Three Things I (Think I) Know About 9/11

Of the many, many things there are to know about 9/11, here are three that I hang on to.  Other suggestions are welcome.  What is not fact about 9/11 is voluminous: the Jews did it, the government did it, they hate our freedoms, etc., etc.  But here are three (proposed) facts:

(1) The horror could have been prevented.  Every indication is that the government knew about Muslim men being trained to fly planes.  It is common knowledge (as a college student repeated to me even today) that the Muslims weren’t interested in learning how to land.  The government’s own 9/11 report notes that the Bush administration was so focused on making war in Iraq that no news of bin Laden’s threat was going to be taken seriously, especially since he didn’t say when and where.  He was always threatening  us.

Oh, that’s SUCH a load of bullshit.

I don’t buy the “hindsight is 20/20″ argument.  We are paying our intelligence community for FOREsight.  We are paying them to know when and where.  How could something this big have gone down unnoticed?  It was the same group that totally misjudged the strength of the USSR.  When our intelligence community blows it, they blow it big.

I do not trust the government to fulfill its most basic function, which is to protect the country.  The FBI was indeed aware of the early planning stages of the attacks.  It was a massive, unconscionable failure. Here's more evidence: .

(2) Once again the awful destructive power of religion is on display. The main reason Osama staged 9/11 was to get the US off sacred Saudi soil.  That’s right; 3,000 people died because of their stupid fucking sacred soil.  That’s really what it was about.  A few years later, while making expensive and bloody war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we quietly withdrew from Saudi Arabia, which no doubt made Osama happy.

(3) This is not a matter of a great, wonderful religion, with a small group of bad guys.  Muslims are involved in many armed conflicts around the world.  I gag when I read about how a small group of fanatics has “hijacked” Islam, which is truly a religion of peace.  Well, they’re reading from the same crazy holy book!  It is or it is not a religion of peace, depending on what you decide to make of this ridiculous, self-contradictory, mess of a holy text.  And to think people waste their lives memorizing it.

Why care about these medieval ravings?  Why do people let dead barbarians tell them how to behave?  Peace is better than war.  Killing is not better than not killing.  How basic do we have to get?

I also gag when I read about how moderate Muslims are trying to build bridges to their fellow Americans, to show how peaceloving they are.  Well, great.  People should make peaceful gestures to each other.  But the reason non-Muslims feel threatened is that they know that the Muslims, however nice they are, are reading from the same holy book, which can be taken to mean befriend the infidel or attack the infidel.  Non-Muslims don’t know which.

It’s just a bunch of crazy, medieval scribblings that should have nothing to do with modern life.  And yet we have ongoing sectarian Muslim violence ON EACH OTHER because of differences in opinion about what happened hundreds of years ago.  It is truly insane.

So those are the few underpinning facts that I cling to in the maelstrom of information and disinformation about 9/11.  Readers are welcome to correct me or to add their own.  I seek only the truth.

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Comment by James Kz on September 12, 2012 at 2:57pm

I left something out, hence the double comment.

You ask for evidence to refute the proposition that "Bush and Co. ignored warnings" about bin Laden, in other words, you want someone to refute a negative position. In fact, if you advance the proposition, you are making a claim about the events of that day. Such a claim must be supported by evidence, in other words, you have to provide it.

The onus is not on others to prove the proposition wrong. The claimant must provide the proof, otherwise it is just an unsupported claim. That comes directly from the toolbox of religion and conspiracy theory.

The claim that they ignored warnings is a truth claim. Claims require evidence, the same argument we might use against religion. We are not required that God does not exist.

Comment by James Kz on September 12, 2012 at 2:50pm

Well, see, that's the thing about intelligence (after reading the report on an non-government Website you provided). Every time something is detected, and countered, it is a victory that will likely go unreported in the press. (You don't tell your enemies that you were successful in foiling a plot.)

Only one needs to get through.

Foil ten plots, a hundred plots, a thousand plots, and all is good. Miss even one (asking for perfection in forecasting what political extremists might try) and it is a failure. No.

You are still left with the issue of a handful of analysts sorting through supertanker loads of data trying to correlate a probable plot amongst innumerable potential ones. Humans are not perfect.

And the statement in the document that the government still considered bin Laden a threat is meaningless. That does not mean we had specific intelligence that he was going to mount an attack on the WTC and Washington, or how he was going to do it, or when he was going to do it, for what purpose, &c. It is an empty statement.

(Something like Christians use when trying to explain in hindsight how we came to be: duh, God did it.)

Knowing bin Laden was up to something, and trying to figure out what it was are two different things. The attacks on his compound in Sudan, even though they failed, were a success of intelligence. They were even a military success. He had help from the Sudanese government. He also had help from the Afghan government (the Taliban at the time).

We are not just dealing with one very rich and crazy Saudi. We were also dealing with State actors aiding and abetting him.

Comment by Alan Perlman on September 12, 2012 at 10:52am

I was going to respond (and thanks for the elucidation of the intelligence process) but Loren said it all. 

I would add that numerous terrorist plots have been uncovered and stymied since 9/11, which proves that the intelligence folks and law enforcement authorities CAN do their job.   But they must work together, share info, and stay focused on the real dangers.  With 9/11, none of that happened. 

I still await evidence to refute the proposition that Bush & Co. ignored bin Laden's warnings beceuse they were so obsessed with Saddam Hussein.

I am very cynical of alleged govt. "conspiracies" for the reasons James cites.  9/11 was simply a case of mass incompetence.

Comment by Loren Miller on September 12, 2012 at 7:31am

The thing is, it DIDN'T go down unnoticed, James.  The most damning evidence was a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), issued 6 August, 2001, entitled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In US."  There were others, including reports indicating that Saudi nationals were taking flight lessons in the US.  Ummm, they don't teach people to fly planes in Riyadh?

Especially after the bomb incident at the WTC in 1993, any of these reports should have directed more attention at these and other actions.  It didn't, either because Dubya blew the reports off or the intelligence community did or some variant thereon.

And 9/11 happened right on schedule.

Comment by James Kz on September 12, 2012 at 7:18am

On item 1) I don’t buy the “hindsight is 20/20″ argument.  We are paying our intelligence community for FOREsight.  We are paying them to know when and where.  How could something this big have gone down unnoticed?  It was the same group that totally misjudged the strength of the USSR.  When our intelligence community blows it, they blow it big.

The argument from conspiracy. That such a big operation could not have been concealed from the intelligence community, like, I don't know, say, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, the US Civil War, the American Revolution from the British, Hurricane Katrina's extensive damage to New Orleans, &c.

As you point out, the intelligence community is paid to have foresight (that is, prophecy backed with evidence). Perhaps you are unfamiliar with how intelligence gathering actually works.

Millions of pieces of unrelated data are gathered and analysed by intelligence agents, who may or may not attach significance to a particular datum. Then after everything falls in place that the intelligence community missed, the cries of "They had all the data! They should have know" surface.

Intelligence is meant to inform politicians and military leaders, not dictate political policy or particular responses. We were quite aware of Bin Laden and his propensity toward violence against the USA (Nairobi embassy bombing, Dar-es-Salaam embassy bombing, World Trade Center car bombing, &c). It is one thing to collect tens of millions of pieces of data and collate them into a plot (versus a conspiracy theory, a potential plot, an unlikely plot, an iteration of another plot, and respond to all of them), and actually formulate a response.

The idea that an intelligence agency could "respond" to "all potential plots" leads to things like a police state, and even the Nazis in WW2 could not stop partisan plots against their occupations and regime, despite having one of the most fearsome secret police forces on the planet. East Germany later could not prevent the digging of a tunnel under the most heavily armed border in the world.

Comment by Alan Perlman on September 11, 2012 at 3:12pm

To Viking...I love Maher's Western Civ rant: "Equal rights for women and minorities - BETTER!  Rule of law - BETTER!" Etc.

To Justin: Interesting perspective.  I'm atheist and anti-theist.  Religion is one of the world's great evils -- and dangers.  Muslims are so retarded, civilization-wise, that they cannot settle sectarian differences without violence. 

Comment by Justin Murray on September 10, 2012 at 11:40pm



A few qualifiers:

1. I am not from the USA;

2. I am atheist, not necessarily anti-theist.


That said, unfortunately religions (all of them) are not going away anytime soon. So building bridges is between them is not that bad an idea. Equally people in Iraq could say that they are not sure whether the Western infiltration* into their country is befriend the infidel or attack the infidel.


*My country was part of that infiltration.



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