Scott Horton takes Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News to task
for his suggestion that America needs another 9/11. By the end of the interview,
Scott is practically straddling Bykofsky and pummeling him with facts, when
Bykofsky goes whoops! I have a "real job" I have to get back to. The interview
unfortunately ends abruptly.
Interview conducted August 15, 2007. Listen
to the interview.
Welcome back to Antiwar Radio. Our next guest
is Stu Bykofsky. He's a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. Welcome
to the show, Stu.
Bykofsky: Happy to be here.
Horton: Good to talk to you sir. As you already know, just from the
name of the show, you and I are going to disagree, but this isn't the Sean Hannity
Show, so let's you and I be friends. And let's not get into one of those arguments
where we each begin each sentence with "You believe this" and "You believe that"
because I don't want it to be like that.
Bykofsky: Thanks Scott.
Horton: I have to say, Stu, I have a serious problem with the sentiment
expressed in your recent column "To
save America, we need another 9/11." What's going on there?
Bykofsky: Well, what's going on, first of all is the headline doesn't
express what the text of the column does. The word "need" is wrong. Read the
first sentence of the column if you would, Scott, so that your listeners know
what we're talking about.
Horton: Sure. "One month from the anniversary, I'm thinking another
9/11 would help America."
Bykofsky: Okay. "Help" as opposed to "need" an attack. What that is
– one man's opinion – it was my hypothesis, and what the column expressed was
remembering the unity that we felt as Americans after 9/11, I kind of yearned
for that, I see that we're terribly divided today and I speculated on whether
or not an attack would do that. At the close of the column, I acknowledge that
the unity brought by such an attack sadly won't last forever. The first 9/11
proved that. So I'm acknowledging it is not a cure-all, and it was an idea that
I was throwing out there to underscore my belief that we're terribly fractured
and there was reaction to the column, which I published on Monday, in which
I said "I was wrong. An attack won't do it. We are so badly fractured I don't
think there's anything that can do it."
Horton: Oh, and my apologies, because I'm just now seeing in the margin
here that you wrote another column following up which I haven't read – so my
apologies for that. But here's the thing, it seems to me is that the reason
we're so divided is because of all the things that our government was able to
get away with by exploiting all that unity that we felt on September 11th. Wouldn't
we all be better off if we could find unity around the Bill of Rights, rather
than around an aggressive foreign policy?
Bykofsky: Well, what I decided, my opinion in the column was that the
fracture that we see in America today flows mostly from Iraq, the attack and
the prosecution of the war that was botched by Bush. The war itself, because
it has dragged on for four years, because there is no victory in sight, because
there are casualties every day, that is what has turned people against the war,
rather than people being against the war itself. My illustration of that point
of view would be the first Gulf War which lasted 100 hours of actual fighting
where we had a declared attack. There were people of course who were against
that war too, but they were a very small minority, and as time passed that has
receded into the distant. It is not up for national debate any more because
we won that war, and we won it quickly.
Horton: Well, I'd agree with you that the American people were almost
entirely happy with that war, but isn't the lesson of that first Gulf War that,
no, we didn't win it, we got ourselves into another Vietnam situation where
this thing began in January of 1991, and we're still bombing that place, and
Bykofsky: You know, you're actually sounding like people on the Right
now who say we didn't win the war because we didn't finish it off. George H.W.
Bush should have gone in and taken it over right then and there.
Horton: Well, of course, that's not what I said...
Bykofsky: Now, I don't make that case. I think that's wrong thinking.
Horton: I do too, and that's why I opposed the second Gulf War – it
was basically sold as finishing the job of George Bush Sr. and, of course, it
didn't finish the job.
Bykofsky: I'm sorry Scott, it wasn't sold that way. That may be the
truth as you see it, but it was never sold that way. It was sold as Weapons
of Mass Destruction.
Horton: Well, in a way. Honestly, that was how it was sold to the rubes.
If you watched Meet The Press it was sold as "regime change," it was sold as
"This guy, it's no longer tolerable that he's there so we're going to go in
and finish the job from last time."
Bykofsky: Well, Saddam is a bad guy, I don't recall anyone saying that
we're going to finish the job from last time, but that's a minor point.
Horton: Yeah, the point I'm making is not that they should have quote
unquote "finished the job" back in 1991, the point that I'm making is that the
war in 1991 never ended, it still hasn't ended, this is still the same war.
And it wasn't declared. You said that it was a declared war, I think. It was
not a declared war, it was not a defense of America, or even American interests.
Bykofsky: Oh, you're talking about the current Iraq War?
Horton: No, I'm talking about the first one that got us into this mess
in 1991 that the American people still love so much.
Bykofsky: I believe that the first one was authorized by the United
Horton: Yeah. Well that' not a declaration of war from the United States
Congress as mandated by the Constitution, and it certainly was not a defense
Bykofsky: Well, that's right. When was the last time we had one of those?
I don't even think Korea was... Korea was a "police action"' right?
Horton: 1941 was the last time Congress declared war.
Bykofsky: That's right, we don't do that any more.
Horton: Yeah, well, we ought to. If we're going to have a war I think
the responsibility ought to be on the lawmakers, that's what Madison and them
thought when they wrote the Constitution too.
Bykofsky: I agree with you.
Horton: Okay. We're too far off the point here. Let's get to the second
Iraq war. You say that the problem that the American people have is the mismanagement
of it rather than the war itself. I would submit to you, Sir, that there was
no proper way to manage it. Whether they made a giant mistake firing the Iraqi
army and so forth is debatable, although I think if they had tried to keep the
Ba'athists in power, and the Iraqi army, they would have had to start the whole
war all over again against the Shi'ites who were not going to tolerate that.
That's why they fired them, because Ayatollah Sistani insisted on it. So there
was no right way to wage this aggressive war, to somehow guarantee a new form
of government and impose it on the people of that country. There was no right
way to do that.
If the American people – and it is a minority, according to the latest polls
I've read – if those Americans think that the war was still right, but it was
just waged wrong, well, they're still just mistaken. What we're talking about
is America was attacked by a stateless band of guerrilla fighters, left over
from the war against the Russians, that America supported. They were basically
out of work, the King of Saudi Arabia wouldn't hire them to oust Saddam from
Kuwait – hired us to do it instead. Some of them went and fought in Bosnia for
Bill Clinton in the 1990s and in Kosovo in 1999 there at the end of the last
century, and they decided that they couldn't overthrow their local governments
that they wanted to overthrow until they got rid of us first. So they would
come and knock down our towers and get us to overreact and invade their land
where they could shoot our guys and drain our treasury until our empire was
so bankrupt they could force us out. And now, it seems to me that George Bush
is doing – and this entire policy has been – exactly what Osama Bin Laden wants,
and it seems to me that it's also the kind of thing that makes it much more
likely that we'll have that next September 11th, when really what we're talking
about is a war that could have been over in 6 months if it had been targeted
against the actual mujahedeen warriors that knocked those towers down, instead
of the Ba'athists who were number three on their list.
Bykofsky: Wasn't that what we were doing in Afghanistan?
Horton: Well, actually, no. In Afghanistan they went and waged war against
the Taliban and they let al-Qaeda escape.
Bykofsky: Well, weren't we after al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and wasn't
that where they were?
Horton: That is where they were, but Tommy Franks even said "Osama Bin
Laden is not our target. We're here for regime change against the Taliban."
And I'm sure that there were some who would have liked to get them at Tora Bora
(and I'm not saying that it was necessarily on purpose) but bin Laden and his
top guys got away, and now we're stuck overthrowing the Taliban and trying to
install Hamed "Lando Calrissian" Karzai in power there with his cape and his
furry hat and the rest of it, and what do we have?
A resurgent Taliban, a resurgent al-Qaeda stronger than ever according to
the latest National Intelligence Estimate. And it seems to me that this unity
that you talk about - I mean, I kind of like the spirit of "Hey, you know, we
can all get along and not have to fight amongst each other all the time"
and what have you – but if that unity is to be exploited by our government to
wage war on innocent people to make our terrorism problem so much worse, then
what's the good of it? Wouldn't we better off as individualists?
Bykofsky: Did I hear – were you critical of the United States intervention
in Bosnia under Bill Clinton?
Horton: Yes. That war was fought basically for the mujahedeen. Bin Laden's
guys were used as shock troops in that war.
Bykofsky: Okay but it wasn't to save Muslims who were being rounded
up and exterminated?
Horton: No, I don't think it was.
Bykofsky: Wow. Okay.
Horton: Particularly when you're talking about the Kosovo War.
Bykofsky: That's what I'm talking about
Horton: Well, the Kosovo war, there were no mass graves. The FBI left
after 2 weeks. They found a total of 3,000 bodies, all of them were of fighting
age men. There were no men, women and children rounded up and shot and dumped
into mass graves. The Clinton administration promised us hundreds of thousands
of bodies, and they never found them any better than they found Saddam Hussein's
nuclear weapons program. They didn't exist. It was a lie.
In fact, it was Hillary Clinton – as we were just discussing in the last half-hour
here on the show – it was Hillary Clinton (and she's bragged about this publicly)
who called Bill Clinton and basically browbeat him into going ahead and starting
the bombing based on that lie. There was no genocide in Kosovo.
Bykofsky: And there were no concentration camps with starving Muslims?
Those pictures were all faked? I saw them Scott.
Horton: There was footage of Kosovar refugees from after the bombing
began fleeing to Albania, I saw that footage on CNN too. But I'm telling you
Sir, do the Google search. There were no mass graves. They found a total of
like 3,000 bodies. Total. And they weren't civilians. There were no mass graves,
they promised us a hundred thousand bodies from that war that had already been
killed – that was the genocide they were stopping. And they used the mujahedeen.
In fact Brendan O'Neill has written all about this, how Bill Clinton really
strengthened al-Qaeda and really internationalized the modern jihadist movement
by backing them in Kosovo. And it did not serve American interests one bit whatsoever.
Bykofsky: Scott, I'm glad to hear that you're criticizing Democrats
as well as Republicans on the basis of information.
Horton: I'm a partisan toward freedom. I want to live in a free society,
and so whichever administration is working against my liberty, they're the target
of my criticism. Let's get back to the original point here. Americans got along
a lot better in the days and weeks and months after September 11th. People stopped
calling 911 on each other so much, people stopped fist-fighting in bars so much,
and the level of the tragedy got to us in a way, everybody put an American United
and all that on the car, but my fundamental question to you is, "Is that really
a good thing?"
Wouldn't we have been better off if 90% of the American people had said "Wait
a minute! George Bush and Dick Cheney are the same people as they were on September
10th, and they shouldn't be trusted with any more power or authority than we
would have trusted them with on September 10th. No! Not everything has changed.
The Bill of Rights has not changed, the Constitutional separation of powers
has not changed and the fact that it is immoral to wage aggressive war against
countries who have never attacked us has not changed"?
Bykofsky: Scott, do you remember that the administration, the CIA and
FBI were criticized for failing to connect the dots?
Bykofsky: Okay. What I see now is that the Left, by and large, will
not give the administration the ability to connect the dots by lawful, lawful,
eavesdropping. I'm against unlawful eaves dropping.
Horton: Ah, jeez. The Democrats just passed it last week. The president
can tap anybody he wants and the paper says today that George Bush is now telling
the courts that they may not even review any lawsuits about warrantless wiretapping
because it would violate the States' Secrets Privilege – that was made up by
the courts in the first place.
Bykofsky: He was given the authority after he had usurped the authority,
and I am certainly not for that. Now why did the Democrats give him the authority?
Because they don't want to be accused, after the next attack, and Scott, you
know in your heart we will be attacked again...
Horton: As long as we continue this foreign policy I absolutely believe
that is true.
Bykofsky: Our foreign policy at this moment has nothing to do with it.
We will be attacked again. There are already al-Qaeda cells in this country...
Horton: Oh, come on.
Bykofsky: You don't want to believe it? Fine. But Jeez, somebody attacked
the World Trade Center in 1993 and was convicted of the crime.
Horton: Yeah, and...?
Bykofsky: Now that wasn't imagined was it?
Horton: Yeah, and you're telling me those guys are still out on the
Bykofsky: If you don't want to believe that there are already terror
cells in this country, you're free not to believe it. I choose to believe it
and I would encourage our government to do something to protect us against it.
Horton: Well, I'm happy with people believing whatever they want. What
I'd like to see is some evidence. What I've seen is...
Bykofsky: I've described the evidence. There've been convictions.
Horton: I've seen the Director of the FBI testifying under oath before
the United States Senate that they have no evidence whatsoever of any current
al-Qaeda cells inside the continental United States whatsoever.
Bykofsky: And you believe everything that he tells you?
Horton: Well, I believe him when he says "We have no evidence. We're
looking, but we can't find any." I believe that.
Bykofsky: Look, the AP today is carrying a story about citizens banding
together to – well, I'll tell you to look it up and you can read it for your
listeners, I don't want to do it over the phone – a story by Tom Hayes from
the Associated Press about groups that believe, that are joining together and
being radicalized to air their grievances through terrorism. As I said, we've
already had a conviction, there were others, there was the conviction in Detroit.
We have people who are going on trial for a supposed attack on Kennedy airport.
Now, I'm not saying they're guilty, and I'm not saying the plot is actual –
let's have the trial and see what happens.
Horton: Right, well, let me stop you there. I never denied that Ramsey
Yousef and what became the al-Qaeda movement were responsible for the first
World Trade Center bombing, or any of those attacks in the 90s. I never denied
any of that so let's just get that straight, and secondly, you cite the Detroit
case there. You know that they only got convictions on two out of the four,
and then the Judge turned around and let the two convicted go free because the
prosecutor and the guys from the State Department were being indicted for perjury
and suborning perjury and withholding evidence from the defense, that they were
convicted on the basis of thin air, and the judge overturned the convictions
and the Justice Department is now prosecuting the Federal Prosecutor who persecuted
And so, again, I'm not denying that there's such a thing as al-Qaeda or that
there's a threat to this country. Let's not go cite a bunch of bogus make-believe
terrorism cases that the FBI has conjured out of thin air to support our case
now, Stu. There is a real terrorist threat to this country, and the fact of
the matter is you talk about these guys being radicalized. They're not being
radicalized by a speech on some audio tape. They're being radicalized by watching
the American military occupying their Holy Land, and killing people who look,
and believe, like them. That's why they're being radicalized. That's why they
were being radicalized in the 1990s.
You mention Ramsey Yousef and the first World Trade Center bombing - have you
ever read his rant to the judge upon his conviction when he gave his statement
to the court? This is all about American foreign policy, it's always been about
American foreign policy, and if they attacked us because we're occupying their
holy Land and putting sanctions on them, and bombing them, well, then occupying
their holy Land and putting sanctions on them, and bombing them more,
is not going to solve the problem. See, that's going to make the problem worse.
Again, we started off on September 12th at war against a stateless band of mujahedeen
warriors who didn't control so much as a county on Earth. They were kind of
an adjunct alliance with the Taliban, but they weren't even the government of
Afghanistan. They were nothing, they were a band of pirates, and now we act
like they're the Soviet Union.
Bykofsky: Scott, I hate to interrupt your speech, but I told your producer
I have 15 minutes for the interview, I've done 15 minutes, I'm glad it was civil,
and it was nice talking to you, but I've got to get back to work.
Horton: Okay. I'd like to give you a chance to go ahead and answer that
last bit if you'd like.
Bykofsky: I have a real job to do here, Scott, and I've given you actually
more time than most interviewers which want to do five or seven, but I really
do have to get back to work. I appreciate talking to you and I appreciate your
point of view.
Horton: Alright. Thanks very much. Everybody, Stu Bykofsky from the
Philadelphia Daily News.