FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ketcham’s Story

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

In this special report we print a carefully reported narrative by Christopher Ketcham. He’s a journalist whom publications such as Harper’s and Salon.com have been happy to publish. Indeed, it was in May of 2002 that Salon featured on its site a 9,000-word story by Ketcham on the so-called Israeli “art students” whose curious activities before 9/11/2001 around U.S. government offices and in locations in many cases identical to those frequented by the 9/11 hijackers had been the subject of much speculation.

In the fall of 2005 Ketcham ran across a short report in the Philadelphia Times-Herald about a 166-page memorandum written by a retired corporate lawyer named Gerald Shea. The memo, which Shea sent to the 9/11 Commission and the relevant Senate and House intelligence committees, reviewed all publicly known information about the activities of possible Israeli intelligence operatives working in New Jersey, Florida and elsewhere, and posed the questions: how much had the Mossad learned about the hijackers’ plans; what had they divulged to the agencies of the U.S. government?

These are not questions likely to receive an enthusiastic reception in the U.S. press or in Congress. Shea’s memo, which he sent to many major news outlets, received almost no coverage aside from that tiny story in the Philadelphia Times-Herald (written, it should be noted, by Keith Phucas, who broke the Able Danger story). After reading Shea’s full memo, Ketcham went back to the leads and sources he’d developed for the earlier piece for Salon. By May 2006 he’d completed an 11,000-word report for Salon. One hour before it was due to go up on Salon’s site, the story was killed. The word from inside Salon is that the top editors suddenly decided that there was nothing newsworthy about Ketcham’s report.

Anyone familiar with the verbal smokescreens sent up by a publication killing a story knows well two standard ploys: one is the last-minute assertion, often after weeks of enthusiastic editorial preparation, that “there’s really nothing new here”, that “it’s an old story”. The other is that the facts are so explosive, so fresh, that unusually explicit corroboration is required, demanding the reporter get multiple named sources and so forth. Salon’s editors obviously decided that an exposé with words like “Israeli spies” and “9/11” in the same headline was just too hot to handle. But in that case why wait to the last minute, after long hours of editorial work preparing the story for publication? They probably didn’t like to admit to themselves that were just not prepared to take heat for the story and that they simply got cold feet.

Ketcham took the story to a number of other magazines and got nowhere. Then, in the late summer of 2006 he took it to the Nation, whose editors said that yes, they wanted the story, but wouldn’t schedule it till after the crush of political coverage in the run-up to the November elections. The target publication date was December 8. At the last minute, the Nation pulled the piece.

When we first read it, we felt–and still feel–somewhat baffled at the difficulty this piece had in getting published. It’s a report that deals with substantiated events that demand explanation, starting with the van on the New Jersey shore and the Israelis who were seen cheering as the planes crashed into the towers, and who on the afternoon of 9/11 were arrested following an FBI alert.

It is not as though Ketcham is alone in probing the background and activities of the celebrating Israelis. Justin Raimondo, of Antiwar.com has been a pioneer in exploring this same series of events and questions and he deserves great credit for his spirited stories on the matter, which can be found on his site and in his concise and powerful book, The Terror Enigma. The Israeli connection has also been the topic of a fine piece of investigation published in The Forward in 2002. The Forward’s sensational discoveries were studiously ignored by the press. (“Old story.”, “unsubstantiated”) Similarly, the saga of the “art students” has been the object of careful investigation and broadcast pieces by Fox News’ Carl Cameron.

Yes, when it comes to Israel and the U.S. press we are familiar with obstructions to raising edgy topics. That’s why we’re glad we have CounterPunch, to welcome good reporters like Ketcham in from the cold.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN and Jeffrey St. Clair are the authors of End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate.

See Also:

What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks? by Christopher Ketcham

The Kuala Lumpur Deceit: a CIA Cover Up by by Christopher Ketcham

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

February 22, 2018
Mark Schuller
Haiti’s Latest Indignity at the Hands of Dogooders, Oxfam’s Sex Scandal
Jeffrey Sommers
Bond Villain in the World Economy: Latvia’s Offshore Banking Sector
Mark Schuller
Haiti’s Latest Indignity at the Hands of Dogooders, Oxfam’s Sex Scandal
T.J. Coles
How the US Bullies North Korea, 1945-Present
Ipek S. Burnett
Rethinking Freedom in the Era of Mass Shootings
Manuel E. Yepe
Fire and Fury: More Than a Publishing Hit
Patrick Bobilin
Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship
Laurel Krause
From Kent State to Parkland High: Will America Ever Learn?
Terry Simons
Congress and the AR-15: One NRA Stooge Too Many
George Wuerthner
Border Wall Delusions
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail