whole "revisionist" school of thought has grown
up around the 9/11 massacre, which believes that Iraq and
not Osama bin Laden was the real mastermind and sponsor.
The thrust of their argument, ineptly argued by the addled
Buckley, is that we shouldn't spend a whole lot of time diddling
around in Afghanistan: there's not much to bomb there, anyway,
and they're running out of targets. Well, then, on to Iraq,
say the revisionists. Buckley joins a
whole gaggle of neocons who signed a statement demanding
an expanded war before the assault on Afghanistan had even
begun. Iraq, they cry, is the real villain here, and Novak
is the gadfly in their ointment, noisily demanding proof.
admits that "the evidence at hand is not what we would
need in a court of law," but, then again, "we would
not, in 1942, have been able to prove that Adolph Hitler was
exterminating the Jews. We proceed on reasonable grounds."
Here you can almost see the synapses trying mightily
but finally failing to connect. It's pathetic, and really
kind of sad: it sounds like he's telling us that lack
of evidence proves a proposition. But Buckley blithely blithers
on, averring that "Saddam Hussein shelters terrorists.
Abdul Rahman Yasin, a central figure in the 1993 bombing,
an indicted fugitive, is sheltered in Iraq." Is he, really?
The FBI questioned Yasin in only the most perfunctory manner,
and left him free to go to Iraq. His presence there was last
confirmed in 1998 and now he could be practically anywhere
from Afghanistan to Malaysia. In any case, the militarily
vulnerable Iraqis would be unlikely to keep him around as
a living pretext for a US attack.
weak pretense of an argument is an embarrassment, and proof
that, after a certain age, a pundit's license to pontificate
ought to be revoked. After all, says Buckley, didn't Saddam
commit "genocide" against the Kurds? Didn't he invade
Kuwait? And, hey, didn't somebody once write a book claiming
that Saddam inspired the 1993 attempt on the World Trade Center?
The weakened neurons of Buckley's brain have arranged these
random facts in a pattern he recognizes as "truth"
but the rest of us can only shrug, give each other pained
looks, and ask: Say what, Bill?
to recognize his own incapacity, Buckley goes on to aver that
all this "proof" is irrelevant, anyway since
we don't really need any evidence! As he puts it:
we do not need conclusive evidence of Iraq's participation
in anti-U.S. terrorism to issue an ultimatum: Open your borders
to an uninhibited inspection of Iraqi recesses of terrorist
and aggressive activity. And deliver Abdul Rahman Yasin, handcuffed,
to our embassy in Kuwait."
cares about anything so old-fashioned as evidence? A superpower,
the world's one and only, needn't bother with such niceties.
Besides, Bush said his "crusade" would immediately
commence against any nation that "harbors" known
terrorists a vast swathe of territory that includes virtually
all the Middle East and a great deal of what used to be the
Soviet Union. Should we bomb them all, too or is there
some selection process at work here not readily apparent?
AND THE NEOCONS
enrages the neoconservative crowd because he points out that
their strategy would weaken our ability to combat and prevent
terrorism by breaking down the broad coalition, which includes
even such hardline Islamic states as Pakistan and Syria, as
well as moderate Jordan. What the neocons find especially
irksome is that, in Novak, they are dealing with a real reporter.
This guy knows the inside scoop, and he gleefully reports:
the most hawkish officials privately admit that there is no
evidence linking Baghdad to the September attacks, but they
want to conclude the unfinished task of a decade ago anyway.
According to White House sources, that is not good enough
for President Bush. He wants a better justification for an
attack on Iraq to present to the world."
bet he does especially
when experts are so skeptical of the revisionist thesis.
When Saddam invaded Kuwait, "reclaiming" his "nineteenth
province," and threatening Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden and
his Al Qaeda movement offered their services to the Saudis
rather than have the American infidels desecrate holy soil.
They were refused. The ongoing American occupation of the
Saudi peninsula is Bin Laden's main grievance: it is the chief
religious argument he musters for a jihad or holy war,
and the central concrete political issue that divides apostates
from true believers in the Muslim world. Most of the hijackers
were Saudis, and
it is now coming out that Al
Qaeda itself has strong connections to Saudi intelligence.
Never mind Iraq if we want to trace the mysterious origins
of the Ladenite movement, its sources of income and support,
then the logical place to start is the land of Mecca and Medina,
the seat of the House of Saud.
SHEEP OR CAT'S-PAW?
Schwartz points out in his interesting but flawed essay
on the religious roots of the Ladenite movement, the Saudis
have the strongest ideological links to Al Qaeda. Both Bin
Laden and the Saudi royal family, as adherents of the Wahabi
sect, uphold the same fundamentalist vision that animates
the Taliban. But there is, apparently, more than an ideological
connection: while Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the
US, assured Larry King the other day that Bin Laden was "the
black sheep of the family," a story came out the day
after the 9/11 attack that Bin Laden was buddies with Turki
al-Faycal, the Saudi
spy chief fired in August by royal decree. Anatole Kaletsky,
writing in the [London] Times, raises
some interesting questions:
if a great deal of the money, training, and religious and
political inspiration comes from Saudi Arabia, America's main
"strategic ally" in the Gulf?
Many of the US hijackers
were Saudis, as is bin Laden. In several cases, their terrorist
indoctrination began at fundamentalist Islamic colleges, funded
by Saudi money. Their political attitudes reflected an anti-Western
religious zeal that is widely promoted in the Saudi media
Saudi Arabia is also the only country apart from Afghanistan
that practices the medieval version of Sharia in all its horror.
And the head of the Saudi intelligence service, believed to
be the Royal Family's main link with the Taliban, resigned
abruptly within 24 hours of the horror in New York. When you
put these facts together, there is surely a risk that the
trail of money and blood that started at the World Trade Center
could ultimately lead to Riyadh."
NO RAIN CHECK
wouldn't be the first time the Saudis have been implicated
in state-sponsored terrorist activities: in that regard, the
Egyptians may have some valid complaints to lodge against
them. In any case, the attempt to follow the money is
being blocked by Riyadh: they
won't even freeze Bin Laden's Saudi assets. And as for
helping with the investigation: you
can forget it. Six of the terrorists got their US visas
in Saudi Arabia, yet the authorities won't provide US law
enforcement with routine background checks done on all such
applicants. More signs that something is afoot in the House
of Saud: Tony
Blair will not visit Riyadh, as planned, supposedly because
he and Prince Abdullah "could not find a mutually convenient
time for the meeting." One gets the impression that no
time would be convenient from the Saudis' point of view. Meanwhile,
Saudis have launched another anti-Christian crackdown,
arresting and allegedly torturing immigrant Nigerians and
others for holding underground religious services.
Prince Abdullah, the heir apparent, is the de facto ruler
of Saudi Arabia: old King Fahd, now senile, has long since
been shipped off to Europe with his hundred-plus wives and
retinue, and the hardline Crown Prince, said
to be vehemently anti-Western, is consolidating his power.
After years of existing as a protectorate of the US, there
is no doubt that the House of Saud is moving in a different
direction. But just how radical a shift is underway?
is interesting that the statement put out by 46 neoconservatives
demanding that Bush expand the war to include Syria, Iran,
and Iraq, as well as part of Lebanon, excludes the most likely
suspect the Saudis. No doubt they who fulsomely support
our military intervention in the region on behalf of the Saudi
monarchy would be greatly disturbed by the possibility of
a Saudi connection to 9/11. For it would call into question
the whole basis of our policy in the Middle East: indeed,
it would deal that misguided and dangerous policy a body-blow
from which it would never recover. Yet there is a lot more
evidence of a Saudi link to the 9/11 atrocity than there is
of Iraqi complicity. Advocates of the latter theory are flaying
a single unconfirmed report of a meeting between an alleged
Iraqi agent and the leader of the hijackers in Prague and
that is it.
THE FOREIGN POLICY ANGLE
our great "allies," whose oil wealth we are pledged
to defend, might in any way be connected to the worst terrorist
attack in American history would that be enough
to make a discussion of US foreign policy relevant to understanding
what happened on 9/11? If it turns out that there is a connection,
then the answer is an emphatic yes which is why
this line of inquiry will most definitely not be pursued by
US law enforcement officials, at least not too vigorously.
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the
Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Ave., #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
or Contribute Via
our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
are now tax-deductible