Ambivalent anniversaries, II

As any good crime writer knows, you should cherchez la femme or follow the money or at least check for skeletons in the cupboard when pursuing an enquiry. For there is an awful sameness to the badness of bad men, something rather bland: Hannah Arendt called it the “banality of evil”. When I wrote last week that the attacks of 2001 had been subjected to “every possible kind of scrutiny except that of an official government enquiry”, none of you mailed me with a “Hey, Drood, what about the 9-11 Commission report?” Either nobody bothered to read last week’s blog and I’m writing all this brilliant stuff for my own navel, or you all swallowed it whole without so much as a shrug. The fact that no one picked up on such an obvious gaffe (or was it?) is a sure sign that you think, or at least subliminally feel, that we have not even been told half the truth yet. Or that none of us can be bothered anymore, we’re all brain-dead from 9-11 fatigue, just as those in control of the story want us to be!

Still stranger than fiction

The difference between half the truth and half-truths is a subtle one. A half-truth is a deliberately concealing verity, such as is used to discredit someone’s position through calculated understatement: “She works in logistics” (actually she’s the head of that department), or to provide a vague alibi for a certain time and place: “Everyone knows I’m at the office all day Wednesday” (except that on one particular Wednesday I happened to be in Manchester), – whereas half the truth is just that, half the truth, and is at least entirely true, as far as it goes. So there are good reasons why witnesses under oath swear to tell not only “the truth”, but also “the whole truth” and, just to be really airtight, “nothing but the truth”. In the case of the 9-11 Commission report, all types of almost truth were effectively invested in the creation of a giant smokescreen of reassurance for a distressed population. They were told precisely what they needed to know in order to carry on functioning within the prevalent paradigm already constructed by their leaders.

The Commission Report has been criticized as partisan whitewash, neglectful of real causes, unconcerned with financial shenanigans and of slavishly toeing the official line with regard to the physical aspects of the events of that day. This criticism is justified, stocked as that body was with Bush cronies and limited as it was by “issues of security” with regard to the matters it could raise, as well as the choice of witnesses and documents it was permitted to draw upon. They only received a fraction of the documentation they asked for, and even then, large swaths of it were blacked out. Meanwhile the President and Vice-President refused to testify separately to the commission, as requested, but would only answer questions together, in an unofficial and off the record capacity.

Ravings of the royal fool

The Commission effectively ignores any possibility of a smoking gun, skeleton in the closet, grey eminence other than Osama bin Laden or motive other than radical Islamic jihad. It is not bothered by the gross malfunctioning of the air defence system NORAD. It does not concern itself with the mysterious events surrounding the collapse of WTC Tower 7, indeed it does not mention that city-block-sized, 47-floor monolith at all. It therefore cannot admit the happy coincidence that, if there really were a conspiracy, much of the evidence of same will have probably been lost in the destruction of the very building that housed the executive offices of the CIA.

Now, conspiracy theorists are an odd and somewhat nerdy lot. Like the King’s fool, they are expected to rant and rave, and even when they make sense, it will generally be ignored. Many of them belong to the kind of loony fringe that sees black helicopters and UFOs everywhere, and they have been known to cross themselves any time someone mentions the United Nations. They are the sworn defenders of the little guy and vehemently opposed to anything that smacks of globalism or internationalism. They see World Government as a dire threat, unable to envision that body as being anything other than business as usual, just much bigger and even more intrusive. A lot of them believe the entire planet is manipulated by a mysterious power elite called the “Illuminati”, made up of free-masons and mystics thirsty for ultimate control. Thus they are naturally suspicious of the official line, being the kind who cling to their firearms and like to make their own hooch.

However, as far as 9-11 goes, they are asking legitimate questions and insist that Thomas Jefferson, who famously called dissidence patriotic, would be on their side. They refer to the Commission’s findings as the “9-11 Omission Report” and call for a new and fully independent congressional enquiry with full powers to question any and every person involved and pursue any avenue. Apart from common-knowledge stuff, like the Pentagon seeming to have been hit by something the size of a Ford Transit, rather than a Boeing 767, their prime beef with the 9-11 Commission is that it does not even pose the obvious crime-writer’s question of who, if anyone, stood to gain from all this? They insist that a giant, thirty-storey-high, cardboard finger pointing at the WTC complex’s owner would have been the immediate answer, had anyone bothered to ask.

Follow the money trail

By June 2001, when Larry Silverstein bought the leasehold for the entire WTC complex, including tower 7, the Twin towers were outdated, energy-voracious structures, surviving on subsidies, ill-suited to the age of broadband internet or passive design, and packed with asbestos-sheathed, steel girders that were long overdue for a one-by-one therapy of highly expensive removal and replacement. The towers were also losing money fast from falling stock value and were thus undercapitalized as well as severely under-tenanted. But they were not underinsured, oh, no, that was one thing the new owner had taken particular care of only a few weeks before the attacks.

The 7 billion dollars that Silverstein made from the two insurance settlements (two planes equals two attacks, ergo two settlements), even after costs, still means that he personally made some 2 million dollars for every soul who died there. Now I cannot stand up and say “J’accuse”, and neither can anyone else with absolute certainty. But I can and do expect a Commission funded with tax dollars (although but a tiny fraction of the amount spent by another commission trying to catch President Clinton with his fly open) to at least ask whether there is a money trail and if so, where does it lead?

Others who stood to profit from the events of that September day were anybody currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. That could mean just about anyone from your Uncle Abner to the Enron guys who were being investigated at the time for a multi-billion dollar fraud. No need for me to tell you whose friends they were. But since those two offices were housed in the unmentioned tower 7 (which stood a hundred metres away from the Twin Towers and was not hit by any aircraft), with the highly convenient fall of that structure, the case against Enron also collapsed. We have since been told that what looked like a controlled demolition was actually the rarest of possible building failures: chemical damage to the steel structure due to temperature and the presence of other catalysts, coupled with insufficient water pressure for the fire hoses. Anyone involved in professional demolition shakes their head at this explanation and says; “No way! If that were the case the building would have taken at least 45, rather than 5 seconds to fall.” Thermite (a super high temperature explosive) in V-packs and electronically timed det-cord had been used for sure, say these experts. And NASA thermal images confirm their theory. Even five days later, surface temperatures of the tower 7 rubble were still over 700° Celsius.

The plot thickens

A further anomaly relating to the official version occurred in the days leading up to the 11th of September. A “put option” is a form of hedge instrument used in financial circles to counteract the effects of stock decline. Put options rise in value when a stock price falls. However, they are expensive and tricky to deal with unless you are pretty certain of success. In the days prior to the attacks there was a massive increase in the sale of put options on particular US airline stocks. Guess which. This went on in major markets around the world, as if people had been secretly primed to take advantage of a catastrophic fall in stock values. Many of the options were taken by the American stocks and securities agency of Deutsche Bank, Deutschebank-Alex Brown, whose former CEO, Alvin Krongard was CIA executive director at the time, a job he took up in March 2001.

The man who replaced Krongard at Alex Brown resigned on September 12, 2001, doubtless with his pockets overflowing. Krongard himself was to remain with the CIA until 2004, during which time he also helped midwife the notorious Blackwater contracts (he served on Blackwater’s advisory board), giving that private security firm, often referred to as “Dick Cheney’s private army”, key roles in the restructuring of Iraq and the processing of suspects. Both Blackwater and DB-Alex Brown have been the subjects of vivid speculation and enquiry, including official actions by the House Oversight Committee and the SEC. It does seem curious that Krongard moves from a firm that profited massively from 9-11 stock falls to a cosy relationship (his brother Howard was on the board) with one that profited massively from the invasion of Iraq.

We should all be aware, at least since the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” (a “false flag” attack mounted by US special services under the direct orders of President Lyndon Johnson, to leverage involvement in Vietnam and escalate the conflict without a formal declaration of war being approved by congress), that governments, even democratically elected ones, are quite happy to lie to, and even sacrifice the lives of, their citizens and servicemen in order to create a suitable scenario for war if they feel it serves the national interest. No WMD in Iraq? That’s nothing new. At the time of the Cuba crisis, one project seriously considered, and even signed off by Pentagon officials, involved false flag rocket attacks on American passenger aircraft to create an excuse for invasion. The idea was only stopped when it reached President Kennedy’s desk, as he refused to contemplate such a heinous plan.

Shortly before 9-11, the Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative think tank with deep connections to the Bush administration, published a manifesto in which they outlined a plan for restoring American supremacy in the world and making the USA the uncontested master of world resources, power and information. In Section V of “Rebuilding America’s Defences”, under the title “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”, we find the sentence: “Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbour”. It is not unreasonable to argue that PNAC members used the events of 9-11as the ideal opportunity to advance their project.

The sound of silence

The next thing all the conspiracy guys point to is the lack of serious debate or inquiry about 9-11-related issues and theories in major media outlets. For them, that is all part and parcel of a controlled disinformation campaign that began seconds after the first plane hit and established a complete scenario in the public mind within those first crucial hours when the whole nation was aware of nothing else and in a state of terror and shock. I was still a little surprised, however, to find that even “Le Soir”, a Belgian newspaper I used to respect greatly, dismissed all conspiracy accusations as “having been laid to rest by the commission report”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The obvious, gaping holes in that document only serve to fuel the mystery. If the Commission had showed more rigour and ranged further, many of these ghosts might indeed have been laid to rest by now.

Since I was not expecting anything other than complete compliancy with the official line from Time Magazine, they did not disappoint me. The Warner publications soapbox offers us an entire Special Issue, heavy with grainy, black & white photos, but that fails to mention the insurance questions, the structural doubts, the obvious advantages to top administration members and their commercial interests in overseas oil (Bush, through Arbusto and Harken Energy, deeply imbedded in Saudi and Iraqi concerns) and para-military security & support infrastructure (Cheney, through Halliburton and Blackwater, who stood to gain multi-millions from pork-stuffed contracts). Time also glosses over the convenient promotion of the neo-conservative agenda and (how could it be otherwise?) leaves out WTC Tower 7 altogether. Here is the text of a letter I wrote them today:

Well, thank you so much Time Magazine for the magnificent job you did on 9-11. The people of the free world really needed to be reminded that there were only two towers that “fell” on that day, not three. They needed to be reminded of the massive damage sustained by the Pentagon as it was hit by a giant 156-foot wide airliner. They needed to be reminded that no single person or group of persons (other than some crazy guys in caves entirely unconnected with CIA funding) profited in any way financially from a giant space in the Manhattan skyline, certainly not to the tune of roughly 2 million dollars per life (unlike the victims’ nearest and dearest). They needed reminding that no member of the president’s family called Marvin had anything to do with issues of security in the twin towers or the removal of sniffer dogs two weeks before September 11. They needed reminding of the magnificent way the NORAD defence system functioned, filling the air with warplanes within minutes of the news that some very large and fully-fuelled planes had been hijacked. They needed reminding that a hijacker’s flimsy passport survived the massive collision and inferno intact, and therefore hope still remains that we may yet recover the black boxes in a train station locker in Delaware, maybe. They needed reminding that combined military exercises testing this very possibility (planes into sky-scrapers) were definitely NOT being carried out in the weeks immediately prior to 9-11, so that the President could state his conviction with all honesty that NOBODY seriously thought such a thing could happen. They needed Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to reassure them that the “Project for the New American Century” had never published a manifesto in which it was suggested that the changes the neo-con think-tank were proposing for US hegemony could only come to pass if an event of the magnitude of “a new Pearl Harbour” were to force the hand of history. Oh, sorry, you didn’t even mention any of these things. My mistake, I must have been reading between the lines … bad habit, bad habit. Nevertheless, thanks anyway! I’m happy that my subscription is helping to make the world safe for investigative journalism.

But the most damning evidence of complicity is the deafening sound of silence. Where are the lawyers? In such a litigious nation as the USA, why don’t the authors of 9-11 conspiracy books have to answer for their vicious slander in a court of law? Where are all the libel cases? This lack of lawsuits is indeed spectacular. Dick Cheney’s stock options in Halliburton alone rose by more than 3000% during the time he was running the Iraq war, so he could certainly afford to take a bath or three in a public court. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that if you want to hide a body, the best place is a battlefield. Well, if you want to hide a building and its contents, the best place is surely a demolition site. And if you want the nasty rumours to all go away … the best thing is to ignore them completely and keep on shouting the official version until everyone is deaf. Are there barbarians at the gate crying for the truth? Let them eat cake!

Edwin Drood

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