In 1996, while still working for Kissinger Associates, Bremer wrote a scathing article about Clinton’s lack of focus on terrorism. In this article, Bremer called on Clinton to enforce a strong, ten step plan to address terrorism through uncompromising action. “These are not options” he wrote. Apparently Bremer did not see the irony in his comment about options with respect to his own company’s refusal to cooperate with the Senate investigation into the terrorist financing BCCI.
In 1996, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, located near the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, were bombed. Contrary to claims that al Qaeda was behind the bombing, the U.S. blamed Hezbollah al-Hejaz for the attack.
The U.S. government had attributed only four terrorist attacks to al Qaeda prior to 9/11, cited in a 2002 State Department list and re-published in 2004. Those attacks were a series of bombings in Yemen in December 1992, the shooting down of U.S. helicopters in Somalia in 1993, the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, and the U.S.S. Cole incident in 2000.
In August 1998, two U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed and the attacks were attributed to Osama bin Laden (OBL) and the as-yet unreported group called al Qaeda. The US government responded with bombings of Sudan and Afghanistan and, with help from the New York Times, began to drum up an intense myth about OBL and al Qaeda.
“This is, unfortunately, the war of the future,” Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said. ”The Osama bin Laden organization has basically declared war on Americans and has made very clear that these are all Americans, anywhere.”
NSA Samuel Berger: “This is an evil that is directed at the United States. It’s going to persist.”
Under Secretary of State Thomas R. Pickering: “We are in this for the long haul.”
State Department representative James Foley: “A new era, in effect, is upon us. It’s imperative that the American people understand and prepare themselves for facing this kind of a threat into the 21st century for as long as it’s necessary to face the threat.”
In retrospect, it is surprising that this was the first ever reference to al Qaeda in the New York Times, only three years before 9/11. The first New York Times reference to “Ussama bin Laden” was In April 1994.
However, the first media reference to “al Qaida” was six months after the CIA’s Alec Station started, in August 1996 by UPI. Alec Station, which focused on the pursuit of OBL, began operations in February 1996. But the 9/11 Commission suggested that the CIA had knowledge about al Qaeda four or five years before that. It is not clear why the New York Times did not pick up on al Qaeda as a threat until just a few years before 9/11, and ten years after the CIA had.
More surprising is that the Washington Post did not report on al Qaeda until June 1999, and the reporting was highly speculative about the power behind this new threat.
The indictment describes bin Laden as the leader, or “emir,” of al Qaeda, a “global terrorist organization” with tentacles that allegedly reach from his hideout in the mountains of Afghanistan to followers in Texas, Florida and New York.
…But for all its claims about a worldwide conspiracy to murder Americans, the government’s case is, at present, largely circumstantial. The indictment never explains how bin Laden runs al Qaeda or how he may have masterminded the embassy bombings. Only eight of the 17 suspects are alleged to have been in Kenya and Tanzania around the time the embassies were bombed.
These statements should be compared to those of Bremer made a year earlier. Bremer was completely confident where the Post was skeptical.
“This is a crusade he’s on,” said L. Paul Bremer
“There is a quantum difference in the way bin Laden looks at terror,” he said. “What we are seeing is a shift to terrorism on a more theological basis, to groups that are not after precise political goals. When you start to embrace goals as broad as bin Laden’s, you are no longer constrained by the number of casualties you incur. You are now in a different game.”
“‘There’s no such thing as eliminating terror, any more than eliminating crime. What we’re in for, if we’re serious about it, is the kind of sustained effort it took during the cold war — not months, not years, but decades.”
As of that moment, the U.S. had found its new Soviet caliber threat on which to base a new militarization of the country. It is interesting, however, that Bremer made sensationalist claims of a “crusade” and a “quantum difference” yet a year later the Washington Post was reporting that the government’s case against this new terror group was “largely circumstantial.”
In any case, Bremer was selected for a leading role in several of the ensuing terrorism commissions. First, he was appointed to the Gilmore Commission, chaired by Virginia Governor James Gilmore. Donald Rumsfeld was originally a member of the Gilmore Commission as well. The vice chairman was James R. Clapper, the current director of national intelligence. Coincidentally, James Abrahamson, director of WTC security company Stratesec, later hired Clapper as his fellow director at the satellite spy company Geo-Eye.
The Gilmore Commission was a federally-sponsored effort with RAND oversight that was chartered to assess readiness, and evaluate the terrorism response programs and coordination between federal, state, and local governments. In total the Commission ultimately “made 164 recommendations regarding the domestic response to terrorism. Of those 164 recommendations, all have been adopted in whole or in part by the Congress and the Federal Government.”
Unfortunately, despite the Commission’s 1999 claim that “All terrorist acts are crimes”, the greatest terrorist attack on American soil would happen two years later and would not be treated as a crime. This could be because the Gilmore Commission excluded “acts of violence committed by bona fide state agents” and therefore we were all free to assume what the 9/11 Commission eventually concluded—that no government supported the 9/11 conspirators.
The Gilmore Commission found no evidence of U.S. sponsored terrorism or state manipulation of policy through violence despite the 1990 revelations of Operation Gladio, the 1997 revelations about Operations Northwoods, and the Tonkin Gulf non-event, which was widely known to be false as of the mid-1990s.
Bremer was then appointed Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in 1999. Other members of the Commission included Jenkins, Fred Ikle, James Woolsey, Maurice Sonnenberg, and Jane Harman. In July 1999, the sole Muslim nominee for Bremer’s commission was removed after complaints from certain political action groups. Apparently, the practical outcome of equating Islam with terrorism was already a foregone conclusion.
The “Bremer Commission” based its report on interviews with a number of people who were seen as experts on terrorism. This included Richard Armitage. Marion Bowman, Richard Clarke, Stephen Cambone, FBI director Louis Freeh, Robert Gates, Jenkins’ RAND cohort Bruce Hoffman, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, soon-to-be acting FBI director Thomas Pickard, Michael Rolince, Michael Sheehan, CIA director George Tenet, and Jenkins’ fellow propagandist and JCIT attendee, Paul Wilkinson.
To clarify how oddly coincidental this interview list was, one should remember that the number of U.S. intelligence failures to capture the alleged 9/11 hijackers was astounding. And many of the people mentioned above, including Richard Clarke, George Tenet, Louis Freeh, Marion “Spike” Bowman, Michael Rolince and Thomas Pickard played critical roles in those astounding failures. Others on the list, like Armitage, Casey protégé Gates, Rumsfeld sidekick Cambone, and Cheney assistant Libby, benefited from the 9/11 attacks through unprecedented political gain. Wilkinson’s presence is simply evidence that the Bremer Commission was a propaganda operation from the start.
Surprisingly, according to the Commission’s vice chairman Maurice Sonnenberg, the Bremer Commission essentially wrote the USA Patriot Act. Sonnenberg boasted that 20 of the Commission’s 25 recommendations made it into that controversial and poorly reviewed legislation.
A member of what has been referred to as the closest thing America has to a “formal aristocracy,” Sonnenberg described the reasons for terrorism against the U.S. very simply. “And why do some people out there hate America? We’re the top dog,” he said. “Everybody hates the top dog.”
Sonneberg’s company, Bear Stearns, went on to be at the center of the 2008 financial meltdown, requiring tens of billions in bailout money, and is currently facing a number of securities and investment fraud charges. These irregularities point to what could be called financial terrorism, as well as the fact that, occasionally, the “top dog’s” formal aristocracy needs to be bailed out by the little people.