According to Dante, The worst of all evils is betrayal – Who turned Washington into the neo-Inferno?

September 11, 2007 -- I hate to go all-religious on you but while researching a title for this piece, I could not ignore the parallel.

In an introduction to Dante’s Inferno, James Finn inadvertently described the Bush regime; Satan is the absolute essence of hell, the heaviest, largest, coldest, darkest, and fiercest thing that exists. He is completely mechanical, like a windmill, but instead of being a source of purposeful energy, he devours human lives. The worst sin imaginable is betrayal. And Lucifer — as Dante demonstrates — has betrayed us all.

This is a story about multiple betrayals within the Washington beltway of the American people resulting from rivalries and disagreements among branches of government and intelligence services; the source of these disagreements is bin Laden’s fate, some want him captured or killed, others do not.

This was unveiled by a little incident on a frigid November night, November 2, 2001, to be exact, in a small village of a hundred mud-houses in the northeastern province of Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Late that November evening, braving sleet and freezing rain, two Black Hawks, UH-60L Special Forces helicopters, were dispatched from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to that village on a mission to capture bin Laden. From that same carrier, F-14 Tomcats converged on that village for backup. Meanwhile, a Predator unmanned drone prototype model RQ-1L, one of only two prototypes belonging to the Air Force at that time was in the same airspace.

On that evening, the Predator collided with one of the helicopters and they both crashed on a hillside next to that village. The crew from the second helicopter rescued the crew of the downed one, and shortly after, an F-14 Tomcat bombed the wreckage to conceal any evidence of the failed capture mission.

Evidence, released by the Pentagon, in the form of bin Laden family home videos of bin Laden’ kids running up that hillside, the morning after, to view the helicopter wreckage, kick the main rotor, and later that day, play indoors with smaller helicopter and Predator wreckage that they were able to drag back, clearly indicates that bin Laden was not aware of the capture mission and that neither he nor his family suspected or felt any eminent danger resulting from the crash just outside their village.

In my first reports of what happened that evening, I attributed the collision to bad weather despite the objections of the intelligence source that the collision was intentional; the Predator rammed the helicopter, I was told, in order to sabotage the mission while the weather was used as a cover.

At the time, the source did not leave me much of a choice, refusing to answer specific questions, I had to go with what I was certain of; video evidence of sleet and freezing rain in that village, and reluctantly accepted the Pentagon’s word that the cause for both crashes was bad weather, even though I knew they were concealing part of the truth by reporting the Predator and helicopter crashes as two unrelated incidents.

That initial conversation with the source was back in February 2007. Later, the source was willing to tell a bit more; information extracted piecemeal and disjointed, once strung together properly, a clear picture emerged. The crash was the result of a disagreement between Naval Intelligence and the CIA about how to approach the issue of bin Laden; one wanted him captured while the other did not.

This sabotaged capture mission on November 2nd was the second half of a sting operation. The first half involved taping bin Laden, in that same village, confessing to prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. The first half was executed on September 26, 2001, ten days prior to the invasion of Afghanistan.

For the first half, American intelligence had 4 days advance notice of the date of the meeting where the taping would take place, 24 hours advance notice of its exact location, and knew that bin Laden would be in that village for at least 3 hours if not overnight since his family lived there; all was squandered in favor of taping instead of capturing.

For the second half, there was very little notice or control over the mission parameters; the mission that is extremely dangerous on its own, flying a helicopter through night vision goggles in enemy territory, becomes a suicide mission once sleet and freezing rain are introduced. Add to that the rivalries and disagreements between intelligence services, presumably each representing a camp within the Bush administration, and you end up with Dante’s Inferno.

We don’t actually know how many were injured on that helicopter; we cannot take the Pentagon’s word that it was just four since a recent crash in Iraq of a similar helicopter took out fourteen. We do know though that one of the individuals on that helicopter was Staff Sergeant Pabela. Hopefully he is not even injured, but if he were, or worst, dead, what could console his family? If anybody knows the whereabouts of Staff Sergeant Pabela, please ask this soldier to contact the [Bad link] immediately.

On top of all the betrayals above, the worst is yet to come; the release of the covert videotape that featured bin Laden gesturing with his hands describing how the airplane hit one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center.

Why is it the worst? When bin Laden viewed the tape, which he would inevitably do, he would immediately realize how close intelligence services were to capturing him. The first time he deviated from his strict security protocol, intelligence operatives were feet from him (taping him). As a result, his security protocol would get even tighter and no one would ever get that close to him again.

The failure of Tony Blair and Colin Powell to provide evidence of bin Laden’s guilt, and the continued pressure by the Muslim and Arab streets for that evidence during October and November of 2001, forced the Bush administration to release the only evidence they had; the confession tape. As a sensitive by-product of a failed intelligence operation, the tape had to be declassified and only the president and vice-president have that authority.

The Pentagon released the tape on December 13, 2001, after what we were told were ample deliberations with the White House and many reviews to insure that nothing released would contain material helpful to the terrorists.

Evidently, they did not anticipate that a private citizen is capable of conducting a thorough authentication of the tape and uncover the above narrative and their betrayals.

The fundamental question becomes, why did the White House succumb to the pressure from the Muslim and Arab Street for proof? At the time, all was going their way in Afghanistan. Why tip bin Laden off? What is the importance of the Arab Street that they would forego bin Laden’s capture?

The answer is, they were concerned about the Arab Street’s support for their second illegal war, the Iraq war; the prize and their first choice for action after 9/11.

Comparing this bin Laden affair to another one, the leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame, we find ominous similarities. Each involved sensitive intelligence material that was declassified by the White House, to the detriment of national security, in order to serve a political agenda.

The same comparison tells us that there are at least two rival camps working behind the scenes, two camps that would not hesitate to undermine each other, the law, national security, and national interest, in order to push their agenda or approach; one camp interested in doing the job the old fashion way where country has its own perverted meaning, some refer to them as the Old Guard, while the other puts ideology and agenda first and the hell with the rest, that camp is comprised of the neo-conservatives.

I am not defending the Old Guard, but most would agree that there is some kind of sane method to their madness; maybe because it has this bipartisan flair. On the other hand, the neocons’ chokehold on the White House and the Pentagon are undermining the viability of this country and actively exporting, not democracy, but Dante’s Inferno from within the Washington beltway to the rest of the world.


1. “Osama’s Confession; Osama’s Reprieve”…Counterpunch
2. “Is it high treason or just a simple case of dereliction of duty?”…Muckraker Report