From Gore Vidal’s essay “The Enemy Within”


The media's weapons of mass distraction

But Pearl Harbor has been much studied. 11 September, it is plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush has anything to say about it. On 29 January 2002, CNN reported [10] that `Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the Congressional investigation into the events of 11 September . . . The request was made at a private meeting with Congressional leaders . . . Sources said Bush initiated the conversation . . . He asked that only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry . . . Tuesday's discussion followed a rare call from Vice President Dick Cheney last Friday to make the same request . . .'

The excuse given, according to Daschle, was that `resources and personnel would be taken' away from the war on terrorism in the event of a wider inquiry. So for reasons that we must never know, those `breakdowns' are to be the goat. That they were more likely to be not break -- but `stand-downs' is not for us to pry. Certainly the one-hour 20 minute failure to put fighter planes in the air could not have been due to a breakdown throughout the entire Air Force along the East Coast. Mandatory standard operational procedure had been told to cease and desist.

Meanwhile, the media were assigned their familiar task of inciting public opinion against bin Laden, still not the proven mastermind. These media blitzes often resemble the magicians classic gesture of distraction: as you watch the rippling bright colours of his silk handkerchief in one hand, he is planting the rabbit in your pocket with the other. We were quickly assured that Osama's enormous family with its enormous wealth had broken with him, as had the royal family of his native Saudi Arabia. The CIA swore, hand on heart, that Osama had not worked for them in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Finally, the rumour that Bush family had in any way profited by its long involvement with the bin Laden family was -- what else? -- simply partisan bad taste.

But Bush Jr's involvement goes back at least to 1979 when his first failed attempt to become a player in the big Texas oil league brought him together with one James Bath of Houston, a family friend, who have Bush Jr. $50,000 for a 5 per cent stake in Bush's firm Arbusto Energy. At this time, according to Wayne Madsen (In These Times -- Institute for Public Affairs No. 25 [11]), Bath was `the sole US business representative for Salem bin Laden, head of the family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden . . . In a statement issued shortly after the 11 September attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection, insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin Laden's, in Arbusto. In conflicting statements, Bush at first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented Saudi interests . . . after several reincarnations, Arbusto emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation.'[12]

Behind the Junior Bush is the senior Bush, gainfully employed by the Carlyle Group [13] which has ownership in at least 164 companies worldwide, inspiring admiration in that staunch friend to the wealthy, the Wall Street Journal, which noted, as early as 27 September 2001, `If the US boosts defence spending in its quest to stop Osama bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities, there may be one unexpected beneficiary: bin Laden's family . . . is an investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-connected Washington merchant bank specialising in buyouts of defence and aerospace companies . . . Osama is one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, who built the family's $5 billion business.'

But Bush pere et fils, in pursuit of wealth and office, are beyond shame or, one cannot help but think, good sense. There is a suggestion that they are blocking investigation of the bin Laden connection with terrorism. Agent France Press reported on 4 November 2001 [14]: `FBI agents probing relatives of Saudi-born terror suspect Osama . . . were told to back off soon after George W. Bush became president . . .' According to BBC TV's Newsnight (6 Nov 2001) [15], `. . . just days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same airport whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi Arabia. That did not concern the White House, whose official line is that the bin Ladens are above suspicion.' `Above the Law' (Green Press, 14 February 2002) [16] sums up: `We had what looked like the biggest failure of the intelligence community since Pearl Harbor but what we are learning now is it wasn't a failure, it was a directive.' True? False? Bush Jr will be under oath during the impeachment interrogation. Will we hear `What is a directive? What is is?'

Although the US had, for some years, fingered Osama as a mastermind terrorist, no serious attempt had been made pre-9/11 to `bring him to justice dead or alive, innocent or guilty', as Texan law of the jungle requires. Clinton's plan to act was given to Condeleezza Rice by Sandy Berger, you will recall, but she says she does not.

As far back as March 1996 when Osama was in Sudan, Major General Elfatih Erwa, Sudanese Minister for Defence, offered to extradite him. According to the Washington Post (3 October 2001), `Erwa said he would happily keep close watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that would not suffice, the government was prepared to place him in custody and hand him over . . . [US officials] said, "just ask him to leave the country. Just don't let him go to Somalia", where he had once been given credit for the successful al-Qaeda attack on American forces that in '93 that killed 18 Rangers.' Erwa said in an interview, `We said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials] said, "Let him."'

In 1996 Sudan expelled Osama and 3,000 of his associates. Two years later the Clinton administration, in the great American tradition of never having to say thank you for Sudan's offer to hand over Osama, proceeded to missile-attack Sudan's al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the grounds that Sudan was harboring bin Laden terrorists who were making chemical and biological weapons when the factory was simply making vaccines for the UN.

Four years later, John O'Neill, a much admired FBI agent, complained in the Irish Times [17] a month before the attacks, `The US State Department -- and behind it the oil lobby who make up President Bush's entourage -- blocked attempts to prove bin Laden's guilt. The US ambassador to Yemen forbade O'Neill (and his FBI team) . . . from entering Yemen in August 2001. O'Neill resigned in frustration and took on a new job as head of security at the World Trade Centre. He died in the 11 September attack.' Obviously, Osama has enjoyed bipartisan American support since his enlistment in the CIA's war to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan. But by 9/11 there was no Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, indeed there was no Soviet Union.