full text – Gore Vidall: “The Enemy Within”


Richard Moore

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Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 17:40:59 -0700 (MST)
From: Evan D Ravitz <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Gore Vidal's "The Enemy Within" on Bush 9/11 complicity...

"The Enemy Within" by Gore Vidal

The Observer, London, Sunday 27th October 2002

On 24 August, 1814, things looked very dark for freedom's
land. That was the day the British captured Washington DC
and set fire to the Capitol and the White House. President
Madison took refuge in the nearby Virginia woods where he
waited patiently for the notoriously short attention span
of the Brits to kick in, which it did. They moved on and
what might have been a Day of Utter Darkness turned out to
be something of a bonanza for the DC building trades and
up-market realtors.

One year after 9/11, we still don't know by whom we were
struck that infamous Tuesday, or for what true purpose. But
it is fairly plain to many civil-libertarians that 9/11
applied not only to much of our fragile Bill of Rights but
also to our once-envied system of government which had taken
a mortal blow the previous year when the Supreme Court did a
little dance in 5/4 time and replaced a popularly elected
president with the oil and gas Cheney/Bush junta.

Meanwhile, our more and more unaccountable government is
pursuing all sorts of games around the world that we the spear
carriers (formerly the people) will never learn of. Even so,
we have been getting some answers to the question: why weren't
we warned in advance of 9/11? Apparently, we were, repeatedly;
for the better part of a year, we were told there would be
unfriendly visitors to our skies some time in September 2001,
but the government neither informed nor protected us despite
Mayday warnings from Presidents Putin and Mubarak, from Mossad
and even from elements of our own FBI. A joint panel of
congressional intelligence committees reported (19 September
2002, New York Times) that as early as 1996, Pakistani
terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad confessed to federal agents that
he was 'learning to fly in order to crash a plane into CIA HQ'.

Only CIA director George Tenet seemed to take the various
threats seriously. In December 1998, he wrote to his deputies
that 'we are at war' with Osama bin Laden. So impressed was
the FBI by his warnings that by 20 September 2001, 'the FBI
still had only one analyst assigned full time to al-Qaeda'.

>From a briefing prepared for Bush at the beginning of July
2001: 'We believe that OBL [Osama bin Laden] will launch a
significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli
interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular
and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities
or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will
occur with little or no warning.' And so it came to pass; yet
Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, says she
never suspected that this meant anything more than the
kidnapping of planes.

Happily, somewhere over the Beltway, there is Europe -
recently declared anti-Semitic by the US media because most
of Europe wants no war with Iraq and the junta does, for
reasons we may now begin to understand thanks to European
and Asian investigators with their relatively free media.

On the subject 'How and Why America was Attacked on 11
September, 2001', the best, most balanced report, thus far,
is by Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed ... Yes, yes, I know he is one
of Them. But they often know things that we don't -
particularly about what we are up to. A political scientist,
Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy
Research and Development 'a think-tank dedicated to the
promotion of human rights, justice and peace' in Brighton.
His book, 'The War on Freedom', has just been published in
the US by a small but reputable publisher.

Ahmed provides a background for our ongoing war against
Afghanistan, a view that in no way coincides with what the
administration has told us. He has drawn on many sources,
most tellingly on American whistleblowers who are beginning
to come forth and hear witness - like those FBI agents who
warned their supervisors that al-Qaeda was planning a
kamikaze strike against New York and Washington only to be
told that if they went public with these warnings they
would suffer under the National Security Act. Several of
these agents have engaged David P. Schippers, chief
investigative counsel for the US House Judiciary Committee,
to represent them in court. The majestic Schippers managed
the successful impeachment of President Clinton in the
House of Representatives. He may, if the Iraqi war should
go wrong, be obliged to perform the same high service for
Bush, who allowed the American people to go unwarned about
an imminent attack upon two of our cities as pre-emption
of a planned military strike by the US against the Taliban.

The Guardian (26 September 2001) reported that in July 2001,
a group of interested parties met in a Berlin hotel to
listen to a former State Department official, Lee Coldren,
as he passed on a message from the Bush administration that
'the United States was so disgusted with the Taliban that
they might be considering some military action ... the
chilling quality of this private warning was that it came -
according to one of those present, the Pakistani diplomat
Niaz Naik - accompanied by specific details of how Bush
would succeed ...' Four days earlier, the Guardian had
reported that 'Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received
threats of possible American military action against them
two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and
Washington ... [which] raises the possibility that bin
Laden was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to
what he saw as US threats.' A replay of the 'day of
infamy' in the Pacific 62 years earlier?

Why the US needed a Eurasian adventure

On 9 September 2001, Bush was presented with a draft of
a national security presidential directive outlining a
global campaign of military, diplomatic and intelligence
action targeting al-Qaeda, buttressed by the threat of
war. According to NBC News: 'President Bush was expected
to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-
Qaeda ... but did not have the chance before the terrorist
attacks ... The directive, as described to NBC News, was
essentially the same war plan as the one put into action
after 11 September. The administration most likely was
able to respond so quickly ... because it simply had to
pull the plans "off the shelf".'

Finally, BBC News, 18 September 2001: 'Niak Naik, a
former Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior
American officials in mid-July that military action
against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of
October. It was Naik's view that Washington would not
drop its war for Afghanistan even if bin Laden were to
be surrendered immediately by the Taliban.'

Was Afghanistan then turned to rubble in order to avenge
the 3,000 Americans slaughtered by Osama? Hardly. The
administration is convinced that Americans are so simple-
minded that they can deal with no scenario more complex
than the venerable lone, crazed killer (this time with
zombie helpers) who does evil just for the fun of it
'cause he hates us, 'cause we're rich 'n free 'n he's
not. Osama was chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the most
frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and
conquest of Afghanistan, planning for which had been
'contingency' some years before 9/11 and, again, from 20
December, 2000, when Clinton's out-going team devised a
plan to strike at al-Qaeda in retaliation for the assault
on the warship Cole. Clinton's National Security Advisor,
Sandy Berger, personally briefed his successor on the
plan but Rice, still very much in her role as director of
Chevron-Texaco, with special duties regarding Pakistan
and Uzbekistan, now denies any such briefing. A year and
a half later (12 August, 2002), fearless Time magazine
reported this odd memory lapse.

Osama, if it was he and not a nation, simply provided
the necessary shock to put in train a war of conquest.
But conquest of what? What is there in dismal dry sandy
Afghanistan worth conquering? Zbigniew Brzezinski tells
us exactly what in a 1997 Council on Foreign Relations
study called 'The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and
its Geostrategic Imperatives'.

The Polish-born Brzezinski was the hawkish National
Security Advisor to President Carter. In 'The Grand
Chessboard', Brzezinski gives a little history lesson.
'Ever since the continents started interacting
politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the
centre of world power.' Eurasia is all the territory
east of Germany. This means Russia, the Middle East,
China and parts of India. Brzezinski acknowledges that
Russia and China, bordering oil-rich central Asia, are
the two main powers threatening US hegemony in that area.

He takes it for granted that the US must exert control over
the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, known to those
who love them as 'the Stans': Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,
Tajikstan and Kyrgyzstan all 'of importance from the
standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least
three of their most immediate and most powerful neighbours
- Russia, Turkey and Iran, with China signaling'. Brzezinski
notes how the world's energy consumption keeps increasing;
hence, who controls Caspian oil/gas will control the world
economy. Brzezinski then, reflexively, goes into the
standard American rationalization for empire;. We want
nothing, ever, for ourselves, only to keep bad people from
getting good things with which to hurt good people. 'It
follows that America's primary interest is to help ensure
that no single [other] power comes to control the
geopolitical space and that the global community has
unhindered financial and economic access to it.'

Brzezinski is quite aware that American leaders are
wonderfully ignorant of history and geography so he really
lays it on, stopping just short of invoking politically
incorrect 'manifest destiny'. He reminds the Council just
how big Eurasia is. Seventy-five percent of the world's
population is Eurasian. If I have done the sums right,
that means that we've only got control, to date, of a mere
25 percent of the world's folks. More! 'Eurasia accounts
for 60-per cent of the world's GNP and three-fourths of
the world's known energy resources.' Brzezinski's master
plan for 'our' globe has obviously been accepted by the
Cheney-Bush junta. Corporate America, long over-excited by
Eurasian mineral wealth, has been aboard from the beginning.

Ahmed sums up: 'Brzezinski clearly envisaged that the
establishment, consolidation and expansion of US military
hegemony over Eurasia through Central Asia would require
the unprecedented, open-ended militarisation of foreign
policy, coupled with an unprecedented manufacture of
domestic support and consensus on this militarisation

Afghanistan is the gateway to all these riches. Will we
fight to seize them? It should never be forgotten that
the American people did not want to fight in either of
the twentieth century's world wars, but President Wilson
maneuvered us into the First while President Roosevelt
maneuvered the Japanese into striking the first blow at
Pearl Harbor, causing us to enter the Second as the
result of a massive external attack. Brzezinski
understands all this and, in 1997, he is thinking ahead
- as well as backward. 'Moreover, as America becomes an
increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more
difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy
issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive
and widely perceived direct external threat.' Thus was
the symbolic gun produced that belched black smoke over
Manhattan and the Pentagon.

Since the Iran-Iraq wars, Islam has been demonized as a
Satanic terrorist cult that encourages suicide attacks -
contrary, it should be noted, to the Islamic religion.
Osama has been portrayed, accurately, it would seem, as
an Islamic zealot. In order to bring this evil-doer to
justice ('dead or alive'), Afghanistan, the object of
the exercise was made safe not only for democracy but
for Union Oil of California whose proposed pipeline from
Turkmenistan to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian
Ocean port of Karachi, had been abandoned under the
Taliban's chaotic regime. Currently, the pipeline is a
go-project thanks to the junta's installation of a
Unocal employee (John J Maresca) as US envoy to the
newly born democracy whose president, Hamid Karzai, is
also, according to Le Monde, a former employee of a
Unocal subsidiary. Conspiracy? Coincidence!

Once Afghanistan looked to be within the fold, the junta,
which had managed to pull off a complex diplomatic-military
caper, - abruptly replaced Osama, the personification of
evil, with Saddam. This has been hard to explain since
there is nothing to connect Iraq with 9/11. Happily,
'evidence' is now being invented. But it is uphill work,
not helped by stories in the press about the vast oil
wealth of Iraq which must - for the sake of the free world
- be reassigned to US and European consortiums.

As Brzezinski foretold, 'a truly massive and widely
perceived direct external threat' made it possible for
the President to dance a war dance before Congress. 'A
long war!' he shouted with glee. Then he named an
incoherent Axis of Evil to be fought. Although Congress
did not give him the FDR Special - a declaration of war
- he did get permission to go after Osama who may now be
skulking in Iraq.

Bush and the dog that did not bark

Post-9/11, the American media were filled with pre-emptory
denunciations of unpatriotic 'conspiracy theorists', who
not only are always with us but are usually easy for the
media to discredit since it is an article of faith that
there are no conspiracies in American life. Yet, a year
or so ago, who would have thought that most of corporate
America had been conspiring with accountants to cook their
books since - well, at least the bright days of Reagan and
deregulation. Ironically, less than a year after the
massive danger from without, we were confronted with an
even greater enemy from within: Golden Calf capitalism.
Transparency? One fears that greater transparency will
only reveal armies of maggots at work beneath the skin
of a culture that needs a bit of a lie-down in order to
collect itself before taking its next giant step which is
to conquer Eurasia, a potentially fatal adventure not
only for our frazzled institutions but for us the
presently living.

Complicity. The behavior of President George W. Bush on 11
September certainly gives rise to all sorts of not unnatural
suspicions. I can think of no other modern chief of state
who would continue to pose for 'warm' pictures of himself
listening to a young girl telling stories about her pet goat
while hijacked planes were into three buildings.

Constitutionally, Bush is not only chief of state, he
is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Normally, a
commander in such a crisis would go straight to headquarters
and direct operations while receiving the latest intelligence.

This is what Bush actually did - or did not do - according to
Stan Goff, a retired US Army veteran who has taught military
science and doctrine at West Point. Goff writes, in 'The So-
called Evidence is a Farce': 'I have no idea why people
aren't asking some very specific questions about the actions
of Bush and company on the day of the attacks. Four planes
get hijacked and deviate from their flight plan, all the
while on FAA radar.'

Goff, incidentally, like the other astonished military
experts, cannot fathom why the government's automatic
'standard order of procedure in the event of a hijacking'
was not followed. Once a plane has deviated from its flight-
plan, fighter planes are sent up to find out why. That is
law and does not require presidential approval, which only
needs to be given if there is a decision to shoot down a
plane. Goff spells it out: 'The planes were hijacked
between 7:45 and 8:10am. Who is notified? This is an event
already that is unprecedented. But the President is not
notified and going to a Florida elementary school to hear
children read.

'By around 8:15am it should be very apparent that something
is terribly wrong. The President is glad-handling teachers.
By 8:45am, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into
the North Tower, Bush is settling in with children for his
photo op. Four planes have obviously been hijacked
simultaneously and one has just dived into the twin towers,
and still no one notifies the nominal Commander-in-Chief.

'No one has apparently scrambled [sent aloft] Air Force
interceptors either. At 9:03, Flight 175 crashes into the
South Tower. At 9:05 Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff
whispers to Bush [who] "briefly turns somber" according
to reporters. Does he cancel the school visit and convene
an emergency meeting? No. He resumes listening to second-
graders ... and continues the banality even as American
Airlines Flight 77 conducts an unscheduled point turn over
Ohio and heads in the direction of Washington DC.

'Has he instructed Card to scramble the Air Force? No. An
excruciating 25 minutes later, he finally deigns to give
a public statement telling the United States what they
have already figured out - that there's been an attack on
the World Trade Centre. There's a hijacked plane bee-lining
to Washington, but has the Air Force been scrambled to
defend anything yet? No.

'At 9:35, this plane conducts another turn, 360 [degrees]
over the Pentagon, all the while being tracked by radar,
and the Pentagon is not evacuated, and there are still no
fast-movers from the Air Force in the sky over Alexandria
and DC. Now the real kicker: a pilot they want us to
believe was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for
Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a well-controlled downward
spiral descending the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half
minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips
the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon,
and flies it with pinpoint accuracy into the side of the
building at 460 knots.

'When the theory about learning to fly this well at the
puddle-jumper school began to lose ground, it was added
that they received further training on a flight simulator.
This is like saying you prepared your teenager for her
first drive on the freeway at rush hour by buying her a
video driving game ... There is a story being constructed
about these events.'

There is indeed, and the more it is added to the darker
it becomes. The nonchalance of General Richard B. Myers,
acting Joint Chief of Staff, is as puzzling as the
President's campaigning-as-usual act. Myers was at the
Capitol chatting with Senator Max Cleland. A sergeant,
writing later in the AFPS (American Forces Press Service)
describes Myers at the Capitol. 'While in an outer office,
he said, he saw a television report that a plane had hit
the World Trade Centre. "They thought it was a small
plane or something like that," Myers said. So the two men
went ahead with the office call.'

Whatever Myers and Cleland had to say to each other (more
funds for the military?) must have been riveting because,
during their chat, the AFPS reports, 'the second tower
was hit by another jet. "Nobody informed us of that,"
Myers said. "But when we came out, that was obvious. Then,
right at that time, somebody said the Pentagon had been
hit."' Finally, somebody 'thrust a cellphone in Myers'
hand' and, as if by magic, the commanding general of
Norad - our Airspace Command - was on the line just as
the hijackers mission had been successfully completed
except for the failed one in Pennsylvania. In later
testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Myers
said he thinks that, as of his cellphone talk with Norad,
'the decision was at that point to start launching
aircraft'. It was 9:40am. One hour and 20 minutes after
air controllers knew that Flight 11 had been hijacked;
50 minutes after the North Tower was struck.

This statement would have been quite enough in our old
serious army/air force to launch a number of courts martial
with an impeachment or two thrown in. First, Myers claims
to be uninformed until the third strike. But the Pentagon
had been overseeing the hijacked planes from at least the
moment of the strike at the first tower: yet not until the
third strike, at the Pentagon, was the decision made to get
the fighter planes up. Finally, this one is the dog that
did not bark. By law, the fighters should have been up at
around 8:15. If they had, all the hijacked planes might
have been diverted or shot down. I don't think that Goff
is being unduly picky when he wonders who and what kept
the Air Force from following its normal procedure instead
of waiting an hour and 20 minutes until the damage was done
and only then launching the fighters. Obviously, somebody
had ordered the Air Force to make no move to intercept
those hijackings until ... what?

On 21 January 2002, the Canadian media analyst Barry Zwicker
summed up on CBC-TV: 'That morning no interceptors responded
in a timely fashion to the highest alert situation. This
includes the Andrews squadrons which ... are 12 miles from
the White House ... Whatever the explanation for the huge
failure, there have been no reports, to my knowledge, of
reprimands. This further weakens the "Incompetence Theory".
Incompetence usually earns reprimands. This causes me to ask
whether there were "stand down" orders.'?? On 29 August 2002,
the BBC reports that on 9/11 there were 'only four fighters
on ready status in the north-eastern US'. Conspiracy?
Coincidence? Error?

It is interesting how often in our history, when disaster
strikes, incompetence is considered a better alibi than ...
well, yes, there are worse things. After Pearl Harbor,
Congress moved to find out why Hawaii's two military
commanders, General Short and Admiral Kimmel, had not
anticipated the Japanese attack. But President Roosevelt
pre-empted that investigation with one of his own. Short
and Kimmel were broken for incompetence. The 'truth' is
still obscure to this day.

The media's weapons of mass distraction

But Pearl Harbor has been much studied. 11 September, it
is plain, is never going to be investigated if Bush has
anything to say about it. In January 2002, CNN reported that
'Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to
limit the Congressional investigation into the events of 11
September ... The request was made at a private meeting with
Congressional leaders ... Sources said Bush initiated the
conversation ... He asked that only the House and Senate
intelligence committees look into the potential breakdowns
among federal agencies that could have allowed the terrorist
attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry .. Tuesday's
discussion followed a rare call from Vice President Dick
Cheney last Friday to make the same request ...'

The excuse given, according to Daschle, was that 'resources
and personnel would be taken' away from the war on terrorism
in the event of a wider inquiry. So for reasons that we must
never know, those 'breakdowns' are to be the goat. That they
were more likely to be not break - but 'stand-downs' is not
for us to pry. Certainly the one-hour 20 minute failure to
put fighter planes in the air could not have been due to a
breakdown throughout the entire Air Force along the East
Coast. Mandatory standard operational procedure had been
told to cease and desist.

Meanwhile, the media were assigned their familiar task of
inciting public opinion against bin Laden, still not the
proven mastermind. These media blitzes often resemble the
magicians classic gesture of distraction: as you watch the
rippling bright colours of his silk handkerchief in one
hand, he is planting the rabbit in your pocket with the
other. We were quickly assured that Osama's enormous family
with its enormous wealth had broken with him, as had the
royal family of his native Saudi Arabia. The CIA swore,
hand on heart, that Osama had not worked for them in the
war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Finally,
the rumour that Bush family had in any way profited by its
long involvement with the bin Laden family was - what else?
- simply partisan bad taste.

But Bush Jr's involvement goes back at least to 1979 when
his first failed attempt to become a player in the big
Texas oil league brought him together with one James Bath
of Houston, a family friend, who have Bush Jr. $50,000 for
a 5 per cent stake in Bush's firm Arbusto Energy. At this
time, according to Wayne Madsen ('In These Times' -
Institute for Public Affairs No. 25), Bath was 'the sole
US business representative for Salem bin Laden, head of
the family and a brother (one of 17) to Osama bin Laden...
In a statement issued shortly after the 11 September
attacks, the White House vehemently denied the connection,
insisting that Bath invested his own money, not Salem bin
Laden's, in Arbusto. In conflicting statements, Bush at
first denied ever knowing Bath, then acknowledged his
stake in Arbusto and that he was aware Bath represented
Saudi interests ... after several reincarnations, Arbusto
emerged in 1986 as Harken Energy Corporation.'

Behind the Junior Bush is the senior Bush, gainfully
employed by the Carlyle Group which has ownership in at
least 164 companies worldwide, inspiring admiration in
that staunch friend to the wealthy, the Wall Street
Journal, which noted, as early as 27 September 2001, 'If
the US boosts defence spending in its quest to stop Osama
bin Laden's alleged terrorist activities, there may be
one unexpected beneficiary: bin Laden's family ... is an
investor in a fund established by Carlyle Group, a well-
connected Washington merchant bank specialising in
buyouts of defence and aerospace companies ... Osama is
one of more than 50 children of Mohammed bin Laden, who
built the family's $5 billion business.'

But Bush pere et fils, in pursuit of wealth and office,
are beyond shame or, one cannot help but think, good sense.
There is a suggestion that they are blocking investigation
of the bin Laden connection with terrorism. Agent France
Press reported on 4 November 2001: 'FBI agents probing
relatives of Saudi-born terror suspect Osama ... were told
to back off soon after George W. Bush became president ...'
According to BBC TV's Newsnight (6 Nov 2001), '... just
days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for
the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same
airport whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi
Arabia. That did not concern the White House, whose official
line is that the bin Ladens are above suspicion.' 'Above the
Law' (Green Press, 14 February 2002) sums up: 'We had what
looked like the biggest failure of the intelligence
community since Pearl Harbor but what we are learning now is
it wasn't a failure, it was a directive.' True? False? Bush
Jr will be under oath during the impeachment interrogation.
Will we hear 'What is a directive? What is is?'

Although the US had, for some years, fingered Osama as a
mastermind terrorist, no serious attempt had been made
pre-9/11 to 'bring him to justice dead or alive, innocent
or guilty', as Texan law of the jungle requires. Clinton's
plan to act was given to Condeleezza Rice by Sandy Berger,
you will recall, but she says she does not.

As far back as March 1996 when Osama was in Sudan, Major
General Elfatih Erwa, Sudanese Minister for Defence,
offered to extradite him. According to the Washington Post
(3 October 2001), 'Erwa said he would happily keep close
watch on bin Laden for the United States. But if that
would not suffice, the government was prepared to place
him in custody and hand him over ... [US officials] said,
"just ask him to leave the country. Just don't let him go
to Somalia", where he had once been given credit for the
successful al-Qaeda attack on American forces that in '93
that killed 18 Rangers.' Erwa said in an interview, 'We
said he will go to Afghanistan, and they [US officials]
said, "Let him."'

In 1996 Sudan expelled Osama and 3,000 of his associates.
Two years later the Clinton administration, in the great
American tradition of never having to say thank you for
Sudan's offer to hand over Osama, proceeded to missile-
attack Sudan's al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory on the
grounds that Sudan was harboring bin Laden terrorists
who were making chemical and biological weapons when the
factory was simply making vaccines for the UN.

Four years later, John O'Neill, a much admired FBI agent,
complained in the Irish Times a month before the attacks,
'The US State Department - and behind it the oil lobby
who make up President Bush's entourage - blocked attempts
to prove bin Laden's guilt. The US ambassador to Yemen
forbade O'Neill (and his FBI team) ... from entering
Yemen in August 2001. O'Neill resigned in frustration and
took on a new job as head of security at the World Trade
Centre. He died in the 11 September attack.' Obviously,
Osama has enjoyed bipartisan American support since his
enlistment in the CIA's war to drive the Soviets out of
Afghanistan. But by 9/11 there was no Soviet occupation
of Afghanistan, indeed there was no Soviet Union.

A world made safe for peace and pipelines

I watched Bush and Cheney on CNN when the Axis of Evil
speech was given and the 'long war' proclaimed. Iraq,
Iran and North Korea were fingered as enemies to be
clobbered because they might or might not be harbouring
terrorists who might or might not destroy us in the night.
So we must strike first whenever it pleases us. Thus, we
declared 'war on terrorism' - an abstract noun which
cannot be a war at all as you need a country for that.
Of course, there was innocent Afghanistan, which was
levelled from a great height, but then what's collateral
damage - like an entire country - when you're targeting
the personification of all evil according to Time and
the NY Times and the networks?

As it proved, the conquest of Afghanistan had nothing to
do with Osama. He was simply a pretext for replacing the
Taliban with a relatively stable government that would
allow Union Oil of California to lay its pipeline for
the profit of, among others, the Cheney-Bush junta.

Background? All right. The headquarters of Unocal are,
as might be expected, in Texas. In December 1997,
Taliban representatives were invited to Sugarland,
Texas. At that time, Unocal had already begun training
Afghan men in pipeline construction, with US government
approval. BBC News, (4 December 1997): 'A spokesman for
the company Unocal said the Taliban were expected to
spend several days at the company's [Texas] headquarters
... a BBC regional correspondent says the proposal to
build a pipeline across Afghanistan is part of an
international scramble to profit from developing the
rich energy resources of the Caspian Sea.' The Inter
Press Service (IPS) reported: 'some Western businesses
are warming up to the Taliban despite the movement's
institutionalisation of terror, massacres, abductions
and impoverishment.' CNN (6 October 1996): 'The United
States wants good ties [with the Taliban] but can't
openly seek them while women are being oppressed.'

The Taliban, rather better organised than rumoured,
hired for PR one Leila Helms, a niece of Richard Helms,
former director of the CIA. In October 1996, the
Frankfurter Rundschau reported that Unocal 'has been
given the go-ahead from the new holders of power in
Kabul to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan via
Afghanistan to Pakistan ..' This was a real coup for
Unocal as well as other candidates for pipelines,
including Condoleezza's old employer Chevron. Although
the Taliban was already notorious for its imaginative
crimes against the human race, the Wall Street Journal,
scenting big bucks, fearlessly announced: 'Like them
or not, the Taliban are the players most capable of
achieving peace in Afghanistan at this moment in
history.' The NY Times (26 May 1997) leapt aboard the
pipeline juggernaut. 'The Clinton administration has
taken the view that a Taliban victory would act as
counterweight to Iran ... and would offer the
possibility of new trade routes that could weaken
Russian and Iranian influence in the region.'

But by 1999, it was clear that the Taliban could not
provide the security we would need to protect our
fragile pipelines. The arrival of Osama as warrior
for Allah on the scene refocused, as it were, the
bidding. New alliances were now being made. The Bush
administration soon buys the idea of an invasion of
Afghanistan, Frederick Starr, head of the Central
Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in
the Washington Post (19 December 2000): 'The US has
quietly begun to align itself with those in the
Russian government calling for military action
against Afghanistan and has toyed with the idea of
a new raid to wipe out bin Laden.'

Although with much fanfare we went forth to wreak our
vengeance on the crazed sadistic religious zealot who
slaughtered 3,000 American citizens, once that 'war'
was under way, Osama was dropped as irrelevant and so
we are back to the Unocal pipeline, now a go-project.
In the light of what we know today, it is unlikely
that the junta was ever going to capture Osama alive:
he has tales to tell. One of Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's best numbers now is: 'Where is he?
Somewhere? Here? There? Somewhere? Who knows?' And we
get his best twinkle. He must also be delighted - and
amazed - that the media have bought the absurd story
that Osama, if alive, would still be in Afghanistan,
underground, waiting to be flushed out instead of in
a comfortable mansion in Osama-loving Jakarta, 2,000
miles to the East and easily accessible by Flying
Carpet One.

Many commentators of a certain age have noted how
Hitlerian our junta sounds as it threatens first one
country for harbouring terrorists and then another. It
is true that Hitler liked to pretend to be the injured
- or threatened - party before he struck. But he had
many great predecessors not least Imperial Rome. Stephen
Gowan's War in Afghanistan: A $28 Billion Racket quotes
Joseph Schumpeter who, 'in 1919, described ancient Rome
in a way that sounds eerily like the United States in
2001: "There was no corner of the known world where
some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under
actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they
were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies,
the allies would be invented ... The fight was always
invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always
being attacked by evil-minded neighbours."' We have
only outdone the Romans in turning metaphors such as
the war on terrorism, or poverty, or Aids into actual
wars on targets we appear, often, to pick at random in
order to maintain turbulence in foreign lands.

As of 1 August 2002, trial balloons were going up all
over Washington DC to get world opinion used to the
idea that 'Bush of Afghanistan' had gained a title as
mighty as his father's 'Bush of the Persian Gulf' and
Junior was now eager to add Iraq-Babylon to his diadem.
These various balloons fell upon Europe and the Arab
world like so many lead weights. But something new has
been added since the classic Roman Hitlerian mantra,
'they are threatening us, we must attack first'. Now
everything is more of less out in the open. The
International Herald Tribune wrote in August 2002:
'The leaks began in earnest on 5 July, when the New
York Times described a tentative Pentagon plan that
it said called for an invasion by a US force of up to
250,000 that would attack Iraq from the north, south
and west. On 10 July, the Times said that Jordan might
be used as a base for the invasion. The Washington
Post reported, 28 July, that "many senior US military
officers contend that Saddam Hussein poses no immediate
threat ..."' And the status quo should be maintained.
Incidentally, this is the sort of debate that the
founding fathers intended the Congress, not military
bureaucrats, to conduct in the name of we the people.
But that sort of debate has, for a long time, been
denied us.

One refreshing note is now being struck in a fashion
unthinkable in imperial Rome: the cheerful admission
that we habitually resort to provocation. The Tribune
continues: 'Donald Rumsfeld has threatened to jail any
one found to have been behind the leaks. But a retired
army general, Fred Woerner, tends to see a method
behind the leaks. "We may already be executing a plan,"
he said recently. "Are we involved in a preliminary
psychological dimension of causing Iraq to do something
to justify a US attack or make concessions? Somebody
knows.' That is plain.

Elsewhere in this interesting edition of the Herald
Tribune wise William Pfaff writes: 'A second Washington
debate is whether to make an unprovoked attack on Iran
to destroy a nuclear power reactor being built with
Russian assistance, under inspection by the
International Atomic Energy Agency, within the terms of
the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of which Iran is a
signatory ... No other government would support such an
action, other than Israel's (which) would do so not
because it expected to be attacked by Iran but because
it, not unjustifiably, opposes any nuclear capacity in
the hands of any Islamic government.'

Suspect states and the tom-toms of revenge

'Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is,
perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it compromises
and develops the germ of every other. As the parent of
armies, war encourages debts and taxes, the known
instruments for bringing the many under the domination
of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of
the executive is extended ... and all the means of
seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the
force, of the people ...' Thus, James Madison warned
us at the dawn of our republic.

Post 9/11, thanks to the 'domination of the few',
Congress and the media are silent while the executive,
through propaganda and skewed polls, seduces the public
mind as hitherto unthinkable centers of power like
Homeland Defence (a new Cabinet post to be placed on
top of the Defence Department) are being constructed
and 4 per cent of the country has recently been invited
to join Tips, a civilian spy system to report on anyone
who looks suspicious or ... who objects to what the
executive is doing at home or abroad?

Although every nation knows how - if it has the means
and the will - to protect itself from thugs of the sort
that brought us 9/11, war is not an option. Wars are
for nations not root-less gangs. You put a price on
their heads and hunt them down. In recent years, Italy
has been doing that with the Sicilian Mafia; and no one
has yet suggested bombing Palermo.

But the Cheney-Bush junta wants a war in order to
dominate Afghanistan, build a pipeline, gain control of
the oil of Eurasia's Stans for their business associates
as well as to do as much damage to Iraq and Iran on the
grounds that one day those evil countries may carpet our
fields of amber grain with anthrax or something.

The media, never much good a analysis, are more and more
breathless and incoherent. On CNN, even the stolid Jim
Clancy started to hyperventilate when an Indian academic
tried to explain how Iraq was once our ally and 'friend'
in its war against our Satanic enemy Iran. 'None of that
conspiracy stuff,' snuffed Clancy. Apparently,
'conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable

As of August, at least among economists, a consensus
was growing that, considering our vast national debt
(we borrow $2 billion a day to keep the government going)
and a tax base seriously reduced by the junta in order
to benefit the 1 per cent who own most of the national
wealth, there is no way that we could ever find the
billions needed to destroy Iraq in 'a long war' or even
a short one, with most of Europe lined up against us.
Germany and Japan paid for the Gulf War, reluctantly -
with Japan, at the last moment, irritably quarrelling
over the exchange rate at the time of the contract. Now
Germany's Schroder has said no. Japan is mute.

But the tom-toms keep beating revenge; and the fact
that most of the world is opposed to our war seems
only to bring hectic roses to the cheeks of the Bush
administration (Bush Snr of the Carlyle Group, Bush Jnr
formerly of Harken, Cheney, formerly of Halliburton, Rice,
formerly of Chevron, Rumsfeld, formerly of Occidental).
If ever an administration should recuse itself in matters
dealing with energy, it is the current junta. But this is
unlike any administration in our history. Their hearts
are plainly elsewhere, making money, far from our mock
Roman temples, while we, alas, are left only with their
heads, dreaming of war, preferably against weak peripheral

Mohammed Heikal is a brilliant Egyptian journalist-observer,
and sometime Foreign Minister. On 10 October 2001, he said
to the Guardian: 'Bin Laden does not have the capabilities
for an operation of this magnitude. When I hear Bush talking
about al-Qaeda as if it were Nazi Germany or the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union, I laugh because I know what is
there. Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years:
every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaeda has been
penetrated by US intelligence, Pakistani intelligence,
Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not
have kept secret an operation that required such a degree
of organisation and sophistication.

The former president of Germany's domestic intelligence
service, Eckehardt Werthebach (American Free Press, 4
December 2001) spells it out. The 9/11 attacks required
'years of planning' while their scale indicates that they
were a product of 'state-organised actions'. There it is.
Perhaps, after all, Bush Jnr was right to call it a war.
But which state attacked us?

Will the suspects please line up. Saudi Arabia? 'No, no. Why
we are paying you $50 million a year for training the royal
bodyguard on our own holy if arid soil. True the kingdom
contains many wealthy well-educated enemies but ...' Bush Snr
and Jnr exchange a knowing look. Egypt? No way. Dead broke
despite US baksheesh. Syria? No funds. Iran? Too proud to
bother with a parvenu state like the US. Israel? Sharon is
capable of anything. But he lacks the guts and the grace of
the true Kamikaze. Anyway, Sharon was not in charge when
this operation began with the planting of 'sleepers' around
the US flight schools 5 or 6 years ago. The United States?
Elements of corporate America would undeniably prosper from
a 'massive external attack' that would make it possible for
us to go to war whenever the President sees fit while
suspending civil liberties. (The 342 pages of the USA Patriot
Act were plainly prepared before 9/11.) Bush Snr and Jnr are
giggling now. Why? Because Clinton was president back then.
As the former president leaves the line of suspects, he says,
more in anger than in sorrow: 'When we left the White House
we had a plan for an all-out war on al-Qaeda. We turned it
over to this administration and they did nothing. Why?'
Biting his lip, he goes. The Bushes no longer giggle.
Pakistan breaks down: 'I did it! I confess! I couldn't help
myself. Save me. I am an evil-doer!'

Apparently, Pakistan did do it - or some of it. We must now
go back to 1979 when 'the largest covert operation in the
history of the CIA' was launched in response to the Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan. Central Asia specialist Ahmed Rashid
wrote (Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999): 'With the
active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI (Inter
Services Intelligence) who wanted to turn the Afghan jihad
into a global war, waged by all Muslim states against the
Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals, from 40 Islamic
countries joined Afghanistan's fight between 1982 and '92
... more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly
influenced by the Afghanistan jihad.' The CIA covertly
trained and sponsored these warriors.

In March 1985, President Reagan issued National Security
Decision Directive 166, increasing military aid while CIA
specialists met with the ISI counterparts near Rawalpindi,
Pakistan. Jane's Defence Weekly (14 September 2001) gives
the best overview: 'The trainers were mainly from Pakistan's
ISI agency who learnt their craft from American Green Beret
commandos and Navy Seals in various US training
establishments.' This explains the reluctance of the
administration to explain why so many unqualified persons,
over so long a time, got visas to visit our hospitable
shores. While in Pakistan, 'mass training of Afghan
[zealots] was subsequently conducted by the Pakistan army
under the supervision of the elite Special Services ... In
1988, with US knowledge, bin Laden created al-Qaeda (The
Base); a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist
cells spread across 26 or so countries. Washington turned a
blind eye to al-Qaeda.' When Mohamed Atta's plane struck
the World Trade Centre's North Tower, George W. Bush and
the child at the Florida elementary school were discussing
her goat. By coincidence, our word 'tragedy' comes from the
Greek: for 'goat' tragos plus oide for 'song'. 'Goat-song'.
It is highly suitable that this lament, sung in ancient
satyr plays, should have been heard again at the exact
moment when we were struck by fire from heaven, and a
tragedy whose end is nowhere in sight began for us.

© Gore Vidal 2002

Online at http://9-11congress.netfirms.com/Vidal.html

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