Tag: 9/11

Dec 14

Ignoring Our Risk

Remind me how many people died the last time a president ignored the presidential daily briefing. Donald Trump Is Gonna Get Us Killed by Michael Moore A week has gone by since Donald Trump admitted he’s only been to “two or three” of his daily presidential national security briefings. There have been 36 of them …

Continue reading

Mar 26

Osama bin Laden’s Son-in-Law Convicted of Terrorism In NYC

In a Federal court in New York City, the son in law of Osama bin Laden was convicted on Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the most senior advisers to bin Laden, was captured in Aman, Jordan last year after leaving Turkey on his way back to his home in Yemen. Mr Abu Ghaith’s trial was one of the first prosecutions of senior al-Qaeda leaders on US soil.

Since 9/11, 67 foreign terror suspects have been convicted in US federal courts, according to data obtained by the group Human Rights First.

Mr. Abu Ghaith, a 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born cleric known for his fiery oratory, had recorded impassioned speeches for Bin Laden after Sept. 11, in which he praised the attacks and promised that future attacks would be carried out.

His conviction on all three counts – and the lightning speed from his arrest to verdict – would seem to serve as a rejoinder to critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to try suspected terrorists in civilian court, rather than before a military tribunal. [..]

The jury returned its verdict on its second day of deliberations in the trial, which had entered its third week in United States District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Abu Ghaith was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans, for which he could face life in prison; and providing material support to terrorists, as well as conspiring to do so, counts that each carry maximum terms of 15 years.

Mr. Abu Ghaith was asked to rise as the judge’s deputy clerk, Andrew Mohan, read the verdict aloud, and the defendant appeared impassive as the word “guilty” was repeated three times.

Mr. Abu Ghaith is being held in the Manhattan federal detention facility awaiting sentencing.

Who was it that said that terrorists should not be tried in civilian courts?

Some US lawmakers disagreed with the decision to try Mr Abu Ghaith in New York.

“When we find somebody like this, this close to Bin Laden and the senior al-Qaeda leadership, the last thing in the world we want to do, in my opinion, is put them in a civilian court,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday.

“This man should be in Guantanamo Bay,” he said.

Lindsey? We can’t hear you. Oh! And crickets from fear mongering in chief Rep. Peter King (R=NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who poo-pooed the idea that any of the 9/11 terrorists should be tried in any civilian court,let alone one in New York City.

The system works. Now, close the Guantanamo detention facility and end the sham military tribunals.  

Sep 26

No Grand Conspiracy

There is no grand conspiracy to turn the world into a one-world Empire and destroy democracy and the Enlightenment principles that inform the form of government we once enjoyed. As you know, I no longer believe we live in a Constitutional Republic but, rather, in a transitional state a new combination of neo-feudalism, imperialism, fascism into something utterly new and unprecedented. The source of all this is something we can find by looking in the mirror for long enough.

This has all happened with, more or less, the consent of people around the world. The chief feature is Orwellian version of a Brave New World. The Global War on Terror is the most clear example of this. We wish to eliminate terrorism by using terrorism and making sure that terror is used to subjugate peoples abroad and to subjugate people here. They can do that here in this country because of its radically anti-intellectual tendencies (due to the failure of public schools to educate anyone and, instead, pretend to educate) and a stunning flight away from even the concept of virtue for which we were warned in the seventies by Christopher Lasch’s prescient book The Culture of Narcissism. This allows people to be unashamed to be cowards. You can only describe the American public’s reaction to 9/11 as cowardly–in going to war against weak countries who had no capacity to fight back and were not the cause of the terrorist attacks. In fact, it was Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (and perhaps Israel) who were involved directly in 9/11 even if you accept the notion that the American gov’t had nothing to do with the attacks (highly improbable). Even if the gov’t story were true the reaction is still cowardly and the way those wars were fought were deeply dishonorable–wantonly killing civilians because maybe there were some insurgents among them. Estimates of deaths in Iraq go from around a hundred thousand to more than a million–most of it due to U.S. saturation bombing of neighborhoods and communities which was largely unreported in the American press. In Afghanistan the violence was not as bad because the U.S. uses direct terrorist tactics against civilian populations like the people in the border regions (see Chris Floyd’s latest post).

There is no conspiracy only the ongoing wheel of history moving away from the unstable mythological frameworks brought on by the modernist project (the general movement away from uncomprehending belief in a particular world-view towards an intellectual openness to new ideas) and it’s inability to take into account the needs and requirements of human beings. People need to belong, people need to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves, people need to have some kind of spiritual framework and modernism doesn’t seem to be able to provide for these needs. It has brought fantastic riches and technological marvels but has done very little for the human spirit and, if anyhthing, has caused us to devolve rather than evolve as human beings. Cowardice, self-indulgence and narcissism are the main features of society today–and BTW I include myself in that critique.

And, at the same time, there never was a time when the nature of existence of life, of human nature were better known–we truly live in an age of not just information but wisdom that is flying all around us yet we cannot, fore some reason, take the medicine that will move us out of our problems.

The conspiracy we face it made in the collective unconscious, as I alluded to above. It is we who are resisting opening up our lives to the new and who want to return to authoritarian systems where our place in the world is clear and unambiguous. This is now possible for us. I think the social contract is that as long as the corporate system supplies most people with a Matrix-like system of amusements and entertainments that the people will go along with anything–endless wars, an hereditary aristocracy and a neo-feudal future where their children will inherit a world where they will be serfs if they’re lucky, slavery or death if they’re not.

In order to break out of this we need to open up our conscious minds to the knowledge of how deep our unconscious is and how much we are dominated by it. Once we understand that we can begin to take steps in life that are more reasonable. It all starts with each one of us and has nothing to do with politics as such–our problems are cultural and philosophical. While those who read this may be dissenters most of our fellows believe in a world of winners and losers. Winners should glory in their success and indulge in excesses while losers should suffer mightily and sing the blues.

Sep 11

“They Let It Happen”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Many of us who doubted the 9/11 Commission Report was really the whole truth. Just the fact that they had President George W. Bush and his Vice President, Dick Cheney, interviewed together, in secrecy and not under oath, diminished the commissions credibility for those of us who were expressing our doubts about the attack. In some places, any question or discussion was too controversial about 9/11, was labeled “conspiracy theory” and further discussion was banned. Even linking to sites or articles as forbidden. But like all skeletons that get locked in the closet, someone gets curious and the door gets opened. Yesterday, on its Op-Ed page, The New York Times took a giant leap toward revealing some of the truth many had called “conspiracy theory.”

We already know about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) but what was in earlier PDB’s. Surely this wasn’t the first one. Apparently it was not but it was the last and final warning that the Bush administration dismissed.

On the eve of the eleventh anniversary of September 11, Kurt Eichenwald, author of the new book 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars and contributing editor of Vanity Fair, wrote this article:

   The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

   But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

   In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real. [..]

In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush officials attempted to deflect criticism that they had ignored C.I.A. warnings by saying they had not been told when and where the attack would occur. That is true, as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert. Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school. But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.

Could the 9/11 attack have been stopped, had the Bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all of those daily briefs? We can’t ever know. And that may be the most agonizing reality of all.

We have known since the Clinton administration that the neoconservatives had wanted Sadaam Hussein overthrown. In 1998, the now defunct Project for the New American Century audaciously sent an open letter to President Clinton urging him to attack Iraq. The signers of that letter were the same men and women that were embraced by the Bush regime, some of whom (highlighted) are advising the Romney campaign:

Elliott Abrams    Richard L. Armitage    William J. Bennett  Jeffrey Bergner  John Bolton    Paula Dobriansky   Francis Fukuyama    Robert Kagan    Zalmay Khalilzad   William Kristol    Richard Perle    Peter W. Rodman   Donald Rumsfeld    William Schneider, Jr.  Vin Weber   Paul Wolfowitz    R. James Woolsey    Robert B. Zoellick

And these lying war hawks haven’t gone away. They have once again reemerged emboldened by the prospect of a malleable Republican president to ramp up the possibility of attacking Iran on the false premise that they are trying to build a nuclear weapon. In fact, Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with many of the same people to advise his campaign on military and foreign affairs.

It is clearer now that the Bush administration, surrounded by the neoconservative hawks who were urging attacking Iraq, knew and ignored the warnings about Al Qaeda. It is obvious from what we know now about the run up to the war in Iraq, that the neocons got what they wanted then and are now determined to push the world into another war, this time with Iran.

The facts remain, whether or not the Bush regime disregard of the warnings and intelligence from the CIA was intentional or just out of pure willful ignorance, they let the attack happen.  

Mar 03

The Saudis and 9/11

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

What do we really know about the Saudi Arabian government’s involvement with the 9/11 attacks? We know that Osama bin Laden was Saudi, a member of a very wealthy family with close ties to the Bush family. We know his family denounced him and he was banished by the Saudis in 1992. we know that 15 of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. We know that the bin Laden family was allowed to leave the US after airspace had been re-opened but none of the family members were ever questioned by the FBI. That’s not a lot.

There has always been some speculation that the Saudi government, or at least some prominent members of the government, had some involvement with the attacks. It was dismissed out of hand as “conspiracy theory” and even in some parts of the left wing blogosphere, a banned topic. Now, two former US Senators have broken their silence on their high level of suspicion that the Saudi government had some direct involvement with the 9/11 attack:

For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.

Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.

“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.

The sworn affidavits are part of a lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian government by some of the 9/11 families. Lawyers representing the Saudis, who have so far unsuccessfully tried to have the litigation dismissed, are trying to have the two statements suppressed. Neither the Saudi’s lawyers or the US State Department have commented on this revelation. Both Mr. Kerrey and Mr. Graham do not think that the 9/11 Commission’s conclusion that there was no evidence of Saudi support for Al Qaeda simply because evidence that they had was never fully investigated. What many have been saying all along, now has credibility.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon (h/t for the Scwartz tweet) observed:

Meanwhile, the U.S. in just the last three years alone – in the name of 9/11 and Terrorism – has dropped bombs on at least six Muslim countries whose governments had no connection whatsoever to 9/11 (often aimed at groups that did not even exist at the time of that attack). And now Washington is abuzz with exciting debates about the mechanics of how yet another country that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 – Iran – should be aggressively attacked. As Jonathan Schwarz put it when the U.S. and the Saudis collaborated to depict the “Quds Forces plot” on U.S. soil as the latest proof of Persian aggression: “The funny thing is I’d bet the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. has closer ‘ties’ to Al Qaeda than 90% of the people we’ve killed with drones.” In sum, 9/11 has absolutely nothing to do with virtually all of the policies the U.S. has since undertaken in the name of Terrorism: except that it is exploited to justify them all.

I am not advocating that the United States bomb Saudi Arabia, that would exacerbate the current hatred of America beyond all imagination. What need to be done is a full investigation of the Saudi involvement and I’m sure that the Obama administration will intervene to block the 9/11 families’ lawsuit. That said, American’s still deserve to know the truth.

Good job, Barack

Jan 24

Freedom’s Just Another Word

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Where have all our freedoms gone? Have they eroded before our eyes because we failed to use them by demanding that our elected representatives protect the Constitution? Did irrational fear of an unseen enemy with no country, armed with a fanatical hatred scare us into allowing those freedoms to be abrogated? Apparently our current government from the executive to the judicial seem to think that the Constitution is a nice idea but its time has passed. We’re at war with “terror” and “terror” will never surrender. Law Professor Jonathan Turley, in an op-ed written shortly after President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, enumerated the ten reasons the US is no loner the land of the free:

1. Assassination of U.S. citizens

Last year, President Obama went further than George W. Bush would have dared with the ordered assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaqi. Just as the Bush administration justified torture, Pres. Obama justified targeted assassination of an American citizen without due process in a secret memo from administration lawyers. The administration cavalierly calling it “due process in war.” Yet, the US is hypocritical enough to criticize other countries for doing the same.

2. Indefinite detention

Under the NDAA the president can indefinitely detain a citizen that is suspected of terrorism and allow the military to hold them. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying that he would never do that, signing statement have no force of law and are not binding, either for Obama or any future president. Presidents have been known to change their minds, Obama does so on a regular basis.  

3. Arbitrary justice

The president decides who will be tried in the Federal courts or by a military tribunal, a system, as Prof. Turley points out, “that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections.” Yet countries like China and Egypt have rejected tribunals as an alternative to civilian courts.

Those first three reasons totally disregard the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments

4. Warrantless searches

Under the Patriot Act of 2001, and reinforced by Pres. Obama in 2011, the government can force companies and businesses to turn over citizens records, everything from finances to library records without a warrant and bar the company from telling the targets.

Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?

5. Secret evidence

The government under the guise of national security says it doesn’t have to show evidence it deems secret for national security thus forcing the dismissal of lawsuits brought against it for illegal detention and torture. This is how the Obama Justice Department has protected the war criminals from the Bush administration not only from civil liability but criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity. As Prof Turley describes, “This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence.”

Star Chamber?

6. War Crimes

Since 2009, the President Obama has refused to allow the prosecution of anyone responsible for waterboarding and torture. This in complete disregard of treaty obligations and the Nuremberg principles of international law. The Obama administration went so far as to pressure countries such as Spain to drop criminal investigations of war crimes committed by the Bush administration. Yet the US continues to reserve the right to prosecute war criminals in other countries. ”

“Do as I say not as I do” is the attitude that has fed the hatred of terrorists, as well as, disdain from countries like China when we criticize their human rights violations.

7. Secret court

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is the United States’ “secret court”, the “star chamber“, that operates in total secrecy. Created in 1978, the eleven judges of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FIS) consider and rule on applications by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct electronic surveillance anywhere within the United States. When FISA came up for renewal under the Bush administration it expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. Then Sen. Barack Obama said that he would filibuster the renewal unless certain portions of the bill were fixed to ensure that it did not violate the Constitution. Needless to say, Sen Obama not only did not filibuster the FISA, he voted for it, promising to “fix it” if he was elected president. That was a lie. In 2011, not only did President Obama not fix it, he expanded it to in include secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group.

8.  Immunity from judicial review

The Obama administration has pushed for, and granted, immunity of telecommunications companies that assist in warantless surveillance. Citizens who have had their privacy violated by the government no longer have redress.

9. Continual monitoring of citizens

So far the Obama administration has successfully defended in the courts its view that it has the right to use GPS to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. The case, Jones v. United States, could overturn Katz v. United States which is celebrated as saving privacy in the United States, articulated the principle that “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.” That 1967 decision reversed a long erosion of privacy protection and required greater use of warrants by the government.

10. Extraordinary renditions

While the Obama administration has insisted that it no longer transfers persons into the custody of other countries where they could be held and tortured, it is still claiming the right to to order such transfers, including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

Prof. Turley goes in to quote those who are justifying these abuses as saying it’s all due to the times we in which we live. But as he so importantly notes in conclusion:

An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely. [..]

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

What was that “change” that was promised three years ago?

Nov 30

Lynn Margulis (1938- 2011): Midichlorian truther

Lynn Margulis is best known for postulating in 1966 the theory of endosymbiosis, the theory that eukaryotic cells (having nuclear DNA and nucleically differentiated organelles) resulted from the symbiotic fusion of smaller and more primitive prokaryotic cells.  Both mitochondria and chloroplasts, critical metabolic organelles in animal and plant eukaryotic cells, for example, are thought to be descended from independent prokaryotic lineages.  While her hypothesis was roundly rejected the over the first 15 or so submissions, the theory of endosymbiosis is now one of the most important ideas advanced in evolutionary biology in the last century.  As Richard Dawkins put it:

I greatly admire Lynn Margulis’s sheer courage and stamina in sticking by the endosymbiosis theory, and carrying it through from being an unorthodoxy to an orthodoxy. I’m referring to the theory that the eukaryotic cell is a symbiotic union of primitive prokaryotic cells. This is one of the great achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology, and I greatly admire her for it.

While I cannot do justice to the topic, several things do stand out to even a blockhead like me.  

Sep 15

9/11: “They Knew, They Knew”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gasette

Ali Soufran, former special agent working with the FBI, was tracking Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden long before 9/11. He was in Yemen investigating the USS Cole bombing when he heard about the attacks on that day. His book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, has released which describes how missed opportunities to defuse the 2001 plot, and argues that other attacks overseas might have been prevented, and Osama bin Laden found earlier, if interrogations had not been mismanaged. It is an frighteningly, revealing picture of the dysfunctional and factional intelligence community.

Mr. Soufran spoke with Rachel Maddow discussing the CIA’s redactions to his book, his role with the FBI before and after 9/11 and, most importantly, what was known in the CIA before 9/11 that could have prevented the attacks:

From Jeff Kaye at FDL:

In at least one other case, crucial information was kept from Soufan and other investigators by CIA officials, information that would have helped break the Cole case, and, crucially, have led FBI investigators to identify Al Qaeda operatives who had entered the United States more than eighteen months before 9/11. These two operatives, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, died on the plane that rammed into the Pentagon.

The controversies surrounding the CIA’s withholding of information about these two hijackers was told in Lawrence Wright’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, and was further explored in Kevin Fenton’s recent book, Disconnecting the Dots: How 9/11 Was Allowed to Happen.

Here’s how Shane described the moment when Soufan realized he’d been had. For some strange reason, the NYT refrains from actually giving al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi’s names.

   [Soufan] recounts a scene at the American Embassy in Yemen, where, a few hours after the attacks on New York and Washington, a C.I.A. official finally turned over the material the bureau requested months earlier [from the CIA], including photographs of two of the hijackers.

   “For about a minute I stared at the pictures and the report, not quite believing what I had in my hands,” Mr. Soufan writes. Then he ran to a bathroom and vomited. “My whole body was shaking,” he writes. He believed the material, documenting a Qaeda meeting in Malaysia in January 2000, combined with information from the Cole investigation, might have helped unravel the airliner plot.

Yes, they let it happen. That leaves the elephant question in the room: Why?

Sep 11

The War Rages On

Turn on the TV today and you will see many reminders of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The images and stories are all present, while the MSM are all very compliant with selling the fear.

Politicians will pose for the cameras with their hooks of “God bless America” and thanking the troops for their service …

But it occurred to me …. what is missing?  

Sep 11

Remembering 9/11: Con Job of the Century

Sep 11

We were Waiting for 9/11

In the late 90’s I shared an office with a Chinese academic who, because of the fact he belonged to a family of scholars going back many generations, was put in a work-camp on the Mongolian border during the Cultural Revolution during most of his adolescence. This was not a happy experience for him and had left deep scars in him. But he still was a Chinese patriot and we would have friendly arguments about Chinese/American conflicts. He expressed doubts that the U.S. would respond to provocations or crises in any muscular way–he saw us as “soft.” I told him that should we ever be attacked the perpetrators would experience a storm of violence beyond their imagining.

I felt, in those days, an underlying sense of frustration and repressed violence that was a result of being the lone superpower in the world yet, we weren’t able to just assert our superiority and, so it appeared to us, not get the proper respect and deference we deserved. I sensed this in American culture. Here we were, the most successful people on earth and we had no national mission like we did when we “fought” and won the Cold War. Capitalism triumphant, prosperity, but what did it mean? Who are we? Why was the most important news story for months a blow job? Neo-conservative intellectuals did write that only a “a new Pearl Harbor” would bring the U.S. out of its lethargy. They made much of our moral decline and need for a unifying enterprise and I think they were right–they saw us as drifting into hedonism and triviality which we were then and still are doing only now much poorer because of the way we reacted to 9/11.

Sep 11

Reflections on 9/11

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow

Naom Chomsky: Was There an Alternative? Looking Back on 9/11 a Decade Later

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of the horrendous atrocities of September 11, 2001, which, it is commonly held, changed the world. On May 1st, the presumed mastermind of the crime, Osama bin Laden, was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of elite US commandos, Navy SEALs, after he was captured, unarmed and undefended, in Operation Geronimo.

A number of analysts have observed that although bin Laden was finally killed, he won some major successes in his war against the U.S. “He repeatedly asserted that the only way to drive the U.S. from the Muslim world and defeat its satraps was by drawing Americans into a series of small but expensive wars that would ultimately bankrupt them,” Eric Margolis writes. “‘Bleeding the U.S.,’ in his words.” The United States, first under George W. Bush and then Barack Obama, rushed right into bin Laden’s trap… Grotesquely overblown military outlays and debt addiction… may be the most pernicious legacy of the man who thought he could defeat the United States” — particularly when the debt is being cynically exploited by the far right, with the collusion of the Democrat establishment, to undermine what remains of social programs, public education, unions, and, in general, remaining barriers to corporate tyranny.

That Washington was bent on fulfilling bin Laden’s fervent wishes was evident at once. As discussed in my book 9-11, written shortly after those attacks occurred, anyone with knowledge of the region could recognize “that a massive assault on a Muslim population would be the answer to the prayers of bin Laden and his associates, and would lead the U.S. and its allies into a ‘diabolical trap,’ as the French foreign minister put it.”

Glenn Greenwald: Endless War and the Culture of Unrestrained Power

The Washington Post woke up a few days ago and realized that despite everything that has happened since 9/11 — no successful Terrorist attacks on the Homeland in 10 years, a country mired in debt and imposing “austerity” on ordinary Americans, and the election of a wonderfully sophisticated, urbane, progressive multinationalist from the storied anti-war Democratic Party — we are still smack in the middle of “the American era of endless war” with no end in sight.  Citing the Pentagon’s most recent assessment of global threats, the Post notes that in contrast to prior decades — when “the military and the American public viewed war as an aberration and peace as the norm” (a dubious perception) — it is now clear, pursuant to official doctrine, that “America’s wars are unending and any talk of peace is quixotic or naive,” all as part of “America’s embrace of endless war in the 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001.”

snip

Those who wield true political authority as part of an empire are vested with immense power over other people, but those who exercise that authority as part of wars are more powerful still.  That kind of power not only attracts warped authoritarians and sociopaths like moths to light, but it also converts — degrades — otherwise normal people who come to possess it.  That’s not a new development, but rather as old as political power itself.  Those bolded quotes are a pure expression of a demented, amoral God complex.  That’s the mentality that produces Endless War, and Endless War, in turn, breeds that mentality.

This is why there is nothing more dangerous — nothing — than allowing this type of power to be exercised without accountability: no oversight, no transparency, no consequences for serious wrongdoing: exactly the state of affairs that prevails in the United States.  It’s also why there are few things more deeply irresponsible, vapid and destructive than demanding that citizens, activists, and journalists retreat into Permanent Election Mode: transform themselves into partisan cheerleaders who refrain from aggressively criticizing the party that is slightly less awful out of fear that the other party might win an election 14 months away, even when their own party is the one in power.  Renouncing the duty of holding accountable political leaders who exercise vast power makes one directly responsible for the abuses they commit.  To see the results of that mindset, re-read that paragraph from (Amy) Davidson about what the U.S. is doing not in 2004, but now more than ever, in the name of Endless War.

Joseph E. Stiglitz: The Price of 9/11

NEW YORK – The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.

snip

ndeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3-5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50% of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900 billion. But the social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 per day in recent years) and family breakups, are incalculable.

snip

Ironically, the wars have undermined America’s (and the world’s) security, again in ways that Bin Laden could not have imagined. An unpopular war would have made military recruitment difficult in any circumstances. But, as Bush tried to deceive America about the wars’ costs, he underfunded the troops, refusing even basic expenditures – say, for armored and mine-resistant vehicles needed to protect American lives, or for adequate health care for returning veterans. A US court recently ruled that veterans’ rights have been violated. (Remarkably, the Obama administration claims that veterans’ right to appeal to the courts should be restricted!)

Military overreach has predictably led to nervousness about using military power, and others’ knowledge of this threatens to weaken America’s security as well. But America’s real strength, more than its military and economic power, is its “soft power,” its moral authority. And this, too, was weakened: as the US violated basic human rights like habeas corpus and the right not to be tortured, its longstanding commitment to international law was called into question.

Load more