Reasons to Doubt the Official Story about the 9/11 Attacks (Revised 2/25/07)
by Andrew Mills
The more you study the facts and the circumstantial evidence surrounding the 9/11 attacks, the more you doubt the official explanation of the attacks given in the 9/11 Commission Report. Most all the necessary information is, or has been, available through the major media. It's just a matter of pulling it all together and organizing the data. When you do that, you are left with major doubts about the official story and you begin to suspect that some of our officials may have been involved, at least in the sense that they had fore-knowledge of the attacks and just let them happen.
You are not alone. In a national poll conducted by the Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University in August 2006, 36 percent of respondents said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."
Let's look at some of the evidence.
The Administration Ignored the Threats
Despite the Administration's rhetoric that they had "no warnings" leading up to 9/11, it has become abundantly clear that key Administration officials were made aware of a vast array of al Qaeda threats and warnings that existed in years prior, and more importantly, in the weeks leading up to September 11, 2001. Here not only the Administration, but also the 9/11 Commission, failed to connect the dots.
1. Results of an investigation by a commission headed by Gary Hart and Warren Rudman appeared in its third and final report on 2/15/2001. "The commission believes that the security of the American homeland from the threats of the new century should be the primary national security mission of the U.S. government." But instead, the new Bush administration chose to focus on out-dated conventional defense concerns-missile defense and a review of the military's force structure.
2. A Senior Executive Intelligence Brief (SEIB) entitled, "Bin Laden Planning High-Profile Attacks." was sent to top White House officials on June 30, 2001. It stated that bin Laden operatives expected near-term attacks to have dramatic consequences of catastrophic proportions. The brief said that despite evidence of delays possibly caused by heightened US security, al Qaeda's planning for the attacks was continuing. (SEIBs usually are released one day after President Daily Briefings are given to President Bush and contain similar content, so it is probable Bush was given this warning.)
3. George Tenet called an urgent special meeting with Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001 to discuss the al Qaeda threat.
4. Officials in the Administration were concerned about the threat of a possible assassination of President Bush at the G-8 Summit by al Qaeda in July of 2001. One of the scenarios of concern was the use of aircraft to dive bomb the summit building.
5. FBI headquarters totally ignored urgent warnings by FBI field offices regarding Middle Eastern men attending flight schools in different parts of the country. On July 10, 2001, Phoenix FBI agent Kenneth Williams sent a memo stating this concern to FBI headquarters. In August 2001, Colleen Rowley, an FBI Minneapolis field agent, wrote emails to headquarters warning of Middle Eastern men taking flying lessons. One such email mentioned that a civilian flight instructor had warned her that a Boeing 747 loaded with fuel could be used as a weapon. There was no response from FBI headquarters.
FBI Agent Harry Samit made 70 unsuccessful attempts to get a FISA Warrant to examine Moussaoui's belongings-papers, computer, etc. The excuse given was the 'Reno Wall,' even though this did not apply in the case of an alien.
6. On August 6, 2001 President Bush and Condoleezza Rice completely ignored the CIA's daily presidential briefing, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S," a report indicating al Qaeda could hijack airplanes to attack the U.S. The next day Bush said, "I'm working on a lot of issues, national security matters," and on the next day he told the press, "I've got a lot of national security concerns that we're working on-Iraq, Macedonia, very worrisome right now."
7. Also in August 2001, Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard, after being briefed on a top-secret, comprehensive review of counterterrorism programs in the FBI, met with Attorney General John Ashcroft. He asked Ashcroft for $58 million from the Justice Department to hire hundreds of new field agents, translators and analysts to improve the Bureau's capacity to detect foreign terror threats. On September 10, 2001, Pickard received an official letter from Ashcroft turning him down flat.
8. On September 4, 2001, the FBI notified the State Department about the need to revoke the visa of one of the hijackers, Khalid al Mihdhar, which included instructions to detain al Mihdhar for questioning, as he was considered armed and dangerous and had participated in terrorist activities, including the bombing of the USS Cole. The State Department then used its visa revocation authority under section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to revoke his visa under section 212 (A)(3)(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for his participation in terrorist activities. But the next day, September 5th, the State Department put out a directive regarding al Mihdhar--to let him go. The excuse was that al Mihdhar was a potential witness in an FBI investigation, and thus he [though an armed and dangerous terrorist] should not be detained.
9. The New York Times on February 10, 2005 reported that in "the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, some of which specifically discussed airline hijackings and suicide operations." The article explained that the Federal Aviation Administration "received 52 intelligence reports" that mentioned Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001, and that the FAA warned airports that if "the intent of the hijacker is not to exchange hostages for prisoners, but to commit suicide in a spectacular explosion, a domestic hijacking would probably be preferable."
10. The Able Danger program of the Special Operations Command of the Department of Defense used "data-mining" techniques well before 9/11 that reportedly identified several of the 19 hijackers, including Mohammed Atta. This program appears to have been shut down in May 2001, presumably because it had conducted illegal surveillance on U.S. citizens, but according to media reports, Able Danger used all open-source data (public information) to identify its targets. Further, the hijackers identified were not U.S. citizens and therefore were not entitled to the same rights and protections as Americans. Reportedly the Able Danger files containing all the garnered evidence about al Qaeda sleeper cells inside the U.S. were permanently destroyed in May 2001. Why were they not shared with other intelligence agencies such as the FBI? More disturbing, the identified sleeper cells were left alone to carry out their final plans and preparations.
11. The New York Times on April 15, 2004 reported that in August 2001 CIA Director George Tenet and his deputies at the CIA were presented with a briefing paper labeled "Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly" about the arrest days earlier of Zacarias Moussaoui, but the CIA did not act on the information
12. Intelligence agency heads described themselves as having their "hair on fire" to characterize the imminent nature of the threats they were intercepting from al Qaeda and their sense of urgency in relating them to the Bush Administration
13. Aside from scheduling a National Security Council meeting on September 4, 2001, two months after the July 10 "connect-the-dots" briefing from CIA director George Tenet, the abundance of post 9/11 reports and commissions found no evidence of any action taken by appropriate officials. The 9/11 Commission itself concluded that in spite of an unprecedented attack threat in the months before 9/11, US "domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. They did not have direction, and did not have a plan to institute. The borders were not hardened. Transportation systems were not fortified. Electronic surveillance was not targeted against a domestic threat. State and local law enforcement were not marshaled to augment the FBI's efforts. The public was not warned."
Failures by Officials On and Before 9/11 to Keep Us Safe
1. On May 8, 2001, President Bush appointed Vice President Cheney to head the new Office of National Preparedness, which involved overseeing a 'national effort' to coordinate all federal programs designed to respond to domestic terror attacks. It appears that Cheney totally failed in his duty, particularly in August 2001, when as former CIA Director George Tenet said, "The system was blinking red."
2. National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, failed to act on any of the many warnings she received about an imminent attack by al Qaeda.
3. President Bush failed to assume a leadership role on 9/11: (1) His failure to even ask Andrew Card his Chief of Staff at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School for any details when the latter told him about the crash of United 175; (2) His failure to insist on heading back to Washington to take command of the situation; and (3) His failure to devise a plan to implement that day.
4. General Richard Myers, the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that when he heard about the first crash he thought it was an accident, so he went into a meeting with Senator Max Cleland. He said he only heard about the second crash (which occurred at 9:03 am) upon leaving the meeting just a few minutes before the Pentagon was hit at 9:37 am.
5. Donald Rumsfeld was sought for an hour by the Pentagon command center and first appeared there at around 10:30 am, according to The 9/11 Commission Report.
6. General Montague Winfield, head of the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon arranged on the evening of Sept. 10th to be replaced on his scheduled shift the next morning for the two hours starting at 8:30 am by his inexperienced deputy, Captain Charles Leidig (since promoted to admiral).
7. The US military in Afghanistan reportedly had several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden, but the troops on the ground were apparently told not to do so.
Attempts by Government Officials to Cover Up Evidence Concerning 9/11
1. The Administration mounted major resistance to the formation of the 9/11 Commission, but eventually had to yield due to pressure from 9/11 victims' families. From the outset, Vice President Cheney offered the greatest resistance to the Family Steering Committee's attempt to form an independent commission. According to Kristen Breitweiser in her book, Wake-Up Call The Political Education of a 9/11 Widow, Cheney would call up congressional officials and threaten them, stating flatly that there would be no 9/11 independent commission. He placed many phone calls threatening the loss of party support for a re-election campaign, a chairmanship of a prized committee, or administration support for a pet project. Publicly, he would state that the White House was opposed to any independent-style 9/11 commission because we were a nation at war and could not spare the resources.
2. Soon after Congress passed legislation authorizing creation of the 9/11 Commission, the White House insisted on naming the chairman of the Commission and having control over the Commission's subpoena power. They opposed keeping the Commission completely independent and bipartisan. Eventually they had to give up on controlling subpoenas, but they still were able to appoint the Chairman of the Commission while the Democrats were permitted to appoint the Vice Chairman.
3. The Administration placed major roadblocks in the 9/11 Commission's investigation. For example, the White House took an inordinate amount of time to issue the high level of security clearance necessary for all the commissioners and the staff. And the White House was adamant that the initial $3 million budget should not be increased, even though the Family Steering Committee had been told that figure was only a 'placeholder' and that it would be adjusted upward later. The White House was not prepared to do this. It took the Columbia space shuttle explosion on February 1, 2003 and the large sum of money ($50 million) subsequently set aside to investigate that disaster, to shame the White House into agreeing to a final budget of $14 million for the 9/11 Commission.
4. President Bush initially refused to testify before the Commission, and subsequently refused to testify without Vice President Cheney.
5. The Administration and House Speaker Dennis Hastert mounted stiff resistance to the attempt to extend the life of the Commission to January 2005. The Family Steering Committee obtained the support of the Democratic caucus for this extension. However when Hastert and his Chief of Staff heard this, they went back on their word that they would support the January 2005 extension if the Democrats agreed. So only a two-month extension was obtained, not the requested 8-month extension.
6. The Department of Defense has prohibited the officers involved with the Able Danger project of the Special Operations Command to speak to members of Congress or to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about their pre-9/11 identification of Mohammed Atta, among others, as a terrorist.
7. The Justice Department put a gag order on FBI whistle-blower Sybel Edmunds, preventing her from talking to members of Congress or the media about major pre 9/11 intelligence mishandling in the translation department of the FBI.
8. The Administration continues to refuse to release or show most of videotapes it has of the crash of Flight 77 into the Pentagon.
9. In February 2002, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence agreed to conduct a joint inquiry into the activities of the U.S. intelligence community in connection with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Their report dated December 2002 is titled: Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, 28 pages of that report were redacted, and the Administration still refuses to make these pages public.
10. Overall there was a complete lack of transparency on the part of the federal government, in terms of both the executive branch and the legislative branch, when it came to putting on the table all the facts known regarding the 9/11 attacks.
Lies by Government Officials about 9/11
1. Condoleezza Rice claimed to Time Magazine that a statement in an article that appeared in the New York Times on December 30, 2001, was not true. The Times article said, "As he prepared to leave office last January, Mr. Berger met with his successor, Condoleezza Rice, and gave her a warning. According to both of them, he said that terrorism-and particularly Mr. bin Laden's brand of it-would consume far more of her time than she had ever imagined." Al Franken learned from a White House official that she had in fact met with Berger in a briefing and that he had told her about the seriousness of the al Qaeda threat. Rice lied.
2. On May 17, 2002, Condoleezza Rice said "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center...that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." But there had been seven specific instances when the government was aware of plots and attempts to utilize airplanes as weapons. One of the most dramatic was the 1995 plot (Project Bojinka), disrupted by the Philippine authorities, to blow up 11 commercial airliners over the Pacific, and an associated alternative plan to hijack US planes and crash them into CIA headquarters, the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower and the White House. In 1999, a report prepared for US intelligence said that suicide bombers linked to al Qaeda could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA or the White House. Also Rice had attended the G-8 summit meeting with the president only two months before 9/11, when the possibility of an assassination attempt on President Bush was mentioned to the group-an assassination, officials considered, that could be carried out by crashing planes into the summit meeting building. Rice lied.
3. In his recent book State of Denial, Bob Woodward described an encounter between Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet, then-director of the CIA. The latter was in a near panic about a rising flood of intelligence warnings just presented to him by top aide Cofer Black. Tenet reportedly forced an unscheduled meeting with Rice on July 10, 2001, because he wanted the Bush administration to take action immediately against al Qaeda to disrupt a possible domestic attack. On Monday October 2, 2006, a State Department spokesman conceded that then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had indeed been briefed in July 2001 by George Tenet about the alarming potential for an al Qaeda attack. "I don't remember a so-called emergency meeting," Rice had said only hours earlier, apparently still suffering from the same post-9/11 amnesia that seemed to afflict her during her forced testimony to the 9/11 Commission. Rice lied.
The omission of this meeting from the final commission report is another example of how the Bush administration undermined the bipartisan investigation that the president had tried to prevent. Rice is unusually sharp and has an awesome memory. Considering the trauma of 9/11 and its effects, it is inconceivable that Rice would not recall such an ominous and prescient briefing by Tenet and Black, especially after the 9/11 Commission forced her to document and review her actions in those crucial months.
4. CIA Director George Tenet said on March 11, 2002, "We knew in broad terms last summer that terrorists might be planning major operations in the United States. But we never had the texture, meaning enough information, to stop what happened." Yet Condoleezza Rice herself said on June 28, 2001, "It is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." And on July 5, 2001, Richard Clarke said, "Something really spectacular is going to happen here and it's going to happen soon." Tenet distorted the truth to shield himself from any responsibility for the attacks.
5. Pentagon officials associated with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confessed in the summer of 2006 that they had in essence lied to the 9/11 Commission about the time when NORAD was informed by the FAA about the hijacked planes. The strange part about that lie was that their first version implied the FAA had informed them in a timely manner, while their current story actually puts more blame on the FAA for that agency's slowness in reporting the hijacking. Why would the first official story from NORAD protect the FAA from blame? It's inexplicable. In any case, NORAD officials lied.
In searching for a possible motive as to why Administration officials might have been involved in the 9/11 attacks, it's helpful to ask cui bono? (or, who benefited?) The 9/11 attacks didn't benefit the Islamic world in any way at all, quite the opposite. They didn't benefit the al Qaeda members in Afghanistan, because they were completely routed and suffered huge casualties there. It was only America's subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq that have apparently brought many new recruits into the al Qaeda fold.
The attacks of 9/11, on the other hand, have promoted substantially the goals of the hard-core neocons-both their dream of a world (or at least the Middle East) dominated by America and the desire of many of them for huge war-related profits that have in fact come to the defense industries and to the Halliburtons on the ground in Iraq.
The grand obsession of the core group of neocons is the dream of establishing a global Pax Americana, a dream articulated by many neocons during the 1990s. It was first officially presented in the Defense Planning Guidance of 1992, drafted by Paul Wolfowitz on behalf of then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. According to these neocons, achieving the goal of American global hegemony would require five things:
o Control of the world's oil
o Transformation of the military involving weaponization of space
o An enormous increase in military spending
o A modification of the doctrine of preemptive attack so the U.S. could launch such attacks even in the absence of an imminent attack by another country, and
o A spectacularly frightening event to make the American people ready to accept these global hegemonic policies.
This same idea was suggested in Rebuilding America's Defenses, a document published in the fall of 2000 by a neocon think tank, Project for the New American Century. Referring to the goal of transforming the military, this document said that this "process of transformation . . . is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event---like a new Pearl Harbor."
When the attacks of 9/11 occurred, they were in fact treated like a new Pearl Harbor. For they created opportunities to fulfill what the neocons had considered the necessary conditions for bringing about a Pax Americana. The 9/11 attacks allowed the Bush-Cheney administration to attack Afghanistan and then Iraq, to begin effecting the technological transformation of the military, to get huge increases in military spending, and to declare, with little protest, a new doctrine of preventive-preemptive warfare, which became known as "the Bush doctrine."
This new doctrine was first fully articulated in the Administration's 2002 version of the National Security Strategy (generally known as NSS 2002), whose primary author was Philip Zelikow. It was he who later served as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. NSS 2002 turned the new doctrine of preventive-preemptive warfare into official American policy and it also observed: "The events of September 11, 2001...opened vast, new opportunities."
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The wrong-headed and un-American policies pursued by the present Administration (e.g., pre emptive war, promoting and condoning torture, rendition, restricting the application of the writ of habeas corpus, wiretapping, etc.) have their roots in the 9/11 attacks. It behooves us to take a much closer look at what happened that day and during the preceding weeks. The American people have the right to a new truly independent commission to investigate the full story of 9/11 including the many still unanswered questions about the attacks.
Andrew Mills is a hydrologist serving as a consultant to local environmental consulting firms. He and his wife have six children and 18 grandchildren. He was active in the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's, and spent 9 years in (more...)