Archive for category 9/11

Can the US Stop Being a Blundering Giant?

Perhaps the most painful part of the wildly ill-conceived response to 9/11 was the way in which the US behaved like a blundering giant, lashing out at the world, smashing things like Iraq that had nothing to do with the attacks.  The Bush administration’s policies – arrest, torture, secret prisons, drone attacks, two failed wars – were seductive and disastrous and arose from a worldview formed by the Cold  War that saw the world in stark, dualistic ways.

The Obama administration had been stymied by Congress in its efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  They’ve managed to unwind our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and this week the President delivered the kind of speech that reminded me why I liked him in the first place – morally, ethically he seems to understand the issues, to speak them eloquently.  Too rarely, he’s matched his rhetoric and his action.  But at long last, it seems he wants to move our nation in the right direction, giving up the seductiveness of the imperial presidency and its vast powers.

In an article for the AP, from KSL, for example:

Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.

Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat – a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.

The point is that the tools needed to successfully combat terrorists aren’t armies and drones.

Maureen Dowd, channeling her inner smart person, wrote about the President’s speech.

After four years of bending the Constitution, the constitutional law professor now in the White House is trying to unloose the Gordian knot of W.’s martial and moral overreaches after 9/11.

Safely re-elected, President Obama at long last spoke bluntly about the Faustian deals struck by his predecessor, some of them cravenly continued by his own administration.

The rest of her article describes her visit to Bush’s presidential library, with more than few choice phrases:

You could fill an entire other library with what’s not in W.’s.

And:

Decision Points Theater — a whiny “Well, you try being the Decider” enterprise — lets you make the decisions after getting taped briefings on W.’s crises from actors playing experts. But it is rigged with so many false binary options that the visitors I voted with ended up agreeing with Bush’s patently wrong calls on Iraq and Katrina.

I’m reminded that throughout his Presidency, Barack Obama has been a maddeningly cautious and centrist leader.  The result has been a slow, but steady, progression in the right direction.  No whiplash policy changes for this president, instead a constantly calibrating and recalibrating movement away from the disastrous policies of the Bush administration.

The War On Terror was always a misnamed, mishandled, misconceived thing, a disaster from beginning to end.  It was a fatally misconceived adventure that did more damage than good.  If at long last the Obama administration is turning away from it, rejecting its tactic and premises, I’ll suffice to say better late than never.

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Alex Jones: Oklahoma Tornado Was An Inside Job

Alex Jones

Via Media Matters.

Conspiracy talk show host Alex Jones is best known for promoting the theory that the 9/11 attacks were really a “false flag” operation by the U.S. government. He said the same thing about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and the recent Boston bombings. Now he is making the claim that the Oklahoma tornado was a secret government plot.

Jones, a longtime proponent of the idea that the U.S. government can manipulate and even produce weather systems like tornadoes and hurricanes, went on to say that if people saw helicopters or small aircraft in the area, then “you better bet your bottom dollar they did this.”

“But, who knows if they did?” he asked. “You know, that’s the thing. We don’t know.”

Jones is being increasingly treated as a serious voice within the right-wing GOP. Republicans in the House, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), actually held a hearing last month to discuss Jones’ theory that that President Obama is trying to buy up all the bullets in the country.

UPDATE: Maddow: Will ‘weather weapon’ talk finally drive GOP away from Alex Jones? In an audio clip, Jones suggests the government is causing tornadoes to convince Americans about climate change:

“Tornadoes are way down. Of course, they lie that they’re way up to get carbon taxes, but I don’t know if this was a weather weapon or not. They can, with the right weather conditions, they can create and steer groups of tornadoes.”

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CNN’s Crowley Adopts False Right-Wing Claim That Obama Didn’t Call Benghazi A Terrorist Attack

Via Media Matters.

What a shame. It was Candy Crowley who courageously committed an act of journalism in the middle of a presidential debate, daring to fact-check inveterate liar Willard (“Mitt”) Romney in real time. I suppose her standing at CNN has suffered, because truth-telling just isn’t appreciated among the DC media. On CNN right-wing talking points are better than facts, so Crowley is going with the talking points.

The hyper-partisan right-wing Benghazi witch-hunt has produced no new information after NINE congressional hearings, two full-scale investigations, and an SNL parody. Senator John McCain tried to get a select committee established just to re-hash Benghazi. If I were the Senate Majority Leader I would instead assemble a committee to thoroughly investigate the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, starting with the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letters, and charged with examining the 31 other terrorist attacks on Bush’s watch, including 7 attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates.

More info:
Fox And Issa Claim There’s A Difference Between An “Act Of Terror” And A Terrorist Attack

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Ten Years Ago Today . . . And No It Was Not Worth It

I hate looking back.  Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began. 

The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness.  The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months.  Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it.  The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage.  American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Exercise in Truth-Telling

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tonight’s must-see TV is on MSNBC at 7 pm: “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War” uses the occasion of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq for an unusual exercise in media truth-telling, hosted by Rachel Maddow. The documentary is based on a book co-authored by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

In the documentary, many of those who were sources for the book “Hubris” appear on camera for the first time. One of them, Mark Rossini, was then an FBI counter-terrorism agent detailed to the CIA. He was assigned the task of evaluating a Czech intelligence report that Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, had met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the attack on the World Trade Towers. Cheney repeatedly invoked the report as evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11. “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April,” Cheney said on Meet the Press on Dec. 9, 2001. But the evidence used to support the claim–a supposed photograph of Atta in Prague the day of the alleged meeting—had already been debunked by Rossini. He analyzed the photo and immediately saw it was bogus: the picture of the Czech “Atta” looked nothing like the real terrorist. It was a conclusion he relayed up the chain, assuming he had put the matter to rest. Then he heard Cheney endorsing the discredited report on national television. “I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, ‘What did I just hear?’ And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn’t believe what I just heard,” Rossini says.

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NYT: President Bush Ignored CIA Warnings Before August 6th PDB

9/11 WTC

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) with the headline: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The PDB (partially declassified in 2004 as a result of the 9/11 Commission investigation) predicted an al-Qaeda attack on New York’s World Trade Center. Bush stayed on vacation in Texas, going fishing the next day.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Kurt Eichenwald reports on the contents of prior PDBs that the Bush administration kept secret (emphasis added):

While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.

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

…And the C.I.A. repeated the warnings in the briefs that followed. Operatives connected to Bin Laden, one reported on June 29, expected the planned near-term attacks to have “dramatic consequences,” including major casualties. On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.”

…Throughout that summer, there were events that might have exposed the plans, had the government been on high alert. Indeed, even as the Aug. 6 brief was being prepared, Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi believed to have been assigned a role in the 9/11 attacks, was stopped at an airport in Orlando, Fla., by a suspicious customs agent and sent back overseas on Aug. 4. Two weeks later, another co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, was arrested on immigration charges in Minnesota after arousing suspicions at a flight school. But the dots were not connected, and Washington did not react.

The Bush administration was the worst in our history. And their irresponsible behavior prior to the 9/11 attacks was just one of their string of catastrophic failures.

UPDATE: Speaking to CBS “This Morning” Eichenwald explained that the neocons in the Bush administration ignored repeated warnings about al-Qaeda because they were already fixated on Iraq.

“The worst of them, the neoconservatives at the Pentagon, as the CIA was coming in and saying al Qaeda is going to attack, said, ‘Oh, this is just a false flag operation. Bin Laden’s just trying to take our eye off of the real threat, Iraq.’ And so there are presidential daily briefs that are literally saying, ‘No, they’re wrong. This isn’t fake. It’s real.’”

“In the aftermath, the White House and others said, ‘Well, they didn’t tell us enough.’ No. They told them everything they needed to know to go on a full alert, and the White House didn’t do it.”

UPDATE: Romney Adviser Calls Foreign Policy A ‘Distraction’. Uh-oh.

While it seems clear that the so-called “Cheney-ites” are running things behind the scenes, Romney has avoided much public discussion of foreign policy. Even his own advisers and supporters have no idea what Romney’s foreign policy is.

UPDATE: Cheney bashes Obama for not paying attention to intelligence briefings. Not true of course, it’s another example of GOP projection.

UPDATE: Chris Matthews: Republicans would have blamed Obama for 9/11

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A Third of Veterans Say Iraq and Afghanistan Wars Not Worth Fighting

Tanks in Baghdad

U.S. forces were sent into Afghanistan in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks on the United States to topple that country’s Taliban leaders who had harbored the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible. What initially seemed like a quick victory became the longest war in American history. The Taliban made a comeback, and now have shadow governments in nearly every Afghan province. They seem likely to overthrow the U.S.-backed government in Kabul when our troops are withdrawn.

The invasion of Iraq was launched by the Bush administration based on false claims. It was a breach of the United Nations Charter, a war of aggression. By September 2004, the Iraq Survey Group final report concluded that the dangerous weapons of mass destruction cited by President Bush as a threat to U.S. national security never existed. By March 2007, the Pentagon finished reviewing more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the U.S. invasion. The conclusion: there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime ever had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.

Therefore, it should not be surprising that 33 percent of the post-9/11 veterans who took part in a recent poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center said neither of those two wars was worthwhile considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States. That compared to 45 percent of nonmilitary poll respondents who said neither war was worthwhile.

More than 4,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and almost 1,700 killed in Afghanistan. These figures do not include suicides.

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What We Still Don’t Know About The 9/11 Attacks

CNN breaking news

Ten years later, the facts are still coming out about the events of September 11, 2001. The first F-16s scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base were unarmed – the pilots knew the only way to stop a hijacked plane would be to crash into it. A little later, according to newly-released tapes, NORAD elected to ignore Vice President Cheney’s order to shoot down suspect aircraft.

The 9/11 Commission Report remains the best overall account of what happened during the attacks ten years ago. However, the vast majority of the 9/11 Commission’s investigative records remain sealed at the National Archives in Washington. About two-thirds of the material is still classified, years after the commission members wanted it released to the public. Included in the sealed archive is the complete transcript of the commission’s interview with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

While some people refer to “the official story” of the 9/11 attacks, there actually isn’t one. The closest the Bush administration ever came to issuing an official account was former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the commission in April 2004. This was when Rice claimed, incredibly, that no-one “could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.” Condi’s testimony basically amounted to a plea of incompetence on behalf of the U.S. government.

Robert Scheer points out that the 9/11 Commission was never able to definitively answer some of the the most important questions regarding the origin and motives of the 9/11 attackers. The truth might lead to a re-examination of U.S. foreign policy, and possibly embarrassment for some powerful people associated with bad decisions — both overt and covert.

The history of the 9/11 attacks is still being written. There is plenty we still don’t know. What we DO know: the last decade of war has caused lots of death and destruction, and the cost to U.S. taxpayers so far is $6.6 trillion in war funding plus another $580 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. We are left with a shameful legacy of war crimes, assassinations and torture, plus the loss of some of our constitutional rights, privacy, and freedom.

UPDATE:
Krugman is Right: We Should Be Ashamed of What Happened after 9/11

UPDATE: Jane Stillwater: Honoring 9-11: Time to audit the CIA’s incestuous relationship with Al Qaeda [Note: I think Jane is asking the right questions, but I don't agree with all her answers]

UPDATE: Kevin Gosztola: Ten Years After 9/11, Aviation Security Still Hysterical. It’s a world ruled by fear and terror, we just live in it and have nothing to say.

UPDATE: U.S. Attack Threat Remains Uncorroborated. Or, “Osama bin Laden is dead, but you can’t have your rights back yet because we have some more fear mongering to do.”

UPDATE: Chris Hedges:

We do not grasp that Osama bin Laden’s twisted vision of a world of indiscriminate violence and terror has triumphed.

…We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place 10 years ago, including in the Muslim world, where I was working in the weeks and months after 9/11, was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.

UPDATE: Former Senator Bob Graham Urges Obama to Reopen Investigation into Saudi Role in 9/11 Attacks (Note: Bob Graham is also peddling a novel).

UPDATE: Russ Baker: Newly-revealed evidence links the Saudi royal family to Saudis in South Florida, who reportedly had contact with the 9/11 hijackers before fleeing the US prior to the attacks.

[T]he FBI, for reasons unknown, failed to provide the information to Congressional 9/11 investigators or to the …9/11 Commission, and thus it has remained a secret for the past decade.

…The 9/11 Commission report “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials” financed Al Qaeda. But this carefully worded statement does not foreclose the possibility that members of the Saudi royal family personally provided financing, or that senior officials funded companies or outsiders that in turn provided financing.

UPDATE: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that as an engineer he’s sure the twin towers were not brought down by jetliners.

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Learn Our History: How Bush Killed Osama bin Laden

Mike Huckabee’s “Learn Our History” series of cartoons continues to re-write American history according to right-wing mythology. The 9/11 edition contains nothing about the reason America got attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, except that the bad guys were “anti-American.” (They speak English to eliminate the need for subtitles). The cartoon is silent on the warnings before the 9/11 attacks that the Bush administration ignored. It extols the virtues of the USA PATRIOT Act (which genuine conservatives can’t stand). Plus a lot of praise for the Department of Homeland Security, a lot of praise for Israel and the clear implication that President George W. Bush was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. The reason why we’re dropping bombs on children in Afghanistan? So they are allowed to fly kites, if they survive! All in all, a triumph of historical scholarship, winger-style.

UPDATE: Huckabee compares his 9/11 cartoon to ‘Schindler’s List’

More info:
Huckabee cartoon attempts woeful retelling of 9/11 attacks
How Bush Killed Bin Laden: What’s Really In Huckabee’s 9/11 Cartoon

Related One Utah post:
New Republican Strategy: Insult the Intelligence of 10 Year Olds

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Ten Years Later, President Bush Tries to Explain His Deer-in-Headlights Reaction to the World Trade Center Attack

Bush on 9/11

David Ferguson on Raw Story:

In a rare interview with the National Geographic Channel, Bush reflects on what was going through his mind at the most dramatic moment of his presidency when he was informed that a second passenger jet had hit New York’s World Trade Center.

Bush was visiting a Florida classroom and the incident, which was caught on TV film, and has often been used by critics to ridicule his apparently blank face.

“My first reaction was anger. Who the hell would do that to America? Then I immediately focused on the children, and the contrast between the attack and the innocence of children,” Bush says in an excerpt of the interview shown to television writers on Thursday.

Bush said he could see the news media at the back of the classroom getting the news on their own cellphones “and it was like watching a silent movie.”

Bush said he quickly realized that a lot of people beyond the classroom would be watching for his reaction.

“So I made the decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom. I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm,” he said of his decision to remain seated and silent.

“I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm,” he added.

The National Geographic Channel will broadcast the hour-long interview on August 28 as part of a week of programs on the cable network called “Remembering 9/11″ that mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

I don’t know of the kids were rattled or not. President Bush sure looked rattled, if not downright snakebit. He definitely didn’t “project a sense of calm.”

A Raw Story commenter:

I think he looks like, “Holy fuck! That sonofabitch Richard Clarke was right. He warned me about this in the August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing and I ignored him. My presidency is OVER. They’re gonna impeach my ass over this. I wonder if I’ll be sent to prison?”

August 6, 2001 PDB

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‘Geronimo KIA’

Osama bin Laden

In August 1996, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States of America on behalf of al-Qaeda. Now, almost 15 years later, the CIA and U.S. Navy SEALs found him and killed him. Finally. The code phrase was “Geronimo KIA.” His body was buried at sea.

I suppose the street celebrations in this country were our answer to those in other parts of the world who danced with joy after the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps some thought the war was over. Unfortunately, our state of permanent war is never-ending.

UPDATE: Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad: Pakistani Incompetence or Complicity?

UPDATE: Local news anchor: ‘President Obama is in fact dead’

UPDATE:
On FDL, David Dayen tracks the changing story of what happened during the bin Laden raid. Official Bin Laden Story Changes in Various Places

UPDATE: Senate Intelligence Chair: Information That Led To Bin Laden’s Killing Did Not Come From Torture

UPDATE: Palin Thanks Bush For Bin Laden Raid, Doesn’t Mention Obama Once

UPDATE: Now That Bin Laden Is Dead, Can We Have Our Freedoms Back?

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CBS Correspondent Lara Logan: No Afghanistan Withdrawal in 2011

CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan provided a dose of reality on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

For 2010′s year-in-review show, host Bob Schieffer assembled a round table of correspondents, a CBS News tradition. Schieffer spoke to Logan about President Obama’s number one foreign policy concern. “Do you see a major drawdown of troops come summer or will it be a gradual drawdown?” he asked.

“It will be a gradual drawdown if any at all. It’d probably be more symbolic and political than anything else,” Logan said. “General David Petraeus … he is hamstrung by the fact that there’s a complete political break down in Afghanistan – within the Afghan government and also between the U.S. embassy and the Afghan government.

“There’s very little diplomacy that is going on there. That is the number one problem in Afghanistan now. It’s not military, it’s political,” she added.

Later in the show, Logan pointed out that Pakistan will be the number one foreign policy problem for the Obama administration next year.

“Somehow the United States has allowed Pakistan to dictate the terms of what’s going on over there. They denied they have the Taliban in their country. Now they say, ‘If you want to negotiate with the Taliban, you’ve got to go through us.’ Pakistan wants to control what happens in Afghanistan, and U.S. foreign policy there seems to be dictated by a somewhat irrational fear of Pakistan’s break-up. This is a tiny country, that because it has Osama bin Laden and nuclear weapons, is able to occupy a place of equality on the world stage with the U.S. and other superpowers…”

Schieffer then asked the question we’ve all been asking for at least nine years: Where is Osama bin Laden? Logan answered:

“We’ve known for years that he’s inside Pakistan, and if Pakistan’s leaders would deal with that, then maybe the Osama bin Laden story would finally come to an end. There are a number of al-Qaeda leaders and Taliban leaders in Pakistan, and the real question to the government of Pakistan is: ‘Why aren’t you delivering these guys?’ Do you know, recently I learned that not only does the U.S. know where these people are inside Pakistan — there are whole neighborhoods of Taliban in the Pakistani city of Quetta, for example — but we have information right down to their phone numbers. So the Afghans have this information, the U.S. has it and the Pakistanis have it. But no one is acting on it. Which really begs the question, because the big fear for the administration is, what happens if there’s another 9/11 or worse that originates in Pakistan? Somehow the intelligence agencies are clinging to this idea that the Pakistanis will get that information and they’ll be able to warn us. It’s not going to happen. I mean, it’s a pipe dream. You have to deal with the reality, which is that the vast majority of terrorist leaders that threaten the United States today are located inside Pakistan, and the U.S. is failing to deal with that.”

UPDATE: U.N. Maps Rate Afghanistan Less Secure
U.S. Can’t Account for Billions Spent in Afghanistan (Tens of billions, actually)

Related One Utah post:
President Obama: ‘We Are On Track’ in Afghanistan

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