After the events of September 11, 2001, as a longtime FBI agent and division legal counsel, I blew the whistle on the FBI’s failure to act on information provided by the Minneapolis field office that could have prevented the attacks.
On this sad 15th anniversary of 9/11, I am encouraged to see that Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein put out a statement calling for a new investigation not afflicted by all the limitations, partisan obstacles and other problems that adversely affected the 9/11 Commission.
It’s what so many of us have long called for, including me personally (see here and here) as someone with a front row seat to the FBI’s initial cover-ups. The FBI was only one of the agencies and political entities which strived to cover up the truth of why and how they all ignored a “system blinking red” in the months before the attacks. So successful had this been that when I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2002, I actually felt I had to explain why the truth was important. That we “owed it to the public, especially the victims of terrorism, to be completely honest” and “learning from our mistakes” were two of the reasons I came up with.
But the biggest mistake, the launching of the ruinous, counterproductive”war on terror,” had already broken out even before my testimony (and long before the 9/11 Commission was allowed to begin work), along with its attendant war crimes such as torture, which were secretly “legalized.” Not only had truth again become the first casualty, but Cicero’s adage was playing out: “in times of war, the law falls silent.”
As retired Major Todd Pierce recently said in an interview: “Everything that we have done since 9/11 is wrong.” And I think that is largely because people still don’t know the full truth about how 9/11 could have easily been prevented if only agencies and the Bush Administration had shared information internally, between agencies and with the public (see “Wikileaks and 9-11: What If?“).
I debated, early on, with a former CIA legal counsel who claimed war was the answer as opposed to investigating/prosecuting terrorism as plain crime, and later tried to explain more fully why “The War on Terror (Is) A False Promise for National Security,” published in the International Journal of Intelligence Ethics.
So much of the ease in perpetrating this type of deceit, described so well in David Swanson’s book “War Is A Lie“, comes back to Mark Twain’s classic adage that “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” So it took a couple years after 9-11, after the first in the long series of Mideast wars had been launched, with US military occupations firmly installed for the duration (in what has now come to be called “perma-war”) before the 9/11 Commission and other official and congressional inquiries could get out even the tiniest bit of truth, revealing that 9/11 was enabled by the lack of sharing of pertinent intelligence information inside and between agencies as well as with the public, not any lack of massive, non-relevant metadata collection on innocent people. We also learned that the countries we had launched war on, or had judged culpable for the attacks, Iraq and Iran, were not at all involved in 9-11. It’s jaw-dropping that it’s taken nearly 15 years to get the “28 pages” in the Joint Intelligence Committee’s Report finally released. The “28 pages” show no culpability on the part of either Iraq or Iran, just strong indications of Saudi funding and support of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Another retired intelligence officer who cares about integrity in intelligence, Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.), also agrees with Jill Stein’s call:
I have long believed there needs to be a kind of 9/11 “Truth Commission” – completely independent and untainted by any political organization – in order for this country to be able to move forward in any meaningful way. The sad fact is that many folks, for varying reasons, just don’t want to “go there” – i.e. the truth may be too painful for them. I don’t know exactly what happened on 9/11, but given my government’s record on Iraq and other issues, I have no reason to trust the official version.
I think that keeping the public in a fog regarding 9/11 is extremely destructive to the health of the nation. 9/11 is like an open running sore – let’s heal it, painful as it may be.
Despite Mark Twain’s adage and the difficulty for Americans to see through the fog of perma-war, it’s never too late to wise up. As Twain’s fellow humorist Will Rogers asked, “If stupidity got us into this mess, why can’t it get us out?”
In May of 2002, Coleen Rowley brought some of the FBI’s pre 9/11 lapses to light and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about some of the endemic problems facing the FBI and the intelligence community. Rowley’s memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in connection with the Joint Intelligence Committee’s Inquiry led to a two-year long Department of Justice Inspector General investigation. She was one of three whistleblowers chosen as persons of the year by TIME magazine. She currently works with the Veterans for Peace chapter in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Reprinted from Huffington Post with permission from the author.