September 22, 2003

ANOTHER 9/11?
Portents of terror reappear, as Bush has second thoughts about the war

by Justin Raimondo

A desperate Saddam-on-the-run is reportedly in secret negotiations with the Americans he's having second thoughts about his formerly expressed belief that "that no honorable hand has stretched out to greet" the "miscreant, murderous and cowardly occupier," as he put it in his message of late April, "only those of traitors and valets." It must be a trend, because, as I pointed out in a recent column, the Bush administration-on-the-run is reportedly having second thoughts about its commitment to the neocon program of perpetual war in the Middle East. Check it out:

"Faced with rising costs, sinking polls, unsympathetic allies, an increasingly skeptical Congress and potential splits in his political party, President Bush has begun to question the hard-line Iraq policies long championed by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The Bushies are desperate to make some kind of a deal with the UN, with the Iraqis, and, most of all, with the American people, who are waking up to the unfolding disaster in Iraq. John Walcott, of Knight-Ridder, continues:

"Foreign-policy concerns and domestic politics are prompting the administration to rethink its approach to Iraq, said a number of administration foreign and domestic-policy officials, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because, as one of them put it, 'the president hates seeing internal debates in the paper.'"

If the Prez hates seeing his administration's faction fights reported in the papers, then it must have been a tough year all around for George W. Bush. And the blood hasn't yet begun to flow: calls for the resignations of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, the disgraced Richard Perle, and a rising chorus of demands that the whole neocon gang be turned out on its ear are being heard from the right side of the aisle as well as the left.

The neocons, in full retreat, have taken to fighting among themselves. As Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service put it:

"But rather than rally together to fight off these attacks, the hawks appear to be squawking at one another. After Cheney revived a 2-year-old story on a nationally broadcast television news program last Sunday about an alleged meeting between one of the hijackers and an Iraqi spy in Prague in April 2001, Rumsfeld told reporters three days later he had seen nothing to connect Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, an assessment backed up by Rice and then by Bush himself."

The President himself took to the field, denying the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks even as a majority of the American people no doubt continue to believe they were somehow connected. That statistic is a monument to the success of this administration's effort to channel American anger away from Osama bin Forgotten and focus it on Iraq, a feat of creative conflation that surely qualifies as a lie of mythic proportions.

Jay Bookman, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, makes the trenchant point that the myth-making capabilities of this administration are key to understanding how we got in this mess to begin with::

"Cheney's remarks on 'Meet the Press' deserve further scrutiny, however, particularly his attempt to link Saddam to the first attack on the World Trade Center, which killed six people. Once that claim is placed in context, it helps to illuminate the internal process by which the Bush administration decided to take this nation to war."

Bookman points to the source of the Cheney conspiracy theory, one Laurie Mylroie, a prolific author whose thesis is that Saddam Hussein is the Machiavellian enigma behind most of the terrorist events of the past decade, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in which 10 people were killed, the 1998 assaults on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, 9/11, and even the anthrax attacks. I don't know if she has yet exposed Saddam's responsibility for whipping up Hurricane Isabel, but the evidence is no doubt forthcoming.

The FBI, the CIA, independent analysts including everyone from Vince Cannistrano to Daniel Pipes have pointed out that Mylroie's meticulous accumulation of evidence doesn't even come close to proving her contentions. That hasn't stopped the American Enterprise Institute from publishing (and then reissuing) her book, Study in Revenge, and adorning it with endorsements from top officials, including Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Perle.

Some conspiracy theories, as I pointed out in a recent column, get respectful attention no matter how implausible. But other conspiracy theories, being politically incorrect, are relegated to the Memory Hole, even as evidence of their validity begins to break through the wall of silence.

Yes, folks, those Israeli "art students" you know, the ones who attempted to penetrate U.S. government facilities in the months leading up to 9/11, showed up at the homes of federal employees, and were said to be watching the 9/11 hijackers 24/7 – have popped up yet again, this time in Canada:

"Nine Israeli nationals – who CSIS suspects are possible foreign agents – were arrested by Immigration and Ottawa police tactical officers last Friday, blocks from Parliament Hill. The nine have all been charged by Immigration for working in Canada illegally. All are in their 20s and were apparently selling art in Ottawa. The arrests follow similar takedowns of Israelis in Toronto and Calgary over the past few weeks. An Ottawa police source said police were told members of the group were possible agents from Mossad, Israel's spy agency, but given no further information by CSIS.

"CSIS declined to comment yesterday."

Headlined "Nine Israelis face deportation: Spy agency suspects they may be foreign agents," this story appeared in the Ottawa Sun, on Friday, September 19 and disappeared from the paper's website completely in less than a day, unlike the Sun's other articles, which are archived and available. Here is the Google cache. Check it out before it disappears, just like Carl Cameron's December 2001 series on the same subject.

In Cameron's case, this disappearing act was the result of outside pressure and a campaign of calumniation against Fox's crack investigative reporter: Israel's amen corner hissed that Cameron was disqualified as an objective reporter because he spent his youth in a Muslim country.

In the case of the Ottawa Sun, it's a case of Izzy Asper strikes again. The owner of Canada's largest newspaper chain is famous for his directive that no criticism of Israel be printed in his newspapers, leading to resignations and increasing resentment of media monopolism via mega-mergers.*

It's the suspicion that won't die no matter how many times, and in how many different ways, they try to kill it. Cameron broke the story on Fox News hardly a nexus of anti-Israeli sentiment – amid the apocalyptic tumult of '01, and it has survived in spite of numerous attempts to debunk it and smear anyone who gives it credence. Cameron's words echo down through the years, haunting us as we observe, uneasily, the second anniversary of our misfortune:

"There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are quote 'tie-ins.' But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, quote 'evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified.'"

As the President tries to undo the great harm done by the Iraq war, and designs an exit strategy that will take him off the hook politically, the U.S.-Israel relationship already strained by the failure of the "road map" and other issues – is bound to deteriorate even further. How much access the U.S. will have, under these circumstances, to Israel's worldwide surveillance of Islamist groups, is a matter of pure speculation, but I'm willing to bet it falls far short of total.

It is more than merely frightening to imagine what the reappearance of these enigmatic "art students" portends. Two years ago, their mysterious invasion of American shores augured the worst terrorist attack in American history. Does their sudden emergence in Canada signal a similar disaster in the near future?

God help us all.

CORRECTION

It turns out that Quebecor (the Sun Media Corporation), publisher of the Ottawa Sun, is not part of Israel Asper's media empire; Asper owns the Hollinger and Southam chains, and the National Post newspaper. So unfortunately, this means there are at least two different Canadian media empires practicing voluntary self-censorship when it comes to criticism of, or information potentially embarrassing to, Israel. Thanks to reader Will S. for pointing this out. And my apologies to Mr. Asper….

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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