By Max Jones / Original to ScheerPost
Every Sept. 11, the mainstream media plasters “Never Forget”across their coverage, imploring Americans to recall that day in 2001 — a memory not easily forgotten. Giant commercial planes crashed into the side of the nation’s most iconic skyscrapers. Smoldering fires sent employees jumping out of imploded windows, falling hundreds of feet to their deaths. The Twin Towers caved in on themselves at freefall speed. These images do not simply escape from memory.
Yet there are still many things Americans forget—or never knew—about that day, certainly the events that led up to it and those afterward. Nearly all the facts usually absent from our memories conveniently play right into the interests of the neoconservatives that exploited the attacks for their own goals. More important, our collective amnesia keeps those who have forgotten, those who were never informed and those who refused to accept the inconvenient truths of 9/11, docile and detached from reality, lacking the knowledge necessary to learn from the past.
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A CLEAN BREAK
Before the George W. Bush administration used 9/11 as the pretext to invade the Middle East, a group of neoconservatives outlined their plans of hegemonic domination in the 1996 policy document: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” Organized by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, and authored by both American neoconservatives in the Bush administration and Mossad officials, the document claimed to address the shortcomings of Labor Zionism through imperialist domination of the Middle East.
As Max Blumenthal explains in The Management of Savagery:
“Essentially, the neocons’ paper amounted to a call to violently replace the leadership of any regional state that challenged Israel’s expansionist agenda—a feat that could only be accomplished with direct American military intervention.” (emphasis added)
The authors made their first target Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. They hypothesized that once the U.S. installed a friendly government in Iraq, Israel and the U.S. could then, as Blumenthal writes, use “a joint effort by US-allied countries like Jordan, Turkey, and [Iraq] to ‘squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula,’” and “[weaponize] the heavily religious, rural Sunni population as a proxy force in Syria’s eastern hinterlands.”
PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY
Robert Kagan and William Kristol built upon that foreshadowing of an impending future in an article they wrote that same year, “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy.” In the essay, Kagan and Kristol described their goal as a “benevolent global hegemony.” The main obstacle to their ambition, however, is extremely telling: anti-war sentiment, or “weakness” as they described it, in a post-Cold War world.
As Kagan and Kristol wrote:
“In a world in which peace and American security depend on American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United States faces now and in the future is its own weakness.”
Kagan and Kristol organized the neoconservative-run Project for the New American Century (PNAC) after writing their essay, whose signatories included “A Clean Break” contributors Doug Feith and Richard Perle. They also included members of the George W. Bush administration, such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.
At PNAC, antidotes to the anti-war sentiment, or “weakness,” keeping the neoconservatives from pursuing their “benevolent global hegemony” were brainstormed, such as in this eerie passage from the PNAC document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”:
“…the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
In other words, the neoconservatives would catalyze their “process of transformation” most efficiently and quickly if an event as “catastrophic” as Pearl Harbor would occur. It’s not surprising that in the days after the towers fell, neoconservatives like PNAC signatories Perle and former CIA director James Woolsey connected the plane attacks in mainstream media to the first enemy outlined in “A Clean Break” — Iraq — without evidence.
A DARK WINTER
The mainstream media, in their plethora of “Never Forget” reporting every Sept. 11, also consistently leaves out the implications of the anthrax attacks and the effects they had on ginning up the public for an invasion of Iraq. The anthrax attacks took place predominantly in the United States (later globally) one week after 9/11. Letters containing weaponized anthrax spores with messages written in them such as “Death to Israel, Death to America, Allah is great” were sent to media offices and politicians, killing five people and infecting seventeen others.
While the mainstream media highly suspected the attacks were committed by Iraq and Al Qaeda, the FBI would later rule that the weaponized anthrax came from a U.S. biodefense lab in Fort Detrick. The Dark Winter simulation that took place only months before 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, which simulated a crisis in which smallpox was sent to prominent journalists and politicians supposedly by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and colluding terrorist groups, is only seldom, if ever, mentioned.
This narrative in the simulation was disseminated through fictional news reports that stated, “Iraq might have provided the technology behind the attacks to terrorist groups based in Afghanistan.” Claims nearly identical to these re-emerged following 9/11, before and after the anthrax attacks. In her investigative piece on Dark Winter, investigative journalist Whitney Webb wrote:
“Such claims that Iraq’s government was linked to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan would re-emerge months later in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and would be heavily promoted by several Dark Winter participants such as former CIA Director James Woolsey, who would later swear under oath that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.”
But as Webb points out, this was not the only time that the simulation linked Iraq to bioweapons.
“For instance, during the exercise, satellite imaging showed that a ‘suspected bioresearch facility’ in Iraq appeared to be expanding an ‘exclusionary zone’ in order to limit civilian activity near the facility as well as a ‘possible quarantine’ area in the same area as this facility. Previously in the exercise, Iraq was one of three countries, along with Iran and North Korea, who were ‘repeatedly rumored’ to have illicitly obtained Soviet smallpox cultures from defecting scientists and Iraq was alleged to have offered employment to a leading smallpox scientist who had worked on the Soviet bioweapons program.
Then, at the end of the exercise, a ‘prominent Iraqi defector’ emerges who claims Iraq had arranged the bioweapons attack ‘through intermediaries,’ which is deemed ‘highly credible’ even though ‘there is no forensic evidence to support this claim.’” (emphasis added)
In the aftermath of the anthrax attacks, actual news reports implicated Iraq in the biowarfare just as the Dark Winter reports did, also without “forensic evidence” (or any evidence). Corporate journalists — and participants of Dark Winter — disseminated this propaganda.
As journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in his series on the anthrax attack:
“ABC News, led by investigative reporter Brian Ross, spent a full week claiming that unnamed government sources told [ABC] that government tests demonstrated a high likelihood that the anthrax came from Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program. The Washington Post, in November, 2001, also raised ‘the possibility that [this weaponized strain of anthrax] may have slipped through an informal network of scientists to Iraq’”
The reporting by Brian Ross of ABC News claimed that government tests on the anthrax revealed that it contained bentonite, and as Greenwald wrote,
“ABC News, including Peter Jennings, repeatedly claimed that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks, since — as ABC variously claimed — bentonite ‘is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program’ and ‘only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons.’”
The claim that the anthrax contained bentonite, which ABC stated they sourced from “four well-placed and separate sources,” turned out to be completely false. Nonetheless, this false information linked Saddam Hussein to both 9/11 and the anthrax attacks during a time when Americans were traumatized after witnessing a terror that left thousands dead in its wake. ABC never retracted the story nor revealed the sources that fed them the false information.
“It’s extremely possible — one could say highly likely — that the same people responsible for perpetrating the attacks were the ones who fed the false reports to the public, through ABC News, that Saddam was behind them. What we know for certain — as a result of the letters accompanying the anthrax — is that whoever perpetrated the attacks wanted the public to believe they were sent by foreign Muslims. Feeding claims to ABC News designed to link Saddam to those attacks would, for obvious reasons, promote the goal of the anthrax attacker(s).”
Dark Winter participants and government officials made connections to Iraq and anthrax/biological warfare, both in public and privately, before the attack. This lends even more credence to Greenwald’s suspicions. For example, on Sept. 12, 2001, Donald Kagan of PNAC asked on radio, “What would have happened if they had anthrax on that plane?” Similarly, PNAC member Richard Perle told CNN about one week after 9/11 that the next attack from terrorists would likely be committed using “chemical or biological weapons.”
According to Robbie Martin and Abby Martin at MintPress News, on the day of 9/11, Dark Winter participant Jerome Hauer “alerted [Dick Cheney’s staff] to start taking cipro injections to prevent anthrax.” In March 2003, a former Israeli military intelligence officer published an article titled “The Anthrax Evidence Points to Iraq.”
The question this list of coincidences obviously begs is: why did those most actively pursuing war with Iraq make so many mistakes of alleged incompetence that directly created a misinformed public? This misinformation cured, in the eyes of the neocons, the peace-desiring citizenry who stood in the way of PNAC’s aspirations for “benevolent global hegemony.”
Among the other forgotten facts not explored here are the FBI’s allegedly botched Amerithrax investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks and the CIA’s heavily covered up recruitment of two of the plane hijackers into a joint CIA-Saudi intelligence operation.
No one can know for certain the motivations behind these characters’ actions nor what they knew and did not know. Despite our inevitable ignorance, we can still learn from the past. It is said that where there is smoke, there is fire. Yet only those that find the courage and patience to gaze into the inferno and the ruins it leaves behind will ever begin to grasp its severity, its cause and effects.
As Carl Jung once said, “We cannot change anything unless we accept it.”
Max Jones is a staff writer and video producer for ScheerPost. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California, where he studied communications and screenwriting, he is following his post-USC plans to be an independent filmmaker and screenwriter, and a journalist at ScheerPost. He has covered various topics in both his web show Journalists for Sale and writing, focusing most heavily on issues of free speech, information warfare, and foreign policy.