FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How 9/11 Report Soft-Pedaled Root Causes

by RAY McGOVERN

Former CIA analyst

The 567-page final report released Thursday by the 9/11 Commission provides a wealth of data–indeed, so much detail that it is all too easy to miss the forest for the trees. Comments by the ubiquitous commissioners last weekend yield the clear impression that they would just as soon limit our horizon to the trees.

On CNN’s Late Edition Sunday, Wolf Blitzer braced commission vice chair Lee Hamilton with an unusually blunt question, prompting Hamilton to give the game away. Expressing puzzlement as to why the commission had ventured no recommendation regarding Iraq, Blitzer suggested one: “Don’t go to war with countries that had nothing to do with 9/11.”

Caught off balance, Hamilton explained that dealing with the issue of Iraq “would have been highly divisive,” and that commission members would not have been able to agree on a recommendation. Then, recovering quickly, he gave the official answer; i. e., that discussing Iraq would have been “well beyond any reasonable interpretation of what we were supposed to do.”

Thankfully, the putitave limits on the commission’s mandate did not prevent it from putting the final nail in the coffin in which lies the scarytale favored by Vice President Cheney that Iraq and Al Qaeda were in bed together. Nor, curiously enough, did those limits prevent the commission from leading off its policy recommendations with ones regarding Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

One can be forgiven for being struck at the incongruity of the commission’s silence on Iraq, with 140,000 U.S. troops tied down there and terrorists breeding like rabbits.

Why They Hate Us

The commission’s desire to avoid unpleasantness shows through even more clearly as the final report tiptoes past a core issue–motivation. Chartered to “prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,” the commission might have been expected to devote considerable effort to discerning the “why” of the attacks–especially for those among us who remain impervious to the dumbed-down bromide about the terrorists hating our democracy.

If you read page 147 of the commission report carefully, you will find embedded there a key sentence throwing light on the motive of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom the report calls the “mastermind of the 9/11 attacks:”

“KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

A footnote points out that his statements regarding the “why” of attacking the United States echo those of his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, when he was sentenced in New York to a prison term of 240 years in January 1998. Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, accused the United States of supporting Israeli terrorism against Palestinians, adding that he was proud to fight any country that supports Israel.

Hats off to commission staff for shoehorning that information in and to the commissioners who let it stay. This is highly unusual prose for a Washington establishment usually allergic to any hint at the cruel reality that Israel is the tail wagging the dog–the dogs of war let slip on Iraq by those in the Bush administration who draw no distinction between U.S. strategic interests and those of Israel.

Bravo for the commission’s attempt–however timid–to go beyond jingoism in addressing “why they hate us.” On page 374 begins a section titled “PREVENT THE CONTINUED GROWTH OF ISLAMIST TERRORISM.” There the authors pick up on the conundrum repeatedly expressed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld regarding whether the United States is generating more terrorists than it is killing, and whether the United States needs “a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists.”

In gingerly language, the report points out: “America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.” –or, in the vernacular, “It’s the policy, stupid!”

Michael Scheuer, the CIA analyst author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, emphasizes that Bin Laden’s “genius” is his ability to exploit U.S. policies–first and foremost, our one-sided support for Israel–that are most offensive to Muslims, and notes that it is particularly difficult to have a serious debate regarding U.S. policy toward Israel.

As if to prove Scheuer right, Commissioner Bob Kerrey yesterday on ABC’s This Week recited a mantra that is as familiar as it is mindless: You cannot negotiate; you cannot compromise with those who have reached the conclusion that terrorism is their only option.

But of course. Keep it at that level, Bob. Don’t dare ask the deeper but simple question as to why such people have lost all hope for peaceful change. Have you really forgotten that there can be no peace without justice?

I was reminded of Rumsfeld’s melancholy musing on the same ABC program some months ago: “How do you persuade people not to become suicide bombers; how do you reduce the number of people attracted to terrorism? No one knows how to do that.”

Let’s hope that Rumsfeld, Kerrey and others will read and ponder the implications of what is said on pages 374-377 of the 9/11 commission report.

RAY McGOVERN, a CIA analyst for 27 years, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and a contributor to CounterPunch’s unsparing new history of the Afghanistan/Iraq wars, Imperial Crusades. McGovern can be reached at: RRMcGovern@aol.com

This article first appeared on TomPaine.com.

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). He can be reached at: rrmcgovern@gmail.com. A version of this article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail