Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama and 9/11 2

Imagine yourself within the mind of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States of America. You are a man who knows how “the system” works.

This knowledge has been accrued at hard struggle, and by a remarkable and unique ability to adapt to any environment because you spent a lifetime as an exotic specimen in every environment, from Kansas to Kenya—both African and American, Muslim and Christian, black and white. But you always displayed your native nobility—tribal nobility on your father’s side; nobility of spirit on your mother’s—and you were, with rare exceptions, accepted on your own terms. You were born under the sign of Leo, the lion, the natural leader; and your intelligence was honed with great discipline, under the influence of strong women.

Because your upbringing instilled in you a generosity of spirit that is natural to liberalism, and firsthand understanding from your grandfather of what motivates a man to risk his life for his country and an African father’s sense of freedom, unencumbered by Jim Crow oppression, you are a natural idealist who believes in the promise of America.

But you are also—with laser-focused intensity—a realist. A “pragmatist,” as they say. And no one knows better than you how much danger you are in.

It’s not just the racist crazies, one of whom could always, unexpectedly pop up through some weird quirk in the security system. But that’s only a distant possibility. You know, better than anyone, I suspect, that your greatest danger is what “the system” will do to protect itself, to what lengths it will go to protect itself, if certain lines are crossed. And you know exactly what lines you cannot cross.

Perhaps you didn’t always know this, at least to the degree that you know it now. But you were born in the ‘60s, and grew up with your mother’s hippie sensibilities, and you knew from personal experience that America’s promise wasn’t always delivered, that there are some worms in the apple pie. But you have always been adaptable, and you decided early on to adapt to the political environment, in order to do the work that you felt in your deepest soul called to do. Down the rabbit hole you went.

You would have learned, from the very beginning in Chicago, that what happens on the surface of American politics is usually not as important as what happens on a subterranean level. You learned early on that ex-governor Blagojevich was right, that what he was doing to trade your seat was not intrinsically different from “business” that goes on in every state capital, every single day. You know very well that American government lives on bribery, the true mother’s milk of politics, and that the business of America is most definitely business.

You know that whether anything happens from your “indiscretions” depends on whom you cross. You know the example of Eliot Spitzer, who tried to use the office of New York governor to interrupt the sub-prime Ponzi scheme before some major players had cashed out. We’re all under surveillance—especially politicians. J. Edgar Hoover lives in 21st Century America. You know that.

As an intellectual, you know that it is now said even in polite company like the New Yorker that “everybody” knows that this is a government of, by and for the corporations. Just like Alan Greenspan told us that “everybody” knew Iraq was all about oil. How wouldn’t you know this, Barack, when among the rare handful of documents made public about Dick Cheney’s infamous Energy Task Force (April 2001) were maps of Iraq’s oilfields? It’s well established that Bush instructed his counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke to try to connect the 9/11 attacks to Iraq. Clarke just didn’t want to hear the unspoken command. The wily old bureaucrat.

As a new president, you know firsthand the phenomenon that Bob Woodward described in his first book about the Clinton administration, The Agenda, of how a new president is immediately surrounded by “a phalanx of CEOs.” You know that the informal relationships among those CEOs are more important to what official policies are adopted than whatever is publicly said by the infinitely replaceable spokesmodels of the American political hierarchy—executive, legislative, and judicial. Including you.

You know—as the presidents Roosevelt and Wilson admitted they knew—that behind the American government is a secret government, intertwined with wealth and ancient legacies and the military industrial complex. Eisenhower knew that, too. And you especially know that Abraham Lincoln was far more worried about the bankers behind him than he was about the rebels in front of him.

As an obviously learned scholar of American political science, you know the work of the sociologist C. Wright Mills, who, in the early years of the national security state, defined those who rule America as the “power elite,” who are “in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. They rule the big corporations. They run the machinery of the state and claim its prerogatives. They direct the military establishment. They occupy the strategic command posts of the social structure.”

You know Mills went on to talk about the centrality of celebrity culture to the power elite’s power, which was “of a consequence not before equaled in human history,” and how this power was concentrated in “the economic, the political and the military domains.” Mills then said, at the dawn of postwar expansion, “As each of these domains becomes enlarged and centralized, the consequences of its activities become greater, and its traffic increases. The decisions of a handful of corporations bear upon military and political as well as upon economic developments around the world. The decisions of the military establishment rest upon and grievously affect political life as well as the very level of economic activity. The decisions made within the political domain determine economic activities and military programs. There is no longer, on the one hand, an economy, and, on the other hand, a political order containing a military establishment unimportant to politics and to money-making. There is a political economy linked, in a thousand ways, with military institutions and decisions.”

Mills agreed with Ike. And, as you know, if you don’t know C. Wright Mills, you don’t know America. Psyops would never let a subversive like Mills get the media platform he got in the ‘50s, today.

When you were on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you confirmed your analysis that bankers count more than politicians in foreign relations, and you wooed bankers with your practicality and charm, to further your ambitions. Because your beautiful wife is on the board of directors of the Chicago branch of the Council on Foreign Relations, you are aware that if you sit at the intersection of wealth and foreign policy, you can see the currents of the future. You know the connections between Wall Street and the Central Intelligence Agency predate the Agency’s creation, in directors like Allen Dulles and Bill Casey, and that the CIA serves as Wall Street’s Praetorian Guard.

You know that, just as there is a secret government within the US government, there is a CIA within the CIA—still intertwined with ruling class good ol’ boys, and involving the same nexus of oil, drugs, Mafias of every sort, terrorists, arms dealers and Cuban exiles—but more military. More corporate. More 21st century. You know it’s exactly like the high-level CIA insider told the Spytalk blog: Langley is just a Potemkin village of plump middle class bureaucrats, most of whom have no idea of what the fuck is going on, protecting their own little bureaucratic turf, and with the sole purpose of backing up the president’s official story, whatever that may be. As you know very well, that’s not the real CIA.

You know—even if he doesn’t remember it—that George Herbert Walker Bush, the namesake of CIA headquarters, was in Dallas on November 22, 1963, the day Jack Kennedy was murdered.

Now that you’re getting your presidential daily brief, you know it is true that the US government, like many governments, engages in “false flag” terrorist operations, staging terrorist attacks that are then blamed on an enemy, to further foreign policy goals. You know the most famous example of US false flag terrorism was “Operation Gladio,” which was coordinated with NATO allies for decades in postwar Europe. A bomb in a train station in Bologna killed eighty people, and was attributed to Italian leftists. Just about the time you were born, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff offered Kennedy a plan called “Operation Northwoods,” to stage terrorist attacks on American soil and connect them to Fidel Castro, to justify an invasion of Cuba after the failure of the Bay of Pigs. JFK turned them down.

The generals never liked Kennedy. And neither did the organizers of the Bay of Pigs, who despised him for their embarrassment.

You have always wondered, ever since it happened, why the military response on the morning of September 11, 2001 seemed so…confused. You had always heard that the Pentagon was “the most protected building in the world.” You’d think that, a half hour after two airplanes had both struck bull’s eyes on the jihadists’ favorite target, and there were reports of as many as thirteen hijackings in the air, Andrews Air Force Base, right next to DC, might have had something scrambled. Especially since that’s supposed to be one of their missions. And why were so many military and intelligence, and even FEMA exercises scheduled on that very day? What a coincidence!

It’s always interested you that the plane (or whatever it was—Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the Office of Special Plans, went out right after it happened and didn’t see any evidence of a plane) that hit the Pentagon, hit the section that held the records of the missing $2.3 trillion that Secretary Rumsfeld had just reported to Congress the day before. Another amazing coincidence! Just like the coincidence that when World Trade Center Building 7 for some mysterious reason collapsed on the evening of September 11th, twenty minutes after the BBC had reported it had fallen, it took with it the records of the Security and Exchange Commission investigation of those old Bush family friends, the Enron Corporation.

Vladimir Putin wasn’t merely joking when he told a state dinner that the KGB always kept a careful eye on Texas.

You know, because of your familiarity with the relationship between foreign policy and corporate interests, that Enron stood to gain greatly from the oil and natural gas pipelines that would flow from the Caspian region through Afghanistan to the power plant that Dick Cheney was acting as Enron’s rep for in India—if only the Taliban would give the contract to an American corporation, Unocal (represented by Bush mobster and future ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad). The Taliban were escorted around Washington in the summer of 2001 by the niece of a former CIA director, and were essentially given a choice of a “carpet of gold” if they chose Unocal, or a “carpet of bombs” if they stuck with the Argentinians.

No deal had been struck by September 11th.

You always found it strange how your predecessor had just sat there that morning, reading “My Pet Goat” with those kids. Maybe he was struck by some kind of unconscious premonition that someday in the not too distant future, he himself would be a lot of people’s pet goat. But he had to know what was going on. The Secret Service was plugged into the FAA-NORAD loop before the first plane hit the building, which happened before Bush entered the classroom. He is often a good liar, but not when he said his first thought was, “What a terrible pilot.” Please.

You know all about the multiple warnings that were coming in from everywhere. You know that George Tenet and Dick Clarke were running around with their “hair on fire” while George Bush couldn’t be disturbed from his vacation, telling his CIA briefer informing him that bin Laden was “determined to strike in the US” that he had “covered his ass,” and Junior walks off to clear brush (and what fool clears brush in August?). You know from the Moussaoui trial testimony that the FBI got all kinds of warnings that were smothered by supervisors who were later rewarded with bonuses. You know the National Security Agency had all the information anybody needed. You know at least as much as Jersey Girl Patty Casazza knows, that even the FBI knew the date, target and method of the 9/11 attacks.

You know September 11th was no “surprise.”

But what do you do with that knowledge?

You’re trying to do the best you can, and you know you can do a lot of good things. Within limits. And you know what those limits are.

As a patriot, you hate what the Bush mob has done to America, to its reputation and to its sense of identity. As a constitutional lawyer, you are in agony over the gross violations of the Constitution and of every principle that it stands for, over eight years of Bush mob malfeasance. As a human being, you recoil at the Bush mob’s gross violations of all bounds of human decency, and the way the psychopathic brat “president” treated living humans no better than the frogs he used to blow up by sticking firecrackers in their asses, in his backyard pond in Midland, Texas. But you can maybe go after a few Addingtons and even a few Roves, but what else can you really do?

Because you know that the Bush mob acts as the enforcement arm of their patrons, the rulers of 21st century Earth. And you know the Bush mob will do whatever those patrons ask.

September 11th is a “national security” issue. Just as the British film reviewer wrote in the London Sunday Times recently, if the truth of 9/11 gets out, it will essentially destroy the present world order. And the once and future New World Order will not allow that to happen. And it is the duty and responsibility of the President of the United States of America to maintain the national security.

You know that.

You know, just by watching the media in that same careful way of yours, that they can write any story they want. It’s global irregular warfare on a total information battlefield. You know the world has been divided into the fiefdoms of global corporate warlords, like in the movie “Rollerball,” with ever-shifting borders and alliances. You know you may have the left wing of the New World Order behind you, in people like Warren Buffett and George Soros and Ted Turner and the Clintons, and even the left wing of Skull and Bones, because they’re as scared shitless about global warming as you are. But the Bushes have the media, thanks to George Senior, as CIA director, refusing to give the Church Committee the names of hundreds of CIA asset journalists. And they have the military industrial complex, with which they’ve been intermarrying and profiting for generations. And most importantly, in this case, they have the mob—all the mobs. They are the mob.

A chance meeting of a private contractor and an ex-KGB sharpshooter now doing business in the Russian underworld, and you know you’re history. Blamed on some patsy—Muslim, no doubt. Like Sirhan. Assassination? Their stock in trade.

You see Sasha and Malia standing there, beautiful in their photogenic sorrow, like John John and Caroline, iconic emblems of another century of lost hope and disillusioned innocence.

What do you do?

You know, life is funny.

When I started writing this essay, I thought that Barack Obama had to be a 9/11 truther, because he’s too smart not to be, given all the evidence that’s out there, and knowing (at least what the media tells me, which seems authentic in this case, and from his books) that he is a consumer of a broad base of information.

But I didn’t know that Obama was a 9/11 truther until the first part of this essay was posted at 911 Blogger, and commenters replied with some very interesting information. (Just goes to show the value of networking.)

Early in 2007, when then-Senator Obama could still be approached by a couple guys from Student Scholars for 9/11 Truth with a video camera, and asked about re-opening the 9/11 investigation, Obama replied, “I think that we need to investigate a whole range of options, although I have to admit that, some of the issues I understand that you guys have raised, I’m not entirely confident.”

Of course, the most important clause here is, “we need to investigate.” But Obama’s also providing some revealing information about what he already knows. He’s familiar enough with the 9/11 truth material that he can say that he’s not “entirely” confident with “some” of the issues the movement has raised.

For Christ’s sake, neither am I.

More stunning even than the SS911T video, however, was a letter that Obama sent in February 2007 to an Infowars supporter. It’s worth quoting in full:

“Dear Penny,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your belief that the US government was complicit in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. I appreciate hearing your passionate views on this matter.

While I do not believe the US government was complicit in the attacks, I do think it should be held accountable for the unacceptable mistakes it made in the run-up to that terrible day. The blunders that occurred prior to the 2001 attacks were inexcusable and often outrageous. The series of clear warnings about the potential use of hijacked planes as weapons is just one example of why the “surprise” of 9/11 should have been anticipated. In my view, proof of government complicity is not necessary when making the argument that the US should accept some responsibility for what happened on 9/11.

Thank you again for writing.

Barack Obama”

Why would he put the word “surprise” in quotation marks, if he’s not a closet 9/11 truther?

So here’s my take on Barack: I think he’s basically a good guy who wants to do the right thing, but he’s also a pragmatist who has proven beyond measure that he knows how the system works. I think he’s a guy who has chosen to live within the limits set by imperial power, because he knows what that power is capable of when crossed—especially with a guy as popular, and thus dangerous, as Barack Obama. He is a guy who makes compromises with the Empire every day, just like most of the rest of us, including me. He is a guy in an impossible situation. I can’t honestly say that I know what I would do, myself, in his circumstances.

But I also know, based on an excellent portrait drawn of the early Obama by John Nichols in the Nation, that he is, at heart, a progressive who will do the right thing when pushed by the public. So I know that, just like he always says, what Obama does is not as important as what we do. It is our job, as a 9/11 truth movement, to apply the public pressure that will make Obama do what he already wants to do.

He knows, as well as you and I know, that a new, truly independent investigation of September 11th needs to take place. We need to hold him accountable to what he’s already said.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Supreme Court injustice

While I'm working on the second part of "Obama and 9/11," I thought you might enjoy reading an op-ed I wrote for the Charleston Gazette a couple weeks ago, but waited to post until they published it, which they did yesterday in the Sunday opinion section. I've already received an angry email from the West Virginia Association of Counties.

Update: Well, the misunderstanding with the Association of Counties has been resolved. And you can now find the Gazette's edited version of this op-ed, with its headline, "Hampshire's 'quiet revolution'," online at Also, I'm sorry I neglected to mention that all the legal documents in this case can be found at the Historic Hampshire website,

Last month, in its ruling in the case, Committee to Reform Hampshire County Government v. Richard Thompson, Speaker of the WV House of Delegates, and Earl Ray Tomblin, President of the WV Senate, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals essentially repealed one of the most truly democratic provisions found in any state constitution in the United States.

Article IX, Section 13 of the West Virginia Constitution allows the citizens of a county to choose the form of government under which they exercise their local democracy. Under this provision, if ten percent of county voters present a petition to “reform, alter or modify” their county commission, and a majority of the county, voting in a referendum, agrees, the Constitution clearly stipulates that, at that point, “the Legislature shall…reform, alter or modify the county commission…and…create another tribunal.” The word “shall” connotes a mandatory duty.

For most of the state’s history, the Supreme Court upheld the intention of the constitution’s framers to give West Virginia citizens the “indubitable, inalienable and indefeasible right” of self-government at the local level—as it said in its Taylor County Commission v. Spencer decision, which also says, “the Legislature is obliged by the constitution to vindicate the desires and designs of the voters of the county.”

In 2004, for the first time in West Virginia history, the Legislature failed to meet this requirement, after Hampshire County submitted a valid petition. In 2005, when the Legislature again refused to pass a bill enabling county citizens to vote on the proposed reform, several Hampshire County residents (including myself) sued the Legislature in Kanawha County circuit court.

Over the course of three separate hearings, the circuit judge decided in our favor on every point. He ruled that the changes our petition proposed (specifically, electing members of an expanded county council by district) were constitutional; that the Legislature has a constitutional obligation to give county citizens a vote on the proposed reform; and that this obligation extends beyond the Legislature to which the petition is submitted.

When the Supreme Court accepted the Legislature’s appeal in early 2008, I knew we were in trouble. The Legislature’s brief was a how-much-spaghetti-will-stick-to-the-wall mishmash, raising issues that had never been litigated at the circuit level. It was a Hail Mary pass whose arguments were easily deflected in the response from our attorney, WVU constitutional law professor Robert Bastress.

My suspicions about our plight were elevated shortly after the Supreme Court hearing in October, in a conversation with another attorney, a friend who has been a close observer of the WV Supreme Court. He told me that, historically, the Court’s decisions were made either “on principle, or on politics,” and our case would likely fall into the “politics” category, so “don’t get your hopes up.” When I replied that he was probably right, since our chief opponent in the legislative process had been the Association of Counties, he just rolled his eyes and said, “Well, there you go.”

I think this is the key to the hidden subtext behind this five-year struggle for our “indubitable” rights. In all the numerous and absurd arguments the Legislature has made for not fulfilling its constitutional duty, its lawyers have raised questions about the constitutionality of virtually every provision in our petition, with one glaring exception: our petition calls for drastically reducing the salaries of the council members, in order to make the reform revenue-neutral.

Of course the Association of Counties was alarmed. If Hampshire County can reduce official salaries, what’s to stop other counties from doing the same thing?

“Politics,” indeed.

Appropriately enough, the Supreme Court decision to quell what a Shepherd University history professor called “the quiet revolution in Hampshire County” was written by Justice Brent Benjamin, who, as a recent Gazette editorial noted, “has become a national symbol of questionable justice.”

Benjamin’s written opinion is as nonsensical as the Legislature’s appeal, but with an Orwellian twist. It claims to be upholding the Spencer precedent, while it completely overturns the real meaning and spirit of that decision. If this decision holds, the fundamental constitutional right of West Virginia citizens to govern themselves at the county level will be left to the whim of legislators who will never have to answer to the citizens whose rights they deny—as it has been for the past five years.

That is why we have filed a motion for the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision. Perhaps, with two new members on the Court, we can get a decision based on principle instead of politics.

But we still don’t have our hopes up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama and 9/11

Although I was as happy as most Americans that Barack Obama took the oath of office last week, rather than his Republican alternative, there is a major reason that he did not get my vote in November, which went instead to Cynthia McKinney: Obama is unlikely to re-open an investigation into what really happened on September 11, 2001—an investigation that needs to happen.

According to polls, about four in ten Americans are suspicious that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks—either by deliberately ignoring intelligence that warned an attack was coming and allowing the terrorists to strike, to gain public support for the neoconservative foreign policy agenda of increasing American military power in the Middle East; or by actively coordinating the attacks themselves, for the same reason. As Time magazine, in a rare acknowledgement of the 9/11 truth movement, said: “This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.”

It’s easy to understand, however, why a majority of Americans have such a hard time getting their minds around the idea that their government may have some involvement in such a horrendous crime. Americans are conditioned from an early age to think of themselves as “the good guys,” living in a “democracy”—which, however imperfect, has always been primarily motivated by the desire to advance the core national principle of “freedom,” both at home and abroad. And the actions of the government are closely monitored by a diligent “free press.”

It’s a civics class myth. Yet this myth has the emotional resonance that comes with also being at the heart of what sociologists call America’s “civil religion.” And the myth was especially encouraged among us presently living generations of Americans, the citizens of the post-World War II national security state—although there has obviously been a greater public distrust of government since the Vietnam War and Watergate. The Bush administration brought this distrust to new heights, lying about everything to genocidal effect. But still, many people want to believe that the Bush mob was just too incompetent to have pulled off a sophisticated attack like 9/11 (although non-state actors living in caves in Afghanistan, half a world away, were perfectly capable).

There are many reasons why a political sophisticate like Barack Obama would not want to give too much attention to the unanswered questions of 9/11 (Of the hundreds of questions submitted by the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, whose passionate persistence was ultimately responsible for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, only a small percentage were addressed by the Commission’s report). And there are two basic possible foundations for Obama’s thought on this subject, though his thoughts could range across the spectrum of possibilities between the two poles: that either he accepts the official story of 9/11, or he doesn’t.

Let’s speculate, just for argument’s sake, that Obama’s views are like those of mainstream liberal/progressives on the subject of 9/11 truth. In this view, “conspiracy theories” only serve to distract the public from the systemic rot at the heart of the global capitalist system and of its chief enforcer, the US military-industrial complex. These liberals would like to think that the Bush administration was just too incompetent to pull a complex operation like 9/11 off. And besides, too many people would have to be involved, and somebody would have spilled the beans by now, and the media would be all over it.

Obama could even go as far in his thinking as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, who have basically said that, even if Bush and Cheney and their henchmen were responsible for 9/11, it would be just another crime to add to a long list of crimes that have, in certain cases, also killed thousands—like the lies that, like a spider’s web, entrapped the American military in Iraq. 9/11 could just be standard operating procedure for the Empire, another “false flag” attack, like the Tonkin Gulf situation in Vietnam, staged to enlist public support for expanded military operations abroad; and a search for 9/11 truth will in the end be as fruitless as the search for the truth of JFK’s assassination. And even if, as with JFK, a majority of Americans come to believe that the US government is the prime suspect, nothing will ever come of this belief.

I’ve had a number of conversations with liberal 9/11 truth skeptics, and my general impression has been that the primary reason they are skeptical of “conspiracy theory” (aside from their fear of ridicule) is that they don’t know very much about the subject.

In the first place, their defense of the official story is built upon the utterly illogical premise that, even though Bush and company have lied about virtually every matter of executive branch responsibility, from science to intelligence to defense contracting to politicization of the Justice Department, on this one issue—9/11—they are telling the truth. How much sense does that make?

And every other point in the “liberal” defense of the official theory (i.e. Arabs in caves outwit stupid Bushies) is subject to serious question. Bush’s incompetence? On the contrary, it could be argued that Bush and Cheney accomplished everything they wanted to while in office. The biggest asset that went into Bush’s so-called “blind trust” when he entered office in 2001 was Exxon stock—a company that has seen world record profits ever since the Iraq invasion. And Halliburton stock has also soared.

The traditional Bush family interests, especially the defense and energy industries, have prospered mightily. A compliant media let Bush and Cheney do whatever they wanted for eight years, whatever the law might say, and are still on full guard, trying to protect them from investigation and prosecution. And Bush, in an Oedipal frenzy, vastly outdid his father’s measly half a trillion dollar savings and loan taxpayer ripoff, with trillions of dollars stolen from generations of taxpayers, and redistributed with unprecedented arrogance directly into the pockets of the wealthiest cronies of the power elite—no questions asked. Bush played his dumb smirking redneck schtick to perfection.

On the other hand, as David Ray Griffin notes in his latest book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, Bush’s incompetence, as such, is on ready display in the fact that there are so many glaring holes in the official story—from the lies told by the military and CIA to the 9/11 Commission, so egregious that the co-chairs considered asking for federal indictments; to the violations of fundamental laws of physics in the official explanations for the unprecedented “collapse” of three steel-framed skyscrapers in one day—the only steel-framed buildings in history to “collapse” due to fire.

Also, the “need to know” compartmentalization of American intelligence guarantees that only a few key people, and possibly some outsourced mercenaries, would need to know the full story of the 9/11 operation; and either patriotism, bureaucratic groupthink, fear or money would keep everybody else in line. The few whistleblowers, like the FBI’s Sibel Edmonds, who had the courage to destroy their careers for the sake of truth, have been easily turned into “non-persons” by a corporate-controlled media coordinating their broadcasts with a Defense Department psychological operations agenda, a dynamic revealed by the New York Times in its analysis of conflicts of interest among “independent” TV network military “analysts” (more accurately, Pentagon propagandists).

But it’s their lack of knowledge of significant 9/11 details that, in my experience, usually leaves liberal 9/11 truth skeptics in dumbstruck confusion, when confronted with facts.

In the first place, they’re generally unaware that 9/11 questions go way beyond “theory.” There is hard, cold physical evidence, from the microspheres of melted steel found in every single sample of dust from the World Trade Center (and which the US Geological Survey said needed to be further investigated, and never were); to the melting and “sulphurization” of the steel beams of WTC Building 7, as reported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and which the New York Times called “the biggest mystery” of 9/11—and which was also never investigated further.

A few weeks ago, after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) corrected its years-delayed draft report on the destruction of WTC7 (which was never hit by an airplane), to finally concede that critics of the original draft were correct that the 47-story building collapsed at free-fall speed (a concession ignored by corporate media), there was a discussion of the report at the website Democratic Underground.

The first reply to the original post was a snarky comment about “Bigfoot” causing the collapse, which initiated a sometimes ugly debate between defenders of the official story and 9/11 truth advocates. The “Bigfoot” commenter kept repeating, “Go read the report,” and giving the NIST URL. I was surprised that no one thought to tell him, on a site as tuned-in as DU, that he may as well have been saying, “Well, go ask George W. Bush,” since NIST is just a branch of Bush’s Commerce Department. Like I said, we now know about outright lies, especially lies about science, coming from every Bush-era executive branch agency, from EPA to CIA. Why would NIST be exempt from this pattern?

Not only that, but anyone can watch a Youtube video of one of NIST’s lead investigators, engineer John Gross, lying through his teeth in a public forum, trying, in answer to a question, to deny the existence of molten steel in the WTC rubble (since the NIST report, like every other government report, had to acknowledge that the fires barely got hot enough to weaken steel, much less melt it, and then only for brief periods). In the clip, he archly maintains, “I didn’t see any molten metal,” and claims ignorance of contrary accounts from numerous other eyewitnesses (including the WTC’s lead engineer), video of heavy equipment pulling molten metal out of the rubble, fires that smoldered at the site for months, and satellite thermal imagery.

NIST admits in all its WTC reports that it never investigated for the possibility of explosives in the buildings, even though that is standard procedure in fire investigations, and in spite of the questions raised in the USGS and FEMA reports about unexplained phenomena in the WTC steel, and in spite of the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses (including over a hundred firefighters) who said that they heard explosions in the buildings. An ABC report on the day of the attacks said that the FBI was initially working on the hypothesis that bombs had been planted in the World Trade Center.

Where liberal skeptics really freak out, however, is when they hear about the eerie “coincidences” related to WTC security in the weeks before the 9/11 attacks, “coincidences” greatly underplayed in the corporate media—about the mysterious workmen upgrading the WTC electrical system, laying cable for a company owned by a Skull and Bones fraternity brother of the Bush family; about the unprecedented complete “power down” of the WTC complex the weekend before the attack; about the removal of bomb-sniffing security dogs from the WTC the Thursday before the attacks—dogs who never returned to duty; about the CEO of the company in charge of WTC security being George W’s cousin, Wirt Walker, who was also joined on the company’s board of directors by Bush’s brother, Marvin; about the millions (perhaps billions) of dollars made on unprecedented stock trades in the days right before the attacks, made on companies directly affected by the attacks, by traders whose actions were declared “innocent” and whose identities were kept secret by a 9/11 Commission staff who otherwise judged the source of funding for the 9/11 attacks to be “unimportant,” and who worked under the direction of a White House mole secretly communicating with Karl Rove, despite his assurances to the contrary to the Commission’s co-chairs.

Considered together, these “coincidences” are enough to generate a case of cognitive dissonance—and often do—among those who want to believe that “the system” still works.

It is the cumulative weight and seriousness of the questions that remain about 9/11, however, that lead me to think that Barack Obama is not in fact a skeptic of 9/11 truth. He’s much too smart to ignore the obvious contradictions in the official story. But that scenario opens up a pretty complicated can of worms, which I will explore in the next installment of this commentary.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blind rage

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
- Dylan Thomas

For over a fortnight, the world has watched in helpless rage as Israel has conducted a virtual massacre of the Palestinian residents of Gaza, using state of the art weaponry supplied by American taxpayers.

Nearly 900 Palestinians have been killed and 3700 wounded in this brief period. United Nations observers estimate that forty percent of these casualties have been children—hardly surprising in an area where half the population is under the age of fourteen, and where Israeli forces, despite their denials, make no distinction between civilian and military targets, herding refugees into so-called “shelters” that they then proceed to bomb.

During this same period, thirteen Israelis have been killed, including four civilians who were victims of Hamas rockets.

Of the millions of words of commentary that have been dedicated to this issue over the past couple of weeks, one of the quotes I’ve seen most often used in reference to the endless cycle of violence between Israel and its Muslim enemies comes from Mahatma Gandhi, himself the victim of fratricidal violence during the troubled birth of the independent state of India, where the relationship between Muslims and Hindus remains unsettled today, over sixty years later. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

But does the darkness descend even faster, when it’s a hundred eyes for an eye?

Israel’s disproportionate (and indiscriminate) response to the Hamas rocket attacks—which evidence now suggests were themselves a response to Israel’s calculated violation of a six-month cease fire—were telegraphed months ago by General Gadi Eisenkot in the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth:

“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective these are military bases. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.”

He may not have realized it at the time, but the general’s words are, for all practical purposes, a confession that the “crimes against humanity” of which Israel now stands accused, were premeditated. A letter published last week in the Times of London, and signed by 70 international law experts, including Richard Falk, the UN’s special observer for human rights in Gaza, lays out the charges.

The letter says that Israel’s “invasion and bombardment of Gaza amount to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. In addition, the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel, are prima facie war crimes.”

Of course, as virtually every commentator in America’s Israeli-occupied corporate media is required to concede in the name of “even-handedness,” the Hamas missiles, however inaccurately targeted at Israeli civilians, also constitute a war crime. But the issue of proportionality cannot be avoided.

And I think this is where the element of “rage” plays such an important role, and not only in preventing any real solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of what Arab-American Institute president James Zogby has rightly described as the “pathological” state into which both sides have descended out of a sense of impotence to stop each other’s violence.

But international rage at Israel’s actions may also move the world into a much more dangerous position—that is, the final abandonment of international law as the basis for relations between states. At what point does international law become meaningless, if it is routinely ignored by the powerful? At what point does the world cross over into anarchy? Are we close to that point? Or have we already crossed it?

I think this is the real danger posed by both the US Congress’ resolution of “unwavering” support for Israel’s de facto genocide in Gaza, and by Barack Obama’s apparent legal relativism when it comes to enforcing international law at home—that is, if he doesn’t hold the Bush war criminals responsible for their actions.

This is a precarious moment in human history. There is a point at which blind rage can become all consuming.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Holiday hiatus

It hadn’t been my intention to suspend writing this blog for so long. But like with everything else that’s happened since I started the blog almost four months ago, the break has been a learning experience.

It confirmed that this blog is not my highest priority. With family tragedy and the rush of the holidays combined with the backlog of chores on the farm, I realized that my real life is more important to me than the virtual and mysterious world of cyberspace, however important I think my thoughts must be that they should be shared with a global anonymous audience.

This is not to diminish the work of bloggers who put in time every day building networks and organizing progressive communities, or simply stating their opinions on the issues of the day. But as a personal choice, it’s more important for me to have enough firewood to keep the house warm and to meet my other family responsibilities, than it is to add another daily frequency to the internet’s white noise. I just don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do. And I’m a slow writer.

As I’ve said before, I think that everything that needs to be said is already being said somewhere on the web. The missing component is concentrated consensual action. There is plenty being done, and being organized, on many ad hoc levels, that have an effect in moving the nation and the world in a progressive direction—witness the election of Barack Obama, who, whatever his multiple connections with the military-industrial complex and the New World Order, is an improvement over the current puppet.

But the real change we need, as I’ve also said, goes way beyond electing the liberal wing of a post-democratic, post-constitutional government. And I don’t think you need to hear my opinion every day to make that happen.

I will, however, continue to express my thoughts here from time to time, hopefully a couple of times a week. I do like the freedom of being able to say whatever I want to say that comes with a blog. But I most enjoy doing more substantive pieces, and those take more time than I can usually spare in a single day. Hopefully, this will be a realistic compromise with my schedule.

In light of the fact that I won’t be writing every day, I’m finally going to activate an email list to let you know when I’ve got something new up. If you haven’t already, drop me an email and I’ll put you on the list.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.