So they ‘surveilled’ financial institutions? – You don’t say
On July 29, the Democrats wound up their national convention and awaited the anticipated ‘bounce’ in the week’s opinion polls. On August 2, the administration announced, with maximum fanfare, that U.S. financial institutions and locales in New York and Washington were under surveillance by terrorists.
Some thoughts here:
(1) My own call on this one is that it demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bush White House uses terror alerts as bludgeons in domestic politics, especially since–as it turns out–some of the purported information on terrorism was three years old. It seems to have worked, too, at least for the capital’s pundits: the following Sunday, Chris Matthews’ weekly opinion-experts’ panel voted that Bush had ‘won’ the week, and administration media shills including Charles Krauthammer gleefully proclaimed that Kerry had gotten no bounce.
(2) Unfortunately, along with the older information, the flamboyant items also involved some sensitive information. The news released by the administration compromised a (rare) actual investigation by disclosing the name of an undercover intelligence asset, and was followed by an equally abrupt round-up of several suspects, with more risk and less stealth than law enforcement personnel would have preferred. To call the media release cavalier would be charitable.
(3) The release was also timed fortuitously in another way: old though some of the information was, it came just that little bit too late for the suspects and other witnesses to be interviewed by the 9/11 Commission or by congressional investigators. Two of the suspects were relatives of alleged 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohamed. Why weren’t they pulled in shortly after KSM’s capture, if not before?
(4) Anyone privileged to read about the CIA’s role in supporting the Taliban, through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has to be aware of Pakistan’s support for terrorism. Much terrorist funding came (and still comes) from Saudi Arabia, more than ever now after the invasion of Iraq. But mujahideen training, schooling, transportation and logistics have come extensively from Pakistan, as the administration knows: the Osama bin Laden-ISI-Taliban triangle is an old story. Presumably, the CIA and ISI could have pulled in the usual suspects earlier than summer 2003.
(5) One last, sad story. Among the genuine 9/11 investigations short-changed and/or outright impeded by the administration are scientific investigations of the sites. The National Science Foundation gave several special awards immediately after September 11, 2001, for expert investigation including a study of the World Trade Center debris by a much-credentialed engineering professor at Berkeley. The result? –Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki had the debris hauled away immediately and destroyed; the authorities involved never gave the engineering researchers the videos, blueprints and other primary material requested; and wild conspiracy theories of ‘controlled demolition’ are floating around three years later, even though hundreds of people saw the planes hitting the towers.
Professor Astaneh’s own suggestion about the skyjackers is that they did not know the buildings would implode but intended the towers to topple onto the Stock Exchange, causing thousands more deaths and crippling the much-hated US financial sector. It’s only a guess–as he points out, “there are not enough data for a hypothesis”–but it sounds like a good guess.
The item that purported assailants had financial institutions under surveillance sounds valid. Three years ago, however, we were all barraged through corporate media outlets about an “attack on America.” An attack on Wall Street and the Pentagon is still an attack on America, but it’s too bad the networks’ thrust had to be so aggressive on this point; I think the American people could have been trusted to draw the right conclusions on their own. Surely, given all the deaths and injuries, the grief and heroism, we could safely have been allowed to hear that the hijackers thought they were dealing a crippling blow to US military and financial centers. Couldn’t we?
But only now, safely after wars have been launched against pitiful Afghanistan and starved-and-strangled Iraq, are we allowed to hear widely that the assailants had financial institutions in their sights.