Archive for July 28th, 2004
I suppose it was inevitable. It’s an election year. But did he have to be so damned enthusiastic about it?
NORFOLK, Va., July 27 – Senator John Kerry called Tuesday for an 18-month extension of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, sharpening his critique of President Bush’s response to the panel’s recent report by declaring, “backpedaling and going slow is something that America can’t afford.”Escalating the political tussle over national security, Mr. Kerry, at a campaign rally in this Navy town, said the commission should stay in existence past its scheduled Aug. 26 expiration to monitor progress on its many recommendations and issue status reports.
“You can’t treat the commission report as something you hope will go away,” he said. “Leadership requires that we act now, not talk, not vague promises, not excuses.”
An 18-month extension so they can ‘make sure we do it right’, he said, or words to that effect (I heard him say it). Like the 9/11CR is the fucking Bible or something and he’s a fundamentalist acolyte. But it’s an election year and the numbers are tight and Junior waffled over the 9/11C from the beginning, stonewalling it, refusing to release documents until it was forced to, playing games around who would testify and how, and all the rest of it. He’s vulnerable here so we have to jump on it.
The problem is: the 9/11CR is NOT the be-all/end-all, NOT the Received Word From On High. It’s just a report by some politicians who’ve made some serious mistakes that we already know about and failed even to ask some of the most vital questions. In an NYT Op-Ed yesterday, Gerald Posner took them to task for their easy dismissal of Saudi complicity.
[E]ven more startling is the report’s conclusion that the panel has “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually” helped to finance Al Qaeda. It does say that unnamed wealthy Saudi sympathizers, and leading Saudi charities, sent money to the terror group. But the report fails to mine any of the widely available reporting and research that establishes the degree to which many of the suspect charities cited by the United States are controlled directly by the Saudi government or some of its ministers.The report makes no mention, for example, of an October 2002 study by the Council of Foreign Relations that draws opposite conclusions about the role of Saudi charities and how “Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem.” The 9/11 panel also misses an opportunity to more fully explore an intelligence coup in 2002, when American agents in Bosnia retrieved computer files of the so-called Golden Chain, a group of Mr. bin Laden’s early financial supporters.
Reported to be among the 20 names on this list were a former government minister in Saudi Arabia, three billionaire banking tycoons and several top industrialists. Yet the report neither confirms nor denies this. Nor does it address what, if anything, the Saudis did with the information, or whether the men were ever arrested by Saudi authorities.
After going over the evidence that Saudis, including members of bin Laden’s family, were allowed to leave the US at a time when other planes were grounded (whether or not they were questioned before they went is unclear), he concludes:
Of course, none of these matters undermine the report’s central conclusions about what went wrong inside the United States leading up to 9/11. And satisfying answers to questions about the relationship between the Saudis and Al Qaeda might not be available yet. But the commission could have at least asked them. By failing to address adequately how Saudi leaders helped Al Qaeda flourish, the commission has risked damaging its otherwise good work. (emphasis added)
Robert Dreyfuss points out in 9/11C–Failure #2 that some of their central recommendations betray an astonishing ignorance of both Islam and what drives Islamic terrorism.
Thing Two. Perhaps it’s too much to expect people like Fred Fielding, Slade Gorton, Jim Thompson, Bob Kerrey and the rest of the 9/11 Commission to say anything intelligent about how to “Prevent the Continued Growth of Islamist Terrorism,” one of the top priorities in the “What To Do? A Global Strategy” chapter of their report. After all, it’s fair to say that they are virtual know-nothings when it comes to understanding Islam, not to mention its radical and fundamentalist manifestations.But this chapter isn’t a road map on fighting “Islamist terrorism.” It is a veritable Bartlett’s of quotable (and meaningless) platitudes. So far, at least, I haven’t seen anyone point this out.
Here are a few of the silliest (and by the way, these are not taken out of context, but are the central observations and “recommendations” of the commission in how to fight Islamic terrorism by “engage[ing] in the struggle for ideas”):
“It is among the large majority of Arabs and Muslims that we must encourage reform, freedom, democracy, and opportunity.”
“The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for. We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors… That vision of the future should stress life over death.”
“Just as we did in the Cold War, we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.”
“The U.S. government should offer to join other nations in generously supporting a new International Youth Opportunity Fund.”
These are PPPP’s (Pointless but Positive Political Platitudes) meant to shore up Junior’s ill-advised, inaccurate hyperbole about Islamic fundamentalism arising from a hatred of ‘freedom’, which is such arrant, bigoted, and superficial nonsense that even the neocons who thought this idiotic strategy up never used it as an excuse before he did.
The 9/11CR is just a political document, and it needs to be treated that way: picked apart until the grain is separated from the mountains of chaff, not embraced like Holy Writ. Yet even the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, up to now one of the 9/11C’s most vocal and reliable critics, is jumping on the bandwagon.
We intend to hold any elected official publicly accountable for any obstruction or opposition to the implementation of these recommendations. We will maintain a log on our website that will track the course of this legislation. We will in effect conduct our own oversight – “the people’s oversight”. And we will actively lobby Congress and the White House until these important recommendations are in place.
You can stand down guys; it’s an election year and everybody’s breaking their necks to get in line. We’re apparently going to have this crap hung around our necks at the speed of light, and nobody’s going to bother too much with whether it makes sense or not, will fix anything or not, or count the glaring holes in it.
It’s an election year.
It’s nice to see a conservative coming out and admitting the obvious (linked via a secondary source to avoid registration hassles).
So, the convention ceiling is of course filled with the customary balloons, awaiting their drop. I hear Ralph Nader is going to sneak in and trigger them early (joke). But, the disconcerting thing is that occasionally they pop, just loudly enough to sound like something other than a balloon popping…
Pakistan’s role in the 9-11 attacks has been woefully underreported in the US. That’s no surprise, of course, since it’s an inconvenient fact for an administration peddling fairy tales about Saddam’s alliance with Osama. But for those of you who prefer non-fiction to fantasy, I suggest reading Michael Meacher’s recent article in the Guardian. To extract four points and one quote:
(1) A Pakistani intelligence (ISI) operative who wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta before the 9-11 attacks is about to be hanged for a crime he didn’t commit, namely the execution of WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl. (Pearl is thought to have been particularly interested in our government’s role in training or backing the ISI.)
(2) The head of ISI who ordered the money wired has not been charged with anything, questioned or brought to trial. He has quietly retired, and neither the US nor Pakistan is raising a peep about it.
(3) The man thought responsible for Pearl’s murder, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is “…unlikely to be accused of the crime in an American criminal court because of the risk of divulging classified information” (NYT).
(4) FBI translator Sybel Edmonds, who has tried to expose individuals and governments that helped orchestrate the 9-11 attacks, has been put under two gag orders by the Justice Department, and her formerly public testimony to Congress has been retroactively classified. (I believe Sybel Edmond’s story is, as Mick would say, so not over.)
… and the quote:
Daniel Ellsberg, the former US defence department whistleblower who has accompanied Edmonds in court, has stated: “It seems to me quite plausible that Pakistan was quite involved in this … To say Pakistan is, to me, to say CIA because … it’s hard to say that the ISI knew something that the CIA had no knowledge of.” [Former ISI head] Ahmed’s close relations with the CIA would seem to confirm this. For years the CIA used the ISI as a conduit to pump billions of dollars into militant Islamist groups in Afghanistan, both before and after the Soviet invasion of 1979.
W ith CIA backing, the ISI has developed, since the early 1980s, into a parallel structure, a state within a state, with staff and informers estimated by some at 150,000. It wields enormous power over all aspects of government. The case of Ahmed confirms that parts of the ISI directly supported and financed al-Qaida, and it has long been established that the ISI has acted as go-between in intelligence operations on behalf of the CIA.
And after you’re done reading this article, go back and reread an old but very important report by Seymour Hersh that our media has steadfastly ignored while breathlessly promoting stories like the meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officials. (Yeah, sure, Mohammed Atta happened to be in Florida while this meeting was supposedly taking place in Prague – but why get hung up on facts that don’t fit with the story you’re selling?)