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Comments about Vidal's "Enemy Within"
by Buddy Grizzard
04 December 2002 19:06 UTC
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In Gore Vidal's polemic, "The Enemy Within," he states, "11 September, it is 
plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush has anything to say about 
it." What Bush finally had to say about it was this: He appointed war 
criminal and black ops mastermind Henry Kissinger to lead the investigation. 
Vidal, it seems, is a prophet. Bush wanted to get at the truth so bad that 
he hired a member of the Nixon administration

Thus, it's now worth taking another look at Vidal's long piece in the 
Observer. As a whole, it's pretty consistent with most of the serious 
research into the history and pre-history of 9/11. It does fall a bit short 
in the department of Air Force response, however.

You can have a look at the most comprehensive, thoroughly referenced 
timeline here:


Briefly, at 8:13 a.m., Boston Air Traffic Control considers Flight 11 to be 
possibly hijacked, and by 8:20 probably hijacked. At 8:25, Boston ATC 
notifies other controllers that Flight 11 has been hijacked, but supposedly 
doesn't notify NORAD until 8:40. Vidal doesn't appear to have all the facts 
about the air force's response, but some very interesting facts are 
available from mainstream sources. The entry for 8:40 in the 
above-referenced timeline says the following:

"8:40 A.M. Maj. Daniel Nash (codenamed Nasty) and Lt. Col. Timothy Duffy 
(codenamed Duff) are the two F-15 pilots who would scramble after Flight 11 
and then Flight 175. Nash says that at this time, a colleague at the Otis 
Air National Guard Base tells him that a flight out of Boston has been 
hijacked, and to be on alert. They put on their flight gear and get ready. 
[Cape Cod Times, 8/21/02] Duffy also says that they were told in advance 
about the hijacking by the FAA in Boston. They are already halfway to their 
jets when "battle stations" are sounded. Duffy briefs Nash on what he knows, 
and "About 4-5 minutes later, we got the scramble order and took off." 
[Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] If this is true, why wasn't the 
order to scramble given when the FAA called the pilots, instead of six 
minutes later? And even stranger, why did it take another six minutes (8:52) 
for the fighters to take off, if they had been given a heads up warning to 
get ready? Had the order to scramble been given now, there would have been 
plenty of time to reach New York before Flight 175."

According to a reference in Nafeez Ahmed's book "The War on Freedom," the 
Air Force web site states that the standard time from scramble order to 
29,000 feet for an interceptor is 2.5 minutes. But after the scramble order 
is recieved at 8:44 a.m., the F-15s from Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod do 
not take off until 8:52. According to the web site Cape Cod Online, "It 
would take an F-15 about 10 to 12 minutes to fly from Otis to New York 

At 8:45, Flight 11 hit the north tower, and at 9:03 a.m., Flight 175 hits 
the south tower. According to NORAD and various news reports, the F-15s from 
Otis are still 71 miles from NYC when the south tower is struck. Again, 
according to a note from the above-referenced timeline:

"The Otis Air National Guard Base is 188 miles from New York City. According 
to NORAD's timeline, fighters left Otis 11 minutes earlier. If they were 
still 70 miles away, then that means they must have been traveling about 650 
mph, when the top speed for an F-15 is 1875 mph!"

When Vidal's article came out, there were immediate complaints about the 
lack of accuracy in his information about the Air Force response to 9-11. 
This is unfortunate, because, as I've shown above, those facts are just as 
damning as anything else in Vidal's report. Thus, with the above information 
in hand, feel free to have a fresh look at Vidal's polemic below.

The Observer, Sunday 27th October 2002, Review Section, Pages 1-4

The Enemy Within

By Gore Vidal

On 24 August, 1814, things looked very dark for freedom's land. That was the 
day the British captured Washington DC and set fire to the Capitol and the 
White House. President Madison took refuge in the nearby Virginia woods 
where he waited patiently for the notoriously short attention span of the 
Brits to kick in, which it did. They moved on and what might have been a Day 
of Utter Darkness turned out to be something of a bonanza for the DC 
building trades and up-market realtors.

            One year after 9/11, we still don't know by whom we were struck 
that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But it is fairly plain to 
many civil-libertarians that 9/11 put paid not only to much of our fragile 
Bill of Rights but also to our once-envied system of government which had 
taken a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a little 
dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected president with the oil 
and gas Cheney/Bush junta.

            Meanwhile, our more and more unaccountable government is 
pursuing all sorts of games around the world that we the spear carriers 
(formerly the people) will never learn of. Even so, we have been getting 
some answers to the question: why weren't we warned in advance of 9/11? 
Apparently, we were, repeatedly; for the better part of a year, we were told 
there would be unfriendly visitors to our skies some time in September 2001, 
but the government neither informed nor protected us despite Mayday warnings 
from Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad and even from elements of our 
own FBI. A joint panel of congressional intelligence committees reported (19 
September 2002, New York Times) that as early as 1996, Pakistani terrorist 
Abdul Hakim Murad confessed to federal agents that he was 'learning to fly 
in order to crash a plane into CIA HQ'.

            Only CIA director George Tenet seemed to take the various 
threats seriously. In December 1998, he wrote to his deputies that 'we are 
at war' with Osama bin Laden. So impressed was the FBI by his warnings that 
by 20 September 2001, 'the FBI still had only one analyst assigned full time 
to al-Qaeda'.

            From a briefing prepared for Bush at the beginning of July 2001: 
'We believe that OBL [Osama bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist 
attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack 
will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US 
facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will 
occur with little or no warning.' And so it came to pass; yet Condoleezza 
Rice, the National Security Advisor, says she never suspected that this 
meant anything more than the kidnapping of planes.

            Happily, somewhere over the Beltway, there is Europe - recently 
declared anti-Semitic by the US media because most of Europe wants no war 
with Iraq and the junta does, for reasons we may now begin to understand 
thanks to European and Asian investigators with their relatively free media.

            On the subject 'How and Why America was Attacked on 11 
September, 2001', the best, most balanced report, thus far, is by Nafeez 
Mossadeq Ahmed ... Yes, yes, I know he is one of Them. But they often know 
things that we don't - particularly about what we are up to. A political 
scientist, Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research 
and Development 'a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of human rights, 
justice and peace' in Brighton. His book, 'The War on Freedom', has just 
been published in the US by a small but reputable publisher.

            Ahmed provides a background for our ongoing war against 
Afghanistan, a view that in no way coincides with what the administration 
has told us. He has drawn on many sources, most tellingly on American 
whistleblowers who are beginning to come forth and hear witness - like those 
FBI agents who warned their supervisors that al-Qaeda was planning a 
kamikaze strike against New York and Washington only to be told that if they 
went public with these warnings they would suffer under the National 
Security Act. Several of these agents have engaged David P. Schippers, chief 
investigative counsel for the US House Judiciary Committee, to represent 
them in court. The majestic Schippers managed the successful impeachment of 
President Clinton in the House of Representatives. He may, if the Iraqi war 
should go wrong, be obliged to perform the same high service for Bush, who 
allowed the American people to go unwarned about an imminent attack upon two 
of our cities as pre-emption of a planned military strike by the US against 
the Taliban.

            The Guardian (26 September 2001) reported that in July 2001, a 
group of interested parties met in a Berlin hotel to listen to a former 
State Department official, Lee Coldren, as he passed on a message from the 
Bush administration that 'the United States was so disgusted with the 
Taliban that they might be considering some military action ... the chilling 
quality of this private warning was that it came - according to one of those 
present, the Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik - accompanied by specific details 
of how Bush would succeed ...' Four days earlier, the Guardian had reported 
that 'Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American 
military action against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New 
York and Washington ... [which] raises the possibility that bin Laden was 
launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats.' A 
replay of the 'day of infamy' in the Pacific 62 years earlier?

Why the US needed a Eurasian adventure

On 9 September 2001, Bush was presented with a draft of a national security 
presidential directive outlining a global campaign of military, diplomatic 
and intelligence action targeting al-Qaeda, buttressed by the threat of war. 
According to NBC News: 'President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans 
for a worldwide war against al-Qaeda ... but did not have the chance before 
the terrorist attacks ... The directive, as described to NBC News, was 
essentially the same war plan as the one put into action after 11 September. 
The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly ... because it 
simply had to pull the plans "off the shelf".'

            Finally, BBC News, 18 September 2001: 'Niak Naik, a former 
Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American officials in 
mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the 
middle of October. It was Naik's view that Washington would not drop its war 
for Afghanistan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the 

            Was Afghanistan then turned to rubble in order to avenge the 
3,000 Americans slaughtered by Osama? Hardly. The administration is 
convinced that Americans are so simple-minded that they can deal with no 
scenario more complex than the venerable lone, crazed killer (this time with 
zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it 'cause he hates us, 
'cause we're rich 'n free 'n he's not. Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds 
to be the most frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and 
conquest of Afghanistan, planning for which had been 'contingency' some 
years before 9/11 and, again, from 20 December, 2000, when Clinton's 
out-going team devised a plan to strike at al-Qaeda in retaliation for the 
assault on the warship Cole. Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy 
Berger, personally briefed his successor on the plan but Rice, still very 
much in her role as director of Chevron-Texaco, with special duties 
regarding Pakistan and Uzbekistan, now denies any such briefing. A year and 
a half later (12 August, 2002), fearless Time magazine reported this odd 
memory lapse.

            Osama, if it was he and not a nation, simply provided the 
necessary shock to put in train a war of conquest. But conquest of what? 
What is there in dismal dry sandy Afghanistan worth conquering? Zbigniew 
Brzezinski tells us exactly what in a 1997 Council on Foreign Relations 
study called 'The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic 

            The Polish-born Brzezinski was the hawkish National Security 
Advisor to President Carter. In 'The Grand Chessboard', Brzezinski gives a 
little history lesson. 'Ever since the continents started interacting 
politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the centre of world 
power.' Eurasia is all the territory east of Germany. This means Russia, the 
Middle East, China and parts of India. Brzezinski acknowledges that Russia 
and China, bordering oil-rich central Asia, are the two main powers 
threatening US hegemony in that area.

            He takes it for granted that the US must exert control over the 
former Soviet republics of Central Asia, known to those who love them as 
'the Stans': Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan all 'of 
importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at 
least three of their most immediate and most powerful neighbours - Russia, 
Turkey and Iran, with China signaling'. Brzezinski notes how the world's 
energy consumption keeps increasing; hence, who controls Caspian oil/gas 
will control the world economy. Brzezinski then, reflexively, goes into the 
standard American rationalization for empire;. We want nothing, ever, for 
ourselves, only to keep bad people from getting good things with which to 
hurt good people. 'It follows that America's primary interest is to help 
ensure that no single [other] power comes to control the geopolitical space 
and that the global community has unhindered financial and economic access 
to it.'

            Brzezinski is quite aware that American leaders are wonderfully 
ignorant of history and geography so he really lays it on, stopping just 
short of invoking politically incorrect 'manifest destiny'. He reminds the 
Council just how big Eurasia is. Seventy-five percent of the world's 
population is Eurasian. If I have done the sums right, that means that we've 
only got control, to date, of a mere 25 percent of the world's folks. More! 
'Eurasia accounts for 60-per cent of the world's GNP and three-fourths of 
the world's known energy resources.'

            Brzezinski's master plan for 'our' globe has obviously been 
accepted by the Cheney-Bush junta. Corporate America, long over-excited by 
Eurasian mineral wealth, has been aboard from the beginning.

            Ahmed sums up: 'Brzezinski clearly envisaged that the 
establishment, consolidation and expansion of US military hegemony over 
Eurasia through Central Asia would require the unprecedented, open-ended 
militarisation of foreign policy, coupled with an unprecedented manufacture 
of domestic support and consensus on this militarisation campaign.'

            Afghanistan is the gateway to all these riches. Will we fight to 
seize them? It should never be forgotten that the American people did not 
want to fight in either of the twentieth century's world wars, but President 
Wilson maneuvered us into the First while President Roosevelt maneuvered the 
Japanese into striking the first blow at Pearl Harbor, causing us to enter 
the Second as the result of a massive external attack. Brzezinski 
understands all this and, in 1997, he is thinking ahead - as well as 
backward. 'Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural 
society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign 
policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely 
perceived direct external threat.' Thus was the symbolic gun produced that 
belched black smoke over Manhattan and the Pentagon.

            Since the Iran-Iraq wars, Islam has been demonized as a Satanic 
terrorist cult that encourages suicide attacks - contrary, it should be 
noted, to the Islamic religion. Osama has been portrayed, accurately, it 
would seem, as an Islamic zealot. In order to bring this evil-doer to 
justice ('dead or alive'), Afghanistan, the object of the exercise was made 
safe not only for democracy but for Union Oil of California whose proposed 
pipeline from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean 
port of Karachi, had been abandoned under the Taliban's chaotic regime. 
Currently, the pipeline is a go-project thanks to the junta's installation 
of a Unocal employee (John J Maresca) as US envoy to the newly born 
democracy whose president, Hamid Karzai, is also, according to Le Monde, a 
former employee of a Unocal subsidiary. Conspiracy? Coincidence!

            Once Afghanistan looked to be within the fold, the junta, which 
had managed to pull off a complex diplomatic-military caper, - abruptly 
replaced Osama, the personification of evil, with Saddam. This has been hard 
to explain since there is nothing to connect Iraq with 9/11. Happily, 
'evidence' is now being invented. But it is uphill work, not helped by 
stories in the press about the vast oil wealth of Iraq which must - for the 
sake of the free world - be reassigned to US and European consortiums.

            As Brzezinski foretold, 'a truly massive and widely perceived 
direct external threat' made it possible for the President to dance a war 
dance before Congress. 'A long war!' he shouted with glee. Then he named an 
incoherent Axis of Evil to be fought. Although Congress did not give him the 
FDR Special - a declaration of war - he did get permission to go after Osama 
who may now be skulking in Iraq.

Bush and the dog that did not bark

Post-9/11, the American media were filled with pre-emptory denunciations of 
unpatriotic 'conspiracy theorists', who not only are always with us but are 
usually easy for the media to discredit since it is an article of faith that 
there are no conspiracies in American life. Yet, a year or so ago, who would 
have thought that most of corporate America had been conspiring with 
accountants to cook their books since - well, at least the bright days of 
Reagan and deregulation. Ironically, less than a year after the massive 
danger from without, we were confronted with an even greater enemy from 
within: Golden Calf capitalism. Transparency? One fears that greater 
transparency will only reveal armies of maggots at work beneath the skin of 
a culture that needs a bit of a lie-down in order to collect itself before 
taking its next giant step which is to conquer Eurasia, a potentially fatal 
adventure not only for our frazzled institutions but for us the presently 

            Complicity. The behavior of President George W. Bush on 11 
September certainly gives rise to all sorts of not unnatural suspicions. I 
can think of no other modern chief of state who would continue to pose for 
'warm' pictures of himself listening to a young girl telling stories about 
her pet goat while hijacked planes were into three buildings.

            Constitutionally, Bush is not only chief of state, he is 
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Normally, a commander in such a 
crisis would go straight to headquarters and direct operations while 
receiving the latest intelligence.

            This is what Bush actually did - or did not do - according to 
Stan Goff, a retired US Army veteran who has taught military science and 
doctrine at West Point. Goff writes, in 'The So-called Evidence is a Farce': 
'I have no idea why people aren't asking some very specific questions about 
the actions of Bush and company on the day of the attacks. Four planes get 
hijacked and deviate from their flight plan, all the while on FAA radar.'

            Goff, incidentally, like the other astonished military experts, 
cannot fathom why the government's automatic 'standard order of procedure in 
the event of a hijacking' was not followed. Once a plane has deviated from 
its flight-plan, fighter planes are sent up to find out why. That is law and 
does not require presidential approval, which only needs to be given if 
there is a decision to shoot down a plane. Goff spells it out: 'The planes 
were hijacked between 7:45 and 8:10am. Who is notified? This is an event 
already that is unprecedented. But the President is not notified and going 
to a Florida elementary school to hear children read.

            'By around 8:15am it should be very apparent that something is 
terribly wrong. The President is glad-handling teachers. By 8:45am, when 
American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower, Bush is settling 
in with children for his photo op. Four planes have obviously been hijacked 
simultaneously and one has just dived into the twin towers, and still no one 
notifies the nominal Commander-in-Chief.

            'No one has apparently scrambled [sent aloft] Air Force 
interceptors either. At 9:03, Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. At 
9:05 Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff whispers to Bush [who] "briefly turns 
somber" according to reporters. Does he cancel the school visit and convene 
an emergency meeting? No. He resumes listening to second-graders ... and 
continues the banality even as American Airlines Flight 77 conducts an 
unscheduled point turn over Ohio and heads in the direction of Washington 

            'Has he instructed Card to scramble the Air Force? No. An 
excruciating 25 minutes later, he finally deigns to give a public statement 
telling the United States what they have already figured out - that there's 
been an attack on the World Trade Centre. There's a hijacked plane 
bee-lining to Washington, but has the Air Force been scrambled to defend 
anything yet? No.

            'At 9:35, this plane conducts another turn, 360 [degrees] over 
the Pentagon, all the while being tracked by radar, and the Pentagon is not 
evacuated, and there are still no fast-movers from the Air Force in the sky 
over Alexandria and DC. Now the real kicker: a pilot they want us to believe 
was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, 
conducts a well-controlled downward spiral descending the last 7,000 feet in 
two-and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips 
the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with 
pinpoint accuracy into the side of the building at 460 knots.

            'When the theory about learning to fly this well at the 
puddle-jumper school began to lose ground, it was added that they received 
further training on a flight simulator. This is like saying you prepared 
your teenager for her first drive on the freeway at rush hour by buying her 
a video driving game ... There is a story being constructed about these 

            There is indeed, and the more it is added to the darker it 
becomes. The nonchalance of General Richard B. Myers, acting Joint Chief of 
Staff, is as puzzling as the President's campaigning-as-usual act. Myers was 
at the Capitol chatting with Senator Max Cleland. A sergeant, writing later 
in the AFPS (American Forces Press Service) describes Myers at the Capitol. 
'While in an outer office, he said, he saw a television report that a plane 
had hit the World Trade Centre. "They thought it was a small plane or 
something like that," Myers said. So the two men went ahead with the office 

            Whatever Myers and Cleland had to say to each other (more funds 
for the military?) must have been riveting because, during their chat, the 
AFPS reports, 'the second tower was hit by another jet. "Nobody informed us 
of that," Myers said. "But when we came out, that was obvious. Then, right 
at that time, somebody said the Pentagon had been hit."' Finally, somebody 
'thrust a cellphone in Myers' hand' and, as if by magic, the commanding 
general of Norad - our Airspace Command - was on the line just as the 
hijackers mission had been successfully completed except for the failed one 
in Pennsylvania. In later testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, 
Myers said he thinks that, as of his cellphone talk with Norad, 'the 
decision was at that point to start launching aircraft'. It was 9:40am. One 
hour and 20 minutes after air controllers knew that Flight 11 had been 
hijacked; 50 minutes after the North Tower was struck.

            This statement would have been quite enough in our old serious 
army/air force to launch a number of courts martial with an impeachment or 
two thrown in. First, Myers claims to be uninformed until the third strike. 
But the Pentagon had been overseeing the hijacked planes from at least the 
moment of the strike at the first tower: yet not until the third strike, at 
the Pentagon, was the decision made to get the fighter planes up. Finally, 
this one is the dog that did not bark. By law, the fighters should have been 
up at around 8:15. If they had, all the hijacked planes might have been 
diverted or shot down. I don't think that Goff is being unduly picky when he 
wonders who and what kept the Air Force from following its normal procedure 
instead of waiting an hour and 20 minutes until the damage was done and only 
then launching the fighters. Obviously, somebody had ordered the Air Force 
to make no move to intercept those hijackings until ... what?

            On 21 January 2002, the Canadian media analyst Barry Zwicker 
summed up on CBC-TV: 'That morning no interceptors responded in a timely 
fashion to the highest alert situation. This includes the Andrews squadrons 
which ... are 12 miles from the White House ... Whatever the explanation for 
the huge failure, there have been no reports, to my knowledge, of 
reprimands. This further weakens the "Incompetence Theory". Incompetence 
usually earns reprimands. This causes me to ask whether there were "stand 
down" orders.'?? On 29 August 2002, the BBC reports that on 9/11 there were 
'only four fighters on ready status in the north-eastern US'. Conspiracy? 
Coincidence? Error?

            It is interesting how often in our history, when disaster 
strikes, incompetence is considered a better alibi than ... well, yes, there 
are worse things. After Pearl Harbor, Congress moved to find out why 
Hawaii's two military commanders, General Short and Admiral Kimmel, had not 
anticipated the Japanese attack. But President Roosevelt pre-empted that 
investigation with one of his own. Short and Kimmel were broken for 
incompetence. The 'truth' is still obscure to this day.

The media's weapons of mass distraction

But Pearl Harbor has been much studied. 11 September, it is plain, is never 
going to be investigated if Bush has anything to say about it. In January 
2002, CNN reported that 'Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom 
Daschle to limit the Congressional investigation into the events of 11 
September ... The request was made at a private meeting with Congressional 
leaders ... Sources said Bush initiated the conversation ... He asked that 
only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the potential 
breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist 
attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry .. Tuesday's discussion 
followed a rare call from Vice President Dick Cheney last Friday to make the 
same request ...'

            The excuse given, according to Daschle, was that 'resources and 
personnel would be taken' away from the war on terrorism in the event of a 
wider inquiry. So for reasons that we must never know, those 'breakdowns' 
are to be the goat. That they were more likely to be not break - but 
'stand-downs' is not for us to pry. Certainly the one-hour 20 minute failure 
to put fighter planes in the air could not have been due to a breakdown 
throughout the entire Air Force along the East Coast. Mandatory standard 
operational procedure had been told to cease and desist.

            Meanwhile, the media were assigned their familiar task of 
inciting public opinion against bin Laden, still not the proven mastermind. 
These media blitzes often resemble the magicians classic gesture of 
distraction: as you watch the rippling bright colours of his silk 
handkerchief in one hand, he is planting the rabbit in your pocket with the 
other. We were quickly assured that Osama's enormous family with its 
enormous wealth had broken with him, as had the royal family of his native 
Saudi Arabia. The CIA swore, hand on heart, that Osama had not worked for 
them in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Finally, the 
rumour that Bush family had in any way profited by its long involvement with 
the bin Laden family was - what else? - simply partisan bad taste.

            But Bush Jr's involvement goes back at least to 1979 when his 
first failed attempt to become a player in the big Texas oil league brought 
him together with one James Bath of Houston, a family friend, who have Bush 
Jr. $50,000 for a 5 per cent stake in Bush's firm Arbusto Energy. At this 
time, according to Wayne Madsen ('In These Times' - Institute for Public 
Affairs No. 25), Bath was 'the sole US business representative for Salem bin 
Laden, head of the family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden... In 
a statement issued shortly after the 11 September attacks, the White House 
vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own 
money, not Salem bin Laden's, in Arbusto. In conflicting statements, Bush at 
first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and 
that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests ... after several 
reincarnations, Arbusto emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation.'

            Behind the Junior Bush is the senior Bush, gainfully employed by 
the Carlyle Group which has ownership in at least 164 companies worldwide, 
inspiring admiration in that staunch friend to the wealthy, the Wall Street 
Journal, which noted, as early as 27 September 2001, 'If the US boosts 
defence spending in its quest to stop Osama bin Laden's alleged terrorist 
activities, there may be one unexpected beneficiary: bin Laden's family ... 
is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected 
Washington merchant bank specialising in buyouts of defence and aerospace 
companies ... Osama is one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, 
who built the family's $5 billion business.'

            But Bush pere et fils, in pursuit of wealth and office, are 
beyond shame or, one cannot help but think, good sense. There is a 
suggestion that they are blocking investigation of the bin Laden connection 
with terrorism. Agence France Press reported on 4 November 2001: 'FBI agents 
probing relatives of Saudi-born terror suspect Osama ... were told to back 
off soon after George W. Bush became president ...' According to BBC TV's 
Newsnight (6 Nov 2001), '... just days after the hijackers took off from 
Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same 
airport whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi Arabia. That did 
not concern the White House, whose official line is that the bin Ladens are 
above suspicion.' 'Above the Law' (Green Press, 14 February 2002) sums up: 
'We had what looked like the biggest failure of the intelligence community 
since Pearl Harbor but what we are learning now is it wasn't a failure, it 
was a directive.' True? False? Bush Jr will be under oath during the 
impeachment interrogation. Will we hear 'What is a directive? What is is?'

            Although the US had, for some years, fingered Osama as a 
mastermind terrorist, no serious attempt had been made pre-9/11 to 'bring 
him to justice dead or alive, innocent or guilty', as Texan law of the 
jungle requires. Clinton's plan to act was given to Condeleezza Rice by 
Sandy Berger, you will recall, but she says she does not.

            As far back as March 1996 when Osama was in Sudan, Major General 
Elfatih Erwa, Sudanese Minister for Defence, offered to extradite him. 
According to the Washington Post (3 October 2001), 'Erwa said he would 
happily keep close watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that 
would not suffice, the government was prepared to place him in custody and 
hand him over ... [US officials] said, "just ask him to leave the country. 
Just don't let him go to Somalia", where he had once been given credit for 
the successful al-Qaeda attack on American forces that in '93 that killed 18 
Rangers.' Erwa said in an interview, 'We said he will go to Afghanistan, and 
they [US officials] said, "Let him."'

            In 1996 Sudan expelled Osama and 3,000 of his associates. Two 
years later the Clinton administration, in the great American tradition of 
never having to say thank you for Sudan's offer to hand over Osama, 
proceeded to missile-attack Sudan's al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the 
grounds that Sudan was harboring bin Laden terrorists who were making 
chemical and biological weapons when the factory was simply making vaccines 
for the UN.

            Four years later, John O'Neill, a much admired FBI agent, 
complained in the Irish Times a month before the attacks, 'The US State 
Department - and behind it the oil lobby who make up President Bush's 
entourage - blocked attempts to prove bin Laden's guilt. The US ambassador 
to Yemen forbade O'Neill (and his FBI team) ... from entering Yemen in 
August 2001. O'Neill resigned in frustration and took on a new job as head 
of security at the World Trade Centre. He died in the 11 September attack.' 
Obviously, Osama has enjoyed bipartisan American support since his 
enlistment in the CIA's war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. But by 
9/11 there was no Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, indeed there was no 
Soviet Union.

A world made safe for peace and pipelines

I watched Bush and Cheney on CNN when the Axis of Evil speech was given and 
the 'long war' proclaimed. Iraq, Iran and North Korea were fingered as 
enemies to be clobbered because they might or might not be harbouring 
terrorists who might or might not destroy us in the night. So we must strike 
first whenever it pleases us. Thus, we declared 'war on terrorism' - an 
abstract noun which cannot be a war at all as you need a country for that. 
Of course, there was innocent Afghanistan, which was levelled from a great 
height, but then what's collateral damage - like an entire country - when 
you're targeting the personification of all evil according to Time and the 
NY Times and the networks?

            As it proved, the conquest of Afghanistan had nothing to do with 
Osama. He was simply a pretext for replacing the Taliban with a relatively 
stable government that would allow Union Oil of California to lay its 
pipeline for the profit of, among others, the Cheney-Bush junta.

            Background? All right. The headquarters of Unocal are, as might 
be expected, in Texas. In December 1997, Taliban representatives were 
invited to Sugarland, Texas. At that time, Unocal had already begun training 
Afghan men in pipeline construction, with US government approval. BBC News, 
(4 December 1997): 'A spokesman for the company Unocal said the Taliban were 
expected to spend several days at the company's [Texas] headquarters ... a 
BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to build a pipeline across 
Afghanistan is part of an international scramble to profit from developing 
the rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.' The Inter Press Service (IPS) 
reported: 'some Western businesses are warming up to the Taliban despite the 
movement's institutionalisation of terror, massacres, abductions and 
impoverishment.' CNN (6 October 1996): 'The United States wants good ties 
[with the Taliban] but can't openly seek them while women are being 

            The Taliban, rather better organised than rumoured, hired for PR 
one Leila Helms, a niece of Richard Helms, former director of the CIA. In 
October 1996, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported that Unocal 'has been given 
the go-ahead from the new holders of power in Kabul to build a pipeline from 
Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan ..' This was a real coup for Unocal 
as well as other candidates for pipelines, including Condoleezza's old 
employer Chevron. Although the Taliban was already notorious for its 
imaginative crimes against the human race, the Wall Street Journal, scenting 
big bucks, fearlessly announced: 'Like them or not, the Taliban are the 
players most capable of achieving peace in Afghanistan at this moment in 
history.' The NY Times (26 May 1997) leapt aboard the pipeline juggernaut. 
'The Clinton administration has taken the view that a Taliban victory would 
act as counterweight to Iran ... and would offer the possibility of new 
trade routes that could weaken Russian and Iranian influence in the region.'

            But by 1999, it was clear that the Taliban could not provide the 
security we would need to protect our fragile pipelines. The arrival of 
Osama as warrior for Allah on the scene refocused, as it were, the bidding. 
New alliances were now being made. The Bush administration soon buys the 
idea of an invasion of Afghanistan, Frederick Starr, head of the Central 
Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in the Washington Post (19 
December 2000): 'The US has quietly begun to align itself with those in the 
Russian government calling for military action against Afghanistan and has 
toyed with the idea of a new raid to wipe out bin Laden.'

            Although with much fanfare we went forth to wreak our vengeance 
on the crazed sadistic religious zealot who slaughtered 3,000 American 
citizens, once that 'war' was under way, Osama was dropped as irrelevant and 
so we are back to the Unocal pipeline, now a go-project. In the light of 
what we know today, it is unlikely that the junta was ever going to capture 
Osama alive: he has tales to tell. One of Defence Secretary Donald 
Rumsfeld's best numbers now is: 'Where is he? Somewhere? Here? There? 
Somewhere? Who knows?' And we get his best twinkle. He must also be 
delighted - and amazed - that the media have bought the absurd story that 
Osama, if alive, would still be in Afghanistan, underground, waiting to be 
flushed out instead of in a comfortable mansion in Osama-loving Jakarta, 
2,000 miles to the East and easily accessible by Flying Carpet One.

            Many commentators of a certain age have noted how Hitlerian our 
junta sounds as it threatens first one country for harbouring terrorists and 
then another. It is true that Hitler liked to pretend to be the injured - or 
threatened - party before he struck. But he had many great predecessors not 
least Imperial Rome. Stephen Gowan's War in Afghanistan: A $28 Billion 
Racket quotes Joseph Schumpeter who, 'in 1919, described ancient Rome in a 
way that sounds eerily like the United States in 2001: "There was no corner 
of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or 
under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of 
Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented ... 
The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always 
being attacked by evil-minded neighbours."' We have only outdone the Romans 
in turning metaphors such as the war on terrorism, or poverty, or Aids into 
actual wars on targets we appear, often, to pick at random in order to 
maintain turbulence in foreign lands.

            As of 1 August 2002, trial balloons were going up all over 
Washington DC to get world opinion used to the idea that 'Bush of 
Afghanistan' had gained a title as mighty as his father's 'Bush of the 
Persian Gulf' and Junior was now eager to add Iraq-Babylon to his diadem. 
These various balloons fell upon Europe and the Arab world like so many lead 
weights. But something new has been added since the classic Roman Hitlerian 
mantra, 'they are threatening us, we must attack first'. Now everything is 
more of less out in the open. The International Herald Tribune wrote in 
August 2002: 'The leaks began in earnest on 5 July, when the New York Times 
described a tentative Pentagon plan that it said called for an invasion by a 
US force of up to 250,000 that would attack Iraq from the north, south and 
west. On 10 July, the Times said that Jordan might be used as a base for the 
invasion. The Washington Post reported, 28 July, that "many senior US 
military officers contend that Saddam Hussein poses no immediate threat 
..."' And the status quo should be maintained. Incidentally, this is the 
sort of debate that the founding fathers intended the Congress, not military 
bureaucrats, to conduct in the name of we the people. But that sort of 
debate has, for a long time, been denied us.

            One refreshing note is now being struck in a fashion unthinkable 
in imperial Rome: the cheerful admission that we habitually resort to 
provocation. The Tribune continues: 'Donald Rumsfeld has threatened to jail 
any one found to have been behind the leaks. But a retired army general, 
Fred Woerner, tends to see a method behind the leaks. "We may already be 
executing a plan," he said recently. "Are we involved in a preliminary 
psychological dimension of causing Iraq to do something to justify a US 
attack or make concessions? Somebody knows.' That is plain.

            Elsewhere in this interesting edition of the Herald Tribune wise 
William Pfaff writes: 'A second Washington debate is whether to make an 
unprovoked attack on Iran to destroy a nuclear power reactor being built 
with Russian assistance, under inspection by the International Atomic Energy 
Agency, within the terms of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of which 
Iran is a signatory ... No other government would support such an action, 
other than Israel's (which) would do so not because it expected to be 
attacked by Iran but because it, not unjustifiably, opposes any nuclear 
capacity in the hands of any Islamic government.'

Suspect states and the tom-toms of revenge

'Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be 
dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every other. As the 
parent of armies, war encourages debts and taxes, the known instruments for 
bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the 
discretionary power of the executive is extended ... and all the means of 
seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people 
...' Thus, James Madison warned us at the dawn of our republic.

            Post 9/11, thanks to the 'domination of the few', Congress and 
the media are silent while the executive, through propaganda and skewed 
polls, seduces the public mind as hitherto unthinkable centers of power like 
Homeland Defence (a new Cabinet post to be placed on top of the Defence 
Department) are being constructed and 4 per cent of the country has recently 
been invited to join Tips, a civilian spy system to report on anyone who 
looks suspicious or ... who objects to what the executive is doing at home 
or abroad?

            Although every nation knows how - if it has the means and the 
will - to protect itself from thugs of the sort that brought us 9/11, war is 
not an option. Wars are for nations not root-less gangs. You put a price on 
their heads and hunt them down. In recent years, Italy has been doing that 
with the Sicilian Mafia; and no one has yet suggested bombing Palermo.

            But the Cheney-Bush junta wants a war in order to dominate 
Afghanistan, build a pipeline, gain control of the oil of Eurasia's Stans 
for their business associates as well as to do as much damage to Iraq and 
Iran on the grounds that one day those evil countries may carpet our fields 
of amber grain with anthrax or something.

            The media, never much good a analysis, are more and more 
breathless and incoherent. On CNN, even the stolid Jim Clancy started to 
hyperventilate when an Indian academic tried to explain how Iraq was once 
our ally and 'friend' in its war against our Satanic enemy Iran. 'None of 
that conspiracy stuff,' snuffed Clancy. Apparently, 'conspiracy stuff' is 
now shorthand for unspeakable truth.

            As of August, at least among economists, a consensus was growing 
that, considering our vast national debt (we borrow $2 billion a day to keep 
the government going) and a tax base seriously reduced by the junta in order 
to benefit the 1 per cent who own most of the national wealth, there is no 
way that we could ever find the billions needed to destroy Iraq in 'a long 
war' or even a short one, with most of Europe lined up against us. Germany 
and Japan paid for the Gulf War, reluctantly - with Japan, at the last 
moment, irritably quarrelling over the exchange rate at the time of the 
contract. Now Germany's Schroder has said no. Japan is mute.

            But the tom-toms keep beating revenge; and the fact that most of 
the world is opposed to our war seems only to bring hectic roses to the 
cheeks of the Bush administration (Bush Snr of the Carlyle Group, Bush Jnr 
formerly of Harken, Cheney, formerly of Halliburton, Rice, formerly of 
Chevron, Rumsfeld, formerly of Occidental). If ever an administration should 
recuse itself in matters dealing with energy, it is the current junta. But 
this is unlike any administration in our history. Their hearts are plainly 
elsewhere, making money, far from our mock Roman temples, while we, alas, 
are left only with their heads, dreaming of war, preferably against weak 
peripheral states.

            Mohammed Heikal is a brilliant Egyptian journalist-observer, and 
sometime Foreign Minister. On 10 October 2001, he said to the Guardian: 'Bin 
Laden does not have the capabilities for an operation of this magnitude. 
When I hear Bush talking about al-Qaeda as if it were Nazi Germany or the 
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is there. 
Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was 
monitored and al-Qaeda has been penetrated by US intelligence, Pakistani 
intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have 
kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organisation and 

            The former president of Germany's domestic intelligence service, 
Eckehardt Werthebach (American Free Press, 4 December 2001) spells it out. 
The 9/11 attacks required 'years of planning' while their scale indicates 
that they were a product of 'state-organised actions'. There it is. Perhaps, 
after all, Bush Jnr was right to call it a war. But which state attacked us?

            Will the suspects please line up. Saudi Arabia? 'No, no. Why we 
are paying you $50 million a year for training the royal bodyguard on our 
own holy if arid soil. True the kingdom contains many wealthy well-educated 
enemies but ...' Bush Snr and Jnr exchange a knowing look. Egypt? No way. 
Dead broke despite US baksheesh. Syria? No funds. Iran? Too proud to bother 
with a parvenu state like the US. Israel? Sharon is capable of anything. But 
he lacks the guts and the grace of the true Kamikaze. Anyway, Sharon was not 
in charge when this operation began with the planting of 'sleepers' around 
the US flight schools 5 or 6 years ago. The United States? Elements of 
corporate America would undeniably prosper from a 'massive external attack' 
that would make it possible for us to go to war whenever the President sees 
fit while suspending civil liberties. (The 342 pages of the USA Patriot Act 
were plainly prepared before 9/11.) Bush Snr and Jnr are giggling now. Why? 
Because Clinton was president back then. As the former president leaves the 
line of suspects, he says, more in anger than in sorrow: 'When we left the 
White House we had a plan for an all-out war on al-Qaeda. We turned it over 
to this administration and they did nothing. Why?' Biting his lip, he goes. 
The Bushes no longer giggle. Pakistan breaks down: 'I did it! I confess! I 
couldn't help myself. Save me. I am an evil-doer!'

            Apparently, Pakistan did do it - or some of it. We must now go 
back to 1997 when 'the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA' 
was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Central Asia 
specialist Ahmed Rashid wrote (Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999): 
'With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services 
Intelligence) who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war, waged 
by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals, 
from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and '92 
... more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by 
the Afghanistan jihad.' The CIA covertly trained and sponsored these 

            In March 1985, President Reagan issued National Security 
Decision Directive 166, increasing military aid while CIA specialists met 
with the ISI counterparts near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Jane's Defence Weekly 
(14 September 2001) gives the best overview: 'The trainers were mainly from 
Pakistan's ISI agency who learnt their craft from American Green Beret 
commandos and Navy Seals in various US training establishments.' This 
explains the reluctance of the administration to explain why so many 
unqualified persons, over so long a time, got visas to visit our hospitable 
shores. While in Pakistan, 'mass training of Afghan [zealots] was 
subsequently conducted by the Pakistan army under the supervision of the 
elite Special Services ... In 1988, with US knowledge, bin Laden created 
al-Qaeda (The Base); a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist 
cells spread across 26 or so countries. Washington turned a blind eye to 

When Mohamed Atta's plane struck the World Trade Centre's North Tower, 
George W. Bush and the child at the Florida elementary school were 
discussing her goat. By coincidence, our word 'tragedy' comes from the 
Greek: for 'goat' tragos plus oide for 'song'. 'Goat-song'. It is highly 
suitable that this lament, sung in ancient satyr plays, should have been 
heard again at the exact moment when we were struck by fire from heaven, and 
a tragedy whose end is nowhere in sight began for us.

 Gore Vidal

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