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Saturday, Jun. 08, 2002 at 5:26 PM
Once again the neoConservative media is the problem.
Subject: [RWWATCH] Media Protect Bush On 9/11 Security Failure
I thought that this story pretty well 'connected the dots' of the Bush
failures in the 9/11 tragedy, as well as highlighted the complicity of
the 'liberal' US media in keeping this news from the American
Media Protect Bush On 9/11 Security Failure
May 29, 2002
By Edward Herman
The successful terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, represented
a spectacular failure of the U.S. national security establishment.
But from the very beginning there was very little media interest in
examining that failure, although the attack involved extensive
terrorist preparations within the United States and although the
federal government (and taxpayers) are paying some billion a
year on security services, not including the armed forces. > > There
was a rush to give "security" more money, without a detailed
investigation of the failure and its implications for the efficiency in
use of the existing vast sums. Little attention was given to locating
responsibility for this security debacle.
There was even a tendency, insofar as any pointing the finger of
blame was concerned, to find CLINTON guilty for having allegedly
stinted in pursuing terrorism. This was the main theme of a front
page article in the Philadelphia Inquirer of January 14 that referred
only to Clinton's inattention to the subject (Dick Polman, "Sept. 11
may taint Clinton's legacy").
There was no mention that the Clintonites had warned Bush
representatives in January 2001 that Al Qaeda was a real threat
and should be a priority concern, and there was no suggestion in
this article, or others castigating Clinton, that maybe Bush, in office
for eight months at 9/11, was in any way responsible for the
security failure during his watch.
Part of the reason for this is that the Bush team, after having failed
the country before 9/11, engaged in frenzied overkill after 9/11,
rushing warships and airplanes to deal with the terror threat in New
York harbor and elsewhere, engaging in a dragnet operation
incarcerating and interrogating thousands of alleged suspects or
potential suspects, declaring a "war on terrorism," calling for more
arms, etc. > > The mainstream media never pointed out that this
feverish activity was not only after-the-fact, but possibly designed
to distract attention from the huge before-the-fact failure.
Another reason for the failure to ask questions and investigate is
that Bush immediately declared himself a "war president," and
successfully mobilized media and populace to a high yellow-ribbon
patriotic pitch. This made any criticism of our leader unthinkable for
many, including the media, and gave Bush a free ride, for a while.
After the pre-9/11 virtual silence on the terror threat, the Bush team
was finding threats worth publicizing on a weekly basis, perhaps
aiming to keep war fever high and the possibility of critical
Still another reason for media quiescence is that Bush is a
Republican president, prized by the business community,
and by the numerous rightwing pundits (Will, Charen, et al.),
talk-show hosts (Limbaugh, North, O'Reilly et al.), and media (Wall
Street Journal, Weekly Standard, Fox Network et al.), so that he is
a protected person at this point in U.S. history.
If the media criticize him severely, even on the basis of serious
evidence of behavior harmful to the public welfare, the media will
be assailed by the rightwing echo chamber and by many
Republicans for "playing politics" and "liberal bias."
In the case of Democratic President Clinton, by contrast, it was
possible to play the policy-irrelevant Whitewater and Lewinski
scandals for years on end, because the echo chamber and
Republicans were pleased to attack him, and the "liberal
media" happily joined the fray. This could not happen to a Bush,
even on issues important to policy and public well-being (e.g., his
link to the Enron scandal, his tainted election by black exclusion
and a Republican Supreme Court gift, each treated cursorily by the
media)--and now, his and his administration's responsibility for the
9/11 security failure.
It took the mainstream media many months to pick up the story of
the Bush connection to this security failure, although most of its
elements have been common knowledge for interested web
browsers for quite a while. And finally having picked it up, the
mainstream media are not tying together its various pieces
and they are showing signs of abandoning the story as no longer of
any interest, in accord with the election abuse model (see Greg
Palast's chapter in _The Best Democracy Money Can Buy_ on "Jim
Crow in Cyberspace: The Unreported Story of How They Fixed the
Vote in Florida").
The key elements in this story can be divided into three parts. First,
is the story of the warnings to the Bush administration that Bin
Laden and Al Qaeda were planning a terrorist act, possibly
including the use of hijacked aircraft to attack facilities like the
Pentagon and White House. These warnings date back at least to
1996, but became acute and difficult to ignore in the six months
before 9/11--that is, during Bush II's tenure.
They included explicit warnings from foreign governments including
Israel, Britain, Russia, Germany, France, Jordan, and Morocco, all
advising of a serious imminent terrorist attack on the United States.
These even included explicit warnings of plans "to hijack
commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack important
symbols of American and Israeli culture" (a Mossad message of
There was the now well-publicized message from FBI agent
Kenneth Williams in Phoenix warning that suspicious persons were
taking air flight training; the finding in early August 2001 that
Zacarias Moussaoui was taking such training but showing a
disinterest in taking off and landing; and the disclosure that the FBI
had been aware for several years that Al Qaeda was using U.S.
flying schools to train its cadres.
These and several other warnings were sufficient to cause
Attorney-General John Ashcroft to avoid commercial airlines from
late July. A minimally alert and competent security service
concerned with terrorism and the public welfare would have
invested serious resources in tracking down this threat, trying to
prevent it, and preparing the airlines and public.
A second element in the story is the revelation that the Bush
administration had actually carried out negotiations with the
Taliban into August 2001, attempting to get agreement to a pipeline
through Afghanistan. Only then did the administration break off
relations and threaten an attack and invasion. What is more, the
Bush family had links to the Bin Laden family through the Carlyle
group, with the Bin Ladens investors in that group until sometime in
The book _Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth_, published in France
November 2001, by Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie,
not only describes the Bush II dealings with and willingness to
accept the Taliban if it would cooperate with oil industry plans, it
cites John O'Neill, the principal FBI official working on the pursuit of
Bin Laden, who claimed to have resigned in disgust in August
2001, because his pursuit of Bin Laden had been hamstrung by the
Bush administration, in his view because of their links to Saudi
Such constraints and tendency to appease both Saudi Arabia and
Taliban are supported by other evidence. Other FBI agents and
officials have come forward to describe the FBI's foot-dragging and
unwillingness to act (notable is the Minneapolis office's inability to
get the FBI to obtain a warrant to examine Moussaoie's apartment
FBI and military intelligence claimed that "there were always
constraints in investigating the Saudis" and that "the restrictions
became worse after the Bush administration took over" (Palast and
Pallister, Guardian, Nov. 7, 2001).
It is interesting also that, with the approval of the FBI, several
dozen U.S.-based members of the Bin Laden family were permitted
to leave the United states shortly after 9/11, even as many
hundreds of Arabs were being picked up for interrogation on
possible links to Bin Laden. In short, it is possible that the lack of
even modest initiative in examining the Bin Laden terror threat was
rooted in Bush family and Bush II policy conflict of interest.
The third element in the case is that the Bush administration's
budget request submitted on September 10, 2001, cut million
from the FBI's request for money to hire more counter-intelligence
agents. This points up the fact that, despite all the warnings of a
serious terrorist threat, and despite the need for personnel to
penetrate organizations like Al Qaeda, the Bush administraion still
"didn't get it" one day before 9/11.
The media's treatment of this serious failure that cost some 3,000
U.S. lives has been Bush-protective and irresponsible.
Not only were the media late in coming to the story, when they got
there, after giving some important facts on the Phoenix memo, the
earlier warnings of Al Qaeda flight training, the Minneapolis fiasco,
they quickly allowed the Bush administration to get away with
claims that the warnings "weren't specific," the Democrats were
"politicizing" the question (by asking questions!), and that the
important thing was to stop this politicking and focusing on "what
really matters, which is preventing another assault by Osama Bin
Laden" (NYT ed., May 21, 2002)
The New York Times had another editorial on "The Blame Game"
(May 21), Thomas Friedman urged "Cool It!" (May 22), and R. J.
Apple, Jr. did the same ("Gotcha! One Cheer for Politics as Usual",
The Philadelphia Inquirer gave a front-page feature story to the
blowing over of this unfortunate fuss ("One storm over 9/11 that
quickly blew over," May 21), and it played down the story editorially
This is the same paper that not only exploited the Lewinski story to
the hilt, and even called for Clinton's resignation over that incident,
it also gave more attention and indignation to Clinton's pardons
than to the Bush-Supreme Court election coup d'etat. The New
York Times also featured Lewinski at great length, and while
acknowledging its political component, still treated that purely
political vendetta with rather more seriousness than the present
Bush scandal of substance.
Perhaps more important, the media have not examined and tied
together all the elements of the story. They have failed to look at
the charges that the Bush administration was trying to do business
with the Taliban until into August, and that it's (and the Bush
family's) links to the Saudis constrained investigations into terrorist
Paula Zahn mentioned the Brisard-Dasquie book on Bin Laden in
an interview with Richard Butler on January 8, 2002, and its theme
of Bush dealings with the Taliban and John O'Neill's resignation
because of investigatory constraints, but she didn't push it far at all,
and the story was not picked up in the mainstream elsewhere. The
media have also failed to tie the Bush failure with his budget action
of sharply cutting the FBI counter- intelligence budget on
In sum, there was a three-pronged security failure of great
seriousness: a failure to take obvious leads and do something
them; a possible conflict of interest that may explain this foot-
dragging; and a day-before-9/11 budget decision that shows a
degree of incompetence and misplaced priorities that is staggering.
The media have failed to discuss two of the three prongs in the
story, which has helped them minimize the seriousness of this Bush
failure, just as they downplayed his election theft and dealings with
The system works, but not in the public interest.
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