Michael Rowbotham: Written In Belief

Published: Wed 3 Oct 2001 12:23 AM
Michael Rowbotham: Written In Belief
EDITORS NOTE: Michael Rowbotham is author of two outstanding books The Grip of Death, a Study of Modern Money, Debt Slavery and Destructive Economics 1998 and Goodbye America Globalisation, Debt and the Dollar Empire 2000. Goodbye America has been described by The Ecologist as 'essential reading for social and environmental reformers... Rowbotham's work places him on a par with social reforming economists EF Schumacher and Henry George'. The Grip of Death is strongly recommended by David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World, Ed Mayo of the New Economics Foundation, Herman Daly coauthor of For the Common Good , Professor Bryan Gould, Vice-Chancellor of University of Waikato and Richard Douthwaite, author of The Growth Illusion and Short Circuit. His books have been reviewed in The Ecologist, Resurgence, New Internationalist, The Tribune, The Tablet, Sustainable Economics, Permaculture Magazine, Food Magazine, Social Credit and many others. He was speaker at the March 2001 UK Green Party Conference, and has been secretary of the UK Christian Council for Monetary Justice.
Written In Belief for Arrietti
By Michael Rowbotham
In this short book, I argue that there is strong evidence that the events of 11th September represent a terrorism of a kind not currently being discussed, and include the involvement of agents and agencies not publicly imagined as being associated with such acts. I believe that this suspicion, voiced by many others, must be taken seriously and its public disproof demanded by all concerned citizens and NGOs.
We simply could not comprehend what was actually happening in front of our eyes as those planes flew out of the beautiful morning sky and destroyed so many thousands of lives. We do not fully understand now and maybe never will. The total deaths will almost certainly never be known. The spreading grief amongst families who lost loved ones can be neither counted nor measured nor reconciled. For them, the loss was so complete and sudden, their grief so unspeakable, the horrific visual imagery branded in their mind and sight so indelibly that the angels will have been burned from their sky forever. Only those who have suffered so calamitous a loss can know its appalling effects on the soul and the mind, and the very meaning and worth of life itself.
Beyond the sickening personal grief, all is confusion. There is much contradiction and duality. The first duality is that between the justified outrage felt by Americans and the motive offered behind the terrorist attacks. The attacks are being presented as part of the “jihad” declared against the United States by certain Moslem fundamentalists; a sacred war in retaliation for sustained American military policies that have killed many tens of thousands in the Middle East. Those who died so appallingly in America are therefore seen as mere casualties of war and no more to be grieved over than the many who die daily from US military and economic sanctions against Iraq, or in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. No-one who watched John Pilger”s excellent BBC documentary on Iraq could forget the interview with a shepherd who lost his children as a US plane bombed his herd of sheep. His loss was as palpable and horrifying as that of any bereaved relative of the World Trade Centre atrocity.
Now, an angry and confused public is able to claim that the terrorist attacks in America show exactly why maintaining these sanctions was justified. But the attacks do not prove anything of the sort. This is defensive thinking, if it is thinking at all. The attack on the US was driven by hatred of such cruel policies, which clearly constitute a grave political injustice. As WH Auden wrote, “those to whom evil is done do evil in return”.
There is further duality. The World Trade Centre towers were two beautiful monuments to human ingenuity and endeavour, but were also two of the great symbolic powerhouses of modern economic imperialism. From Wall Street emanates the ideology and the economic policy that has become know as “the Washington Consensus”.
So what were those two towers? An example of some of the most majestic and inspiring architecture man has created, or the hub of unjustly won US corporate trade dominance? They were, of course, both. And here lies the difficulty in understanding and responding politically and militarily to the events of 11th September. We don’t really know what to do for the best. Do we retaliate with military strength? Do we ignore the genuine grievance of Muslim world, since there can never be any justification for such an attack? Do we risk inflaming the very grievance that drove the suicide terrorist to see their act as a mission of just retribution, and thereby invoke further outrages? Should the US humbly change Middle East policy without seeking the perpetrators of this act?
A range of positions has been reached, from an all-out war on terrorism in order to “make the world a safer place”, to linking “smart” terrorist attacks with wiser and more just Middle East policy. I want to suggest that none of these policies is relevant at this instant. There is need of more information, which can only come from greater understanding of the agents and forces behind the atrocity. To help with this, the events of 11th September have to be searchingly examined, and placed in the broadest possible context, historical, economic and political.
One fact is beyond dispute. The world changed on that day. An almost incomprehensible determination and hatred was unleashed upon innocent people in a manner and with a sudden horror that can never be forgotten. In response, and with equal determination, America and her allies have embarked upon a process of military and political reprisal to seek justice and bring about changes that will prevent this, or a worse atrocity, ever recurring. The political effects of the terrorist attacks will only be measurable in 50 or 100 years time. But it is clear that a whole new world order is in prospect. Major new international political alliances and dialogue are already developing. Within weeks, new laws, institutions, standards and agreements covering intelligence, finance and military action were in place. A new politico-economic geography, some elements of it already in process, is also being hastened. This ranges from rapid reforms of the legal justice system of the European Union to inclusion of China in the WTO and salvation for the ailing Japanese economy.
As well as the international effects there is the personal, human impact. We all grew older that day. We all suddenly realised that the unthinkable was possible. After this, anything, from nuclear warheads placed by a maniac in a Paris subway to anthrax in the London water system became a danger to be feared and countered. Once weapons of mass destruction are invented, be they aeroplanes, bombs or poisons, the potential exists. And once they have been used, a precedent is set. The world became a more uncertain place that day. We are all part of that uncertainty and contribute to it. How will our leaders act in the weeks and years ahead? How will we respond with our support or criticism? In our daily lives, what will replace the lost confidence in the world, in other people and in future events?
In this short book, I argue that the events of 11th September involve a terrorism of a kind not currently being discussed, and include agents and agencies not publicly imagined as being associated with such acts. The book is written with the single purpose of arguing the possibility of a conspiracy evil enough to cast even a shadow over the atrocities in New York and Washington. I believe this suspicion, voiced by many other commentators, and half suspected by many members of the general public, must be taken seriously. To do this, not only are the attack itself and the popular explanation both analysed, but the many previous suggestions of conspiracy are considered in an effort better to define what such a conspiracy, if it exists, might represent. This will involve an evaluation of the possible motives and gain that might be brought about by the events in America. It will also broaden to include a historical study of military events, trade and international development.
Any terrorist attack of this type involves a conspiracy, in the sense of agents with a shared hope (con-spire) organising for a given outcome. But critically, we do not know who the agents were and are, nor do we know in depth how the attacks were planned. We may know some of the agents and agencies, but there is strong evidence that we do not know them all. We must try to discover who was ultimately behind the Trade Centre attack. Although we may never know the whole story, what we discover in the quest may give us vital guidance in how we should respond.
The first point to note is that no group has either claimed or accepted responsibility for the attack. Osama bin Laden has himself specifically denied responsibility on three occasions, once insisting that as a Moslem he would not lie. One might simply argue, “well he would say that, wouldn’t he?” However, both the Taliban and Pakistani authorities have claimed that Bin Laden has neither the capacity nor resources for such an attack. The general response to this has been that bin Laden, even if not immediately and personally responsible, represents the driving force behind the attacks. Bin Laden is being held to account even though the attacks may have been actually carried out by affiliated, partially autonomous terrorist groups sponsored, indoctrinated and trained by him. There is clearly some justice in this, even if it is rather crude. As regards bin Laden, there is no wish here to exonerate a man who, by his own declared joy at the atrocity, fully deserves the title “evil”. It may well be that he is indeed in large measure responsible. However, there is good reason to believe that a deeper responsibility lies elsewhere.
No-one can fail to have been surprised at the many contradictions connected with the attacks. Here was an act of terrorism that was instantly recognised as requiring the most elaborate and detailed organisation over an extended period. Yet intelligence services in America, Britain and worldwide failed to detect the plan as it developed and seemingly had no penetration of the organisations” network. Contrast might be made with the Italian government, not noted for their intelligence apparatus, who uncovered and foiled a similar plot to use a small, light aircraft packed with explosives to attack the G8 summit in Genoa a few months earlier.
The incompetence of the US intelligence services prior to the attacks contrasts markedly with the astonishing speed and detail with which Islamic terrorist networks have since been identified, traced and run to ground. Over 50 people suspected of association with the “bin Laden terrorist network” have since been arrested in many countries. The suicide hijackers themselves have been identified, their movements established, their associates and financial dealings traced. Eleven of them have been back-tracked to Britain, their middle-Eastern backgrounds detailed. A number of links with bin Laden terrorist groups have been uncovered involving finance, training, religious indoctrination etc.
Now, it is generally agreed that the essence of such terrorist cell-networks is independence and complete secrecy. In the light of this we are presented with a number of odd facts. A car parked at one of the airports was found to contain a copy of the Koran, a flying instruction manual in Arabic and an address that led immediately to a number of arrests. These arrests and addresses in turn had information indiscreet and incriminating enough to lead on to arrests across many countries. Suddenly, the CIA were doing their work with remarkable efficiency, whilst the hijackers and their associates were shown to have displayed gross incompetence. It is even claimed that a car with four of the hijackers entered into an argument with a member of the public in the car-park prior to boarding the flight. For religious fundamentalists and terrorists bound on such a mission, it is odd they would act in any way as to draw any attention to themselves whatsoever, for fear of prior detection.
Such odd considerations abound. Most conveniently for the intelligence services, the baggage of the terrorist now assumed to be the leader, Mohammed Atta, was not placed on board the plane with him. This has presented the authorities with a range of evidence, including a written statement by Atta, in which he defines his religious beliefs and intentions.
Warnings had been given two years previously of the possibility of a domestic US airline hijack, to the extent that increased safety precautions on US domestic flights were advocated. The scenario of such an attack was completely rejected, it is claimed, as being too unlikely to warrant either investigation or increased safety precautions. Yet America is the home of war games and military scenario investigations. The security forces investigated, instead, the possibility of biochemical terrorism in the US, ignoring the more established and easier use of aircraft hijackings, bombs, and the customary targeting of important buildings.
Questions have been raised over the flight patterns of the aircraft and the response of the authorities. No alert was issued despite the departure from their flight path of four aircraft and the switching off of their transponders, which enable radar tracking. Despite reported struggles by staff, including supposedly the pilots, no aircraft contacted airports to communicate a disturbance during the period they were taken over. The ease with which four terrorists, who would admittedly have been determined, managed to subdue entire aircrafts full of passengers and crew has also been widely remarked upon.
The piloting of the aircraft also deserves comment. It has been variously said that the Boeing planes of the type used are fairly straightforward to fly, but also, that the piloting expertise actually necessary to strike the Trade Centre towers with the accuracy, and in particular the altitude, required was a task involving the greatest experience and skill. We are told that some of the hijackers had gained experience in flying civil aviation passenger aircraft. Others, it seems, merely obtained practice on light aircraft at a Florida flying school.
The instruction to contact relatives by cell phone has also to be wondered at. This was a direct instruction by the hijackers to the passengers. What purpose could such contacts serve? Once in control of the plane, the hijackers could only fear interception and any such contact that confirmed a suicide mission was in progress would dramatically increase this risk.
The one piece of information that was given by the passengers was that penknives were used, and not guns. This information has come to characterise the hijacking as essentially amateur. It has been said that further similar attacks were planned. But how foolish of the hijackers to allow passengers to relay information on the precise nature and simplicity of the weapons involved, thereby certainly disadvantaging any other similar hijacking attempts.
The cell phone calls raise one further grave inconsistency. The wife of a US Senator on board one of the doomed airliners is on record as having asked by phone, in the final moments, “what shall we ask the pilot to do?” This is an astonishing comment indeed. It clearly means that the pilot was seen to be in a position to do something and strongly implies that the pilot, not one of the hijackers, was in control of the aircraft at that point. It has since been suggested that the hijackers then wrested control of the aircraft in the final moments and then completed the attack. This is not an impossible scenario to imagine. But it would require, first, a dedicated pilot agreeing to adjust altitude and direction to bring the plane close to a mass civilian population. Secondly, the flying skills required have already been noted; any struggle would make the task yet more difficult. For the hijackers, the success or failure of their mission would have been left to the last seconds.
So what did happen? In the first few hours after the attack, when comment was relatively free, it was assumed and discussed that the pilots themselves were part of the attack. Astonishment was expressed by several experienced commentators at the level of organisation required to train pilots for suicide missions, find them employment, then so accurately timetable and synchronise their suicide missions. This scenario has since been completely ignored. But if the pilots themselves, or some of them, were part of the attack, this would suggest a highly sophisticated level of organisation that conflicts completely with the pen-knife mythology.
The choice of targets has also to be commented upon. Whilst it is true that the World Trade Centre has been attacked before, this attack was out of all proportion and could be guaranteed to cause massive damage and inflict appalling loss of civilian life. One of the primary matters a terrorist organisation considers is the selection of a suitable target. The IRA does not attempt to bomb the Queen or Buckingham Palace, neither have militant Islamists (yet) attempted to introduce poison into the water supplies. Part of the reason must surely be the certainty of massive reprisal. An intelligent terrorist organisation would select a target to inflict significant damage, score approval from its sympathisers whilst not invoking a terminal response.
In any such judgement, the hijackers certainly failed. The loss of sympathy for the terrorists, their network and their cause has been extensive. The World Trade Centre attacks have been condemned by Syria, Pakistan, Palestinians, Israel - even by Saddam Hussein and Colonel Ghadaffi. Even supposing the towers had not fallen, the death toll and loss of innocent life would have been so great as to cause a US backlash just as severe as we now see.
It is also remarkable that the organisation attempted, as their first venture into such an act, the use of no less than four aircraft. As one military analysts stated, the use of just two aircraft does not double the complexity of the operation, it increases the risk and co-ordination demands by perhaps 100 fold. The decision to mount an attack using four craft meant the risks of prior detection, and thus complete failure of the project, were simply vast. This was not only an odd decision, but highlights yet again the competence of the hijackers, incompetence of the intelligence services and all the contrary considerations above. Or it suggests the additional consideration that the missions were, in some way, assured.
The comparative emptiness of all four of the aircraft has also been noted. Less than 25 - 30% of the seats were occupied, which, it has been suggested, is considerably below the average for such flights. This fact has been taken by some commentators to imply that the passenger numbers were somehow kept down in order to ensure the hijackers were able to gain control of the aircraft. Again, extensive prior organisation is implied.
One can view all such considerations as suspicions that are bound to gather around any such event. As evidence is accumulated and the hijackers planning becomes understood, these suspicions may well be allayed. But it is more likely that some will never be allayed because the questions they raise are neither being considered nor investigated. This is the possibility that the attacks were either organised by, or with, some degree of prior knowledge and assent from, notionally American and international interests who have nothing whatsoever to do with the religion of Islam. This possibility exists even if and as knowledge about the attacks and their method becomes ever more complete. It is not whether these attacks can or cannot be explained as the work of Islamic fundamentalists. It is a question of whether they can be more fully explained as the work of Islamic fundamentalism plus other agencies, and whether evidence for this exists.
It has been suggested that key personnel within the CIA and other US organisations may have known about these attacks and simply permitted them to proceed. Other non-Islamic focuses have been suggested as being either aware of, involved or the true inspiration behind the attacks. Without wishing to support or counter these allegations, it is important to repeat the key issue. It is not a question of whether Islamic fundamentalism was involved in the “front line” of the attacks. The connections between the hijackers and Islamic terrorist groups becomes daily more evident. The real question is to what degree Islamic fundamentalism is responsible and whether Islamic fundamentalism is being harnessed by a greater power, and finally, what that greater power might be.
Whilst considering these possibilities during the first week after the attacks, my access to the internet was down. Upon restoring it, I was not surprised to find a vast communication between those who share a similar concern that the whole event was not only being blatantly misrepresented, but was highly suspicious in its origin and background. Asking allowance for both dis-information and the exaggeration to which the internet can be prone, This book contains a number of commentaries involving a discussion that simply asks - “what on earth was actually going on?” Many correspondents have expressed similar observations to those above and offered further pertinent information and penetrating commentary.
What is being discussed here is so inflammatory and staggering, and contradicts the popular consensus so completely that it is worth pausing at the outset. One asks for open-mindeness when any new hypothesis, in stark conflict with an accepted version, is being ventured; a willing suspension of disbelief. But this is easier to request than it is to give. Prejudice is a natural state of the human mind. How could US officialdom possibly condone such an act, if that is the suggestion? My reply is twofold. First, I am not sure whether that is the entire suggestion, though it may be part of the suggestion. Secondly, let us take an historical precedent as example.
The attack on the World Trade Center was compared, almost at the outset, with the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, which catapulted the United States into the Second World War. Or so the story goes. Another version is now becoming established as historically more complete. The following is a quote from an article by Richard Moore, written for the magazine New Dawn, entitled, “Are we being told the truth about the Trade Center attacks?”
In the media coverage of the recent WTC attack, the comparison with Pearl Harbor has been frequently raised. Thousands of American troops were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and thousands of American civilians were killed in the attack on the WTC. In both cases the American people responded (quite understandably) with deep shock and outrage. In both cases, overwhelming public sentiment was for retaliation, and for giving the President total support for whatever course he chose. In 1941, as now, any suggestion that the U.S. government knew in advance of the attacks, and could have prevented them, would have been met by angry disbelief by almost any American. Nonetheless, the evidence now seems to favor the view that President Franklin D. Roosevelt did know about the impending attack on Pearl Harbor, and that he could have mounted an effective defense.
We now know that elite U.S. planners, during the period 1939-1941, had come to the conclusion that the Japanese conquest of Asia had to be stopped. The planners determined that Southeast Asia, in particular, was critical to U.S. economic interests. But U.S. public opinion was overwhelmingly against entering the war. It now seems that FDR figured out a way to get the U.S. into the war, and that Pearl Harbor was the key to his plan.
When the Japanese began to threaten Southeast Asia, FDR froze Japanese assets in U.S. banks, resulting in a cutoff of Japanese oil supplies. This was considered an act of war by Japan, and Japanese retaliation was expected by American planners. As the Japanese fleet approached Pearl Harbor, intelligence services in Britain and the U.S. evidently knew of that approach. Prime Minister Churchill notified his Pacific commanders that the Japanese were heading for Pearl Harbor. FDR, on the other hand, did not notify his commanders. Instead, he sent the most strategic ships (the aircraft carriers) out to sea where they would be safe, and instructed key observation outposts on the island of Kauai to stand down.
It seems that FDR intentionally set the stage for a 'surprise' attack - shocking the nation and instantly shifting public opinion from non-interventionism to war frenzy. I am suggesting that this same scenario must be considered in the case of the recent WTC and Pentagon attacks. Unbelievable as this may seem, this is a scenario that matches the modus operandi of U.S. ruling elites. These elites show callous disregard for civilian lives in Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and dozens of other places around the world. Is it so surprising that they would sacrifice a few thousand American civilians if they considered that necessary in order to pursue their geopolitical objectives?
This statement is offered because, whether it is accepted or not, it makes us realise that the unthinkable is often well-documented and must be considered. I am not, however, entirely happy with the deeper implications in the above commentary as I discuss at the end of the book, though this is not intended as any criticism of Moore”s article and analysis, which is outstanding and which I quote from later.
Having given an historical example of the type of undisclosed knowledge/involvement and unknown ulterior motives that can be involved in such an event, caution should clearly be exercised in passing judgements either way on the statements and information contained in this book. Some material, especially that relating to the events of 11th September has been drawn from the internet. Anyone who has surfed the web and bumped into conspiracy theory data will know that the exaggeration, assumption, elaboration and downright story-telling simply defies belief.
So, into which category do we place the following startling claim?
A senior Diplomat in Madrid who insists on remaining anonymous has told intelligence sources that during his recent visit to Europe, President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Asnar that the United States government was in possession of information that a massive terrorist attack, comparable to a declaration of war, would be launched against targets in the United States. He asked Spain and several other NATO allies if they would support the United States in a war against terrorism and host countries if that were to happen. The diplomat states that Spain and a number of other EU nations reluctantly agreed to take part in any military action if such an attack occurred, and it could be proven beyond a shadow of doubt that it had been planned and originated outside the U.S.
I am ambivalent towards this statement. Whilst it undeniably carries a ring of literary authenticity, there is, so far as I am aware, no corroborating evidence. And the suggestion that George Bush, in person, courted European leaders and sought their support for unspecified American action prior to unspecified attacks seems unlikely, unnecessary and frankly, rather comic. It also conflicts markedly with the repeated conspiracy-theory suggestion that our politicians are mere patsies whilst the “true leaders” who direct them lurk in the background. But Bush has done some odd things I his time! I would suggest that such “information” clearly needs to be either disregarded or treated with the greatest caution.
Into the same category must fall the following variety of unverified claims;
Both the French and Israeli intelligence services (Mossad) informed the CIA a week before the attack that a major terrorist strike on the United States was immanent.
Mossad, in liason with the CIA, actually masterminded the attacks.
Guns were placed on board the aircraft by ground staff prior to take-off, ensuring the hijack was a success.
The fourth plane was actually shot down by an American fighter after passengers succeeded in overpowering the hijackers. This, it is suggested, was at the direct instruction of the US military because, had the plane landed, passengers would have been able to give a precise account of the methods used. The hijackers themselves would also have been available for interrogation.
The World Trade Centre towers were actually brought down because bombs had earlier been placed there; the impact of the planes and the fire not being considered enough to cause their collapse.
The FBI was warned in March of the attacks, which involved an unlikely liaison between bin Laden, the Hizbollah and the CIA.
These claims range from the plausible through the speculative to the near ludicrous. But once it is accepted that there could well be “more than meets the eye”, or reaches the press, than the now standardised account, the suggestions show, if nothing else, the sheer extent of the room for speculation. Of such suggestions, each one is worth maybe a degree of investigation but little faith can be placed in them at this stage. Far more valid, and far more valuable from the purpose of establishing “what is actually going on” are those well-resourced commentaries in which facts are given, patterns are shown, motives are offered and tie-ins with other known facts or unanswered questions emerge. The Richard Moore quote on Pearl Harbour, given above, falls into this category and further extracts from his article are given later. Below is the opening section of the article, noteworthy for the reticence and caution with which he approaches the whole matter.
First of all, I'd like you to understand that I don't have any secret information, or leaked documents, about the horrific events of 11 September in New York City. I'm writing this article while on the road, without my usual reference books, and I'm working from U.S. television reports and from articles that people have sent me over the Internet. What we're going to do in this article is to look at the events in the same way we'd investigate a murder mystery: what are the possible scenarios? What are the relevant clues? Which scenario best fits the facts?
I'm not claiming this analysis is true, I'm only asking you to consider the possibility. As we review the historical background, I'll be giving you my best understanding of events - but I am not claiming that every statement is an established fact. This article represents my opinion as to 'most likely scenarios'. Due to the scope of the material, much of the presentation is highly abbreviated. A recommended reading list is provided at the bottom for those who wish to investigate the ideas in greater depth.
For all I know, the scenario presented by the U.S. corporate- government- media- elite Establishment might be correct. Perhaps the attacks came as a shocking surprise, and the U.S. response has been hastily determined in subsequent emergency meetings. But this default scenario opens many questions...
(1) Within hours of the attacks we were already being told that the FBI knows who the hijackers were, and that they are linked to Bin Laden. If this is true, then why were they allowed to buy tickets in their own names and travel together on commercial flights? One of the suspects who bought a ticket in his own name, a TV report said, was on the FBI's most-wanted list! And only a week before, we are told, Bin Laden had threatened that a major U.S. target was going to be attacked. Could security really be that lax?
(2) In the first day of media coverage there seemed to be a huge gap in the reports we were receiving. Why were we being told nothing about air-traffic controllers, and their attempts to contact the planes? Wouldn't that have made for dramatic television?... "Flight 11, please come in. Flight 11, do you read me?" Why were we told nothing about scrambling fighter planes, and of attempts to intercept the hijacked airliners? On September 15 the New York times published an 'explanation' of the events by Matthew Wald, and reported that some fighters did scramble. But why was this completely omitted from the early reports? The initial coverage seemed to be designed to give us the impression that no one knew what was going on until the first plane actually struck the World Trade CenterÖ
(4) If the attacks really came as a complete surprise, one would expect initial confusion at the highest government levels. One would have expected days to go by while information was gathered and options were considered. Instead, we began seeing a coherent and final response within hours. Within a day or two the perpetrators were known, $40 billion had been allocated by Congress, a protracted war was being announced, we were being told to expect major cutbacks in civil liberties, and the U.S. Senate had approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001". And within a few days after that, a multi-billion dollar airline bailout was being announced.
There are other objections that can be raised to the official scenario, but I am not trying here to prove that scenario to be wrong. I wish only to express doubt, suggesting that other scenarios deserve consideration. When seeking to identify the perpetrator of a crime, as we all know from countless mystery dramas, one looks for motive, opportunity, and modus operandi - as well as at circumstantial and physical evidence. For the scenario I'd like you to consider, let us begin with modus operandi, or "standard behavior of the suspect".
At this point, Moore explores the Pearl Harbour incident and other similar events, which are discussed later in this book.
Having raised, if by no means exhausted, the unanswered questions associated with the actual attack, the discussion now moves on background issues and the political and historical context. The first matter to be discussed is that of public opinion, particularly in the United States. Whilst 90% of Americans are said to support the “war on terrorism” involving military action, including action against countries from which terrorists operate, a broader viewpoint is well represented in the US.
Susan Sontag, writing in the New Yorker, states with admirable courage and eloquence;
The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards. Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy. Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy-which entails disagreement, which promotes candor-has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.
This article is relevant to the discussion, perhaps, for the political awareness and strength of feeling being shown by some Americans, and for the fact that the mature considerations she allows are completely absent from the rhetoric of US politicians. In the following comments, David Weston underlines how vital this lack of information is.
I have just listened to an interview on TV with a Texan family, on the question as to 'why would someone want to do that to us?'. The family's bafflement became clear as the father said: "We are the most generous nation on earth. I guess a lot of people out there in the Third World just don't realise what we've done for them". When you are constantly told by the media that the US has been and is, the most generous nation on earth (e.g. the Marshall Plan - which ensured that American businesses got a solid foothold in post WW2 Europe; or the rehabilitation of the Japanese economy, in which the US permitted only American firms to set up there), then having little or no contradicting information, one accepts it as true. When you've been constantly told that 'We are a peaceful people' (George W. Bush on TV a few days ago); when you are constantly assured by officialdom that any conflicts/wars your military are involved in, are just and moral, even when there is a well-documented list of 'interventions, coups, assassinations of elected officials, and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states' - clearly, if your school curriculum, or your newspaper, or TV or radio don't include that information, then you are going to assume that only 'others' are terrorists.
This situation of uncritical public content is not helped when practices such as that adopted by CNN and the BBC are employed. There were early reports of Muslims waving and cheering delightedly in the streets on hearing the news of the Trade Centre attacks. In fact, this was an initial response before the severity of the catastrophe was understood. After this, the response was, according to eyewitnesses, more muted and often sympathetic. Yet in America, and in Britain for many days, a clip of celebrating, jubilant Muslims was shown. But as the statement below shows, this footage, highly offensive in the political context, was actually filmed in 1991 during the invasion of Kuwait! The repeated use of such false imagery is totally unacceptable, as Russell Grossman, Head of Internal Communication at the BBC in London makes clear.
At the BBC here, we have these footages on videotapes recorded in 1991, with the very same images. But now, think for a moment about the impact of such images. Your people are hurt, emotionally fragile, and this kind of broadcast has very high possiblity of causing waves of anger and rage against the Palestinians. It's simply irresponsible to show images such as those.
In Particular, one set of images caught my attention: the Palestinians celebrating the bombing, out on the streets, eating celebration sweets and making funny faces for the camera. Those are images of Palestinians celebrating the invasion of Kuwait! It's simply unacceptable that a super-power of communications as CNN uses images which do not correspond to the reality in talking about so serious of an issue.
Weston”s comment, preceding that by Russell Grossman, bring us to what is without question the next key issue to discuss. This is the historical record of American military intervention in international affairs. This is one of the factors responsible for such extraordinary degree of hatred being directed at the country. The most directly relevant issues involve US policy in the Middle East.
The first major grievance is, of course, the United States” unstinting support for Israel. The state of Israel was born on the basis of the massive dispossession of the Palestinian people from their country and their lands. It is hard to contradict Arab claims that it was essentially support from the United States that created the state of Israel; that it has been extensive US military aid and backing that has maintained it in the last half century; and also that it is deep confidence in perpetual US military and political support that enables Israel to oppose in practice the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. This statement is not intended in any way to “side” with the Palestinian movement, who have shown themselves equally capable of committing atrocities. But there can be no doubt that US policy has been heavily one-sided. For a global superpower to adopt such an uneven-handed stance is to invite the hatred of the Palestinians. It could well be further argued that US support for Israel makes that nation less willing to compromise, preventing what might be a settlement achieved between two parties with much to lose by the continuing dispute and both prepared to make equal concessions. With the constant backing of the US, Israel need make few concessions.
The second obvious grievance involves sanctions and military action against Iraq. Mention has already been made of the John Pilger documentary on Iraq which assembled the mass of evidence that the continuation of sanctions by the US was wholly unjustified. UNICEF reports that 5,000 children die every month in Iraq due to the U.S.-led sanctions. They are dying from diarrhea and dysentery due to lack of clean drinking water, medicine and food. The sanctions do not allow Iraq to rebuild its water systems that were destroyed during the bombing ten years ago. Over 1.5 million Iraqi's have died in the last ten years due to the sanctions and the continued bombings, which are still happening every week in Iraq. So broadly has this US policy been condemned that UN representatives have actually resigned in public protest at their continuance.
Neither of these policies in themselves obviously betoken any form of revelation involving conspiracy. However, as David Western points out, there is a long record of involvement by the US in the Middle East. “Öthe US overthrew the nationalist government of Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, cultivated the repressive Shah of Iran as the gendarme of the Persian Gulf, supported anti-democratic feudal regimes in the Arabian peninsula, and introduced a massive permanent military presence in Saudi Arabia, which contains some of Islam's most sacred shrines and cities.” He also points out that a prime motive for US involvement in the war between Iraq and Kuwait was not the defence of an invaded country, but the desire to secure the oil supplies upon which America depends.
It is, however, the well-documented military policies of the US around the world, on many occasions, that demonstrate that country”s clear willingness to manipulate political outcomes for strategic advantage and political influence. The following items are just a few of the more established and notable examples of covert or unjustified military or intelligence activity, many of which earned the United States the condemnation of United Nations.
In Cuba, since 1963 the US has maintained blockades for 39 years. Its continued actions have been condemned by Human Rights Groups and the United Nations General Assembly.
In Chile in 1973, a CIA backed coup ousted the elected president, installed military General Pinochet. Decades of human rights abuses follow.
In El Salvador, between 1980 and 1992, the US aided a government condemned for gross human rights violations.
In Nicaragua, between 1981 and 1992, the US directed and illegally supported the contra war, mined the harbor and allowed an open flow of narcotics into the US. The US actions were condemned by the United Nations World Court.
In 1983-84, the US military invaded the tiny island of Grenada. 400 Grenadians were killed and this "Gross violation" of international law was condemned by the United Nations.
In Iraq the US supported and armed Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its war against Iran during 1988.
In Panama in 1989, the US invaded with 27,000 soldiers. 3000+ Panamanians were killed, the US military kidnaped it's own installed drug-dealing leader and CIA “asset”. These Illegal US actions were condemned by nearly unanimous United Nations and Organization of American States.
There has also been suspicious CIA/US involvement in Australia 1973-5, Portugal 1974, Bulgaria 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Peru 1992, Colombia 1992, Haiti 1994, Libya and Afghanistan.
The use of the word “conspiracy” to describe such actions is actually quite downbeat. American policy makers have repeatedly employed their intelligence services and military in the blatant interference in the sovereign affairs of foreign governments. Pro-US governments have been installed and those administrations with an unfavourable disposition towards the United States have been deliberately toppled. The first comment to make is that these are not the acts of a “peaceful nation”. The second point to note is the generally covert nature of these operations, often involving the CIA. The third point is that the US clearly displays a long term interest in Central and South American politics (for obvious reasons of geography) and also in the Middle East.
Having established, or reminded ourselves of the US intelligence agencies” capacity for foreign intrigue, it is worth returning to Richard Moore”s article in which he discusses the employment of a tactic of self-inflicted injuries to promote a war-response. Moore notes that in addition to the Pearl Harbor incident,
“the U.S. Government lied to the American People about the following events, each of which led the United States into War.
1898..THEY LIED about the sinking of the battleship Maine. (Spanish American War)
1915..THEY LIED about the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania (World War I)
1941..THEY LIED about the attack on Pearl Harbor. (World War 2)
1964..THEY LIED about the Gulf of Tonkin affair. (Vietnam War)"
The Battleship Maine was not in fact attacked, but was blown up from an internal explosion we have since learned. The thirst for revenge was translated into the capture of the Philippines. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident gave President Lyndon Johnson an excuse to begin major escalation of the Vietnam War. Supposedly, in that incident, a North Vietnamese boat launched torpedoes in an attempt to sink an American warship. It is now generally accepted by historians that the attack did not in fact occur, and that Johnson had been preparing to escalate all along.”
Moore concludes;
As we look back at history, we find that every time the U.S. has entered into a major military adventure, this has been enabled by a dramatic incident which aroused public sentiment overwhelmingly in favor of military action. These incidents have always been accepted at face value when they occurred, but in every case we have learned later that the incidents were highly suspicious. And in every case, the ensuing military action served some elite geopolitical design.
Moore”s clear implication, drawing on both the doubts surrounding the event and historical parallels, is that there could have been some form of US involvement in the recent terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The implied purpose was to permit the United States to launch the country into a war; the motive he perceives to be “geopolitical”. How radically different this is from the popular perception of the attacks, and the justification and support given to the US administration in its determination to “retaliate” for a terrorist outrage.
The suggested involvement of the CIA in the attack on the World Trade Center is not, therefore, a suggestion without historical precedent, both in terms of a tactic, modus operandi and purpose. For the United States now declares itself to be at war.
The maverick U.S. politician Lyndon LaRouche echoed this opinion when he said on a local radio programme in the U.S. that the responsibility for the attacks “lies with a very capable machine inside the United States itself. There might be other factors, but that's the thing we have to worry about.”
How then was this managed? What would be required for such a conspiracy would be some form of a link between the American intelligence service(s) and Islamic fundamentalism. Larouche had commentary on this too.
“Now, of course, obviously, our military, top military, had nothing to do with this. But there are people who are “off the reservation”, as we saw reflected in the Oklahoma City bombing, and there are people off the reservations who are used, who are deniable....”
Larouche and many others believe there is compelling evidence that the FBI and the Department of Justice adopted a “lone assassin” theory of the Oklahoma City bombing early in the investigation, suppressing vital evidence and ignoring vital leads, that would have pointed towards the broader network of conspirators behind the bombing. It seems that LaRouche warned four months ago that the execution of Timothy McVeigh would “jeopardize vital American national security interests”. By executing McVeigh, the United States was eliminating one of the few sources of information about the broader terrorist network involved in the bombing, which is still at large.
“These people are still out there and are still functioning,” LaRouche claimed at the time (26 May) “and this poses a real threat to the national security of the United States”.
What of the named personnel involved? Well, clear links between the US intelligence agency, the CIA, and Osama bin Laden are established. The following information is extracted from an article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Montreal University. Chossudovsky is an internationally respected academic. His article, which contains valuable information not included in the extract below, is included in full at the end of the book. As always, it is thoroughly referenced.
In 1979 the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Saudi born Ousmane bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war under the auspices of the CIA, to fight the Soviets. With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI [Inter Services Intelligence], some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992.
The Islamic "jihad" was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade. In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166 which authorized an increase in covert military aid to the mujahideen. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a
steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels.
The CIA covert support to the "jihad" operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, --i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen and the Pakistani ISI was used as a “go-between”. CIA's Milton Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Ousmane bin Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.
With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of US military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government".
Backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely serving American geopolitical interests. The Golden Crescent drug trade was also being used to finance and equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting in the early 1990s) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few months there is evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia.
In his concluding remarks, Chossudovsky states;
Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Ousmane bin Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's "most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist. The FBI, operating as a US based Police Force, is waging a domestic war against terrorism, operating in some respects independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported international terrorism through its covert operations.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the truth must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together with its NATO partners from embarking upon a military adventure which
threatens the future of humanity.
Here we have a clear, detailed and powerful historical link between bin Laden and the CIA, plus the involvement of another powerful intelligence apparatus, the Pakistani ISI. The question now becomes, what is the current nature of those relationships, if any? It is worth drawing attention to the fact that even in the past, bin Laden”s contact with the CIA became indirect, working through the Pakistan ISI. Richard Sanders describes Ousmane bin Laden as a “Blowback”.
A Blowback is a CIA term that applies “when some operative, a terrorist or a situation that they've created gets out of their control and comes back to haunt them. It's a situation where the scientist (Frankenstein) creates a monster and it “blows back” on its creator.
Noriega, Hussein, Timothy McVeigh and bin Laden are all pretty good examples of blowback. They were all nurtured for many years by the CIA, US military or military intelligence. They all eventually “blew back”.”
So where does this line of enquiry leave us? We have a massive terrorist event, which has been variously portrayed as an amateur, string and candlewax affair, and alternatively as a highly sophisticated elaborate organisation requiring perhaps years to plan and execute. We have a history of sinister involvement internationally and domestically by the CIA. The United States has a track record of entering major conflicts after it has either invented an attack, or ignored warnings of an attack. There are clear links between Osama bin Laden and the CIA, with the CIA clearly in the driving seat and bin Laden a highly trained functionary, kept at arms length, with the suggestion that he has turned upon his former masters. There is an extensive involvement by the CIA in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the homes of Islamic fundamentalism, and widespread expressions of doubt that bin Laden was capable of such an act as the horrendous attack on America on 11th September; an act which he has specifically denied in terms of his faith.
It has to be concluded that the possibility of involvement beyond Osama bin Laden is considerable. Rather than speculate at this stage, it seems more appropriate to quote from the UK Guardian of the 13th September; “No black box will ever tell us who the real perpetrators of this terrible vengeance are, as every terrorist has his minder, and every minder his minder, often with conflicting, if not warring, agendas.
Richard Moore rightly asks perhaps the next key question in any such enquiry, as have many commentators. “Who benefits?” Who stood to gain from the atrocity committed at the World Trade Centre and Pentagon? We have already argued that with such an enormous outrage, the normal reward that terrorists might expect to enjoy will not be forthcoming for the ardent followers of Islamic fundamentalism. They stand to be hunted down and buried in "history's unmarked graves of discarded lives" (President Bush's words).
The same is true for all other terrorist organisations, for this is now a “war on terrorism everywhere.” The other principle candidate for responsibility, or co-responsibility, is the United States or some agency(s) located within the United States or internationally. How could the United States possibly benefit from projecting itself into a war of the type being envisaged? Perhaps the best way into this discussion is to reflect, first, precisely what type of war is being envisaged? Here it is best to draw on the many statements emanating “from the horses mouth”, including comments by Bush, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney.
President Bush has described this as a "War on Terrorism". Congress has authorized the President to do "whatever is necessary". For the first time, NATO has invoked the treaty clause which says "an attack on one nation is an attack on all". Americans have been told to expect significant curtailment of civil liberties. Bush has declared that "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." We are told to expect a long, protracted war. After Bin Laden is dealt with, Secretary of State Colin Powell tells us "we will then broaden the campaign to go after other terrorist organizations and forms of terrorism around the world." Bush has said that "We will use every necessary weapon of war", and "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."
From such an agenda, one cannot easily predict where it will all lead. Perhaps some of the above is mere rhetoric. Many people are highly fearful of the possible outcome. Tamim Amsary, an Afghan who lives in America wrote as follows.
I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." ÖTrouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that. New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.
So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out
of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.
The Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, professor at the University of the Philippines, also warns of the dangers of upward escalation
In sum, if there is one thing we can be certain of, it is that massive retaliation on the part of the US will not put an end to terrorism. It will simply amplify the upward spiral of violence, as the other side will resort to even more spectacular deeds, fed by unending waves of recruits. The September 11 tragedy is the clearest evidence of the bankruptcy of the 30-year-old policy of mailed-fist, massive retaliation response to terrorism. This policy has simply resulted in the extreme professionalization of terrorism.
The only response that will really contribute to global security and peace is for Washington to address not the symptoms but the roots of terrorism. It is for the United States to reexamine and substantially change its policies in the Middle East and the Third World, supporting for a change arrangements that will not stand in the way of the achievement of equity, justice, and genuine national sovereignty for currently marginalized peoples. Any other way leads to endless war.
The United States shows no sign of adjusting its policy in the Middle East. However I do not think that the doomesday scenario is the only, nor the most likely outcome. Moore comments in a way that I believe is more likely to be accurate;
“Permit me to speculate as to the scenario which is likely to unfold... Nearly every country in the third world has some local ethnic group which is struggling against some kind of dictatorial government, usually installed by the USA. Every one of these ethnic groups can be labelled 'terrorist'. Thus Bush can always intervene anywhere he wants for whatever reason and call it part of the "War on Terrorism".
A similar view is ventured by Robert Fisk;
I'm not at all sure what we - the West - are doingÖ is Mr bin Laden merely chapter one of our new Middle Eastern adventure, to be broadened later to include Iraq, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the destruction of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the humbling of Syria, the humiliation of Iran, the reimposition of yet another fraudulent "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians?
If this seems fanciful, you should listen to what's coming out of Washington and Tel Aviv. While The New York Times Pentagon sources are suggesting that Saddam may be chapter two, the Israelis are trying to set up Lebanon - the "center of international terror" according to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon - for a bombing run or two, along with Yasser Arafat's little garbage tip down in Gaza where the Israelis have discovered, mirabile dictu, a "bin Laden cell".
Ö it raises a disturbing question: whether or not the crime against humanity committed in the US on 11 September is to be met with justice - or a brutal military assault intended to extend American political power in the Middle East.
America”s political interest and influence in the Middle East has always been intense, powerful and often covert. As well as bin Laden, Saddam Hussein was himself initially CIA trained and installed with the support of the US government. Within days of the attack and the first outburst of hawkish military comments backed up by mobilisation of its military, Israel and Palestine were drawn together under a new accord brokered by the US. The Bush adminstration”s hard line, “you are either with us or against us”, has even momentarily quelled Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gadaffi in Libya and the Syrian leaders. And of course, not a shot has yet been fired. Having been criticised for its early intemperate remarks, the Bush administration is now being praised for its forbearance. All the time, diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy is in progress, with America firmly in the driving seat.
Action has been taken, however, and highly significant action. The US has passed new laws and insisted that other countries pass similar laws enabling the tracking and sequestering of terrorist funds. This requires the analysis of all monetary transfers. Tax havens and offshore banking centres are being closed. In the fight against terrorism, rafts of legislation are being passed that would never have been contemplated ordinarily, certainly not in a way that places the United States in the pivotal position, able to analyse, coordinate and approve the legislation and its execution. Further legislation is anticipated in the integration of national intelligence services, military cooperation and finance. The role of the United Nations is expected to vastly increase. Security against terrorism involving everything from conventional and nuclear to biochemical and biological weapons requires economic surveillance, verification and control. Having assumed the role of global defender of freedom and democracy, and on the back of so great a domestic atrocity, which they are determined will happen to no-ne else, the United States is advancing its political, economic and military position to a quite astonishing degree.
The most obvious geopolitical gain is likely to be the extension of “security” to the Middle East. Both Michel Chossudovsky and David Weston also point out that Afghanistan occupies a vital geographical position in terms of pipeline access to Russia. The US has already failed to secure agreement to such a pipeline, despite offering an $8 billion deal. By way of confirmation that such issues “matter” to US administrations, the following comment by Bill Clinton's energy secretary, speaking with regard to the conflict in Yugoslavia just a few months before the Kosovo bombing started, is pertinent.
'This is about America's energy security . . . It's also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west . . . We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right. Extracted from an article by Richard Bass in The Friend, 14.9.01.
But the issue must be seen far more broadly than simply Afghanistan. With the certainty that terrorism will continue and always surface anew in various places, the decade ahead could provide the US with the continuing opportunity to extend its already vast military and economic power and influence - the very accusation initially levelled against it with such justification. If they play their political cards right, with a tide of emotional support and carefully committing the military and diplomatic resources of their peace-loving nation to the defence of the free world, tackling whatever conflicts arise with “appropriate force” and moving on to the next noble cause, there is no question that the United States could fair spectacularly well out of this, whoever was responsible for the attacks.
There is, in summary, an opportunity for the United States to develop power and influence, and generate international policy, that amount to virtual global government. Already, through its corporate power and dominance over the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, America exercises significant control over many elements of international economic policy. On the back of the World Trade Center attack, that control will be advanced to a degree that is simply incalculable at this stage. Already, Russia has been drawn into the fold and China is poised ready to join the wider world through affiliation to the World Trade Organisation.
Without developing this thesis any further at this point, it is important to note that other agencies have been mentioned as having connections with bin Laden network, including Mossad, The Syrian SAFIS, the Lebanese Hizbollah and the Pakistani ISI, who should not be excluded from consideration. It is now worth looking back into history yet again, to examine whether there exist any further echoes of such a policy.
Economic Imperialism
Much has been expressed in the press of the widespread antagonism towards America due to its military policies, notably in the Middle East. However, the concept of “America” attracts irritation, mild dislike or vehement antagonism across perhaps æ of the globe. This is partly because brash American military policy has on occasion reached most corners of the globe. But more this antagonism is also founded on Americas economic, as much as her military, dominance. The US is the dominant global economic force and is seen as exerting considerable economic imperialism. It is important to appreciate the nature and origin of this economic dominance, after all, it was the World Trade Center that was attacked.
My previous book to this was a study of the development of the Third World, international debt and the process of globalisation. It was published in April 2000 and the final task was to decide upon a title for the book. Since the book finds heavily against both the World Bank and IMF, which represent the American policy of Bretton Woods, and is also highly critical of international corporate power in which America holds such a dominant role, I entitled the book “Goodbye America!” The brief thesis of the book was that by cancellation of international dollar debts, the countries of the developing world could direct their economic efforts to their own needs, rather than perpetually serving as cheap manufacturing and agricultural outposts for the more wealthy nations. I am now conscious, however, that this title is likely to be deeply offensive in the light of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
I must qualify and clarify my apparent antagonism towards the United States. As the foregoing discussion and subsequent brief overview of the book will, I hope, demonstrate, there is every reason for disapproving of certain key elements of American international policy. However, America has also for years stood for a belief in freedom and provided a defence against the more obvious tyrannies under which many peoples have suffered. The American people and their nation have every right to be proud of their achievements notwithstanding the current discussion. The issue here is with certain aspects of US international policy and a certain tier of governance found internationally as well as in the United States. I would like to apologise unreservedly for the title of my previous book. In the light of the terrorist attacks it is an embarrassment to me. I do not, however, feel the need to withdraw any of the books analysis and argument. I now give an outline of the central arguments in the book since these are highly relevant to the present discussion.
America”s economic power and prosperity attracts the broadest criticism in an age where poverty and hardship are so widespread. And that prosperity and dominance is intimately related to the poverty of the developing world in particular, via the institution of Third World debt. The following may seem like an over-lengthy departure from the terrible events of 11th September, but it will become clear just how terrible other events have been and the culpability, albeit possibly unconscious, of economic policy emanating from the United States.
There are four clear reasons we should challenge the very notion of the Third World being in debt.
1 The developing countries were offered an economic “model”. They would borrow money, invest that money in their economies, export the products of that investment and thus repay their debts. This perfectly rational model has been a total and invariable failure. No country has ever succeeded in discharging the debts it owes to the IMF/World Bank/commercial banks on money borrowed for development. This invariable failure suggests the model lacks legitimacy and/or that other conditions render it inoperable.
2 Third World debt has, in recent years, been blamed on the “incompetence and corruption” of debtor nations. However, the established development literature of the past 50 years does not accuse the developing nations of any great degree of corruption and incompetence. Both these charges have, however, repeatedly been levelled at the World Bank and IMF for their inappropriate and biased policies.
3 There is something clearly odd and unexplained about “debt” in the modern world. All nations, even the most wealthy, are heavily indebted via government “national” debts, escalating mortgage debts and commercial debts. Why is the problem of Third World debt being considered in isolation? What is the general cause of modern debt?
4 For the Third World to find itself, now, still in a position of debt, is a complete contradiction of the history of trade over the last half century. The aggregate Third World debt of $2.2 trillion implies that the developing nations have failed to export $2.2 trillion worth of goods, obtain the export revenues, and repay these to discharge their debts. But any realistic evaluation would acknowledge that the Third World has done virtually nothing but export its goods for the past 50 years. Foodstuffs, raw materials, minerals, manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, sell-offs of land, private assets and public infrastructure. Some developed nations are virtually owned by foreign economic interests. In what possible sense can they be said to owe other countries “yet more exports”?
Why the Third World remains in debt can only be understood over time - as a story almost. The sequence of events is vital. For example, it is often said that the reason so many developing nations are in debt is because they spend so much on arms and military suppression of their peoples. But this is a gross inversion of the actual order of events. It was the grinding poverty in the poorer nations, due to endemic debt, that led to the civil unrest, which then generated the need to purchase arms. In countless cases, it was the debt and poverty that lead to the conflict and military spending, not the other way round. Similarly with “flight capital”, often blamed for depriving the poorer nations of domestic invesment and forcing them to borrow repeatedly. But authoritative studies of flight capital have concluded that endemic debt, IMF-induced depressions coupled with IMF-imposed financial deregulation were what both encouraged and permitted the capital flight! There exists a vast and authoritative literature on Third World development covering the last 50 years. This literature absolutely contradicts the popular consensus today that the debts of these countries are due to the corruption, incompetence or misdeeds of their governing classes. A typical evaluation of bank/Fund policies is as follows below;
“Öin the last ten years the whole IMF policy has been nothing but a failure. All its prognoses were proved wrong, and its policies and measures had an opposite effect from what had been intended”.
The story of endemic international debt takes us back, initially, to the 1940s. The development of the Third World into poverty and chaos was not then anticipated. On the contrary, during the 1940s and 1950s most nations looked upon their impending freedom from colonial rule with enthusiasm. They anticipated a golden era of growth, democracy and independence. Many South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil, were already considered semi-developed with strong economic prospects for the future. So what went wrong? The “what went wrong” happened at Bretton Woods in 1944, when many of the governments of the world met to determine the trade architecture for the post-war years.
Two proposals were available for consideration. The first, presented by John Meynard Keynes was for a system of balanced trading, and valuation of currencies by commodity prices. This proposal was rejected by the American delegation, led by Harry Dexter White, who insisted that a free trade agenda, coupled with the World Bank and IMF be set up. This proposal was eventually passed. The criticism of the Bretton Woods agreement was instant and widespread. Keynes himself dissociated himself from it. Another famous economist, Geoffrey Crowther, gravely warned that “the world would bitterly regret the fact that LordKeynes” arguments were rejected”. Many commentators predicted widespread international debt and default.
The reason for this prescient criticism lies both in historical experience and theory. The world had just been through a debt crisis in the 1930s and there was general awareness both of the dangers of deregulated free trade and un-redressed trade imbalances - ie debt. The rejected Keynesian proposal for an International Clearing Union was specifically designed to avoid a repeat of this scenario. It allowed trade to proceed freely at the commercial level, but placed an obligation on governments to redress trade imbalances via a Clearing Union account, and employing a range of domestic fiscal instruments. The philosophy was of balanced trade for mutual advantage.
As regards economic theory, this fully explains the dangers of free trade. Free trade is seen as an ideal by economists, but the theory contains certain clear warnings. In trade between wealthy nations and undeveloped nations, if certain conditions do not exist, there will not be “equal gain”. The more powerful, wealthy nation will, through its commerce, effectively exploit and draw wealth from the poorer nation. The developing nations will either stagnate or decline.
The essential conditions for free trade to involve “equal gain” are; a financial balance of trade must be maintained between the nations; there should be no long-term capital flows, and, critically; there should be no monopoly power exercised by the wealthy nation(s). The obligation to maintain a balance of trade was specifically excluded from the US proposal, whilst long-term capital flows have been deliberately encouraged. And since the international economy then as now was riddled with monopolies and near-monopolies, the application of a deregulated free trade agenda was bound to lead to the enrichment of powerful nations and progressive impoverishment of the poorer nations.
It is all a matter of price. Where powerful monopolies exist, they are able to go from one primary-producer nation to another in search of “the best price”. The price of commodities simply tumbles, competed down by both the monopolistic corporations and the nations themselves, desperate for any revenues. The persistent and well-documented falls in commodity prices have constantly meant that developing nations have not earned the money to pay their debts. This means they remain in financial debt whilst repaying that debt in “real wealth” terms.
The World Bank and IMF always refused all calls for commodity price-protection. The Bank offered identical advice to several nations to produce certain goods, offering price and earnings predictions. Critics warned that the gluts that followed would lead to price-drops, which of course happened. Many projects suggested by the World Bank simply bombed, leaving the nations carrying the debt. No co-responsibility was ever accepted by the Bank. In many cases, entire sectors of a nations economy were re-organised around Bank and IMF advice, with calamitous results. The IMF instituted savage structural adjustment programmes and austerity packages that drove the weak domestic economies into recession. Meanwhile instructions were given to open borders to inward investment, which simply meant that foreign corporations bought up the most valuable sectors of the nation”s economy for a song.
This is a brief overview of one of the great debacles of human politics and economics. Through the repeated application of a totally redundant economic ethic and inadequate trade architecture, the poorer countries have sunk into poverty, cultural decline, civil and social unrest and, many times, outright warfare. The decisions taken at Bretton Woods have resulted in the destruction of some of the most beautiful environments and cultures in the world and the loss of literally millions of lives. The developing world has now become the opportunity shopping ground for corporations, speculators and puppet dictators.
It is so hard to convince people that this need never have happened, nor envisage a more prosperous pattern of historical development for the impoverished nations. It is hard to imagine what has not happened. Perhaps the only way is to return in our minds to those days just before independence, consider the natural wealth, energy, geographic and climatic advantages of so many of these nations. Kwame Nkrume, the Ghanain leader famously gave voice to the anticipated prosperity; “If we get independence, we will turn the Gold Coast into a paradise within ten years.”
What, then, is the connection between the tragedy of Third World debt and the World Trade Center attacks? What, if anything, does it reveal? First, it gives huge legitimacy to the sense of gross injustice experienced by citizens of the developing world. They don’t know how it”s been done, but they know they”ve been ripped off. They know that the richer nations enjoy not just the material rewards of their own efforts, but draw heavily on the material wealth produced in the poorest and most deprived countries of the world. It is all done by complex economics, by currency values, by monopoly power, by hard currency dollar debts. It results, as many Third World debt scholars have observed, in effective international slavery and subjugation. The economists always tell us “there is no alternative”. Only there is, just as there was 50 years ago at Bretton Woods.
So, a thorough analysis of Third World debt supports the injustice and indignation of citizens in the poorer nations. It also describes a situation of international dependency and exposure. This is perfectly described by Michel Chossudovsky in his book, “The Globalisation of Poverty”. He points out that the ubiquity of debt and the obligation to come back time and time again for further bail-out loans, gives to the World Bank and IMF the opportunity for international control, or “internationalisation of policy”. Identical economic conditions and close economic control can be exerted over perhaps 2/3 of the planet, simply because of those nations” indebtedness. What is more, the conditions created are blatantly corporate-friendly and have provided the scope and global arena for multinationals to extend their size and power to the point where they dwarf many national governments.
Perhaps the best insight into Third World debt is gained if we imagine these debts fully cancelled, as many observers have called for, but which the IMF and World Bank absolutely refuse to countenance. Were this to happen, immediately, the stream of revenue from exports that debtor nations now pay on their debts would accrue to them. They could thus become stronger buyers in the world market. In addition, the exposure of their own currencies to international debt would be removed; their currencies would therefore strengthen markedly. This would further improve their financial and trading position. Less exposed financially, they would be on more independent, if not equal, footing with international corporations. They could establish the price of their commodities from a stronger position. The possibility would then exist for the now independent Third World nations to agree commodity prices amongst themselves. Although still needing to trade, the great desire to undertake agricultural and industrial development for their own domestic need would certainly be pursued. This would have the added effect of compressing the production of goods for export, again strengthening their price.
In addition to the effect on debtor countries, consider the effect on the wealthy western nations. We might expect to see a relocation back to domestic production of the thousands of industries and agricultural products that have, in the past 50 years vanished abroad because they can be produced more cheaply. This would ensure a steady stream of new employment. Meanwhile, in this relocating, more decentralised world economy, the opportunity for multinationals to operate in the gross wealth/development gap
between rich and debtor nations would shrink. Many corporations would probably fragment. In this scenario we detect, perhaps, a suspicion as to why there is such unwillingness to tackle Third World debt by those who hold global power.
Of course a new trade architecture and new model for international lending would have to be devised to ensure international debt did not recur in the disastrous way it has. But numerous scholars have worked on this problem and there is no shortage of proposals.
The Keynsian proposal was intended to lead to precisely this kind of more benign, balanced development from the outset. Why was it rejected by the Americans and their programme imposed? It is generally accepted that the reason was one of commercial advantage. With the end of the war approaching, American servicemen returning and an economy geared to the war effort, American politicians feared another recession. It should be remembered that it had been the War that finally ended the recession. The US delegation to Bretton Woods saw it as vital to its economy that it should be allowed to conduct an unimpeded export strategy, to sell its surplus goods and services abroad whilst protecting its own economy. The determination with which this position was taken is reflected in the following statement at Bretton Woods by Dexter White.
“The other countries had suggested that pressure should be put on creditor countries, and by that they meant mainly the United States Ö to enable them to sell more goods here. We have been perfectly adamant on that point. We have taken the position of absolutely “No” on that.”
In other words, the commercial advantage of a single, already rich and powerful nation led to a choice of trade architecture for which millions have literally paid with their lives. As to whether the resultant enrichment of the wealthy nations and subjugation of the developing nations was an intended outcome, I have never heard comment. However, I would suggest that the image we are offered of a world where so many nations languish in political and economic subordination to an essentially false debt administered by agencies based in the world”s most powerful nation is revealing, as is discussed later.
Banking and Money
Whilst an analysis of Third World debt offers a valuable insight into the origin and nature of US economic dominance, it does not, so far as I am aware, afford particular clues as to the existence of any conspiracy, or its nature. There is, however, another field that does. This is the extensive criticism of money and banking that has continued over perhaps the last two hundred years. From the earliest days in America, and earlier still in Europe, banking has been accused of being a fraudulent mechanism providing a most effective form of discreet social control and manipulation. Thomas Jefferson famously stated “Ö.
“I sincerely believe the banking institutions having the issuing power of money are more dangerous to liberty than standing armies”.
There is an extensive and growing literature on the demerits of banking and the subject of Monetary reform - the modelling of financial systems not reliant upon fractional reserve banking. Briefly, the allegation is that reliance upon commercial banking to supply a nations money stock (96%, on average, of a nation”s money stock is today so created) leaves a nation and its people carrying unsustainable burdens of debt. This debt-based money system has a range of serious knock-on effects. The system is inherently unstable, prone to slumps and booms, and for an economy to function effectively it must grow constantly - whether or not that perpetual growth is desired by its citizens. This, plus the realisation that in issuing money as a debt, the banking mechanism was acquiring legal title, via the securities it demands, to the assets of a nation, prompted the equally famous comment by Lord Josiah Stamp, former Director of the Bank of England.
“Banking was conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth; take it away from them but leave them with the power to create credit and with the stroke of a pen they will create enough money to buy it back againÖ If you want to be slaves and pay the costs of your own slavery, then let the banks create money.”
The knock-on effects of a debt-based money system are wide ranging. They include the ceaseless pursuit of new goods and services by a heavily mortgaged population wholly dependent upon employment, the need to promote by advertising a consumer culture that desires this stream of new products, the pressure to provide new employment as markets become saturated and technology increases productivity. A debt-based money system leads to a perpetual shortfall of money for consumers, government revenues and commercial incomes. It grants an advantage to low-price goods and distorts the development of industry towards low quality, low durability products. This in turn feeds the demand for perpetual employment by repeated manufacture and distribution of goods of lower lifespan than could be achieved. The advantage granted to low-cost goods is in turn an advantage to mass-production, leading to a tendency towards the over-centralisation of an economy. Finally, the difficulty of selling a huge and growing volume of goods in a scarcity-money environment means that all national economies are forced to seek overseas markets - exports - for their surpluses. This automatically generates trade conflict.
This extensive and powerful critique of the uniformly established money-supply mechanism is nowhere discussed in the media, or amongst established academic circles. Its discussion and the evidence for the assertions has been completely excluded from general public awareness, other than within the New Economics and environmental movements. The search for and modelling of alternative money supply mechanisms has therefore been consigned to a few bold academics and a large number of enthusiastic but ill-informed would-be-economists. The result is that this vital area of study, pivotal for the development of a more benign and sustainable economics, makes slow progress and hardly impinges at the level of national policy.
This exclusion from the academic process and public consciousness has, for many decades, been attributed to a conspiracy. Close control of the media is seen as vital. Articles and letters on the subject of monetary reform and banking criticism are never seen in the national press. It has not been discussed on either radio or television for years, although a number of prominent UK politicians have expressed considerable interest in the subject and a few are outright supporters.
The conspiracy described by the monetary reform movement is characterised by two elements. The first is the use of money and banking as a tool of policy. The capacity to create virtually unlimited volumes of credit at will, which banking can do, affords bankers the power to profit from, manage and even promote many events. Cited in the monetary reform literature are numerous instances in which significant political events have been sanctioned by being bankrolled - for instance the Russian revolution. The second element suggested of the conspiracy is a conviction that the ultimate purpose is the establishment of World Government, either visible and declared, or de facto. This government would be one in which power would be increasingly centralised and coordinated, with elected governments as little more than figureheads. It is worth emphasising that this financial conspiracy is not wholly identified with America. Its focal point is considered to be the United States, but its scope and influence is perceived to be fully international.
A particularly interesting and well-researched book from the aspect of proof of a conspiracy, entitled The Money Masters, documents some of the extraordinary open warfare between government and “the money power” in America during the last two centuries.
This discussion has taken us a long way from the World Trade Centre attacks and the tragic deaths they involved. We know what we don’t know, in terms of the many unanswered questions surrounding the atrocity itself, and we also know the political and historical context and the suspicion this inevitably arouses. There are just so many inconsistencies attending the actual event and its background organisation. There is a clear indication that Islamic fundamentalism was central to the attack, if for no other reason than that no other sizeable groups seem prepared to undertake suicide missions. I suggest that the possibility of some degree of CIA, or other agency involvement, must be seriously entertained for three reasons.
1 The extraordinary lapses in security before and during the event and gaps in information of the day”s events;
2 The well-established connection between the CIA, the Pakistani ISI, bin Laden and the constant support and promotion of Islamic fundamentalism;
3 The apparent record of the United States in “finding itself at war” after an event it might well have avoided, or had in fact self-inflicted.
There is no avoiding the fact that this entire scenario may be wildly incorrect and insulting to the FBI and CIA. But so much is at stake the multiple-question must be asked. Are these US agencies, normally associated in the public mind with the defence and security of the nation, entirely innocent; did they masterminded the entire operation, did they suggest and encourage it; did they merely turned a blind eye to it, knowing the extensive advantages that would accrue; did they permitted the atrocity, believing that the “mess” of terrorism had to be cleared up and this would provide the platform (casualties always regretted, of course, and no admission that Islamic fundamentalism reflects their political incompetence and arrogance); have these agencies co-operated or liased in any way with other foreign or international agencies that might share responsibility for the atrocity? None of this can really be debated with the information at hand. But the matter must be resolved rapidly and many detailed and searching questions asked and resolved.
Much play is made of indoctrination by Osama bin Laden of Islamic followers in creating a dedicated terrorist network. But central to any fair analysis, as Chossudovsky”s full article emphasises, is the intimate association of the CIA with that indoctrination process and the astonishing effort put into clandestine policy in the Middle East. What was the precise involvement and degree of responsibility of Osama bin Laden? Is bin Laden indeed a “blowback? Or is he the precise creation that was intended; a hostile, fanatical and twisted figurehead, little more aware than we of what precisely is going on? What, if any, was his relation, to the Pakistan ISI, and theirs with the CIA?. What links does the Al Qaeda organisation have with all of these parties? What of the suggested links with Mossad, the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Service (SAFIS) and the Pakistani ISI in all this?
Other more specific questions almost suggest themselves. Why was Saddam Hussein left in a position of power when he could so easily have been removed, and when the US have repeatedly shown themselves prepared to replace or adjust regimes inimical to their interests? Why were intolerable and unjustified sanctions left in place in Iraq when a process of military monitoring was well-established? All these questions and policy acts may indeed be unconnected and independent justified. But all these questions and this history now present themselves together in the light of the severe tension in the region.
The first task, however, is to actually get the question of a deeper form of terrorism, or conspiracy or foreknowledge or co-responsibility, raised at all. The internet is alive with speculation and minor “pieces of the jigsaw”. I have sought to put these together in as controlled and restrained a manner as possible, adding my own slant only by drawing on my particular area of expertise in economics and as a writer. What is so concerning is that even Lyndon Larouche’s comments on radio were allowed to die by a sceptical public and an either complicit or equally sceptical US media. Is no-one after a big story these days? They certainly don’t come much bigger than this.
We come here to the matter of courage. President Bush unhesitatingly described the suicide terrorist as cowards. At one level, one can see exactly what he means. But can you imagine the sheer human courage actually required for such an act of self-immolation; the weeks and days and hours beforehand? Yet could there ever be a more despicable and unspeakably callous application of “bravery” than the act carried out by the 19 hijackers?
In terms of courage, one thing I would assert without reservation. Everyone who reads this and senses it contains any merit or importance whatsoever has a solemn responsibility to act. The worst that can happen is that we each individually end up with egg on our faces. Remember, we are not suicide bombers, but boy - did they have courage for evil. Have we got the guts for good? Writing this and posting it on the internet may not seem like a particular act of courage, but it is. I am venturing whatever academic or personal reputation I possess, and have worked for years to acquire, and am flying this like a kite. As a writer on monetary reform issues, my colleagues know and my books testify, that I have never before commented affirmatively or negatively upon the existence of any conscious conspiracy. It may appear that I am now convinced of such a conspiracy. This is not actually the case as the subsequent discussion I hope makes clear. But I do think that at such a critical moment in world affairs we must take the possibility and the alternatives seriously and simply demand an answer.
The next point I wish to make is, perhaps, the most difficult and subtle. But it has everything to do with whether there is a conscious, organised conspiracy, or whether these events demonstrate a blend of incompetence, arrogance and other customary human failings. I quoted earlier a section from the brilliant article by Richard Moore in which he described the suspicions that have grown up amongst scholars that Pearl harbor amounted to an act of conspiracy, almost treason, by the then US president, F D Rooseveldt. How simply and coldly these matters can be portrayed and, quite likely, misrepresented. Without wishing to criticise Richard Moore in any way for his presentation, there is a subtle element he omits. I start by quoting a section of Moore”s article again.
It seems that FDR intentionally set the stage for a 'surprise' attack - shocking the nation and instantly shifting public opinion from non-interventionism to war frenzy. I am suggesting that this same scenario must be considered in the case of the recent WTC and Pentagon attacks. Unbelievable as this may seem, this is a scenario that matches the modus operandi of U.S. ruling elites. These elites show callous disregard for civilian lives in Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and dozens of other places around the world. Is it so surprising that they would sacrifice a few thousand American civilians if they considered that necessary in order to pursue their geopolitical objectives?
At one level I would agree with Moore totally. I am not, however, entirely happy with the implications in the above commentary. It must be allowed that even if the historical facts suggest a gross conspiracy, in which the lives of American servicemen were treated as mere strategy units, another consideration is important. It was indeed true that the Japanese were seen as a threat and that financial action was taken to impede their advance. Churchill did indeed notify his commanders of the Japanese naval presence. But if Roosevelt did not notify his naval commanders, this does not automatically betoken political conspiracy. It does not mean that an attack, or an attack on the scale of Pearl Harbour, was anticipated. Neither does the fact that his aircraft carriers remained at sea and that stand-down instructions were given to Kauai observation posts. Who gave those orders? Was FDR solely involved? The many questions must be asked - who instructed who, why, with what motive and with what foreknowledge and expectation? Perhaps there was division of knowledge, suspicion of a more modest attack. Perhaps a degree of ignorance, wishful thinking, confusion and shared responsibility rather than complete foreknowledge best describes the apparent gross complicity of an American President.
This I believe to be an absolutely vital point. From our own daily lives in which we plan, or “conspire”, ceaselessly only to make utter fools of ourselves, we know that deducing after an event the motives and states of mind before that event occurred is always a ruthlessly unfair process. Such startling facts as Moore offers still require explanation and indicate a degree of prescience and political guilt for what followed. But we should not be surprised to find in uncovering any conspiracy or “bad deed” that every expression of guilt is somewhat less than we might expect, and we are left with the feeling that somehow, somewhere, someone has got away scot-free; that there was a liaison and coordination operating that could only be described as pure luck, or bad coincidence. Is this the vacuum of evil? The bad luck and spreading damage that attends arrogance, selfishness and simple greed?
I would also offer by way of parallel the further example of the European Union, which I regard to be, in its present form, quite disgracefully corrupt, incompetent and undemocratic, having grossly exceeded its proper role. Great political figures such as Jaques Delors and Helmut Khol believe passionately in the EU; so passionately that they still believe in it after they and their administration have been found guilty of gross corruption! Such is the battle between good and evil. For, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”. Getting at the whole truth is not going to be easy. Peoples” minds are complex things and both belief and self-deception can be somewhat of a problem.
And here I think we get to the heart of the problem. What might be to you or I “conspiracy” is, maybe, to those in positions of power merely “all part of a days work”. The tradition of covert involvement and interference by the CIA, the FBI and similar agencies is now so long-established it is part of their mental make-up. That such an attitude might allow them to become complicit in such an act of domestic terrorism as we have seen is no less incredible that an American President apparently involved in the unpardonable act of justifying entry to a war by deliberately sustaining a severe attack on his country”s navy. But again we come back to the division of responsibility and “who knew what” and “who did what”. In the context of the atrocity of the 11th September, we have a right to know “who knew what and did what” and an obligation to find out. To this we should add the fact that we as ordinary citizens have for too long accepted that “we don’t know” or “we can’t find out”. I suggest that now, we”ve got to find out.
The issue of self-deception, understanding and forgiveness, brought up in relation to potential conspirators, also brings us to the hijackers. If we blame the hijackers without understanding their background, the terrible oppression of the Afghans and so many Third World nations, and the manipulation to which the terrorists were probably subject - if we do not understand this, how can we ever understand what has happened? And if we cannot understand others, how can we question ourselves and our motives? How can we alter those military and economic policies that have earned principally the US, but also to a lesser extent the UK, the opprobrium of so many of the citizens of this planet? The history of the Third World shows that the wealthy nations bear considerable responsibility for the crushing poverty and conflict within the poorer nations. So we have done wrong. The awful fact is that possibly, placed under identical circumstances, one of us might have done the same as those terrorists. Perhaps this is part of the basis of forgiveness; “there but for the grace of God go I”. Only someone who has acknowledged the vulnerability of his/her own heart and recognised the wrongs that they have done in their own lives can forgive such a terrible deed. This leaves us with the problem, still, of blame. There are two obvious targets for this, both of whom the majority of people completely fail to acknowledge the existence of. At the risk of being melodramatic, again in such matters we are clearly in the presence of good and evil.
This is emphasised by the variety of conclusions one can reasonably hold.
1 If there is a full, conscious conspiracy, it has certainly exposed itself in the most blatant way through an act of murder without parallel. This is evil.
2 If there is divided responsibility and a mixture of manipulation, passivity, self-deception and practised callousness - seeking to take advantage of past actions that have turned sour - then it is time these agencies were stopped in their tracks. They are evil.
3 If the issue of CIA/US finance and/or other agency involvement turns out to be completely groundless, Chossudovsky”s well-researched article shows beyond doubt that the situation of internecine conflict between Islamic fundamentalism and America has clearly been contributed to heavily by the United States. Through its perpetual arrogance in covert interference in the domestic affairs of other nations, the United States cannot escape co-responsibility for this potentially disastrous situation and should carry the severest international censure for this, and reap no political reward. It is time the world grew wise to the dangers of such US government subterfuge, the legacy of hatred and potential for conflict it creates and the evil it truly represents.
I retain a completely open mind as to which of the above three best describes the position we find ourselves in. It could well be that all three apply in some measure. It is normally the course of history and passage of time that allows accurate conclusions to be reached and judgements to be made. Personal involvement is almost to great for us to analyse ourselves; as individuals we have so much difficulty in fairly evaluating our own actions. I suggest we do not have that time and have to find out now, determinedly.
What next?
First of all, the unbelievable has to be made believable and the enormity of the issue has to be grasped. That is what I have tried to do in writing this, having scoured the newspapers, internet and television since the very first day. I have attempted not to include anything that I felt remotely doubtful, other than the examples I intentionally offered of what I felt to be rather dubious, disconnected information.
After the believable has been presented as a possibility, the seriousness of the allegation is such that even the remote possibility of its truth simply cannot be ignored. We stand at the dawn of a new world order. What will that world order be? There seem to be three options. It could be a world in which regrettable but necessary international security measures lead us towards a hopefully benign, more international and stable governance. It could be a world built on subterfuge, lies and tyranny in which the possibility of global justice, democracy and decency are buried forever. Or it could be a world in which a long-standing, powerful and arrogant conspiracy is wholly or partially unmasked and a new world order of genuine political and economic democracy is enabled to emerge. The stakes simply could not be higher.
I urge you to forward this to friends and colleagues rapidly. There must be public and open dialogue as to whether or not there is a true conspiracy, or tacit acceptance of terrorist aggression to “free the world from terrorism”, or a breathtaking arrogance in refusing to admit that such terrorism is the direct legacy of inept and highly aggressive covert interference in world affairs; which does not fit the United States and its security agencies for their self-proclaimed role as global protector. Whatever the outcome, there is a serious case to answer and censure is unavoidable.
We are now, I would strongly suggest, at a critical moment between any battle that exists between good and evil as it manifests itself at the political and international level. I judge this partly because of the political implications of what is now in process, but just as much from the sheer grotesque obscenity of the terrorist attack and the threat of escalation. We are hanging onto our humanity by a thread. Apart from the tremendous energy found in the NGO movement, one other thought occurs to me. There is a group of people who fully recognise life on earth in terms of self-criticism, forgiveness, good and evil; clerics, both Moslem and Christian. They also have a natural, or maybe a supernatural, authority to ask questions and demand answers, and a responsibility.
Let us not forget that the Afghan people and Muslims, so long oppressed, turned oppressors, have at least to some degree been made a scapegoat in this. Let us also not forget the innocent lives lost in the four aeroplanes, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Finally, let us never forget and grieve with those who have to cope permanently with the loss of loved ones; someone they may not have remembered to kiss before they were just never ever seen again. If I am writing this for anyone, it is for them.
I conclude with the fine and important article by Michel Chossudovsky.
Michel Chossudovsky
Posted 12 September 2001
A few hours after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the Bush administration concluded without supporting evidence, that "Ousmane bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organisation were prime suspects". CIA Director George Tenet stated that bin Laden has the capacity to plan ``multiple attacks with little or no warning.'' Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks "an act of war" and President Bush confirmed in an evening televised address to the Nation that he would "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them". Former CIA Director James Woolsey pointed his finger at "state sponsorship," implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, "I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution."
Meanwhile, parroting official statements, the Western media mantra has approved the launching of "punitive actions" directed against civilian targets in the Middle East. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: "When we reasonably determine our attackers' bases and camps, we must pulverize them -- minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage -- and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror's national hosts".
The following text outlines the history of Ousmane Bin Laden and the links of the Islamic "Jihad" to the formulation of US foreign policy during the Cold War and its aftermath.
Prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists attacks, branded by the FBI as an "international terrorist" for his role in the African US embassy bombings, Saudi born Ousmane bin Laden was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war "ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders". 1
In 1979 "the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA" was launched in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in support of the pro-Communist government of Babrak Kamal.2:
"With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI [Inter Services Intelligence], who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad."3
The Islamic "jihad" was supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia with a significant part of the funding generated from the Golden Crescent drug trade:
"In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166,...[which] authorize[d] stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies -- a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, ... as well as a "ceaseless stream" of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan's ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels."4
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) using Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam:
"Predominant themes were that Islam was a complete socio-political ideology, that holy Islam was being violated by the atheistic Soviet troops, and that the Islamic people of Afghanistan should reassert their independence by overthrowing the leftist Afghan regime propped up by Moscow."5
Pakistan's ISI was used as a "go-between". The CIA covert support to the "jihad" operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, --i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen. In other words, for these covert operations to be "successful", Washington was careful not to reveal the ultimate objective of the "jihad", which consisted in destroying the Soviet Union.
In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs". Yet according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had been imparted "with very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA" 6
CIA's Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Ousmane bin Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". 7
Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.
With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of US military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government". 8 The ISI had a staff composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers, estimated at 150,000. 9
Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:
"''Relations between the CIA and the ISI [Pakistan's military intelligence] had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia's ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime,'... During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only agreed to this plan in October 1984.... `the CIA was more cautious than the Pakistanis.' Both Pakistan and the United States took the line of deception on Afghanistan with a public posture of negotiating a settlement while privately agreeing that military escalation was the best course."10
The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the CIA's covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war, opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin. 11 In this regard, Alfred McCoy's study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, "the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's top heroin producer, supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand. In Pakistan, the heroin-addict population went from near zero in 1979... to 1.2 million by 1985 -- a much steeper rise than in any other nation":12
"CIA assets again controlled this heroin trade. As the Mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan Intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories. During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests ... U.S. officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies `because U.S. narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there.' In 1995, the former CIA director of the Afghan operation, Charles Cogan, admitted the CIA had indeed sacrificed the drug war to fight the Cold War. `Our main mission was to do as much damage as possible to the Soviets. We didn't really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,'... `I don't think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout.... There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes. But the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.'"13
In the wake of the Cold War, the Central Asian region is not only strategic for its extensive oil reserves, it also produces three quarters of the World's opium representing multibillion dollar revenues to business syndicates, financial institutions, intelligence agencies and organized crime. The annual proceeds of the Golden Crescent drug trade (between 100 and 200 billion dollars) represents approximately one third of the Worldwide annual turnover of narcotics, estimated by the United Nations to be of the order of $500 billion.14
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a new surge in opium production has unfolded. (According to UN estimates, the production of opium in Afghanistan in 1998-99 -- coinciding with the build up of armed insurgencies in the former Soviet republics-- reached a record high of 4600 metric tons.15 Powerful business syndicates in the former Soviet Union allied with organized crime are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes.
The ISI's extensive intelligence military-network was not dismantled in the wake of the Cold War. The CIA continued to support the Islamic "jihad" out of Pakistan. New undercover initiatives were set in motion in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. Pakistan's military and intelligence apparatus essentially "served as a catalyst for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of six
new Muslim republics in Central Asia." 16.
Meanwhile, Islamic missionaries of the Wahhabi sect from Saudi Arabia had established themselves in the Muslim republics as well as within the Russian federation encroaching upon the institutions of the secular State. Despite its anti-American ideology, Islamic fundamentalism was largely serving Washington's strategic interests in the former Soviet Union.
Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the civil war in Afghanistan continued unabated. The Taliban were being supported by the Pakistani Deobandis and their political party the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). In 1993, JUI entered the government coalition of Prime Minister Benazzir Bhutto. Ties between JUI, the Army and ISI were established. In 1995, with the downfall of the Hezb-I-Islami Hektmatyar government in Kabul, the Taliban not only instated a hardline Islamic government, they also "handed control of training camps in Afghanistan over to JUI factions..." 17
And the JUI with the support of the Saudi Wahhabi movements played a key role in recruiting volunteers to fight in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.
Jane Defense Weekly confirms in this regard that "half of Taliban manpower and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI" 18 In fact, it would appear that following the Soviet withdrawal both sides in the Afghan civil war continued to receive covert support through Pakistan's ISI. 19
In other words, backed by Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) which in turn was controlled by the CIA, the Taliban Islamic State was largely serving American geopolitical interests. The Golden Crescent drug trade was also being used to finance and equip the Bosnian Muslim Army (starting in the early 1990s) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In last few months there is evidence that Mujahideen mercenaries are fighting in the ranks of KLA-NLA terrorists in their assaults into Macedonia.
No doubt, this explains why Washington has closed its eyes on the reign of terror imposed by the Taliban including the blatant derogation of women's rights, the closing down of schools for girls, the dismissal of women employees from government offices and the enforcement of "the Sharia laws of punishment".20
With regard to Chechnya, the main rebel leaders Shamil Basayev and Al Khattab were trained and indoctrinated in CIA sponsored camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congress's Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, the war in Chechnya had been planned during a secret summit of HizbAllah International held in 1996 in Mogadishu, Somalia. 21 The summit, was attended by Osama bin Laden and high-ranking Iranian and Pakistani intelligence officers. In this regard, the involvement of Pakistan's ISI in Chechnya "goes far beyond supplying the Chechens with weapons and expertise: the ISI and its radical Islamic proxies
are actually calling the shots in this war". 22
Russia's main pipeline route transits through Chechnya and Dagestan. Despite Washington's perfunctory condemnation of Islamic terrorism, the indirect beneficiaries of the Chechen war are the Anglo-American oil conglomerates which are vying for control over oil resources and pipeline corridors out of the Caspian Sea basin.
The two main Chechen rebel armies (respectively led by Commander Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab) estimated at 35,000 strong were supported by Pakistan's ISI, which also played a key role in organizing and training the Chechen rebel army:
"[In 1994] the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence arranged for Basayev and his trusted lieutenants to undergo intensive Islamic indoctrination and training in guerrilla warfare in the Khost province of Afghanistan at Amir Muawia camp, set up in the early 1980s by the CIA and ISI and run by famous Afghani warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 1994, upon graduating from Amir Muawia, Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to undergo training in advanced guerrilla tactics. In Pakistan, Basayev met the highest ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officers: Minister of Defense General Aftab Shahban Mirani, Minister of Interior General Naserullah Babar, and the head of the ISI branch in charge of supporting Islamic causes, General Javed Ashraf, (all now retired). High-level connections soon proved very useful to Basayev.23
Following his training and indoctrination stint, Basayev was assigned to lead the assault against Russian federal troops in the first Chechen war in 1995. His organization had also developed extensive links to criminal syndicates in Moscow as well as ties to Albanian organized crime and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). In 1997-98, according to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) "Chechen warlords started buying up real estate in Kosovo... through several real estate firms registered as a cover in Yugoslavia" 24
Basayev's organisation has also been involved in a number of rackets including narcotics, illegal tapping and sabotage of Russia's oil pipelines, kidnapping, prostitution, trade in counterfeit dollars and the smuggling of nuclear materials (See Mafia linked to Albania's collapsed pyramids, 25 Alongside the extensive laundering of drug money, the proceeds of various illicit activities have been funneled towards the recruitment of mercenaries and the purchase of weapons.
During his training in Afghanistan, Shamil Basayev linked up with Saudi born veteran Mujahideen Commander "Al Khattab" who had fought as a volunteer in Afghanistan. Barely a few months after Basayev's return to Grozny, Khattab was invited (early 1995) to set up an army base in Chechnya for the training of Mujahideen fighters. According to the BBC, Khattab's posting to Chechnya had been "arranged through the Saudi-Arabian based [International] Islamic Relief Organisation, a militant religious organisation, funded by mosques and rich individuals which channeled funds into Chechnya".26
Since the Cold War era, Washington has consciously supported Ousmane bin Laden, while at same time placing him on the FBI's "most wanted list" as the World's foremost terrorist.
While the Mujahideen are busy fighting America's war in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, the FBI --operating as a US based Police Force- is waging a domestic war against terrorism, operating in some respects independently of the CIA which has --since the Soviet-Afghan war-- supported international terrorism through its covert operations.
In a cruel irony, while the Islamic jihad --featured by the Bush Adminstration as "a threat to America"-- is blamed for the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, these same Islamic organisations constitute a key instrument of US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the truth must prevail to prevent the Bush Adminstration together with its NATO partners from embarking upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.
Hugh Davies, International: `Informers' point the finger at bin Laden; Washington on alert for suicide bombers, The Daily Telegraph, London, 24 August 1998.
See Fred Halliday, "The Un-great game: the Country that lost the Cold War, Afghanistan, New Republic, 25 March 1996):
Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999.
Steve Coll, Washington Post, July 19, 1992.
Dilip Hiro, Fallout from the Afghan Jihad, Inter Press Services, 21 November 1995.
Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998.
Dipankar Banerjee; Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry, India Abroad, 2 December 1994.
See Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal, Oxford university Press, New York, 1995. See also the review of Cordovez and Harrison in International
Press Services, 22 August 1995.
Alfred McCoy, Drug fallout: the CIA's Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive; 1 August 1997.
Douglas Keh, Drug Money in a changing World, Technical document no 4, 1998, Vienna UNDCP, p. 4. See also Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1999, E/INCB/1999/1 United Nations
Publication, Vienna 1999, p 49-51, And Richard Lapper, UN Fears Growth of Heroin Trade, Financial Times, 24 February 2000.
Report of the International Narcotics Control Board, op cit, p 49-51, see also Richard Lapper, op. cit.
International Press Services, 22 August 1995.
Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign Affairs, November- December, 1999, p. 22.
Quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 September 1998)
Tim McGirk, Kabul learns to live with its bearded conquerors, The Independent, London, 6 November1996.
See K. Subrahmanyam, Pakistan is Pursuing Asian Goals, India Abroad, 3 November 1995.
Levon Sevunts, Who's calling the shots?: Chechen conflict finds Islamic roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 23 The Gazette, Montreal, 26 October 1999..
See Vitaly Romanov and Viktor Yadukha, Chechen Front Moves To Kosovo Segodnia, Moscow, 23 Feb 2000.
The European, 13 February 1997, See also Itar-Tass, 4-5 January 2000.BBC, 29 September 1999).
Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Montreal, September 2001. All rights reserved. Centre for Research on Globalisation at

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