Real American Traitors
by William Rivers Pitt
"Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country,
it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it."
- H. L. Mencken
Two weeks ago, I would have believed it impossible to imagine
that anything I saw or heard could be more wretched, wrenching
or enraging than watching those two airplanes slice into the
World Trade Center Towers.
Two weeks ago, I would have believed that I could never be
more horrified than I was when I realized that those tiny
dots on my television screen were human beings who, when faced
with the choice between fire and falling, chose the high drop
to meet their death.
Two weeks ago, I would never have believed I could feel as
much sorrow as I did when beholding the walls in Manhattan
depicting the names and faces of the missing and the doomed.
It is with awe, and with the purest disgust I have ever known,
that I report to you another outrage, comparable to what transpired
on September 11th. American Republicans are, right this minute,
using the dead and the lost in New York and Washington for
political vengeance and gain. There are many who do this,
among whom are Congressmen and columnists, television pundits
and hired hacks. By their actions, our American dead are being
To truly understand the depth and breadth of this depraved
and evil hypocrisy, we must begin by reaching all the way
back to the heady days of the Reagan administration. In those
days there were two hot wars blazing, and both were used by
Reagan to further his Cold War goals.
The first was the protracted fight between Iran and Iraq
that lasted ten years. Saddam Hussein, now known as a bloodthirsty
demon, was in those days a boon compatriot of American interests.
We armed him and his military to the teeth in their fight
with Iran, because that nation was receiving weapons and funding
from the Soviet Union.
American SEAL teams fought alongside Iraqi troops, blowing
up bridges and fighting the kind of covert guerilla war they
are famous for. In the end, Iraq fought Iran to a stalemate,
and found itself at the end of the war among the most well-armed
and well-trained nations in the region.
We all know how this ended. Barely two years later, Hussein
was charging into Kuwait with his army and threatening to
disrupt the flow of oil from the Middle East. America, under
the leadership of the first George Bush, gathered a coalition
of nations and drove him in flames back to Baghdad.
In the process, however, we established military bases in
Saudi Arabia, the original home nation of Osama bin Laden.
bin Laden, appalled that the 'Crusaders' were again assembled
under arms in his homeland, swore eternal holy war against
the United States.
The other hot war being waged at the time was much more vividly
a Cold War conflict. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan,
and the Reagan administration poured untold millions of dollars
worth of weapons and arms into that nation, to be used by
the Afghani Mujeheddin.
The Mujeheddin freedom fighters, compared by Reagan to our
Founding Fathers, were pledged to drive the Soviets from their
land, and were more than happy to accept the help of the United
States. The CIA trained scores of Mujeheddin fighters, among
them Osama bin Laden. A number of these men were trained right
here in America at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In the end, the Soviet military smashed themselves into broken
oblivion against the unyielding Afghani landscape, and were
bled nearly to death by the stings of the American-armed Mujeheddin
fighters. When they left, the once-united freedom fighters
fell to war amongst various factions for control of the nation.
Soon, the group now known as the Taliban assumed near total
control of the country, and instituted a regime based upon
a harshly interpreted version of fundamentalist Islam. Osama
bin Laden, deeply involved in the fight against the Soviets,
made a home with the Taliban, and was given their protection.
In 1998 agents of bin Laden used a plastic explosive called
Semtex, originally given to the Mujeheddin by the Reagan administration,
to destroy two American embassies in Africa.
This tangled web of Cold War loyalties and conflict has as
much to do with our present state as any other factor. Arguments
regarding the righteousness and validity of our involvement
in these wars can, and have, raged for years. Both sides can
boast persuasive arguments to bolster their opinions. This
is not where foul hypocrisy has made its lair.
The sickening, opportunistic Republican political vampires
have ignored this very basic American history in the region
from which our current woe has sprung, and instead have chosen
a favorite partisan target to blame for this entire awful
You guessed it. The whole mess is Bill Clinton's fault. Forget
the Cold War. Ignore the Gulf War. Leave aside the Mujeheddin
warriors who became the Taliban by using American weapons
to gain power and influence. In our darkest days, these Republican
whores have plundered the graves of our American dead to attack,
once again without foundation, a former President whose political
viewpoint they disagree with.
A columnist named Andrew Sullivan crystallized this revisionist
nonsense, now parroted with glee by the worthless denizens
of the Fox News Channel as well as other equally repugnant
members of the conservative news media, in a recent column:
"The decision to get down and dirty with the terrorists,
to take their threat seriously and counter them aggressively,
was simply never taken. Former president Bill Clinton, whose
inattention to military and security matters now seems part
of the reason why America was so vulnerable to slaughter."
The facts of the matter are far different. In 1999, the Clinton
administration initiated a bold plan to capture or kill bin
Laden by training approximately 60 members of Pakistani intelligence
for the task. This was done in response to the attacks upon
our African embassies, and may well have succeeded.
The plot collapsed when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
was overthrown in a coup by General Pervez Musharraf, who
remains today the leader of Pakistan. Musharraf refused to
support the plot, and it withered on the vine through no fault
Earlier, the Clinton administration, acting upon information
provided with an imprimatur of certitude by the Pentagon,
launched some 66 cruise missiles into Afghanistan. These missiles
were aimed at a training camp the Pentagon believed was sheltering
bin Laden. The information proved to be erroneous, and bin
Laden was unharmed. Again, the Clinton administration acted
boldly, but was foiled by circumstances beyond its control.
The Clinton administration spoke often about the need to
augment America's defenses against terrorist attack. Clinton,
having presided over the first bombing of the World Trade
Center, the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in
Oklahoma City, and the destruction of American embassies in
Africa, knew in an acutely personal way what needed to be
His attempts to address the threat were not only foiled by
circumstance, and were not only foiled by an American mood
that neither knew or could even conceive of an attack like
that which transpired on September 11, 2001. Clinton's attempts
to address the threat of terrorism against the United States
were disrupted and diverted by the same Republicans who seek
today to blame him for the tragedy.
The most potent weapon Osama bin Laden has to wield against
America is his financial resources, and the means to move
that money secretly from cell to cell. Bluntly, it takes a
man of means to fight a nation of means. During his administration,
Clinton offered legislation that would give the Treasury Secretary
broad powers to ban foreign nations and banks from accessing
American financial markets unless they cooperated with money-laundering
investigations that would expose and terminate terrorist cash
The legislation was killed by Texas Republican Senator Phil
Gramm, who doubtless rationalized this now-portentous obstructionism
by reminding himself that Clinton was a Goddless womanizer
who wished only to strip him and his constituents of their
American freedoms. Asked in September 2001 to defend his actions,
Gramm responded, "I was right then and I am right now. The
way to deal with terrorists is to hunt them down and kill
The idea of choking off their financial resources, now so
popular as to be almost axiomatic, apparently does not resonate
with Senator Gramm. In the guise of this balding failed Presidential
candidate lives yet another wall thrown up by opportunistic
and narrow-minded Republicans, whose desire to stick it to
Clinton aided and abetted the murderers who visited New York
The hypocrisy behind current Republican attempts to blame
Clinton for the World Trade Center attacks finds its roots
far beyond the opportunistic posturing of Phil Gramm. It reaches
back to the viciously partisan Republican-controlled Congress
of 1996, which thwarted legislation offered by Clinton that
would have substantially augmented America's ability to defend
against terrorist threats.
In 1996 Senator Orrin Hatch referred to several threats which
Clinton warned us of, threats that now are as commonplace
as stores that have sold out of gas masks, as "phony threats."
He used these words to attack Clinton's legislation, helping
to create a legislative environment that gave birth to a watered-down,
Congress-driven version of an anti-terrorism bill that has
been proven to be utterly worthless.
Senator Trent Lott, with his powers as Republican Majority
Leader, did everything in his power to hamstring Clinton's
attempt to enact real protections against American threats
in 1996. Yet he found within himself the unmitigated gall
to stand in the well of the Senate during a debate about the
current iteration of Clinton's anti-terrorism measures on
October 2nd, 2001 and say, "If anything happens, if there
is a terror attack, the Democrats will have to explain to
the American people why they didn't pass this bill."
This is bottomless, bottomless hypocrisy, and the story of
it only gets worse from here.
On January 31, 2001, the Hart-Rudman report was published.
This report voiced dire warnings about threats to American
security posed by terrorist attacks. Further, this report
recommended the creation of an Office of Homeland Defense
that would be responsible for the implementation of defensive
measures to combat this threat. The Hart-Rudman report was
summarily dismissed and ignored by the Bush administration.
On February 12, 1997, Vice President Al Gore delivered to
President Clinton a report entitled 'White House Commission
on Aviation Safety and Security.' In this report, Gore outlined
numerous ways in which the airline industry could protect
its aircraft and passengers from the threat of terrorism.
Many, if not all of these recommendations would have gone
a long way towards thwarting the September 11 attacks. Like
Hart-Rudman, the warnings voiced by Gore's report were ignored
by the Bush administration.
What is most reprehensible about the treatment the Gore report
has received can be explained through the simple geometry
of the airline industry marketplace, which has one of the
most powerful lobbying voices to be found on the floor of
the Republican-controlled Congress.
It has been no secret within the airline industry that security
at American airports is a bad joke. These checkpoints are
mostly manned by poorly-trained workers who make minimum wage.
Between 1991 and 2000, FAA agents managed to smuggle grenades,
guns and other weapons aboard aircraft at Logan airport in
Boston with a 90% success rate. Logan, it must be noted, was
the point of origin for the aircraft that stuck the Towers.
The terrorists had done their research.
The FAA, during the Clinton administration, proposed sweeping
changes to the way security is enforced at airport checkpoints.
These measures were fought every step of the way in the Republican-controlled
Congress by the aforementioned airline industry lobby, to
good effect. None of the changes desired by the FAA have been
legislated, because the airline industry did not want to pay
Even today, after all that has happened, Republicans in Congress
fight the idea that some sort of Federal presence at these
vulnerable security checkpoints might not be a bad idea. A
healthy bottom line for Delta and American is more important
to the Republican Congressmen who accepted their share of
the $35 million in campaign contributions from said lobbies,
apparently, than the safety and security of the nation.
No credence was given to the Hart-Rudman report or the Gore
Commission report by the Republican-controlled Congress, on
whom falls the responsibility for enacting legislation based
upon such warnings. This was done for purely partisan reasons,
and nothing more.
The New Republic, in an article published in 1997, commented
prophetically about the demise of the Gore Commission report:
"The truth is, there is not a whole lot that can be done
to stop a trained professional terrorist. Terrorism will continue,
and, in calmer moments, people will recognize that any attempt
to stamp it out completely would impose such extraordinary
costs and time delays as to destroy the airline industry altogether.
The Gore Commission…inaugurated with such fanfare, will likely
see their recommendations disappear into archival history.
And everything will settle down until the next explosion."
Recently, the Republican-controlled Congress gave a multi-billion
dollar bailout to the airline industry, whose greedy culpability
in the events of September 11th is beyond question. This industry
was given approximately four times the amount they had lost
while grounded, money that was once earmarked for Social Security
and Medicare. Immediately after receiving this bailout, United
Airlines ordered almost a dozen planes from a French airline
According to OpenSecrets.org, Republicans received 60% of
the total campaign contributions donated by the airline industry,
amounting to $4,115,439. In 1998 they received a meager 59%
of the contributions, amounting to $2,440,897.
Since the attacks of September 11th, anyone who dares criticize
Republican President George W. Bush has been labeled a traitor.
Reporters have been fired for doing so, talk show hosts have
been repudiated for doing so, and the White House Press Secretary
himself has warned all of America to "watch what we say."
The reasons for this intellectual lockdown are articulated
as being necessary to combat the threat of terrorism, and
to present a united front against our enemies. Most of those
demanding this united front are Republicans who have wrapped
themselves in the flag. They do so not out of patriotism,
but to hid their shameful and guilt-ridden faces from a public
that deserves to know the truth.
For this, and for everything described above, I accuse them
For attempting to obscure fundamental American history that
could help to explain to a shocked America where these attacks
have come from, I accuse them of treason.
For attempting to blame a former President for their own
actions and partisan-motivated lack of action that led directly
to this horror, I accuse them of treason.
For using the blood and bones and woe of American dead to
further a repulsive and apparently ceaseless jihad against
the Democratic Party, I accuse them of treason.
For stifling dissent in a land founded upon the freedoms
expressed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, I accuse
them of treason.
For aiding and abetting the noxious greed of an airline industry
that stands in deep taint for their refusal to address clear
and present threats, because such actions would cut into profits,
I accuse them of treason.
They are guilty. The facts are clear. You cannot hide from
history. The Republicans are the real American traitors. They
are the shame and the sorrow and the scourge of this nation.
The dead remember. So do the living. So do I. So should you.
Was Foiled Multiple Times in Efforts To Capture Bin Laden
or Have Him Killed (10/3/01)
Cited in Efforts to Trace bin Laden's Money (9/20/01)
wants Senate to hurry with new anti-terrorism laws (7/30/96)
House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security
Executive Summary of U.S. Commission on National Security
Long-Term Contribution Trends