervention spawned a militant and determined resistance that was responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001. We find that such resistance will grow in response to continued US military intervention in the sovereign affairs of these nations. We recommend that the US public demand the US military be used solely for the national defense.
We find that the US airport security screening process is, for the most part, poor. We further find that private security interests tend to make profits their number one priority rather than public safety. Proponents of privatization have done a profound disservice to public safety by advocating profit-driven solutions rather than public-controlled solutions that would be more directly accountable to public oversight. We find that the public does itself a disservice by not demanding better.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command failed to do its job on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Why is still not clear. To date, no reasonable accounting of why NORAD simply did not do what it was clearly designed and well equipped to do has been forth coming. We recommend that the public redouble its efforts to investigate NORAD's still unexplained absence on the morning of September 11th, 2001.
The American People
We find the US citizen to be at fault for not being aware of the actions of the government that represents them. While any departure from the public trust by a public entity should be regarded as an indictment of that entity, the ultimate responsibility for overseeing the public trust falls upon the citizens themselves. We find average Americans dangerously disengaged from the activities of their government. We find that greater involvement by US citizens in the day-to-day administration of governmental activities would do more to insure the wellbeing of public interests than any other factor. We recommend an immediate increase in the involvement by US citizens in the administration of all levels of government - local, state and federal.
The Bush Administration
As part of its charter, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission) was prohibited from pursuing a critical examination of the Bush administration's role. We have no such restrictions and, as the Bush administration was the supreme controlling American authority, we have reviewed their actions.
We find that an examination of the creation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States provides powerful insight into the role played by the Bush administration before and after the attacks of September 11th.
We find that the Bush administration used the power of the executive branch for months after the attacks of 9/11 to block the creation of any official investigation into the action of the US government. Further, such resistance by the Bush administration to an official investigation continued in the face of repeated demands by the families of the victims of the attacks. It was, in fact, that very pressure from the victims' families that forced the Bush administration to reverse their position and negotiate the creation of investigative body. However, during those negotiations, the Bush administration refused - again - to cooperate, until two demands were met: The 9/11 Commission must agree not to investigate the executive branch, and the Bush administration itself must be allowed to appoint - without review - the chairman of the commission.
Clearly the Bush administration used, from the start, the power it had negotiated to protect its own interests. The appointment of former Nixon secretary of state Henry Kissinger as 9/11C chairman drew immediate fire from critics, who charged that Kissinger would be more likely to obscure the truth than reveal it. Kissinger resigned less than two weeks later, after refusing to reveal the names of corporations whose interests he represented. The subsequent appointment of former New Jersey Republican governor Thomas Kean was less controversial but ultimately subject to the final authority, the Bush administration.
We find that the objectivity and impartiality of the 9/11C must have been compromised by being under the direct control of the Bush administration. Further, such direct control of the 9/11C by Bush administration officials renders the conclusions of the actions of the Bush administration before, during, and after the attacks of 9/11 by the 9/11C fatally discredited. In short: We find that there has been no meaningful independent official investigation of the actions of the Bush administration's actions before, during, and after the attacks of 9/11.
We find that many high-ranking Bush administration officials hold personal financial interests in the Middle East region. We find that the attacks and resulting military campaigns did significantly enrich - personally - many high-ranking Bush administration officials. Those officials include, but are not limited to: George W. Bush, through his family's oil and energy holdings in the region and their interest in the international arms trade through the Carlyle group; and Richard Cheney, through an ongoing relationship with the Halliburton Corporation and its subsidiaries. In addition, Condoleezza Rice's free movement back and forth between the job of National Security Adviser to Chevron director and back to National Security Adviser again creates a conflict of interest.
Above all else, the most important thing to the families of the victims of September 11th, 2001, to the communities most directly affected by the disaster, to the American people, who are still paying the price and will be for a long time to come, and to the world is a meaningful, transparent investigation.
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States was an inherently political function; as such it failed. The "9/11 Commission" could not or would not pursue avenues of investigation that would bring to account the executive branch of the US federal government, in fact was prohibited from doing so in its charter.
We call for the naming of a Special Counsel. As an extension of the Department of Justice's investigation of the attacks of September 11th, an independent counsel must be named. That Special Counsel must be free of political influence. Since the Bush administration as the executive branch must necessarily be examined, no Bush administration-appointed official, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, should be involved in the selection of the Special Counsel or oversight of the Special Counsel's work.