September 10, 2010
Don’t want to hear this?
Tough. Grow up.
• The 9/11 Commission’s co-chairs said that the 9/11 Commissioners knew that military officials misrepresented the facts to the Commission, and the Commission considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements(free subscription required)
• 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, and that the 9/11 debate should continue
• 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”
• 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”
• 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .” He also said that the investigation depended too heavily on the accounts of Al Qaeda detainees who were physically coerced into talking
• And the Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) – who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry – recently said “At some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened”. He also said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.” And he said: “It’s almost a culture of concealment, for lack of a better word. There were interviews made at the FAA’s New York center the night of 9/11 and those tapes were destroyed. The CIA tapes of the interrogations were destroyed. The story of 9/11 itself, to put it mildly, was distorted and was completely different from the way things happened”
If even the 9/11 Commissioners don’t buy the official story, why do you?
Senior intelligence officers:
• Former military analyst and famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. He also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11. And he said that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of the current administration, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath (see this and this)
• A 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials (Raymond McGovern) said “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”
• A 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (William Bill Christison) said “I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe (and see this)
• A number of intelligence officials, including a CIA Operations Officer who co-chaired a CIA multi-agency task force coordinating intelligence efforts among many intelligence and law enforcement agencies (Lynne Larkin) sent a joint letter to Congress expressing their concerns about “serious shortcomings,” “omissions,” and “major flaws” in the 9/11 Commission Report and offering their services for a new investigation (they were ignored)
• A decorated 20-year CIA veteran, who Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh called “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and whose astounding career formed the script for the Academy Award winning motion picture Syriana (Robert Baer) said that “the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job
• The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup”
If even our country’s top intelligence officers don’t buy the official story, why do you?
• According to the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House (confirmed here)
• Current Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said “The two questions that the congress will not ask . . . is why did 9/11 happen on George Bush’s watch when he had clear warnings that it was going to happen? Why did they allow it to happen?”
• Current Republican Congressman Ron Paul calls for a new 9/11 investigation and states that “we see the [9/11] investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on”
• Current Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich hints that we aren’t being told the truth about 9/11
• Current Republican Congressman Jason Chafetz says that we need to be vigilant and continue to investigate 9/11
• Former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel states that he supports a new 9/11 investigation and that we don’t know the truth about 9/11
• Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee endorses a new 9/11 investigation
• Former U.S. Democratic Congressman Dan Hamburg doesn’t believe the official version of events
• Former U.S. Republican Congressman and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and who served six years as the Chairman of the Military Research and Development Subcommittee Curt Weldon has shown that the U.S. tracked hijackers before 9/11, is open to hearing information about explosives in the Twin Towers, and is open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job
If there is bipartisan questioning of the official story, why aren’t you questioning it?
Other government officials:
• U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time”
• Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11
• Former Federal Prosecutor, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, and currently a widely-sought media commentator on terrorism and intelligence services (John Loftus) says “The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defense of incompetence”
• The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility
• Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan (Col. Ronald D. Ray) said that the official story of 9/11 is “the dog that doesn’t hunt”
• The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission
If top government officials are skeptical, why aren’t you?
September 11, 2020
In a normal country, war is front-page news. It is a big deal to invade and bomb another nation. Most of the world’s people can probably name all the foreign governments their own government is at war with. If any other industrialized nation were bombing Pakistan, for example, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, the average taxpayer would be aware. It would be the biggest news story. If you are a typical person living in a normal country, and your government threatens to invade, say, Eritrea, you would probably hear something about it. And you would probably even want to know where Eritrea is on a map.
Abroad, there is the war with Iraq that seems crazy even for the U.S. empire. Photo: Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli
The United States is not a normal country. If it ever was one, it certainly isn’t now. Its imperial foreign policy has long made it special, and now that it’s the world’s lone superpower – with an effective monopoly on aerial warfare, calling the shots as to who can have nukes, claiming the unilateral right to start wars against anyone – the U.S. government has become so belligerent, and especially in remote lands, that American wars have become routine, its casualties relegated to the back page.
This decade has obviously been especially bad. Nine years ago, the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was hit, and the United States, its government and political culture, fell under a spell of mass delusion that still shows no signs of abating. It has been nine whole years since 9/11, and it is starting to look like the “post-9/11″ insanity that marked America under Bush has become a permanent feature of the American landscape.
Looking around at what has happened in these last nine years, we are reminded of what a long period of time this is in the modern age. iPods took the world by storm and became obsolete. Such movies as the Lord of the Rings trilogy forever changed film in ways we now take for granted. Trashy reality TV conquered most of the airwaves, but television has at the same time blossomed into a bona fide art form, with HBO, Showtime and even network TV producing programs of a quality previously unimagined. The internet has gone from being a ubiquitous convenience to becoming the major network of all communication, to which practically every other communicative and technological medium is to be connected.
In nine years, we’ve seen the housing market boom and bust. We’ve seen, according to the hyperbolic media, our nation’s greatest environmental disaster, one of the worst natural disasters, and a nearly unprecedented financial collapse. And speaking of the old media, the giant newspapers still seemed like leaders in 2001. Now they look like a dying breed, with whole enterprises selling for literally less than a single issue at a newsstand price. Meanwhile, many consumer goods, including food staples, have nearly doubled in cost. China is now the second biggest economy in the world.
And certainly, nine years is quite some time in the lives of actual people. We all know folks who’ve had children or passed away. Kids have grown from losing their baby teeth to taking their SATs. We’ve been to many weddings.
On the political scene, in the last nine years we have watched nearly two full terms of one president and half a term of another – two presidents who represent different parties, opposing sides of the culture war and, ostensibly, contrasting approaches on how to govern the country. We’ve seen the Republicans capture the federal legislature and then lose it all again. We’ve seen both parties undergo significant rhetorical makeovers.
But one thing that hasn’t changed at all is U.S. foreign policy, and the entire American style of responding to supposed threats abroad with the brute force of war and the continual expansion of government power at home.
This is not to say that there was a qualitative break in U.S. policy nine years ago, not even as far as the Muslim world was concerned. The U.S. overthrew Iran’s government in 1953, installed a dictator and taught his goons how to torture. The U.S. backed Saddam and his ilk from the late 50s through the 1980s. The U.S. engineered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and continued to meddle in that country, radicalizing Islamist fighters and helping to create the modern fanaticism there. In the 1980s, the U.S. government bombed Libya and encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, even as President Reagan secretly sent weapons to Iran. In 1990, the U.S. government started a war with Iraq that has essentially continued to this day. Clinton bombed Iraq and Afghanistan. In the decades leading to 9/11, it is fair to say that the U.S. government directly or indirectly murdered millions of innocent people in its interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. Every president from Eisenhower through Clinton shares some of the blame.
But there has been something particularly insane about U.S. policy since the events of 9/11. Previous limits upon imperial boldness, even if they existed only out of pragmatic concerns, have been swept aside. What was once considered beyond the pale is now accepted as normal.
Abroad, there is the war with Iraq that seems crazy even for the U.S. empire. It used to take something like the Soviet Menace, with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons – or someone like Hitler or Tojo, with some of the mightiest militaries on earth – to scare the living daylights out of Americans. But the Iraq war showed that the most ludicrous of pretenses – that a lame duck dictator like Saddam, who had never attacked the United States and showed no signs of doing so, was somehow a threat to America – could now be used to justify a project to “liberate” and bring democracy to a whole nation that itself was cobbled together by the West, held precariously intact under a brutal strongman, and that would inevitably fall short of American dreams of democracy no matter how many times its people voted.
Then there’s the fact that the U.S. government now goes to war, and is peripherally involved in even more wars, without anyone in America seeming to care. This is an era when threatening Eritrea is the least of it. The U.S. supports an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia – barely a blip in the news. The U.S. backs an ally, Israel, that invades its other ally, Lebanon, and maybe the talking heads care for about a day. The U.S. is essentially at war with its own nuclear-armed ally, Pakistan – and many Americans have no clue. The U.S. backs suicide bombers in Iran with possible ties to al Qaeda who are bent on changing Tehran’s government – not that most Americans even know the difference between Iran and al Qaeda, Persians and Arabs or Sunni and Shi’ia. And then, when an airplane passenger fails in his attempt to kill Americans on Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear, the media scream that perhaps it’s time to wage war on Yemen. No one of prominence even mentions that Obama was already bombing Yemen, days before the underwear bomber almost struck.
But Afghanistan has got to be the most insane example of what’s going on. This is the war that marks the shift since 9/11 – even more than Iraq. The U.S. realists, in one of their only foreign policy successes ever, used Afghanistan against the Soviets, knowing it was the graveyard of invading empires. Now the U.S. is, in the midst of a recession, tripling down on a completely unjust and completely unwinnable project to save Afghanistan from its own tribal people, win the war on drugs there, bring freedom to the land and defeat a terrorist network that barely even exists in the country.
This is a reminder of why it’s so important to oppose a war before it begins. The Afghanistan war was always a terrible idea. Nine years ago, a few Americans stood up and pointed out that the 9/11 attacks wereretaliation for U.S. foreign policy, which must be changed if we are ever to address the problem of terrorism. But these voices were in the minority. More than 90% of Americans cheered the invasion of Afghanistan. Now many on the left think it was folly, but the U.S. can’t pull out. Or they are quiet because their beloved president is doing the killing.
The Democrats practically all backed this war, and in both 2004 and 2008 attacked Bush for “neglecting” Afghanistan. Obama always promised us he’d be even worse on this war than his predecessor. It almost inspires nostalgia for Bush, who was essentially no more aggressive than Obama but who seemed to get away with less.
Obama has meanwhile “ended” the war in Iraq by keeping 50,000 troops there – troops involved in shooting and killing. Then there are the 100,000 contractors and permanent bases. Americans are snoozing. Who cares about Iraq? That’s so 2003. And on the civil liberties front – detention, rendition, surveillance, even the unilateral presidential right to assassinate US citizens he deems terrorists – Obama has pushed the envelope further than Bush. But what’s the big deal? Even conservatives who think Obama a totalitarian tyrant don’t seem to care about these, his most totalitarian and tyrannical policies.
As for the national debate about U.S. foreign policy, there is none. The idea that the minority was pushing even on 9/12 – that the attacks were blowback from decades of U.S. aggression – is still hardly more discussed than it was back then. Ron Paul made it a somewhat common point of discussion back in 2007, but since then, who has even touched upon the fundamental nature of 9/11? Instead, Americans are divided as to whether to blame all of Islam or whether to blame radical Islam, when revenge over U.S. aggression is the true motivation behind the anti-U.S. attacks, and stopping the wars is the only answer.
But far from finally being open to the truth of blowback and the insanity of the Afghanistan project, and far from having learned from Iraq to distrust U.S. war propaganda, the American people appear to have forgotten about these wars, to have stopped caring about U.S. foreign policy, except to be worried, once in a while, about the next supposed foreign threat. The media claim, without justification, that Iran is getting close to having a nuke. The press, year after year, spins a story up about how Iran is just one year away, but there is no proof this is even an Iranian goal, and practically no one ever talks about the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran is a signatory, except to dishonestly imply that Iran has violated it. A poll this year reveals that70% of Americans believe Iran already has a nuclear weapon – an astonishing accusation that the U.S. establishment has never outright articulated. But just as the Bush administration, without ever saying it, got Americans to believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, the powers that be are now doing nothing to dissuade the American public from these dangerous misconceptions about Iran. Indeed, all the actual aggressiveness is coming from Washington, in the form of sanctions and threats, and is directed against the Iranians – not the other way around.
Will the U.S. really go to war with Iran – a nation that has never attacked America, a nation that offered its support right after 9/11 in the fight against al Qaeda, a nation that would be even more unconquerable than Iraq and could become the trip wire for world conflict? Is the government going to challenge another country when it’s already in the middle of more than two wars with no end in sight? In a normal country, this would be an easier question to answer.
It is just an accepted fact that the wars and siege mentality must continue, that we cannot give up the empire lest we surrender to the terrorists. Instead, we must give away more and more of our freedoms for which we are supposedly hated. And how much longer can this charade go on? How much longer will the president be seen as the proper arbiter of life or death for all people everywhere, the judge, jury and executioner at the top of the U.S. justice system, with no territorial bounds on his power? How much longer will we deal with increasing humiliations at the airports, the rapid militarization of our police, the economy-crushing Pentagon that seems to double in size every few years, the demonization of Muslims that has become so commonplace? Will the U.S. be occupying Afghanistan nine years from now?
And it goes without saying that the U.S. government hasn’t even caught Osama bin Laden. Not that his capture would vindicate the million killed, the trillions squandered and the liberties smashed in this war. This would be obvious to people in a normal country.
But the madness will end, eventually. The bad dream that is post-9/11 America must at last give way to something else. If the people don’t get sick of it and demand that it end, or military defeat doesn’t do it, the U.S. empire will simply run out of money. Its days are numbered. It’s just tragic and sickening that many more will die before that happens.
Sept 11, 2010
The victims of 9/11 are being remembered in many places around the world, Russia among them. Dozens have come to lay flowers at the US Embassy in the Russian capital.
A service has also been held at an American church in the city. It was there that the US Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, compared terrorism with Nazism and said the two countries are united in the fight against it.
”Over the years that we have held these ceremonies, I have come to understand they mean something larger. As a memory to the victims of terrorism throughout the world and, as our President Obama said in his expression of condolences after the recent terrorist attack in Vladikavkaz, these terrorist acts only strengthen our resolve to work together, to stand against terrorism and to protect our people and our children. We are allies today in the fight against the main source of evil in 21st Century.”
Nine years ago the first responders of the tragic events of the 9/11 attack were held as heroes who risked their lives to save others, yet today they still suffer the consequences without much help from the state.
They say they fell victim of their own government as they were left struggling by themselves with the illnesses they contracted during the rescue operations.
9/11 first responder Gary White was an American hero in 2001. In 2010, the 9/11 first responder represents an exploding health crisis, U.S. officials have failed to address, and continue questioning him as to whether he “actually get diagnosed as being directly sick from 9/11”.
“It’s totally across the page. Carcinoma, sarcoma, gall bladder cancer, liver cancer,” as Gary White names his diseases.
The retired NYPD detective spent six months sifting through World Trade Center debris and clouds of toxins, later resulting in asthma, sleep apnea, post neurological problems, and two strokes.
“The first [stroke] one was massive. I was paralyzed. I lost command of my speech. I had to learn how to walk and talk again,” recalls White.
But the police department denies his illnesses are linked to 9/11, leaving the 23-year veteran with mounting medical debt and a daily dose of 15 medications consisting of pills against inflammation, pills to stop the cramping and blood pressure medications.
The worst attack on U.S. soil took nearly 3,000 human lives in a matter of hours. In the nine years that past, 900 first responders have died, victims of their own courage.
NYPD sergeant Michael Ryan was diagnosed with three types of cancers before losing his battle at just 41 years old.
Eileen Ryan is just one among many widows who lost husbands post 9/11.
“All these men and women are fighting for their lives right now. It’s a process. It’s time. It’s watching a loved one disintegrate in front of your face in just a fight to stay alive,” Eileen Ryan says.
It’s a fight that can break even the strongest. 9/11 first responder John Devlin was diagnosed with throat cancer that resulted in hospital bills topping one million dollars.
“We do so much overseas. And I’m not saying don’t do it. We’re a powerful nation. We should lead by example. But we’re not leading by example here when you turn your backs on the 9/11 emergency responders,” John Devlin says.
Robert Fisk: Nine years, two wars, hundreds of thousands dead – and nothing learnt
Did 9/11 make us all mad? Our memorial to the innocents who died nine years ago has been a holocaust of fire and blood . . .
Saturday, 11 September 2010
The World Trade Center site with memorial footprints of the twin towers visible
Did 9/11 make us all go mad? How fitting, in a weird, crazed way, that the apotheosis of that firestorm nine years ago should turn out to be a crackpot preacher threatening another firestorm with a Nazi-style book burning of the Koran. Or a would-be mosque two blocks from "ground zero" – as if 9/11 was an onslaught on Jesus-worshipping Christians, rather than on the atheist West.
But why should we be surprised? Just look at all the other crackpots spawned in the aftermath of those international crimes against humanity: the half-crazed Ahmadinejad, the smarmy post-nuclear Gaddafi, Blair with his crazed right eye and George W Bush with his black prisons and torture and lunatic "war on terror". And that wretched man who lived – or lives still – in an Afghan cave and the hundreds of al-Qa’idas whom he created, and the one-eyed mullah – not to mention all the lunatic cops and intelligence agencies and CIA thugs who failed us all – utterly – on 9/11 because they were too idle or too stupid to identify 19 men who were going to attack the United States. And remember one thing: even if the Rev Terry Jones sticks with his decision to back down, another of our cranks will be ready to take his place.
Indeed, on this grim ninth anniversary – and heaven spare us next year from the 10th – 9/11 appears to have produced not peace or justice or democracy or human rights, but monsters. They have prowled Iraq – both the Western and the local variety – and slaughtered 100,000 souls, or 500,000, or a million; and who cares? They have killed tens of thousands in Afghanistan; and who cares? And as the sickness has spread across the Middle East and then the globe, they – the air force pilots and the insurgents, the Marines and the suicide bombers, the al-Qa’idas of the Maghreb and of the Khalij and of the Caliphate of Iraq and the special forces and the close air support boys and the throat-cutters – have torn the heads off women and children and the old and the sick and the young and healthy, from the Indus to the Mediterranean, from Bali to the London Tube; quite a memorial to the 2,966 innocents who were killed nine years ago. All in their name, it seems, has been our holocaust of fire and blood, enshrined now in the crazed pastor of Gainesville.
This is the loss, of course. But who’s made the profit? Well, the arms dealers, naturally, and Boeing and Lockheed Martin and all the missile lads and the drone manufacturers and F-16 spare parts outfits and the ruthless mercenaries who stalk the Muslim lands on our behalf now that we have created 100,000 more enemies for each of the 19 murderers of 9/11. Torturers have had a good time, honing their sadism in America’s black prisons – it was appropriate that the US torture centre in Poland should be revealed on this ninth anniversary – as have the men (and women, I fear) who perfect the shackles and water-drowning techniques with which we now fight our wars. And – let us not forget – every religious raver in the world, be they of the Bin Laden variety, the bearded groupies in the Taliban, the suicide executioners, the hook-in the arm preachers, or our very own pastor of Gainesville.
And God? Where does he fit in? An archive of quotations suggests that just about every monster created in or after 9/11 is a follower of this quixotic redeemer. Bin Laden prays to God – "to turn America into a shadow of itself", as he told me in 1997 – and Bush prayed to God and Blair prayed – and prays – to God, and all the Muslim killers and an awful lot of Western soldiers and Dr (honorary) Pastor Terry Jones and his 30 (or it may be 50, since all statistics are hard to come by in the "war on terror") pray to God. And poor old God, of course, has had to listen to these prayers as he always sits through them during our mad wars. Recall the words attributed to him by a poet of another generation: "God this, God that, and God the other thing. ‘Good God,’ said God, ‘I’ve got my work cut out’." And that was just the First World War…
Just five years ago – on the fourth anniversary of the twin towers/Pentagon/Pennsylvania attacks – a schoolgirl asked me at a lecture in a Belfast church whether the Middle East would benefit from more religion. No – less religion! – I howled back. God is good for contemplation, not for war. But – and here we are driven on to the reefs and hidden rocks which our leaders wish us to ignore, forget and cast aside – this whole bloody mess involves the Middle East; it is about a Muslim people who have kept their faith while those Westerners who dominate them – militarily, economically, culturally, socially – have lost theirs. How can this be, Muslims ask? Indeed, it is a superb irony that the Rev Jones is a believer while the rest of us – by and large – are not. Hence our books and our documentaries never refer to Muslims vs Christians, but Muslims versus "The West".
And of course, the one taboo subject of which we must not speak – Israel’s relationship with America, and America’s unconditional support for Israel’s theft of land from Muslim Arabs – also lies at the heart of this terrible crisis in our lives. In yesterday’s edition of The Independent, there was a photograph of Afghan demonstrators chanting "death to America". But in the background, these same demonstrators were carrying a black banner with a message in Dari written upon it in white paint. What it actually said was: "The bloodsucking Zionist government regime and the Western leaders who are indifferent [to suffering] and have no conscience are again celebrating the new year by spilling the red blood of the Palestinians."
The message is as extreme as it is vicious – but it proves, yet again, that the war in which we are engaged is also about Israel and "Palestine". We may prefer to ignore this in "the West" – where Muslims supposedly "hate us for what we are" or "hate our democracy" (see: Bush, Blair and a host of other mendacious politicians) – but this great conflict lies at the heart of the "war on terror". That is why the equally vicious Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the atrocities of 9/11 by claiming that the event would be good for Israel. Israel would now be able to claim that it, too, was fighting the "war on terror", that Arafat – this was the now-comatose Ariel Sharon’s claim – is "our Bin Laden". And thus Israelis had the gall to claim that Sderot, under its cascade of tin-pot missiles from Hamas, was "our ground zero".
It was not. Israel’s battle with the Palestinians is a ghastly caricature of our "war on terror", in which we are supposed to support the last colonial project on earth – and accept its thousands of victims – because the twin towers and the Pentagon and United Flight 93 were attacked by 19 Arab murderers nine years ago. There is a supreme irony in the fact that one direct result of 9/11 has been the stream of Western policemen and spooks who have travelled to Israel to improve their "anti-terrorist expertise" with the help of Israeli officers who may – according to the United Nations – be war criminals. It was no surprise to find that the heroes who gunned down poor old Jean Charles de Menezes on the London Tube in 2005 had been receiving "anti-terrorist" advice from the Israelis.
And yes, I know the arguments. We cannot compare the actions of evil terrorists with the courage of our young men and women, defending our lives – and sacrificing theirs – on the front lines of the ‘war on terror". There can be no "equivalence". "They" kill innocents because "they" are evil. "We" kill innocents by mistake. But we know we are going to kill innocents – we willingly accept that we are going to kill innocents, that our actions are going to create mass graves of families, of the poor and the weak and the dispossessed.
This is why we created the obscene definition of "collateral damage". For if "collateral" means that these victims are innocent, then "collateral" also means that we are innocent of killing them. It was not our wish to kill them – even if we knew it was inevitable that we would. "Collateral" is our exoneration. This one word is the difference between "them" and "us", between our God-given right to kill and Bin Laden’s God-given right to murder. The victims, hidden away as "collateral" corpses, don’t count any more because they were slaughtered by us. Maybe it wasn’t so painful. Maybe death by drone is a more gentle departure from this earth, evisceration by an AGM-114C Boeing-Lockheed air-to-ground missile less painful, than death by shards from a roadside bomb or a cruel suicider with an explosive belt.
That’s why we know how many died on 9/11 – 2,966, although the figure may be higher – and why we don’t "do body counts" on those whom we kill. Because they – "our" victims – must have no identities, no innocence, no personality, no cause or belief or feelings; and because we have killed far, far more human beings than Bin Laden and the Taliban and al-Qa’ida.
Anniversaries are newspaper and television events. And they can have an eerie habit of coalescing together to create an unhappy memorial framework. Thus do we commemorate the Battle of Britain – a chivalric episode in our history – and the Blitz, a progenitor of mass murder, to be sure, but a symbol of innocent courage – as we remember the start of a war that has torn our morality apart, turned our politicians into war criminals, our soldiers into killers and our ruthless enemies into heroes of the anti-Western cause. And while on this gloomy anniversary the Rev Jones wanted to burn a book called the Koran, Tony Blair tried to sell a book called A Journey. Jones said the Koran was "evil"; Britons have asked whether the Blair book should be classified as "crime". Certainly, 9/11 has moved into fantasy when the Rev Jones can command the attention of the Obamas and the Clintons and the Holy Father and the even more Holy United Nations. Whom the gods would destroy…
11 Sep 2001
The World Trade Centre and the Pentagon are hit by aeroplanes hijacked by al-Qa’ida terrorists. George Bush says that America will stand with “all those who want peace and security in the world”.
7 Oct 2001
The US and Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan.
13 Nov 2001
The Northern Alliance liberates Kabul from the rule of the Taliban.
11 Jan 2002
The first prisoners arrive at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
9 Jan 2003
Top UN weapons inspector Hans Blix tells reporters that “we have now been in [Iraq] for some two months and? we haven’t found any smoking guns”.
15 Feb 2003
Protests are held across the world against impending war in Iraq.
20 Mar 2003
US-led coalition launches invasion of Iraq.
9 Oct 2003
Toppling of statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad is taken as symbol of coalition triumph.
11 Mar 2004
A series of bombs explode within minutes of each other on four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding a further 1,841.
29 Apr 2004
Photographs emerge showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib, inflaming anti-US feeling.
2 Oct 2004
Video footage appears of British hostage Kenneth Bigley being beheaded by Iraqi militants.
2 Nov 2004
Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh is murdered after making a film about violence against women in Islamic societies.
7 Jul 2005
Four suicide bombers kill 52 passengers and injure almost 800 others in a series of attacks on London’s transport network.
30 Sep 2005
A series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed are published in a Danish newspaper. The pictures are reprinted elsewhere amid widespread outrage and violent protests in the Muslim world.
30 Dec 2006
Saddam Hussein is hanged in northern Baghdad for crimes against humanity.
21 Sep 2009
A leaked report by Gen Stanley McChrystal, commander of US forces, suggests that the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan could be lost within a year unless there are significant increases in troops.
29 Nov 2009
A ban on building minarets is voted in by the Swiss public, reflecting a hostile attitude to the country’s rising Muslim minority.
21 Jan 2010
43 per cent of Americans say they feel some negative prejudice towards Muslims, according to a poll by Gallup.
1 Sep 2010
At the end of a month in which 295 civilians were killed by violence, Barack Obama declares that the US combat mission in Iraq is at an end.