Fifty questions on 9/11
By Pepe Escobar
It's September 11 all over again - eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The "global war on terror" is still on, renamed "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. Obama's "new strategy" - a war escalation - is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. "Al-Qaeda" remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 - the neo-cons' "new Pearl Harbor" - remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.
It's useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites' political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 "war on terror" is a "mythical historical narrative".
The following questions, some multi-part - and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission - are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of 911truth.org; whatreallyhappened.com; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers' e-mails.
None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.
1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government - as acknowledged by the FBI itself - has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?
2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours - without even a crime scene investigation?
3) How come none of the 19's names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?
4) How come eight names on the "original" FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?
5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?
6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?
7) How could Mohammed Atta's passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)'s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?
8) Who is in the possession of the "disappeared" eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?
9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US - including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's infamous August 6, 2001, memo - how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half - not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon's defense systems in the process?
10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.
11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite "My Pet Goat" in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?
12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live - as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge - or is he psychic?
13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?
14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation's seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?
15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?
16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?
17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?
18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we're at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?
19) A number of very experienced airline pilots - including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot - revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?
20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?
21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?
22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC's construction manager, "We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners." The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was "perforated" by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast - and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower - designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.
23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?
24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down - under vice president Dick Cheney's orders?
25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).
26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?
27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.
28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O'Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda's financial operations - with O'Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?
29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?
30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?
31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s' anti-Soviet jihad?
32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?
33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?
34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?
35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video - in which he "confesses" to being the perpetrator of 9/11 - released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?
36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly "retired" on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?
37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its "cooperation" with the "war on terror") and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.
38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 - under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden's information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?
39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry's Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?
40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?
41) Did Washington know in advance that an "al-Qaeda" connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka "The Lion of the Panjshir", only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda - helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.
42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?
43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?
44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?
45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft?"
46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an "airplane stuffed with explosives?"
47) When did Israel's Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by "200 terrorists?"
48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 - "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?"
49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology - which allows to remotely control unmanned planes - in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?
50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11?
More questions on 9/11
By Pepe Escobar
Osama "dead or alive" bin Laden would rather lose his kidney than pass up the opportunity to celebrate the eighth anniversary of September 11, 2001, on the United States. And like clockwork, he resurfaced in an 11-minute, al-Sahab-produced audiotape last week (sorry, no video, just a still picture), where he states how a series of grievances had "pushed us to undertake the events of [September 11]".
But there may be no mobile dialysis machine operating in a mysterious cave somewhere in one of the Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan after all. According to David Ray Griffin's new book, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? and based on a Taliban leader's remarks at the time, the mellifluous Saudi jihadi died of kidney failure in Tora Bora on December 13, 2001. Problem is, by that time, according to local mujahideen, Bin Laden had already escaped across the mountains with a bunch of al-Qaeda diehards to Parachinar, in Pakistan, and then to a shadowy underworld.
A decoy? A ghost? The devil himself? Who cares? Bin Laden, the brand, is still very good for ("war on terror") business. All this with the Barack Obama administration insisting the US is fighting the elusive, seemingly eternal Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Taliban plus al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, while General Stanley McChrystal - General David Petraeus' former top death squad operator in Iraq - insists there is no al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (but he wants up to 40,000 extra troops anyway).
Last week, Asia Times Online published Fifty Question on 9/11. The article stressed the questions were only a taste of the immense, mysterious 9/11 riddle. (Arguably the best 9/11 timeline on the net may be seen here.
Due to overwhelming reader response, here's a follow-up with 20 more questions - with a hat-tip to all who joined the debate.
1. In the first months of 2001, three years after Bin Laden's 1998 fatwa against the US, Mullah Omar wanted to "resolve or dissolve" the Osama-Taliban nexus in exchange for Washington maneuvering to lift United Nations sanctions. Would anyone from the first George W Bush administration confirm a solid Taliban offer? Kabir Mohabbat, a Houston-based, Paktia (Afghanistan)-born businessman also involved in the (failed) 1990s negotiation for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan pipeline, and then named by Bush's National Security Council as a key Taliban contact, has sustained that was the case.
2. Eight names on the "original" Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list of 19 Muslim hijackers happened to be found alive and living in different countries; the FBI has always sustained that the identity of the hijackers was established from DNA collected at all four sites - the World Trade Center (WTC), the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, crash site. Would the FBI explain how is that remotely possible?
3. All four planes referenced in the official narrative have thousands of parts with a serial number, plus tail numbers. Any one of these would have been enough to identify the plane(s). How come all of these parts disintegrated or vaporized? Why was not a single one of them recovered and/or matched up with all the mass of data about these four flights?
4. How come cell phones miraculously find a signal and work properly at 10,000 meters?
5. How to explain the enormous surge in "option puts" on both United Airlines and American Airlines on September 10?
6. How come the passport of alleged hijacker Satam al Suqami (and not Mohammed Atta, as reported) was miraculously found amid massive World Trade Center debris - either by "police and FBI" or by "a passerby who gave it to the NYPD", according to different versions?
7.Why was a military grade of thermite - a super-explosive - found at all sample sites surrounding Ground Zero? A peer-reviewed, scientific journal analysis is here.
8. How come Barry Jennings, who worked for New York City's Housing Department, reported on 9/11 to ABC News how he heard an explosion on the 8th floor of WTC 7? Jennings happened to die just a few days before the release of the NIST report on the WTC 7 collapse. A great number of actual 9/11 witnesses also heard and saw explosions going off inside the Twin Towers long before their collapse. A montage of news reports about these explosions can be seen here.
9. Why did the BBC confirm live on air the collapse of the WTC 7 building - which was not even hit by any plane - no less than 23 minutes before it actually collapsed? In the BBC live report, the WTC7 building is shot still standing.
10. Why there has been no investigation of Dov Zakheim? He was a prominent member of the Project for the New American Century group, and chief executive officer of SPC - a company making systems for remote control of airplanes - for four years prior to 9/11. Six months before 9/11, he became supervisor of a group of Pentagon comptrollers responsible for tracking no less than $2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon books; many of these comptrollers died on 9/11.
11. The "five dancing Israelis" question. How come Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, Paul Kurzberg, Sivan Kurzberg and Yaron Shmuel had set up a video camera on top of their white van pointing at the Twin Towers even before they were hit? Later they were seen celebrating. The FBI established that two were Mossad agents and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems, was a front operation. The investigation about them was killed by the White House. After being deported from the US, they admitted on Israeli TV that they had been sent to New York to "document" the attacks. How about other reports of vans packed with tons of explosives intercepted on New York bridges?
12. How come two US employees of Odigo, an Israeli instant messaging company based in Herzliya, the headquarters of Mossad, received an SMS about an attack on the WTC two hours before the fact?
13. How come there was no investigation of ICTS International, owned by Ezra Harel and Menachem Atzmon, and crammed with former Israeli Shin Bet agents? This was the company responsible for airport security at Dulles, Logan and Newark airports on 9/11.
14. Why was there no full investigation of the circumstances related to how Larry Silverstein leased the WTC only seven weeks before 9/11 - as facilitated by New York Port Authority chairman Lewis Eisenberg? Silverstein over-insured the WTC against terrorism and made an astonishing profit.
15. Why were anthrax packages mailed to the only two US senators who voted against the Patriot Act?
16. Why did situation room director Deborah Loewer follow Bush to Florida on 9/11 - considering that's not part of her job description?
17. Where are the full tapes from the Pentagon's security cameras? The hole in the Pentagon may be the most glaring hole in the official narrative - as the destruction caused by a Boeing 757 was simply not compatible with the size of the hole. Why were no significant plane debris and remains of passengers ever found?
18. Why did the 9/11 Commission not consult reputed engineers and architects to show that in the real world, steel and concrete skyscrapers simply cannot dissolve into molten metal and fine powder in only 10 seconds after very localized and relatively low-temperature fires? Kerosene simply cannot melt steel.
19. Why did the 9/11 Commission not consult airline specialists who insist trainee pilots who had practiced on very light aircraft for a few weeks simply cannot land a jet on the ground floor of the Pentagon after allegedly slicing through half a dozen light poles and evading a series of trees, cars and overpasses?
20. How come no one investigated claims by the two co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, who wrote in the New York Times on January 2008 that the Central Intelligence Agency "failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot [and] obstructed our investigation?"
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
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