Fifteen years on from 9/11

by | Published Work

‘The 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again.’

9/11 widow Mindy Kleinberg addressing the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States 31 March 2003.

On the morning of September 11 2001, young men said to be followers of Osama Bin Laden reportedly hijacked four planes to attack America as his brother Shafiq was at a business meeting in a Washington hotel with Frank Carlucci, a former Secretary of Defence and deputy director of the CIA.[1]

Former British Prime Minister John Major was chair of Carlyle Europe 2001-4. Attending that Carlyle Group meeting the day before was former President George H W Bush just as his son, President George W Bush, who had been in business with another Bin Laden brother, Salem, was flying down to Florida to publicise a Sarasota school’s reading programme.[2]

In another DC hotel on September 11 the director general of Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), General Mahmood Ahmed, was having breakfast with Senator Bob Graham and Congressman Porter Goss, both from Florida.[3]Senator Bob Graham, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror (Random House, 2004) General Ahmed was to lose his job the following month having been said to have arranged a $100,000 wire payment to the alleged lead hijacker.[4] That man, Mohammed Atta, was reportedly living in the home state of Graham and Goss while preparing to attack the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and whatever was the intended target of the fourth hijacked plane that day.[5]

Graham, a veteran legislator with a long interest in intelligence matters, was soon to co-chair the Joint Congressional Intelligence Inquiry into what became known as 9/11. Democrat Graham, now 79, is still in the news having successfully campaigned for declassification of 28 pages of his 2002 inquiry report.[6] Republican Goss, two years younger, co-chaired that joint inquiry, went on to sponsor the Patriot Act and loudly objected to an independent 9/11 inquiry before becoming Bush’s director of the CIA in 2004.[7] … Continue reading

Complex, difficult and painful

If the mainstream media pay any attention to this month’s 15th anniversary of 9/11, I doubt there will be much written about the intimacy of the Bin Laden and Bush families or any deep exploration of the related worlds of intelligence, business and international power politics. For it’s hard to be curious about 9/11 without quickly encountering its complexity; and that’s something resource-starved news organisations just can’t handle, even if their owners were so minded.

Could George W Bush really have been in business with the brother of the man he said after 9/11 he wanted ‘dead or alive’? Isn’t the world really about white hats versus black hats – about the West versus the terrorist rest? In President Bush’s words: ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’[8]

There are other reasons many choose not to re-visit 9/11. For some that visually striking and politically shocking story suffices: suicidal Muslim followers of Osama Bin Laden crashed four commercial aircraft, killing themselves, passengers, crews, office workers and their would-be rescuers. Crazed fanatics seeking to destroy the American way of life. What else is there to tell? Nothing to see here. Move on.

For those who doubt that simple narrative, to contemplate anything else is not just hard work but uncomfortable in deeper ways. For some the events taking place on 9/11 – those digits already signifying emergency in American consciousness – were already emotionally scarring. So how then to absorb the reality, for example, that three World Trade Centre skyscrapers came down that day when only two were hit by planes?[9] How are we to explain why 2,600 architects and engineers – the professionals whose expertise we trust every time we step into a tall building – are urging an independent inquiry into the Manhattan collapses?[10] How are we to see the Bush administration’s reluctance to investigate the greatest mass murder in US history and its refusal to disclose material evidence as anything other than a suspicious, if not guilty, demeanour?[11]

How, moreover, are we to respond to the challenge posed by 9/11 widow Mindy Kleinberg to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (subsequently referred to here as the 9/11 Commission) at its first public hearing in 2003:

‘It has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100 per cent of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again.’[12]

Almost 3,000 people were killed in the United States on 9/11 and many more have died since. Yet more continue to suffer the consequences of inhaling the toxic dust that billowed across New York City that day. Some first responders and others working and living near Ground Zero barely alive now will have died come the 16th anniversary in 2017.[13]

Across the world the casualties from the state of almost permanent war that followed 11 September 2001 are vastly higher. Most killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East were as innocent as those leaving their East Coast homes that sunny morning only to leap to their deaths from the burning Twin Towers. Or – and this is a lesser-known truth – for over 1,000 of them to be totally vaporized in their destruction shortly afterwards.[14]

The subsequent ‘war on terror’ has changed the world beyond recognition: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, pre-emptive military action, waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation, the Patriot Act, drone assassinations, the demonization of Muslims and the violent eruption of large parts of the Middle East with consequent refugee problems there and in Europe.

Challenge to understanding

If what was triggered by 9/11 concerns us, then trying to understand what happened that day must matter, too. How was it, in Kleinberg’s words, that the identified perpetrators were lucky over and over again? How do we begin to try to make some sense of that transformative and far-reaching event?

Let me illustrate the scale of the challenge by describing how I first tried the direct approach. I bought two books that promised much. The Eleventh Day: The Ultimate Account of 9/11 by Anthony Summers and Robyn Swann was published in the year of the 10th anniversary.[15]Anthony Summers and Robyn Swann, The Eleventh Day: The Ultimate Account of 9/11 (New York: Doubleday, 2011) It’s a well-written, extensively footnoted work by respected authors who tell us they devoted more than four years to the task. The other was Solving 9-11: The deception that changed the world by journalist Christopher Bollyn, published in 2012.[16]Bollyn’s lectures on 9/11 are available online. His book came after reporting regularly on 9/11 from the week after it happened. Read these extracts and you will readily see the gulf between just two accounts of the 9/11 events. Bollyn writes:

‘The hypothesis of Solving 9-11 is that the attacks were an elaborate act of false-flag terrorism carried out by Israeli military intelligence with the assistance of highly-placed Zionist agents and supporters in the United States, Britain, and Canada.’

Summers and Swan, on the other hand, write:

‘The authors have seen not a jot of evidence that anything like a false-flag scenario was used on 9/11….There is no good reason to suspect that the collapse of the Twin Towers and nearby buildings, and the resulting deaths, were caused by anything other than the inferno started by the planes’ impact.’

A little wider reading quickly confirmed that The Eleventh Day is no more the ‘ultimate’ account in the sense of telling the whole story than Bollyn can be said to have ‘solved’ 9/11 in his book. Both have important information to impart, but so do many others with more modest titular claims.

So, if we are to increase our understanding without taking a lifetime, how do we proceed? For those completely new to the subject or those whose memories need some jogging, there are short overviews available. (More detailed recommended material is listed below.)

The Wikipedia ‘September 11 attacks’ entry is a useful introduction though further inquiry will challenge some of its contents.[17]

A quick (112-page) read by Arthur Naiman is 9/11 The Simple Facts: Why the official story can’t possibly be true.[18]9/11 The Simple Facts: Why the official story can’t possibly be true (Skull Press, 2011, ISBN 9781593764241)James Corbett offers a five-minute introduction to 9/11 at … Continue reading Tightly written and with glossary, index and web links, it poses some of the main challenges to the conventional version of events.

A moving human perspective is offered in the 2006 online film 9/11 Press for Truth.[19] In it families of 9/11 victims tell how they fought the Bush administration to obtain the 9/11 Commission.

A personal odyssey into an awareness of 9/11 events is the more recent film Anatomy of a Great Deception by Dave Hooper.[20] In it he documents his many questions, including reports of explosions[21] and media reports ahead of the collapse of the New York skyscrapers,[22] the molten steel found at Ground Zero[23] and the intense fires there only finally extinguished in December 2001.[24]

All four contain enough references to spark further inquiries and it won’t be long before these lead you to the History Commons Timeline.[25] project Also available in book form by Paul Thompson, this is an indispensable open source reference tool.[26]Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline (Harper Collins, New York, 2004) It cites published news items on the day itself, of what preceded it and what followed. It categorises events and characters from the Soviet-Afghan War to the post-9/11 world. All entries are hyperlinked and the site also carries lengthy articles, including one on President Bush’s movements on 9/11 and another on evidence of two characters with the identity of alleged hijacker Ziad Jarrah.

The 9/11 Commission

Thompson’s indexed assembly of thousands of news items allows us to inform ourselves by setting one report in the context of many others, jigsaw fashion. It can also serve as a measure of the value of official statements, including the report of the 9/11 Commission itself.[27] Print versions are also widely and cheaply available. That body was finally set up over a year after 9/11 following public pressure upon a fiercely resistant White House. Henry Kissinger was Bush’s first choice to chair it, but he quickly stepped down after complaints from victims’ families about his suitability and likely conflict of interests. In his place Bush appointed Republican former governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean with Democrat former Congressman Lee Hamilton as his deputy. Hamilton had previously co-chaired the Joint Congressional Inquiry into Iran Contra. The crucial appointment as executive director was Republican academic Philip Zelikow, co-author of a book a few years earlier with his friend and Bush National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. When victims’ families uncovered this and other parts of his history they unsuccessfully sought his resignation. Subsequent to his report’s publication in 2004 Zelikow went to work for the promoted Rice at the State Department.[28]

The 9/11 Commission Report reads well, but set against the History Commons Timeline is quickly seen to be deficient and misleading. Co-chairmen Kean and Hamilton themselves later said they were ‘set up to fail’.[29]Thomas H Kean and Lee Hamilton, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (Alfred Knopf, 2006) Its senior counsel, John Farmer, has been much more severe: ‘I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described.’ [30]John Farmer, The Ground Truth: The Untold Story of America Under Attack on 9/11 (Penguin, 2009) New York Times reporter Philip Shenon covered the Commission hearings and went on to reveal much more about what happened behind the scenes in his The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.[31]Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (Little Brown, 2008)

In 2005 David Ray Griffin’s detailed and challenging critique, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, was published.[32]David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Arris, 2005)

The 9/11 Commission Report drew heavily on evidence obtained by the use of torture and ignored much of what government and military witnesses and whistleblowers had to say. It didn’t answer most of the questions raised by victims’ families and failed to follow the hijackers’ money trail, concluding: ‘To date, the US government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.’

An end to questioning?

Published just ahead of the 2004 Presidential election, the Bush White House may have thought the report would draw a line under the traumatic events of 9/11 and what followed, but that’s not the way things unfolded. The Afghan and Iraq wars only increased the animosity many already felt for a president whose opinion poll ratings had been very low after his controversial election in 2000. That atmosphere was very conducive to the questioning of 9/11: if Bush had lied about weapons of mass destruction, perhaps about 9/11 too? None of those carrying official responsibilities on 9/11 had been punished. Indeed many, including Rice, her deputy Stephen Hadley, and key figures in the military and security arms of the US state apparatus had been promoted.

Some of that resulting frustration fuelled controversy over 9/11. Much of it was on the Internet and thus, for many in the established political and journalistic world who seemed to have largely lost interest, was in the easily dismissed land of the shape-shifting, tin-foil-hat wearers. This mainstream dismissal also poses problems for those seeking a better understanding of 9/11: after initial familiarisation, how do we sift the mountain of material by largely unknown authors without knowing its reliability?

One way some try to simplify this has been to categorise explanations. This, at its most basic, reduces to two propositions. One, which has become styled the ‘official account’, is that Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were solely responsible for what happened. The other is that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ – a false flag, Pearl Harbor-type operation to facilitate policy changes sought by the Bush administration and/or deeper forces within the US, even global, power structure.

A slightly more nuanced formulation is to suggest that Washington knew a terrorist attack was due and then let it happen on purpose (LIHOP) or that it made the whole thing happen on purpose (MIHOP). These two can comprise a variety of instigators – some inside the United States, some foreign actors and some a combination of both. Much of the more readily available 9/11 material fits one of these broad categories. Often the title offers a clue and it’s worth dipping into a few of the more recent online sources of this character to test their usefulness. (Some are listed below in Further material.) So, for example, I learned much about the Saudi Arabian connections to 9/11 in Summers and Swan just as I was the wiser for some of the material on Israel and its supporters in Bollyn. The former reject both LIHOP and MIHOP, while Bollyn clearly believes that Israel and its American backers very much made 9/11 happen.

A few writers and website publishers refuse to be drawn into these categorised areas, seeing them as false dichotomies. Instead, they dig deeply, often focussing on one area of the controversy. For example, Kevin Fenton’s 2011 Disconnecting the Dots: How CIA and FBI officials helped enable 9/11 and evaded government investigation contains a very detailed analysis of why much intelligence information about al-Qaeda was not acted upon.[33]Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots: How CIA and FBI officials helped enable 9/11 and evaded government investigation (TrineDay, 2011)

Sceptical writers like Fenton will often then simply list their objections to the ‘official’ version and conclude that only a fully independent inquiry with powers to subpoena witnesses and evidence will take us nearer the truth of what happened. This is the position of most US-based 9/11 campaigns. It is also that of the UK Reinvestigate 9/11 campaign in which Ian Henshall is prominent.[34] His book 9/11: The New Evidence (reviewed in Lobster 54) remains an informed introduction even though now nine years old.[35]Ian Henshall, 9/11: The new evidence (Robinson, 2007)

As Henshall and many other writers point out, the four official inquiries into 9/11 proved unsatisfactory. The first, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) report into the collapse of the World Trade Centre buildings, was produced on a shoestring budget after the Ground Zero site had been largely cleared of evidence. The Congressional inquiry co-led by Graham and Porter focussed narrowly on intelligence matters and some of its findings. Among many other deficiencies, the 2004 9/11 Commission Report didn’t mention the destruction of the unattacked World Trade Centre Building 7 (WTC 7). The fourth official report which did, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), had to modify its findings substantially following the exposure of basic methodological errors. Its final report said: ‘This was the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building primarily due to fires.’[36]

Serious inquirers into 9/11 should look at these official reports and associated documents subsequently released but also question their provenance. The ones by FEMA and the 9/11 Commission were under-resourced and limited in their ability to access material evidence. The Congressional inquiry was co-chaired by Goss, a close Bush ally in both Florida (where Governor Jeb Bush was a fellow Republican) and Washington where George W was soon to appoint him head of the CIA. NIST, whose report leaned heavily on the earlier one by FEMA, is part of the Department of Commerce. Its head at the time was Donald L Evans, Bush’s Republican national finance chairman. The head of FEMA, Joseph Allbaugh, was a close personal friend of the President.

Investigation critics

It’s important, too, to pay attention to critics of these official investigations. One of the first was Bill Manning, the editor-in-chief of the firefighters’ journal, Fire Engineering. This is part of what he wrote there less than four months after 9/11 on 1 January 2002:

‘For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car.

Such destruction of evidence shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire induced collapse in world history. I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall.

Hoping beyond hope, I have called experts to ask if the towers were the only high-rise buildings in America of lightweight, center-core construction. No such luck. I made other calls asking if these were the only buildings in America with light-density, sprayed-on fireproofing.

Again, no luck – they were two of thousands that fit the description.

Comprehensive disaster investigations mean increased safety. They mean positive change. NASA [the National Aeronautics and Space Administration] knows it. The NTSB [the National Transportation Safety Board] knows it.

Does FEMA know it?

No. Fire Engineering has good reason to believe that the “official investigation” blessed by FEMA and run by the American Society of Civil Engineers is a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure. Except for the marginal benefit obtained from a three-day, visual walk-through of evidence sites conducted by ASCE investigation committee members – described by one close source as a “tourist trip” – no one’s checking the evidence for anything……

……Some citizens are taking to the streets to

protest the investigation sellout. Sally Regenhard, for one, wants to know why and how the building fell as it did upon her unfortunate son Christian, an FDNY probationary firefighter. And so do we.

Clearly, there are burning questions that need answers. Based on the incident’s magnitude alone, a full throttle, fully resourced, forensic investigation is imperative. More important, from a moral standpoint, for the safety of present and future generations who live and work in tall buildings – and for firefighters, always first in and last out – the lessons about the buildings’ design and behavior in this extraordinary event must be learned and applied in the real world.

To treat the September 11 incident any differently

would be the height of stupidity and ignorance. The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately.

The federal government must scrap the current setup and commission a fully resourced blue ribbon panel to conduct a clean and thorough investigation of the fire and collapse, leaving no stones unturned.’ [37]

I have quoted Manning at length not only because of his professional expertise and thus direct relevance to the New York events, but because his words can be applied across the whole area of what we call 9/11. The ‘clean and thorough investigation’ of this shocking and profoundly important series of events has just never happened.

At every stage the resistance by the Republican White House to rigorous, independent inquiry was replicated down the line. When Bush finally agreed to be questioned by a select few members of the 9/11 Commission he would only take part in the company of his Vice-President, Dick Cheney. The pair then did so in private, not under oath and no transcript of what took place has ever appeared.

From the tight-lipped White House down to the lack of forensic examination at Ground Zero, those seeking to know what happened to their families, friends and colleagues on 9/11 have been impeded and often, as we shall see, misled and lied to by those responsible for their protection.

Those who have independently researched 9/11 have frequently been vilified. At the United Nations in 2006, Bush attacked ‘outrageous conspiracy theories’.[38] This was echoed more recently at the UN by then UK Prime Minister David Cameron.[39]

The same treatment has come from most of the mainstream media[40] and also from ‘progressive’ writers. In 2007, for example, Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote:

‘The 9/11 conspiracy theories are a displacement activity’, going on to say ‘these conspiracy idiots are a boon for Bush and Blair as they destroy the movements some of us have spent years building.’[41] and comment.september11

Monbiot called in aid the Hearst magazine Popular Mechanics that had targeted critics of the ‘official’ 9/11 story first in a special edition[42] and then in book form. Those criticised by Popular Mechanics and Monbiot hit back, but without mainstream media coverage their replies went largely unheard.[43]

But as the years have gone by more and more senior figures in US government service have chosen to speak out and add to our understanding of 9/11 events. As they have done so, many of the more easily challenged ideas of 9/11 campaigners have also been modified or rejected. Now, 15 years on, we can begin to examine the main events we call 9/11 not only with more perspective but with the help of those who in one way or another were close to what happened but whose experiences have to date largely failed to reach a wider audience.

9/11 in context

Before we look at these detailed matters let us briefly set these complex events in context. At the end of the 20th century – a time some claimed as the end of history – a dominant United States sought to confirm its global reach over new challenges to itself and its allies. Some of those challenges to full-spectrum dominance came from people, organisations and even states that not long before had been US allies. In the latter years of the Cold War the United States had a working relationship with Osama Bin Laden and his followers in Afghanistan and then, after the Berlin Wall came down, in the Balkan conflicts. Partly as a result of that alliance al-Qaeda followers of Osama Bin Laden were ushered into the United States for military training.[44]

In the months before 9/11 there were accounts of Bin Laden maintaining that close US contact. For example, veteran British journalist Anthony Sampson reported in The Guardian that Le Figaro had been told by French intelligence:

‘Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent….Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.’ [45]

In all this, the US and its intelligence and military forces worked closely with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This intimate relationship was exemplified by the 9/11 meetings that began this essay.

The particular closeness of the Bush family to the Saudis was illustrated two days after 9/11 when the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar – ‘Bandar Bush’ as he was known

– was photographed in relaxed conversation on the White House Truman Balcony with the President, Vice-President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. That 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers who had been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans were Saudi seems not to have chilled this mutual warmth. Seven months later, Bush invited Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to his Texas ranch.

The fact that Saudi Arabia practises and propagates a strict and intolerant form of Islam did not appear to inhibit the closeness of the political and personal relationship of its leaders with the Bush administration. Nor did the adherence of Osama Bin Laden to those beliefs, nor the established financial links of some prominent Saudis to his al-Qaeda organisation, seem to jeopardise the friendship of some of his family to that of the President and his father. While the same close personal and business

relationships were not matched by the leaders of Pakistan, the political alliance was strong and as critical to US foreign policy after the end of the Cold War as it had been during it. Head of the CIA Pakistan station turned whistleblower John Kiriakou is just one of many to confirm that the Pakistan ISI not only helped to create the Taliban with Saudi money and helped sustain Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but that many in the Pakistan military were very strongly supportive of al-Qaeda.[46] We know, for example, from the work of Peter Lance

that at least one double agent, Ali Mohammed, was close to senior figures within al-Qaeda and the US. We also know that British-born Sheikh Saeed, who, according to former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, had been recruited to MI6, became a key figure in al-Qaeda, too, with some saying that he was involved in passing money to the alleged hijackers.[47] and

Foreign policy and democracy

The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) had in 2000 pressed upon President Clinton its ideas for ‘Rebuilding America’s Defences’.[48] Some of its leading figures had recommended Israel under Binyamin Netanyahu to make a ‘Clean Break’ which required the remaking of the Middle East.[49] Many of those producing these reports became prominent figures in the Bush administration and forceful advocates for war.

Let’s remind ourselves that PNAC, largely funded by conservative foundations and with the backing of senior figures in the weapons and energy industries, had itself recognised that popular opposition to ever bigger arms budgets and foreign wars was great. It apparently shared the view of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in his 1998 book The Grand Chessboard:

‘America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation. Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization.’ [50]Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (Basic Books, 1997)

PNAC put this barrier to change in these words the year before 9/11: ‘The process of transformation [of the military], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.’

On the night of 9/11, according to Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, Bush records in his diary: ‘The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today.’[51]

Surprise attack?

Let’s start with the White House story of 9/11 being a surprise attack. When even the inadequate 9/11 Commission Report heads its chapter on warnings of the imminence of an al-Qaeda attack in the summer of 2001 ‘The system was blinking red’, we are right to doubt this Bush administration story.

The likelihood of an attack was made known in many ways and long before the summer of 2001. By then al-Qaeda’s threat to the United States was well established. In 1993 it had tried to blow up the World Trade Centre and the FBI not only knew about it but was also involved in a controversial way.[52] The following year terrorists had attempted to blow up a hijacked plane over the Eifel Tower in Paris, confirming this as a possible method of attack. The year after that an al-Qaeda plan to explode 11 airliners en route to the United States from Asia had been disrupted.[53]

In 1996 the CIA set up a special unit to monitor Osama Bin Laden, fearing he would seek to acquire nuclear weapons. The first head of the so-called Alec Station, Michael Scheuer, said:

‘Osama Bin Laden has set out the Muslim world’s problems as he sees them; determined that they are caused by the United States; explained why they must be remedied; and outlined how he will try to do so. Seldom in America’s history has an enemy laid out so clearly the basis for the war he is waging against it.’

He claims President Bill Clinton passed up many more opportunities to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden than Bush.[54] … Continue reading

In 1998 al-Qaeda successfully attacked two US embassies in East Africa and in 2000 it bombed the USS Cole in Aden. US intelligence was also aware of an al-Qaeda summit in Malaysia in January 2000 and that two of the alleged hijackers had been traced from it to California soon afterwards.[55] _qaeda_malaysia_summit

A Defence Intelligence Agency unit called Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta and three other alleged hijackers operating as an al-Qaeda cell in the US soon after the Malaysia summit. Able Danger was closed down early in 2001.[56]
Years before that Michael Springmann, then head US consular official in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, had refused to grant visas to unqualified applicants but was overruled by the CIA. Fifteen of the 19 alleged hijackers were Saudis and 11 of them received visas through the Jeddah consulate.[57]

Former National Security Agency senior executive Thomas Drake has confirmed that the agency had monitored al-Qaeda communications through its Yemen hub years before before 9/11.[58] The CIA had later made similar arrangements to access the safe house message traffic.[59]
FBI officers in different parts of the US were reporting to superiors in Washington the activities of watchlisted al-Qaeda members, some of them taking flying lessons.[60],_Jr. … Continue reading

In the months before 9/11 with, in the words of ‘hair on fire’ CIA chief George Tenet, ‘the system blinking red’, came repeated warnings. Some were very specific about plane attacks and their targets.[61]

Lawyer David Schippers, who had successfully brought about the impeachment of Clinton, claimed that he passed on to the office of Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft very specific details of an al-Qaeda attack on Lower Manhattan he had been given by members of the FBI.[62]–dFRom–k
The common factor linking all these warnings was that none were taken sufficiently seriously by the Bush administration for precautionary steps to be initiated. Indeed the experience of many from different government agencies was that no one at senior levels was listening. Some on the ground raising concerns experienced active antipathy, obstruction and actual deception. According to Lawrence Wilkerson, the chief of staff to Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, the terrorist threat was not high on the Republican White House agenda before 9/11. Boosting missile defence and getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he said, were the principal concerns of Vice-President Cheney and his old friend Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.[63]

Ashcroft also appears to have had his focus elsewhere – ‘violent crime and drugs’, according to a witness to a conversation between Ashcroft and FBI director Louis Freeh in the spring of 2001. Nonetheless it was reported in July that the Attorney General was no longer taking commercial flights. No explanation of that was ever given.[64]

This Bush administration position doesn’t seem to have changed by summer. Bush, still low in the opinion poll ratings, spent August at his Texas ranch while intelligence warnings became ever more urgent. The famous presidential daily briefing of August 6 – one whose full text was kept under wraps until 2004 – was headed: ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US’. Its text referred to ‘patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York’.[65]
Many more warnings, including from foreign intelligence services, came in the final month before the attacks. They were followed in the days immediately before 9/11 by unusual market trading activity, much of it centred on United and American, the two airlines whose planes were to be used in the attacks.[66] … Continue reading

Whole books, like Fenton’s (see footnote 33), have been written on the warnings and foreknowledge, offering a variety of explanations as to why no action was taken. These range from bureaucratic rivalry, infighting and incompetence to those at the highest levels averting their gaze, or even worse, to permit the attacks to go ahead. The ‘official’ 9/11 story as told by the 9/11 Commission favours the former blaming ‘failure of imagination’. Sceptics ask why, if ineptitude was to blame, were those in responsible positions not then taken to task. Suspicious sceptics point to some of those in senior roles subsequently being promoted, including Rice and Hadley.

We also have to ask why on 9/11 itself some seemed to know the attacks were coming. Among them were a group of young Israelis seen excitedly filming the New York attacks and subsequently arrested. They claimed in police interviews to be there ‘to document the event’. The FBI confirmed two of them to be members of Mossad. Their boss at Urban Moving Systems, Dominik Suter, fled back to Israel shortly after the attacks. The five – some 60 Israelis were detained immediately after the attacks – were held by the FBI for two months before being released to return home where three of them told their story on Israeli TV. [67] A wider view of possible Israeli involvement in … Continue reading

Anthrax assassination attempts

Days after 9/11 a number of people received letters containing anthrax spores, the attendant publicity greatly swelling the panic following the World Trade Centre/Pentagon attacks. Among them were two Democratic senators, Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, critical to rapid Congressional approval of a Patriot Bill conferring wide-ranging new powers upon the President in a situation George Bush had quickly defined as war.

The two prominent legislators were not directly harmed but five less prominent figures, including two postal workers, died within days. Many others, across a wide geographical area, were infected. It took months to decontaminate Congressional buildings. Americans never likely to die in collapsing skyscrapers became alarmed about the mail and worried that white powder on the kitchen floor might be deadly spores. Their nervous Congressional representatives became reluctant to open their missives. In The Anthrax Deception Graeme MacQueen says this was an intentional strategy of tension to push a frightened public deeper into the arms of the security state at home and into US-led wars abroad.[68]Graeme MacQueen, The Anthrax Deception (Clarity Press,2014) The Bush administration was quick to blame al-Qaeda for the attack and then finger Iraq – portrayed as the possessor of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deploy them – as the source of its anthrax. But it quickly became clear that the sophistication of the rare and weaponised Ames strain of anthrax posted in the letters meant it could only come from within the military and intelligence apparatus of the US itself. So with al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein off the list of suspects, the FBI began the hunt nearer home.

MacQueen recounts the exoneration and $5.8m legal victory against the US government of its first suspect, bio-weapons expert Stephen Hatfill. He had been repeatedly named ‘a person of interest’ by Attorney General Ashcroft. The FBI closed its investigation after the second suspect, Fort Detrick bio-defence lab immunologist Dr Bruce Ivins, apparently committed suicide in 2008. He had passed a polygraph test, wasn’t charged, had suffered long-running harassment and been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. There was no autopsy and no evidence of his involvement in what work colleagues and many other bio-defence specialists found a highly implausible allegation.

MacQueen concludes that three things are of direct interest to those seeking to understand 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ that followed. One, the anthrax attacks were carried out by a group of perpetrators, not by a lone wolf; two, the group that perpetrated this crime included deep insiders within the US executive branch; and, three, that this group of perpetrators was linked to, or identical with, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.

In at least part of this conclusion MacQueen has the support of one of the senators targeted for assassination, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that whoever sent him the anthrax letter – and he doubted it was Ivins – could not have acted alone. Senator Leahy told FBI Director Robert Mueller:
‘If he is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people. I do not believe that at all. I believe there are others involved, either as accessories before or accessories after the fact. I believe that there are others out there, I believe there are others who could be charged with murder. I just want you to know how I feel about it, as one of the people who was aimed at in the attack.’

More recently, Richard Lambert, the senior FBI official charged with investigating the anthrax attacks, has spoken out in ways that make the ‘lone nut’ case against the late Dr Ivins hard to sustain.[69] … Continue reading


It is often said in support of the ‘official’ story that it would have been impossible to keep secret any US involvement in what happened. Surely someone would have spilled the beans by now, goes the argument. Two responses can be made to that. One is that many matters of historic significance have been kept secret for a long time. In the UK the success of the Bletchley Park codebreakers in accessing German communications during the Second World War was not revealed until 1974. At its peak, Bletchley had over 9,000 working there; yet discipline, loyalty and compartmentalisation ensured their activities remained long hidden from public view. Operation Gladio’s long Cold War existence was only confirmed in 1990. By then the Soviet Union had collapsed and many citizens in Western Europe, especially in Italy, had died as a result of state organised false-flag operations.[70]

Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Routledge, 2004
) The Northwoods plan by the US government for a false-flag operation against Cuba was only disclosed to a wider public 35 years after it was drafted.[71] Bernie Madoff started targeting the rich and influential with his Ponzi scheme in 1960 but he escaped detection and arrest until his sons blew the whistle in 2008.[72]
The second response is to record that 9/11 is actually remarkable for the long list of whistleblowers who have come forward since September 11 2001. Officials from a wide array of government agencies – some very senior – have disclosed important information challenging many aspects of the 9/11 Commission version of events. In addition to FBI investigator Lambert (above), it’s worth looking up the revelations of Colin Powell chief of staff Wilkerson; Bush Transport Secretary Mineta; Thomas Drake and William Binney of the NSA; Coleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds and Robert Wright of the FBI; Anthony Shaffer of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Michael Scheuer and John Kiriakou of the CIA. All are referenced [73] … Continue readingand more can be found with a simple online search.

A whistleblower who lost her job was Cate Jenkins, a chemist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who accused her employer of intentionally covering-up the dangers from the toxic dust at 9/11. A federal court reinstated her in 2012, two years after she was sacked, but those first responders who followed the EPA advice rewritten by the White House to state that the ‘air was safe to breathe’ are still suffering and dying.[74] … Continue reading

If you then add in such critical members of the 9/11 Commission as Max Cleland,[75] John Lehman,[76] and Richard Ben Veniste,[77]

and read the September 2004 open letter by 25 national security specialists critical of the Commission’s report,[78] it will become clear just how many challenges there have been to the ‘official’ version of 9/11 from elected and appointed insiders within the US state apparatus.

That most of us have never heard these critical voices is a measure of the limited mainstream media coverage given to 9/11 in the succeeding 15 years.[79]

Alleged hijackers

Another set of questions follow when we try to establish how the warned-of alleged hijackers were free not only to live in the United States under their own names, but then on 9/11 almost simultaneously take control of four airliners in the most heavily monitored and defended skies in the world and wreak such damage. With many of them officially watch-listed, how did they manage to book their flights, pass through Boston, Newark and Dulles airport security and get on the planes yet not be caught on closed-circuit TV anywhere?

Passenger manifests for the four flights confirming their presence aboard have never been published. And if the 19 really were in transit on 9/11, how then did they manage to enter the plane cockpits and sufficiently subdue the flight crew to prevent any of the eight pilots – four of them ex-military – squawking the 4500 alert code to air traffic control, a standard hijack operating procedure taking seconds?

Fifteen years later we still have no certainty about the identity of the 19 alleged hijackers. A number of those promptly named by the FBI made it clear they were still very much alive and denied any involvement.[80] There’s some evidence that passports had been stolen and perhaps identities, too, as Mohammed Atta and Ziad Jarrah were reported being seen in more than one place at the same time. We have no DNA evidence for any of the 19 at the crash sites.

As devout Muslims intent on killing themselves in jihad, some of the 19 had distinctly hedonistic tastes. Author Daniel Hopsicker records Atta having a stripper girlfriend and an appetite for cocaine and alcohol.[81]Daniel Hopsicker, Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9-11 Cover-Up in Florida (TrineDay, 2005) Others of the 19 were reported to be Las Vegas regulars.[82]
Nor was secrecy apparently important with most of them living under their own names, two in San Diego, California, in the home of an FBI asset.[83] According to author Graeme MacQueen, Atta spelled out his name to a Florida public official claiming he was a member of al-Qaeda and telling her that soon everyone would be hearing of a great man called Osama Bin Laden. He offered to buy from her an office aerial photograph of Washington DC and asked her about security at the World Trade Centre, while also seeking cash to convert a commercial plane into a giant crop-duster.[84]MacQueen, see note 68. MacQueen, writes: ‘Mohammed Atta was certainly no secretive al-Qaeda leader but a man laying down a trail we were supposed to follow….The man’s task appears to have been to make himself unforgettable.’

Other facts that have emerged about the alleged hijackers are strange. For example, Hani Hanjour, said to have performed a very difficult high-speed manoeuvre in the American Airlines 757 that hit the Pentagon, had piloting skills so poor that his instructor rated him a ‘weak student’.[85]

Missing people

As the dramatic events of the morning of September 11 unfolded we also find many of those charged with securing the country’s safety were not at their desks. The President himself is actually visible – listening to Florida schoolchildren read My Pet Goat.[86] But when he hears of the second Twin Towers attack, he just sits there obeying the instructions of PR man Ari Fleischer to ‘don’t say anything yet’. He isn’t bundled out of public view and to safety by the Secret Service, but remains in the schoolroom. Finally, after a brief press statement made in the same school he is flown around the country, reappearing in Washington later in the day. Sceptics ask why the president and his protectors seemed so assured of his safety while the country was under attack.

Contrast that with what happened that morning to the Vice-President. Cheney, interviewed five days after 9/11, said his Secret Service personnel quickly bundled him out of his White House office after the second plane hit the South Tower.[87]

But exactly what he did during the attacks, even precisely where he was at times, is disputed. According to the 9/11 Commission testimony of Transport Secretary Norman Mineta, for example, Cheney was repeatedly warned of a rapidly approaching plane but took no steps to prevent it hitting the Pentagon.[88] Sceptics interpret Mineta’s description to suggest Cheney had given earlier orders not to intercept the approaching aircraft. Mineta’s testimony was not included in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t be found by his staff at the critical time, only appearing after being filmed outside the Pentagon helping carry an injured attack victim to an ambulance.[89]

The Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) General Hugh Shelton was out of the country. His deputy, General Richard Myers, was in meetings and only returned to his Pentagon office after it was attacked.[90] … Continue reading Within days of 9/11 Myers was confirmed as the new JCS upon Shelton’s retirement.[91] The subsequent testimony of Myers to the 9/11 Commission was heavily criticised by Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota.[92]

General Michael Canavan had been appointed hijack coordinator at the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) nine months earlier after being the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which ran the military’s counterterrorism operations and covert missions. On the morning of 9/11 he was reportedly in Puerto Rico and no deputy has been appointed to act in his absence. Canavan left his FAA post a month after 9/11.[93]

Also ‘missing’ on 9/11 was property billionaire Larry Silverstein who had signed the lease on the newly privatised World Trade Centre complex on July 24 with a clause indemnifying him against terrorist attacks. In interviews he has said that his daily routine was to breakfast in the North Tower’s Windows on the World restaurant before meeting his new tenants. But he claimed his wife saved his life on 9/11 by insisting he keep a dermatologist’s appointment. Members of his family who worked with him in the Twin Towers were likewise not there that morning.[94]

Also away from his Twin Towers office that September morning was a man who became widely known after 2003 as the first governor of Iraq. At the time of 9/11 L. Paul Bremer was chairman and chief executive of a subsidiary of insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan whose offices occupied the North Tower floors hit by American Airlines Flight 11. Before the March & McLennan job and after government foreign service, Bremer was managing director of Henry Kissinger Associates. On the morning of 9/11 he appeared on television naming Osama Bin Laden as a prime suspect and saying it was ‘a day that will change our lives.[95]

Missing evidence

In an explicit effort by the Bush White House to get the country moving again after the attacks, material from Ground Zero began to be quickly removed. Disturbing a crime scene prior to investigation is itself a serious offence in most countries, yet evidence from the site where thousands died was not only shifted but most of the steel from the three skyscrapers was promptly shipped to Asia and recycled.[96]

Many documents about 9/11 remain classified or totally redacted. A tape of air traffic controllers’ experiences made immediately after the attacks was not only destroyed by a supervisor, but its remnants were distributed in different waste bins.[97]

Bizarrely, in 2003 Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, smuggled classified documents out of the National Archives and destroyed them. Ahead of Berger’s 2005 trial The Washington Post reported:

‘Berger’s archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al-Qaeda threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive…’ [98] and

An account in the US News and World Report said that the Berger episode

‘…..gnaws at [Archives Inspector General Paul] Brachfeld

because the former top official abused his privileges and because Berger’s actions might have robbed the 9/11 Commission of key details related to its probe of the terror plot.

Brachfeld says Berger was given “unique privileges” just “because he was Sandy Berger”. But, he adds, that kind of special treatment will never again be provided. “Those unique privileges were rescinded, in terms of it wasn’t going to happen again,” says Brachfeld.

He notes that the 9/11 Commission report, which also looked at the Clinton administration’s handling of terrorism, could have been compromised. “We all know what 9/11 meant to the country, and his treating those records in such a manner will always leave, in my mind, a cloud over whether or not the 9/11 Commission got full production of the records that they requested, and that to me is extremely serious and an affront to all Americans.”’ [99]

The planes

The ‘official’ version of 9/11 was given a positive dimension by its heroic account of what happened to United Flight 73. We are told that after a 100-minute journey the plane disappeared into the ground in rural Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to regain control from the alleged hijackers. Bush made great play of the phrase ‘Let’s roll’, said to have been a passenger’s rallying call to action.[100] Hollywood bolstered that impression to the extent that this episode remains clearest in the memory of many, coming second that day only to the images of the disintegrating twin towers. (Very few with whom I discussed 9/11 in the course of preparing this article knew of the destruction of WTC7 but many recalled Flight 93 and ‘Let’s roll’.)

But there are major problems with the official account. One is the undeniable evidence that debris was spread far from the spot where the intact Boeing 757 allegedly crashed into the site of a former strip mine. There is also substantial eyewitness testimony that United 93 was being tracked by other aircraft, some saying it was shot down. Eyewitnesses can be unreliable, but the weight of what has been reported by them favours the sighting of ‘military’ aircraft in the vicinity and of explosive noises. While the black box was recovered, its voice recorder contents have only been partly disclosed to the relatives of those who died.[101]

There is also controversy, as with the other aircraft on 9/11, over how much of the reported phone conversations between passengers and those on the ground would have been technically possible during its long journey west from Newark and then its turn south-east towards its alleged Washington target. In addition to this dispute over the ability of mobile phones in 2001 to communicate with the ground from recorded high altitudes is the unrecorded content of the ‘Let’s roll’ conversation between a passenger and a telephone operator.[102]Elias Davidsson, Hacking America’s on 9/11: Counterfeiting evidence (Algora, 2013)

The US government has repeatedly denied a shootdown. Sceptics say the heroic ‘Let’s roll’ story could be used by the government to avoid accusations that US citizens, rather than being killed by the US military, went to their deaths courageously battling Muslim fanatics.

There is less controversy now over the Pentagon strike than in the early post 9/11 years, but there still remain many things unexplained. This is partly because nearly all Pentagon CCTV footage and that from other cameras in the surrounding area has not been made public.

Sceptics, already struggling with the idea that the heavily defended headquarters of the most powerful military force on earth could be attacked at all, found the final high-speed corkscrew approach of a commercial airliner, allegedly piloted by a very weak student of a single-engine trainer, just too much to accept.

Into the vacuum of information were drawn a variety of suspicions, including that of a missile attack and of planted explosives with the Pentagon itself. But it now seems clear to many in the so-called truth moment that the great weight of eye-witness and other evidence confirms the likelihood of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon.[103]

We are still left to make sense of the 9/11 Commission testimony of Norman Mineta (see footnote 73) about Cheney’s apparent refusal to defend the highly controlled airspace around Washington from the approaching aircraft.

We are also left wondering if Hani Hanjour, the alleged pilot, was actually in control of the American Airlines aircraft. In the years since 9/11 we have lots of evidence of drones and other remote-controlled aircraft. Many in the aeronautical business say that facility was available decades before. One senior figure on Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon staff, Dov Zakheim, had actually run a company specialising in this remote aircraft technology.[104]

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, no aircraft black boxes were found at the Twin Towers. The contents of those at the Pentagon and Shanksville have still not been fully disclosed.

There have been very few judicial proceedings in which more evidence might have been revealed through process of discovery. This is because most victims’ families waived that right in order to receive compensation. One 9/11 widow who didn’t, Beverley Eckert, [105] and died in a plane crash shortly after lobbying newly elected President Barack Obama about 9/11.[106]

The New York buildings

The fate of the World Trade Centre (WTC) has perhaps become the central contentious issue of 9/11. Those who hold to the ‘official’ version believe the impact of the two planes and subsequent fires brought down the Twin Towers and sufficiently damaged WTC7 to bring about its collapse later that day. Sceptics find that account unacceptable, most believing that all three towers were deliberately brought down by other means to which the 19 alleged hijackers were not party. They also raise other questions about what happened to other buildings within the WTC complex that day.[107]

In the years immediately after 9/11 an assortment of theories challenged the powerful Hollywood-type spectacle of crashing planes, jet fuel fireballs, desperate jumping workers and rapidly disintegrating buildings. As with the Pentagon attack, many of these have been dispelled under closer examination but not before providing defenders of the ‘official’ version with easily denigrated targets.

This well-publicised demolition of fanciful alternatives has served to bolster the beliefs of those holding to the ‘official’ view, permitting those with more coherent alternative explanations to be marginalised to the extent of being virtually invisible in mainstream discourse. But thanks largely to the Internet their efforts have not been completely silenced and there now exists a large literature available to those with the time and inclination to explore it. This includes eye-witness testimony, scientific examination of the rubble contents and post-9/11 statements by many of those involved. The last includes an interview with WTC leaseholder Silverstein in which he says that after speaking to the fire commander about WTC7: ‘I said, you know, we’ve had such terrible loss of life. the smartest thing to do is to pull it.’ Those seeking to learn more of Silverstein can make their own assessment of him by watching his speech in Israel delivered after 9/11.[108]

The subsequent collapse of the building housing large CIA, Securities and Exchange Commission and other important government offices in what many professionals have described as controlled demolition opens up many questions. This includes the obvious one: how could that operation be achieved so quickly unless the means of demolition were already in place and awaiting activation?

If, as many argue, the speed and nature of the Twin Tower collapses resemble those of WTC7, then we must ask the same question: were they also pre-prepared for demolition?

At one level most of us are quickly lost in the claims and counterclaims of official reports and specialists in the fields of architecture, engineering, firefighting and assorted scientific disciplines including physics and chemistry. Who are we to believe? I list at the end contending sources readers wishing to go further in their inquiries may wish to consult in making their own judgements. By seeking to apply layman logic I have tried to pierce that complexity by weighing the conclusions of the official reports against what seem to be reasoned critiques by those with relevant expertise.

Overall my conclusion is that the sceptics have the best claims. That’s not just because 2,600 architects and engineers have petitioned for an independent inquiry, although that risky stand for those whose reputations and livelihoods depend to some extent on not upsetting politicians and government contractors I do find commendable.[109] As far as I can see they have no dog in the fight over what happened almost 15 years ago: professionals with reputations to maintain and businesses to run are unlikely to be obsessives who need to believe ‘outrageous conspiracy theories’. Many seem anxious to restate basic principles of physics and engineering in the face of an ‘official’ version in which the alleged hijackers got remarkably lucky and achieved the unique destruction of three steel-framed high-rise buildings in one day.

The most relevant of many factors to me are: the rapid pulverisation of enormous quantities of material in the structure and contents of the three buildings and the complete disappearance of over 1,000 human beings within them; the presence of molten steel at Ground Zero and continuing high-temperature fires there until three months after the attack despite continuous efforts to extinguish them, and many eyewitness accounts of explosions before and during the buildings’ rapid collapse and disappearance into clouds of what was quickly proven to be highly toxic dust.

Barriers to appraisal

One of the biggest barriers to us having a rational appraisal of 9/11 is the difficulty in believing that anyone in a Western leadership position could be party to the large-scale killing of fellow citizens. Negotiating that requires us accept that those in positions of power not only choose to breach the law and offend human decency but lie to us about that transgression. But the truth is that Western leaders do send their fellow citizens to their deaths. In the case of George W Bush, it happened when he illegally invaded Iraq on the basis of the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Sacrificing the lives of fellow citizens in the name of some greater objective by using what some have called the noble lie is not new. The Bush administration repeatedly lied about many things during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Two examples: the death of sports star Pat Tillman and the ‘rescue’ of Jessica Lynch – come quickly to mind.[110] Telling the truth, obeying the law and protecting the lives of others are far from mandatory in the conduct of public affairs.

Further, in the days following 9/11 the Bush White House rewrote Environmental Protection Agency health warnings to assure New Yorkers that their air was ‘safe to breathe’. As a result, large numbers of emergency workers and volunteers at Ground Zero and other New Yorkers have died. Many more continue to suffer respiratory illnesses and worse 15 years later.[111] So when we know for sure that the US government has sacrificed citizens’ lives in two instances directly related to 9/11, why not a third whether they be passive or active partners in the matter?

Overall observations

The newly released 28 pages of the 2002 Congressional Joint Intelligence Report tell us only a little more than we knew before on the Saudi connection with 9/11. But they serve to confirm yet again the inaccuracy of the ‘official’ version as told by the Bush White House and the 9/11 Commission Report. To make sense of 9/11 we need to know much more specific detail than we have been told about what happened on the day and what led up to it. We need to squeeze out of the official reports and their memoranda what we can after interrogating them for their accuracy, and then seek to inform our judgments by what many others have told us since – the whistleblowers, the researchers, the writers and through accessing and evaluating whatever documentary sources become available.

This article represents little more than a dip into that complex and largely hidden history and has been written to encourage others to pursue their own inquiries. (In Further material I add to the footnotes by including assorted sources on other aspects of 9/11 readers may wish to pursue.)

In the absence of direct evidence we must make the best we can of that which is available, much of it circumstantial. That, as in much criminal investigation, requires us to consider motivation and the capacity of those considered to have such purposes to actually achieve them.

In seeking what are inevitably provisional conclusions I have been guided in part by the sentiments of Senator John D Rockefeller, the chairman of the 2008 Senate Intelligence committee in its Report on Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials were substantiated by intelligence information. He said:

‘Unfortunately our committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence. In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.

It’s my belief that the Bush administration was fixated on Iraq and used the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. To accomplish this, top administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al-Qaeda as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Sadly, the Bush administration led the nation into war under false pretences.’ [112]

The accumulated evidence strongly suggests that many warnings about an attack on the United States were given by Americans and others and that the Bush White House, for reasons including the one stated by Senator Rockefeller, failed to act upon them.

Whether Washington’s unwillingness to pursue a prompt and rigorous criminal investigation into 9/11 was due to embarrassment or a desire to conceal its origins, purposes and practicalities must be a judgement made by each of us on the balance of available evidence. For my part, I find myself in agreement with widow Mindy Kleinberg that those who apparently perpetrated 9/11 were ‘lucky over and over again’. That and the many coincidences and connections that run through 9/11 like a barium meal leave me wondering if the many victims of the ‘war on terror’ that still result from 9/11 will ever enjoy such astonishing good fortune themselves.

Short of that I hope readers in search of more truth about this transformative event will find this article of some use in that urgent and important task.

Further material

From the profusion of material on 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ here are some additional materials I have found useful. As with all sources they come with a ‘user beware’ caution.

I have found setting up a Google 9/11 Alert helpful in trying to keep abreast of current media developments. That system can obviously be tailored to specific areas and persons of interest.

While both mainstream media and the academic community have yet to address many of the 9/11 matters I touch on here, there are always those in both who continue to throw some light in dark places.

Here, for example, is Robert Fisk of the i/Independent and a less well-publicised response to it by Carl Lesnor It will be interesting to see if Fisk has any more to say come the 15th anniversary and if he is joined by any more mainstream writers.

The Rupert Murdoch empire, with the odd exception, has done little to challenge 9/11 orthodoxy. It’s worth remembering that one of his oldest Australian friends and business associates is property tycoon Frank Lowy, known to many for his Westfield shopping malls. Lowy was in partnership with Larry Silverstein in acquiring the lease for the World Trade Centre complex in July 2001. Christopher Bollyn here speculates on how much Murdoch might have known before 9/11:

RT often turns its attention to 9/11. Here’s an example:

Some academic sources can be found through the site of 9/11 in the academic community found here: It includes a film documentary, Academia’s Treatment of Critical Perspectives on 9/11. In its list of academic papers I found those by Peter Dale Scott, Lance Dehaven-Smith, Kevin Ryan, Steven Jones, Paul Zarembka, Allen M Poteshman, Niels H Harrit, Laurie Manvell and Michael Truscello of value. Most can also be accessed online in interviews/presentations and many have books and websites worth consulting too.

The Journal of 9/11 Studies can be found at Its Beginners section is a good place for newcomers to the subject and gives ready access to other sites I found of value, particularly those of the Family Steering Committee and 911SpeakOut. This site also hosts the 9/11 Best Evidence Panel with its useful 9/11 Consensus Points at

James Corbett maintains a close interest in 9/11 matters and his site at is always worth a look. His search engine works well and will be especially useful to those who wish to pursue the neocon, insider trading and financial dimensions to 9/11. He maintains a close relationship with FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds who blogs at Boiling Frogs, now associated with Newsbud here and here

Tom Secker’s site carries useful material for those with a 9/11 interest. Jon Gold is another who has maintained a close interest in the subject. His We Were Lied To About 9/11 series is at

The site is one of several devoted to 9/11 I accessed. Others, in no particular order, include:

Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA Alec Station, blogs at and is regularly to be found on US and British broadcasts.

Kevin Ryan maintains a strong interest in 9/11 at his website His book Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects has won praise from many of the victim families as well as Peter Dale Scott.

David Ray Griffin’s books on 9/11 – another one is due later this year – have long been the basis of much critical thinking about 9/11. More on him and his books here

Paul Craig Roberts, a veteran Reagan Administration Treasury official, economist and writer, has an interesting site at This recent piece on the Saudis and 9/11 gives a flavour of his perspective on events: .

In similar vein the website of US presidential candidate Ron Paul contains useful 9/11 material of which this is an example .

One British politician who took an interest in 9/11 was the late Michael Meacher. The Labour MP and former minister wrote this for The Guardian in 2003 .


I am grateful to David Chandler of – for alerting me to an article on the Pentagon attack by Frank Legge and Warren Stutt which draws on material released as a result of FOIA requests. The article appears in the Journal of 911 Studies and can be accessed here:

Julian Charles of The Mind Renewed – – has recorded an interview with me which can be found both at his website and on YouTube at . He has included some useful further material in the accompanying show notes, including an interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell.