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Table Scraps and Lies – Bush’s Memorial to the 9/11 Families

By W. David Jenkins III

 

“You wasted an opportunity to learn why people like me, like Mohamed Atta, have so much hatred of you.” -  Zacarias Moussaoui 5/04/06

  “Now that the Moussaoui penalty phase is over, I certainly hope that the information will be flowing freely to the American people.”  - Kristin Breitweiser on “Hardball” 5/03/06  

 

            With all due respect to Ms. Breitweiser, I believe we all know that there will be no information regarding 9/11 “flowing freely” to the American people. Not now anyway nor in the near future. Everyone needs to just focus on the fact that the “20th hijacker” has been sentenced and now we can move on because we have more important things to worry about – like a Spanish version of the national anthem.

            The Moussaoui trial was little more than a carrot dangled before the American people in hopes that his sentence or possible execution would take much of the heat off the government’s ineptitude when it came to matters regarding 9/11. But the truth is that Moussaoui never should have stood trial for crimes related to 9/11. Not because he was innocent but because the government had such a shoddy case against him. One federal capital defense lawyer stated that, “If this had not been 9/11, the government's theory of liability would not have passed the laugh test.” So Moussaoui will spend the rest of his life in prison because he didn’t tell us that something really bad was going to happen.

Think about it. If you remove the 9/11 aspect this charge, does Moussaoui’s trial or sentence make any sense? If withholding information about a coming disaster resulting in the death of thousands warrants a life sentence or the death penalty, then shouldn’t most of the Bush administration be locked up or on death row because they failed to tell us something bad was going to happen when we invaded Iraq ? Are they not just as guilty for refusing to tell the American people what they knew about the consequences of the invasion far in advance?

The underlying foundation of the government’s case was that if Moussaoui had talked then we could have possibly prevented 9/11 from happening. Alas! If only he had warned us instead of being such a nasty terrorist we could have saved all of those poor people who perished that day! If Moussaoui had told us what he knew then we wouldn’t still be bitching about what to put in that big hole in Southern Manhattan almost five years later! If only we had known!

Oh, put a sock in it already. We had plenty of warnings. There were warnings from Richard Clarke, John O’Neill and even former CIA director, George Tenet. The Hart-Rudman report, which documented the threat posed by al Qaeda, was given to the incoming Bush administration nine months before 9/11 and Bush gave it to Cheney and Cheney put it in a closet somewhere.

There was also the August 6th PDB warning that bin Laden was determined to attack America . That same month an advisory was received by the Mossad, Israel ’s intelligence agency, which warned of "a major assault on the United States " and indicated a “large scale target.” The Mossad had also warned that the number of terrorists inside the United States may be as high as two hundred and they had confirmed that the intelligence had been traced back to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden. There were also warnings from German and Italian intelligence agencies, but Bush chose instead to cut brush and drive his pick ‘em up truck around his Crawford “ranch.”

During the final phase of Moussaoui’s trial, FBI agent Harry Samit testified that he had tried several times to get his superiors assist him in confirming his suspicions that Moussaoui was in fact involved with an imminent terrorist attack involving hijacked airliners. Each attempt by Samit to obtain assistance from Washington was thwarted in such a manner as to be deemed “criminally negligent” by the FBI agent.

Four years ago former FBI agent, Colleen Rowley, testified how her efforts to investigate Moussaoui were also thwarted by superiors in Washington . Her efforts to obtain warrants to search Moussaoui’s laptop stemmed from the belief held by her field office that Moussaoui was in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 2332b (Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries) and Section 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities). Rowley’s requests were ignored.

The government’s claim that Moussaoui’s guilt rests solely on his refusal to tell what he knew, thus preventing any attempts to stop the 9/11 attacks, is weak if not completely absurd. Even if officials had not been “criminally negligent,” an aggressive investigation into Moussaoui might have turned up nothing.

Five members of al Qaeda, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, had written and video testimony submitted in the trial in which they stated that Moussaoui was not only not involved with any 9/11 plans but was also considered a “loose cannon” and well, maybe just a tad too crazy for al Qaeda. Waleed bin Attash, alleged mastermind of the USS Cole attack, stated that he had to shut off his cell phone because Moussaoui called him everyday with notions of kidnapping Chinese businessmen to help raise money along with other rantings.

The real irony, unfortunately, is that Moussaoui’s trial included testimony from actual al Qaeda operatives who were responsible for 9/11. But they won’t be brought to trial because that would open up questions about “interrogation procedures” that the Bush gang would rather not get into. In other words, because we tortured those, who unlike Moussaoui were actually involved in the attacks, they in turn will never be held responsible or brought to trial. How’s that for justice?

Moussaoui is just another example that this so called war on terror is little more than misguided farce coupled with lip service and easy fixes that do nothing. Right now, the actual “20th hijacker, Mohamed al-Kahtani, is being held in Guantánamo Bay yet we’re supposed to believe that Moussaoui’s life sentence closes the book on 9/11 and we should simply move on. I’m curious how families like Kristin Breitweiser’s feel right now.

I also wonder how they feel when anti-terror agencies like Homeland Security (which Bush never wanted in the first place) prove to be total failures. From politically timed color coded terror alerts to dismal performances before, during and after national disasters like Katrina, the DHS has proven itself to be ineffective and poorly run.

How must the families who lost loved ones feel when Michael Cherthoff announces, as he did two weeks ago, that DHS is ready to move ahead in matters of port security (screening dockworkers and checking a greater number of containers) – beginning “some time next year?” Or how must they feel when he states that he trusts the nuclear and chemical plant industries to take “appropriate security measures” themselves? How must they feel when they learn that DHS is spending $25.2 million (double the allowed funding for the 9/11 Commission) to a limousine and transportation service to cart employees around town?

How do those families feel when they learn that after almost five years, the FBI still hasn’t been able to upgrade its computer systems? How must they feel when someone like Sibel Edmonds is prevented from telling them what she knows regarding the “selective” manner in which the FBI is fighting the war on terror?

How must they feel when they hear of the bickering and power struggles between the CIA and the National Intelligence Director? How will they feel as some of those intelligence people are swept up in an unfolding scandal concerning bribery, military contracts and prostitutes? How must they feel when they realize that the main targets in the war on terror are the rights of the American people? Exactly how secure are people supposed to feel as they take a bare footed stroll through the airport while waiting for Grandma to be strip-searched?

The war on terror is becoming a tired old mantra and the actions of this administration are proof that 9/11 has simply been a useful prop for them – much like the troops being used as backdrops. Little has been done to actually strengthen security while the Bush gang goes gallivanting around the world spending billions and invading countries. Osama is still out there and we can’t do anything with the al Qaeda terrorists we have caught because we tortured them. The Taliban is even stronger now than it was a few years ago because we dropped the ball in Afghanistan to go and invade Iraq .

The truth is the war on terror isn’t everything the 9/11 families or the rest of us were told it would be. To offer up a crazy in the coconut al Qaeda wanna be like Moussaoui as some sort of appeasement or “justice” is as much an insult to the 9/11 families as was the final report by the 9/11 Commission.

Kristin Breitweiser has never settled for the table scraps consistently offered by this administration regarding 9/11 and neither have many of the rest of us. But we have a long way to go before any information starts flowing freely and that knowledge will mean more than any “freedom tower.”

The truth will be the ultimate memorial and the 9/11 families, as well as those loved ones they lost that day, deserve nothing less.

 

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