9/11: The Case Isn't Closed
By Sander Hicks, AlterNet
Posted on February 2, 2007, Printed on February 8, 2007
Editor's note: The role of the alternative press is to offer
perspectives that the commercial media won't touch. Having run a number
of articles critical of the "9/11 Truth Movement" by Matt Taibbi, Joshua Holland, Matthew Rothschild
and others, we asked Sander Hicks, a prominent voice within the
movement, to share his perspective. For more of Sanders' views, see his
book "The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up."
matter what you believe about who was responsible for 9/11, and how it
went down, we're all amazed at how much political capital the events of
that day produced for this administration: A bipartisan consensus on
torture; an era of permanent war; detentions without trial; "no fly"
lists for activists; the Bill of Rights gone with the wind, and a cowed
professional media willing to self-censor and suppress pertinent
information. The 9/11 "America Attacked" story has distracted us from
the natural outrage we should feel over illegal wiretaps, stolen
elections, hundreds of billions of dollars missing at the Pentagon, war
profiteering, Enron and Cheney's secret energy policy.
But with Bush's popularity at a record low, a Zogby poll
shows that over 40 percent of Americans now think there has been a
"coverup" around 9/11. A more recent poll conducted at the
Scripps-Howard/University of Ohio found more than a third of those
asked said it was likely that "people in the federal government
either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the
attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the
So, it's probably no surprise that the
propaganda mills of the State Department have recently been cranking
out attack websites, targeting 9/11 skepticism. And it's not a shocker
that the normal channels of media have followed suit (Time, New York Times, etc.) What's weird is how similar the attacks sound in the hallowed halls of "respectable" left political opinion. A recent column on AlterNet by the Progressive's Matthew Rothschild matched the recent bromides of Counterpunch's
Alexander Cockburn. In both pieces, the way 9/11 has been questioned
was attacked, with no alternatives suggested. Instead, questioning 9/11
at all was belittled with sweeping generalizations.
to critical thinking? I thought "the Left" believed that the system's
power is based on lies, exploitation and a media controlled by its own
culture of overly cautious professionalism. The Left should be leading
this 9/11 movement, not taking potshots from outside. Unfortunately,
some of the movement's theories, like "the towers came down through a
controlled demolition" sound esoteric at first blush. The "No Plane Hit
the Pentagon" theory is a loose thread in a maze going nowhere.
The Left has no right to ignore or insult people for trying to assemble the puzzle that is 9/11.
Consider some of the pieces:
Secretary of State Richard Armitage is a figure bloodied by his work in
Iran/Contra. He and then-CIA Director George Tenet had extensive
meetings in Pakistan with President Musharraf in the spring of 2001,
according to the Asia Times.
Then, Pakistan's top spy, Mahmood Ahmad, visited Washington for a week,
taking meetings with top State Department people like Tenet and Mark
Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs. The Pakistani
press reported, "ISI Chief Lt-Gen Mahmood's weeklong presence in
Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious
meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council." Did they know
that Ahmad had wired over $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, through U.K.
national Saeed Sheikh in the summer of 2001? (Facts all confirmed,
quietly, by the FBI investigation in Pakistan, and, partially, in the Wall Street Journal.)
means that our top people at the State Department enjoyed only a few
degrees of separation from 9/11's lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta. Here's
the real kicker: As this story first broke in the Times of India,
in October 2001, instead of retaliating, the United States gave
Pakistan $3 billion in U.S. aid. Ahmad was allowed to quietly resign.
Bob Graham, D-Fla., who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, would later tell PBS's Gwen Ifill:
"I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the
terrorists were assisted not just in financing -- although that was
part of it -- by a sovereign foreign government and that we have been
derelict in our duty to track that down, make the further case, or find
the evidence that would indicate that that is not true."
forward to Feb. 15, 2006. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer gave a 48-page
statement to the House Armed Services Committee, in which he stated,
unequivocally, that his Defense Intelligence operation, Able Danger,
identified Mohamed Atta as a major terrorist back in year 2000. But
Shaffer and his team of "the 'best and brightest' military operators"
were prevented from sharing this information with the FBI. According to
Shaffer, during a crucial meeting the group's Pentagon supervisors and
attorneys from the Special Operations Command in early 2000, the Able
Danger team was ordered to cover Atta's mugshot with a yellow sticky
note. Military lawyers at the Pentagon claimed it was to protect the
rights of "U.S. Persons."
Some progressives are turned off to the
Able Danger story, since it was the pet obsession of recently defeated
congressman "Crazy" Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the "patriot" who planned a clandestine trip to personally dig through Iraq
in order to find the WMD's for Bush's White House. And the Department
of Defense inspector general recently issued a report claiming that the
Able Danger operation never identified Atta.
But author Peter Lance (an Emmy-award winning reporter, formerly with
ABC), author of "Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated
the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI -- and Why Patrick Fitzgerald
Failed to Stop Him," calls the Pentagon IG report a "whitewash … set
out to prove a predetermined thesis: that these decorated military
officers had somehow lied and risked their careers by exaggerating Able
Danger's findings." Rather, Lance confirms that Shaffer, and his
colleague, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott, "found links to 9/11 hijackers,
Atta, [Khalid] al-Midhar and [Nawaf] al-Hazmi as connections between al
Qaeda and the New York-based cell of [the blind Sheikh] Omar Abdel
When the critics focus on the wacky theories and not
on careful, moderate, serious authors like Lance, it's a strategy to
frame the debate. It steers the argument from going after the real meat
of 9/11: the history of U.S. foreign policy in strategic alliances with radical Islam.
there are a set of troubling connections between the 9/11 terrorists
and the U.S. State Department, the Pakistani ISI (old friends of the
CIA from working together creating Afghani Mujahadeen during
the Russian occupation), the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate,
the Pentagon, Maxwell Air Force Base and the Muslim Brotherhood.
the 9/11 terrorists get protected from Able Danger at that Pentagon
meeting? Who covered up Atta with a yellow sticky note? What are we
supposed to think about the news (reported by Knight Ridder news
service 9/15/01) that Atta had attended International Officer School at
Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama?
Atta was the Oswald of the
whole operation. He is an enigma; everywhere you turn in his story, the
details are wildly contradictory. Instead of a devout Muslim, you have
a party-hearty Florida playboy, according to author Daniel Hopsicker,
author of "Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 Cover-Up in
Florida." The FBI has sworn for five years Atta didn't arrive in
Florida until June 2000. But in 2002, Hopsicker found and videotaped
Amanda Keller, Atta's American girlfriend, and many other Florida
locals who contradict that story. In fact, Atta lived with Keller at
the Sandpiper apartments, just outside the Venice, Fla., airport, in
March 2000. Thanks to the magic of web video, anyone can see
Hopsicker's footage of Keller's reminiscences
of Atta: in Florida, they hung out with cocaine-addled strippers doing
lines in three-night-long parties. With them were certain white
Germans, including one "Wolfgang Bohringer" whom Atta called "brother."
"brother?" During Atta's university years in Cairo, the engineering
guild that he joined had made him a member of the group Muslim
Brotherhood. 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is also a
card-carrying "brother." The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since
the 1920's, it was originally an anti-colonial group. Today, it's the
most powerful terrorist force you've never heard of. Their frontmen in
Egypt are nonviolent and run for office. But the real sordid history of
the Muslim Brotherhood is that, since 1928, its anti-Semitism and
anti-Zionist ideologies have turned it into the perfect partner in
crime for Nazis, European fascists, American far-rightists and their
contemporary counterparts, the neoconservatives.
original research on Wolfgang Bohringer inspired the Joint Terrorism
Task Force (JTTF) to issue a FBI Terror Alert on Nov. 16, 2006.
According to sources close to the investigation, Bohringer was
apprehended in the South Pacific on Nov. 17, but shocked the arresting
agents when he claimed, "You can't arrest me, I'm working for the CIA."
A former JTTF undercover operative, Randy Glass, confirmed that
Bohringer was arrested and released.
Oct. 9, 2006, saw the
release of leading D.C. muckrakers Susan and Joe Trento's latest
mind-blowing work on "national security." "Unsafe at Any Altitude:
Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking
Truth about Aviation Security Today" made 60 Minutes. The book savages
the incompetence and "eye candy" of the Transportation Security
Administration. This is not a book you want to read on a long flight:
It turns out the "no fly" lists are pathetically inaccurate. The
Trentos report that the CIA regularly lets known terrorists fly as a
tactic to try to catch more of them.
Some of the Trentos'
findings were too hot for 60 Minutes. The book's blockbuster revelation
is that the Pentagon kamikaze Flight 77 terrorist crew was led by two
agents of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) of Saudi Arabia:
Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Sound familiar? They should. They
are the same two guys Peter Lance found being protected from Able
Danger by top brass at the Pentagon. This same duo lived in San Diego
with an FBI informant. The same duo took money from the wife of Bush
friend Saudi Prince Bandar.
The U.S. State Department's dirtiest
secret is its 30-year habit of working with the far-right radical
Islamists. In 1977, President Carter's National Security Advisor
Zbigniew Brzezinski (aka the "Democrats' Kissinger") started the
Nationalities Working Group. According to his neocon minion, Richard
Pipes, the group was tasked with using Islamic rage in the central
Asian republics to stir up "genocidal fury" against the Soviet Union.
(Pipes' son, Daniel, is a well-known neocon who headed the U.S.
Institute for Peace under Bush II.) Brzezinski later admitted in an
interview to Nouvel Observateur that he advised Carter to initiate funding for the Mujahedeen so that the Soviet Union would have to enter the region, engage in a Vietnam-like debacle and destroy their economy.
In fact, according to a Special Report in The Economist,
the whole notion of "jihad" died out in Islam in the 10th century until
"it was revived, with American encouragement, to fire an international
pan-Islamic movement after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979."
the '80s, the Reaganites were superficially opposed to the Islamic
fundamentalists in Iran. But in reality, the Islamic fundamentalists
were happy customers for U.S. arms sales. Care of the Reagan/Bush team,
a triangular trade kept a clandestine flow of weapons, money and
narcotics moving in and out of Central America, all to benefit the
right-wing Contra militia. Meanwhile, the capital was flowing into the Mujahedeen through Pakistan. Oh, yeah, we were selling weapons to Iraq, too, so they could fight the Iranians.
The financial engine that helped run these operations was a well-oiled and bloody front bank called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International.
BCCI was the funding vehicle that American and Pakistani intelligence
used to arm the Afghani Mujahedeen against the Soviets. In the
Pakistan/Afghanistan theatre, it moved guns and bombs in, and shipped
heroin out. In Central America, it moved in guns and advisors, and took
the payoff in cocaine.
When BCCI got busted in 1991, $10 million
in State Department accounts was discovered. The CIA and the Pakistani
ISI, learning to love each other in their first of many sick trysts,
built BCCI into an international network still very much alive. Sen.
John Kerry's investigation into BCCI started out strong, but eventually
caved to political pressure. Under pressure from Senator Claiborne Pell
(D-RI), Kerry fired his top investigator, Jack Blum. No major players
were ever apprehended, censured, prosecuted or sentenced for the
genocidal, narcotics-trafficking, lucrative top crimes of our time.
Instead, many of them returned to power in 2001.
According to S.C. Gwynne and Jonathan Beaty, authors of "The Outlaw Bank,"
BCCI was "a vast, stateless, multinational corporation" that deployed
"its own intelligence agency, complete with a paramilitary wing and
enforcement units, known collectively as the Black Network." BCCI
wasn't just a fluke; it wasn't just the biggest corporate scandal of
all time. It was the perfect example of what big money does today in an
unregulated global market.
When George W. Bush, and his gang of
bloodstained Iran/Contra suspects seized the White House, they ushered
in a new era of intimacy between the federal government and
international mega-capital. After all, "Dubya" Bush had wasted a good
chunk of his life in a cocaine and whiskey stupor,
but the other half was spent in bad business deals with people like
Saudi heavyweight Khalid bin Mahfouz. Mahfouz, alongside Salem bin
Laden (Osama's half-brother), was a 1977 investor in Arbusto Energy,
Bush's first oil company. Mahfouz later became the majority shareholder
of BCCI. Mahfouz helped broker the deal for Bush when he wanted to
unload his Harken energy stock. This same Khalid bin Mahfouz was
branded by a report to the UN Security Council
as one of the seven top Saudi al Qaeda money men. Shortly after the
Bush/Harken deal, Mahfouz donated a quarter of a million dollars to
Osama bin Laden's Mujahadeen in the late 1980s. According to Forbes,
he put $30 million into the Muwaffaq Foundation, which the Treasury
Department labeled an al Qaeda front. (Mahfouz is also legendary for
suing anyone who says so, and has terrified and constrained independent
publishers in Canada and the UK.) Is it any wonder then, that the
heavily compromised, Bush-White House connected 9/11 Commission took a
dive to the mat on the "financing of 9/11" question? They said the
money behind 9/11 was "of little practical significance" when behind
the curtain stood an old friend of Bush, controlling a bogeyman named
"al Qaeda." Senator Bob Graham said he was "stunned that we have not
done a better job of pursuing" the question of foreign financing, and
that crucial information had been "overly classified."
Money talks. It helps explain why 14 other countries tried but could not effectively warn the U.S.A.
about the impending 9/11 attacks. The money connections, the real
history of 9/11, explains why the top bin Laden financial tracker at
the FBI's Chicago office, Robert Wright, was so upset after the
attacks. Through tears of anger and frustration, he told a National
Press Club audience, "The FBI … allowed 9/11 to happen." What? What did
he say? "FBI management intentionally and repeatedly thwarted and
obstructed my investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist financing."
was Wright thwarted by his higher-ups? And what about FBI translator
Sibel Edmonds' claim that, among the agency's Farsi translators, "it
was common knowledge that a longtime, highly regarded FBI 'asset'" told
the agency in early 2001 that "bin Laden was planning a major attack
involving the use of planes," but after agents wrote up reports and
sent them to their superiors "it was the last the agents heard of the
matter"? Why were FBI agent Colleen Rowley's reports about Zacarias
Moussaoui receiving flight training in Minnesota apparently ignored by
Washington, causing her to charge that key facts, were "omitted,
downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized" by FBI bosses?
are important questions that remain to be answered. The establishment
isn't asking them. Instead, the citizen journalists out there are
breaking this story.
Remember how much political reaction there
has been ever since the people rose up, united across borders and shut
down the war machine in Vietnam. For six years, the neocons have ruled
by fear. We, the resistance, must drive them out with a little
something stronger: peace, truth, revolution. We know history. We have
a mission. Taste the clash of history, and you'll know which side
Sander Hicks runs the Vox Pop/DKMC media machine and coffeehouse. He is publisher at the New York Megaphone newspaper and author of "The Big Wedding: 9/11, The Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up." He lives in Brooklyn.
© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/45726/