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08 April 2005

Welcome to the Terrordome

Nine days after September 11, George W. Bush, in an address to the nation, outlined his initial plans for "the war on terror." Fingering Al Qaeda as the organization behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush explained that, much like the war on drugs, this new war would be ongoing:

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
We all know what happened after that. The US first turned its attention to Afghanistan. After botching the capture of Osama bin Laden there, Bush set his sites on Iraq. Apparently Iraq was somehow involved in 9/11. Even though there was, you know, no evidence of it. (Lots of oil there, though.)

I shouldn’t really be surprised. Evidence is not something of which Bush is particularly fond. If he were, a lot fewer death row inmates would have been electrocuted while he was governor. Or we would be doing something about global warming. Or our addiction to oil.

Nonetheless, if Bush were really concerned about terrorists, and with nations that support them, he probably shouldn’t have agreed to transfer F-16s to Pakistan a couple of weeks ago. There is more than a little evidence to suggest that Pakistan, and more specifically the Pakistani ISI, had a direct role in orchestrating 9/11 (the ISI is essentially the Pakistani equivalent to the CIA).

Remember, for example, journalist Daniel Pearl? Rigorous Intuition does:

When Daniel Pearl was taken hostage in January 2002, one of his kidnappers' demands was the completion of the US transfer to Pakistan of F-16s, held up since that country's nuclear tests of 1998. That the US has at last approved the sale is only the latest reason why Pearl died in vain.

It seemed a strange demand at the time, perhaps because even that time was more innocent than this time. Since that was before we learned that Omar Saeed Shiekh, the abduction's mastermind, was both Osama bin Laden's "favourite son" and an asset of Pakistan's ISI. It was Omar who wired more than $100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the weeks before 9/11 on the instruction of ISI Director Mahmood Ahmed. All Ahmed suffered for his travails was an early retirement and a comfortable sinecure. The buddy of Atta and George Tenet was not even interrograted by the FBI, and questions regarding his role in the 9/11 money chain were scrubbed from official White House transcripts.
Pearl was kidnapped and murdered because he learned things about the relationship between Pakistan and Al Queda, things that other
journalists will never bother to investigate. Why? Because, as Pearl learned, investigative journalism is dangerous. Investigative journalism is also expensive. There’s little money in it. It’s often bad for your career. There are very few readers, because people, Americans in particular, have little patience for long, footnoted stories that aren’t very entertaining. It’s far easier, and far more profitable, to keep reporting about Michael Jackson and American Idol finalists with criminal records. Those are the stories that really matter. Following the trail of money and relationships that leads back to two fallen towers? Eh, not so much.

As an anonymous commenter notes at Rigorous Intuition:

If someone in the corporate media would actually follow the trail that leads from 9/11 to the ISI, Daniel Pearl's murder, back to president Musharraf's coup in '99, to the international black market for arms, drugs and money laundering, to Sibel Edmond's revelations about the American Turkish Council, to Cheney and Rumsfeld, to the BCCI, to Leonid Shebarshin's claim of Bin Laden's continued CIA connections, to the Figaro story of his meeting with the CIA station chief in Dubai in 2001, to Porter Goss's and Bill Graham's and George Tenet's hectic meeting activity with Mahmood Ahmed in the weeks before 9/11, to the ISI-Taliban connection, to the trail of Bin Laden which has "gone cold", to the PNAC, and to this latest sale of F-16s to Pakistan.

But they can't do that, because if they did, it would open up a can of worms so deep that Iran-Contra and Watergate would be dwarfed. Iran-Contra, after all, is just a part of this bigger picture. And they won't be allowed to. Dan Rather and Eason Jordan served as examples to the rest. So did Daniel Pearl and Giuliana Sgrena.

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