The article below was written for the Journal of 9/11 Studies for the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the day that terminated accountable government and American liberty. It is posted here with the agreement of the editors.
In order to understand the improbability of the government’s explanation of 9/11, it is not necessary to know anything about what force or forces brought down the three World Trade Center buildings, what hit the Pentagon or caused the explosion, the flying skills or lack thereof of the alleged hijackers, whether the airliner crashed in Pennsylvania or was shot down, whether cell phone calls made at the altitudes could be received, or any other debated aspect of the controversy.
You only have to know two things.
One is that according to the official story, a handful of Arabs, mainly Saudi Arabians, operating independently of any government and competent intelligence service, men without James Bond and V for Vendetta capabilities, outwitted not only the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency, but all 16 US intelligence agencies, along with all security agencies of America’s NATO allies and Israel’s Mossad. Not only did the entire intelligence forces of the Western world fail, but on the morning of the attack the entire apparatus of the National Security State simultaneously failed. Airport security failed four times in one hour. NORAD failed. Air Traffic Control failed. The US Air Force failed.
The National Security Council failed. Dick Cheney failed. Absolutely nothing worked. The world’s only superpower was helpless at the humiliating mercy of a few undistinguished Arabs.
It is hard to image a more far-fetched story—except for the second thing you need to know: The humiliating failure of US National Security did not result in immediate demands from the President of the United States, from Congress, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and from the media for an investigation of how such improbable total failure could have occurred. No one was held accountable for the greatest failure of national security in world history. Instead, the White House dragged its feet for a year resisting any investigation until the persistent demands from 9/11 families for accountability forced President George W. Bush to appoint a political commission, devoid of any experts, to hold a pretend investigation.
On 9/11 Doubts Were Immediate
On September 11, 2001, a neighbor telephoned and said, “turn on the TV.” I assumed that a hurricane, possibly a bad one from the sound of the neighbor’s voice, was headed our way, and turned on the TV to determine whether we needed to shutter the house and leave.
What I saw was black smoke from upper floors of one of the World Trade Center towers. It didn’t seem to be much of a fire, and the reports were that the fire was under control. While I was trying to figure out why every TV network had its main news anchor covering an office fire, TV cameras showed an airplane hitting the other tower. It was then that I learned that both towers had been hit by airliners.
Cameras showed people standing at the hole in the side of the tower looking out. This didn’t surprise me. The airliner was minute compared to the massive building. But what was going on? Two accidents, one on top of the other?
The towers—the three-fourths or four-fifths of the buildings beneath the plane strikes—were standing, apparently largely undamaged. There were no signs of fire except in the vicinity of where the airliners had hit. Suddenly, one of the towers blew up, disintegrated, and disappeared in fine dust. Before one could make any sense of this, the same thing happened to the second tower, and it too disappeared into fine dust.
The TV news anchors compared the disintegration of the towers to controlled demolition. There were numerous reports of explosions throughout the towers from the base or sub-basements to the top. (Once the government put out the story of terrorist attack, references to controlled demolition and explosions disappeared from the print and TV media.) This made sense to me. Someone had blown up the buildings. It was completely obvious that the towers had not fallen down from asymmetrical structural damage. They had blown up.
The images of the airliners hitting the towers and the towers blowing up were replayed time and again. Airliners hit the top portions of the towers, and not long afterward the towers blew up. I turned off the TV wondering how it was that cameras had been ready to catch such an unusual phenomenon as an airplane flying into a skyscraper.
I don’t remember the time line, but it wasn’t long before the story was in place that Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda gang had attacked the US. A passport had been found in the rubble. Another airliner had flown into the Pentagon, and a fourth airliner had crashed or been shot down. Four airliners had been hijacked, meaning airport security had failed four times on the same morning. Terrorists had successfully assaulted America.
When I heard these reports, I wondered. How could a tiny undamaged passport be found in the rubble of two skyscrapers, each more than 100 stories tall, when bodies, office furniture and computers could not be found? How could airport security fail so totally that four airliners could be hijacked within the same hour? How could authorities know so conclusively and almost immediately the names of the perpetrators who pulled off such a successful attack on the world’s only superpower, when the authorities had no idea that such an attack was planned or even possible?
These questions disturbed me, because as a former member of the congressional staff and as a presidential appointee to high office, I had high level security clearances. In addition to my duties as Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, I had FEMA responsibilities in the event of nuclear attack. There was a mountain hideaway to which I was supposed to report in the event of a nuclear attack and from which I was supposed to take over the US government in the event no higher official survived the attack.
The more the story of 9/11 was presented in the media, the more wondrous it became. It is not credible that not only the CIA and FBI failed to detect the plot, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, which spies on everyone on the planet, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Israel’s Mossad, and the intelligence agencies of Washington’s NATO allies. There are simply too many watchmen and too much infiltration of terrorist groups for such a complex attack to be prepared undetected and carried out undeterred.
Washington’s explanation of the attack implied a security failure too massive to be credible. Such a catastrophic failure of national security would mean that the US and Western Europe were never safe for one second during the Cold War, that the Soviet Union could have destroyed the entire West in one undetected fell swoop.
As a person whose colleagues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington were former secretaries of state, former national security advisors, former CIA directors, former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I was troubled by the story that a collection of individuals unsupported by a competent intelligence service had pulled off the events of 9/11.
As a person with high level government service, I knew that any such successful operation as 9/11 would have resulted in immediate demands from the White House, Congress, and the media for accountability. There would have been an investigation of how every aspect of US security could totally fail simultaneously in one morning. Such a catastrophic and embarrassing failure of the national security state would not be left unexamined.
NORAD failed. The US Air Force could not get jet fighters in the air. Air Traffic Control lost sight of the hijacked airliners. Yet, instead of launching an investigation, the White House resisted for one year the demands of the 9/11 families for an investigation. Neither the public, the media, nor Congress seemed to think an investigation was necessary. The focus was on revenge, which the Bush neocon regime said meant invading Afghanistan which was alleged to be sheltering the perpetrator, Osama bin Laden.
Normally, terrorists are proud of their success and announce their responsibility. It is a way to build a movement. Often a number of terrorist groups will compete in claiming credit for a successful operation. But Osama bin Laden in the last video that is certified by independent experts said that he had no responsibility for 9/11, that he had nothing against the American people, that his opposition was limited to the US government’s colonial policies and control over Muslim governments.