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The 5 Unanswered Questions About 9/11: What the 9/11 Commission Report Failed to Tell Us Paperback
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About the Author
Currently a Soros Justice Media Fellow, JAMES RIDGEWAYhelped usher in a new age of muckraking when he revealed, in 1965, that General Motors had hired agents to spy on a consumer reporter by the name of Ralph Nader. Since then he has written columns for Harper’s, the Economist, theNation, and others, as well as over a dozen books on political issues ranging from crisis in Haiti to the Klu Klux Klan. He served for many years as the Washington correspondent for the Village Voice. Ridgeway lives in Washington, D.C.
From the eBook edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Ridgeway, Washington correspondent for the Village Voice, finds no hidden plot behind the 9/11 terrorist attack. Instead, he cites the open secret of a general and long-standing tendency to put American corporate interest ahead of the interest of citizens. Ridgeway focuses on five key questions: why the government couldn't stop the attack, why it didn't protect us, why we were unaware of plans for the attack, how U.S. "allies" abetted the attack, and why the 9/11 Commission couldn't get at the truth. In separate chapters, Ridgeway examines the political and economic issues behind the questions and offers a grim look at the actions and inactions of the Bush administration, which left the nation vulnerable to the terrorist attack, unwilling or unable to act on intelligence that raised the possibility of such an attack, and still vulnerable to troubling policies and attitudes. The placing of airline profitability above public safety, the coziness existing between regulators and the airlines, and U.S and Middle Eastern funding of Islamic extremists are all elements inadequately explored by the 9/11 Commission, according to Ridgeway. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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He cites Bush terrorism expert Richard Clarke's testimony that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others were "going to try to take advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda about Iraq," which they had been "pressing for a war with." (Pg. 80-81) He notes that Attorney General John Ashcroft's May 11, 2001 memo outlining the goals of the Justice Department "made no mention of counterterrorism." (Pg. 109)
He laments that "The Bush administration has yet to be held accountable for its negligence, or the Intelligence Community for its stunning failures. Instead, the agencies have found their budgets increased, and their power enlarged by the USA PATRIOT Act at home, and greater support for covert actions abroad." (Pg. 125)
He is critical of the 9/11 Commission report, whose aim had explicitly not been "to assign individual blame"; Ridgeway says, "without 'blame,' there can be no true accountability, and without accountability, there is nothing to ensure that the 'lessons' of 9/11 will be 'learned.'" (Pg. 159-160)
Not the most detailed book on the subject, but an interesting overview---particularly for the "blame" question.
1. Why Couldn't We Stop an Attack from the Skies?
Actually, we could have, but we didn't. Thirteen years after the explosion of Pan Am Flight 103, 31,000 feet over Lockerbie, Scotland, the FAA, which is charged with regulating the airlines to protect the public failed to ensure that airlines had maintained the safety and security they were supposed to provide. In addition, deregulation allowed airlines a freer hand in reducing and preventing government oversight and interference. Paying enormous fees to their lobbies, they were able to convince our government that newer security measures such as reinforced cockpit doors and a more professional security force were too costly. The government nodded its assent in allowing airlines to put profits above safety of their passengers.
Worse, airlines not only knew of terrorist warnings that were coming in with regularity, American Airlines was notified of the first hijacking thanks to calm and quick-thinking flight attendants who were relaying information to employees on the ground. They gave this information before other hijacked airlines would even leave the tarmac. They did nothing. They didn't notify crews. They didn't ground aircraft. They didn't notify the FAA. They even tried to keep it under wraps.
However, their subsequent lobbying effort took off at supersonic speed. They overestimated their losses, got Congress to give them five billion dollars more than they needed and pass a law preventing them from being sued. They also began laying off thousands from their workforce as they promised they wouldn't do.
2. Why Didn't the Government Protect Us?
Or, who was actually running the country? And this is truly the sad part. The FAA and the airlines having already known that two aircraft had already hit the World Trade Center did not send out warnings to other aircraft that had yet to be hijacked, and the FAA had failed to notify the military as protocol demanded. For such a secretive administration as this one that has shown so little trust for the public, it was the public only that took action. A United flight dispatcher took the initiative and began sending warnings of hijackings to other United aircraft. Knowing what the hijackers intended to do, brave Americans on board Flight 93 didn't wait for their government to protect them or rescue them. They decided to prevent further catastrophe and stormed the cockpit just 25 minutes from Washington D.C.
On September 11, 2001, the President of the United States was so clueless as to what was going on his first reaction was that whoever was flying the plane had to be a bad pilot. Even after an aide whispered more details and he sat through the story of "My Pet Goat," he addressed teachers and children in another room before departing. With no immediate apparent destination he was aboard Air Force One and unable to communicate with the next in his chain of command, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense. The Secdef was quite visible everywhere except were he was supposed to be. He was helping at the Pentagon crash site instead of getting to his command center. The vital link to the military went missing in action.
Enter Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United States who issues orders to the air force to shoot down anything that is left in the air after the planes were ordered to land. The only problem for a paralyzed air force was that they were taking orders from someone who was not in their chain of command, and not authorized to give them orders. This was also a clear violation of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Second, the air force did not have any clear rules of engagement. With four fighter aircraft protecting the eastern seaboard of the United States, it is clear that Flight 93 would have found its target had it not been for the ordinary citizens aboard. On September 11, 2001, the President of the United States was incommunicado. The Vice President of the United States was giving orders to shoot down an aircraft that was already in a Pennsylvania field as well as a low-flying medevac helicopter. Fortunately, the USAF was unable to do either.
On September 11, 2001, no one was running the country.
3. Why Didn't We Know What Was Coming?
If you ask the President of the United States why he didn't know, his answer was that we had no information that the World Trade Center was going to be attacked. But, as any intelligence analyst will tell you, you never know precisely what the enemy is going to do. You predict based upon the actionable intelligence at hand. Of that, there was plenty.
In 1999, British intelligences warned the U.S. that al-Qaeda was preparing to use commercial aircraft as flying bombs. In June 2001, German intelligence also warned us that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them to attack "American and Israeli symbols which stand out." In July 2001, Egyptian intelligence warned us that twenty al-Qaeda members had slipped into the U.S. and were receiving flight training. They warned the C.I.A. Jordanian intelligence passed to us an intercept of a major attack planned inside the U.S. It's code name, the same as the one the hijackers used for 9/11, Big Wedding. Then, there is the P.D.B of August 8th. The F.A.A. had warnings that they did not forward to airlines. Airlines had warnings and did not beef up security. It would have cost too much.
4. Did U.S. "Allies" Help Make the Attacks Possible?
Those allies would be Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia "is the only contemporary nation to be created by jihad." In order for the House of Saud to consolidate its power, it made a pact with a powerful imam named Whahhab who practiced a radical and militant form of Islam. Add oil to the mix, and the Saudi government has been paying or paying off this sect with donations and contributions to their causes. Not wanting a troublemaker like bin Laden back in their homeland after they expelled him and stripped him of his citizenship, the Saudi government refused to take him back and pass him to the U.S. even though Sudan and the Taliban were quite willing to. To keep him in Afghanistan and avoiding the beheading of several thousand other malcontents, they encouraged their exodus to Afghanistan where they were being supplied and taught to fight by the C.I.A.
Pakistan was scared of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a country that bordered theirs. They helped create and sustain a force of Taliban as it fought Soviets and other rebel forces. They used, in part, money given to them by the U.S., which also had a vested interest in seeing soviet forces stopped. After the war, and their abandonment by the C.I.A., the Pakistani intelligence service, I.S.I. was instrumental in helping the Taliban win control of the country and assassinate the leader of the Northern Alliance who we were supporting. There is little doubt that the I.S.I, knew what was going on in Afghanistan with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and knew of the plot. When Daniel Pearl was getting to close to damaging information, they either killed him or sanctioned his murder.
Two things keep the U.S. from taking drastic action against these two governments that harbor and support terrorism--oil from Saudi Arabia, and nuclear weapons remaining firmly in the hands of a non-terrorist Pakistan.
Questions about our allies will not be found in the 9/11 Commission Report.
5. Why Couldn't the 9/11 Commission Get to the Truth?
Ridgeway writes, "The [9/11] Commission...in the final report published on July 22, 2004, states clearly, `our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible accounting of the events surrounding 9/11 and to identify lesson learned.... what happened and why.'" The author correctly concludes that without assignment of blame there can be no accountability. Without accountability nothing can change or improve.
He also concludes that while the Commission conscientiously made many recommendations, they never dug deep enough to ask if the underlying system was flawed, and how it should be changed. While the author contends that the commission made recommendations for fixing the house, they did nothing about the foundation.
The commission while asking tough questions never pressed them. They allowed Condoleeza Rice off the hook, and allowed a condescending and squinty-eyed Rumsfeld to insist that the hijacking was a law enforcement issue rather than one of national defense. No one pressed Rumsfeld to ask him why he was trying to make political gain by looking at striking back at Saddam Hussein after he had been passed hard intelligence that al-Qaeda had perpetrated the "crime." In addition, the commission allowed the president, with the vice president present to hold his hand, to testify in private, not under oath, and without a transcript.
According to Ridgeway, it is clear that the Commission conducted their investigation thoroughly but not deeply. Their "criticism was extensive but restrained." They mentioned almost nothing about our "allies."
For anyone who keeps up with current events in even a modest sense, will know that none of the commission's recommendations have been implemented, and that it is business as usual with nothing more than a "new coat of paint" over old and ineffective security measures. The intelligence agencies that failed so miserably gave sniveling excuses that past legislation regulating their actions hampered their productivity. Worse, their lack of cooperation with Congress and the Commission borders on obstruction and is sanctioned by the White House.
This was deeply moving, intense, well-written. It has more drama and is more powerful than fiction. This is a book I recommend you read, understand, and burn into your memory.
He closes this book asking one thing: "Why has no one been held accountable?"
He is very correct though, in focusing on accountability. For the greatest intelligence failure in American history, (if that's what it was) not a single person was fired or demoted, yet we are asked to believe it was just a series of screw-ups that made it happen.
Of course not. It was intentional, so we could do Israel's bidding in the middle east.
Over 1,000 pilots, police, 9/11 survivors, engineers, architects, intelligence officers and high level govt officials are calling for a new investigation. Google "Patriots question 9/11."
If you have children or grand-children and care about their future, find out the truth. Our future does not look good.
Ridgeway points ou that there are several unanswered questions concerning 9/11. Why was nobody in the Federal government held accountable for the tragedy? Why did the 9/11 Commission fail so completely in doing its job?
For a work that is only 180 pages long, this book packs a wallop.
It is well researched, only 180 pages and seems to be well documented. Follow up research is necessary but it seems to expose incompetence and neglect on the part of the FBI, CIA and the Administration.