Two Years After 9/11: 25 Things We Now Know
By Bernard Weiner
year, close to the time of the first anniversary of the 2001
terror attacks, I wrote "Twenty Things We've Learned One Year
After 9/11." Now we're approaching the second anniversary,
and it's time for an update.
Things we could only speculate about a year ago have taken
place - to name just three: an invasion and occupation of
Iraq (based on misleading intelligence and outright lies),
an administration that may have committed the treasonous act
of deliberately revealing the identity of a CIA agent, and
shocking revelations about the computer-screen voting system
now being put into place around the country for the 2004 election.
The abbreviated list below can be used both as a reminder
to all of us why we're fighting this good, oppositional battle,
and as a place to start from when organizing and talking to
others about why you will be voting for someone other than
George W. Bush in the presidential vote next year.
Here are the topics and here's what we've learned, all factually
validated by - or strongly suggested in - journalistic reports.
The Iraq War
1. We know that a cabal of ideologically-motivated
Bush officials, on the rightwing fringe of the Republican
Party, were calling for a military takeover of Iraq as early
as 1991. This elite group included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz,
Perle, Woolsey, Bolton, Khalizad and others, all of whom are
now located in positions of power in the Pentagon and State
They helped found the Project for The New American Century
(PNAC) in 1997; among their recommendations: "pre-emptively"
attacking other countries devoid of imminent danger to the
U.S., abrogating agreed-upon treaties when they conflict with
U.S. goals, making sure no other country (or organization,
such as the United Nations) can ever achieve parity with the
U.S., installing U.S.-friendly governments to do America's
will, using tactical nuclear weapons, and so on. In short,
as they put it, the goal is "benevolent global hegemony."
All of these extreme suggestions, once regarded as lunatic,
are now enshrined as official U.S. policy in the National
Security Strategy of the United States of America, published
by the Bush Administration in late 2002.
2. We know that Bush and his highest officials -
notably Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and, to
a lesser extent, Powell - lied outrageously about Iraq's weapons
capabilities in order to get their war plans endorsed by the
Congress and the American people. The biggest of many whoppers
involved were the made-up stories about nuclear "mushroom
clouds" over America, unleashed by the Iraqi drone air force.
These lies may have fooled many Americans at the time, but
other countries, especially in Europe, smelled the rotten
evidence and the imperial ambitions and would have nothing
to do with the invasion of Iraq, denouncing the Bush Administration
to its face. Up to 10 million citizens (mostly organized via
the internet) marched worldwide on the same day to try to
stop the invasion - before the war had even started! - something
that had never happened before in world history.
3. We know that Rumsfeld wanted to move on Iraq just
a few hours after 9/11, even though he was quickly informed
that it was an al-Qaida operation and that there was no evidence
of Iraqi involvement. When the CIA and other intelligence
agencies said the same thing about a supposed al-Qaida link
- and Iraq's alleged nuclear program and other WMD - Rumsfeld
set up his own intelligence-gathering unit inside the Pentagon,
the Office of Special Plans, and installed a number of PNAC
hardliners to tell him what he wanted to hear. Their cooked-books
"intelligence" became the basis for invading Iraq.
4. We know that Bush and his highest officials, their
lies having been exposed by their own contradictory words,
as usual first decided to blame others: The patsy this time
was the CIA, and Tenet fell on his sword, sort of, in accepting
the blame. (Angry elements in the CIA then began leaking damning
information about Bush&Co. involvement in other WMD lies.)
When Karl Rove and the others snookered the media into focusing
on a mere 16 words in Bush's State of the Union Speech about
supposed uranium sales to Iraq, they looked at the polls showing
a majority of Americans not caring about the lies as long
as the evil Saddam had been removed, and began telling even
more whoppers. (Meanwhile, in the U.K., Blair could lose his
job because he lied even more blatantly than did Bush, if
such is possible - he trumpeted that Iraq could launch biochemical
agents at British sites within 45 minutes - and now he's been
found out as well.)
5. We know that Bush and Blair felt compelled to
"sex up" their justification for going to war against Iraq
by focusing on the WMD issue because the real reason - to
bomb and take over a weak nation in that area of the world
as a demonstration warning to other Middle East, oil-rich
countries that they'd better come on board or face the same
consequence - would never win the support of the American
people. Americans aren't big on overt imperial rule, and the
bullying and arrogant militarism that go with such rule, preferring
more subtle means of influence and control.
6. We know that although the U.S. promised that there
would be a swift turnover of civil rule to the Iraqis, that
promise has been revoked. The U.S. occupying authority has
appointed its own governing council of hand-picked Iraqis,
over which it has veto power, and is hoping that gesture will
suffice long enough to set up the Western looting-system.
Such behemoth Republican-supporting corporations as Halliburton
and Bechtel are making out like bandits with reconstruction
contracts awarded by the Bush Administration (in the case
of Cheney's old firm Halliburton, with no competitive bidding!).
7. We know that the PNAC cabal, which relied on Iraqi
exile fantasies, believed that the citizens of that invaded
country would welcome the American & British forces with kisses
and flowers. Instead, major factions of the country are engaged
in nightly guerrilla warfare against their "liberators" and
have killed and wounded more U.S. soldiers after Bush declared
the end of major hostilities than were killed in the invasion
battles. Oil pipelines and water systems are blown up regularly.
There is the familiar odor across Iraq of a Vietnam-type syndrome;
you know what I mean: just a little more force and we'll have
them on the run/are those friendlies or bad guys? don't take
chances, fire!/the troops will be home by Christmas/send another
100,000 soldiers quick.
8. We know that elements of the PNAC/Bush cabal appear
anxious to move on to another country, though it's still unclear
whether the next target for control (and perhaps "regime change")
will be Syria or Iran - with North Korea becoming more and
more bellicose off to the side.
9. We know that two high officials of the Bush Administration
leaked to a conservative newspaper columnist the name of a
covert CIA agent - which is a felony. The agent is the wife
of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the man sent by Cheney to Niger
last year to see if there was anything to the story that Iraq
supposedly was trying to buy "yellowcake" uranium; Wilson
reported back saying that the story was "highly unlikely."
After the Bush Administration continued to use this lie in
various public speeches - even though they knew the documents
were forgeries - Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for the New York
Times, documenting his version of events. Wilson has since
said that by naming his wife, the Bush Administration is sending
a warning to other potential whistleblowers in the Administration
not to speak up or risk unpleasant consequences. The FBI says
it may investigate the matter. Sure it will.
10. We know that just prior to the launch of the
Iraq war, the U.S. announced its "road map" for Middle East
peace in order to lower the possibility of upheavals in the
Arab world. Since the U.S. refuses to fully and energetically
engage in the peace process - to do so would mean leaning
heavily on Israel to make major concessions and remove its
permanent settlements on Palestinian land - there is not likely
to be genuine and lasting peace in that tortured area of the
world. Abbas can't control his extremists, Sharon has his
own extremist streak - the perfect ingredients for more slaughter,
and more anger in the Arab/Islamic world against the U.S.
and its Israeli proxy. And more fertile soil in which young
terrorists can be grown.
The 9/11 Coverup
11. We know that the inner national-security circles
of the White House knew an attack was coming from al-Qaida,
with planes used as weapons, aimed at American icon targets.
(These warnings were coming from other governments - sometimes
directly to Bush - as early as the Spring of 2001 and intensified
greatly during the Summer. That is the period, you may remember,
when Bush went to ground in Texas for a month and Ashcroft
would no longer fly in commercial jets. Even with this advance
warning, the Bush Administration did nothing to interdict,
stop or otherwise interfere with the terrorist attacks they
knew were coming.
12. We know that Bush and Cheney, early on, approached
the leaders of the House and Senate and urged them not to
investigate the pre-9/11 activities of the Administration.
13. We know that, to this day, the Bush Administration
has stonewalled and delayed turning over essential information
to both the Congressional committee and to the blue-ribbon
independent panel investigating the pre-9/11 period. When
the Congressional report recently was released, the Administration
redacted 28 pages dealing with the role of Saudi individuals
and government officials in financing the terrorists, and,
what's perhaps even more vital, redacted all papers related
to the May 6 presidential briefing document from the CIA about
the likelihood of a domestic terrorist air-attack in the United
14. We know that the coverup continues today, from
the first days after 9/11, when Condeleeza Rice claimed that
the Administration had no idea that planes could be used as
weapons against buildings, to the blaming of the FBI for "not
connecting the dots." The incoming Bush Administration, including
Rice, had been warned by the outgoing Clinton Administration
that the #1 national-security threat was al-Qaida terrorism;
other Islamic terrorists had tried to use planes as weapons
previously, and the chief defendant in the 1993 WTC bombing
had admitted that al-Qaida wanted to bomb key buildings, including
the Pentagon and the Congress, in future attacks.
The independent 9/11 commission has publicly expressed its
frustration at how their investigation - which must submit
its final report in just a few months - is being hampered
by the consistent stonewalling and delaying tactics of the
Bush Administration. Likewise, the victims' families are appalled
by and angry at those examples of foot-dragging, denials and
15. We know that the Bush Administration paid off
its backers (and itself) by giving humongous tax breaks, for
10 years out, to the already wealthy and to large corporations.
This was done at a time when the U.S. economy was in recessionary
doldrums and when the treasury deficit from those tax-breaks
was growing even larager from Iraq war costs. So far as we
know, the Bush Administration has no plans for how to retire
that debt and no real plan (other than the discredited "trickle-down"
theory) for restarting the economy and creating jobs. More
than 2,000,000 citizens have lost their jobs since Bush was
installed in the White House.
16. We know that the HardRight conservatives who
control Bush policy want to decimate and eviserate popular
social programs from the New Deal/Great Society eras, including,
most visibly, Head Start, Social Security, Medicare (and real
drug coverage for seniors), aspects of public education. Since
the programs are so well-approved by the public, the destruction
will be carried out stealthily with the magic words of "privitization,"
"deregulation," "choice" and so on, and by going to the public
and saying that they'd love to keep the programs intact but
they have no alternative but to cut them, given the deficit
and weak economy.
17. We know that those with a vested interest in
energy policy (the Kenny Lays of America) had major impact
in writing that policy, with no consumer-group input; this
basically gave these energy cartels carte blanche to rob the
states and the public blind. The push for "deregulation" led
to gross and illegal manipulation of the energy markets in
state after state, and has nearly pushed California, for example,
into bankruptcy, with the Bush Administration not lifting
a finger to help. And Cheney continues to refuse to tell the
courts who attended those energy-policy meetings and what
18. We know that Bush environmental policy - dealing
with air and water pollution, national park systems, and so
on - is an unmitigated disaster, more or less giving free
rein to corporations whose bottom line does better when they
don't have to pay attention to the public interest.
19. We know that in general, the public interest
plays little role in the formulation of policy inside the
Bush Administration. Those on the inside who have left have
revealed that political considerations are at the heart of
all decision-making, with little if any discussion of what
might benefit the people. Further, they say, there is little
or no curiosity to think outside the political box, or even
to hear other opinions - in other words, don't bother me with
facts, my mind's made up.
20. We know that there seems to be a "faith-based"
view of reality. For example, when there was public clamor
for policy to deal with the effects of global warming, the
Administration said that was a "controversial" issue that
would need more study; it appointed a scientific panel to
review the situation. When that panel reported that global
warming was real and needed to be dealt with on an urgent
basis, Bush denounced the scientists that he himself had appointed
as little more than "bureaucrats" and dismissed their conclusions;
he also deleted the section on global warming from the annual
EPA report. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman resigned,
one would imagine at least partially out of total frustration
in dealing with these Neanderthals.
21. We know that the Patriot Act - which was rushed
through Congress in the days right after 9/11, with few legislators
having had a chance to read the final draft - has generated
a huge groundswell of public opposition. More than 130 towns
and cities have passed resolutions opposing it in part or
in whole. The main objections center around the removal of
all sorts of constitutional guarantees of due process of law,
such as lawyer-client confidentiality and the sanctity of
home privacy, and which authorizes wiretapping and snooping
into personal computer files without you ever knowing about
it. Even though Ashcroft already has thrown U.S. citizens
into military prisons, thus removing them from judicial review,
he appears to be desirous of even more outrages in Patriot
Act II, including the exiling and deporting of American citizens
deemed to be "terrorists."
We know that the Bush neocons were able to get these and
similar bills passed by invoking the patriotic buzzwords "national
security" and "homeland defense." Most members of Congress
went along so that they wouldn't be tarred with the "unpatriotic"
brush. And, in general, the Administration constantly has
manipulated post-9/11 fears in the population, because it
serves their electoral/policy purposes to keep folks jittery
and looking to the central government for assurance and stability.
(There ARE bad guys out there who wish us harm, but it's possible
to deal with that reality without all the Constitution-shredding
and psychological manipulation.)
22. We know that more and more, the permanent-war
policy abroad and police-state tactics at home - with the
shredding of Constititutional rights designed to protect citizens
from a potential repressive government - are taking us into
a kind of American fascism domestically and an imperial foreign
policy overseas. As a result, we are beginning to see more
alliances between liberal/left forces and libertarians/traditional
conservatives horrified that their party has been hijacked
by extreme ideologues.
23. We know that the response to the 2000 Florida
election debacle - going to touch-screen computer voting machines
- may turn out to be even worse. Three outfits dominate the
computer-voting market, all companies owned or supported by
Republicans, and that they refuse to permit their software
to be examined by outsiders, even though tests have revealed
major flaws in their systems: The votes can be manipulated
easily without any evidence that the count has been tampered
with, and with no verifiable paper trail to check against
the final tallies. (There are suspicions that this may actually
have happened in the 2002 elections in a number of states,
where Democrats were leading in the last-minute polls going
into the election but lost when the computer votes were added
Given what happened in Florida, the 2004 vote must be honest
and fair and, perhaps even more important, must be seen
as honest and fair by the citizenry at large. Another disputed
election and democracy in America may well die a quick death
- or lead to revolutionary discontent about the need to restore
24. We know that the Bush Administration continues
to nominate ideologically-minded conservative judges, especially
for the all-important appellate courts. The Democrats fall
for the bait - opposing the handful of nominees who are truly
repellant extremists - and, to show how fair they are, approve
the 100+ others. Thus, the neoconservatives lock in approval
for their HardRight policies for years, maybe even decades,
25. We know that after a long, quiescent snooze,
where the ostensible opposition party, the Democrats, played
obedient lap dog to Bush&Co., things are starting to shift.
Many Democrats have suddenly discovered their spines and are
opposing HardRight initiatives, though not as consistently
and as firmly as they should (Daschle, for example, is a notorious
wimp). The Democrats see the Bush Administration as more vulnerable
with the voters today as a result of the disastrous and duplicitous
way they bamboozled American citizens and Congress into approving
the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Having a number of tough-speaking
presidential contenders aim their darts at Bush&Co. policies
certainly helps generate more opposition.
Well, those will do for starters. No doubt, you have plenty
more to add: The possibilities seemingly are endless when
it comes to Bush&Co. misdeeds, scandals, incompetencies, lies
As the presidential election run-up approaches, and if we
do our jobs correctly, more and more citizens will add up
what has happened to their country since the terror attacks
of two years ago, and decide that Bush&Co. has to go - preferably
by resignation, but, if not, by impeachment or by the voters.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international
relations at various universities, was a writer-editor with
the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly two decades, and now
is co-editor of the progressive political website The