The executive summary of the Senate torture report, released last December, exposed a system of abuse that was far more brutal than the CIA ever admitted to the White House, Congress, the courts, or the American public. But for all its revelatory, gruesome details, it also revealed more about what we don’t know.
The 525-page summary released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence references documents detailing secret legal defenses for torture, attempts at covering up illegality, indications of dissent from within the CIA, and more. To fill in the blanks, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request today for 77 documents, most of which are referenced in the report.
The ACLU has previously acquired and made public redacted versions of some of those documents (see, for example, the OLC memos that were released to us in April 2009). Others have been totally hidden from Americans and deserve to see the light. We’re submitting this new request because we think the public is entitled to a full account of what happened in the CIA’s black sites, and why.
Some details about the still-withheld documents are provided in the Senate’s report and give us a partial understanding as to what the documents contain. In one email referenced by the Senate report, Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Jose Rodriguez instructed CIA personnel to suppress their doubts about the legality of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on detainee Abu Zubaydah. Personnel involved in Abu Zubaydah’s torture wrote headquarters that they believed his interrogations were “approach[ing] the legal limit.”
[I] strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities or, more precisely, judgment calls as to their legality vis-à-vis operational guidelines for this activity agreed upon and vetted at the most senior levels of the agency, be refrained from in written traffic. Such language is not helpful.
Another classified email, written by CIA torture contractor James Mitchell, provides a glimpse of President Bush’s “discomfort” with an “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself.”
According to the Senate report, the still-withheld documents also tell another story: one about those within the government who objected to torture even when it tarnished their reputations or derailed their careers. One email referenced in the Senate report was written by the CIA’s chief of interrogations after he received the interrogation plan for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a former CIA detainee currently being held at Guantánamo Bay. The CIA chief wrote that he would “no longer be associated in any way with the interrogation program due to serious reservation[s]” and that he would be “retiring shortly.” Among other things, the report quotes him as writing, “[t]his is a train wreck [sic] waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.”
The ACLU has worked to expose the details of the torture program for more than a decade. As a result of our previous FOIA requests and ensuing litigation, the government has released more than 100,000 pages of torture-related documents. But while the ACLU has received a great deal of information on the Department of Defense’s torture of detainees, some of the critical documents relating to the CIA’s torture program have remained partially or fully hidden. Our fight for transparency continues with this request, along with our ongoing battles for the release of the SSCI’s full 6,900-page report and photographic evidence of torture in two separate cases pending before federal appeals courts.
The release of the executive summary should be a turning point — not the endpoint — for transparency.
Linthicum, MD — Last Thursday at BWI airport in Maryland, former CIA agent A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard was arrested for trying to carry a gun onto an airplane. According to CBS Baltimore, Krongard had a 9mm handgun loaded with five rounds in his carry-on bag when he was stopped by TSA agents because they saw the gun as his bags passed through the x-ray scanner.
Krongard was immediately arrested on weapons charges, despite his involvement with the government and his notoriety as a well known local businessperson. During his time in the CIA, Krongard was a high-ranking official and was named the executive director of the CIA under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. He held the third-highest ranking position in the CIA during that time period.
Oddly, on that same day another man was arrested for attempting to bring a loaded gun on an airplane, this time at Hagerstown Regional (HGR) airport, not far from BWI. So far there has been no indication that these cases are connected.
According to the official TSA policy “Firearms, firearm parts and ammunition—are not permitted in carry-on bags, but can be transported in checked bags if they are unloaded, properly packed and declared to the airline. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $11,000.”
Did Mr. Krongard think that he was above the law after a life in the upper echelons of government? Or was he involved in a deeper plot to justify overreaching TSA searches and overblown budgets?
The absence of justice over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is due to America’s refusal to admit the truth about its nuclear holocaust.
That denial is necessary because otherwise it would reveal the criminal nature of US governments and their ongoing criminal prerogative to continue using the threat of nuclear weapons to maintain global hegemony.
Nagasaki, the second atomic bombing of Japan by the United States on August 9, 1945, was in many ways an even bigger crime. The US government had three days to assess the devastating human horror of the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, in which some 70,000 civilians were incinerated.
Hardly a building was left standing in the southern Japanese port city amid humans vaporised or turned into charred jelly, yet the American leaders went ahead with the second atomic bombing on the western city of Nagasaki in which another 40,000 people were annihilated. In total over the following year, the death toll would reach at least 200,000, and many more again over subsequent decades from cancers and other malignancies.
Both attacks can be adjudged as premeditated mass murder – indeed acts of genocide by any legal definition – that had little to do with compelling Imperial Japan to surrender towards the end of the Pacific War.
It is documented by historians that the American and British wartime leaders were well aware that Japan was seeking to surrender in early 1945 – not least because of the merciless firebombing by the Western powers of the capital, Tokyo, and other Japanese cities, where the death tolls would match those later incurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
With Soviet Russia about to enter the Pacific War in mid-August 1945, as agreed upon at the Potsdam conference held in July, it seems unequivocal that the Americans rushed to deploy their new nuclear weapon as a way of demarcating the postwar order in Asia-Pacific.
The first atomic explosion was tested by the Americans only three weeks prior on July 16 in the desert of New Mexico.
The Americans and the British did not want their then wartime Soviet ally to make territorial gains in Asia, as it had done in Europe when it alone had largely rolled back and defeated Nazi Germany.
To prevent Stalin’s Red Army also taking Japan and other Asian territories as it was poised to do on entering the Pacific War, American President Harry Truman went ahead with the A-bombing of Japan. The Americans were not planning a land invasion of Japan’s mainland until November 1945.
So, official US claims that the atomic bombs were dropped in order to promptly end the Pacific War are partially true. But the objective was not to save up to one million American troop lives, as Truman claimed. Rather the real objective was to forestall the geopolitical advance of the Soviet Union and the “dread of communism”.
Thus, the atomic bombing of Japan by the US was not the last act of the Pacific War, but rather was the opening act of the soon-to-be Cold War between the American-led Western world and the Soviet Union.
Since the Soviet Union would not obtain its own nuclear weapons until 1949, the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan certainly would have served as blood-curdling check on Moscow and any ambitions it may have had in expanding into Asia following the defeat of Japan.
However, the salient point here is that the US deployed weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations not for any supposed military or moral imperative – the defeat of Japan and saving of American lives. No, the objective was primarily political, that is, the prevention of perceived Soviet geopolitical advance in the postwar global order. That makes the twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nothing less than acts of state terrorism – on a scale that puts the American government in a barbarous class of its own.
The myth of military necessity to defeat Japan so as to save American lives has proven to be an enduring one. A recent public opinion survey by the Pew Institute found that a majority of Americans – 56 per cent – believe that it was right to drop the A-bombs on Japan.
But if we strip away that myth then that leaves us with a most chilling conclusion – that American leaders viewed it as their right to obliterate 200,000 civilians for geopolitical objectives. That genocidal ideology – to use weapons of mass destruction – still resides in Washington.
At the close of the Second World War, American and British leaders weighed up a secret plan, Operation Unthinkable, in which they contemplated dropping atomic weapons on their then Soviet wartime ally. The treacherous plan was eventually shelved.
But in July 1961, the head of the American CIA, Allen Dulles, and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff presented a plan to President John F Kennedy for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. To his credit, Kennedy quashed the proposal in disgust, reportedly saying to one of his aides, “And we call ourselves the human race.”
Just this year, in June, the Associated Press reported on a Pentagon plan under Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes to take out Russian military sites”. According to AP : “The options go as far as one implied – but not stated explicitly – that would improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory.”
Seventy years ago, the world witnessed the cold-blooded destruction of entire human populations with nuclear weapons. Today, the world has some 16,000 such weapons each many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ninety per cent of the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons is possessed by the US and Russia.
But it is the US that has doggedly prevented moves towards full-scale nuclear disarmament – despite incumbent President Barack Obama having been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Under Obama, the US is planning to spend some $355 billion over the next decade in upgrading its nuclear arsenal.
In May this year, the US blocked a global nuclear disarmament initiative signed by 107 nations, including Russia and Iran, which called for the immediate implementation of the 40-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty.
It was the US that also unilaterally withdrew in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between Washington and Moscow.
Ironically, in the same week that the world commemorates the horror of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Obama delivered a major speech in which he hailed the recent Geneva nuclear accord with Iran because it “would prevent Iran from obtaining the bomb” – a bomb that the Iranian leadership has repeatedly said it is not seeking nor desires. The monstrous American arrogance in Obama’s words is breath-taking.
What the world has to contend with is this: the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons with cold-blooded criminality, still presumes the right to use those weapons for its own twisted political objectives.
The United States is so contaminated with its own “exceptionalism” and propaganda that the world remains perilously under the pall of horror that was visited upon on Japan 70 years ago. Until that American genocidal ideology is disarmed then the threat to world peace will persist.
The Department of Justice refuses to reveal its unpublished rules for spying on journalists, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation demands a look at them, in Federal Court.
The foundation sued the Justice Department on Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking expedited production of records on FBI procedures for issuing National Security Letters and exigent letters to investigate members of the media.
“Public disclosure of these protocols is necessary to deter chilling affects on the press and its sources, especially given recent years during which the Obama Administration has increased surveillance of reporters,” the foundation’s attorney Victoria Baranetsky said.
The Associated Press revealed in 2013 that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records for at least seven journalists on 20 phone lines while trying to determine which government official leaked information about a CIA operation that allegedly thwarted a terrorist plot.
Soon after, it was revealed that the Justice Department had investigated James Rosen, Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent, in connection to a possible leak of classified information by a government contractor.
In that case, Rosen was labeled as a possible “co-conspirator,” and investigators pulled his security badge records, phone logs and personal emails.
As a result of the backlash, the Justice Department in July 2013 released guidelines that supposedly bar the government from issuing subpoenas to journalists unless high standards are met.
But the guidelines did not apply to FBI agents using national security letters to get telecom companies, libraries and others to secretly hand over information, including Internet records of U.S. citizens without court oversight.
About 97 percent of national security letters come with gag orders barring the recipients from talking about it.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston found the letters facially unconstitutional and ordered the government to stop issuing them, but she stayed her ruling pending appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
A Justice Department spokesperson told The New York Times that procedures for national security letters are governed by an “extensive oversight regime.”
A heavily redacted August 2014 Department of Justice Inspector General report criticized the FBI’s handling of a leak investigation, in which it collected a reporter’s phone records using national security letters.
A separate Inspector General report found that the FBI had issued hundreds of exigent letters to get telephone records from three major telephone carriers. The letters were not authorized by law, flouted internal FBI policy and violated attorney general guidelines, the report said.
In January, several months after the 2014 report confirmed that the FBI had new procedures for gathering information about media, the Justice Department published another rule amending the media guidelines.
The updated policy did not include any procedures for issuing national security letters or exigent letters to get information about members of the press, the foundation says.
It filed an FOIA request in March, seeking the FBI’s unpublished procedures on how it issues national security letters or exigent letters regarding members of the media.
“The DOJ failed to provide adequate response after it acknowledged the need for expedited processing,” Baranetsky said.
Nor has the Justice Department met its deadline to reply to the FOIA, the foundation says in the complaint.
It seeks information on the extensive regime that oversees issuance of national security letters, the procedures the FBI must follow before and after issuing a national security letter to obtain records on members of the press, and any changes in FBI policy after the Justice Department reviews.
Expedited disclosure “is in the public interest and ‘[a] matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist[s] possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence,'” the foundation says in the complaint.
The Justice Department would not comment on the lawsuit.
A gross violation of human rights gives rise to a set of state obligations, including that of providing remedies to the victims. Among such remedies is the duty to establish the true circumstances surrounding the violation and ensuring the identification and punishment of those responsible for it. The mass killings of 9/11 were, apart of being a huge crime, also a gross violation of the right to life of approximately 3,000 people. Yet legal literature has not dealt with this event from that perspective. Thus, the right of the victims to have the truth established and the perpetrators identified and punished has not been subject to scrutiny. This study is meant to remedy this failure by applying existing human rights norms to the investigation of 9/11 by the U.S. authorities and assessing, more generally, the adequacy of these norms.
Since 11 September 2001 the human rights community has faced a new challenge, namely the assault on individual freedoms in Western democracies in the name of the “war on terror”. Every day governments introduce new challenges to individual freedoms, including police powers to monitor private communications, mass surveillance methods and broadened search and detention powers. These attacks on human rights have been extensively analysed and denounced by the legal community. Yet, the event invoked by governments as a justification for all these attacks on human rights, commonly designated as a terrorist act or as an act of war – the mass killings of 9/11 – was equally a gross violation of human rights, giving rise to specific state obligations. It was thus the duty of the government where this event took place to investigate this violation, establish the truth of this violation and bring those responsible to justice. Impunity arises when a state fails to meet these obligations.1 To date, nobody has been brought to trial for participation or complicity in the mass killings of 9/11.2 This fact alone warrants an appraisal of the investigation of this gross violation and the norms applicable to such an investigation.
According to the official account, all 19 alleged perpetrators of the mass killings of 9/11 died in the crashes of aircraft they allegedly had hijacked. Consequently, they were not prosecuted and their guilt was not determined in accordance with the rule of law. Designated by the political class and by world media as the embodiment of evil, no one dared to stand to their defence. Muslims around the world either condemned their action as contrary to Islam or rejected the allegations but did not undertake any legal action to vindicate the suspects’ rights to a fair hearing. A part of this article can be regarded as a belated attempt to provide a defence to the 9/11 suspects, a right to which they are entitled. Readers of this article may consider themselves as members of the jury.
Before embarking upon an appraisal of the investigations of 9/11, a review of the applicable norms is in order.
1. The right to truth as a collective right
In 2005, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) adopted an Updated Set of Principles to Combat Impunity. The first subset of principles is entitled the Right to Know and includes the following principles3 :
Principle 2: The inalienable right to the truth
Every people has the inalienable right to know the truth about past events concerning the perpetration of heinous crimes and about the circumstances and reasons that led, through massive or systematic violations, to the perpetration of those crimes. Full and effective exercise of the right to the truth provides a vital safeguard against the recurrence of violations.
Principle 5: Guarantees to give effect to the right to know
States must take appropriate action, including measures necessary to ensure the independent and effective operation of the judiciary, to give effect to the right to know. Appropriate measures to ensure this right may include non-judicial processes that complement the role of the judiciary. Societies that have experienced heinous crimes perpetrated on a massive or systematic basis may benefit in particular from the creation of a truth commission or other commission of inquiry to establish the facts surrounding those violations so that the truth may be ascertained and to prevent the disappearance of evidence. Regardless of whether a State establishes such a body, it must ensure the preservation of, and access to, archives concerning violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
The above principles reflect states’ recognition that societies, as collectivities, possess the right to know the truth about past gross violations to human rights.
2. The right to the truth as a form of individual remedy
The first detailed study on the right to the truth was issued by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2006. The study concludes
that the right to the truth about gross human rights violations and serious violations of human rights law is an inalienable and autonomous right, linked to the duty and obligation of the State to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedy and reparations. This right is closely linked with other rights and has both an individual and a societal dimension and should be considered as a non-derogable right and not subject to limitations.
The study provides a useful historical overview of the right to the truth, which developed from specialised provisions of international humanitarian law to the current recognition of this right as an inalienable and autonomous human right.
Although international human rights treaties do not explicitly refer to the right to the truth, this right has been referred to by human rights courts and in documents adopted by various bodies of the United Nations.4 This right is also regarded as implicit in existing provisions of human rights treaties,5 such as Article 8, 11, 14 and 25 of the American Convention of Human Rights.6
In 1989, the United Nations adopted the U.N. Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions7 (hereafter: UN Principles) and in 1991 a manual on the implementation of these principles.8 According to paragraph 9 of the UN Principles, “the broad purpose of an inquiry is to discover the truth about the events leading to the suspicious death of a victim.”
In 2005, the U.N. General Assembly affirmed the duty of states to provide victims of human rights violations with “full and effective reparation… which include[s]… where applicable… [v]erification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth” and “[i]nclusion of an accurate account of the violations that occurred in international human rights law and international humanitarian law training and in educational material at all levels.”9
The Inter-American Court for the Protection of Human Rights (IACtHR) has through its jurisprudence given substance to the concept of the right to truth: “[T]he right to the truth is subsumed in the right of the victim or his next of kin to obtain clarification of the events that violated human rights and the corresponding responsibilities from the competent organs of the State, through the investigation and prosecution that are established in Articles 8 and 25 of the Convention.”10 In 1998, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has for first time recognised that the right to truth belongs to members of society at large as well as to the families of victims of human rights violations.11
In its 2007 report on the right to the truth, the Human Rights Council linked this right with the need to combat impunity, to achieve justice and to provide remedy to victims.12
3. The duty to investigate: A derivative of the right to truth
States are, under international human rights law, under the duty to investigate within their respective jurisdictions “all cases of killing and other suspicious death, whether the perpetrators were private persons or State agents or are unknown.”13 The Basic Principles (2005) set out the specific obligation to investigate violations in the context of the overall obligation to ensure respect for human rights: “The obligation to respect, ensure respect for and implement international human rights law and international humanitarian law… includes, inter alia, the duty to… [i]nvestigate violations effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially and, where appropriate, take action against those allegedly responsible in accordance with domestic and international law.”14
Before the adoption of the Basic Principles (2005), the U.N. Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), in its General Comment no. 31, pointed out that states are under the duty to protect individuals subject to their jurisdiction,
not just against violations of the [ICCPR] by [their] agents, but also against acts committed by private persons or entities that would impair the enjoyment of Covenant rights… There may be circumstances in which a failure to ensure Covenant rights..would give rise to violations by States Parties of those rights, as a result of States Parties’ permitting or failing to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities.15
Part III of the United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, based on a Model Protocol for a Legal Investigation drafted by the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee (hence, “The Minnesota Protocol”),16 lists desirable procedures of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a suspicious death. These include, inter alia, specific tasks to be accomplished at the crime scene, the processing of evidence, avenues of investigation and identification and interviews of witnesses. The ‘Minnesota Protocol’ also provides a guideline for the establishment of independent commissions of inquiry and the performance of autopsies. States can, therefore, avail themselves of such guidelines, if they desire to fulfill in good faith their international obligations.
4. Standards of investigation
While states are under the obligation to investigate violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, they sometimes attempt to avoid investigations which might embarrass or implicate high officials. In order to cover up official complicity, states sometimes stage an investigation designed to fail. The IACtHR explicitly warned against this eventuality: “[T]he State has the duty to commence ex officio and without delay, a serious, fair, and effective investigation which is not undertaken as a mere formality condemned in advance to be fruitless.”17
The notion, that failure to effectively investigate arbitrary killings could itself be a violation of human rights, has been confirmed in numerous judgements by the ECtHR. In its judgements the court addressed five to six criteria which allow a relatively objective evaluation of the effectiveness of an investigation, namely: promptness, thoroughness, impartiality (or objectivity), independence and transparency.
4.1 Effectiveness of investigations
The requirement of effectiveness of investigations has been addressed by the ECtHR in numerous court judgements. A review of these judgements reveals that the Court uses the terms “effective” and “adequate”interchangeably. While the term “effective” is sometimes used to imply an obligation of result,18 the Court also refers to it as an obligation of means.19 The Court thus considered that “the nature and degree of scrutiny which satisfies the minimum threshold of [an] investigation’s effectiveness depends on the circumstances of the particular case. It must be assessed on the basis of all relevant facts and with regard to the practical realities of investigation work. It is not possible to reduce the variety of situations which might occur to a bare check-list of acts of investigation or other simplified criteria.”20 In determining whether effective investigations of alleged violations of human rights had taken place, the Court examines whether these investigations had been prompt, thorough, impartial (or objective), independent and sufficiently transparent.
While human rights courts generally avoid implying that ineffective investigations of human rights violations represent deliberate obstruction or a cover-up by the state, the ECtHR expressed its view in Musayev and Others v Russia that “the astonishing ineffectiveness of the prosecuting authorities… can only be qualified as acquiescence in the events.”21
The ECtHR has also considered that a violation by a government of the right to life can be inferred from the failure by the government to provide “a plausible explanation… as to the reasons why indispensable acts of investigation have not been performed.”22
4.2 Promptness of investigations
The necessity of promptly investigating an alleged violation of the right to life “may generally be regarded as essential in maintaining public confidence in their adherence to the rule of law and in preventing any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts.”23 The passage of time “inevitably erode[s] the amount and quality of the evidence available and the appearance of a lack of diligence will cast doubt on the good faith of the investigative efforts, as well as drag out the ordeal for the members of the family.”24 A substantial delay in the investigation may, therefore, constitute “a breach of the obligation to exercise exemplary diligence and promptness.”24
4.3 Thoroughness of investigations
A crucial feature for an adequate investigation of human rights violations is its thoroughness. According to paragraph 9 of the UN Principles:
There shall be thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including cases in which complaints by relatives or other reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above circumstances…. The Purpose of the investigation shall be to determine the cause, manner and time of death, the person responsible, and any pattern or practice, which may have brought about that death.25
The ECtHR inferred the lack of thoroughness from a garden-variety of omissions by the investigating authorities, such as failure to take reasonable steps to secure evidence;26 ignorance of obvious evidence (failure to “connect the dots”);27 failure to collect all the evidence that could have clarified the sequence of events;28 failure to report troubling facts;28 failure to interrogate certain people or to ask certain questions in interrogations;29 failure to ascertain possible eye-witnesses and failing to search for corroborating evidence;30 failure to ascertain whether certain reported documents in fact existed;31 failure to clarify important inconsistencies;32 failure to consider alternative hypotheses for unnatural death;33 lack of explanations for irregularities;34 failure to preserve evidence at the scene (of the crime) and taking all relevant measurements;35 and failure to inquire about motives.36
4.4 Independence of investigations
The U.N. Human Rights Committee emphasises the need that investigations be carried out “through independent and impartial bodies.”37
The U.N. Principles specify that
[g]overnments shall pursue investigations through an independent commission of inquiry or similar procedure. Members of such a commission shall be chosen for their recognised impartiality, competence and independence as individuals. In particular, they shall be independent of any institution, agency or person that may be the subject of the inquiry. The commission shall have the authority to obtain all information necessary to the inquiry and shall conduct the inquiry as provided in these principles.38
The ECtHR also mentioned the necessity “for the persons responsible for and carrying out the investigation to be independent from those implicated in the events”.39 The Court added: “This means not only a lack of hierarchical or institutional connection but also a practical independence.”39
4.5 Impartiality of investigations
Impartiality, according to the ECtHR, requires that investigators, with an open mind, examine all relevant evidence, including evidence that contradicts their “firm conviction”40 and include in the scope of their investigation the possibility of official involvement in the crime, particularly when they are put on notice about suspicious activities by official entities.41 The obligation of impartiality can also be violated by judiciously restricting an investigative mandate to predefined outcomes.
In order to ensure the impartiality of an investigation, witnesses “shall be protected from… any… form of intimidation”42 , particularly by state officials.
4.6 Transparency of investigations
According to paragraph 16 of the UN Principles “[f]amilies of the deceased and their legal representatives shall be informed of, and have access to, any hearing as well as to all information relevant to the investigation, and shall be entitled to present other evidence.”43
The reporting requirements of an investigation are also spelled out in the UN Principles:
A written report shall be made within a reasonable period of time on the methods and findings of such investigations. The report shall be made public immediately and shall include the scope of the inquiry, procedures and methods used to evaluate evidence as well as conclusions and recommendations based on findings of fact and on applicable law. The report shall also describe in detail specific events that were found to have occurred and the evidence upon which such findings were based, and list the names of witnesses who testified, with the exception of those whose identities have been withheld for their own protection. The Government shall, within a reasonable period of time, either reply to the report of the investigation, or indicate the steps to be taken in response to it.44
The ECtHR explicitly related the need for transparency of investigations to the democratic right of official accountability:
Remedies must be effective in practice, not just in theory, with a sufficient element of public scrutiny to ensure true accountability. In particular, alleged violations of the right to life deserve the most careful scrutiny. Where events lie wholly or largely within exclusive knowledge of the authorities…strong presumptions of fact will arise in respect of injuries and death, which occur. Indeed, the burden of proof may be regarded as resting on the authorities to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation.45
5. The mass killings of 11 September 2001: A gross violation of the right to life
The mass killings of 11 September 2001 (“9/11″) were a gross violation of the right to life of approximately 3,000 human beings. It follows that the United States, as state party to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, is under the obligation to provide an “effective remedy” to the victims of 9/11,46 including their right to an effective investigation of these violations.
To the extent that these mass killings were also a crime against humanity, the United States government has, by U.N. resolution 3074 (XXVIII) of 1973, pledged to investigate such crimes. And by voting for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001), the United States also pledged “to work together [with other states] urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors” of the crime of 9/11.
Violations by the United States of international treaties to which it is party, such as the failure to investigate violations of human rights committed within its jurisdiction, are not at this point enforceable against the United States in any international court. The lack of international enforcement does not, however, void the international responsibility of the United States for its violations of obligations under international law47 nor relieve the U.S. authorities of their moral responsibility to establish the truth on 9/11.
6. The official account of 9/11
On September 11, 2001, the entire world witnessed on television the impact of an aircraft crashing on the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, the ensuing fires and the subsequent and sudden disintegration of both towers. Television and other media provided non-stop coverage about rescue efforts and presented live testimonies of survivors, eyewitnesses, rescue workers, fire fighters and law enforcement personnel. In addition to what was shown live on television, numerous people witnessed and experienced the events in person. After seeing a second aircraft impacting the World Trade Center, it was evident that this was no accident, but a deliberate attack aimed to destroy and kill.
Approximately 20 minutes after being informed that a second aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush, exiting a school class, announced to the world that the United States was under attack.48 In his TV address he said: “Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.”49 Such wording was not self-evident: Neither at that moment nor later, did President Bush or his aides possess any evidence that the aircraft seen crashing on the WTC had come from abroad.
On 12 September 2001, the U.S. Congress adopted by acclaim a resolution that contained the following factual assertions:
• The events of the previous day had been “attacks against” the United States;
• Terrorists had “hijacked and destroyed” four civilian aircraft;
• The attacks “destroyed both towers of the World Trade Center”; and
• The attacks were intended “to intimidate our Nation and weaken its resolve.”50
There was nothing extraordinary for the Congress to condemn the mass-murder of the previous day, express its sympathy to the victims and their families and commend the valiant efforts of rescue teams and first responders. Numerous governments and international bodies did so immediately without suggesting how, by whom and why the mass-murder was executed.51 What distinguished the congressional resolution from numerous similar resolutions was the specificity of the factual allegations it included. Despite ample time for debates, Congress members displayed a surprising lack of curiosity about the actual events of the previous day. No member of Congress demanded concrete evidence in support of the allegations he or she was asked to endorse. Instead, one after the other rose to pledge his or her unreserved support for the President, designate the events as an act of war and call for foreign military operations against the unidentified aggressors and their alleged hosts. Some members of Congress actually warned against treating the events as a crime because, as Senator Jeff Sessions, explained, “As a Federal prosecutor, I know about the difficulties that have to be overcome to prosecute a person and convict them beyond a reasonable doubt. You don’t have that burden when you are in war.”52
Already from the first hour, mass media published horrid details about the events – partly based on leaks from unidentified public and airline officials – and had talking heads speculating about the identities of the perpetrators and their masterminds. On 14 September the main features of the official account on 9/11 were finalised prior to any investigation and remained since that day engraved in stone. These can be summarised in a few sentences:
Nineteen Arab Muslim fanatics boarded four aircraft in the morning of 11 September 2001. Five of them boarded flight AA11 that departed from Boston; five boarded UA175 that also departed from Boston; five boarded flight AA77 that departed from Dulles Airport, Washington, D.C.; and four boarded flight UA93 that departed from Newark International Airport. These four terrorist teams, each led by a trained pilot, hijacked the aircraft in mid-air with knives, removed the pilots of the aircraft from their seats and flew the aircraft into buildings, killing themselves, the passengers and the crew. They flew the aircraft designated as flight AA11 into the North Tower, flight UA175 into the South Tower, flight AA77 into the Pentagon and attempted to crash flight UA93 into the White House but did not succeed to carry out their plan due to the uprising of the passengers. That aircraft then crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The hijackers were swiftly identified as having links to al-Qa’ida. Osama bin Laden later admitted to have personally selected them for these specific attacks.
Public authorities are, despite thorough investigations, sometimes unable to identify perpetrators or determine the circumstances of a crime. In the case of 9/11, U.S. authorities swiftly named the suspects,53 designated the tools of the crime as the aircraft assigned to flights AA11, AA77, UA175 , and UA93, and presented a detailed narrative of the circumstances surrounding the events. Due to the traumatic nature of the events, few noticed at the time the absence of hard evidence in support of these allegations. Even as the U.S. went to war against Afghanistan, the U.S. government failed to provide hard evidence to the United Nations which would link that country to the events of 9/11. In its letter to the Security Council, John D. Negroponte, the representative of the United States wrote: “[M]y Government has obtained clear and compelling information that the Al-Qaeda organization, which is supported by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, had a central role in the attacks. There is still much we do not know. Our inquiry is in its early stages. We may find that our self-defense requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other States.”54 In a confidential wire sent by the State Department on October 1, 2001 to all U.S. embassies around the world, embassy officials were informed that “the United States is not obliged in any way to make any kind of showing as a prerequisite or precondition to the exercise of its right of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, whether now or in the future”.55 As these lines are being written in late 2012, the United States has failed to produce evidence linking Afghanistan to the events of 9/11.
7. No urgency to investigate
On 12 September 2001 U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in a press conference that the Department of Justice “has undertaken perhaps the most massive and intensive investigation ever conducted in this country.”56 Yet, while making this announcement, he paradoxically added that the investigation was not an FBI priority. The Washington Post described Ashcroft’s caveat as follows:
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III began to describe the investigation underway to identify those responsible for hijacking the four airplanes the day before. Mueller said it was essential not to taint any evidence gathered so that if accomplices were arrested, they could be convicted. But Attorney General John D. Ashcroft interrupted him. Let’s stop the discussion right here, he said. The chief mission of U.S. law enforcement, he added, is to stop another attack and apprehend any accomplices or terrorists before they hit us again. If we can’t bring them to trial, so be it.57
While Ashcroft and Mueller held their press conference, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer held a press gaggle at the White House, during which he declared that the risks of another attack were “significantly reduced”. He explained to the baffled attendance – citing unidentified intelligence sources – that “the perpetrators have executed their plan”.58 Fleischer’s statement, implying that the White House knew the planned scope of the attacks, was included in an Associated Press news report and reported in some media outlets59 but the transcript of this press gaggle, originally found on the website of the Department of State,58 is, for unknown reasons, not posted on the White House’s website.
As if Ashcroft’s statement of 12 September was not sufficiently clear, on 9 October 2001 – merely four weeks after the events – the New York Times revealed that John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller had actually “ordered [FBI] agents to drop their investigation of the attacks or any other assignment any time they learn of a threat or lead that might suggest a future attack.” A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said to the paper: “The investigative staff has to be made to understand that we’re not trying to solve a crime now.”60 Note that FBI agents were not asked to drop their 9/11 investigation only when a genuine and grave threat existed, but when they learn of any threat or lead that might suggest a future attack. Indeed, a new threat came soon to replace 9/11 in the minds of many Americans.
On 18 September 2001, letters laced with deadly anthrax began appearing in the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed and 17 were sickened in what became the worst biological attacks in U.S. history.61 This campaign prompted the FBI to start a new investigation, dubbed Amerithrax, designated by the FBI as “one of the largest and most complex in the history of law enforcement.”61 The FBI downplayed the fact that the unidentified mailer had included in the mailing the messages “Death to America”, “Death to Israel” and ”Allah is Great”.62 After initially toying with the temptation to attribute the mailings to Iraq, U.S. authorities finally admitted that the anthrax originated from a unique pool of spore preparations maintained at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Maryland.63 Initially a scientist by the name of Dr. Hatfill was maligned as the main suspect for these mailings. Eventually a certain Dr. Bruce Ivins, who was about to be charged for mailing these anthrax samples, was said to have committed suicide.64 His alleged suicide relieved the U.S. authorities from the burden to prove his guilt and reveal his motives and accomplices. The anthrax story then disappeared from the news.
Interest in the 9/11 investigation disappeared. Americans focussed on the war. While Osama bin Laden was on everyone’s lips on 9/11, he soon disappeared from presidential speeches. In March 2002, President Bush, asked by a journalist why he rarely mentions Osama bin Laden, answered: “Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not; we haven’t heard from him in a long time… You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.”65 In 2006 the FBI admitted that the agency has no hard evidence connecting Osama bin Laden to 9/11.66
8. Omitted investigations
We begin by listing some investigations that should have been, but were not, carried out.
8.1 No aircraft crash investigation
Mary Schiavo, former Assistant Secretary of Labor and former Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation, highlighted in her testimony before the 9/11 Commission the failure of conducting an investigation of the aircraft crashes that occurred on 9/11:
In every other aviation disaster, including those precipitated by terrorism or aviation crimes or piracy, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] examined the tragedy and issued technical, operational and policy recommendations to our government, the airlines, airports, and others. The NTSB does this to enable us to correct the lapses that permitted the tragedy to occur. (…) No such NTSB investigation occurred nor is forthcoming to examine the 9/11 crashes.67
The NTSB explains on its website why it did not conduct an aircraft crash investigation regarding 9/11:
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Safety Board provided requested technical assistance to the FBI, and this material generated by the NTSB is under the control of the FBI. The Safety Board does not plan to issue a report or open a public docket.68
Two years before 9/11, the Statutory Code of the NTSB was amended by an Act of Congress, which empowered the Attorney General to shift investigative priority from the NTSB to the FBI when an aircraft crash is suspected to have been caused by an intentional criminal act.69 The FBI, contrary to the NTSB, does not hold public hearings, is not required by statute to conduct investigations, and is not obliged to publish reports on its investigations.
8.2 No investigation of air defence failures
According to the official account, four large passenger aircraft, allegedly hijacked on the morning of 9/11, deviated from their planned flight paths,70 switched off their transponders (thus concealing their identities and altitudes from air traffic control)71 and flew unobserved for varying durations without being intercepted by air defences.72 The explanation provided by the authorities for this failure was that that the multiple hijackings had confused air defences. Yet interceptions of deviating aircraft had been a routine procedure. In the year 2000 this routine was carried out 129 times without hitch.73 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed to the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 2004 that the Department of Defense did not conduct an “after-action review” regarding the apparent failure to intercept the allegedly hijacked aircraft.74
Part of the confusion derived undoubtedly from the fact that air traffic controllers had to contend with far more than four suspected hijackings on the morning of 9/11. According to the 9/11 Commission, there were “multiple erroneous reports of hijacked aircraft in the system” over the course of the morning of 9/11.75 According to the Daily Telegraph, “as many as nine aircraft may have been part of the original plot”.75
NORAD Major General Larry Arnold declared that, on the morning of 9/11, a total of 21 planes had been identified as possible hijackings.76 He reiterated this statement later in an interview with the 9/11 Commission, which did not mention it in its Final Report.77 Colonel Robert Marr, the NEADS battle commander, said he was informed that “across the nation there were some 29 different reports of hijackings.”78 Apart from the four aircraft designated as the “death flights”—AA11, AA77, UA175 and UA93— the following flight numbers were reported as suspected hijackings at some point during September 11, 2001: AAL2247, USA41, DAL89, DAL1989, NWA197, UAL641, UAL57, USA633,79 UAL163,80 UAL177,81 Continental 321,82 AA189,83 and KAL85.84 This list is far from exhaustive. In at least three cases (flights Continental 321, KAL85 and USA930 [or USA937]), the suspected aircraft emitted a hijacking code, for which no explanation was given. No interviews of the pilots of these flights could be found and their identities are suppressed.
There was a good reason for the above confusion, although this was not reported at the time: On the morning of 9/11, the U.S. Military scheduled multiple war games (or exercises, or drills) in the very air space where the actual crashes took place. At least one of these exercises included a live-fly hijacking exercise.85 The Final Report of the 9/11 Commission mentions such an exercise in passing, in connection with a notification received by NEADS at 8:37:52, saying that flight AA11 “had been hijacked”. The following conversation is quoted by the Commission:
FAA: Hi. Boston Center TMU (Traffic Management Unit), we have a problem here. We have a hijacked aircraft headed towards New York, and we need you guys to, we need someone to scramble some F-16s or something up there, help us out.
NEADS: Is this real-world or exercise?
FAA: No, this is not an exercise, not a test.86
As part of these exercises, electronic blips representing simulated hijacked aircraft appeared on the radars of air traffic controllers, leading them to wonder whether the blips they saw moving on their screens belonged to phantom aircraft, real aircraft participating in the exercises or ordinary commercial aircraft. Similar exercises had been conducted just days prior to 9/11, all working with the scenario of terrorists hijacking a London to New York flight with plans to detonate explosives over New York.86
Upon receiving notification from Boston regarding the possible hijacking of flight AA11 NEADS commander Col. Robert Marr asked if the notification was part of the exercise. Lt. Col. Dawne Deskins also received word of the possible hijacking from Boston. She, too, initially assumed it must be part of the exercise. Thinking the reported hijacking was part of the exercise, Major Kevin Nasypany reportedly said, “[t]he hijack’s not supposed to be for another hour.”87 Even Major General Arnold said later that, when he first heard of the hijacking, his first thought was to ask, “Is this part of the exercise?”88
Upon observing his personnel reacting to the news of the hijacking, Col. Marr reportedly thought the day’s exercise was “kicking off with a lively, unexpected twist.” Even after a colleague informed him of the situation – “real life, not part of the exercise” – he continued to believe his colleague was playing a part in the exercise by attempting to mislead him. Marr said he thought that “this is an interesting start to the exercise. This ‘real-world’ mixed in with today’s simex [simulated exercise] will keep [my staff members] on their toes.”89 The expression “real-world exercises”, is actually a military expression referring to exercises using real objects, weapons and people, as distinct from table-top, office, exercises. It does not refer to genuine attacks.90 Even more surprising is that inside the command centre at NEADS, “there was no sense that the attack was over with the crash of United 93; instead, the alarms go on and on. False reports of hijackings… continue well into the afternoon.” No explanation has been given for these continuing alarms.
No investigation was carried out to determine the relationship between these multiple “real-world” hijacking exercises and the deadly events. None of the following questions were asked by media or addressed by the 9/11 Commission: Who coordinated the exercises? What were the scenarios on 9/11? Which airlines and which aircraft participated in the hijacking exercises? Who played the role of hijacked passengers in these exercises?
8.3 No investigation of WTC pulverisation
Of approximately 2,700 people who died at the World Trade Center, no trace has been found of more than 1,100 victims, “not even a fragment of bone”.91 The mother of Michael Ragusa, a victim at Ground Zero, could not fathom that there is “no trace of so many people. It can’t happen that way… People don’t just disappear.”92
According to Dr. Charles Hirsch, the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, many bodies had been “vaporized” and were beyond identification.93 Ellen Borakove, his spokesperson, said he meant that bodies were consumed by blazing fuel from the two crashed airliners, or “rendered into dust” when the skyscrapers collapsed.93 Dr. Hirsch refused to comment upon that statement. He later offered an explanation that left much unsaid: “[I]f reinforced concrete was rendered into dust, then it wasn’t much of a mystery as to what would happen to people.”94
Virtually all non-metallic parts of the towers and their contents were converted to microscopic dust particles or small unrecognisable fragments. According to the Scientific American,
[t]he collapse of the Twin Towers pulverized and then scattered into the air millions of tons of cement, steel, drywall, window glass and other building materials. It also crushed and incinerated95 thousands of computers as well as mile after mile of items such as electrical cable and heating and cooling ducts. Finally, the dust contained the remains of the 2,753 people killed in the attack,96 along with the hair and skin cells shed by those who worked in the World Trade Center over the decades.97
Eyewitnesses indeed expressed their surprise that they did not observe in the rubble of the WTC evidence of file cabinets, desks, chairs, telephones, office furniture and even glass that filled the buildings.98 Each of the Twin Towers had a total of eight electrical substations and each substation had four air-cooled transformers.99 Nothing was ever found of this equipment in the WTC rubble.
The pulverisation of the buildings was so immense and widespread that according to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), 20,000-30,000 residences in Lower Manhattan were still in 2003 eligible to have private contractors hired by New York City clean all hard surfaces, rugs, carpets, curtains, drapes, upholstered furnishings, air conditioner units, exterior balconies and terraces, exterior window ledges and window guards. By January 2003 only 6,700 had been cleaned.100
While the dust particles may contain the key for determining the proximate cause of death of 1,100 human beings, no investigation was carried out to find out what energy source could have caused the massive, total and instantaneous pulverisation of the Twin Towers101 and their contents into such microscopic dust.102
9. Inadequate investigations
Some investigations or inquiries regarding 9/11 were conducted and funded by the U.S. authorities. Only those which purported to examine the actual events of 9/11 will be considered here.103 The 9/11 Commission’s investigative records are meanwhile stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. (NARA), but the majority of these records are still sealed.104 Those released are not easily accessible online but have been posted in an accessible form on a private website. They will be mentioned in this study by their folder (Team and Box number).105
9.1 FBI’s criminal investigation (PENTTBOM)
When federal crimes occur, such as on 9/11, the main investigative entity in the United States is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Notwithstanding the low priority assigned to the investigation, as mentioned earlier, the FBI took upon itself to investigate the events of 9/11 as a crime and dubbed its investigation PENTTBOM. The precise mandate given to FBI supervisors and agents for their investigation is not known.
9.1.1 The lack of FBI independence
Organisationally, the FBI reports to both the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. FBI’s Director since 9/11 has been Robert S. Mueller, III, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate. The FBI is, therefore, constitutionally, part and parcel of the executive branch. To the extent that elements of the U.S. executive branch were suspected to be involved in the crime of 9/11, the FBI could not act as an independent investigator. Reasons to consider the U.S. government as one of the suspects arose early on for numerous reasons, such as the unusual speed of “identifying the perpetrators”, drafting and adopting the PATRIOT Act, initiating a global “war on terrorism”, attacking Afghanistan, and opposing an investigation of the crime. Such suspicions grew with time. According to a July 2006 poll conducted by Scripps News Service, no less than one-third of Americans suspected that the Bush administration either facilitated the 9/11 attacks or allowed them to happen in order to provide a pretext for wars in the Middle East.106 In the light of such extensive suspicions of the Bush administration, an independent investigation of 9/11 could not have been adequately conducted by an agency dependent on the U.S. government.
9.1.2 The lack of transparency
On 18 April 2002, the FBI invited victims’ families to listen to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from Flight UA93. The recording was supposed to contain the voices of the alleged hijackers after they took over the control of the aircraft, as well as voices of crew members. Department of Justice prosecutors “exhorted families not to describe the tapes’ contents because they will be played as evidence in the terrorism conspiracy trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.”107 FBI agents “asked the relatives to surrender all cell phones, palm pilots and pagers to prevent the recording of any of the day’s proceedings.”107 After the session, the family members left “under the escort of New Jersey state troopers and federal agents, who walked them to their cars and shielded them from reporters.”107 The CVR recording was played during the Moussaoui trial at the specific request of the prosecution in order to emotionally affect the jury.108 The trial judge decided, upon the request of an unidentified family member, to reseal the recording after it was played. While an alleged transcript of this CVR recording was released by the U.S. authorities, the recording itself was not released. It is, therefore, not possible to verify the authenticity of the transcript.
In 2004, the FBI agreed to play recordings of some phone calls from the aircraft to victims’ families. They had to “sign nondisclosure agreements and were not permitted to take notes. Civil attorneys and the media were barred. FBI agents filled the halls of the hotel [where the presentation took place] and took any camera or recording equipment before people were admitted to the (presentation). Those who left the three-and-a-half-hour session to relieve themselves were accompanied into rest rooms by agents.”109
According to published accounts, the FBI possesses recordings of phone calls made from the aircraft by five callers.109 The only recordings released to the public were four minutes of a lengthy phone call reportedly made by flight attendant Betty Ong from flight AA11110 and a short phone call by flight attendant CeeCee Lyles.111
Until the year 2006, the FBI refused to release video evidence in its possession that would document flight AA77 impacting on the Pentagon. At first the FBI claimed that it did not possess such documents. Later the Department of Justice admitted it did possess such documents but refused to release them, claiming that this “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings”112 On 16 May, 2006, the Pentagon released two videos that American media described as “the first video images of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the Pentagon.” It is, with the best will, impossible to distinguish an aircraft from this video, let alone to identify it. The Pentagon still refuses to release 83 other videos from security cameras surrounding the building.113
The FBI appears to pursue a policy of denying systematically Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests for 9/11-related documents, even those which have been released previously. For example, on 16 April 2012, the FBI denied FOIA requests for copies of documents 302-1880 and 302-3005, which are already publicly available from the National Archives (NARA),114 claiming that their release “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.” FBI’s denial was affirmed on appeal by the Office of Information Policy of the Department of Justice and signed by Janice Galli McLeod, Associated Director and Anne D. Work, Senior Counsel.114
Whereas the FBI failed to issue a public a report describing PENTTBOM,115 mass media demonstrated a surprising lack of interest in the investigation. Only a single report on PENTTBOM was published by a major media, and this was in 2004.116 The following paragraph is all what the FBI has released to the public about the investigation it had designated as the largest in the agency’s history:
Our… investigation of the attacks of 9/11 – code-named “PENTTBOM” – was our largest investigation ever. At the peak of the case, more than half our agents worked to identify the hijackers and their sponsors and, with other agencies, to head off any possible future attacks. We followed more than half-a-million investigative leads, including several hundred thousand tips from the public. The attack and crash sites also represented the largest crime scenes in FBI history.117
9.1.3 No prosecutions
One of the goals of an effective investigation is to identify those responsible for a gross violation of human rights and bring them to trial. According to the CIA, its “officers worked with foreign intelligence services to detain more than 2,900 al-Qa’ida operatives and associates in over 90 countries” in the aftermath of 9/11.118 Yet as of this writing, not a single “al-Qa’ida operative”, or anyone else for that matter, has been prosecuted, anywhere, for organising or participating in the mass killings of 9/11. The striking paucity of 9/11 prosecutions was duly noted by prominent lawyer Helen Duffy.119
The only person convicted in the United States in relation to the events of 9/11 is a mentally disturbed French national by the name of Zacarias Moussaoui. Although he was not accused to have participated in planning, organising, funding or facilitating 9/11, and although he helped relieve the U.S. government from the burden to prove its 9/11 account by stipulating the truthfulness of this account, he was thanked for his help by being sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.120
9.2 The first investigation of the WTC demise (FEMA-BPAT)
On 12 September 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its contractor, Greenhorne and O’Mara, Inc., established a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) to conduct a formal analysis of what they predetermined as the “progressive collapses” of the buildings.121 The involvement of FEMA in this investigation was not self-evident. The traditional mission of the agency was to help “State and local governments… alleviate the suffering and damage which result from… disasters.”122 In February 2001, President Bush nominated Joe M. Allbaugh, formerly director of his election campaign and one of his inner circle of advisors, as Director of FEMA.123 After nominating his friend Allbaugh to head FEMA, President Bush announced that FEMA would expand its responsibility to include government response to terrorist attacks.124 In the wake of the 9/11 events, Allbaugh appointed Dr. W. Gene Corley of Construction Technologies Laboratories to head the BPAT team.125 Dr. Corley had previously served as the principal investigator of the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City,125 another criminal event still marred by unanswered questions and suspicions of an official cover-up.126
The deployment of the FEMA-BPAT team was delayed for three weeks, during which a “significant amount of steel debris – including most of the steel from the upper floors – was removed from the rubble pile, cut into small sections, and either melted at the recycling plant or shipped out of the U.S.”127 According to some members of the team, they had been “prevented… from interviewing witnesses, examining the disaster site and requesting crucial information such as recorded distress calls to the police and fire departments.”128 Members of the team were also threatened with dismissal if they spoke to the press.128
The final report of the FEMA-BPAT investigation was released in May 2002.129 Bill Manning, chief editor of Fire Engineering, called the FEMA-BPAT investigation “a half-baked farce that may already have been commandeered by political forces whose primary interests, to put it mildly, lie far afield of full disclosure.”130
The FEMA-BPAT investigation left many questions regarding the demise of the buildings unanswered, and ignored most signs of the use of explosives. It started with a predetermined conclusion, namely that the buildings underwent a “progressive collapse” and fit its findings to that conclusion.
9.3 The second investigation of the WTC demise (NIST)
A thorough investigation of the demise of the World Trade Center buildings was called for because of two distinct reasons:
(a) In view of the criminal nature of the events, it was necessary to establish what led to the deaths of approximately 2,700 people, and most particularly the complete disappearance of approximately 1,100 people.
(b) Due to the unprecedented demise of high-rise steel-reinforced buildings, it was extremely important for the structural engineering community to determine what caused the structural failure on a single day of three such buildings, including one that was not hit by an aircraft (WTC no. 7).
NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology) was founded in 1901, as a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce.131 NIST directors are presidential nominees. NIST is no academic institution but part and parcel of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, involved even in national security issues.132
On August 21, 2002, NIST announced the initiation of its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster. This investigation was then conducted under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, which was signed into law on October 1, 2002.133
While the investigation by NIST was funded by the Government and was promoted as a scientific effort, no part of any report resulting from NIST’s investigation was to be admitted as evidence or used in any suit or action for damages. Additionally, NIST employees involved with these investigations were not permitted to serve as expert witnesses.134
A draft summary report of the NIST investigation into the demise of the Twin Towers was released on June 23, 2005. Dr. Hratch Semerjian, Acting Director of NIST, presenting this report, characterised NIST’s investigation as “thorough, open, independent.”135
According to the official account, as presented in the Final Reports of the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster conducted by NIST,136 the Twin Towers collapsed due to structural failure caused by the fires and the damage from the aircraft’s impact. The $16 million study by NIST, released in September 2005, represents the official position of the U.S. government regarding the demise of the Twin Towers.
Because NIST was not an independent body, but an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, its official findings had to be approved by a Presidential appointee.
NIST’s investigation was relatively transparent because it invited public comments to its draft reports and published voluminous findings of its investigation. However, not everyone viewed NIST’s investigation as transparent. Sally Regenhard, Chairperson of Skyscraper Safety Campaign, a Project of Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims,137 said in her Statement to the House Committee on Science in 2005:
The relative secrecy of the [NIST] investigation, and the withholding of all materials and documents used by NIST to arrive at the study’s conclusions is very disturbing. These materials should be made available to professionals for further study and analysis, to question and/or duplicate the findings, according to the scientific method, and should not be locked away in the National Archives or anywhere else.138
Was NIST’s investigation thorough?
The scope of NIST’s investigation was limited to the circumstances leading to the buildings’ demise. What occurred during the demise remained outside the scope of NIST’s investigation. This was by no means an oversight. The Draft Report published in June 2005 explicitly says that the report “covers the characterization of the conditions of the WTC towers before the attacks, their weakening due to the aircraft impacts, the response of the structural systems to the subsequent growth and spread of fires, and the progression of local failures that led ultimately to the total collapse of both towers.”139 NIST’s report does not, therefore, contain an examination of the actual demise, let alone the puzzling observations and testimonies that accompanied that demise, described as collapse. Already in this respect, NIST’s investigation must fail the test of thoroughness.
Jim Hoffman, who compared the Draft Report and the Final Report of NIST, provides a fine-grained analysis of NIST’s deceptive efforts. In a section of his study entitled ‘Circumscribing the Investigation’ he wrote: “The Report explicitly limits its scope to the time between the jet impact and the start of the collapse of each Tower… The extent of NIST’s explanation for the totality of the collapses and their many demolition-like features is simply that the total collapse was ‘inevitable’ once a collapse event was ‘initiated’.”140
Hoffman points out that the main difference between the Draft and the Final Report “is the addition in the Final Report of Section 6.14.4, Events Following Collapse Initiation, which consists of five paragraphs filling half a page.” In order to explain why it did not investigate the actual ‘collapse’, the Final Report explains: “Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos. As the stories below sequentially failed, the falling mass increases, further increasing the demand of the floors below, which were unable to arrest the moving mass.”141
Leaving readers wondering how NIST came to the above conclusion, let alone whether such an explanation is compatible with the laws of physics, let us examine how NIST addressed the following facts, observed by numerous witnesses, that strongly indicate the use of explosives to demolish the buildings:
1. Witnesses reported that ground shaking preceded the demise of the towers;142
2. Observers, including television news anchors, reported that the demise visually resembled to controlled demolitions;143
3. The demise of the towers started suddenly rather than after gradual sagging144
4. More than 120 firefighters and first responders testified to have heard, seen or experienced multiple explosions that preceded and accompanied the demise of the Twin Towers145)
5. Large parts of the Twin Towers and their human contents turned instantaneously into dust in mid-air (what has been referred to as ‘pulverisation’);146
6. Heavy steel beams were ejected forcefully and horizontally from the Twin Towers;147
7. The Twin Towers and WTC no. 7 disintegrated symmetrically;148
8. WTC no. 7 fell at virtually free-fall speed;149
9. Pools of molten steel were discovered below Ground Zero and remained very hot for weeks;150
10. Unreacted thermitic material incorporating nanotechnology was discovered in the WTC dust.151
NIST investigators (and before them FEMA-BMAT) did not deny the above facts. They simply ignored them.
NIST’s ignorance of the above 10 characteristics of a controlled demolition proves that its investigation was neither professional nor thorough.152 Such ignorance constituted, in fact, a misprision of felony, i.e. the concealment of a felony committed by others. Misprision of felony is a federal offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to three years.153 NIST’s unprofessional investigation has prompted the establishment of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, an international organisation, that has meanwhile got more than 1,700 professional members.154 The mission of the organisation is “to research, compile, and disseminate scientific evidence relative to the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers, calling for a truly open and independent investigation and supporting others in the pursuit of justice.”154 No aspect of the 9/11 official account challenges professional expertise and physical law as much as the official explanation for the demise of the Twin Towers and WTC no. 7. According to a new study, it emerged that the International Code Council (ICC)’s International Building Code (IBC), did not adopt building code changes to increase structural resistance as a result of the demise of the WTC buildings and NIST’s findings.155 It clearly did not take seriously the findings of NIST regarding the demise of the World Trade Center.
9.4 The investigation by the 9/11 Commission
9.4.1 Government opposition to a public investigation
While public inquiries into past national calamities, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Titanic, the assassination of President Kennedy and the explosion of the Shuttle Challenger, were established within less than 10 days,156 the U.S. government opposed for more than a year a public inquiry of 9/11, or in today’s terminology, a Truth Commission.
On the first anniversary of 9/11, Jim Dwyer of the New York Times highlighted the difference between the reactions of the respective governments to 9/11 and to the sinking of the Titanic:
[F]indings on the sinking of the Titanic entered the public record after the Carpathia docked at the Chelsea piers in Manhattan on April 18, 1912, with the 705 survivors plucked from the North Atlantic. Starting the next morning at the Waldorf-Astoria, the barely dry witnesses provided a rich body of facts about the accident, the Titanic, and maritime practices to the United States Senate Commerce Committee, which held 18 days of hearing (…). No inquiry remotely similar in scope, energy or transparency has examined the attacks of last Sept. 11 … A handful of tightly focused reviews have taken place mostly in secret, conducted by private consultants, or by Congressional committees. One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic, which sank in the middle of an ocean in the dead of night.157
Patrick Martin of the World Socialist Web Site noted that “[d]espite its public show of sympathy for the victims and their families, the Bush administration is denying them what is their most basic right: a thorough investigation into the causes of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the circumstances in which they took place… This official stonewalling is the most staggering fact about September 11, one largely ignored by the American media.”158 He added that “there is no innocent explanation for the Bush administration’s [refusal of a public inquiry]. There are no national security secrets to protect about the details of the hijackings… Bush, Cheney & Co. conduct themselves like men with something to hide. Their methods of cover-up and provocation indicate a consciousness of guilt and fear of exposure.”158 These words were written in 2002.
According to Philip Shenon, whose book The Commission was reviewed in the New York Times in 2008, Dick Cheney called Tom Daschle, then the Senate majority leader, in January 2002 to warn him that a proper investigation of 9/11 would be a “very dangerous and time-consuming diversion for those of us who are on the front lines of our response today.”159
9.4.2 The establishment of a sham investigation
Due to pressure by victims’ families, supported by media and some members of Congress, President Bush relented and grudgingly permitted the establishment of a National Commission of Inquiry. On 15 November 2002 the U.S. Congress established the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, whose mandate was to “examine and report on the facts and causes relating to the September 11th terrorist attacks” and “make a full and complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the attacks.”160 By its very title – “Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” – the Commission’s work was to predicate upon the theory of a foreign attack.
In order to limit the Commission’s resources, it was initially accorded $3 million,161 a derisory sum in comparison with the $40 million price tag of the Kenneth Starr investigation into President Clinton’s relation with Monica Lewinsky162 or the $112 million spent by NASA to investigate the Columbia space shuttle tragedy in which seven people died.163 When asked for an additional $8 million for the 9/11 Commission’s work, President Bush initially refused the request.164
Under its mandate, drafted by Congress, the Commission were asked to “ascertain… facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks” developed by other agencies (paragraph 2 of Section 602), while at the same time “build[ing] upon the investigations of other entities”, such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, NTSB, FAA, NORAD, and “avoid unnecessary duplication” (paragraph 3). By this little noted device, the Commission could later justify its reliance on these agencies’ findings and avoid verifying their findings.
9.4.3 The 9/11 Commission’s lack of independence
Most members of the 9/11 Commission had a conflict of interest.165 The Commission’s Executive Director, Philip D. Zelikow, appointed by President Bush, had huge conflicts of interest that prompted the Family Steering Committee (a group of victims’ families) to repeatedly demand his removal.166 He managed the Commission’s staff, decided whom to interview and served as a gate-keeper between his staff and the Commissioners.167
Commissioner Tim Roemer discovered by chance that Zelikow had made a secret agreement with the Department of Justice to cut Commissioners’ access to documents from the Joint Congressional Inquiry168 until the White House was able to review them. Roemer was reportedly furious and asked: “Why is our executive director making secret deals with the Justice Department and the White House? He is supposed to work for us.”169
According to another secret agreement between the Zelikow and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Commission was required to advise DOJ in case it intends to interview individuals who appear on a list provided by the Government.170 The list, published as Annex X to the agreement, included persons who received phone communications from any passenger during the alleged hijacking of flights AA11, UA175, AA77, UA93; family members of victims of 9/11; a select group of crime scene witnesses, whose choice is not explained; medical examiners who worked on 9/11 victims/matters; American Airlines personnel who worked at Dulles [Airport] on 9/11 (but not AA personnel who worked at Logan Airport); instructors, owners, students, or employees of more than a dozen flight schools, who had contact with any of the hijackers; family members of Ziad Jarrah (but not of Mohamed Atta); [m]embers of the Islamic community in Hamburg, Germany, who had contact with Atta, al-Shehhi, Jarrah, Binalshibh, Essabar, Bahaji, El-Motassadeq; and many others. It was not explained why the Commission had to inform the Government about its intention to interview these particular individuals.
9.4.4 The 9/11 Commission’s partiality
As mentioned earlier, the very title of the Commission manifested its predetermined conclusion that the conspiracy of 9/11 originated outside the United States. By March 2003, before the Commission began its actual work, Executive Director Zelikow and his former professor Ernest May had already prepared a detailed outline of the final report, complete with chapter headings, subheadings, and sub-subheadings.171 Zelikow showed this outline to Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton, who were “worried that the outline would be seen as evidence that they – and Zelikow – had predetermined the report’s outcome.”171 May said that he and Zelikow agreed that the outline should be “treated as if it were the most classified document the commission possessed.”172 As summed by Prof. David Ray Griffin, the work of the 9/11 Commission began with “Kean and Hamilton conspiring with Zelikow and May to conceal from the [Commission’s] staff members… that their investigative work would largely be limited to filling in the details of [predetermined] conclusions.”173
9.4.5 The 9/11 Commission’s lack of thoroughness
A brief review below presents evidence that the 9/11 Commission did not conduct a thorough investigation and did not even intend to do so.
Several categories of persons were not invited to testify before the Commission. These include witnesses to a second, mysterious, aircraft above the crash site in Pennsylvania; witnesses who had reported explosions and other indications of a controlled demolition prior or during the demise of the Twin Towers; air traffic controllers confused by the military exercises on the morning of 9/11; individuals who met the alleged terrorist Mohamed Atta at various locations in the United States; airline employees who witnessed the boardings of the four aircraft; FBI officials responsible for the crash sites; personnel responsible for security at the World Trade Center; and many other eyewitnesses who possessed knowledge that would have undermined the official account.
According to the guidelines included in the “Minnesota Protocol,”174 a commission of inquiry established to investigate gross human rights violations “shall assess all information and evidence it receives to determine its relevance, veracity, reliability and probity.”175 In the case at hand, the Commission should have objectively determined the relevance, veracity, reliability and probity of allegations and findings presented by the various government agencies.
The 9/11 Commission, instead, relied heavily, as can be gauged from its Final Report, on irrelevant, unreliable and unverifiable information provided by the CIA, the FBI, the FAA and the Military. The Commission acknowledges that its “access to [al-Qa’ida detainees] has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place.” The Commission wrote that it “submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked.” Commission members were “[not] allowed to talk to the interrogators… to better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.”176 It appears that the 9/11 Commission engaged in good faith efforts to obtain access to the detainees and met stiff resistance by the government.177 Ultimately, however, entire chapters in the Final Report were based on these dubious sources.
The Commission did not verify FBI claims regarding the identification of the alleged hijackers of 9/11; neither did it request or obtain authenticated passenger lists or other documents that would have proven the identities of the alleged hijackers. This led, for example, to the claim by the Commission that Waleed Al-Shehri, one of the alleged hijackers, had stabbed a flight attendant aboard flight AA11 before dying in the crash.178 Yet Al-Shehri was kicking and alive in Morocco after 9/11, surprised to be designated as a terrorist.179 This was by no means a case of a simple mix-up: Al-Shehri acknowledged that he attended flight training school at Daytona Beach in the United States, and was indeed the same Waleed Al-Shehri to whom the FBI has been referring.179 He was actually not the only alleged hijacker who emerged alive after 9/11 in another country, and claimed no connection to the crime. The numerous press reports about these “living suicide hijackers” were not acknowledged or verified by the Commission.
The Commission also didn’t seek forensic evidence about the identities of the crashed aircraft. The Commission thus took on faith FBI claims that debris found at the alleged crash sites belonged to aircraft assigned to flights AA11, AA77, UA175 and UA93. It transpired later, thanks to a civil action instituted by Aidan Monaghan, a concerned citizen, at the Nevada District U.S. Court, that the FBI did not at all conduct a forensic identification of the wreckage. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Rose, representing the FBI, attempted to justify this omission by claiming in a written submission to the court: “The identities of the airplanes hijacked in the September 11 attacks was (sic) never in question.”180 Apart from the falsity of this statement181 and the admission that the FBI did not consider itself bound to formally identify the tools of a mass-murder, this incredible failure by the FBI was not reported to and by the 9/11 Commission, nor by U.S. media, leaving the public believing that such identification had certainly taken place.182
In a book specifically analysing the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, Prof. David Ray Griffin lists over 100 relevant facts omitted from that report, because their inclusion would have prompted doubts about the official account on 9/11.183 As for the thoroughness of the 9/11 Commission’s work, he wrote with subtle irony: “The report’s lack of thoroughness is, in fact, one of its outstanding characteristics.”184 I must concur.
9.5 Ineffective investigation: The perpetrators were not identified
The U.S. government has officially accused the following nineteen individuals as being the perpetrators of the mass killings of 9/11 (flight numbers in parentheses): Satam M.A. Al Suqami, Waleed M. Alhehri, Wail M. Alshehri, Mohamed Atta, and Abdulaziz Alomari (AA11); Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed, Nawaf Alhazmi, Salem Alhazmi, and Hani Hanjour (AA77); Marwan Alshehhi, Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan Al Qadi Banihammad, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, and Mohand Alshehri (UA175); Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmad Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, Ahmed Alnami and Ziad Samir Jarrah (UA93).
British and Arab media reported in September 2001 that at least five of the above individuals (Abdulaziz Alomari, Wail al-Shehri, Salem al-Hamzi, Saeed al-Ghamdi and Ahmed al-Nami) were still living.185 FBI Director Robert S. Mueller admitted twice on CNN (20 and 27 September 2001) that there is “no legal proof to prove the identities of the suicidal hijackers”.186 The FBI, however, still maintains on its website the names and photographs of the above 19 individuals as those “believed” to have committed the mass killings, adding for good measure that “attempts to confirm the true identities of these individuals are still under way.”187 While the FBI, as the official voice of the executive branch maintains this ambiguity until today, the 9/11 Commission, purporting to provide “the fullest possible account of the events surrounding 9/11,”188 did not hesitate to present these individuals throughout its Final Report as the definite perpetrators.
Leaving aside whether the four alleged suicide-pilots possessed the motive to kill themselves and the skill to steer large passenger aircraft at 500 miles per hour into buildings,189 there exists no evidence that they and their alleged 15 companions boarded these aircraft in the first place. Here is a brief summary of the absence of such evidence.190
9.5.1 No authenticated passenger lists
It is widely believed that the U.S. authorities have released passenger lists for the four allegedly hijacked flights of 9/11. This belief is mistaken. The U.S. authorities have until now persistently refused, despite numerous appeals, to produce authenticated passenger lists of these flights in order to confirm their allegations. When I asked American Airlines to merely confirm the presence of Arabic names on the passenger list of flight AA77, an official of the airline wrote to me that their names had been redacted, providing no explanation.
9.5.2 No authenticated CCTV
It is widely believed that recordings from security cameras (CCTV) document the presence of alleged hijackers at the respective airports on the morning of 9/11. This belief is based on deception. Two CCTV recordings have been widely shown on television with the intent to convince viewers this evidence exists. One of these recordings shows two men, claimed to represent Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, passing security control at Portland Airport, before they boarded on a connecting flight to Boston from where they allegedly left with flight AA11 on the way to their creator.191 No CCTV exists, however, from Logan Airport in Boston. The video from Portland is grainy and does not permit a positive identification of the men.192 The other CCTV, released by the prosecution in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, shows several men passing an alleged security checkpoint at Dulles Airport. The 9/11 Commission claimed that this video depicts the hijackers of flight AA77.193 The recording was not released by the government, but by a private law firm. It can be viewed on youtube.com.194 It is not only grainy, but lacks the attributes of an authentic security video, particularly a time stamp and the camera number. Without such data, a security video has no probative value. It is, therefore, unknown when and where the recording was made.
Airport security manager Ed Nelson of Dulles Airport told authors Susan and Joseph Trento, that shortly after arriving at the airport on the morning of 9/11, FBI agents played to him a security tape from a checkpoint through which they told him that the alleged hijackers had passed before boarding the plane. He expressed his astonishment that the FBI agents could within that short time pick out “the hijackers” on the security tape from hundreds of others passengers. He said: “So fast. It didn’t make sense to me.”195 The FBI has not allowed any agent to testify on this matter. The 9/11 Commission did not mention the dubious nature of this recording.
9.5.3 No eyewitnesses
Did any airport or airline employee perhaps recall having checked-in or boarded Mohamed Atta or any of the other alleged suicide-pilots? Starting on the very day of the events, FBI interviewed dozens of airport and airline employees. According to the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, no security personnel at the respective airports recalled to have seen any of the alleged hijackers.196 Surprisingly, the FBI possessed already on the very day of 9/11 photographs of some of the alleged hijackers, as discovered by Ed Nelson at Dulles Airport (mentioned in the previous section) and as revealed to the media by Tony Amos, manager of Shuckum’s bar in Hollywood, Florida, to whom an FBI agent showed on the very day of 9/11197 a photograph of Mohamed Atta.198 One must, therefore, presume that when questioning airline employees, FBI agents would have asked them to identify photographs of suspects that they might have seen. Yet, no employee has testified to have checked-in or boarded any of the alleged suicide-pilots.
9.5.4 No identified bodies
It is widely believed that the alleged hijackers died at the known crash sites. Yet, there is no evidence to support this belief. According to official statements, their bodies were identified by means of exclusion. What does that mean? Chris Kelly, spokesman of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), where the identification of victims’ remains from flights AA77 and UA93 took place, explained: “The remains that didn’t match any of the samples were ruled to be the terrorists”.199 Somerset County coroner Wallace Miller said that the “death certificates [for the suspected hijackers] will list each as ‘John Doe’”.200 A spokeswoman for the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, where the identification of the WTC victims took place, said that the centre received from the FBI in February 2003(!) “profiles of all 10 hijackers… so their remains could be separated from those of the victims… No names were attached to these profiles.”201 Howard Baum of the New York medical examiner’s forensic unit, told Newsweek in 2009: “We had no idea where the profiles came from or how they were developed.”202
Under a ruling issued on 11 October 2001 by a Somerset County judge, everyone who died aboard flight UA93 “except the terrorists” would get death certificates. At the “insistence of the FBI, the terrorists won’t be getting [death certificates] because investigators aren’t sure of their identities.”203 So!
According to the General Comment drafted by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the U.N. Human Rights Council,
The right to know the truth about the fate and whereabouts includes… the right of the family to have the remains of their loved one returned to them, and to dispose of those remains according to their own tradition, religion or culture. The remains of the person should be clearly and indisputably identified, including through DNA analysis. The State, or any other authority, should not undertake the process of identification of the remains, and should not dispose of those remains, without the full participation of the family and without fully informing the general public of such measures.204
The U.S. authorities, claiming that Muslim hijackers died at the crash sites, failed to invite their families to participate in the identification of their remains,205 failed to “clearly and indisputably identif[y]” their remains and did not return these to the families for burial. It thus failed its international obligations towards the families of these 19 young men, who should be counted among the 9/11 victims.
10. Proactive measures to suppress the truth
In its jurisprudence regarding states’ obligations towards victims of human rights violations, the ECtHR invoked numerous times failures by State parties to conduct adequate or effective investigations. Failures to establish the truth on gross violations of human rights are not, however, limited to acts of omission, such as inadequate investigations. They may also include acts of commission, such as concealing, destroying and planting of evidence, as well as inducing witnesses and victims to keep silent by bribes or intimidation. Examples of such conduct can be observed in the case of 9/11, as reported below.
10.1 Concealing evidence
The U.S. authorities, aware that a substantial proportion of Americans suspect them of covering-up the truth on 9/11, would appear to have an incentive to dispel such suspicions by producing all the evidence they possess to prove their allegations. Yet, despite increasing suspicions, they prefer to conceal evidence from the public (if it exists), including documents which would simply confirm what is already known to the public. Among suppressed records are the original passenger lists of the four flights, video recordings depicting the impact of an aircraft on the Pentagon, documentation of the retrieval of the aircraft wreckage from Shanksville, audio recordings of the cockpit voice recorder from flight UA93, audio recordings of phone calls for which transcripts had been released, and other such documents, the release of which can neither endanger national security or interfere with law-enforcement efforts and privacy.
The determination of the U.S. authorities to conceal these documents suggests that their release would seriously embarrass them or incriminate high officials in various types of criminal conduct. It is, however, equally possible that these documents do not exist at all.
10.2 Destroying evidence
When a crime occurs, it is a legal obligation, including in the United States, to safeguard the crime site. Destruction of criminal evidence raises a presumption of guilt against the person who participated in such destruction. Paul Rea, author of Mounting Evidence, formulates four useful questions when evidence is systematically suppressed or destroyed206 :
• Who is doing this?
• What are they most interested in covering up?
• Why are these areas so sensitive?
• What do these sensitive areas imply about what really went on?
10.2.1 The destruction of the WTC steel
The demise of the Twin Towers remains a unique event in the history of high-rise, steel-reinforced buildings. Such demise never occurred before or after 9/11, even after wider, longer and fiercer fires. In order for structural engineers to understand what caused such demise, it was crucial to preserve the steel beams from the buildings. In addition to this professional interest, the site of the Twin Towers was evidently a crime scene that had to be preserved. An examination of the steel that remained on the site could have helped explain what precisely caused the deaths of over 2,000 people.
Yet, most of the steel from the crime scene was not only swiftly removed from the site, but sold to scrap metal dealers, who shipped it for recycling to China,207 India,208 South Korea,209 Malaysia,210 and reportedly to other destinations. Hugo Neu Corporation, a company dealing with scrap metal, said it handled 250,000 tons of World Trade Center scrap steel and shipped it to 11 countries, including Malaysia, China, South Korea and Japan.210 The company’s general manager, Bob Kelman, said debris from the twin towers was sliced into pieces with industrial guillotines or blow torches and thrown in with other scrap before being shipped.210
Some might argue that removing steel from the site was necessary to facilitate rescue operations. This explanation is, however, not compelling. The steel was also removed from the site of WTC no. 7, which was evacuated seven hours before its collapse.211 The steel from that building was removed, unmarked, and also shipped overseas, leaving not a single beam for a forensic examination of the demise of that building. WTC no. 7, let us recall – a building of 47 floors– was not hit by an aircraft, was not subject to widespread and fierce fires, and yet collapsed at free-fall speed at 5:20 p.m. on 9/11, prompting numerous experts to conclude that it was a classical case of controlled demolition. An examination of the steel beams from that building would have made it possible to verify this hypothesis.
In an attempt to downplay the significance of the removal and destruction of most WTC steel, Gene Corley, mentioned earlier, told the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, that “there is no indication that having access to each piece of steel from the World Trade Center would make a significant difference to understanding the performance of the structures.”212 Yet, the steel was considered important enough to equip the trucks removing it from the site with GPS locators, at a cost of $1000 apiece, so that the movements of the trucks could be monitored.213
Bill Manning, editor-in-chief of the magazine Fire Engineering, blasted the ongoing destruction of the WTC steel in the magazine’s editorial of January 2002:
For more than three months, structural steel from the World Trade Center has been and continues to be cut up and sold for scrap. Crucial evidence that could answer many questions about high-rise building design practices and performance under fire conditions is on the slow boat to China, perhaps never to be seen again in America until you buy your next car. Such destruction of evidence shows the astounding ignorance of government officials to the value of a thorough, scientific investigation of the largest fire-induced collapse in world history. I have combed through our national standard for fire investigation, NFPA 921, but nowhere in it does one find an exemption allowing the destruction of evidence for buildings over 10 stories tall. […] The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately.214
The U.S. authorities did not heed Bill Manning’s admonition and refused to disclose under whose authority the WTC steel was swiftly removed, sold to scrap dealers, and shipped overseas, in violation of criminal law.
10.2.2 The destruction of testimonies made by air traffic controllers
A group of six air traffic controllers working at the FAA center in Nashua recorded on tape what they had observed in the morning of 9/11. Their tape was destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it. The supervisor “crushed the cassette in his hand, shredded the tape and dropped the pieces into different trash cans around the building”215 The controllers who recorded their stories were never identified or asked to re-record their impressions.
10.2.3 The destruction of recordings documenting interrogations of al-Qa’ida detainees
CIA director General Michael Hayden confirmed that his agency destroyed videotapes taken during the interrogations of two al-Qa’ida suspects soon after 9/11. He said that to keep these tapes posed a security risk: they could expose the CIA interrogators shown on them to al-Qa’ida reprisals. Really? Did the CIA not learn about pixelisation?216 The CIA’s claim that it destroyed the video tapes to protect the interrogators’ identity is false, because it could have released the transcripts of these interrogations and redacted the names of the interrogators. Destroying the tapes and concealing the transcripts even from the 9/11 Commission suggests that the U.S. government was hiding evidence of malfeasance, transcending alleged torture.
The co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, blasted in the New York Times the destruction of these recordings: “Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation. More strikingly still, they explicitly include the White House at the top of their list of guilty parties.”217
10.2.4 The destruction of evidence regarding an FBI investigation of al-Qa’ida
On 29 May 2002, CBS News revealed that the FBI destroyed evidence gathered in an investigation involving Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida network in early 2000.218 The episode was described in documents made public through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington advocacy group. FBI officials refused to comment upon this investigation.
10.3 Planting evidence
10.3.1 At the alleged crash site of flight UA93
The U.S. authorities have claimed that documents allegedly belonging to the suspected hijackers of flight UA93 were found at that flight’s alleged crash site in Somerset County, Pa. Among these documents were the passport of Al-Ghamdi,219 Alnami’s Florida driver’s license,220 his Saudi Arabian Youth Hostel Association ID card,221 a visa page from Ziad Jarrah’s passport,222 and a business card of Jarrah’s uncle.223 Local inhabitants who went to the alleged crash site within minutes of hearing an explosion and seeing smoke, told media that they did not see any human bodies, blood, or even a hint of an aircraft crash at the site.224 The site was swiftly taken over by the FBI, which kept activities within the site secret. Lisa Beamer, the celebrated widow of UA93 passenger Todd Beamer, wrote in her book:
[Arriving to the crash site of UA93 six days after the events] federal authorities wouldn’t allow us to get too close to the actual spot where the plane had struck the ground, but they took great care to describe it for us and to answer any questions about how they believed the plane had come down… I didn’t see a single piece of airplane anywhere.225
That’s how the lack of debris was explained to her:
Little could be found. Because of the reclaimed strip mine, the ground was softer than other surrounding areas. The plane had pierced the earth like a spoon in a cup of coffee: the spoon forced the coffee back, and then the coffee immediately closed around the spoon as though nothing had troubled the surface. Anything that remained of Flight 93 was buried deep in the ground.225
Merely 12 days after 9/11, the FBI announced to have recuperated 95 per cent of the aircraft wreckage, and handed it to United Airlines. No journalist was, however, allowed to document the recovery of the aircraft and photograph the recovered wreckage. We only have FBI’s word that such recovery had occurred.
10.3.2 At Logan Airport, Boston
According to the 9/11 Commission, Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, two of the persons named as participating in the hijacking of flight AA11 from Boston, had driven on 10 September 2001 from Boston to Portland, Maine, from where they reportedly returned on the very morning of 9/11 to Boston with an early connecting flight, before allegedly boarding flight AA11. The 9/11 Commission said it could not explain why they went to Portland,226 and thereby risked – had their connecting flight been delayed – disrupting their “attack upon the United States” that they had allegedly planned for years.227 However, this detour meant that their luggage had to be manually transferred between the flights. Only Atta’s bags failed to be loaded into flight AA11. They remained in Boston, to be swiftly discovered by the authorities.228
Amongst the items allegedly found in Atta’s bags were a hand-held electronic flight computer, a simulator procedures manual for Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft, a slide-rule flight calculator, a copy of the Qur’an and a handwritten testament written in Arabic.229 According to FBI Special Agent Fitzgerald, Abdul Aziz Alomari’s passport was also found in one of the bags.230 According to an FBI document, the bags also contained three English grammar books, a perfume bottle, anti-dandruff hair dressing, a check book, photographs, and a handkerchief.231 When Dieter Snell, Senior Counsel of the 9/11 Commission, addressed the Commission at its 12th Public Hearing, he said that Atta and Omari’s luggage had also contained, amongst other items, “correspondence from the university Atta attended in Egypt and Omari’s (sic) international driver’s license.232
The owner of the bags seemed to have vanished: No one apparently saw him at Boston airport, let alone boarding flight AA11. It is also not known who flew from Portland to Boston under the names of Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari.
Leaving aside the question of identification, one may ask why a future hijacker would pack pepper spray and a knife into his luggage if these weapons were intended to be used in the hijacking, and why he would pack his testament in the luggage, knowing that it would burn in the crash. Did the alleged hijacker intend the luggage, with its comprehensive incriminating items, to be found? But if so, how could he foresee or ensure that it would remain in the airport? Did someone ensure that it would not be loaded onto flight AA11? It appears so, as suggested below.
It was revealed in 2009 that Atta’s luggage discovered in Boston carried a “covert marking that indicated that the suitcases belonged to a passenger, [who] was a security issue”.233 This observation was made by baggage expediter Philip A. DePasquale (“The two suitcases had a covert tag from US Airways to warn that Atta and his luggage were a security issue”).233 The presence of such a marking indicates that an employee of US Airways in Portland, from where the passenger came, had made this mark. Who was this employee, and on what grounds did he consider Atta a “security issue” before the events? The 9/11 Commission did not pursue these questions. Was this covert marking perhaps a signal to employees in Boston not to load these bags onto flight AA11?
For lack of evidence that the owner of the bags, allegedly Mohamed Atta, had boarded an aircraft at Logan Airport, it must be presumed that the bags had been planted there to be found.
The Guardian commented at the time with wry irony: “The finds are certainly very fortunate, though some might think them a little too fortunate.”234
10.4 Buying the silence of witnesses and victims’ relatives
A person is guilty of bribing a witness if he or she offers, confers, or agrees to confer any benefit upon… a person whom he or she has reason to believe may have information relevant to a criminal investigation… with intent to… (b) Induce that person to avoid legal process summoning him or her to testify; or… (d) Induce that person to refrain from reporting information relevant to a criminal investigation…235
10.4.1 Buying the silence of victims’ relatives
Shortly after 9/11, the Congress established the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund for victims’ families, as a part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSA).236 The compensation fund was administered by Kenneth Feinberg, appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, as the “Special Master” of the fund.237 In order to apply for compensation, they had to waive their “right to file a civil action… in any Federal or State court for damages sustained as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001.”238 Feinberg confirmed that this provision was intended to deter victims’ families from suing the airlines, although ATSA demands that they waive their right to sue anyone, including security firms, the New York Port Authority, the U.S. Government, or any other domestic entity.
Ninety-six families opted not to apply to the government compensation fund. Their motives varied. Some were seeking larger settlements than the compensation fund was likely to offer them. But many who sued hoped to use the litigation process to compel disclosure of a fuller picture of what the airlines did – and left undone – on 9/11 and before. Tim Harper of the Toronto Star explained some of the motives:
For some, it’s blood money, a repugnant payoff they feel they have no choice but to accept… But as many as 73 families239 see the process of U.S. government compensation as an attempt to protect those who should be held accountable for what they believed was mass murder.240
Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband in the WTC attack, was amongst those who rejected the government compensation offer. She told Tim Harper: “This is about mass murder. I want to know who was responsible. No one has been fired. No one has been demoted. The same people who are guarding us today on an elevated security alert are the same people who were working that day.”240
Those who chose not to apply for this compensation brought a cause of action against the airlines and security firms in order to force them to reveal what went wrong. But they did not count with the hurdles the government had established. ATSA limited their forum choice to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York,241 where they had to face Judge Alvin Hellerstein. Hellerstein, as evidenced throughout these cases, endeavoured to protect defendants from disclosure. He also decided to reverse the traditional judicial procedure where liability is determined before damages are discussed in the hope that more cases might settle out of court “once families get a sense of how much money they are likely to get from a jury”, as he explained to the media.242 And indeed, 95 of the families who initially refused to apply to the Compensation Fund and wanted to know “who was responsible” for 9/11, gave in to Hellerstein’s pressure, by settling out of court. They received far more than what they would have received from the Fund.243 Collectively they received $500 million, making the average pay-out slightly greater than $5 million. The court has prohibited the families to reveal how much money they received.244 What the defendants ultimately disclosed to the families in court was not revealed publicly. These secret settlements were made at the expense of the public’s right to know the truth.
These compensations had, indeed, the desired effect. From approximately 3,000 families of 9/11 victims, only a single person, Ellen Mariani, remains determined – against heavy odds – to establish the truth through court procedures.245 In an open letter, she described what she has been through until 2007. It includes, in her own words, “emotional abuse, harassment, lawyers’ misguidance, and… the prospect of financial ruin.”246 By their conduct, “Special Master” Feinberg and Judge Hellerstein, representing respectively the Executive and the Judicial Branches of the United States, intentionally and successfully thwarted the initial quest by families of 9/11 victims to establish the truth on the mass killings of 9/11.
Other payments to victims’ families constitute “college scholarships estimated to meet about 70 percent of the financial need of all 4,500-4,700 children of victims”.247 Those promised such scholarships would most probably refrain from undermining the future of their children by demanding evidence about 9/11 or expressing in public doubts about the government’s account.
10.4.2 Pampering victims’ families
Much effort was spent by the U.S. authorities and media to create and nurture the story of a heroic struggle by passengers on Flight 93 to reclaim control over the aircraft. Whether the story has any relation to reality is beyond the scope of this paper. It ensured, however, that passengers’ families felt proud and gracefully accepted official invitations and media encounters. It is evident that people enjoying to be feted will hardly have the temerity to accuse their well-wishers of deception or complicity in the murder of their beloved ones. Effectively, none of the relatives of passengers from flight UA93 has publicly expressed doubts about the official account regarding that flight.
Lisa Beamer and Deena Burnett, widows of two passengers on flight UA93, wrote books about their experiences. In Lisa Beamer’s book, she describes the thrill she felt to become a national celebrity, being interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America and CNN’s Larry King Live shows,248 “privileged” to meet and talk with Mayor Giuliani who “made a point to hug me and to express how proud he was of the heroes aboard Flight 93”249 and invited to the Congress, which “rose to its feet in one motion” to celebrate her and her deceased husband.250 She sums it up: “[T]his was America’s statement to the world that we were indeed the United States. It was an incredible, historic experience, and I felt so honored to be there on behalf of Todd and all the other passengers, crew, and families of Flight 93.”251
President Bush then invited all of the surviving family members of Flight 93 to come to the White House for a private meeting on 24 September 2001. Beamer:
“First, President Bush spoke kindly and compassionately to the entire group in the East Room of the White House. He used no notes and spoke from the heart, almost conversationally. Then he and his wife, Laura, moved to an adjacent room, where they took time to meet with each family individually… The president and first lady met with our family for about eight to ten minutes252 … In preparation for us, the White House staff had lined both sides of the hall in a sort of makeshift honor guard, clapping their hands for us as we walked by.”253
When the Flight 93 victims’ families met with President Bush at the White House two weeks after 9/11, the President also spoke with [Deena] Burnett and kissed her on both cheeks.254 Later, she received a certificate signed by President Bush. The certificate stated that the United States honoured her husband and that the document was “awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”254 In her book, Mrs. Burnett confirms that she shook hands with both President Bush and his wife and that the President kissed her on the cheek.255 She also confirms that Tom received a military funeral, which was in her view, a “great honor”.256
Deena Burnett also described a cryptic pledge made to her on the very morning of 9/11 by a police representative who introduced himself to her as Chris Stangle:
Officer Stangle came over, knelt down in front of me, and took my hand… Then he looked at me and said, ‘First of all, you’re not going to have to sell this house and here’s why. It sounds like your husband had a good job. I’m sure he has a financial plan in place to take care of you and the children. Because of the way he died, you’re going to have enough people helping, that you will be able to stay in this house and raise your children the way you want to. You’re not going to have to worry about any of that right now. And if none of that comes through, I am personally going to make sure you can stay in this house. If that’s what you want. The police have wonderful resources. We can help you. You don’t have to worry about anything.’257
Who was Officer Stangle who had the authority to make a personal pledge to Mrs. Burnett on the morning of 9/11 and tell her “We can help you”?
10.4.3 Promoting military officials who did not defend the United States on 9/11
According to the official version of 9/11, the United States was successfully attacked on 9/11 by 19 amateur terrorists, who only used simple knives and relied on their luck to defeat the world’s most powerful military and intelligence machinery. The 9/11 Commission stated that U.S. officials were “in every respect” unprepared to stop the attacks and that the agencies responsible for air defence, particularly NORAD and FAA had “struggled, under difficult circumstances, to improvise a homeland defense against an unprecedented challenge they had never encountered and had never trained to meet.”258 These failures were blamed on confusion, lack of imagination and bureaucracy.259 According to this view, the U.S. military, endowed with a budget larger than the combined military of all other countries, had never conceived of anyone using planes to crash on the World Trade Center or on the Pentagon.260 If such gross incompetence had been the case, one would have expected top military officials to be named, demoted, fired or even court-martialled. The absence of such sanctions was noted by some members of Congress.261 In fact, the nation’s top military officials were later honoured or even promoted.
General Richard B. Myers, for example, was Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff(JCS) on 9/11, pending his upcoming confirmation as Chairman of the JCS. He claimed that on the morning of 9/11 he was on Capitol Hill meeting with Senator Cleland to discuss his confirmation hearings.262 In an interview with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, he said that no one disturbed him during that meeting to inform him that both Twin Towers of the WTC had been hit. When he came out of the meeting, he learned about the second hit: “Then right at that time somebody said the Pentagon has been hit.” He immediately talked to Gen. Eberhart and then “jumped in the car, ran back to the Pentagon.”263 According to his account, he set out for the Pentagon after it had been hit at 9:37 a.m. Assuming that he told the truth, his assistants must have grossly failed their duty to alert him immediately to what was perceived as an “attack on our nation”. According to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, however, who directed a video conference of all top U.S. leaders on the morning of 9/11, Myers took part in that conference from about 9:10 a.m. until after 10:00 a.m. Which version is true?
In the confirmation hearings, conducted on Capitol Hill on 13 September 2001, General Myers was asked by Senator Levin whether “the Defense Department contacted the FAA or the FBI or any other agency after the first two hijacked aircraft crashed into the WTC, prior to the time that the Pentagon was hit”. Myers answered: “Sir, I don’t know the answer to that question.” Senator Nelson then asked: “You said earlier in your testimony that we had not scrambled any military aircraft until after the Pentagon was hit. And so, my question would be: Why?” Myers: “I’d have to go back and review the exact timelines.” Is it conceivable that the highest military commander of the United States forgot these crucial details within two days and came unprepared to a Congressional hearing?
Cynthia McKinney, member of the House Armed Services Committee for the 108th Congress, asked General Myers at the budget hearing for FY2006, who was in charge of the war games conducted on 9/11. He avoided to answer her question. Instead he claimed that the war games had improved the ability of the U.S. to respond to the “attacks”. This was of course absurd, for it is impossible to improve an omission.264 In October 2005, President Bush presented Myers the Presidential Medal of Freedom.265
General Ralph E. Eberhart, was on 9/11 Chief Commander of NORAD and thus responsible for the failure of the military to intercept the allegedly hijacked aircraft on 9/11. During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 25 October 2001, this top military man manifested a surprising uncertainty about the identities of the aircraft that crashed on 9/11: “The first flight I think was American flight 11… I think it’s 77 that crashed into the Pentagon… I think it’s United flight 93 [that crashed] in Pennsylvania.”266 What made him so uncertain? In May 2002, he was promoted by President Bush to lead the newly created U.S. Northern Command.267
Brigadier-General Montague Winfield, commander of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), the Pentagon’s emergency response centre, requested on 10 September 2001 his deputy, Captain Charles Leidig, to replace him on the morning of 9/11 for approximately two hours. Leidig replaced Winfield throughout the 9/11 crisis until about 10:30 a.m. Winfield never explained the reason for his absence during the crisis. Yet both Leidig and Winfield were later promoted: In May 2003, Winfield was promoted to the rank of Major General.268 Also in 2003, Captain Charles J. Leidig was appointed to the rank of 80th commandant of midshipmen, responsible for the day-to-day activities of 4,000 midshipmen.269
What prompted the U.S. government to honour and promote leading military officials who failed to ensure the protection of the U.S. capital and the Pentagon against an attack by a group of amateurs?
10.5 Intimidation to ensure silence
10.5.1 Intimidating private witnesses
Various persons who reported to have seen Mohamed Atta, the alleged team-leader of the 19 alleged hijackers, were specifically warned not to talk to journalists. These include employees at Walmart and Pizza Hut in Portland, Maine, who were told by the FBI not to mention what Atta had bought;270 residents of Venice, Florida, were warned not to talk to journalists about Atta’s non-Islamic conduct;271 Amanda Keller, a former stripper, was warned not to talk about her affair with Atta;272 and Johnelle Bryant, was warned by “authorities” not to speak about her bizarre meeting with Atta,273 but decided, nevertheless, to accord a mind-blowing interview to ABC News about her encounter.274 Both Amanda Keller and Johnelle Bryant vanished.
10.5.2 Intimidating witnesses to the 9/11 Commission
The Government has also insisted in having its officials accompany witnesses who appeared before the 9/11 Commission or its staff. Most often they were attorneys of the respective agencies. These “minders” were “reporting to their respective agencies on Commission staff’s lines of inquiry and witnesses’ verbatim responses”, occasionally “answering questions directed at witnesses”. They also “positioned themselves physically and… conducted themselves in a manner that [staff members] believe intimidate[d] witnesses from giving full and candid responses.”275 The issue of “minders” was raised in a Press Release by 9/11 Citizens Watch. The group demanded greater transparency and accountability from the 9/11 Commission, including the prohibition of “minders” and that testimonies be made under oath.276 An example of the effects of such minders is an interview by 9/11 Commission staffers of air traffic controller Greg Dukeman on 2 October 2003. The interview was attended by Michael McKinley, an FAA attorney. Throughout the interview Dukeman claimed forgetfulness, provided vague answers or played dumb.277
10.5.3 Intimidating first responders and firefighters
A perfidious method of intimidation was revealed by the Huffington Post on 21 April 2011. As described above, numerous first responders and firefighters reported having heard, seen or experienced explosions before and during the demise of the Twin Towers. Some also reported molten steel at Ground Zero. These testimonies constitute the most serious challenge to the official account on 9/11 and strongly suggest that the buildings were demolished with explosives. For the U.S. administration, it was important to silence these witnesses. As many first responders got ill from the toxic dust and needed expensive health services, a 9/11 Health and Compensation Law was passed by Congress. At the last moment, an Amendment was added to the law requiring those who wish to get treatment for the ailments that they suffer as a result of their work at Ground Zero, to have their names “run through the FBI’s terrorism watch list.”278 The declared rationale for this amendment was “to ensure that no terrorists get these benefits.” The list, which includes between 400,000279 and one million names,280 is classified, meaning that individuals cannot know whether they are included on the list. Due to the large size of this list, it is likely that most individuals included on this list have no connection whatsoever to terrorism. First responders, including firefighters, who intend to apply for health benefits, will now think twice before giving interviews about the explosions they witnessed at the World Trade Center.
The aforementioned examples of pressure, harassment and intimidation manifest a clear intent by the U.S. administration to suppress the truth on the events of 9/11.
11. Establishing the truth on human rights violations: Prescriptions and proscriptions
As presented previously, the corollary to the right to truth are state obligations to conduct adequate (or effective) investigations into alleged violations of human rights. We submit that this standard does not fully ensure the fulfillment of the right to truth. The standard of an adequate (or effective) investigation essentially encompasses positive obligations, those of thoroughness, independence, impartiality, transparency and promptness. States are, however, also apt to undertake measures intended to cover-up the truth regarding violations of human rights. Such active measures are not adequately addressed by prescriptive standards. We submit that in order to ensure the “right to the truth”, states should be required to strive in good faith to establish the truth, rather than merely conduct an adequate investigation. Establishing the truth derives directly and logically from a right to know the truth and encompasses both prescriptions and proscriptions, such as refraining from destroying, fabricating or planting evidence, refraining from inducing or intimidating individuals to keep silent about the events, and refraining from attributing guilt to innocent persons for the violations (or crime). I, therefore, submit that the obligation to provide remedy to victims of gross human rights violations be formally extended to good faith efforts to establish the truth.
The primary purpose of this study was to apply criteria developed by the case-law of the ECtHR to the investigations into 9/11, a crime against humanity that affected in some way most inhabitants of the world.
Paraphrasing the ECtHR,281 I can sum up the above findings by stating that even if the failings of some U.S. authorities would not alone warrant a finding of the inadequacy of the investigation, their cumulative effect are more than sufficient for such a finding. Indeed, I am struck by how the different agencies and branches of the U.S. administration acted in concert in preventing the establishment of the truth regarding this gruesome mass-murder.
The ECtHR has in the past identified numerous methods by which states seek to ensure the impunity of violators of the right to life. Due to the case at hand, this study was able to identify more types of state conduct leading to impunity: (a) The political predetermination of facts, prior to investigation; (b) Overt opposition to a public inquiry; (c) Destruction of forensic evidence; (d) The planting of evidence; (e) Bribing victims and suspects to ensure their silence; (f) Intimidating witnesses. In examining State investigations of gross violations of human rights, international and regional bodies are urged to stay alert to these various forms of conduct.
States must, under international law, comply in good faith with their treaty obligations. As a State party to the ICCPR – an international treaty – the United States must in good faith protect the right to life of those found within its jurisdiction. This obligation entails the duty to undertake an adequate investigation of a gross violation of that right. The Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the ICCPR by State parties, might wish to avail itself of the findings presented herein in its examination of the United States’ periodical report in order to call the State party to task for its gross violation of the aforementioned obligation.
Concerned citizens in various countries, including members of several parliaments, have called for the establishment of an independent, international commission of inquiry on the events of 9/11, possibly modeled on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), set up to try the alleged murderers in 2005 of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.282
Within the United States, a large truth-seeking movement has emerged, composed of eminent personalities from all walks of life, including former administration and military officials. Their common demand is for a new, truly independent, investigation of 9/11. Some of these personalities have established functional groups, such as Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (an association with more than 2,000 members),154 Firefighters for 9/11 Truth,283 Lawyers for 9/11 Truth,284 Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth,285 Military Officers for 9/11 Truth,286 Pilots for 9/11 Truth,287 Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth,288 Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth,289 Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice,290 and Scientists for 9/11 Truth.291 Local and regional chapters have also emerged in the United States,292 Canada, Australia, and European countries.293
While the demand for a truly independent investigation appears to me justified, I doubt whether this can be accomplished under the current political situation. The reason for my doubt is that the refusal to establish the truth on 9/11 extends to the entire political class of Western societies. Such refusal cannot plausibly be ascribed to ignorance. The Western alliance needs to maintain the perception of an enemy294 that threatens our well-being and is capable of mounting deadly operations such as 9/11, in another words, a unifying myth: “[I]n the absence of believable myths, coherent public action becomes very difficult to improvise or sustain.”295 The perception of a common enemy provides Western governments with the justification for eroding democratic rights at home and resuscitating neo-colonialist policies abroad.
Those who have given thought to the implications arising from the findings presented in this paper may have realised the depth of the abyss revealed by investigating 9/11. Those mustering the courage to face this abyss with open eyes may be rewarded by overcoming fear and discovering that the emperor is naked.
- Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity, Commission on Human Rights, 8 February 2005, UN Doc. No. E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1, Principle I: General Obligations.
- One person, Zacarias Moussaoui, has been tried by a U.S. court in relation to 9/11. He was not, however, charged as accomplice to the crime. He was accused to have known about the plans for 9/11 and not reporting his alleged knowledge to the authorities after he was arrested a few weeks before 9/11. There is no evidence, however, that he possessed such foreknowledge. A collection of articles on Moussaoui’s trial can be found here.
- Updated Set of principles to combat impunity, supra note 1.
- For an overview of references to the right to truth, see Yasmin Naqvi, ‘The right to the truth in international law: fact or fiction?’ (2006) 88 International Review of the Red Cross 862. (Cached).
- Bámaca-Velásquez v Guatemala, IACtHR, Judgment of 25 November 2000, Series C 70, Separate Concurring Opinion of Judge Hernán Salgado Pesantes. (Cached).
- American Convention of Human Rights, O.A.S.Treaty Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978.
- ECOSOC Res. 1989/65, UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, 24 May 1989 (hereafter “UN Principles”).
- Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, U.N. Doc. E/ST/CSDHA/.12 (1991) (includes the “Minnesota Protocol”) (Cached).
- UN General Assembly Res. 60/147, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, 16 December 2005, Articles 18 and 22. (Cached).
- Chumbipuma Aguirre et al. v Peru (Barrios Altos Case), IACtHR, Judgment of 14 March 2001, para. 48. (Cached).
- The Right to the Truth. Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, IACHR. (Cached).
- Human Rights Council, Right to the truth: Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 7 June 2007, UN doc. A/HRC/5/7, paras. 9–10. (Cached).
- Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia, European Court of Human Rights, Judgment of 26 April 2011, Application no. 2509/07, para. 241. (Cached).
- UNCHR Res. 2005/35, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2005/ L.10/Add.11 (19 April 2005), Article 3; also GA Res. 60/147, supra note 10. (Cached).
- UNHRC, General Comment No. 31. Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant. UN Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.13 (26 May 2004) para. 8. (Cached).
- United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation (…), supra n. 8.
- Ximenes-Lopes v Brazil, IACtHR, Judgment of 4 July 2006, para. 148. (Cached).
- In Enukidze, supra note 13, for example, the Court held that the “investigation must be effective in the sense that it is capable of leading to the establishment of the relevant facts and the identification and punishment of those responsible.” (para. 242).
- See, for example, Kelly and Others v. the United Kingdom, no. ECtHR, Application no. 30054/96, Judgment of 4 May 2001, para. 96-97 (Cached); and Anik and Others v. Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 63758/00, Judgment of 5 June 2007, para. 72 (Cached).
- Toteva v Bulgaria, ECtHR, Application no. 42027/98, Judgment of 19 May 2004, para. 80 (Cached).
- Musayev and Others v Russia, ECtHR, Applications nos. 57941/00, 58699/00 and 60403/00, Judgment of 26 July 2007, para. 164. (Cached).
- Toteva, supra note 20, para. 82.
- Adali v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 38187/97, Judgment of 31 March 2005, para. 224. (Cached).
- Trubnikov v Russia, Application no. 49790/99, Judgment of 5 July 2005, para. 92. (Cached).
- UN Principles, supra note 7, para. 9.
- Ahmet Özkan and Others v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 21689/93, Judgment of 6 April 2004, para. 312. (Cached).
- Ülkü Ekinci v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 27602/95, Judgment of 16 July 2002. (Cached).
- Nachova v Bulgaria, ECtHR, Applications nos. 43577/98 and 43579/98, Judgment of 26 February 2004, para. 138. (Cached).
- Toteva, supra note 20, para. 79.
- Aydin v Turkey, ECtHR, Applicaton no. 57/1996/676/866, Judgment of 25 September 1997, para. 106. (Cached).
- Buldan v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 28298/95, Judgment of 20 April 2004, para. 86. (Cached).
- Sergey Shevchenko v Ukraine, ECtHR, Application no. 32478/02, Judgment of 4 April 2006, para. 67; Nachova, supra note 30, para. 140. (Cached).
- Ognyanova and Choban v Bulgaria, ECtHR, Application no. 46317/99, Judgment of 23 February 2006, paras. 109-112. (Cached).
- Anguelova v Bulgaria, ECtHR, Application no. 38361/97, Judgment of 13 June 2002, paras. 142-145. (Cached).
- Nachova, supra note 29, para. 132.
- Adali v Turkey, supra note 23, para. 231.
- Human Rights Committee, General Comment no. 31, supra note 15, para. 15(d).
- UN Principles, supra note 78, para. 11 (emphasis added).
- Adali, supra note 23, para. 222.
- Kaya v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 158/1996/777/978, Judgment of 19 February 1998, para. 90 (Cached); Semsi Önen v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 22876/93, Judgment of 14 May 2002, para. 88. (Cached).
- Tepe v Turkey, ECtHR, Application no. 27244/95, Judgment of 9 May 2003, paras. 179-180 (Cached); Buldan supra note 33, para. 86; Finucane v United Kingdom, ECtHR, Application no. 29178/95, Judgment of 1 July 2003 (Cached); Kaya, supra note 43, para. 88, Semsi Önen, supra note 43.
- UN Principles, supra note 7, para. 15.
- UN Principles, supra note 7, para. 16.
- UN Principles, supra note 7, para. 17.
- Hugh Jordan v The United Kingdom, ECtHR, Application No. 24746/94, Judgment, 4 May 2001, para. 109 (Cached).
- Article 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Cached).
- Article 2 of the Draft articles on Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts, adopted by the International Law Commission at its fifty-third session (2001). (Cached).
- Remarks by President George W. Bush at Emma Booker Elementary School, Federal News Service, 11 September 2001 (Cached).
- Transcript of George W. Bush’s address to the nation, CNN, 11 September 2001, (Cached).
- Joint Resolution 61 (by the Senate and House of Representatives), 12 September 2001, (Cached).
- On 12 September 2001, the G-7 Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors condemned the “appalling terrorist attacks carried out in the United States”; the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council condemned these “brutal and senseless atrocities”; the U.N. General Assembly condemned the “terrorist attacks in the United States of America”, and so forth (emphasis added).
- Congressional debates, 12 September 2001, (Cached).
- FBI Announces List of 19 Hijackers, FBI National Press Office, 13 September 2001, (Cached).
- John D. Negroponte Letter to U.N. Security Council President, 7 October 2001, (Cached).
- ‘Declassified wire from the U.S. Department of State to U.S. embassies around the world’, 1 October 2001, No. 170698, Subject: ‘September 11: Working together to fight the plague of global terrorism and the case against al-Qa’ida’ (Cached).
- John Ashcroft, Media Briefing, 12 September 2001. Available at <www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/sept_11/ashcroft_briefing01.htm>.
- Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, ‘We Will Rally the World’ [A review of the events of 12 September 2001], Washington Post, 28 January 2002. (Cached).
- Ari Fleischer, White House Morning Briefing, 12 September 2001, 9:57 AM. The transcript of this press briefing was removed from the White House website.
- St. Petersburg Times (Flordia), for example, carried this AP report on its 12 September 2001 issue. (Cached) Another source for Fleischer’s statement is Keith Koffier, ‘President ratchets up rhetoric, terms attacks ‘acts of war’‘, on Government Executive Com, a “government’s business news daily and the premier website for federal managers and executives”, 12 September 2001 (Cached).
- Phil Shenon and David Johnston, ‘F.B.I. Shifts Focus to Try to Avert Any More Attacks’, New York Times, 9 October 2001 (Cached).
- Amerithrax or Anthrax Investigation, FBI (Cached).
- See FBI photo of message (Cached).
- Science Briefing on the Anthrax Investigation, Opening Statement by Dr. Vahid, Majidi, 18 August 2008 (Cached).
- David Willman, ‘Apparent suicide in anthrax case’, Los Angeles Times, 1 August 2008 (Cached).
- Press Conference of President George W. Bush, The White House, 13 March 2002 (Cached).
- No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11”’, Information Clearing House, 18 June 2006 (Cached).
- Mary Schiavo, Statement to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 23 May 2003 (Cached).
- NTSB Identification DCA01MA060 (Cached).
- National Transportation Safety Board Amendments Act of 1999. 30 September 1999. Amendment to Section 1131, Paragraph 2(B). (Cached).) This Amendment was applied for the first time on the case of 9/11. It allowed the U.S. government to prevent an investigation of the crashes, which would have occurred, had it been conducted by the NTSB.) ((The NTSB may conduct public hearings and publishes detailed reports regarding its investigations of aircraft crashes. See, The Investigative Process at NTSB, (Cached).
- Flight AA11 deviated from its flight path at 8:28 (official crash time 8:46); flight UA175 deviated from its flight path at 8:58 (official crash time 9:03); flight AA77 deviated from its flight path at 8:54 (official crash time 9:37); flight UA93 deviated from its flight path at 9:41 (official crash time 10:03) (Source: Final Report of the 9/11 Commission). (Cached).
- Flight AA11 turned off its transponder at 8:21 (official crash time 8:47); flight UA175 changed twice its transponder code at 8:47 (official crash time 9:03); flight AA77 turned off its transponder at 8:56 (official crash time 9:37); flight UA93 turned off its transponder at 9:41 (official crash time 10:03) (Source: Final Report of the 9/11 Commission). (Cached).
- Flights AA77 and UA93 were in the air for more than 30 minutes after it was known that the Twin Towers had been struck, and after these two aircraft had been designated as hijacked.
- Linda Slobodian, ‘Norad on Heightened Alert: Role of air-defense agency rapidly transformed in wake of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks’, The Calgary Herald, 13 October 2001. (Cached).
- Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 16-17 August 2004, para. 39. (Cached).
- 9/11 Commission, Staff Report Nr. 17, 17. June 2004 (Cached).
- ‘Conversation with Major General Larry Arnold’, One Magazine, January 2002 (Cached).
- Interview with Maj. Gen. Arnold and Leslie Filson, 9/11 Commission, 11 September 2002. Team 8, Box 22, p. NCT0068077 (20. page in the file) (Cached).
- Robert A. Baker, ‘Commander of 9/11 Air Defenses Retires’, Newhouse News Service, 31 March 2005 (Cached).
- 9/11 Commission Team 7, Box 7, ‘Other Flights 911 Fdr- Suspect Aircraft of 9-11’ (Cached).
- Ben Fenton, “More planes may have been targeted”, Daily Telegraph (UK), 20 September 2001 (Cached).
- MFR 03009986. October 8, 2003. Interview with Mark Randol, TSA Federal Security Director, Missoula MT, p. 5. (Cached).
- Transcript of East NTMO tape, prepared by Miles Kara (9/11 Commission staff), 4 November 2003 (Cached).
- FBI 302-22919. September 11, 2001. Interview with Donald A. Robinson, Jr. (p. 14 in file) (Cached).
- Wikipedia: Korean_Air_Flight_85; see also Zaz Hollander, “High Alert”, Anchorage Daily News, 8 September 2002. (Cached).
- “Live-fly” exercises mean exercises using real aircraft, not table-top simulations.
- 9/11 Commission Final Report, p. 20.
- Michael Bronner, ‘9/11 Live: The NORAD Tapes’, Vanity Fair, August 2006 (Cached).
- ‘Major General Larry Arnold’s Testimony’, Public Hearing, 9/11 Commission, 23 May 2003 (Cached).
- Lynn Spencer, Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11 (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2008), p. 26.
- See the common use of the expression “real-world exercises” on military webpages (1) (Cached); (2) (Cached); and more.
- Anemona Hartocollis, ‘Connecting with lost loved ones, if only by the tips of fingers’, The New York Times, 11 September 2011 (Cached).
- Rick Hampson and Martha T. Moore, ‘Closure from 9/11 elusive for many’, USA Today, 3 September 2003, (Cached).
- ‘Some WTC victims were “vaporized”’, USA Today, 4 December 2001 (Cached).
- Dan Barry, ‘At morgue, ceaselessly sifting 911 traces’, The New York Times, 14 July 2002 (Cached).
- There is no evidence that the computers and other items were “crashed and incinerated”. Visual evidence suggests rather that they were transformed into dust as the building was disintegrating downwards.
- This is obviously wrong. The number of bodies apparently “pulverised” is approximately 1,100, namely those persons for whom no trace was found.
- David Biello, ‘What Was in the World Trade Center Plume?’, Scientific American, 7 September 2011, (Cached).
- H. Meyers in D. Smith, Report from Ground Zero: The Heroic Story of the Rescuers at the World Trade Center (Penguin Putnam, New York, 2002), p. 163.
- WTC Primary and Emergency Electrical Power, 1993 NFPA Fire Investigation Report, New York, 26 February 1993, pp. 14-18, (Cached).
- Tom Seessel, ‘Reponding to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks: Lessons from Relief and Recovery in New York City’, Thomas Edison State College, A Report Prepared for the Ford Foundation, May 2003, pp. 36-37 (Cached).
- Such pulverisation did not occur at building WTC no. 7.
- Random office fire and aircraft fuel cannot produce a constant high temperature sufficient for body cremation.
- Among the main investigations not considered here, are the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and an investigation about suspected inside trading, the results of which have not been published.
- 9/11 Commission Records, National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/research/9-11, last visited 2 October 2012.
- 9-11 Commission Records are posted in accessible form at <www.911myths.com/index.php/9-11_Commission_Records>.
- Thomas Hargrove, ‘Third of Americans suspect 9-11 government conspiracy’, Scripps Howard News Service 1 August 2006 (Cached).
- Phil Hirschkorn and David Mattingly, ‘Families say Flight 93 tapes prove heroism’, CNN, 19 April 2002 (Cached).
- United States of America v Zacarias Moussaoui, Government submission regarding relevance of cockpit voice recorders (Cached).
- Gail Sheehy, ‘9/11 Tapes Reveal Ground Personnel Muffled Attacks’, New York Observer, 20 June 2004, (Cached).
- “9/11 commission hears flight attendant’s phone call”, CNN, 27 January 2004 (Cached).
- Search “CeeCee Lyles” on youtube.com.
- Suppression of Video Footage of the Pentagon Attack, 9-11 Research (undated) (Cached).
- See, for example, ‘Video of 9/11 plane hitting Pentagon is released’, NBC Online, 16 May 2006 (Cached); see, however, Steve Watson, ‘FBI Withholding 84 More Tapes of Pentagon on 9/11’, 17 May 2006 (Cached).
- Private correspondence of the author with the FBI.
- FBI 9/11 Investigation (PENTTBOM); Press Release of 27 September 2001 (Cached).
- Dan Eggen, ‘FBI’s 9/11 Team Still Hard at Work’, Washington Post, 14 June 2004, (Cached).
- FBI 9/11 Investigation (PENTTBOM), supra note 128.
- George J. Tenet (Director of CIA), ‘Testimony Before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’, 6 February 2002: Support to the War on Terrorism and Homeland Security, (Cached).
- Helen Duffy, The ‘War on Terror’ and the Framework of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 119, 122.
- A list of court documents regarding Moussaoui’s case is found on the website of FindLaw.
- Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing Charter: Learning from 9/11: Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center, 6 March 2002, (Cached here and here) The formulation “progressive collapses” predetermined the conclusions of the investigation.
- Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, and Related Authorities, 30 October 2000.
- Nomination of Joe M. Allbaugh, Hearing before the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, 13 February 2001 (Cached).
- James Gerstenzang, ‘Bush puts FEMA in charge of domestic terrorism response’, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2001 (Cached).
- FEMA WTC Building Performance Study (May 2002) (Mirror of the PDF’s comprising FEMA’s 2002 Report).
- James Ridgeway, ‘Did the FBI Bury Oklahoma City Bombing Evidence?”, Mother Jones, 21 July 2011 (Cached).
- ‘Learning from 9/11 – Understanding the Collapse of the World Trade Center’, Hearing Before the Committee on Science, House of Representatives, 6 March 2002, p. 14.
- James Glanz and Eric Lipton, ‘Experts Urging Broader Inquiry in Towers’ Fall’, New York Times, 25 December 2001 (Cached).
- FEMA WTC Building Performance Study, supra note 138.
- Bill Manning, ‘$elling out the investigation’, Fire Engineering, 1 January 2002 (Cached).
- NIST General Information (Cached).
- ‘Computer professionals call for public debate on new government encryption initiative’, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), 16 April 1993, (Cached).
- About NIST World Trade Center Investigation (Cached).
- NIST, ‘Questions and Answers about the Overall NIST WTC Investigation’, 19 September 2011, no. 14 (Cached).
- Hratch Semerjian, ‘NIST World Trade Center Investigation Report Press Briefing’, NIST, 23 June 2005 (Cached).
- Final Reports from the NIST Investigation of the WTC Disaster, September 2005.
- Skyscraper Safety Campaign, a Project of Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims, (Cached).
- Sally Regenhard, ‘Address to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives’, 26 October 2005, p. 46.
- J. L. Gross and T. P. McAllister, ‘Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of the World Trade Center Towers’, NIST NCSTAR 1-6 (Draft), September 2005. (emphasis added) (Cached).
- Jim Hoffman, ‘Building a better mirage: NIST’s 3-year $20 million cover-up of the crime of the century’, 8 December 2005 (Cached).
- Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, NIST NCSTAR 1, September 2005, p. 146 (Cached).
- The Sept. 11 Records (“Oral Reports”), New York Times (undated). File 9110369, Interview of Fire Patrolman Paul Curran, December 18, 2001, p.11 (Cached); File. 9110200, Interview with EMT Joseph Fortis, November 9, 2001, p. 7 (Cached); File. 9110203, Interview with EMT Lonnie Penn, November 9, 2001, p. 3 (Cached); File 9110194, Interview with EMT Lieutenant Bradley Mann, November 7, 2001, p. 3 (Cached); File 9110431, Interview with Battalion Chief Brian O’Flaherty, January 9, 2002, p. 3 (Cached); Graeme MacQueen, ‘Did the earth shake before the South Tower hit the ground’, 9 July 2009, Journal of 911 Studies, Vol. 29, July 2009 (Cached).
- Among witnesses are Reporter John Bussey (Wall Street Journal), Dan Rather (CBS), Deputy Fire Commissioner Thomas Fitzpatrick, Assistant Fire Commissioner Stephen Gregory and Firefighter Richard Banaciski.
- FEMA-BPAT, ‘World Trade Center Building Performance Study’, Section 1.3, pp. 1-8 (Cached). It can also be observed with the naked eye on videos of the “collapses”.
- Graeme MacQueen, ‘118 Witnesses: Firefighters’ Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers’, Journal of 9/11 Studies, August 2006 (Cached); On 12 September 2001 Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisana) referred to “explosions which brought down skyscrapers” (Congressional Debates, September 12, 2001, p. S9306, (Cached) and Senator Olympia Snowe (Maine) referred to the “sounds of blasts [which] echoed across Manhattan and our Nation’s Capital.” (Ibid.
- ‘Damage to Buildings Near WTC Caused by Falling Debris and Air Pressure Wave, Not by Ground Shaking’, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, 16 November 2001 (Cached) (“The fall of the towers was similar to that of a pyroclastic flow down a volcano”); See an excellent but ominous video documentary on Youtube (9/11 Debris: Investigation of Ground Zero, Pt. 1) which provides testimonies of eyewitnesses who corroborate the puzzling absence of office equipment, furniture and other human artifacts from the rubble of Ground Zero.
- ‘World Trade Center Disaster’, RMS Special Report, 18 September 2001, p. 5, 7 (Cached); ‘The Environmental Impacts of the World Trade Center Attacks’, NRDC, February 2002, p. 18 (Cached).
- Visual observations from video recordings.
- David Chandler, ‘Freefall and Building 7 on 9/11’, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, 22 December 2010 (Cached).
- Jennifer Lin, ‘Recovery worker reflects on months spent at Ground Zero’, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, 29 May 2002 (Cached); M. H. Gaffney, The 9/11 Mystery Plane (Trine Day LLC, Walterville, OR, 2008), p. 129, 132-136; ‘Mobilizing Public Health – Turning Terror’s Side with Science’, Johns Hopkins Public Health, Late Fall 2001 (Cached).
- Niels H. Harrit, et al, ‘Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe’, Open Chemical Physics Journal (2009, 2), p. 7-31 (Cached).
- David R. Griffin points out that while in its Draft Report, NIST qualified its calculations of the fall of the 18 top floors of WTC 7 as “consistent with physical principles”, this reference to “physical principles” was not included in its Final Report.
- 18 USC § 4 – Misprision of felony, Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute.
- Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.
- Kevin Ryan, ‘Are Tall Buildings Safer As a Result of the NIST WTC Reports?”, Foreign Policy Journal, 10 September 2012 (Cached).
- ‘The 9/11 Commission Report, One Year Later. A Citizens’ Response: Did the Commission Get It Right?”’, 22 July 2005 (Cached).
- Jim Dwyer, ‘Investigating 9/11: An Unimaginable Calamity, Still Largely Unexamined’, New York Times, 11 September 2002 (Cached).
- Patrick Martin, ‘One year after the terror attacks: still no official investigation into September 11’, World Socialist Web Site, 12 September 2002 (Cache).
- Jacob Heilbrunn, ‘A lack of intelligence’, New York Times, April 13, 2008 (Cached).
- Public Law 107-306, 107th Congress, Title VI.
- Scot J. Paltrow, ‘White House Hurdles Delay 9/11 Commission Investigation’, Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2003 (Cached).
- Terry Frieden, ‘Price tag for Starr investigation: $40 million plus’, CNN, 1 February 1999 (Cached).
- Paul Recer, ‘NASA: Columbia Cleanup Cost Nears $400M’, NewsDay.com, 11 September 2003 (Cached).
- Cf. David R. Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Olive Branch Press, Northampton, 2005), p. 284, n. 12.
- “The Kean Commission: The Official Commission Avoids the Core Issues”, 9-11 Research (Cached); also “Conflicts Of Interest On Sept. 11 Panel? 6 of 10 Panel Members Allegedly Have Ties To Airline Industry”, CBS News, 5 March 2003 (Cached).
- David R. Griffin, supra note 181, at 8.
- See, particularly, Philip Shenon, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (Twelve publisher, 2008).
- Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. Government Printing Office, H. Rept. 107-792, December 31, 2001.
- Ibid, p. 90.
- The agreement takes the form of a letter from the Department of Justice of 11 July 2003 to the 9/11 Commission’s Executive Director Philip Zelikow. It is found in NARA SK B9 Tier A-B Interviews 1 of 2 Folder – Letters re Minders. (Cached).
- P. Shenon, The Commission, supra note 184, p. 388-9.
- Ibid, p. 389.
- David R. Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited (Olive Branch Press, Northampton, 2008), p. 239.
- ‘Minnesota Protocol’, supra note 8.
- ‘Minnesota Protocol’, supra note 8, Article 14.
- Final Report og the 9/11 Commission, p. 146 (box).
- Letter by 9/11 Commissioners Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and DCI George J. Tenet, 14 January 2004; Memorandum from 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow to Alberto Gonzalez, Scott Muller and Steve Cambone, 15 January 2004; letter by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and DCI George J. Tenet to 9/11 Commissioners Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton of 16 January 2004 (posted by ACLU) (Cached).
- Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, p. 5.
- “Hijack ‘suspects’ alive and well”, BBC, 23 September 2001 (Cached).
- Aidan Monaghan, ‘FBI Counsel: No Records Available Revealing ID Process of Recovered 9/11 Plane Wreckage’, 911Blogger.com, 17 March 2008 (Cached).
- The huge confusion which existed on 9/11 because of the military exercises, prevented the authorities and the airlines to determine which of the dozens aircraft that had been suspected as hijacked, had been real as opposed to phantom, simulated aircraft. See interview of Col. Robert Marr Jr. in R. A. Baker, ‘Commander of Air Defenses Retires’, Newshouse News Service, 19 May 2005 (Cached).
- Who would even suspect that such forensic identification might not have taken place?
- David R. Griffin, ‘The 9/11 Commission Report: A 571-Page Lie’, 22 May 2005, 911Truth.Org (Cached).
- David R. Griffin, supra note 181, p. 12.
- Collection of articles regarding the identities of the “living hijackers.”
- Cited by Timothy W. Maier, ‘FBI Denies Mix-Up Of 9/11 Terrorists,’ Insight on the News, 11 June 2003 (Cached).
- FBI, Press Release, supra note 128.
- The 9/11 Commission Final Report, Preface, p. xvi.
- One of these alleged suicide-pilots by the name of Hani Hanjour is officially alleged to have flown a Boeing 757 (flight AA77) horizontally into the first floor of the Pentagon at over 450 mph. According to his flight instructors, he could hardly control a single-engine Cessna. Professional pilots say they themselves would have difficulty in maintaining a Boeing 757 horizontally at twenty feet above the ground while flying at 450 mph.
- For a comprehensive examination of these issues, see Elias Davidsson, ‘There is no evidence that Muslims committed the crime of 9/11’, 10 January 2008 (Cached).
- A still from this security video is available on the website of Zacarias Moussaoui’s trial. Exhibit FO07021 (Cached) No video recording could be found on the internet. The still image contains two different times and is very unclear.
- See, “Point Video-1: The Alleged Security Videos of Mohamed Atta during a Mysterious Trip to Portland, Maine, September 10-11, 2001” The 9/11 Best Evidence Panel (Cached).
- The Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, p. 2-4 and notes 11, 14 and 15 (p. 452).
- Alleged security video from Dulles Airport, September 11, 2001. Youtube-1, Youtube-2.
- Susan B. Trento and Joseph J. Trento, Unsafe at any Altitude: Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security Today (Steerforth Press, 2006), p. 37.
- Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, Note 2 to Chapter I, p. 2-4.
- Barry Klein, Wes Allison et al, ‘FBI seizes records of students at flight schools’, St. Peterburg Times, 13 September 2001 (Cached); also Dana Canedy and David E. Sanger, ‘Hijacking Trail Leads F.B.I. to Florida Flight School’, New York Times, 13 September 2001 (Cached).
- It was never explained how the FBI knew by the afternoon of 9/11 that Atta and al-Shehhi had frequented bars, let alone a specific bar in Hollywood, Florida. There are approximately 48,000 bars in the United States and roughly 4,000 bars in Florida alone.
- ‘Remains Of Nine Sept. 11 Hijackers Held’, CBS, 17 August 2002 (Cached); also Tom Gibb, ‘FBI ends site work, says no bomb used’, Post-Gazette News, 25 September 2001 (Cached).
- Tom Gibb, ‘Flight 93 remains yield no evidence’, Post-Gazette News, 20 December 2001 (Cached).
- Paul D. Colford, ‘9/11 parts split by good and evil’, NY Daily News, 12 October 2005 (Cached).
- Eve Conant, ‘Terror: The Remains of 9/11 Hijackers’, Newsweek, 2 January 2009 (Cached).
- Tom Gibb, ‘Judge OKs certificates of death in Flight 93’, Post-Gazette, October 12, 2001 (Cached).
- Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances’, 26 January 2011, UN doc. A/HRC/16/48 (General Comment, para. 6) (Cached).
- Chris Kelly, spokesman of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), where the identification of the victims’ remains from flights AA77 and UA93 took place, said about the alleged hijackers’ bodies: “We are not quite sure what will happen to them, we doubt very much we are going to be making an effort to reach family members over there.” (D. Whitworth, ‘Hijackers’ bodies set Bush grisly ethical question’, The Times (U.K.), 6 October 2001 (Cached).
- Paul W. Rea, ‘Appendix C: Suppression or Destruction of Evidence Pertaining to 9/11’, in Mounting Evidence: Why We Need a New Investigation into 9/11 (iUniverse Publishers, 2011).
- “Baosteel Will Recycle World Trade Center Debris”, China.Org, 24 January 2002 (“Baosteel Group, [China’s] largest steel firm, has purchased 50,000 tons of the scrap steel from ‘Ground Zero’”) (Cached); also Ching-Ching Ni, ‘Mangled WTC steel bought by China’, Chicago Tribune, 27 January 2002 (Cached).
- “On WTC debris, these Indian buildings stand”, Rediff India, 14 September 2006 (“The Indian Steel Alliance […] estimates that scrap processing companies across India […] imported nearly 50,000 tonnes of the WTC steel wreckage.”) (Cached).
- Danielle Watson, ‘60,000 Tons of WTC Steel Recycled’, WASTE360.COM, 31 January 2002 (“Approximately 60,000 tons of steel from the WTC have been shipped to recyclers around the world, mostly to South Korea and certain U.S. cities.”) (Cached).
- “WTC scrap melted near al-Qaida site”, Associated Press (the Enquirer), 10 September 2002 (“Company executives and government officials confirmed that Megasteel [Malaysia] took delivery last month of a 35,000-ton shipment of scrap metal that included some World Trade Center steel”) (Cached).
- Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, NIST NCSTAR 1A, p. 16 and 56 (Cached).
- Testimony of Dr. W. Gene Corley, Senior Vice-President, CT Engineering, Chicago, IL, On behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Before the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards & Subcommittee on Research, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives, March 6, 2002, p. 6.
- Jacqueline Emigh, ‘GPS on the job in a massive World Trade Center clean-up’, Security Solutions, 1 July 2002 (Cached).
- B. Manning, supra note 145.
- Matthew L. Wald, ‘F.A.A. Offficial Scrapped Tape of 9/11 Controllers’ Statements’, New York Times, 6 May 2004 (Cached); also ‘Cassette Tape of 9/11 Controllers’ Recollections Destroyed’, Air Safety Week, 17 May 2004.
- Adam Brookes, ‘CIA Chief Faces Credibility Test’, BBC, 7 December 2007 (Cached).
- Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, ‘Stonewalled by the CIA’, New York Times, 2 January 2008 (Cached).
- Francie Grace, ‘Memo Reveals FBI E-Mail Snafu’, CBS News, May 29, 2002 (Cached).
- Moussaoui trial exhibit PA00108.
- Moussaoui trial exhibit PA00110.
- Moussaoui trial exhibit PA00102.
- Moussaoui trial exhibit PA00105.08.
- Moussaoui trial exhibit GX-PA00109 (cannot anymore be found, 2015).
- Robb Frederick, ‘The day that changed Amereica’, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 11 September 2002 (Cached).
- Lisa Beamer, Let’s Roll (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, 2002), p. 231.
- Final Report of the 9/11 Commission; note 1 to chapter 1, p. 451.
- Had flight AA11 not hit the North Tower of the WTC, no TV camera would be recording the aircraft impact on the South Tower. Osama bin Laden and his bosses would not have been able to present the world with a real-time, visual evidence, of a plane crash on the World Trade Center.
- United States of America v Zacarias Moussaoui, U.S. District Court, Alexandria Division. Cross-examination of FBI Special Agent James M. Fitzgerald. March 7, 2006, 10:00 A.M. Transcript p. 222 (Cached).
- Application and Affidavit of FBI Special Agent James K. Lechner, September 12, 2001 (see also following pages).
- United States of America v Zacarias Moussaoui, supra note 133.
- FBI document 302-1306, in NARA-documents of the 9/11 Commission, Team 7, Box B17 (FBI 302s of interest Flight 11) (Cached).
- Dieter Snell, Senior Counsel of the 9/11 Commission, addressing the 9/11 Commission at its 12th Public Hearing, June 16, 2004 (Cached).
- FBI 302-46163, quoted in MFR04016228 of February 10, 2004, prepared by Quinn John Tamm, Jr. of the 9/11 Commission’s staff (Cached).
- Brian Whitaker, ‘Chilling document hints at ‘Armageddon’, The Guardian, 1 October 2001 (Cached).
- RCW 9A.72.090 (Perjury and interference with judicial proceedings), Washington State Legislature (Cached).
- Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSA), 107th Congress (2001-2002), H.R.2926 (Cached).
- Robert L. Rabin, ‘September 11 through the prism of victim compensation’ (Abstract), Columbia Law Review, March 2006, Vol. 106, No. 2, p. 464 (Cached).
- Joe Taglieri, ‘9-11 Lawsuits: Saudis, Airlines, Bush Face Litigation’, From the Wilderness, 27 August 2002 (Cached); also Walter Gilberti, ‘Bush administration moves to stifle discovery in 9/11 lawsuits’, World Socialist Web Site, 2 August 2002 (Cached).
- The number was actually 96. See Susan Edelman, ‘Final 9/11 holdout kin fight on for ‘truth’ trial’, New York Post, January 20, 2010 (Cached).
- Tim Harper, “Families Sue U.S., Reject 9/11 ‘Bribe’”, Toronto Star, 23 December 2003 (Cached).
- ATSA, supra note 259, Section 408, para. (3) (Jurisdiction).
- ‘Jury Can Hear Part of Flight 93 Tape’, CBS News, February 11, 2009 (Cached).
- Benjamin Weiser, ‘Family and United Settle Last 9/11 Wrongful-Death Lawsuit’, New York Times, 19 September 2011 (Cached).
- Anemona Harocollis, ‘More 9/11 Lawsuits Are Settled’, New York Times, 18 September 2007 (Cached).
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Motion for Order Authorizing Appellant to Supplement Record, in Ramseier v. UAL Corporation et al., Case number 11-175, document 363-1, 19 April 2012 (Cached http://aldeilis.net/truth/179.pdf).
- ‘An open letter from Ellen Mariani’, 15 February 2007 (Cached).
- T. Seessel, supra note 109, p. 7.
- Lisa Beamer, supra note 246, p. 240-241.
- Ibid. p. 241.
- Ibid. p. 247-8.
- Ibid. p. 249.
- Ibid. p. 255-6.
- Ibid, p. 256.
- Susan Sward, ‘The voice of the survivors: Flight 93, fight to hear tape transformed her life’, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 April 2002 (Cached).
- Deena Burnett, Fighting Back (Advantage Books, 2006), p. 153.
- Deena Burnett, p. 214.
- Deena Burnett, p. 78.
- ‘Panel: U.S. unprepared ‘in every respect’ on 9/11’, CNN, 18 June 2004 (Cached).
- See, for example, the Statement of Dr. James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, 16-17 August 2004 (“The Commission has rightly observed that the events leading up to September 11 represented a failure of imagination”) (Cached).
- Independent investigators swiftly unearthed publicly available documentation exposing this claim as a lie.
- J. Tapper, ‘Senate report: FBI still unprepared’, Salon.com, 4 March 2003 (Cached).
- General Richard B. Myers’ biography (Cached).
- ‘Interview with General Richard B. Myers with Petty Officer Quinn Lyton, USN’, Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, 17 October 2001 (Cached).
- See ‘Cynthia McKinney confronts Richard Myers on 9/11 issues’, House Hearing on FY06 Dept. of Defense Budget, March 11, 2005 (Cached).
- Jim Garamone, “General Myers receives Presidential Medal of Freedom”, American Forces Press Service, 10 November 2005 (Cached).
- Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Role of Defense Department in Homeland Security, 25 October 2001 (Cached).
- Gerry J. Gilmore, ‘Eberhart Tabbed to Head U.S. Northern Command’, U.S. Department of Defense News, 8 May 2002 (Cached).
- General Officer Announcements, Department of Defense, News Release No. 320-03, 13 May 2003 (Cached).
- ‘Naval Academy appoints midshipmen commandant’, The Baltimore Sun, 29 August 2003 (Cached).
- Pam Belluck, ‘The Night Before: A Mundane Itinerary on the Eve of Terror’, New York Times, 5 October 2001 (Cached).
- D. Hopsicker, Welcome to Terrorland (The Madcow Press, Oregon, 2004), p. 62, 65 (he names at least two persons, Stephanie Frederickson and Charles Grapentine, who told him they were warned by the FBI not to talk about their encounter with Mohamed Atta. Frederickson told him she received regular visits of FBI agents for six months, eager to ensure she kept silent).
- D. Hopsicker, p. 89.
- R. Weiss and J. Blum, ‘Suspect May Have Wanted to Buy Plane; Inquiries Reported On Crop-Duster Loan’, Washington Post, 25 September 2001 (Cached).
- Interview by Brian Ross with Johnelle Bryant, ABC News, 6 June 2002. Transcript Part I (Cached); Transcript Part II (Cached).
- ‘Memorandum concerning Executive Branch minders’, by Kevin Scheid, Col. Lorry Fenner and Gordon Lederman, staff members of the 9/11 Commission, to Commission counsel Dan Marcus and Steve Dunne, 2 October 2003 (9/11 Commission, Team 2, Box 6 folder) (Cached).
- ‘9/11 Families and Investigators Demand Transparency and Accountability, Question Conflicts of Interest, Support Local Resolutions, 9/11 Citizens Watch, 13 October 2003 (9/11 Commission, Team 2, Box 15 folder) (Cached).
- MFR 04017312. Interview of Greg Dukeman, 2 October 2003 (Cached).
- M. McAuliff, ‘9/11 Responders To Be Warned They Will Be Screened by FBI’s Terrorism Watch List’, Huffington Post, 21 April 2011 (Cached).
- ‘Who’s on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist?’, Parade, 3 January 2010 (Cached).
- Patrick Martin, ‘FBI terrorist watch list hits 1 million entries’, World Socialist Web Site, 12 March 2009 (Cached).
- Enukidze, supra note 13, para. 276.
- See Security Council resolution 1757 (2007) authorizing the establishment of a special tribunal to try suspects in [the] assassination of Rafiq Hariri, 30 May 2007.
- Firefighters for 9/11 Truth.
- Lawyers for 9/11 Truth.
- Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth.
- Commissioned and Non-comnmissioned Military Officers for 9/11 Truth.
- Pilots for 9/11 Truth.
- Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth Statement.
- Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth.
- Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.
- Scientists for 9/11 Truth.
- 9/11 Questions Meetups (as of July 20, 2015) declare the existence of 64 groups in 51 cities, 7 countries, with 11,450 members.
- 9/11 Truth Europe (the list represents the status in 2007).
- In the Introduction to his book A Search for Enemies, author Ted Galen Carpenter wrote in 1992, for example: “Consistent with international relations theory and history, Cold War era solidarity has begun to dissolve now that there is no longer a credible common threat to promote cohesion among the ‘free world’ allies.” (p. 2). Professor John Lewis Gaddis equally referred to the consequences of the demise of the Soviet bloc: “[T]o an extent, coherence in an alliance structure, and consensus in foreign policy, does depend on a sense of threat out there.” (Interview by Harry Kreisler with John Lewis Gaddis at the Institute of International Studies at Berkeley, ‘Origins of the Cold War’, 8 May 1989.
- W. H. McNeill, ‘The Care and Repair of Public Myth´, Foreign Affairs, Fall 1982 (Cached).
Elias Davidsson is a scholar in international law and human rights and an activist for global peace and justice. He is an Icelandic citizen and lives now in Germany. He can be reached through his webpage.
WASHINGTON — The US armed forces are using a growing number of mercenaries or contractors to operate lethal drone attacks as regular troops are increasingly unwilling to do so, experts told Sputnik.
“‘Private contractors’, mercenaries, have been involved in US drone surveillance and attack for some time, certainly with the CIA, and most probably not only in intelligence analysis, but also in the roles of pilots and sensor operators,” KnowDrones.com Coordinator Nick Mottern told Sputnik on Friday.
The sensor operators are the people who pull the trigger to launch Hellfire missiles and bombs, he said.
Mottern noted the need to hire mercenaries indicates that the US military is not able, for whatever reason, to find enough people within its ranks to do such work.
“This is… because it is involving an increasing amount of killing, and, I suspect, an increasing amount of PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].”
The situation, Mottern continued, presents a major legal problem for the contracting companies and the military alike, because of the question who should be held accountable for the killing going on conducted by drones.
“[T]he critical decisions of identifying ‘the enemy’ are being made by civilians who are under no official chain of command,” he added.
All drone killing remains clearly in violation of international law and US domestic law against assassination, Mottern pointed out.
Yet, “here we have the US paying civilians to do illegal killing without even the legal accountability applied to the US military,” he said. “[T]he mercenaries are accountable only to their employers who most assuredly are encouraging high kill totals to ensure continued contracts. “
This lack of accountability and of any clear chain of command “obviously means dramatically increased jeopardy for the people under surveillance and drone attack; that is a dramatic increase in the number of people being killed and terrorized,” Mottern explained.
The unwillingness of the US military to comment on this situation is evidence of its illegality, the activist argued.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), Mottern said, has documented up to nearly 6,000 people killed by US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, not including those killed in Afghanistan before 2015, or those killed by drone attacks in Iraq, Libya or possibly Syria.
“The extent of drone surveillance, killing and terrorism going on is very likely far beyond what is documented by [the BIJ figures],” Mottern warned.
Upstate Drone Acton activist Ed Kinane told Sputnik on Friday that the scale of drone operations and the amount of carnage they will inflict looks likely to increase in coming months.
“The problem isn’t ‘lack of personnel’; the problem is an overabundance of opportunities for surveillance and killing — thanks to the US military’s drive for assassination, intervention and invasion,” Kinane said.
The continued and increasing cycles of war generate further profit for major defense contractors in the United States and its close allies, Kinane claimed.
“More war equals more profit, [therefore] perpetual war equals perpetual profit [and] more regional instability equals more opportunities to secure control over resources of fractured nations,” Kinane argued.
The intelligence analysts now employed by the Pentagon will likely eventually be involved in domestic police and intelligence work as well, Kinane predicted.
The Washington Post’s descent into the depths of neoconservative propaganda – willfully misleading its readers on matters of grave importance – apparently knows no bounds as was demonstrated with two deceptive articles regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin and why his government is cracking down on “foreign agents.”
If you read the Post’s editorial on Wednesday and a companion op-ed by National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, you would have been led to believe that Putin is delusional, paranoid and “power mad” in his concern that outside money funneled into non-governmental organizations represents a threat to Russian sovereignty.
The Post and Gershman were especially outraged that the Russians have enacted laws requiring NGOs financed from abroad and seeking to influence Russian policies to register as “foreign agents” – and that one of the first funding operations to fall prey to these tightened rules was Gershman’s NED.
The Post’s editors wrote that Putin’s “latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an ‘undesirable’ organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a ‘threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.’
“The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts. …
“The new law on ‘undesirables’ comes in addition to one signed in 2012 that gave authorities the power to declare organizations ‘foreign agents’ if they engaged in any kind of politics and receive money from abroad. The designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”
But there are several salient facts that the Post’s editors surely know but don’t want you to know. The first is that NED is a U.S. government-funded organization created in 1983 to do what the Central Intelligence Agency previously had done in financing organizations inside target countries to advance U.S. policy interests and, if needed, help in “regime change.”
The secret hand behind NED’s creation was CIA Director William J. Casey who worked with senior CIA covert operation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to establish NED in 1983. Casey – from the CIA – and Raymond – from his assignment inside President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council – focused on creating a funding mechanism to support groups inside foreign countries that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. To partially replace that CIA role, the idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”
NED Is Born
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured. But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill. The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented, not fully recognizing the significance of the demand.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy. Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president.
Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC. For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”
Currently, Gershman’s NED dispenses more than $100 million a year in U.S. government funds to various NGOs, media outlets and activists around the world. The NED also has found itself in the middle of political destabilization campaigns against governments that have gotten on the wrong side of U.S. foreign policy. For instance, prior to the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing an anti-Russian regime in Kiev, NED was funding scores of projects.
A second point left out of the Post’s editorial was the fact that Gershman took a personal hand in the Ukraine crisis and recognized it as an interim step toward regime change in Moscow. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman published an op-ed in the Washington Post that called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Putin.
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” In other words, NED is a U.S. government-financed entity that has set its sights on ousting Russia’s current government.
A third point that the Post ignored is that the Russian law requiring outside-funded political organizations to register as “foreign agents” was modeled on a U.S. law, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. In other words, the U.S. government also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.
If the Post’s editors had included any or all of these three relevant factors, you would have come away with a more balanced understanding of why Russia is acting as it is. You might still object but at least you would be aware of the full story. By concealing all three points, the Post’s editors were tricking you and other readers into accepting a propagandistic viewpoint – that the Russian actions were crazy and that Putin was, according to the Post’s headline, “power mad.”
But you might think that Gershman would at least acknowledge some of these points in his Post op-ed, surely admitting that NED is financed by the U.S. government. But Gershman didn’t. He simply portrayed Russia’s actions as despicable and desperate.
“Russia’s newest anti-NGO law, under which the National Endowment for Democracy on Tuesday was declared an “undesirable organization” prohibited from operating in Russia, is the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy,” Gershman wrote, adding:
“This is the context in which Russia has passed the law prohibiting Russian democrats from getting any international assistance to promote freedom of expression, the rule of law and a democratic political system. Significantly, democrats have not backed down. They have not been deterred by the criminal penalties contained in the ‘foreign agents’ law and other repressive laws. They know that these laws contradict international law, which allows for such aid, and that the laws are meant to block a better future for Russia.”
The reference to how a “foreign agents” registration law conflicts with international law might have been a good place for Gershman to explain why what is good for the goose in the United States isn’t good for the gander in Russia. But hypocrisy is a hard thing to rationalize and would have undermined the propagandistic impact of the op-ed.
So would an acknowledgement of where NED’s money comes from. How many governments would allow a hostile foreign power to sponsor politicians and civic organizations whose mission is to undermine and overthrow the existing government and put in someone who would be compliant to that foreign power?
Not surprisingly, Gershman couldn’t find the space to include any balance in his op-ed – and the Post’s editors didn’t insist on any.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
There is a madness in how the mainstream U.S. media presents the world to the American people, a delusional perspective that arguably creates an existential threat to humanity’s survival. We have seen this pattern in the biased depiction of the Ukraine crisis and now in how Official Washington is framing the debate over the Iranian nuclear agreement.
In this American land of make-believe, Iran is assailed as the chief instigator of instability in the Middle East. Yet, any sane and informed person would dispute that assessment, noting the far greater contributions made by Israel, Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the United States.
Israel’s belligerence, including frequently attacking its Arab neighbors and brutally repressing the Palestinians, has roiled the region for almost 70 years. Not to mention that Israel is a rogue nuclear state that has been hiding a sophisticated atomic-bomb arsenal.
An objective observer also would note that Saudi Arabia has been investing its oil wealth for generations to advance the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which has inspired terrorist groups from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were identified as Saudis and the U.S. government is still concealing those 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 inquiry regarding Saudi financing of Al Qaeda terrorists.
The Saudis also have participated directly and indirectly in regional wars, including encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, support for Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front’s subversion of Syria, and the current Saudi bombardment of Yemen, killing hundreds of civilians, touching off a humanitarian crisis and helping Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate expand its territory.
Then there’s the United States, which has been meddling in the Middle East overtly and covertly for a very long time, including one of the CIA’s first covert operations, the overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, and one of U.S. foreign policy’s biggest overt blunders, President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Iran coup engendered a deep-seated hatred and suspicion of the U.S. government among Iranians that extends to the present day. And, the Iraq invasion not only spread death and destruction across Iraq but has spilled over into Syria, where U.S. “allies” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel – have been seeking another “regime change” that is being spearheaded by Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State.
The U.S. government has further aided in the destabilization of the region by flooding U.S. “allies” with powerful military equipment, including aircraft that both Israel and Saudi Arabia have used to bomb neighboring countries.
Yet, in the fantasy land that is Official Washington, the politicians and pundits decry “Iranian aggression,” parroting the propaganda theme dictated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke before an adoring audience of senators and congressmen at a joint session of Congress on March 3.
This Iranian “bad behavior” includes helping the Iraqi government withstand brutal attacks by the Islamic State and assisting the Syrian government in blocking a major victory for Islamic terrorism that would follow the fall of Damascus. Iran is also being blamed for the Houthi uprising in Yemen although most informed observers believe the Iranian influence and assistance are minimal.
In other words, the neoconservatives who dominate Official Washington’s “group think” may detest Iran’s regional activities since they are not in line with Israeli (and Saudi) desires, but less ideological analysts might conclude that – on balance – Iran is contributing to the stability of the region or at least helping to avert the worst outcomes.
A Lost Mind
The question becomes: Has Official Washington so lost its collective mind that it actually favors Al Qaeda or the Islamic State raising the black flag of Islamic terrorism over Damascus and even Baghdad? Is Iranian assistance in averting such a calamity such a terrible thing?
Apparently yes. Here’s how The Washington Post’s foreign affairs honcho David Ignatius – in a column entitled “Will Tehran Behave?” – describes the geopolitical situation following Tuesday’s signing of a deal to tightly constrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions:
“The problem isn’t the agreement but Iran itself. Its behavior remains defiantly belligerent, even as it signs an accord pledging to be peaceful. Its operatives subvert neighboring regimes, even as their front companies are about to be removed from the sanctions lists. The agreement welcomes Iran to the community of nations, even though its leader proclaims that Iran is a revolutionary cause.
“Obama argues that dealing with a menacing Iran will be easier if the nuclear issue is off the table for the next 10 years. He’s probably right, but the Iran problem won’t vanish with this accord. Iranian behavior in the region becomes the core issue. Having played the dealmaker, Obama must now press Iran to become a more responsible neighbor.”
By the way, I always thought that the United States proclaimed itself “a revolutionary cause.” But here is Ignatius, who is regarded as a “big thinker,” setting the parameters of the acceptable debate about the Iran nuclear deal. It’s all about Iran’s “behavior.”
Ignatius even quotes Netanyahu decrying the danger that, after 10 years, the agreement will give Iran “a sure path to nuclear weapons.” Of course, Ignatius doesn’t bother to note that Israel already has taken its own path to nuclear weapons. That context is almost never mentioned.
Nor does Ignatius admit how he and many of his fellow pundits supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which in a normal, parallel universe would disqualify Ignatius and his friends from lecturing anyone about how to “behave.” But in today’s Official Washington, a pre-war endorsement of the Iraq disaster is not a disqualifier but a prerequisite for being taken seriously.
Similarly, The Washington Post’s editorial page, which in 2002-03 eagerly backed Bush’s invasion and routinely asserted as flat fact that Iraq possessed hidden WMD stockpiles, now says the real risk in the Iran deal is, you guessed it, “Iranian behavior.”
The Post says the deal could unleash “a dangerous threshold nuclear state that poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.” And, the Post warns that Iran’s “leaders will probably use” the money from the sanctions relief “to finance wars and terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and elsewhere.”
Step into Crazy Land
Again, to appreciate the Post’s thinking, you have to step into crazy land. In the real Iraq and the real Syria, the Iranians are supporting internationally recognized governments battling against terrorist groups, Al Qaeda’s affiliate and the Islamic State.
In Yemen, Iranian involvement is probably minor at most. Plus, the Houthis are not a terrorist group, but rather an indigenous popular movement that has been fighting Al Qaeda’s terrorist affiliate in Yemen.
While it’s not clear what the Post thinks that Iran is doing in the Gaza Strip, which is under a tight Israeli military blockade, only fully committed neocons would think that the long-suffering people of the Gaza Strip don’t deserve some outside help.
Still, the larger issue for the American people is what to do with this insane political-media system that dominates Official Washington. Either these powers-that-be are detached from reality or they are deceitful propagandists who think they can manipulate us with lies and distortions.
Yet, by creating a false reality, whether from madness or cynicism, this system guides the nation into terrible decision-making. And, given the immense military power of the United States, this long national detour into a dark psychosis of delusion must be addressed or the future of humankind will be put into serious jeopardy.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Psychologists colluded with CIA to keep ethics code in line with post 9/11 torture needs – damning report
The US’s leading professional psychologists’ organization helped justify CIA and Pentagon torture programs, a new 542-page report shows. The psychologists involved later profited from torture-related contracts.
The report, concluded this month, examined the involvement of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the validation of the so-called program of enhanced interrogation, under which terror suspects were subjected to torture at CIA black cites and at the Pentagon’s Guantanamo Bay prison facility.
The document prepared by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, says some of the APA’s senior figures, including its ethics director, pushed to keep the association’s ethics code in line with DoD’s interrogation policies. Other prominent external psychologists took actions that aided the CIA’s torture practices, defending it from growing dissent among its own psychologists.
“The evidence supports the conclusion that APA officials colluded with DoD officials to, at the least, adopt and maintain APA ethics policies that were not more restrictive than the guidelines that key DOD officials wanted,” the report published on Friday by the New York Times said. “APA chose its ethics policy based on its goals of helping DoD, managing its PR, and maximizing the growth of the profession.”
The Hoffman report focuses on the APA’s close ties with the Pentagon and can be viewed as complimentary to last December’s Senate report that exposed the brutality of post 9/11 CIA tactics towards terror detainees, the NYT said. It also gives additional details about how the intelligence agency adopted the enhanced interrogation program and solicited outside advice to stem concerns among its own medical professionals.
The report also describes several instances in which senior figures involved in the program moved into the private sector to get lucrative contracts from the CIA and the Pentagon. For instance, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the psychological association and a member of the CIA advisory committee, was asked by Mr Kirk Hubbard (CIA psychologist who was chairman of the agency advisory committee), to provide an opinion about whether sleep deprivation constituted torture. The conclusion was that it did not.
Later, Matarazzo became a partner in Mitchell Jessen and Associates, a contracting company created by James Mitchel and Bruce Jessen to consult with the CIA on their interrogation program. They were instructors for the Air Force’s SERE (survival, evasion, rescue and escape) program, in which US troops are subjected to simulated torture to prepare them for possible capture. They adapted the program’s techniques for use against terror detainees, the report said.
After the Hoffman report was made public, the American Psychological Association issued an apology.
“The actions, policies and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values,” Nadine Kaslow, a former president of the organization, said in a statement. “We profoundly regret and apologize for the behavior and the consequences that ensued.”
One of the more immediate consequences of the report was the resignation of the APA’s ethics chief, Stephen Behnke, according to the Guardian. The psychologists coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist, the report said. He later received a Pentagon contract for training interrogators, without notifying the American Psychological Association’s board.
Kaslow told the newspaper that Behnke’s last day at the APA was July 8, after the association received Hoffman’s report, and that further resignations were likely to follow.
A similarly damning report on the APA’s involvement in US government torture programs was published in April.
The Dutch investigation into the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine last July has failed to uncover conclusive proof of precisely who was responsible for the deaths of the 298 passengers and crew but is expected to point suspicions toward the ethnic Russian rebels, fitting with the West’s long-running anti-Russian propaganda campaign.
A source who has been briefed on the outlines of the investigation said some U.S. intelligence analysts have reached a contrary conclusion and place the blame on “rogue” elements of the Ukrainian government operating out of a circle of hard-liners around one of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Yet, according to this source, the U.S. analysts will demur on the Dutch findings, letting them stand without public challenge.
Throughout the Ukraine crisis, propaganda and “information warfare” have overridden any honest presentation of reality – and the mystery around the MH-17 disaster has now slipped into that haze of charge and counter-charge. Many investigative journalists, including myself, have been rebuffed in repeated efforts to get verifiable proof about the case or even informational briefings.
In that sense, the MH-17 case stands as an outlier to the usual openness that surrounds inquiries into airline disasters. The Obama administration’s behavior has been particularly curious, with its rush to judgment five days after the July 17, 2014 shoot-down, citing sketchy social media posts to implicate the ethnic Russian rebels and indirectly the Russian government but then refusing requests for updates.
But why the later secrecy? If Director of National Intelligence James Clapper decided that unverified information about the shoot-down could be released five days after the event, why would his office then decide to keep the U.S. public in the dark as more definitive data became available?
Over the past 11 months, the DNI’s office has offered no updates on the initial assessment, with a DNI spokeswoman even making the absurd claim that U.S. intelligence had made no refinements of its understanding about the tragedy since July 22, 2014.
I’m told that the reason for the DNI’s reversal from openness to secrecy was that U.S. intelligence analysts found no evidence that the Russian government had given the rebels sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles capable of downing an aircraft at 33,000 feet, the altitude of MH-17, and that an examination of U.S. satellite and electronic intelligence instead implicated extremists linked to Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime, although not to Kiev’s political leadership.
At that point, admitting to an erroneous rush to judgment would have embarrassed the administration and undermined the “public diplomacy” campaign around the MH-17 case. By blaming Russia and its President Vladimir Putin last summer, the Obama administration whipped Europe into an anti-Russian frenzy and helped win the European Union’s support for economic sanctions against Russia. Keeping Putin on the defensive is a top U.S. priority.
As one senior U.S. government official explained to me, information warfare was the only area in the Ukraine crisis where Washington felt it had an edge over Moscow, which benefited from a host of other advantages, such as geography, economic and cultural ties, and military pressure.
It also appears that right-wing Ukrainian political forces, which seized power in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, have understood the value of propaganda, including “false flag” operations that pin the blame for atrocities on their opponents. One of the most successful may have been the mysterious sniper attacks on Feb. 20, 2014, that slaughtered both police and protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square, with the violence immediately blamed on President Viktor Yanukovych and used to justify his overthrow two days later.
Later independent investigations indicated that extreme right-wing elements seeking Yanukovych’s ouster were more likely responsible. Two European Union officials, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, were revealed discussing in a phone call their suspicions that elements of the protesters were responsible for the shootings.
“So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet told Ashton, as reported by the UK Guardian. [A worthwhile documentary on this mystery is “Maidan Massacre.”]
Even U.S. officials have faulted the new regime for failing to conduct a diligent investigation to determine who was to blame for the sniper attack. During a rousing anti-Russian speech in Kiev last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power inserted one criticism of the post-coup regime – that “investigations into serious crimes such as the violence in the Maidan and in Odessa [where scores of ethnic Russians were burned alive] have been sluggish, opaque, and marred by serious errors – suggesting not only a lack of competence, but also a lack of will to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
In other words, regarding the Maidan sniper massacre, the Kiev regime wasn’t willing to reveal evidence that might undermine the incident’s use as a valuable propaganda ploy. That attitude has been shared by the mainstream Western media which has sought to glue white hats on the post-coup regime and black hats on the ethnic Russian rebels who supported Yanukovych and have resisted the new power structure.
For instance, since Yanukovych’s ouster nearly 1½ years ago, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets have treated reports about the key role played in the coup regime by neo-Nazis and other far-right nationalists as “Russian propaganda.” However, this week, the Times finally acknowledged the importance of these extremists in Kiev’s military operations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists.”]
A similar propaganda fog has enveloped the MH-17 investigation, with the lead investigators – the Dutch, British, Australians and Ukrainians – all firmly in the pro-Kiev and anti-Moscow camp. (Specialists from the United States, Russia and Malaysia have also been involved in the inquiry.)
Not surprisingly, leaders in Ukraine and Australia, as well, didn’t wait for the investigation to reach a conclusion before placing the blame on Putin. Last October, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used an Australian football term in vowing to “shirtfront” Putin about his supposed guilt in the MH-17 case.
Keeping the later U.S. intelligence analysis secret also allows for the Putin-did-it propaganda campaigns to go forward in mainstream media outlets and various propaganda fronts. A good example was the Australian “60 Minutes” report in May presenting bogus video evidence supposedly corroborating “Russia-did-it” claims made by British blogger Eliot Higgins.
While the segment appeared to be authoritative – supposedly proving that Putin was responsible for mass murder – a closer examination showed that the program had relied on video fakery to mislead its viewers. The key scene supposedly matching up a video of a getaway Buk anti-aircraft missile battery with landmarks in the rebel-controlled city of Luhansk didn’t match up at all. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “You Be the Judge.”]
After I revealed the fraud by showing how the two scenes were almost entirely different, the Australian show fell back on a claim that one utility pole in the getaway video looked like a utility pole that its reporting team has found in Luhansk. It is perhaps a sign of how crazy the anti-Russian propaganda has gotten that a major news program could feel that it can make such an absurd argument and get away with it.
In a rational world, matching up the two scenes would require all the landmarks to fit, when in this case none of them did. Further, to cite similarities between two utility poles as evidence ignored the fact that most utility poles look alike and there was the additional fact that none of the area around the two utility poles matched at all, including a house behind one that didn’t appear in the scene of the other. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]
However, as long as the U.S. government’s comprehensive intelligence information on MH-17 is kept secret, such sleights of hand can continue to work. I’m told that the Dutch report is likely to contain similar circumstantial claims, citing such things as the possible angle of the fired missile, to suggest that the ethnic Russian rebels were at fault.
Last October, the Dutch Safety Board’s initial report answered very few questions, beyond confirming that MH-17 apparently was destroyed by “high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.” Other key questions went begging, such as what to make of the Russian military radar purporting to show a Ukrainian SU-25 jetfighter in the area, a claim that the Kiev government denied.
Either the Russian radar showed the presence of a jetfighter “gaining height” as it closed to within three to five kilometers of the passenger plane – as the Russians claimed in a July 21 press conference – or it didn’t. The Kiev authorities insisted that they had no military aircraft in the area at the time.
But the 34-page Dutch report was silent on the jetfighter question, although noting that the investigators had received Air Traffic Control “surveillance data from the Russian Federation.” The report also was silent on the “dog-not-barking” issue of whether the U.S. government had satellite surveillance that revealed exactly where the supposed ground-to-air missile was launched and who may have fired it.
The Obama administration has asserted knowledge about those facts, but the U.S. government has withheld satellite photos and other intelligence information that could presumably corroborate the charge. Curiously, too, the Dutch report said the investigation received “satellite imagery taken in the days after the occurrence.” Obviously, the more relevant images in assessing blame would be aerial photography in the days and hours before the crash.
The Dutch report’s reference to only post-crash satellite photos was also odd because the Russian military released a number of satellite images purporting to show Ukrainian government Buk missile systems north of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk before the attack, including two batteries that purportedly were shifted 50 kilometers south of Donetsk on July 17, the day of the crash, and then removed by July 18.
Russian Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov called on the Ukrainian government to explain the movements of its Buk systems and why Kiev’s Kupol-M19S18 radars, which coordinate the flight of Buk missiles, showed increased activity leading up to the July 17 shoot-down.
The Ukrainian government countered these questions by asserting that it had “evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” according to Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council, using Kiev’s preferred term for the rebels.
Lysenko added: “To disown this tragedy, [Russian officials] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.” But Ukrainian authorities have failed to address the Russian evidence except through broad denials.
Where’s the Intelligence?
On July 29, 2014, amid escalating rhetoric against Russia from U.S. government officials and the Western news media, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity called on President Obama to release what evidence the U.S. government had on the shoot-down, including satellite imagery.
“As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information,” the group wrote. “As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to ‘poison the jury pool.’”
However, the Obama administration has failed to make public any intelligence information that would back up its earlier suppositions or any new evidence at all. One source told me that U.S. intelligence analysts are afraid to speak out about the information that contradicts the original rush to judgment because of Obama’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers.
If the Dutch final report emerges with carefully circumscribed circumstantial evidence implicating the pro-Russian rebels, the nuances will surely be carved away when the report is fed into the existing propaganda machinery. The conventional wisdom about “Russian guilt” will be firmed up.
A sense of how that will go can be seen in a recent New York Times article by David Herszenhorn on June 29:
“Pro-Russian separatist leaders in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk have blocked access to Dutch law enforcement officials pursuing an investigation into the downing of a Malaysian jetliner nearly a year ago, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Office said. …
“The obstruction by separatist officials prompted the investigators, from the Dutch National Police and Ministry of Defense, to cut short their field work in Ukraine without conducting research into cellphone towers and cellular networks in the region, the public prosecution office said. …
“Based on preliminary analysis and intelligence, including from the United States government, the aircraft was widely believed to have been destroyed by a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces.”
While the thrust of Herszenhorn’s article made the ethnic Russian rebels look bad – and foreshadows some of the points likely to be featured in the Dutch investigative report – perhaps the most significant word in the story is “preliminary.” While it’s true that the U.S. government’s “preliminary” report on July 22, 2014, implicated the rebels, the more pertinent question – not asked by the Times – is why there has been no refinement of that “preliminary” report.
The Dutch Safety Board issued a brief progress report on July 1 noting that it had submitted a draft of its final report to “accredited representatives of the participating States on … June 2,” giving them 60 days to submit comments before a “definitive final” report is published in October.
Meanwhile, Dutch prosecutors handling the criminal investigation say they have no specific suspects, but lead investigator Fred Westerbeke claims the probe has a number of “persons of interest.” Westerbeke said the criminal probe will likely run through the end of the year or later.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.” Seymour Hersh(1)
“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Ariel Sharon(2)
With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicaly recognized as such.
Since the Gulf War in 1991, while much attention has been lavished on the threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the major culprit in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing chemical and biological weapons, an extremely sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and an aggressive strategy for their actual use, Israel provides the major regional impetus for the development of weapons of mass destruction and represents an acute threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. The Israeli nuclear program represents a serious impediment to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and, with India and Pakistan, is a potential nuclear flashpoint. (prospects of meaningful non-proliferation are a delusion so long as the nuclear weapons states insist on maintaining their arsenals,) Citizens concerned about sanctions against Iraq, peace with justice in the Middle East, and nuclear disarmament have an obligation to speak out forcefully against the Israeli nuclear program.
Birth of the Israeli Bomb
The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104.(3)
There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria.(4) By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.(5)
Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide).(6) These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.
Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred(7)(8). In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.
South Africa and the United States
In 1977, the Soviet Union warned the U.S. that satellite photos indicated South Africa was planning a nuclear test in the Kalahari Desert but the Apartheid regime backed down under pressure. On September 22, 1979, a U.S. satellite detected an atmospheric test of a small thermonuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa but, because of Israel’s apparent involvement, the report was quickly “whitewashed” by a carefully selected scientific panel kept in the dark about important details. Later it was learned through Israeli sources that there were actually three carefully guarded tests of miniaturized Israeli nuclear artillery shells. The Israeli/South African collaboration did not end with the bomb testing, but continued until the fall of Apartheid, especially with the developing and testing of medium range missiles and advanced artillery. In addition to uranium and test facilities, South Africa provided Israel with large amounts of investment capital, while Israel provided a major trade outlet to enable the Apartheid state avoid international economic sanctions.(9)
Although the French and South Africans were primarily responsible for the Israeli nuclear program, the U.S. shares and deserves a large part of the blame. Mark Gaffney wrote (the Israeli nuclear program) “was possible only because (emphasis in original) of calculated deception on the part of Israel, and willing complicity on the part of the U.S..”(10)
From the very beginning, the U.S. was heavily involved in the Israeli nuclear program, providing nuclear related technology such as a small research reactor in 1955 under the “Atoms for Peace Program.” Israeli scientists were largely trained at U.S. universities and were generally welcomed at the nuclear weapons labs. In the early 1960s, the controls for the Dimona reactor were obtained clandestinely from a company called Tracer Lab, the main supplier of U.S. military reactor control panels, purchased through a Belgian subsidiary, apparently with the acquiescence of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA.(11) In 1971, the Nixon administration approved the sale of hundreds of krytons(a type of high speed switch necessary to the development of sophisticated nuclear bombs) to Israel.(12) And, in 1979, Carter provided ultra high resolution photos from a KH-11 spy satellite, used 2 years later to bomb the Iraqi Osirak Reactor.(13) Throughout the Nixon and Carter administrations, and accelerating dramatically under Reagan, U.S. advanced technology transfers to Israel have continued unabated to the present.
The Vanunu Revelations
Following the 1973 war, Israel intensified its nuclear program while continuing its policy of deliberate “nuclear opaqueness.” Until the mid-1980s, most intelligence estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal were on the order of two dozen but the explosive revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear technician working in the Dimona plutonium reprocessing plant, changed everything overnight. A leftist supporter of Palestine, Vanunu believed that it was his duty to humanity to expose Israel’s nuclear program to the world. He smuggled dozens of photos and valuable scientific data out of Israel and in 1986 his story was published in the London Sunday Times. Rigorous scientific scrutiny of the Vanunu revelations led to the disclosure that Israel possessed as many as 200 highly sophisticated, miniaturized thermonuclear bombs. His information indicated that the Dimona reactor’s capacity had been expanded several fold and that Israel was producing enough plutonium to make ten to twelve bombs per year. A senior U.S. intelligence analyst said of the Vanunu data,”The scope of this is much more extensive than we thought. This is an enormous operation.”(14)
Just prior to publication of his information Vanunu was lured to Rome by a Mossad “Mata Hari,” was beaten, drugged and kidnapped to Israel and, following a campaign of disinformation and vilification in the Israeli press, convicted of “treason” by a secret security court and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He served over 11 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 foot cell. After a year of modified release into the general population(he was not permitted contact with Arabs), Vanunu recently has been returned to solitary and faces more than 3 years further imprisonment. Predictably, The Vanunu revelations were largely ignored by the world press, especially in the United States, and Israel continues to enjoy a relatively free ride regarding its nuclear status. (15)
Israel’s Arsenal of Mass Destruction
Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow, cruise missiles, land mines (In the 1980s Israel planted nuclear land mines along the Golan Heights(17)), and artillery shells with a range of 45 miles(18).
In June, 2000 an Israeli submarine launched a cruise missile which hit a target 950 miles away, making Israel only the third nation after the U.S. and Russia with that capability. Israel will deploy 3 of these virtually impregnable submarines, each carrying 4 cruise missiles.(19)
The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”
Israel also possesses a comprehensive arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. According to the Sunday Times, Israel has produced both chemical and biological weapons with a sophisticated delivery system, quoting a senior Israeli intelligence official,
“There is hardly a single known or unknown form of chemical or biological weapon . . . which is not manufactured at the Nes Tziyona Biological Institute.”)(20)
The same report described F-16 fighter jets specially designed for chemical and biological payloads, with crews trained to load the weapons on a moments notice. In 1998, the Sunday Times reported that Israel, using research obtained from South Africa, was developing an “ethno bomb; “In developing their “ethno-bomb”, Israeli scientists are trying to exploit medical advances by identifying distinctive a gene carried by some Arabs, then create a genetically modified bacterium or virus… The scientists are trying to engineer deadly micro-organisms that attack only those bearing the distinctive genes.” Dedi Zucker, a leftist Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, denounced the research saying, “Morally, based on our history, and our tradition and our experience, such a weapon is monstrous and should be denied.”(21)
Israeli Nuclear Strategy
In popular imagination, the Israeli bomb is a “weapon of last resort,” to be used only at the last minute to avoid annihilation, and many well intentioned but misled supporters of Israel still believe that to be the case. Whatever truth this formulation may have had in the minds of the early Israeli nuclear strategists, today the Israeli nuclear arsenal is inextricably linked to and integrated with overall Israeli military and political strategy. As Seymour Hersh says in classic understatement ; “The Samson Option is no longer the only nuclear option available to Israel.”(22) Israel has made countless veiled nuclear threats against the Arab nations and against the Soviet Union(and by extension Russia since the end of the Cold War) One chilling example comes from Ariel Sharon, the current Israeli Prime Minister,
“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”(23)
(In 1983 Sharon proposed to India that it join with Israel to attack Pakistani nuclear facilities; in the late 70s he proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to Tehran to prop up the Shah; and in 1982 he called for expanding Israel’s security influence to stretch from “Mauritania to Afghanistan.”)
In another example, Israeli nuclear expert Oded Brosh said in 1992,
“…we need not be ashamed that the nuclear option is a major instrumentality of our defense as a deterrent against those who attack us.”(24)
According to Israel Shahak,
“The wish for peace, so often assumed as the Israeli aim, is not in my view a principle of Israeli policy, while the wish to extend Israeli domination and influence is.”
“Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states…. Israel clearly prepares itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East…, without hesitating to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones.”(25)
Israel uses its nuclear arsenal not just in the context of deterrence” or of direct war fighting, but in other more subtle but no less important ways. For example, the possession of weapons of mass destruction can be a powerful lever to maintain the status quo, or to influence events to Israel’s perceived advantage, such as to protect the so called moderate Arab states from internal insurrection, or to intervene in inter-Arab warfare.(26)
In Israeli strategic jargon this concept is called “nonconventional compellence” and is exemplified by a quote from Shimon Peres; “acquiring a superior weapons system(read nuclear) would mean the possibility of using it for compellent purposes- that is forcing the other side to accept Israeli political demands, which presumably include a demand that the traditional status quo be accepted and a peace treaty signed.”(27)
From a slightly different perspective, Robert Tuckerr asked in a Commentary magazine article in defense of Israeli nukes, “What would prevent Israel… from pursuing a hawkish policy employing a nuclear deterrent to freeze the status quo?”(28) Possessing an overwhelming nuclear superiority allows Israel to act with impunity even in the face world wide opposition. A case in point might be the invasion of Lebanon and destruction of Beirut in 1982, led by Ariel Sharon, which resulted in 20,000 deaths, most civilian. Despite the annihilation of a neighboring Arab state, not to mention the utter destruction of the Syrian Air Force, Israel was able to carry out the war for months at least partially due to its nuclear threat.
Another major use of the Israeli bomb is to compel the U.S. to act in Israel’s favor, even when it runs counter to its own strategic interests. As early as 1956 Francis Perrin, head of the French A-bomb project wrote “We thought the Israeli Bomb was aimed at the Americans, not to launch it at the Americans, but to say, ‘If you don’t want to help us in a critical situation we will require you to help us; otherwise we will use our nuclear bombs.’”(29) During the 1973 war, Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift massive amounts of military hardware to Israel.
The Israeli Ambassador, Simha Dinitz, is quoted as saying, at the time,
“If a massive airlift to Israel does not start immediately, then I will know that the U.S. is reneging on its promises and…we will have to draw very serious conclusions…”(30)
Just one example of this strategy was spelled out in 1987 by Amos Rubin, economic adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who said
“If left to its own Israel will have no choice but to fall back on a riskier defense which will endanger itself and the world at large… To enable Israel to abstain from dependence on nuclear arms calls for $2 to 3 billion per year in U.S. aid.”(31)
Since then Israel’s nuclear arsenal has expanded exponentially, both quantitatively and qualitatively, while the U.S. money spigots remain wide open.
Regional and International Implications
Largely unknown to the world, the Middle East nearly exploded in all out war on February 22, 2001. According to the London Sunday Times and DEBKAfile, Israel went on high missile alert after receiving news from the U.S. of movement by 6 Iraqi armored divisions stationed along the Syrian border, and of launch preparations of surface to surface missiles. DEBKAfile, an Israeli based “counter-terrorism” information service, claims that the Iraqi missiles were deliberately taken to the highest alert level in order to test the U.S. and Israeli response. Despite an immediate attack by 42 U.S. and British war planes, the Iraqis suffered little apparent damage.(32) The Israelis have warned Iraq that they are prepared to use neutron bombs in a preemptive attack against Iraqi missiles.
The Israeli nuclear arsenal has profound implications for the future of peace in the Middle East, and indeed, for the entire planet. It is clear from Israel Shahak that Israel has no interest in peace except that which is dictated on its own terms, and has absolutely no intention of negotiating in good faith to curtail its nuclear program or discuss seriously a nuclear-free Middle East,”Israel’s insistence on the independent use of its nuclear weapons can be seen as the foundation on which Israeli grand strategy rests.”(34) According to Seymour Hersh, “the size and sophistication of Israel’s nuclear arsenal allows men such as Ariel Sharon to dream of redrawing the map of the Middle East aided by the implicit threat of nuclear force.”(35) General Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, former Israeli Chief of Staff is quoted “It is never possible to talk to Iraq about no matter what; It is never possible to talk to Iran about no matter what. Certainly about nuclearization. With Syria we cannot really talk either.”(36) Ze’ev Shiff, an Israeli military expert writing in Haaretz said, “Whoever believes that Israel will ever sign the UN Convention prohibiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons… is day dreaming,”(37) and Munya Mardoch, Director of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry, said in 1994, “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of Vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.”(38)
As Israeli society becomes more and more polarized, the influence of the radical right becomes stronger. According to Shahak, “The prospect of Gush Emunim, or some secular right-wing Israeli fanatics, or some some of the delerious Israeli Army generals, seizing control of Israeli nuclear weapons…cannot be precluded. … while israeli jewish society undergoes a steady polarization, the Israeli security system increasingly relies on the recruitment of cohorts from the ranks of the extreme right.”(39) The Arab states, long aware of Israel’s nuclear program, bitterly resent its coercive intent, and perceive its existence as the paramount threat to peace in the region, requiring their own weapons of mass destruction. During a future Middle Eastern war (a distinct possibility given the ascension of Ariel Sharon, an unindicted war criminal with a bloody record stretching from the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Quibya in 1953, to the massacre of Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila in 1982 and beyond) the possible Israeli use of nuclear weapons should not be discounted. According to Shahak, “In Israeli terminology, the launching of missiles on to Israeli territory is regarded as ‘nonconventional’ regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas.”(40) (Which requires a “nonconventional” response, a perhaps unique exception being the Iraqi SCUD attacks during the Gulf War.)
Meanwhile, the existence of an arsenal of mass destruction in such an unstable region in turn has serious implications for future arms control and disarmament negotiations, and even the threat of nuclear war. Seymour Hersh warns,
“Should war break out in the Middle East again,… or should any Arab nation fire missiles against Israel, as the Iraqis did, a nuclear escalation, once unthinkable except as a last resort, would now be a strong probability.”(41) and Ezar Weissman, Israel’s current President said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum(and the) next war will not be conventional.”(42)
Russia and before it the Soviet Union has long been a major (if not the major) target of Israeli nukes. It is widely reported that the principal purpose of Jonathan Pollard’s spying for Israel was to furnish satellite images of Soviet targets and other super sensitive data relating to U.S. nuclear targeting strategy. (43) (Since launching its own satellite in 1988, Israel no longer needs U.S. spy secrets.) Israeli nukes aimed at the Russian heartland seriously complicate disarmament and arms control negotiations and, at the very least, the unilateral possession of nuclear weapons by Israel is enormously destabilizing, and dramatically lowers the threshold for their actual use, if not for all out nuclear war. In the words of Mark Gaffney, “… if the familar pattern (Israel refining its weapons of mass destruction with U.S. complicity) is not reversed soon- for whatever reason- the deepening Middle East conflict could trigger a world conflagration.” (44)
Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies.
Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.
1. Seymour Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, New York,1991, Random House, p. 319 (A brilliant and prophetic work with much original research)2
2. Mark Gaffney, Dimona, The Third Temple:The Story Behind the Vanunu Revelation, Brattleboro, VT, 1989, Amana Books, p. 165 (Excellent progressive analysis of the Israeli nuclear program)
3. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Warner D. Farr, The Third Temple Holy of Holies; Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, USAF Counterproliferation Center, Air War College Sept 1999 <www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/farr,htm (Perhaps the best single condensed history of the Israeli nuclear program)
4. Hersch, op.cit., p. 131
5. Gaffney, op.cit., p. 63
6. Gaffney, op. cit. pp 68 – 69
7. Hersh, op.cit., pp. 242-257
8. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, pps. 65-66 (An alternative discussion of the NUMEC affair)
9. Barbara Rogers & Zdenek Cervenka, The Nuclear Axis: The Secret Collaboration Between West Germany and South Africa, New York, 1978, Times Books, p. 325-328 (the definitive history of the Apartheid Bomb)
10. Gaffney, op. cit., 1989, p. 34
11. Peter Hounam, Woman From Mossad: The Torment of Mordechai Vanunu, London, 1999, Vision Paperbacks, pp. 155-168 (The most complete and up to date account of the Vanunu story, it includes fascenating speculation that Israel may have a second hidden Dimona type reactor)
12. Hersh, op. cit., 1989, p. 213
13. ibid, p.198-200
14. ibid, pp. 3-17
15. Hounman, op. cit. 1999, pp 189-203
16. Hersh, 1989. pp.199-200
17. ibid, p. 312
18. John Pike and Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide Website, 2001, Web Address http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/index.html (An invaluable internet resource)
19. Usi Mahnaimi and Peter Conradi, Fears of New Arms Race as Israel Tests Cruise Missiles, June 18, 2000, London Sunday Times
20. Usi Mahnaimi, Israeli Jets Equipped for Chemical Warfare October 4, 1998, London Sunday Times
21. Usi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, Israel Planning “Ethnic” bomb as Saddam Caves In, November 15, 1998, London Sunday Times
22. Hersh, op.cit., 1991, p. 319
23. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p. 163
24. Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, London, 1997,Pluto Press, p. 40 (An absolute “must read” for any Middle East or anti-nuclear activist)
25 ibid, p.2
26. ibid, p.43
27. Gaffney, op.cit., 1989, p 131
28. “Israel & the US: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?” Robert W. Tucker, Novenber 1975 pp41-42
29. London Sunday Times, October 12, 1986
30. Gaffney, op. cit. 1989. p. 147
31. ibid, p. 153
32. DEBKAfile, February 23, 2001 WWW.debka.com
33. Uzi Mahnaimi and Tom Walker, London Sunday Times, February 25, 2001
34. Shahak, op. cit., p150
35. Hersh, op.cit., p. 319
36. Shahak, op. cit., p34
37. ibid, p. 149
38. ibid, p. 153
39. ibid, pp. 37-38
40. ibid, pp 39-40
41. Hersh, op. cit., p. 19
42. Aronson, Geoffrey, “Hidden Agenda: US-Israeli Relations and the Nuclear Question,” Middle East Journal, (Autumn 1992), 619-630.
43 . Hersh, op. cit., pp. 285-305
44. Gaffney, op. cit., p194
It’s always interesting for me to observe the reaction of Americans and Western Europeans when they learn where I’m from. Many just don’t say anything. Many regurgitate something incoherent about Putin’s “imperial” ambitions, “the Boeing” that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine last year, and “that politician guy that got killed in Moscow.” Finally, there are those (unfortunately, a minority) who tell me that things must be more complicated than they are portrayed in the news and genuinely want to know what I think.
Things are definitely much more complicated than they’re portrayed in the news. I’ve had a chance to observe mainstream American, Canadian, and British media for quite some time now, and I’m amazed that so few people are appalled by the crudeness of propaganda that is fed to them, no matter whether the source is Fox News, CNN, or the BBC. Just like that Wal-Mart truck driver that stopped to help a stranded motorist doesn’t make Wal-Mart a great place to shop, the Pentagon Papers don’t make The New York Times a progressive newspaper. Neither does covering the Snowden case make The Guardian a source you should now trust and worship.
When I can hear explosions in the background in the middle of a phone conversation with my relatives who are hunkering down with their young children in the hallway of their apartment (“safe” because it’s away from the windows) while being shelled by Ukrainian artillery, and the “progressive” sources mentioned above pontificate about Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine, call for more sanctions, and do not say a word about the massive devastation and suffering the US- and Europe-backed regime in Kiev has caused in just one year in one of the most urbanized parts of Europe, I feel disappointment and helplessness. Do these talking heads have no shame? Do those who listen to them have no brain? Opportunities to question, explore, and learn are all around you. Why not use them?
How many of you know that the cities of Donetsk (once home to over one million people) and Gorlovka (Horlivka; once home to more than 300 thousand people) have been shelled by the Ukrainian military pretty much daily throughout the month of May and in the first half of June – despite the so-called ceasefire?
How many of you know that American soldiers are actually in Ukraine training the Ukrainian National Guard – the troops that are then deployed to the East of the country? (Do a quick search, and even your “trustworthy” mainstream sources will confirm that – in a non-intrusive sort of way, of course.)
How many of you remember the context of Victoria Nuland’s “Fuck the EU” comment in her conversation with the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt?
How many of you know that John Brennan, director of the CIA, visited Ukraine in April of last year, immediately after which Ukraine’s “counter-terrorist operation” began in the rebellious East of the country? (Do another quick search, and your “trustworthy” mainstream sources will again confirm that – also in a non-intrusive sort of way.)
How many of you can imagine Russia putting its navy ships in the Gulf of Mexico, installing an anti-American regime in Canada, and holding military exercises just south of the US-Mexican border? How many of you can imagine what the American reaction to that would be? How ridiculous would the EU look if it imposed sanctions on the US? (Well, the EU looks just as ridiculous with all its current posturing and double standards.)
How many of you can imagine US and European sanctions against Saudi Arabia for its actions in Yemen? How many of your “trustworthy” sources use the word “aggression” when describing Saudi Arabia’s actions?
It took crash investigators a few days to learn what was going on in and around the cockpit of Germanwings Flight 9525, which crashed over the Alps less than three months ago. How many of you wonder what ever happened to the black boxes of the Malasia Airlines Flight 17 now that almost a year has passed since the plane was shot down over Ukraine? (It seemed so clear whom to blame back then, didn’t it?)
You most definitely heard about “that politician guy that got killed in Moscow.” How many of you know about a whole number of “politician guys” that have “committed suicide” in Ukraine? Other than stumbling on an occasional blurb, you’d really have to look to see what’s going on.
How many of you know about Oles Buzina, a pro-Russian journalist, who got murdered in Kiev just two months ago?
Finally, have you ever wondered who actually benefits from this war in Ukraine? Do you really think it’s Russia, now stuck with hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine, a rabidly russophobic regime next door, and NATO bristling with all its fancy glory literally on Russia’s borders? Is it the “separatists” (or Ukrainians alike), whose most industrialized region is now in ruins? Or is there perhaps another party that’s meddling in all this? Use your imagination. May curiosity be your friend.