Part 1 of a four-part series
September 11: The circumstantial case
By Bill Molson
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Apri115, 2002—Since September 11, reports have been dribbling out, one at a time, that are by themselves disturbing, but taken all together lead to a shocking conspiracy involving the highest levels of government.
The reports have been scattered across newspapers and Internet sites all around the world, consequently, they have not been collected in one single place to date save for independent news sites on the Internet. For whatever reasons, the corporate media have steadfastly avoided dealing with them in any significant way. Perhaps they do not want to enter thorny speculative ground or be labeled as "conspiracy theorists." Or perhaps they believe the necessary conclusions would offend a nation focused on its own unity and patriotism. Consequently, these facts have been swept under the rug. Yet, they are there for all to see.
It is precisely for reasons of patriotism that these avenues need to be pursued. If they are true, they represent a clear and present danger to the United States from within our borders and from the very people we entrust to protect us. A failure to listen to facts and conclusions that are unpleasant or disturbing will not help us, rather it will only play into the hands of those who want to make us less free.
Here we will examine, and make a circumstantial case, that the CIA and the executive branch knew in advance about the attacks, and may have even encouraged them. Since the smoking gun has yet to be found, this is the best that can be offered. Because the CIA is one of our nation's most important, and most secretive, investigative bodies, it might be impossible to ever ascertain the truth of the matter. However, steps need to be taken now by Congress to deal with these facts on some level, either to prove or disprove them. The people, who are being asked to sacrifice by their government, ought to be told the whole truth.
On September 29, 2001, not long after the attacks, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 2.5 million dollars in stock profits made from United Airlines went uncollected. The money was made using two stock market tricks that net investors big profits when stocks fall—"put" options and "short selling." Put options are agreements to sell a certain stock on a certain date at a fixed price, meaning the owner profits when the stocks fall below that price. Short selling involves borrowing stock and then selling it, hoping to buy it back at a lower price.
In the three business days before the attack, put options on United and American Airlines skyrocketed. The Chronicle reports that on one day, put options on United Airlines shares jumped 25 percent from the year-to-date average. In the month before the attacks, short sales on American and United jumped by 20 and 40 percent, respectively. The trades were not replicated in the stocks of any other airlines.
Some of the United Airlines put options were purchased through Deutsche Bank Alex Brown, which is the American investment banking arm of Deutsche Bank, one of the world's largest investment firms. Deutsche Bank was also the source in unusual trading patterns of Merrill Lynch stock, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter stock, and stock in Munich Re and the AXA Group, two of the insurers of the World Trade Center.
What makes this particularly of note is that, until 1997, the head of Alex Brown was A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, who is now the third in command of the CIA. He is essentially the agency's chief operating officer. He was appointed to that position in March 2001, after serving for three years as a counselor to CIA Director George Tenet.
Krongard presided over the sale of Alex Brown to Bankers Trust Corp in 1997. The new company was bought out by Deutsche Bank AG in 1999.
Mayo Shattuck III was the CEO of private banking and asset management for the Americas at the time of the attacks. He had been Krongard's second-in command, and was a major player in both of the bank's recent mergers. In September of 2001, he resigned from his $7 million a year position.
Where he turned up is interesting. According to his "Businessperson of the Year" profile in the Baltimore Business Journal, Shattuck was named president and CEO of Constellation Energy in what the Journal described last October as "a surprise move." Even Shattuck described it as coming "from right field." The article points out that Shattuck has no experience in the energy industry, and "lacks in-depth knowledge on many issues facing Constellation."
Constellation Energy is a major player in the nuclear power plant industry. On May 23, 2001, the head of Constellation Energy and Shattuck's predecessor, Christian Poindexter, met with Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush political advisor Karl Rove, and energy task force director Andrew Lundquist. Poindexter is quoted in The New York Times: "In my wildest dreams when I was over at the White House in March, I couldn't imagine them getting so behind us." Shattuck's appointment raises questions given Cheney's extraordinary measures to keep the dealings of his energy panel secret.
The current assumption is that somehow Osama bin Laden or one of his lieutenants was the source of the transactions. But consider, according to the video of bin Laden speaking to some of his accomplices which was released by the Pentagon, not even all of the hijackers knew the details of their mission. It seems unlikely bin Laden would reveal the details to anyone with the need for secrecy inherent in the mission. Surely he would have known his assets would be frozen and that he would be hunted down. Why would he risk detection to try and attain profits he would never see? And if not bin Laden, who else would be in a position to cleverly play the market this way? Although bin Laden has (or had) wide-ranging investments, there is no evidence to indicate he was a stock market wizard. Would he have done enough homework find out who the insurers of the World Trade Center were? And why use an American investment banking firm with clear ties to the CIA?
The Anthrax Attacks
On February 5 of this year, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg of the Federation of American Scientists dropped a bombshell. Although it received inexplicably scant attention in the corporate media, the report makes an almost airtight case that an element in the CIA was the source for the anthrax attacks which occurred following the September 11 attacks.
From her report:
The anthrax was the Ames strain, which is possessed by only 20 labs in the U.S., of which only four possess the capability to "weaponize" it. Genetic analysis showed that the letter strain was identical to the anthrax stocks at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland; Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, the UK defense establishment at Porton Down, Gruinard island in northwest
Scotland; Louisiana State University, and Northern Arizona State University. USAMRIID provided the strain to the Canadian defense establishment at Suffield, the University of New Mexico, and Battelle Memorial Institute. Excluding the universities, which are involved in the investigation, and the foreign labs, suspicion falls on USAMRIID, Dugway and Battelle as the source of the anthrax.
While insiders report that it would have been easy to remove 10 grams of anthrax from Fort Detrick, removing 10 grams of weaponized anthrax would have been extremely difficult.
The "weaponization" process was extremely effective. The extraordinary concentration of spores (1 trillion per gram) and purity is characteristic of the optimal U.S. process, which is a secret. The anthrax was unmilled, as per the optimal U.S. process. There is no evidence that any other country possesses the formula. The Daschle letter used a special form of silica, used in the U.S. process, and does not contain Bentonite which is used by Iraq.
A classified report dated February 1999 discusses responses to an anthrax attack through the U.S. mail. The report was prepared by the holder of the secret weaponization process patents—Bill Patrick, and was prepared under a CIA contract to the SAIC. The report describes an anthrax attack using eerily similar methods to those actually used in the real attacks. The report assumed 2.5 grams of poor quality anthrax per envelope, while the Daschle letter contained two grams of high quality anthrax.
The block handwriting on the letters was chosen by design to throw off investigators. While the letters contained statements such as "death to America" and "Allah is great!" the tilt of the writing clearly indicates it was written by someone not from the Middle East.
The danger of handling the anthrax indicates that the perpetrator had been vaccinated, and the anthrax vaccine is in short supply and not readily available. In addition, it requires a yearly booster shot, meaning the handler had an up-to-date shot before the attacks. Also, whoever handled the letters was able to conceal his identity, indicating forensic experience.
The choice of the media as targets seems to indicate that the perpetrator was more interested in publicity than murder, which would be the inverse of an actual anti-American terrorist who would want to kill without detection. The letters warned recipients that they contained anthrax, and some even suggested taking antibiotics. It is unlikely the perpetrator knew that some of the spores would penetrate the letters during the mail handling process. It is also telling that the only two political recipients of the anthrax were Democrats—Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Majority Leader Tom Daschle of North Dakota, both opponents of Bush's policies. No one in the executive branch was targeted.
An anonymous letter sent before the attacks attempted to frame an Egyptian-born scientist who was laid off from USAMRIID. The letter claimed that the anonymous author has worked with the man, Dr. Ayaad Assaad, and had details about him that only an insider would know. The FBI questioned Assaad, and cleared him of any suspicion in the case.
It is widely known that due to knowledge requirements of both microbiology and engineering, only terrorists with state sponsorship could carry out a sophisticated biological attack. Clearly the anthrax attacks were meant to indicate that anti-American terrorists were being sponsored by a foreign state, almost certainly Iraq. A lone rogue would have no reason to frame Iraq, but the Bush administration would have a clear mandate and overwhelming public support to take out Saddam Hussein. Given the Bush administration's subsequent intention to invade Iraq no matter what, suspicion must be cast on elements who are favorable to the Bush administration.
One thing is certain, the attacks have stopped. Rosenberg has publicly stated that the FBI knows who the perpetrator is, but is not revealing its findings. Doesn't the public have a right to know what its own investigative body has found?
The Mysterious Le Figaro Article
On November 1, the French Newspaper Le Figaro reported a stunning assertion—that a lone CIA agent met with Osama bin Laden in July of 2001 while he was undergoing kidney dialysis at a hospital in Dubai. The article claims that the agent bragged to friends about meeting bin Laden, and was then called back to CIA headquarters. The agent was, according to the article, "known by many in Dubai." The article also states that bin Laden was visited by several family members.
Perhaps because of the astonishing nature of the claim, or perhaps because of the lack of corroboration, this has gone virtually unreported in by the U.S. corporate media. Yet, Le Figaro continues to stand by the story.
The assertion that bin Laden was visited by family members appears to contradict the assertion that he has been completely disowned. Two of bin Laden's relatives, including his brother Abdullah, lived in Falls Church, Virginia, near CIA headquarters and just down the street from a house that four of the hijackers listed as their address. The FBI had been investigating their connections to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which was suspected of helping fund terrorists. However, the FBI was told to back off the investigation soon after Bush became president.
Finally, Le Figaro is owned by the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is the eleventh largest defense contractor in the U.S., and one of the world's largest and most powerful private equity investment firms. Its current directors include former President George H. W. Bush, and until September, one of its investors was the bin Laden family. In fact, Shafig bin Laden, Osama's brother, was attending a Carlyle conference in Washington D.C. on September 11. In a recent article in Fortune Magazine on the Carlyle Group, writer Melanie Warner mentions receiving an email from a tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley stating, "Be careful, the rabbit hole runs really deep on this one."
In Part 2, we will discuss Taleban connections with the executive branch, and possible motivations for the president and the CIA to be involved in the attacks.
Christian Berthelsen, Scott Winokur, "Suspicious profits sit uncollected," San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2001
"DCI Tenet Appoints New Executive Director," CIA Press Release, March 16, 2001.
Larry Rulison, "Boundless energy: Shattuck relishes steep learning curve at Constellation," Baltimore Business Journal, December 28, 2001.
Katherine Q. Seelye, "After Lobbying, Nuclear Industry finds Itself Back on Political Map," New York Times, May 23, 2001.
Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Anaysis of the Anthrax Attacks, February 5, 2002.
Alexandra Richard, "CIA Agent Allegedly Met Bin Laden in July," Le Figaro, November 1, 2001. Translated by Tiphaine Dickson.
Melanie Warner, "The Big Guys Work for the Carlyle Group," Fortune Magazine, Monday March 18, 2002.
"US Agents told: Back off bin Ladens," Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday, November 7, 2001.
BBC Newsnight, transcript, November 6, 2001.
=== Part 2 of a four-part series
September 11: The circumstantial case
By Bill Molson
Online Journal Contributing Writer
April 19, 2002—In 1997, two things of note happened in Texas. Representatives of the Taliban, which had recently consolidated its power over most of Afghanistan, came to Houston. They were wined and dined by Unocal, one of the largest energy firms in the United States. Also, the governor of Texas, George W. Bush, was pushing legislation which would allow him to store all of his gubernatorial papers at his father's presidential library, away from the archivists in Austin, and be protected by the Federal Freedom of Information Act rather than Texas state law.
Unocal was hoping to construct an ambitious pipeline project which would transport Central Asian oil to the Arabian Sea. Central Asia has what is estimated to be 30 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, second only to the Persian Gulf. Dick Cheney, who at the time was president of Halliburton, was quoted in 1998 as saying, "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically important as the Caspian."
In 1998 after the U.S. Embassy bombings, talks with the Taliban were broken off. Then came the attack on the USS Cole. President Clinton ordered a cruise missile attack on al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Despite a connection with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's shadowy terrorist organization, the FBI's chief anti-terrorism investigator was prevented from properly investigating the attack on the Cole. John O'Neill complained publicly that American and Saudi oil interests prevented him from tracking down or properly investigating Osama bin Laden and his network. He later resigned in protest.
Relations with the Taliban got considerably warmer after George W. Bush came to office. With a cabinet of former oil executives and consultants, and bankrolled largely by energy companies, such as Enron, Bush wanted to try to get negotiations back on track.
Much of what happened in those negotiations has been revealed by a book published in France, entitled "Bin Laden: La Verite Interdite" (Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth). Its authors are former French intelligence agent Jean-Charles Brisard and investigative journalist Guillame Dasquie. They claim that the United States was negotiating with the Taliban up until August, just before the attacks. According to the authors, in August, only one month before the attacks, one of the negotiators warned the Taliban with the words, "either accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we'll bury you in a carpet of bombs." If their allegations are true, the words would prove an eerily accurate prediction of the future.
In May 2001, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, the Bush administration gave the Taliban government $43 million dollars, ostensibly to offset farmers' losses for destroying their opium crops in the War on Drugs. This was at a time when only three governments in the world recognized the Taliban.
According to several British newspapers, the U.S. was planning military action against Afghanistan well before September 11.
In an interview with the BBC, Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani diplomat and foreign secretary, said that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that the U.S. was already planning an attack against Afghanistan. He received this information at a UN sponsored conference on Afghanistan in Berlin. This would seem to corroborate the "carpet of gold, carpet of bombs" speech claimed by the French authors. According to the BBC, Mr. Naik claimed that the U.S. objective was to capture bin Laden and install a moderate, Western-friendly government in Afghanistan. He added that the attack would take place from bases in Tajikistan, where military advisors were already in place, and that it would occur by mid-October at the latest.
The presence of the military in Central Asia is confirmed by the British newspaper The Guardian. According to it, a U.S. department of defense official, Dr. Jeffrey Starr, visited Tajikistan in January, and U.S. Rangers were training special troops in Kyrgyzstan. The head of the current Afghan war, General Tommy Franks, visited Dushanbe on May 16, 2001, calling Tajikistan "a strategically significant country."
This does not, by itself, indicate any guilt. It is entirely possible that the United States had tired of bin Laden's games, and decided to eliminate the danger once and for all. It is possible bin Laden got wind of this and decided to launch a preemptive strike. It would be an amazing coincidence, however, if the U.S. had planned to attack Afghanistan last October no matter what, and then terrorists loyal to bin Laden committed the worst terrorist atrocity in world history upon New York City only one month prior to the scheduled assault. A pre-emptive strike? Perhaps. But the pilots had been training at U.S. flight schools for more than a year by that time.
One thing is clear, O'Neill isn't talking. He was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, where had become the new chief of security in July 2001.
Bush's attempt to hide his gubernatorial papers in Texas by making them federal property was noted above. The arrangement is especially convenient now that Bush has since made it more difficult to obtain records under the Freedom of Information Act. What's interesting is that he started the process in 1997, just as Unocal's negotiations with the Taliban were gathering steam.
Bush's penchant for secrecy doesn't stop there, however. Shortly after coming to power, he used an obscure executive order to block the release of papers from the Reagan and Bush I administration. He later issued an executive order that would block the release of presidential records if either the current or former occupant of the White House wished them to not be released, potentially forever, effectively undermining the Presidential Records Act passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Why was this action taken? Furthermore, why was the groundwork for it being laid prior to September 11? The claim of national security makes no sense, as the papers that are scheduled for release are 12 years old. Furthermore, why is it necessary to have the ability to block papers even if the former president wants them released? Many consider this an attempt to protect officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, which include many members of the current administration as well as the current president's own father.
When an open-meeting law prevented Bush's Social Security commission from meeting privately, the group split into two so the law would not apply. And then, of course, there are the documents relating to the vice president's energy commission, which the Congress is suing to get a look at in the wake of Enron's collapse. Dick Cheney is keeping the records secret, and is threatening to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Why is he taking such a politically damaging position? According to him, he fears future presidents would no longer get sound advice if the details of such meetings can't be kept secret. But with so many demonstrated connections between Bush, the energy industry, and Afghanistan, is there something more?
Cheney Asks Daschle to Back Off
Last January 22, Cheney made a rare private phone call to Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, asking him to back off the investigation into the September attacks. Daschle refused. The following Tuesday in a private meeting, George W. Bush made the same request. According to Daschle's memory of the call, Cheney claimed "a review of what happened on September 11 would take resources and personnel away from the effort in the war on terrorism." Concerning Bush and Cheney's requests, CNN reported, "Although the president and vice president told Daschle they were worried a wide-reaching inquiry could distract from the government's war on terrorism, privately Democrats questioned why the White House feared a broader investigation to determine possible culpability."
Why was Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle asked personally by the executive branch to back off from the investigation surrounding September 11? What possible motive could there be to not explore, from every possible angle, this vicious attack on American soil? The vice president's suggestion that "it would take resources away from the war on terrorism" is absurd. There can be nothing more important than finding out how this happened to make sure it never happens again. Yet, both the president and vice president asked that the investigation be limited. Why?
Other Relevant Facts
George W. Bush made his first million with an oil company called Arbusto Oil. One of the investors was the head of the bin Ladin family business and Osama's brother, Salem bin Laden. The bin Ladin Group was also an investor in the American banking and defense firm, the Carlyle Group, which employs the father of the current president, George H.W. Bush, as well as former President Reagan's Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and Reagan's Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Before the attacks, the Taliban hired Laila Helms, niece of former CIA director Richard Helms, to be its public relations liaison with the U.S. government.
MSNBC reported that just two weeks before the attack, a radio station in the Cayman Islands received an unsigned letter warning of a major terrorist attack against the U.S. via an airline or airlines. The letter was forwarded to the government where it sat until after the attacks. Although it was reported that government officials went to the island to investigate, nothing has been heard since. While no evidence exists that the terrorist hijackers went to the Cayman Islands, it is known as an international banking haven.
The FBI is still withholding the transcripts and information from the black box and flight recorder of United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
In Part 3, we look at the pattern of behavior by the Bush administration, both before and after the attacks.
"Taliban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline" BBC News Online, December 4, 1997.
Robert Scheer, "Bush's Faustian Deal with the Taliban," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2001.
George Arney, "US planned attack on Taliban,'" BBC News Online, September 18, 2001.
David Leigh, "Attack and counter-attack," The Guardian, September 26, 2001.
Lucius Lomax, "W,'s Paper Chase," Austin Chronicle, September 28, 2001.
George Monbiot, "America's pipe dream," The Guardian, October 23, 2001.
Thomas Walkom, "Did bin Laden have help from U.S. friends?," Toronto Star, November 27, 2001.
American Morning With Paula Zahn, transcript. CNN.com, January 8, 2002.
Chris Hansen, "Warning Signs," MSNBC," September 23, 2001.
Editorial, "Flight 93's secrets / It's time to treat the American people as adults," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 28, 2002.
"US Agents told: Back off bin Ladens," Sydney Morning Herald, W
ednesday, November 7, 2001. "Bush asks Daschle to limit September 11 probes," CNN.com, January 29, 2001.
=== Part 3 of a four-part series
September 11: The circumstantial case
By Bill Molson
Online Journal Contributing Writer
April 24, 2002—The terrorists could not have picked a better time to attack America for the Bush administration. George W. Bush's conservative agenda was bogged down in a newly Democratic Senate. The week of the attacks, Newsweek ran a cover story detailing the Bush campaign's skullduggery in the Florida election debacle. The George W.'s overall approval ratings were slipping into the 40 percent range.
All that changed on September 11. Once the butt of late-night stand-up comedians, Bush became a national hero literally overnight. His approval ratings rose to never-before-seen levels. The man who lost the election to Al Gore by almost half a million votes was now ranked among the greatest presidents of all time in opinion polls.
Plans were pushed through Congress for conservative policies which had nothing to do with the war. Opposition, even to items such as corporate tax cuts, was now labeled unpatriotic.
The USA Patriot Act
In the aftermath of the attacks, the USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress, granting heretofore unimaginable powers to the government to monitor domestic activities. In essence, it blurred the distinctions between the FBI and the CIA.
The attorney general and secretary of state can now declare what groups are terrorists, and the CIA can identify what groups are targeted for surveillance in the U.S. In fact, the very definition of "domestic terrorism" is expanded.
Judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance is relaxed. The FBI can search highly sensitive and personal medical and financial records without having to show evidence of a crime and without a court order.
Many of these changes may be used in cases not even related or relevant to the investigation of terrorism!
While many of these provisions would have been unthinkable before the attacks, after the attacks objections would be labeled as "unpatriotic" and "aiding terrorists." Moreover, polls showed that Americans were more than willing to forego certain constitutional rights in order to feel "safer."
The concern, however, is clear. Many of these provisions weaken judicial oversight. Others allow the CIA to spy on Americans, and give arbitrary powers to define even what constitutes a "terrorist." The potential for abuse in the hands of the wrong people is enormous. Throughout modern history, any oppressive regime has only to label its opponents as terrorists to shut them down. Even today, Robert Mugabe has used this tactic in his attempt to hold onto power in Zimbabwe.
Are these sweeping new powers warranted? The public seems to think so. Yet, numerous news agencies have reported that some of the hijackers—for example, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi—were already wanted by the CIA! More astonishingly, nine of the hijackers were chosen for extra screening by the airport security system, but were allowed to board their flights unmolested! If even one of these men were searched it might have broken up the whole effort. Consequently, it appeared that the old system, in some way, failed. Wouldn't it have been wiser to find the holes in the old system instead of issuing these sweeping new powers? Then again, perhaps the sweeping new powers were the point.
The Office of Homeland Security
This hazily defined agency was created by the executive branch and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, was chosen to head it. Despite claims of the importance of the new office, Bush has not given Ridge a cabinet-level position, making it easier for him to avoid congressional oversight.
A recent report in Salon revealed that at least one of the functions the agency is developing is a plan for military control of the country in the face of a national crisis. Despite the gravity of this task, Ridge, at first, refused to testify before Congress, despite repeated entreaties to do so. When he finally acquiesced, he testified behind closed doors. To date, only vague warnings and a color-coded alert system have come out of this agency. What it plans to do with its nearly $40 million budget is unknown.
The Office of Strategic Influence
In February, a story appeared in the New York Times about a newly created office inside the Pentagon. Named the Office of Strategic Influence, it was to be, in essence, a propaganda center. The Pentagon had always used disinformation against U.S. enemies. What made this unique, however, was the fact that it would apparently attempt to influence public opinion into supporting Bush's war, even among U.S. allies, by planting false stories and sending e-mails to influential people. In essence, it would combine traditional public relations of the type used to influence political campaigns with covert "black" operations.
The press and the public sent up a tremendous outcry. The press pointed out that since it frequently relies on overseas reports, there was no guarantee that the false stories wouldn't find their way into the U.S. media. Besides, there were ethical concerns about using psychological operations against allies and noncombatants.
The concerns were legitimate. If the government can intentionally propagandize allies, then why not the American people? And how could Americans believe the information coming out of the Pentagon? What would stop false news stories from being planted in the United States media?
The outrage over the proposal led Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to announce that the office would not go ahead as planned. But the damage to the credibility of the defense department had already been done. The new war, it seemed, would be as much one of public opinion as of bombs.
The Shadow Government
In March, the Washington Post broke the story that, for the first time in history, Cold War contingency plans for a shadow government had been activated, and that a second, secret executive branch was living and working in hiding.
Most disturbingly, this Shadow Government was activated without even notifying the U.S. Congress. The significance of this cannot be overstated. It is conceivable that had the Washington Post not broken the story, neither Congress nor the American people would have any idea of its existence to this day. It should be noted that only members of the executive branch are represented in this shadow government—apparently there are no appropriations for a continuity of the legislative or judicial branches. This is particularly disturbing, because in the event of a catastrophic attack on Washington, the system of checks and balances that prevents the U.S. from becoming a dictatorship would no longer exist. Yet, this shadow government was in existence for almost six months without the Bush administration bothering to tell Congress or the American people. USA Today reported that Vice President Cheney was heavily involved in shaping the plan.
Why was a secret shadow government activated? Even during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when nuclear catastrophe seemed most imminent, this extraordinary step was not taken. Why now, especially when all the evidence released shows absolutely no evidence of al-Quaeda possessing any nuclear weapons or even the capability to make a so-called "dirty bomb?"
Does the government know something we don't?
Bush's Power Grab
The Washington Post wrote: "On a wide variety of fronts, the administration has moved to seize power that it has shared with other branches of government. In foreign policy, Bush announced vast cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal but resisted putting the cuts in a treaty—thereby averting a Senate ratification vote. In domestic policy, the administration proposed reorganizing the Immigration and Naturalization Service without the congressional action lawmakers sought. And in legal policy, the administration seized the judiciary's power as Bush signed an order allowing terrorists to be tried in military tribunals.
"Those actions, all taken last week, build on earlier Bush efforts to augment White House power, including initiatives to limit intelligence briefings to members of Congress, take new spending authority from the legislature, and expand the executive branch's power to monitor and detain those it suspects of terrorism."
What's remarkable is that the justification for all this power consolidation is "wartime," even through no war had been declared. Just as disturbing is the fact that, according to numerous administration officials, "This war will not end in our lifetimes." That apparently means that the executive branch intends to wield this power in perpetuity.
People are quick to point out that there is no real evidence of significant abuses of these powers to date. But then again, there were none in Germany in 1933. Once the mechanisms had been set in place, there was increasingly less and less to prevent their eventual abuse as the years went by. Eventually, the abuses became a fact of life, and the horror of the Nazi state was unleashed on the people of Germany, and eventually the world.
The Iran-Contra Connection
Many of the principals involved in the Iran-Contra affair have been returned to power, and many occupy prominent positions in the Bush administration. Convicted Iran-Contra conspirator John Poindexter has been made the head of a newly created Information Awareness Office, where his job will be finding new ways to monitor and decrypt electronic information.
Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs during the Reagan years, now works for the National Security Council overseeing human rights and democracy issues. He was pardoned by former president George H. W. Bush.
Otto Reich ran a State Department office during the Iran-Contra affair that engaged in illegal covert propaganda against the Sandinistas. Now he's the new assisant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.
John Negroponte was the US Ambassador to Honduras and facilitated a clandestine quid pro quo deal, under which the Reagan Administration sent aid to Honduras in return for Honduran assistance to the Contras at a time when Congress had banned the administration from assisting the Contras. Negroponte is currently the United States' ambassador to the United Nations.
That's four prominent members of the current administration who have already been accused or indicted as conspirators by Congress!
Not to be overlooked is the father of our current president, George Herbert Walker Bush. Bush was, of course, the vice president at the time of the deals. During the Iran-Contra investigations, Bush claimed he was "out of the loop." However, after he left office, it was revealed that Bush had attended several meetings on the Iran initiative and the quid pro quo with Honduras. He even noted such in his personal diary notes for November 5, 1986.
And let's not forget Colonel Oliver North. In 1984, as FEMA's NSA contact, North collaborated with the FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida on a "Defense Resources Act," as well as a presidential executive order for severe national emergencies. The Defense Resources Act would allow the president to impose censorship, seize the means of production and outlaw anti-government strikes, while the executive order allowed FEMA to take over all government operations, and contained provisions for "the detention of enemy aliens." North also planned FEMA-Pentagon war game scenarios that contemplated the imposition of martial law and the suspension of key constitutional guarantees, such as freedom of speech and due process. The Pentagon confirmed that the simulations, code named Rex 84 Alpha and Night Train 84, took place April 5–13, 1984. Interestingly, the Miami Herald also reported that Giuffrida attempted to steer FEMA into areas beyond civil defense, specifically counter-terrorism.
So that means that during the Reagan administration, the Iran-Contra ringleaders were devising plans for national emergencies that would impose martial law and suspend the Constitution. These are the people who are back in power. What sort of emergencies were they planning for? And why was FEMA so interested in counter-terrorism in 1984?
In Part 4, we look at historical precedents for such a conspiracy, tie the ends together, and ask why these facts have not been dealt with.
Dana Milbank, "In War, It's Power to the President," The Washington Post, November 20, 2001
John Markoff, "Chief Takes Over new Agency to Thwart Attacks on U.S.," The New York Times, February 13, 2002
James Dao and Eric Schmitt, "Pentegon Redies Efforts to Sway Sentient Abroad," The New York Times, February 19, 2002
Dan Eggen, "Airports Screened Nine of Sept. 11 Hijackers, Officials Say," The Washington Post, March 2, 2002
"Iran-Contra Alumni in the Bush Government," AP, March 13, 2002
Dave Lindorff, "Planning for Martial Law?," Salon, March 16, 2002
Alfonso Chardy, "North Helped Revise Wartime Plans," The Miami Herald, July 19, 1987
David Corn, "Iran/Contra Rehab," The Nation, March 11, 2002
Lawrence McQuillan, "Backup Plan Secret Creates Rift," USA Today, March 4, 2002
John Kaminski, 'The New USA PATRIOT Act: Are You a Patriot?" Common Dreams, November 11, 2002