things for our national short term memory to forget

My comrades, the libertarians (to do a little Hitchensspeak) have rather loony ideas about the market -- but LI stands shoulder to shoulder with them about civil liberties. So it was heartening to read Reason’s Jeff Taylor take the axe to the massive lying about 9/11 – no, not the massive lying that 9/11 was really contrived by U.F.O. Zionists, but the massive lying that 9/11 couldn’t have been prevented, and that everything – every fucking thing – done since, the insane Patriot act, the Homeland Security department (an Escher nightmare inside a Piranesi torture chamber), of course the war on Iraq, has all been useless, unnecessary, a power play by the sleaziest and greediest, made possible by the dopiest and most gullible – the zombie legions still lifting the binoculars to spot all that good news from Iraq -- while the people and structures that bungled 9/11 have been allowed to grow fat and flourish in their little posts.

The national secret police and intelligence agencies are, as one would expect from bureaucracies encased in self-defined secrecy, among the incompetent wonders of the world. Even when the CIA succeeds, as they did in Iraq in 54, they fuck up. But mostly they skip the short term success phase and go right to the fuckup.

But the FBI, always jealous of the CIA, can proudly assert that, in the race for worst, most ill governed and misbegotten American bureaucracy ever, they are far ahead of all contenders, a unique agency in the annals of bumbling, supported by a long history of reaching out to racists, McCarthyites and the hardcore right in order to garner, year after year, the oh so precious and squanderable billions . This is an agency that expressly herded through a law, in the 30s, to make auto theft that crosses a state line a federal crime. Why? Because it happens that autos are well marked things, easy to track down. So whenever the FBI wants to inflate its quota of solved crimes, it just goes after a stolen auto. It did this for decades under Hoover.

Now, the FBI isn’t incompetent about all things. Spying on vegetarian restaurants in which some animal rights speaker is wolfing down the broccoli is something they are expert at. As long as the animal rights speaker doesn’t give em the slip – staying in the bathroom too long, for instance.

So, to pass from general disasters to particular ones: what we knew about 9/11 before Moussaoui’s trial was that the warning that a terrorist act was coming did not even provoke an incurious George into asking his Department of Transportation secretary about airport safety. There was, after all, brush to be cut in Crawford. We also know – via Douglas Farah’s reporting – that the knowledge that 9/11 was coming up had circulated among al Qaeda’s contacts in Liberia and Sierra Leone – since the A.Q. and Hizbollah have long had desultory dealings in blood diamonds. In other words, chatter was loud and widespread about the coming attack. What, according to Taylor, was revealed by Moussaoui’s trial, like an x ray showing a tumor, was just how the FBI manages crime prevention. Crime prevention is a bummer – either you respond too hard to some false alarm, or you respond too indifferently to some real crisis. The best thing for a bureaucrat to do, then, is bury any evidence. And so, like a child’s whispering game, the guys in D.C. heard something very different from the things heard by field agents.

One field agent, Harry Samit, who interviewed Moussaoui, was persistent:

“When defense lawyer Edward MacMahon cross-examined Rolince [Samit’s superior, a D.C. based FBI honcho] possibly the first and only time a government security official has been so challenged on 9/11, the disconnect between the official story and reality was plain. Rolince knew nothing of the August 18, 2001 memo Samit had sent to his office warning of terror links. In that memo, Samit warned that Moussaoui wanted to hijack a plane and had the weapons to do it. Samit also warned that Moussaoui "believes it is acceptable to kill civilians" and that he approved of martyrdom. Rolince testified he never read the memo.
On August 17 Samit sent an e-mail to his direct superiors at FBI headquarters recounting Moussaoui's training on 747 simulators. "His excuse is weak, he just wants to learn how to do it... That's pretty ominous and obviously suggests some sort of hijacking plan," Samit wrote.
Rebuffed by his superiors and ignored by Rolince, Samit still sought out more info worldwide and from sources as diverse as the FBI's London, Paris, and Oklahoma City offices, FBI headquarters files, the CIA's counterterrorism center, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, probably the National Security Agency, and the FBI's Iran and OBL offices.”

Ah, and then there is this nugget:
“Defense attorney MacMahon then displayed an August 30, 2001 communication addressed to Samit and FBI headquarters agent Mike Maltbie from a Bureau agent in Paris. It passed along that French intelligence thought Moussaoui was "very dangerous" and had soaked up radical views at London's infamous Finnsbury Park mosque. The French also said Moussaoui was "completely devoted" to bin Laden-style jihadism and, significantly, had traveled to Afghanistan.

Yet on August 31 Maltbie stopped Samit from sending a letter to FAA headquarters in Washington advising them of "a potential threat to security of commercial aircraft" based on the Moussaoui case. Maltbie said he would handle that, but it is not clear if he ever did.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want to wake up, would we. But America the somnambulist has responded by stripping out as many civil rights as we could, allowing an autistic president to proceed with an unnecessary, vanity project war, and putting in place a candy store for earmarking Repub pols called Homeland security. Bozo über alles, dudes.


Anonymous said…
Love your article but I got one thing to say.

I'm a libertarian and I'm autistic, high-functioning, headed for my college degree, have a job, and am a productive member of society. Please don't associate us with Bush. He just has a daddy complex.

BTW, The right autistic president would be phenomenal as long as his main focus is on the effects of policy on people's daily lives, and he has enough self-control to avoid the pitfalls of overobsessing over his job.