Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 30 August 31 - September 6, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Two Years after 9/11:
year, close to the time of the first anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks, I
wrote "Twenty Things We've Learned One Year After 9/11." Now we're
approaching the second anniversary, and it's time for an update.
we could only speculate about a year ago have taken place -- to name just three:
an invasion and occupation of Iraq (based on misleading intelligence and
outright lies), an administration that may have committed the treasonous act of
deliberately revealing the identity of a CIA agent, and shocking revelations
about the computer-screen voting system now being put into place around the
country for the 2004 election.
abbreviated list below can be used both as a reminder to all of us why we're
fighting this good, oppositional battle, and as a place to start from when
organizing and talking to others about why you will be voting for someone other
than George W. Bush in the presidential vote next year.
are the topics and here's what we've learned, all factually validated by -- or
strongly suggested in -- journalistic reports.
We know that a cabal of ideologically-motivated Bush officials, on the rightwing
fringe of the Republican Party, were calling for a military takeover of Iraq as
early as 1991. This elite group included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle,
Woolsey, Bolton, Khalizad and others, all of whom are now located in positions
of power in the Pentagon and State Department.
helped found the Project for The New American Century (PNAC) in 1997; among
their recommendations: "pre-emptively" attacking other countries
devoid of imminent danger to the U.S., abrogating agreed-upon treaties when they
conflict with U.S. goals, making sure no other country (or organization, such as
the United Nations) can ever achieve parity with the U.S., installing
U.S.-friendly governments to do America's will, using tactical nuclear weapons,
and so on. In short, as they put it, the goal is "benevolent global
of these extreme suggestions, once regarded as lunatic, are now enshrined as
official U.S. policy in the National Security Strategy of the United States of
America, published by the Bush Administration in late 2002.
We know that Bush and his highest officials -- notably Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Wolfowitz, Perle, and, to a lesser extent, Powell -- lied outrageously about
Iraq's weapons capabilities in order to get their war plans endorsed by the
Congress and the American people. The biggest of many whoppers involved were the
made-up stories about nuclear "mushroom clouds" over America,
unleashed by the Iraqi drone air force.
lies may have fooled many Americans at the time, but other countries, especially
in Europe, smelled the rotten evidence and the imperial ambitions and would have
nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq, denouncing the Bush Administration to
its face. Up to 10 million citizens (mostly organized via the internet) marched
worldwide on the same day to try to stop the invasion -- before the war had even
started! -- something that had never happened before in world history.
We know that Rumsfeld wanted to move on Iraq just a few hours after 9/11, even
though he was quickly informed that it was an al-Qaida operation and that there
was no evidence of Iraqi involvement. When the CIA and other intelligence
agencies said the same thing about a supposed al-Qaida link -- and Iraq's
alleged nuclear program and other WMD -- Rumsfeld set up his own
intelligence-gathering unit inside the Pentagon, the Office of Special Plans,
and installed a number of PNAC hardliners to tell him what he wanted to hear.
Their cooked-books "intelligence" became the basis for invading Iraq.
We know that Bush and his highest officials, their lies having been exposed by
their own contradictory words, as usual first decided to blame others: The patsy
this time was the CIA, and Tenet fell on his sword, sort of, in accepting the
blame. (Angry elements in the CIA then began leaking damning information about
Bush&Co. involvement in other WMD lies.)
Karl Rove and the others snookered the media into focusing on a mere 16 words in
Bush's State of the Union Speech about supposed uranium sales to Iraq, they
looked at the polls showing a majority of Americans not caring about the lies as
long as the evil Saddam had been removed, and began telling even more whoppers.
(Meanwhile, in the U.K., Blair could lose his job because he lied even more
blatantly than did Bush, if such is possible -- he trumpeted that Iraq could
launch biochemical agents at British sites within 45 minutes -- and now he's
been found out as well.)
We know that Bush and Blair felt compelled to "sex up" their
justification for going to war against Iraq by focusing on the WMD issue because
the real reason -- to bomb and take over a weak nation in that area of the world
as a demonstration warning to other Middle East, oil-rich countries that they'd
better come on board or face the same consequence -- would never win the support
of the American people. Americans aren't big on overt imperial rule, and the
bullying and arrogant militarism that go with such rule, preferring more subtle
means of influence and control.
We know that although the U.S. promised that there would be a swift turnover of
civil rule to the Iraqis, that promise has been revoked. The U.S. occupying
authority has appointed its own governing council of hand-picked Iraqis, over
which it has veto power, and is hoping that gesture will suffice long enough to
set up the Western looting-system. Such behemoth Republican-supporting
corporations as Halliburton and Bechtel are making out like bandits with
reconstruction contracts awarded by the Bush Administration (in the case of
Cheney's old firm Halliburton, with no competitive bidding!).
We know that the PNAC cabal, which relied on Iraqi exile fantasies, believed
that the citizens of that invaded country would welcome the American &
British forces with kisses and flowers. Instead, major factions of the country
are engaged in nightly guerrilla warfare against their "liberators"
and have killed and wounded more U.S. soldiers after Bush declared the end of
major hostilities than were killed in the invasion battles. Oil pipelines and
water systems are blown up regularly. There is the familiar odor across Iraq of
a Vietnam-type syndrome; you know what I mean: just a little more force and
we'll have them on the run/are those friendlies or bad guys? don't take chances,
fire!/the troops will be home by Christmas/send another 100,000 soldiers quick.
We know that elements of the PNAC/Bush cabal appear anxious to move on to
another country, though it's still unclear whether the next target for control
(and perhaps "regime change") will be Syria or Iran -- with North
Korea becoming more and more bellicose off to the side.
We know that two high officials of the Bush Administration leaked to a
conservative newspaper columnist the name of a covert CIA agent -- which is a
felony. The agent is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the man sent by
Cheney to Niger last year to see if there was anything to the story that Iraq
supposedly was trying to buy "yellowcake" uranium; Wilson reported
back saying that the story was "highly unlikely." After the Bush
Administration continued to use this lie in various public speeches -- even
though they knew the documents were forgeries -- Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for
the New York Times, documenting his version of events. Wilson has since said
that by naming his wife, the Bush Administration is sending a warning to other
potential whistleblowers in the Administration not to speak up or risk
unpleasant consequences. The FBI says it may investigate the matter. Sure it
We know that just prior to the launch of the Iraq war, the U.S. announced its
"road map" for Middle East peace in order to lower the possibility of
upheavals in the Arab world. Since the U.S. refuses to fully and energetically
engage in the peace process -- to do so would mean leaning heavily on Israel to
make major concessions and remove its permanent settlements on Palestinian land
-- there is not likely to be genuine and lasting peace in that tortured area of
the world. Abbas can't control his extremists, Sharon has his own extremist
streak -- the perfect ingredients for more slaughter, and more anger in the
Arab/Islamic world against the U.S. and its Israeli proxy. And more fertile soil
in which young terrorists can be grown.
We know that the inner national-security circles of the White House knew an
attack was coming from al-Qaida, with planes used as weapons, aimed at American
icon targets. (These warnings were coming from other governments -- sometimes
directly to Bush -- as early as the Spring of 2001 and intensified greatly
during the Summer. That is the period, you may remember, when Bush went to
ground in Texas for a month and Ashcroft would no longer fly in commercial jets.
Even with this advance warning, the Bush Administration did nothing to
interdict, stop or otherwise interfere with the terrorist attacks they knew were
We know that Bush and Cheney, early on, approached the leaders of the House and
Senate and urged them not to investigate the pre-9/11 activities of the
We know that, to this day, the Bush Administration has stonewalled and delayed
turning over essential information to both the Congressional committee and to
the blue-ribbon independent panel investigating the pre-9/11 period. When the
Congressional report recently was released, the Administration redacted 28 pages
dealing with the role of Saudi individuals and government officials in financing
the terrorists, and, what's perhaps even more vital, redacted all papers related
to the May 6 presidential briefing document from the CIA about the likelihood of
a domestic terrorist air-attack in the United States.
We know that the coverup continues today, from the first days after 9/11, when
Condeleeza Rice claimed that the Administration had no idea that planes could be
used as weapons against buildings, to the blaming of the FBI for "not
connecting the dots." The incoming Bush Administration, including Rice, had
been warned by the outgoing Clinton Administration that the #1 national-security
threat was al-Qaida terrorism; other Islamic terrorists had tried to use planes
as weapons previously, and the chief defendant in the 1993 WTC bombing had
admitted that al-Qaida wanted to bomb key buildings, including the Pentagon and
the Congress, in future attacks.
independent 9/11 commission has publicly expressed its frustration at how their
investigation -- which must submit its final report in just a few months -- is
being hampered by the consistent stonewalling and delaying tactics of the Bush
Administration. Likewise, the victims' families are appalled by and angry at
those examples of foot-dragging, denials and lying.
We know that the Bush Administration paid off its backers (and itself) by giving
humongous tax breaks, for 10 years out, to the already wealthy and to large
corporations. This was done at a time when the U.S. economy was in recessionary
doldrums and when the treasury deficit from those tax-breaks was growing even
larager from Iraq war costs. So far as we know, the Bush Administration has no
plans for how to retire that debt and no real plan (other than the discredited
"trickle-down" theory) for restarting the economy and creating jobs.
More than 2,000,000 citizens have lost their jobs since Bush was installed in
the White House.
We know that the HardRight conservatives who control Bush policy want to
decimate and eviscerate popular social programs from the New Deal/Great Society
eras, including, most visibly, Head Start, Social Security, Medicare (and real
drug coverage for seniors), aspects of public education. Since the programs are
so well-approved by the public, the destruction will be carried out stealthily
with the magic words of "privatization," "deregulation,"
"choice" and so on, and by going to the public and saying that they'd
love to keep the programs intact but they have no alternative but to cut them,
given the deficit and weak economy.
We know that those with a vested interest in energy policy (the Kenny Lays of
America) had major impact in writing that policy, with no consumer-group input;
this basically gave these energy cartels carte blanche to rob the states and the
public blind. The push for "deregulation" led to gross and illegal
manipulation of the energy markets in state after state, and has nearly pushed
California, for example, into bankruptcy, with the Bush Administration not
lifting a finger to help. And Cheney continues to refuse to tell the courts who
attended those energy-policy meetings and what was discussed.
We know that Bush environmental policy -- dealing with air and water pollution,
national park systems, and so on -- is an unmitigated disaster, more or less
giving free rein to corporations whose bottom line does better when they don't
have to pay attention to the public interest.
We know that in general, the public interest plays little role in the
formulation of policy inside the Bush Administration. Those on the inside who
have left have revealed that political considerations are at the heart of all
decision-making, with little if any discussion of what might benefit the people.
Further, they say, there is little or no curiosity to think outside the
political box, or even to hear other opinions -- in other words, don't bother me
with facts, my mind's made up.
We know that there seems to be a "faith-based" view of reality. For
example, when there was public clamor for policy to deal with the effects of
global warming, the Administration said that was a "controversial"
issue that would need more study; it appointed a scientific panel to review the
situation. When that panel reported that global warming was real and needed to
be dealt with on an urgent basis, Bush denounced the scientists that he himself
had appointed as little more than "bureaucrats" and dismissed their
conclusions; he also deleted the section on global warming from the annual EPA
report. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman resigned, one would imagine at
least partially out of total frustration in dealing with these Neanderthals.
We know that the Patriot Act -- which was rushed through Congress in the days
right after 9/11, with few legislators having had a chance to read the final
draft -- has generated a huge groundswell of public opposition. More than 130
towns and cities have passed resolutions opposing it in part or in whole. The
main objections center around the removal of all sorts of constitutional
guarantees of due process of law, such as lawyer-client confidentiality and the
sanctity of home privacy, and which authorizes wiretapping and snooping into
personal computer files without you ever knowing about it. Even though Ashcroft
already has thrown U.S. citizens into military prisons, thus removing them from
judicial review, he appears to be desirous of even more outrages in Patriot Act
II, including the exiling and deporting of American citizens deemed to be
know that the Bush neocons were able to get these and similar bills passed by
invoking the patriotic buzzwords "national security" and
"homeland defense." Most members of Congress went along so that they
wouldn't be tarred with the "unpatriotic" brush. And, in general, the
Administration constantly has manipulated post-9/11 fears in the population,
because it serves their electoral/policy purposes to keep folks jittery and
looking to the central government for assurance and stability. (There ARE bad
guys out there who wish us harm, but it's possible to deal with that reality
without all the Constitution-shredding and psychological manipulation.)
We know that more and more, the permanent-war policy abroad and police-state
tactics at home -- with the shredding of Constitutional rights designed to
protect citizens from a potential repressive government -- are taking us into a
kind of American fascism domestically and an imperial foreign policy overseas.
As a result, we are beginning to see more alliances between liberal/left forces
and libertarians/traditional conservatives horrified that their party has been
hijacked by extreme ideologues.
We know that the response to the 2000 Florida election debacle -- going to
touch-screen computer voting machines -- may turn out to be even worse. Three
outfits dominate the computer-voting market, all companies owned or supported by
Republicans, and that they refuse to permit their software to be examined by
outsiders, even though tests have revealed major flaws in their systems: The
votes can be manipulated easily without any evidence that the count has been
tampered with, and with no verifiable paper trail to check against the final
tallies. (There are suspicions that this may actually have happened in the 2002
elections in a number of states, where Democrats were leading in the last-minute
polls going into the election but lost when the computer votes were added up.)
what happened in Florida, the 2004 vote must be honest and fair and, perhaps
even more important, must be SEEN as honest and fair by the citizenry at large.
Another disputed election and democracy in America may well die a quick death --
or lead to revolutionary discontent about the need to restore our Constitution.
We know that the Bush Administration continues to nominate ideologically-minded
conservative judges, especially for the all-important appellate courts. The
Democrats fall for the bait -- opposing the handful of nominees who are truly
repellant extremists -- and, to show how fair they are, approve the 100+ others.
Thus, the neoconservatives lock in approval for their HardRight policies for
years, maybe even decades, to come.
We know that after a long, quiescent snooze, where the ostensible opposition
party, the Democrats, played obedient lap dog to Bush&Co., things are
starting to shift. Many Democrats have suddenly discovered their spines and are
opposing HardRight initiatives, though not as consistently and as firmly as they
should (Daschle, for example, is a notorious wimp). The Democrats see the Bush
Administration as more vulnerable with the voters today as a result of the
disastrous and duplicitous way they bamboozled American citizens and Congress
into approving the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Having a number of
tough-speaking presidential contenders aim their darts at Bush&Co. policies
certainly helps generate more opposition.
those will do for starters. No doubt, you have plenty more to add: The
possibilities seemingly are endless when it comes to Bush&Co. misdeeds,
scandals, incompetencies, lies and crimes.
the presidential election run-up approaches, and if we do our jobs correctly,
more and more citizens will add up what has happened to their country since the
terror attacks of two years ago, and decide that Bush&Co. has to go --
preferably by resignation, but, if not, by impeachment or by the voters.
2003, by Bernard Weiner
Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international relations at various
universities, was a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly
two decades, and now is co-editor of the progressive political website The
Crisis Papers. )