We have enough information now that we can figure out some of the conspiracy behind 9-11. There were three groups, each with differing amounts of information – the mainstream of the Bush Administration, the Pentagon, and the actual plotters of the attack:
1. Much as it is fun to say ‘Bush knew’, I don’t think he did, or at least not everything. It is apparent from the information that we have that at least the main part of the Bush Administration (Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, etc. – I pointedly leave out Cheney from this list) did not anticipate that airplanes would be hijacked and flown into buildings. Given all the specific warnings that they had, including the threat of an actual attack against Bush in Genoa in July, this seems incredible, but I think the Bush Administration was fooled, or managed to fool itself, into believing that another kind of attack was coming (there is a characteristic arrogance in the certainty they have in all their decisions and opinions). There was so much information that an attack was coming that Tenet was described to be ‘nearly (1)frantic’, and the specific CIA warning to Bush on August 6 was entitled ‘Bin Laden determined to strike in US’ (which, at its most specific, stated (2): “. . . FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.”). At the same time, the Pentagon, while preparing (3) for just such an attack against buildings, was poo-pooing the idea that it would ever actually occur.
I think the lack of imagination in the Bush Administration, together with probable specific disinformation from the Pentagon, led the main part of the Bush Administration into believing that a terrorist attack on American soil by al Qaeda was imminent, but that such an attack would take the form of a run-of-the mill hijacking of a commercial aircraft with the taking of American hostages. I imagine that they thought that such an attack might result in minimal American deaths, and an Entebbe-style rescue would make Bush look like a strong leader. As well, they could immediately tie the attack into Iraq, and use it as the excuse for the attack on Iraq that we now know was being planned even before the inauguration. From the point of view of the Bush Administration, a simple hijacking was not something that could be stopped. Efforts to prevent it would have entailed expensive security arrangements which would have hurt Bush’s friends in the airline industry, and would not have provided much opportunity for the kind of parasitic profiteering by Bush’s military-industrial complex friends that the Bushites see as the real purpose of government. There were no big profits to be made in stopping a hijacking, and lots of profits to be made in missile defense, so Bush wanted to dedicate American taxpayer money to missile(4) defense and not counterterrorism (and the pervert Ashcroft wanted to spend the counterterrorism money looking for pictures of naked people). It is as simple as that. The theory that the Bush Administration was expecting a hijacking explains a lot of things:
o Why the whole Administration was so seemingly passive in the face of Tenet’s frantic warnings, not to mention the whole history (5) of warnings from various sources, including just about any government you could name (not to mention, from the revelations of Sibel(6) Edmonds(7), the FBI’s specific information; note that Edmonds assumes(8) that if the FBI knew, the Bush Administration knew, which is an incorrect assumption if the FBI was intentionally withholding information).
o Why Ashcroft changed his flying habits in July (his recent testimony before the 9-11 commission was obviously a barefaced lie).
o Why Bush did nothing in the classroom in Florida, and didn’t even seem that upset at the news, while he waited for his speech writers to rewrite the speech they had prepared for him to give when a normal hijacking occurred, and why Ari Fleisher held up a sign(9) telling Bush “DON’T SAY ANYTHING YET” (they didn’t want him to jump the gun and start giving his inappropriate pre-planned hijacking speech).
o How this bunch of people, who certainly aren’t moral but also aren’t psychopaths – except, of course, for Cheney – could have allowed planes to crash into buildings (they were as surprised as everyone else as they expected a normal hijacking).
o Why the whole Administration – except, of course, for Cheney – seemed completely addled and confused, and let the Pentagon, which seemed to know exactly what it was doing, take Bush on a day-long tour of American air force bases.
2. The second group is the Pentagon, and in particular those people who control NORAD. No thinking person can look at the facts of 9-11 and conclude that the NORAD planes weren’t intentionally held back from preventing the crashes. Given the speed of the NORAD aircraft, the short distance to the targets, and the time that they had, all the attacking planes could have been intercepted. The only one that possibly was intercepted is Flight 93. We therefore can say with certainty that the Pentagon, or a part of it, was involved in the plot. It is important to note that it was the Pentagon which downplayed the risk of a plane attack against buildings while preparing for such an eventuality. The Pentagon officials cancelled their travel plans for the morning of September 11 because they knew the timing and nature of the attack (whoever warned Willie Brown was more likely to be in the Pentagon or the FBI than in the Bush Administration: if Rice knew, do you think she’d risk her life telling Brown, and would he risk her life talking about it?). It was in part the Pentagon which set the Bush Administration up to think it would be a normal hijacking (do you think that former Secretary of Defense Cheney might have been the main liaison in that regard?).
3. The last group are the people who planned the whole attack. I am amused we’re still hearing stories about alleged Saudi involvement. Whatever financial connections the Saudis may have to fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups, and I have no doubt that there are such connections, I know they don’t control NORAD or the FBI. Americans are going to have to come to grips with the fact that this had to be a home-grown operation. Besides all the inside help the terrorists had in their various confrontations with authorities in the months preceding 9-11, and the inside help that they had to have had at the airports to smuggle in the weapons we now know they had (forget about box cutters), and the fact that it is completely implausible that this extremely sophisticated operation was carried out by a motley crew of people most of whom had never been in the United States before, directed by a man living in a cave in Afghanistan, there is the most important fact of all. After each hijacking, the hijackers were in no hurry to get to their targets. Any normal hijackers would have feared interception, and would have made a bee-line for their goal. Not these guys. In fact Flights 77 and 93 almost seemed to go on sightseeing tours of the northeastern United States, and the Pentagon may have eventually had to shoot down Flight 93 because the length of time it was in the air was getting embarrassing. All the hijackers knew they weren’t going to be intercepted, just as they knew they could have innumerable contacts with authorities in the United States without being detained or even put under suspicion. They knew that nobody would try to stop them. Therefore, the planners of the attack knew that NORAD would be stood down on the morning of September 11.
In summary, the Bush Administration thought the attack was coming but thought it would be a normal hijacking. They didn’t see any profitable way to stop it, and thought they could use it to make Bush look presidential while giving them an excuse to attack Iraq. They were deceived into their views in part by the Pentagon, who prepared for an airplane attack against buildings while downplaying the risk of it ever happening (and in part by the FBI, who withheld information). NORAD’s normal automatic protective actions were subverted. The American plotters of the attack were able to tell the hijackers that they were safe from interception, which they could only do if they had very high connections to the Pentagon and other parts of the American government.
(1) Before Sept. 11, Unshared Clues and Unshaped Policy
(2) Transcript: Bin Laden Determined to Strike US
(3) NORAD Had Drills For Jets As Weapons
(4) Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn’t On Terrorism
(5) Report Warned of Suicide Hijackings
(6) DOJ Asked FBI Translator to Change Pre-911 Intercepts
(7) We should have had orange or red-type of alerts in June or July 2001
(8) Fmr FBI Translator: White House Had Intel On Possible Airplane Attack Pre-911
(9) An Interesting Day: President Bush’s Movements and Actions on 9/11