For 10 years, we've lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question
Saturday, 3 September 2011
By their books, ye shall know them.
I'm talking about the volumes, the libraries - nay, the
very halls of literature - which the international crimes
against humanity of 11 September 2001 have spawned. Many
are spavined with pseudo-patriotism and self-regard,
others rotten with the hopeless mythology of CIA/Mossad
culprits, a few (from the Muslim world, alas) even
referring to the killers as "boys", almost all avoiding
the one thing which any cop looks for after a street
crime: the motive.
Why so, I ask myself, after 10 years of war, hundreds of
thousands of innocent deaths, lies and hypocrisy and
betrayal and sadistic torture by the Americans - our MI5
chaps just heard, understood, maybe looked, of course no
touchy-touchy nonsense - and the Taliban? Have we managed
to silence ourselves as well as the world with our own
fears? Are we still not able to say those three sentences:
The 19 murderers of 9/11 claimed they were Muslims. They
came from a place called the
problem out there?
American publishers first went to war in 2001 with massive
photo-memorial volumes. Their titles spoke for themselves:
Above Hallowed Ground, So Others Might Live, Strong of
Heart, What We Saw, The Final Frontier, A Fury for God,
The Shadow of Swords... Seeing this stuff piled on
going to go to war? And long before the 2003 invasion of
after the war. Most prominent among them was ex-CIA spook
Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm - and didn't we
all remember Churchill's The Gathering Storm? - which,
needless to say, compared the forthcoming battle against
Saddam with the crisis faced by
There were two themes to this work by Pollack - "one of
the world's leading experts on
readers, among whom was Fareed Zakaria ("one of the most
important books on American foreign policy in years," he
drivelled) - the first of which was a detailed account of
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; none of which, as we
know, actually existed. The second theme was the
opportunity to sever the "linkage" between "the
and the Arab-Israeli conflict".
The Palestinians, deprived of the support of powerful
Iraq, went the narrative, would be further weakened in
their struggle against Israeli occupation. Pollack
referred to the Palestinians' "vicious terrorist campaign"
- but without any criticism of
terrorist attacks followed by Israeli responses (sic)",
the standard Israeli version of events.
least the egregious Pollack had worked out, in however
slovenly a fashion, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
had something to do with 9/11, even if Saddam had not.
In the years since, of course, we've been deluged with a
rich literature of post-9/11 trauma, from the eloquent The
Truth, whose supporters have told us that the plane
wreckage outside the Pentagon was dropped by a C-130, that
the jets that hit the World Trade Centre were remotely
guided, that United 93 was shot down by a
Given the secretive, obtuse and sometimes dishonest
account presented by the White House - not to mention the
initial hoodwinking of the official 9/11 commission staff
- I am not surprised that millions of Americans believe
some of this, let alone the biggest government lie: that
Saddam was behind 9/11. Leon Panetta, the CIA's newly
appointed autocrat, repeated this same lie in
There have been movies, too. Flight 93 re-imagined what
may (or may not) have happened aboard the plane which fell
romanticised story, in which the
oddly managed to prevent almost all filming on the actual
streets of the city. And now we're being deluged with TV
specials, all of which have accepted the lie that 9/11 did
actually change the world - it was the Bush/Blair
repetition of this dangerous notion that allowed their
thugs to indulge in murderous invasions and torture -
without for a moment asking why the press and television
went along with the idea. So far, not one of these
programmes has mentioned the word "
Lapping's Thursday night ITV offering mentioned "
once, without explaining the degree to which 11 September
2001 provided the excuse for this 2003 war crime. How many
died on 9/11? Almost 3,000. How many died in the
Publication of the official 9/11 report - in 2004, but
read the new edition of 2011 - is indeed worth study, if
only for the realities it does present, although its
opening sentences read more like those of a novel than of
a government inquiry. "Tuesday ... dawned temperate and
nearly cloudless in the eastern United States... For those
heading to an airport, weather conditions could not have
been better for a safe and pleasant journey. Among the
travellers were Mohamed Atta..." Were these guys, I ask
myself, interns at Time magazine?
But I'm drawn to Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan whose The
Eleventh Day confronts what the West refused to face in
the years that followed 9/11. "All the evidence ...
conspirators - at every level," they write. One of the
organisers of the attack believed it would make Americans
concentrate on "the atrocities that
certainly the principal political grievance ... driving
the young Arabs (who had lived) in
The motivation for the attacks was "ducked" even by the
official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners
had disagreed on this "issue" - cliche code word for
"problem" - and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean
and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: "This was
sensitive ground ...Commissioners who argued that
al-Qa'ida was motivated by a religious ideology - and not
by opposition to American policies - rejected mentioning
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In their view, listing
US support for
opposition to the
States should reassess that policy." And there you have it.
So what happened? The commissioners, Summers and Swan
state, "settled on vague language that circumvented the
issue of motive". There's a hint in the official report -
but only in a footnote which, of course, few read. In
other words, we still haven't told the truth about the
crime which - we are supposed to believe - "changed the
world for ever". Mind you, after watching Obama on his
knees before Netanyahu last May, I'm really not surprised.
When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress
to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be
told the answer to the most important and "sensitive"
question of 9/11: why?