This much we know to be true…
Michael I. Niman
ArtVoice, December 20th, 2001
There’re a lot of e-rumors flying around the web these
days. One of the more disturbing
stories references a 1962 US government covert plan called “Operation
Northwoods,” which supposedly called for US government sponsored terrorist
attacks against Washington DC and Miami. The
attacks, which were to include bombing buildings and shooting citizens, as well
as a faked hijacking, would be blamed on Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba.
The ensuing outrage among Americans would provide the necessary backdrop
for an otherwise politically untenable full-scale invasion of Cuba. The plan was reported to be the brainchild of then Joint
Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer. Conspiracy
theorists are having a ball with this story.
The implications after September 11th are obvious and
unthinkable. But it’s just
another e-rumor. Right?
Here are the facts: Yes,
General Lemnitzer did cook up a plan, Operation Northwoods, to cause mayhem and
blame it on Cuba. Yes, a plane
would be hijacked and blown up. But
it would be empty, with a list of ersatz casualties being released.
The information on bombings was also vague.
There’s no evidence of a plan to cause civilian casualties, though
Lemnitzer’s plan proposed, “we could blow up a [US] ship in Guantanamo Bay
and blame Cuba.” He explained, “Casualty
lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
He also suggested sinking boats of Cuban refugees and blaming that too,
When I finally tracked down and read the truth, I was
actually relieved in the knowledge that no, our government never actually
planned to bomb Washington or Miami. I
turned off my computer and took a break from writing. But then it hit me. If
not for the initial buildup of fear and paranoia induced by the exaggerated
e-rumor, I’d have been shocked at learning that our government actually
planned to murder Cuban émigrés on the high seas, kill US Navy personnel, and
in effect, terrorize the entire country into submitting to a draconian political
agenda and supporting an otherwise unthinkable war.
This wasn’t the deranged plan of a lone lunatic.
It was approved by all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presented it to
the Kennedy administration on March 13th, 1962.
Kennedy killed the plan, but was later killed himself.
Lemnitzer resigned, but the Joint Chiefs continued their scheming,
cooking up plans to instigate a war between Cuba and another country, thus
justifying a Kuwait style war against Cuba.
Operation Northwoods remained a secret for nearly 40 years until James
Bamford, a former ABC News investigative reporter, unearthed it while
researching his second book, “Body of Secrets,” about the secretive National
Security Agency. Doubleday has
since published Bamford’s book. ABC
news briefly carried the story of Operation Northwoods back on May 1st
of this year. Hardly a fly-by-night
journalist, Bamford has been regularly published by The New York Times, The
Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.
His 1983 book about the NSA, “The Puzzle Palace,” was a national
bestseller. His expose of Operation
Northwoods is bulletproof – and in light of the September 11th
tragedy, quite alarming.
Bamford’s story is obscure and little known, having been
played down or ignored outright by the mass media. This is where the e-rumor comes into play.
It’s incredible. It exaggerates the real story just enough to destroy its
credibility, yet it travels fast and far. It’s
an info-virus. It’s
disinformation. It reeks of conspiracy theories. It’s not credible. And
hence, Bamford’s story, if and when we finally run into it, also is not
credible. Been there.
September 11th has unleashed a tidal wave of
patriotism, defined by Webster’s as zealously supporting the authority
and interests of one’s country. It’s
also unleashed a current of paranoia as Americans strive to understand what is
happening to us, our country, and the world.
Those who are looking for clues to keep up with, and possibly figure out,
the current political dynamics, are suddenly awash in both information and
disinformation. It’s time for
Journalists should be slaves to the truth, searching out
stories and presenting them to the public, letting the chips lie where they
fall. It’s the public’s
responsibility to then sort the stories out, making of them what they will.
In that light, here are a few facts and stories that proved to be true.
Make of them what you will.
The Latest Dope
According to a December 10th report by the
Federation of American Scientists (FAS), all of the anthrax mailed to both the
media and the offices of two Democratic US Senators originates from the US
bioweapons lab at Fort Detrick. This validates the mid-October reports in the
British press identifying the anthrax plaguing America’s mail as being from
the Ames strain used by the US military. That
report didn’t stop US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from speculating on
Nightline six weeks later that the Iraqis might be responsible for the
anthrax attacks. The FAS report,
however, clearly states that the Senate sample contains a special form of silica
used in the US process. It does not contain bentonite, which is used by the
Iraqis. The FBI now suspects that
the anthrax was sent by a lone male domestic terrorist, recently immunized
against anthrax, with both high tech lab (microbiology) and forensic experience.
All indications now point to a highly trained nazi wacko - Not al Qaeda
or Iraq. While Rumsfeld might have
capitalized on the anthrax generated hysteria, it is highly unlikely that this
is a Northwoods style operation since no covert agency would use an anthrax
strain with a genetic signature pointing back to an embarrassing US government
Before the first plane hit the World Trade Tower,
officially starting World War Three, US and British troops were already en route
to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman for war games, with the US heading to
Egypt and the British heading to Oman. The
British operation, named Swift Sword, encompassed, according to The Guardian,
24,000 troops and a quarter of the Army and RAF’s fighters and transport
airplanes. It was Britain’s
largest military mobilization since the Falklands War.
Part of that force was deployed to fight in the early phase of the Afghan
war. Likewise, American forces were
already deployed off of the coast of Pakistan, when the US pressured that
country to choose sides in the unfolding war. The Guardian reports
that US State Department officials in early July of this year informed their
Russian and Pakistani counterparts of possible plans to invade Afghanistan in
Investigative reporters and police detectives alike both
share the same mantra: follow the money. Anyone
with advance knowledge of any world event can parlay that knowledge into
profits. Such was the case with the
September 11th tragedy. In the days leading up to September 11th,
thousands of “put” options, a tool by which investors profit from a falling
stock price, were purchased on companies whose stocks tanked after September 11th.
Most prominent among these companies are American and United airlines,
whose hijacked planes hit the twin towers, and the investment firms of Morgan
Stanley and Merrill Lynch, whose offices were destroyed in the towers.
Between September 6th and 7th, investors purchased
4,744 “put” options in United Airlines at the Chicago Board Options
Exchange. At the same time, only
396 “call” options, where an investor bets on a stock price increasing, were
purchased. On September 10th,
investors bought 4,516 put options in American Airlines, verses 748 call
options. In the three days prior to
September 11th, investors bought 2,157 put options in Morgan Stanley,
a company who occupied 50 floors of office space at the World Trade Center. Volume during the previous week was a mere 27 put options per
day. Likewise, investors bought
another 12,215 put options for WTC tenant, Merrill Lynch. This is 12 times the normal volume for such options.
What is clear in this trading is the fact that people both
knew in advance, and profited from, the September 11th tragedy.
Currently our government is three months into a campaign of mass
detentions as they search for accomplices responsible for orchestrating the
September 11th attacks. The
campaign has produced scores of human rights violations, but few suspects.
Fully investigating these put option purchases, by contrast, has the
potential to unearth the networks behind these attacks.
Most embarrassing to the government, however, is the fact
that many of the mysterious put options were purchased through an investment
firm, which was formally headed by Buzzy Krongard, the current executive
director of the CIA. He’s not
currently involved with the company, nor is there any indication that he was
involved in the trading.
The Boston Globe reports that there’s booty in
them there Central Asian Hills. Conflicts
of interest too. US based Unocal Oil, notorious for their partnership with
Burma’s oppressive government, joined forces in 1995 with a Saudi Oil company
to build a pipeline from oil fields in Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and
Pakistan, to ports on the Arabian Sea. The
1996 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan didn’t slow the project down.
In 1998, the consortium agreed to pay the Taliban $100 million per year
for a pipeline right of way, but first they needed to convince the US government
to recognize the repressive Taliban regime.
Toward that end, The Globe reports, Unocal hired George W.
Bush’s father’s former Undersecretary of Defense Zalmay M. Khalilzad as a
lobbyist. Today, Khalilzad has
returned through the revolving door back into the employ the government, where
he serves on George W. Bush's National Security Council.
Khalilzad represents only the tip of the iceberg when it
comes to conflicts of interest involving Bush’s boys and the Saudi oil crowd.
George W’s father, the former president, is now on the payroll of the
Carlyle Group, an investment banking group with deep ties to both the Saudi
government and, according to the Wall Street Journal, the bin Laden
family construction company, headed by Osama’s brother.
Ex-Employer and the Saudis
The Carlyle Group itself is headed by Ronald Reagan’s
former Secretary of Defense, Frank C. Carlucci, who also served as National
Security Advisor and Deputy Director of the CIA.
Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, former budget chief Richard
Darman, and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt are
also now associated with the Carlyle Group, whose Saudi investments range from
companies training the Saudi military, to Central Asian oil exploration. While
many former top US government officials migrated to Carlyle, former Carlyle
associates have migrated into government work.
Prominent among them is President Bush (Junior) himself, who formally
served as a director of Caterair, a Carlyle subsidiary.
Since September 11th, the British press has made
much of the fact that Carlyle work took the senior Bush to Saudi Arabia to meet
with the bin Laden’s in November of 1998 and again in January of 2000.
While, the Bush family’s contacts with the bin Ladens has raised
eyebrows in the European media, the bin Laden family has been quick to point out
that it is not in contact with, nor does it support, Osama.
In an embarrassing twist for the Bushes, however, the FBI is currently
investigating the financial dealings of the bin Laden group in connection with
its terrorism investigation. FBI
attempts to probe bin Laden family businesses prior to September 11th
were, according to The Observer, a British newspaper that has been
investigating the bin Laden family story, thwarted by President Bush.
Many analysts see the September 11th attacks as
being directed not only against the US, but also against the Saudi regime.
Osama bin Laden and 16 of the 19 suspected hijackers hail from Saudi
Arabia. Their fight is against not
only the West, but also their own corrupt and decadent government and oligarchy
which is armed and protected by the US. In
this light, the many connections between the Saudi oligarchy and the Bush
administration serve to fuel anti-American sentiments among Saudi dissidents.
The bin Ladens are all over the political field in this war, with Osama
directing terrorism against US facilities, while the bin Laden construction
company is hired to build new US military facilities such as the barracks they
constructed after an Osama related truck bomb killed 19 US service men in
Dhahran in 1996.
Are you thoroughly confused yet? Let’s look at the case of the BDM Corporation, which trains
the Saudi Military. Carlyle
formally owned a controlling interest in BDM, which is now owned by TRW, on
whose board sits former CIA director Robert M. Gates and Michael H. Armacost,
President Reagan’s Undersecretary of State.
Vice President Dick Cheney comes to the White House from the Halliburton
oil services company, where he served as CEO.
Since September 11th, Halliburton received a $140 million
dollar contract to develop an oil field for the Saudi government run oil
company. Halliburton was also in
partnership with the bin Laden Group in building pipelines in Iran, Libya and
Alaska (see ArtVoice 11/8/01). Cheney
also sat on the Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board.
National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is a former director of
Chevron Oil, another American company with major ties to the Saudi regime.
Chevron named an oil tanker after Rice.
Rice now fronts for the Bush administration on Al Jazeera Television.
Other US connections to the Saudi oligarchy include Bush Senior’s
former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady who sits on the Board of Amerada Hess,
an American oil company teaming up with the Saudis to develop oil fields in
What We Need to
What I’ve outlined here are a few of the troubling
tidbits and personal connections upon which conspiracy theories grow like
dandelions on a suburban lawn. The
questions people have been raising are twofold: Just who was involved in the
attacks? And, who knew about the
attacks before they happened? There
are two levels of criminal activity conspiracy theorists are looking for here
– actual complicity in attacks, or inaction in the face of prior knowledge
about the attacks.
While the information available doesn’t demonstrate a
conspiracy, it clearly demonstrates a host of potentially unrelated conflicts of
interest. It also gives us insight
into the emergence of an international oil oligarchy that transcends national
boundaries. All of this is
As we struggle ahead in difficult political times, the Bush
administration needs to take steps to keep the country united.
This entails, not continuing to act in a political manner that makes
September 11th look like a conspiracy.
While environmental and global democracy groups as diverse as the Sierra
Club and the Ruckus Society have cancelled political actions in the wake of
September 11th, the Bush administration has pushed on in hyper drive
with its divisive agenda. They’ve
infuriated critics by claiming that their entire radical program, ranging from
corporate tax giveaways, fast track trade negotiating authority, and the
enhancement of the surveillance state, to raiding the social security trust fund
and weakening environmental laws, are all part of the “War on Terrorism.”
Rather than uniting the country, such opportunism casts suspicion on the
Bush administration and fertilizes conspiracy theories. In the interest of
America, Bush needs to stop turning our tragedy into his political goldmine.
September 11th will continue to be the biggest political story of our lives as the world continues to change in its aftermath. The only way to put rumors to rest as the world searches for answers, is to commission a UN sponsored international investigation of the September 11th attacks. The US is too involved both as a victim and as a party to the ongoing war, to credibly conduct this investigation. Likewise, our leaders are too crippled by conflicts of interest to have the credibility to continue such an investigation. Furthermore, the international nature of the supposed attackers mandates international cooperation in any investigation.
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