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What don’t they want us to know?

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A news item from yesterday’s MSNBC once again brings up the possibility of a 9/11-related conspiracy to hide information from the American people. The first public accusation of a conspiracy came just two weeks after the attacks from then-Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), an act that contributed considerably to her loss in her re-election bid in 2002. Others have made similar accusations since then, often to public ridicule and disbelief. Now major media outlets are giving these accusers some vindication.

The Secrets of September 11
The White House is battling to keep a report on the terror attacks secret. Does the 2004 election have anything to do with it?

April 30 — Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks, administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks.

The report was completed last December; only a bare-bones list of “findings” with virtually no details was made public. But nearly six months later, a “working group” of Bush administration intelligence officials assigned to review the document has taken a hard line against further public disclosure. By refusing to declassify many of its most significant conclusions, the administration has essentially thwarted congressional plans to release the report by the end of this month, congressional and administration sources tell NEWSWEEK. In some cases, these sources say, the administration has even sought to “reclassify” some material that was already discussed in public testimony — a move one Senate staffer described as “ludicrous.” The administration’s stand has infuriated the two members of Congress who oversaw the report — Democratic Sen. Bob Graham and Republican Rep. Porter Goss. The two are now preparing a letter of complaint to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Graham is “increasingly frustrated” by the administration’s “unwillingness to release what he regards as important information the public should have about 9-11,” a spokesman said. In Graham’s view, the Bush administration isn’t protecting legitimate issues of national security but information that could be a political “embarrassment,” the aide said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Goss, a staunch Republican (and former CIA officer) who in the past has consistently defended the administration’s handling of 9-11 issues and is considered especially close to Cheney.

“I find this process horrendously frustrating,” Goss said in an interview. He was particularly piqued that the administration was refusing to declassify material that top intelligence officials had already testified about. “Senior intelligence officials said things in public hearings that they [administration officials] don’t want us to put in the report,” said Goss. “That’s not something I can rationally accept without further public explanation.”

McKinney’s accusation on September 25, 2001 seems to have better foundation in fact than most Americans were willing to admit at the time.

Surely, before we grant more powers and massive resources to our law enforcement, military and intelligence communities we should be examining why they didn’t detect the threat of these and other attacks. Especially, since we’re being told the attacks last week were sophisticated, involved many people over a considerable period of time and maybe even involved assistance from a foreign government. We knew, or should have known, that Bin Laden was capable of attacking our major cities. Just 7 months ago during the trial of suspects charged with the embassy bombings in Africa federal prosecutors detailed the Bin Laden network in open court. Details of Bin Laden’s business and financial history, his international terror network, as well as, his hatred for America were all systematically dissected by federal prosecutors. Given these revelations it was clear, or should have been clear, that our nation and its citizens were in grave danger from Bin Laden and his supporters.

Some of the conspiracy theories with the least public support suggest that the administration more than knew about the attacks ahead of time, they were involved in the actual perpetration of one or more of the plane crashes on 9/11. There are assertions that there was more than one plane involved in the crash at the Pentagon. There are assertions that the alleged telephone calls from Flight 77 were impossible.

The only thing that seems to be crystal clear about 9/11 is that we, the public, do not have all the information necessary to come to a reasonable conclusion. The best way to end the conjecture is to open up all the files for public scrutiny.

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About Marla Caldwell

  • jadester

    i have to agree here (and i used to be a little bit of conspiracy theorist…albeit that was a few years ago, in my early teens)
    I don’t think it’s a serious possiblity that Bush actually knew the attacks were going to happen. Yes they probably had hints something was gonig to happen, but then they have such hints all the time; terrorist attacks are, unfortunately, all too common these days.
    Incidentally, there was a recent tv prog aired here in britain, about various evil guys recruiting for terrorist organisatinos right here in britain. I was interested to ntoe they never once brought up the fact that, whilst it is not indeed a good situation, it would be all the worse if we drove them out of this country so that our security organisations wouldn’t be able to keep a good track of where they actually are. As the situation stands, their whereabouts are known and they are closely monitored. It is gaullnig to think they may be claiming beneifts etc. but at least this way SOME control can be had over them. Just a thought

  • mike

    Yes, these “Bush knew it” theories are just hokum. The most hawkish Administration since Teddy Roosevelt’s would never countenance an attack on American soil. (And the idea that the gov’t planned 9/11 is really off the wall.) This sort of theory is right up there with the view that Roosevelt allowed the Japanese to bomb his battleships so he could fight a naval war with them! Completely without credibility and to be dismissed out of hand. Anyone who even proposes these theories automatically discredits himself.

  • mike

    Yes, these “Bush knew it” theories are just hokum. The most hawkish Administration since Teddy Roosevelt’s would never countenance an attack on American soil. (And the idea that the gov’t planned 9/11 is really off the wall.) This sort of theory is right up there with the view that Roosevelt allowed the Japanese to bomb his battleships so he could fight a naval war with them! Completely without credibility and to be dismissed out of hand. Anyone who even proposes these theories automatically discredits himself.

  • AntFreeze

    It seems that the morons at the FreedomFiles website you mention want me to believe that three planes WERE hijacked and crashed, but the fourth plane that hit the Pentagon wasn’t flight 77’s jumbo jet. Crimeny. That flight must still be up in low earth orbit or something huh. Or maybe a flying saucer captured it and all the passengers that are missing now huh. One idiot says that what the eye witnesses saw was a hologram of a plane being projected by another plane. They even imply that it was a govt. or armed forces plane. What would possibly be the benefit of that? How can anyone really believe we have kamakazi pilots standing patiently by waiting for terrorists to attack us so that we can attack ourselves even more. These jackasses will pretend to believe anything to promote their next book and they, and you, who bring attention to them, do an enormous disservice to the lives of the victims.

  • Thanks for the pointer, Mike. It was worth reading. I disagree with his assertion that the theory that Bush may have known about 9/11 before hand is “the onanistic fantasy of the tinfoil hat brigade.” I am not asserting that is the case, just that it should not be dismissed out of hand. I do, however, appreciate the creative prose he used to denounce it.

  • mike

    Excellent article by Justin Raimondo on this issue.


  • Eric Brian [Edit: sorry, didn’t mean to get your name wrong. Guess i was thinking of Eric Olsen when I wrote it.]

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you discussed why Americans like conspiracies. We like things simple, and having people neatly split into groups with moral implications (guilty/not guilty, good/evil, nice/mean, crazy/sane) simplifies the ongoing struggle to keep society safe for ourselves and our progeny. It’s the (homeless guy/Arab/drug addict/gambler/inner city youth/militia group member/liberal/wingnut/etc.) who is keeping me from feeling safe, therefore my problem is with him and people like him and sombody should do something about it! Meanwhile, those who know the answers are more complicated are allowed or even encouraged not to dig too deeply.

    Did Bush know about 9/11 ahead of time? Possibly. Should he have known? Probably. Did others in the administration know? Most likely. What was the administration’s true level of involvement, understanding, or deliberate disengagement? We may never really know. If the risk to the Bush administration is in terms of embarrassment or damage to personal reputations or political campaigns, and not to national security, then the documents need to be released.

  • I don’t know if we’ve ever needed a solid, unimpeded, truly independent investigation of any event more than we need one now.

    After JFK was assassinated, conspiracy theories abounded BECAUSE the investigation was so slapdash. And in that case, the only known relationship between the assassin and the government was a hostile one.

    In the case of 9-11, there is a direct business connection between the Bush family and the bin Laden family. And there is no question that the bin Laden family was given special treatment in the wake of the attacks. And there is good reason to believe that the FBI was possibly instructed not to pursue an investigation of the bin Ladens.

    None of this means anything conclusive. But without a doubt there must be an investigation in which neither the FBI, the CIA nor the White House are in control of the investigation’s direction, scope or methods. It must be an investigation that can look into anything, anyone, anywhere. Bush should embrace this sort of unimpeded investigation as one of his predecessors did. I think Marla is right to wonder why he isn’t doing that. It looks suspicious, and just looking suspicious is a very bad idea with a matter this serious.

    Two of the reasons there is still a thriving JFK conspiracy community–and that polls still show a great majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy in that case–are that Warren was instructed to have the investigation completed by the Nov. 1964 elections (a ridiculous time frame) and that the FBI was given authority to investigate itself. Witnesses were coddled. Conclusions were rushed. The FBI covered its ass, and was allowed to do so, at the expense of the investigation’s integrity.

    I firmly believe there is no good evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, and I have spent a good amount of time and study on the matter. However, I fully understand why the doubt began. It began with a flawed investigation that didn’t do what any investigation of that magnitude must do–go above and beyond to both have and appear to have independence.

  • Tom,
    I reduced the length of the quote for the sake of brevity. I assumed anyone interested enough to read a political post would know Graham is one of the Democratic contenders and would weight his statements with that consideration.

    The ‘real’ (or “cited”) article does NOT state conclusively we had information that in hindsight makes it obvious Bin Laden was planning something. It states that the administration is blocking access to the Congressional report and other information that would give the public better information with which to draw their own conclusions.

    I am not stating that a conspiracy is evident here; only that conspiracy theories are abounding and will continue to grow in the atmosphere of secrecy insisted upon by the administration. I think it’s pretty obvious that they are blocking information — including that previously released — not because all of it presents a risk to national security, but because at least some presents a risk for the reputations of senior officials and for Bush’s reelection bid. If Bush and his administration have nothing to hide, then they should let a senior bi-partisan Congressional committee decide what information ought to be declassified, and release it.

  • Regarding the sites, that should read “not legitimate” – sorry.

  • Your Goss quote was taken out of context and is therefore meaningless. Here is the rest of his quote from the article:

    Unlike Graham, Goss insists there are no political “gotchas” in the report, only a large volume of important information about the performance and shortcomings of U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies prior to September 11.

    And even congressional staffers close to the process say it is unclear whether the administration’s resistance to public disclosure reflects fear of political damage or simply an ingrained “culture of secrecy” that permeates the intelligence community—and has strong proponents at the highest levels of the White House.

    I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again: if you want to find a conspiracy, you will. Conveniently leaving out important information, such as that Graham is running for President in 2004 (and therefore would benefit from damaging the President’s credibility,) swings the story the way you want to see it, but the truth is, this is biased “reporting” on your part. And following it up with links to sites that are legitimate, known news sources further weakens your argument.

    Here’s what the real article says: we knew a lot of information that, in hindsight, make obvious that Bin Laden was planning something against the United States. We failed to put it together because we had no reason to make the connections – no one guessed this could happen. Looking back on it, it seems obvious that we should have known. What we had were tidbits of information here and there, but nothing that said conclusively, or even INconclusively, that Bin Laden would use passenger-filled airplanes as bombs.

    If anything, the worst that is reported here is a tremendous lack of communication between departments – find a company that doesn’t have that problem, let alone something as massive as the government. Should this lack of communication be addressed? Of course. Is it a conspiracy? No, that’s ridiculous.

    The way the administration is handling it is dumb, but I can understand why they’re doing it: they’re trying to limit the access of paranoid left-wingers to this information so they can’t twist it into confirming their ludicrious conspiracy theories.