Welcome to Saturday's Potluck
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
9/11 is the most significant national propaganda event in my lifetime. The actual tragedy of lost lives, a shocked, grieving nation and desire to help the nation recover was used to unleash a larger destructive force onto the world in the name of protecting our nation's citizens.
In the days after the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001, in which 2,977 people were killed by Al Qaeda in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, US President George W. Bush announced the start of a new type of war, one without defined borders, boundaries, or timescales.
“Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there,” he told Americans. “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
“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.”
“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,” he concluded.
So it came to pass. The War on Terror has been a near global endeavour. By 2017 for example, the US Department of Defense said it had around 8,000 “special operators” in 80 countries across the globe.
Dubbed the ‘Forever Wars,’ this conflict has not had clear territorial boundaries, though we have included in our dataset the seven most intensive US military campaigns. The types of conflict vary significantly but broadly fall into three categories:
Full invasions and occupations of countries – Afghanistan 2001-2021, and Iraq 2003-2009.
Major bombing campaigns against the Islamic State terror group – Iraq 2014-2021, Syria 2014-2021, and Libya 2016.
More targeted US drone and airstrike campaigns against militant and terror groups – Somalia 2007-2021, Yemen 2002-2021, Pakistan 2004-2018, and Libya 2014-2019.
Based on official US military data, we have concluded that the US has carried out a minimum of 91,340 airstrikes throughout the 20 years of the War on Terror.
If the US government's first priority was the health and welfare of its citizens this tragedy would not have played out in our lifetimes.
This is the untold 9/11 narrative, in which the United States was attacked; and then, in the days and months after, first responders and the people that lived, worked and studied in lower Manhattan and western Brooklyn were betrayed both by municipal officials and the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency. The reason, of course, relates to money: Officials in both agencies were more concerned amount preserving the pulse of Wall Street than the lungs of close to a half million people, including roughly 90,000 rescue and recovery workers.
Three days after the 9/11 attack, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, then-head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told reporters that "the good news continues to be that air samples we have taken have all been at levels that cause us no concern."
Catherine McVay Hughes, former chairwoman of lower Manhattan's Community Board 1, which includes the WTC site, remembers being skeptical when former EPA Administrator Whitman proclaimed that air in lower Manhattan was safe. At the time, the fires at the WTC site were still burning; they would not be fully extinguished until just before Christmas.
But Hughes, who serves on the WTC Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, said that it was taboo at the time to raise such concerns.
"First of all, I am one of the most patriotic people out there," said Hughes, who was speaking only as a longtime member of the community. "But questioning whether or not the air was safe to breathe back then was perceived as almost being unpatriotic; and nowadays, there's scientific studies indicating how toxic and dangerous it was."
Twenty years out, I can't help but feel that history is repeating itself. There are alarming parallels, then and now, between what happened to WTC first responders and what we see today with essential workers amid the pandemic. Today, the CDC plays the role the EPA played then — particularly with the CDC's shifting guidance about the need for masks that characterized the early, anxious months of the pandemic.
And substitute Giuliani's maniacal push to be "open for business" as the WTC continued to burn for Trump's willful deceit about the pandemic, followed by his crime against humanity when he pitted red state against blue state to gain partisan advantage.
That cynical ploy continues to kill Americans to this very day.
Did the power games include an assassination in Afghanistan?
Peter Dale Scott, with assistance from Aaron Good, breaks new ground with this exclusive investigation into the two-decades-old assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud and may identify his murder as the green light—not only for Osama bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Center—but also for the Bush/Cheney team’s long-planned invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
[The following complex argument is organized around five salient historical developments preceding September 11, 2001: (1) the incremental penetration of American military, political, and economic power into Central Asia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, (2) the drafting in New York and London of the letter of introduction used by assassins to kill anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, on September 9, 2001, (3) U.S. Government knowledge of the letter, (4) Massoud’s opposition to a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and (5) White House planning for military involvement in Afghanistan on September 10, the day after Massoud’s murder and one day before 9/11.]
Some of you may have read this yesterday when highlighted by snoopydawg on lost opportunities to infiltrate Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the fascinating stories of three spies who infiltrated Al-Qaeda for Western intelligence are worth reexamining. Why was more not made of the information they could have provided?
So what were the FBI, CIA, MI5 and MI6 up to? Why did they systematically fail to exploit their human assets inside Al-Qaeda, either before or after the 9/11 attacks? When Aimen Dean reported in the early summer of 2001 that a big Al-Qaeda attack was imminent, Western intelligence could have sent him, Nasiri or Collins (or all three) into Afghanistan to try to find out more, but they did nothing of the sort.
Whether these are tales of tragic missed opportunities, outrageous institutional incompetence or something darker is unclear. While Dean is something of a public figure, Nasiri remains semi-anonymous and Collins died in 2016. The full story of the spies inside Al-Qaeda may never be told.
Here is one take on the significance of US abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan in international power games.
NEW YORK – “This is manifestly not Saigon,” said United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken as helicopters snatched fleeing Americans from the embassy roof in Kabul. It’s incomparably worse for America’s world standing.
Like the fellow in the Sam Cooke song, Blinken doesn’t know much about history or geography. Unlike the man in the song, he doesn’t know that one and one is two, by which I mean Russia and China.
Richard Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China three years before the fall of South Vietnam, securing China’s tacit agreement not to exploit the Communist victory by exporting the revolution to the rest of Southeast Asia.
America’s defeat in Vietnam, damaging as it was, had a limited impact in the region. Afghanistan, by contrast, will draw China and Russia into a dominant role in Central and Western Asia.
The defeat of an American proxy regime by Taliban irregulars marks the first victory for a jihadist army against Western military forces since the annihilation of a British expeditionary force in Afghanistan in 1842.
The collapse of the reality show posing as the government of Afghanistan in August created a problem for China as well as Russia. The United States spent US$2 trillion, or an average of $50 billion a year over 20 years, in a country whose annual GDP barely amounted to $20 billion.
The tsunami of American money corrupted everyone and everything, including the American military. The US created not a government, but a reality show in which hired actors stole all the props.
When the Americans announced their departure, the relevant Afghans said in so many words: “The show’s been canceled – where do we audition for the next one?”
What is on your mind today?