Beyond the September 12th mindset

What follows is from a letter which I sent in reply to a fundraising appeal from Eugene Bird, President of the Council for the National Interest Foundation (CNIF), which works to counter the pro-Israel lobby in Washington, mainly through lobbying and ad campaigns. More can be learned about them at My intention was to argue the importance--the urgency, actually--of reflecting on what we really know about 9/11 before speaking of it as if we have been essentially told the truth. I would not want any of this to be construed as denigrating the organization or its work. -rm

Dear Mr. Bird,

In your recent fundraising letter, you quoted a McCain advisor as describing Senator Obama as, '...a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mindset,' adding that this remark, '...did not sit well with us here at CNIF,' since, 'After the attacks of September 11th, it became very apparent to everyone in the United States that Washington needed to know more about the Middle East in order to understand the root causes of terrorism.'

This statement implies a 'blowback' interpretation of 9/11--that is, one that essentially accepts the Bush administration's account in its identification of the culprits, though characterizing their motives differently (bad foreign policy 'blew back' to the U.S. by provoking Muslims to attack us). And this interpretation we might in turn describe as a manifestation of a 'September 12th mindset'--a mindset born of shock in the immediate aftermath of those events, when the American public was readiest to believe what they were told by people in authority.

But seven years have now passed, and millions of people in this country and around the world have considered that, in order to understand the 'root causes' of these acts of terrorism within the U.S., we would do well to ask: Who most benefits from a terrorized American public? Who is in the best position to carry out such terror, and then prevent any proper investigation of the acts of terror in question?

Would such describe Muslim extremists operating out of caves in Afghanistan? On the matter of motive, we might note here that the condition of the Palestinians didn't prevent such Muslim groups from collaborating with U.S. intelligence against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, nor in post-Soviet central Asia or the Balkans in the years since. But more to the point, were such people in a position:

--to revise air defense protocols shortly prior to 9/11 and schedule multiple war games exercises to take place that very morning?

--to cause three (yes, three) skyscrapers in New York City to collapse symmetrically at near freefall speed, leaving in their wake an enormous mass of finely pulverized dust and pools of molten metal, as well as numerous witnesses (survivors and first responders) who have reported hearing explosions taking place in the buildings--all effects well in excess of what would reasonably be expected from the damage ensuing from planes crashing into two of those buildings?

--to ceaselessly obstruct attempts to investigate these events, to the point that even the financing behind the attacks was dismissed in the 9/11 Commission's final report as being 'of little practical significance'?

Interestingly, in the paragraph immediately following the passage from your letter cited above, when describing the circle of advisors around Senator McCain, you indicate your awareness of a ' think tank known as Project for the New American Century.' Are you not also aware that, a full year before 9/11--though only months before several of its members would assume high-level positions in the Bush administration--this same think tank had published a document entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses,' which argued that a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor,' would be necessary before the mass of the American public and Congress would support the policies of militarism and empire (with an emphasis on the Middle East and Central Asia) which they espoused?

People holding influential positions within U.S. policymaking circles, who see 'catastrophic events' within the U.S. as beneficial to their cause: sounds like we might have a real clue here regarding the 'root causes' of 9/11. Is understanding these 'root causes' truly a matter of Washington's needing to 'know more about the Middle East,' or instead one of the American people's acknowledging how much is already known concerning the aims held by military and corporate interests in Washington with respect to the Middle East since before 9/11, and what they believed was necessary to achieve them? When we consider what we think we know to be true about those events, how much of it turns out to be based on claims peddled by those very same interests, and by an administration not known for its regard for the truth? Are we to take its claims at face value when it comes to the one event which--by affording it with the convenient and all-too-effective 'war on terror' pretext--has enabled it to evade accountability on one count after another? Is the official 9/11 storyline flawed only in its characterization of the motives of the supposed perpetrators (as is assumed in the aforementioned 'blowback' theory)? How well would it stand up in court if subjected to standard criminal investigative procedures--as opposed to being uncritically accepted by a commission whose executive director (Philip Zelikow) had served in the Bush administration and whose own co-chairs admit had been 'set up to fail;' or by kangaroo 'military tribunals,' which owe their very existence to the continuing acceptance of that same storyline?

Now consider--can you imagine opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq speaking as if we had learned nothing since March 2003 about the administration's claims concerning WMD? Then why does an organization devoted to challenging U.S. policy in the Middle East speak as if we have learned nothing since September 2001 concerning the veracity of the administration's account of the 'catastrophic and catalyzing event' which, ever since, has provided it with the critical ideological underpinning for its interventionist and imperialist policies in that region? The fact that the major news media have largely been silent about the many contradictions and anomalies that have since been exposed in the official 9/11 story is no excuse to pretend they are not there. What sense does it make to criticize the opinions and policies of warmongers if, in the process, our own statements simultaneously help reinforce in the public mind a propagandistic version of events which has proved not merely beneficial, but absolutely indispensable to the agendas of these same warmongers--particularly when the plausibility of that account is so highly suspect?

Whatever your intention, this is precisely what you have done in the passage cited above. Such a line of argument makes unwarranted concessions to the administration's version of 9/11, and thereby helps to perpetuate the ideological basis for the very agendas which you ostensibly seek to reverse.

It may appear as though I am unfairly latching onto a single sentence in a fundraising appeal, and making too much of it. But what is really at issue here is an underlying mentality, which might not be such a problem were it not so pervasive among far too many professed opponents of administration policies; a mentality which, by accepting the administration's account of 9/11 as essentially sound, has helped it to maintain its grip over much of the American public, thereby limiting the effectiveness of efforts to counter the militaristic and authoritarian agendas which it has so effectively enabled; a mentality which has helped to sustain a political culture in which, among other things, campaign operatives can still expect to benefit--even seven years later--by describing their opponents as having a 'September 10th mindset.'

If, by contrast, advocates of peace and genuine security would finally shed this uncritical 'September 12th mindset,' and cease paying lip-service to the warmongers' implausible account of 9/11 (which is what they do whenever they act as if that account has been shown to be sound and solid according to established standards of evidence and logic, when it most certainly has not been); better still, if they would add their voices to the growing demand for a truly independent investigation of 9/11 with full subpoena powers, sworn to follow the evidence wherever it leads (which does not even require taking a position regarding what the actual truth is behind those events); then they would be helping to deprive their political opponents of what has proven, over the last seven years, to be their prime propaganda weapon. Accordingly, the chances of success for their own causes would greatly improve--not least of all CNIF's goal (as stated in your letter) of, 'repair[ing] eight years of damaging policies in the Middle East.'


Great letter

Please let us know if he responds.

We need a 4th of July Mindset.

The CONSTITUTION is NOT going to "collapse" into pulverized dust no matter how much thermate/explosives or planes they throw at it