25 Things We Now Know Three Years After
August 31, 2004
By Bernard Weiner, The
Republican Party - in a shameless, all-too-obvious attempt to manipulate
the tragedy of 9/11 for partisan ends - chose New York City for
its nominating convention. Must have seemed like a great idea at
Their coming to Manhattan not only infuriates New Yorkers, who
were badly played by Bush&Co. after the attacks, but enables the
rest of us in the country to use Ground Zero as the backdrop for
examining the gross failures and crimes of the Bush Administration
since that tragic day in September 2001.
So, here is an update* of things we've learned during the three
years since 9/11 - documented mostly from government papers and
respected journalistic accounts - about the Administration that
rules in our names. If you find this compendium useful, you might
want to make this list available to your friends and colleagues,
especially to those still uncertain which presidential candidate
they will vote for ten weeks from now.
THE 9/11 ATTACKS/COVERUP
1. Immediately after the destruction of the Twin Towers,
Bush's Environmental Protection Agency tested the air in and around
Ground Zero. Anxious Lower Manhattan residents, worried about possible
airborne toxic particles affecting them and especially their children,
were assured by the EPA on September 18 that the tests indicated
it was safe for them to return to and live normal lives in their
homes and apartments and businesses. It wasn't until two years later
that the EPA admitted that they had lied to New Yorkers: The Bush
Administration knew from their own test results that the toxicity
revealed was way over the safe levels. Typical Bush&Co. pattern:
secrecy, lies, denial, coverup.
2. There is no evidence that Bush&Co. ordered Osama bin
Laden - who had been on the CIA payroll in Afghanistan when he and
his forces were battling the Soviet occupiers - to launch terrorist
attacks on the U.S. Resurgent radical Islam is a genuine phenomenon,
with its own religious and political roots. There definitely are
Bad Guys out there.
What is well-documented is that the highest circles around Bush
were quite aware in the Summer of 2001 - as a result of fairly detailed
intelligence frantically being passed on to them by other governments
in the months and weeks before 9/11 - that a massive terrorist attack
was in the works, which likely would involve hijacked airplanes
aimed at icon American economic and political targets. (The August
6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing, entitled "Bin Laden Determined
to Strike in U.S.," talked about al-Qaida wanting to strike the
nation's capital, preparations for airline hijackings, casing of
buildings in New York, terrorists in the U.S. with explosives, etc.)
Bush went to ground in Texas, the FBI told Ashcroft to stop flying
commercial jets, etc. The attacks finally came on 9/11.
Bush could have assumed command immediately; instead, 27 minutes
went by while he sat in a schoolroom and then posed for photos.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, somewhere on the Pentagon premises,
was strangely missing from action, uninvolved in defending the country
until after the horrific events had unfolded. Even though the protocols
were clear, NORAD could not reach Rumsfeld and did not scramble
jets until long after the horrific mass-murder attacks were over.
When Bush did emerge from the school, he claims he could not reach
Cheney or the White House by phone. (Passengers using cell phones
on the final doomed jet had no problems reaching their loved ones
and emergency centers all around the country.)
In short, the key Administration officials responsible for protecting
America, and coordinating its responses to attacks, were not available,
either out of incompetence and confusion or out of more nefarious
motives. As Nina Moliver, a 9/11 sleuth puts it, "On 9/11, there
was a grand stall. A stall for time. I learned this from a glance
at the findings of the 9/11 commission. How could ANYBODY miss it?
Bush and Rumsfeld didn't 'fail' on Sept 11. They succeeded masterfully."
A bit far out, to be sure, but if the Bush circle knew something
was coming that morning - and numerous others did, including the
mayor of San Francisco - it's certainly a theory that can't be ruled
3. We know that the future neo-conservative architects
of Bush foreign/military policy, members of The Project for The
New American Century (PNAC), knew that their ideas were too extreme
for most Americans to swallow. They noted that "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
Again, there is no proof of coordination by the Bush Administration
with the al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the terrorist attacks,
but Bush/Cheney and their closest aides were aware on 9/11 that
they now had the "Pearl Harbor" that would clear the way for their
agenda to be realized.
4. 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, because of "national
security." The coverup was beginning.
5. The 9/11 Commission examined how the intelligence community
screwed up the pre-9/11 intelligence - thus effectively laying the
blame on lower-level agents and officials - but says it won't issue
its report on how the Bush Administration used or misused that information
until after the election. The coverup continues. Many victims'
families are furious.
6. We know that the Bush Administration has been able to
obtain whatever legislation it needs in its self-proclaimed "war
on terror" by utilizing, and hyping, the understandable fright of
the American people. The USA PATRIOT Act - composed of many honorable
initiatives, and many clearly unconstitutional provisions, cobbled
together from those submitted over the years by GOP hardliners and
rejected as too extreme by Congress - was presented almost immediately
to a House and Senate frightened by the 9/11 attacks and by the
anthrax introduced into their chambers by someone still not discovered.
Ridge and Ashcroft emerge periodically to manipulate the public's
fright by announcing another "terror" threat, based on "credible"
but unverified evidence; these announcements can be correlated almost
exactly to when Bush seems to need a headline to distract the public
from yet another scandal or significant drop in the polls.
THE ATTACK ON IRAQ
7. 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 White House, and, to a lesser extent,
They were among the key founders of 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" - or, in layman's English, a kind of neo-imperalism.
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
8. We know that the Bush Administration was planning to
attack Iraq long before 9/11, and that, even though Rumsfeld was
told by his intelligence analysts that 9/11 was an al-Qaida operation,
he began dragging an attack on Iraq - which had no significant contacts
with bin Laden's network - into the war planning. When the traditional
intelligence agencies couldn't, or wouldn't, furnish the White House
with made-up "facts" to back up an attack on Iraq, Rumsfeld set
up his own "intelligence" unit inside his office, the Office of
Special Plans, staffed it with political PNAC appointees, and, lo
and behold, got the justifications he wanted - which cooked-"intelligence"
turned out to be the lies and deceptions that took the U.S. into
Note: Rumsfeld's secretive Office of Special Plans, with direct
access to the Secretary of Defense and thus to shaping policy toward
Iraq and Iran, is implicated in the current, serious scandal involving
possible treason (passing classified material to foreign countries,
in this case maybe Israel and Iran), with potential links to the
slimy double-agent Ahmad Chalabi and others.
9. We know that the Bush Administration felt that it could
not get Congressional and public support for its plan to attack
Iraq if the true reasons were revealed - to control the massive
Iraqi oil reserves, to obtain a military staging base in the region,
and to use a U.S.-friendly "democratic" government as a lever to
alter the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and beyond.
So, according to Wolfowitz, it settled on the one justification
they thought would work: accusing Saddam Hussein of preparing to
attack his neighbors and the United States with supposed massive
stockpiles of "weapons of mass destruction." Senators were lied
to by Administration briefers, who told them Iraqi drone planes
could drop biochemical agents over American cities; Condoleezza
Rice warned about "mushroom clouds" over New York and Washington.
Millions of citizens across the globe, and world leaders among
our own allies, warned the Bush Administration that an attack on
Iraq - a weak country, with no military power to speak of - was
wrong, would backfire on the U.S. and world peace, would enrage
the Islamic world and produce more terrorist recruits, and would
lose America its reputation and its post-9/11 sympathy across the
globe. But the Bush Administration had made the essential decision
to go to war a year before the invasion ("Fuck Saddam," Bush told
three U.S. Senators in March of 2002. "We're taking him out.") And,
even though Saddam authorized the United Nations inspectors to return
to Iraq to complete their weapons survey, Bush was determined to
go to war. Secretary of State Powell was dispatched to the United
Nations to outline the U.S. case and obtain authorization; his case
was filled with laughably thin and phony intelligence, and the U.N.
demurred. Bush launched his attack.
10. We know that no WMDs were discovered. No nuclear program.
No missiles aimed at U.S. or British interests. No drone planes.
No biochemical weaponry. Bush and his spokesmen then attempted to
change the rationale for the war away from those scary WMDs to an
implication that Saddam was part of the terrorist network that carried
out the 9/11 attacks. There was no convincing proof offered, merely
the constant repetition of the non-existent al-Qaida tie - so much
so that the Big Lie technique worked early on as 70% of Americans
thought there must have been some tie-in to 9/11. The 9/11 Commission
verified that there was no such operative connection to al-Qaida.
Bush publicly agreed, but Cheney and others even today continue
to suggest otherwise. When the American public stopped believing
in the al-Qaida/Iraq lie, the rationale for the war was switched
again. Now the reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein was a
terrible tyrant - an assertion everybody could agree on - though
why we toppled this guy and not a half dozen other equally as bad
dictators (some of them our close allies) was left unanswered.
We also know that the predictions of our key allies, and those
millions in the streets who protested, have come true. The U.S.,
having had no "post-war" plan, is bogged down in Iraq, facing a
nationalist insurgency, and a rebellious religious faction of fighters,
with no end in sight; it has lost the countryside and is losing
the cities as well. The U.S. has engineered an American-friendly
interim government that is locked into the reconstruction contracts
that permit huge American corporations such as Bechtel and Halliburton
- who, quite by coincidence, of course, are huge financial backers
of the Bush Administration - to make out like bandits in that country,
often with no-bid contracts. The U.S. has at least 14 military bases
in Iraq, which it intends to continue using as a military/political
lever in reshaping the geopolitics of the Middle East - regardless
of the costs in lives and treasure, and not caring that its policies
with regard to the Palestinian/Israeli problem fan the flames of
terrorism in that area of the world, and beyond.
11. We know that CIA Director George Tenet fell on his
sword, taking the thrust of the bad-intel blame away from Bush.
Other elements inside the agency, outraged by Bush&Co. using them
as whipping-boys, then began leaking all sorts of damaging information
about White House skulduggery. Elements in the State Department,
appalled at the neo-cons in control of U.S. military policy at the
Pentagon, likewise leaked information damaging to the extremists.
12. We know that once Bush assumed power, he moved to obtain
immunity for U.S. officials and troops from international war-crimes
prosecutions, pulling America out of the relevant treaties. We didn't
know why at the time, but later, after our covert and overt behavior
in Afghanistan and Iraq and the tortures scandal erupted, we figured
13. We know that Bush lawyers in the White House and Pentagon
(State Department attorneys did not agree) issued memorada that
outlined how Bush and other key officials could avoid criminal prospecution
for their wartime policies and for advocating use of "harsh interrogation
methods" (read: torture) of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo,
and in Afghanistan, Iraq and other U.S. facilities around the world.
Ignoring the Founders' wise "separation of powers" - designed to
keep any leader or branch of government from assuming total control
of the levers of powers - the lawyers claimed that whenever Bush
acts as "commander in chief" during "wartime," he is above the law.
In common parlance, these are rationalizations for authoritarian
rule, by dictatorial decrees.
14. We know that the Pentagon was well aware of the tortures
at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere - key military reports had been submitted
- but the issue was ignored until grisly photographs and videotapes
surfaced in public media documenting the "harsh interrogation methods";
some of those methods resulted in a goodly number of deaths to prisoners
under U.S. control. Several commissions reported that the rot came
from the top at the Pentagon, including Rumsfeld, but, by and large,
only lower-level troops and officers have been disciplined or charged.
In the meantime, the humiliating and brutal treatment of Muslim
men, women and children in U.S. custody has reverberated throughout
the Islamic world, helping create more and more converts to terrorist
SCANDALS AT HOME
15. In two instances, the Bush Administration, for its
own political reasons, compromised American national security by
naming key intelligence operatives - one a CIA agent, Valerie Plame,
with important contacts in the shadowy world of weapons of mass
destruction (outed by two "senior Administration officials," apparently
in retaliation for her husband's political comments); revealing
the name of a CIA agent is a felony. The other, more recently (apparently
to show off how successful they were in their anti-terrorism hunt),
was a high-ranking mole close to bin Laden's inner circle, who could
have kept the U.S. informed as ongoing and future plans of al-Qaida.
That's our anti-terrorism government at work.
16. We know that Karl Rove - Bush's senior political advisor,
who along with Dick Cheney, manipulates Bush's strings - has been
instrumental in helping get the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for
Truth" off the ground. Longtime GOP operatives and major Bush donors
supplied the money and organizing skill, and then let them loose
with their lies - with precious little skepticism displayed by the
corporate-owned mass-media. Apparently, at least initially, the
Big Lie technique worked once again - though now polls show the
smears being doubted - forcing Kerry to stop his attacks on Bush
domestic policies and concentrate on damage control. The Kerry campaign
took a while to rev up its counter-campaign, bringing in all sorts
of eyewitnesses that documented the truth of his heroism in winning
his Vietnam medals. Even slimier charges are expected at any moment
about Kerry's post-discharge opposition to that war.
PROTECTING THE VOTE
17. We know that even though several large states - among
them, California and Ohio - have prohibited computer-voting machines
from beng used in the November election, unless there is a voter-verified
paper trail, most of the toss-up states will be using the touch-screen,
unverified system. This would be suspicious if Democrats or Republicans
were in charge of those machines, but in this election it's virtually
all Republicans. The three largest makers of the machines are owned
by far-right Republicans; those same companies tabulate the results.
Republican-leaning companies also control the testing of those machines.
In short, it smells rank - especially inasmuch as it's been demonstrated
how easily the software can be manipulated, without anybody knowing
- and definitely looks as if the fix is in. The CEO of one of the
companies, a major "Pioneer" donor to the Bush campaign, promised
Bush he would "deliver" his state to the GOP candidate, and Gov.
Jeb Bush in Florida has quashed all attempts to stop or alter computer-voting
in his state. (Note: The GOP has urged all its members in Florida
to vote by absentee ballot, because the machines are "unreliable."
Get the picture?)
18. We know that the GOP is trying, by hook or by crook,
to lower the number of potential Democrat voters. Attempts have
been made to remove thousands of African-American citizens from
the rolls (reminiscent of Florida in 2000, where anywhere from 47,000
to 90,000 black voters where disenfranchised), police agents have
visited numerous elderly black voters in their rural homes and warned
them about possible violence at the polls, a GOP official in Michigan
talked about the need to "discourage" the vote in largely-black
Detroit, GOP "observers" will stand outside voting places in rural
areas as possible intimidators of older black voters, GOP operatives
registering new American citizens filled out the paperwork for them
and signed them up as Republicans, and so on.
19. We know that Administration lawyers have issued memoranda
making it possible for Bush to "postpone" the November election
for "anti-terrorist" reasons - say, a major attack or "credible"
threat of a major attack. (Note: There has never been a national
election postponed, not even during the Civil War.)
20. We know that Administration attorneys have issued memoranda
that would make it possible for Bush to be elected by partial voting.
That is, he could be elected by voters supporting him, even if citizens
in pro-Kerry states were prohibited from voting or having their
votes counted. Again, the fig-leaf is "terrorism." If a "red alert"
were to be issued for certain areas on November 2 - say, the West
Coast and New England states - Bush could, under state-of-emergency
declarations, "limit the movement" of citizens in those areas, while
the election proceeded as normal elsewhere. A truncated election
would be permitted, and, under this scheme, whoever had the most
ballots would win.
STARVING THE GOVERNMENT
21. 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 larger
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. In 2004, it's clear that whatever positive "trickle-down"
effect the tax refunds may have provided, that impact is no more,
and the (jobless) "recovery" is slowing and starting to look recessional
again. People need good-paying employment.
22. We know that the hard-right conservatives who control
Bush policy don't really care what kind of debt and deficits his
policies cause; in some ways, the more the better. They want to
decimate and eviscerate 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 these programs are so well-approved by the public,
the destruction will be carried out stealthily with the magic words
of "privatization," "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,
weak economy and "anti-terrorist" wars abroad.
23. 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.
24. We know from "insider" memoirs and reports by former
Bush Administration officials - Joseph DeIulio, Paul O'Neill, Richard
Clarke, et al. - that the public interest plays little role in the
formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. The motivating
factors are greed and control and remaining in political power.
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. Some of this non-curiosity
may be based in fundamentalist religious, even Apocalyptic, beliefs.
25. Finally (although we could continue forever detailing
the crimes and misdemeanors of this corrupt, incompetent Administration),
we know that more and more, the permanent-war policy abroad and
police-state tactics at home - with the shredding of Constitutional
rights designed to protect citizens from a potential repressive
government - are taking us into a kind of American fascism at home
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 extremei deologues. If Bush loses
his bid for a second term, it will come less from what we progressives
do and more from those moderate-to-conservative Republicans and
Libertarians, who cannot abide what Bush&Co. have done to their
party, their movement, and to this country.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D in government, has taught at various universities,
worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle,
and currently co-edits The
Crisis Papers. He is a contributing author to the recently-released
Big Bush Lies book.
* To read the previous "Things We've Learned Since 9/11" assessments
in 2002 and 2003, see here