The Hidden History of 9-11-2001

Paul Zarembka, ed.

The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006).

Scholars from Canada, the UK, and the US, in a four-part collection of essays, pose serious questions of economics and politics concerning the US government’s official account of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Crucially, the four suicide aircraft missions that day thrust President George W. Bush into leadership of the US “war on terror” and into the subsequent illegal US invasion of Iraq. His administration’s spurious claim that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 terrorists had the backing of US corporate editors and reporters. This nexus illustrates the institutional role of the US press as a voice of the executive and legislative branches of corporate-state power and wealth. Its radical critics, such as the contributors to the present volume, argue that this class tries to engineer public opinion to win consent for wars of aggression abroad. The twofold purpose is to accumulate capital and the political power it controls.

An essay by Jay Kolar analyzes the identities of the 19 accused hijackers. To this end, Kolar turns to materials from the FBI and the CIA, both shared with and withheld from the American public. Kolar writes: “Four years later, after at least ten named on the FBI’s final list of 19 have been verified to be alive, with proof that at least one other, Ziad Jarrah, had his identity doubled and therefore fabricated, the FBI has nevertheless refused to make necessary corrections to exonerate those falsely accused.” In addition, an airport security checkpoint screening video of hijackers preparing to board Fight 77 (at Washington, DC’s Dulles Airport) lacked a camera number, date, and ongoing digital clock. Yet the FBI submitted the videotape successfully to the 9/11 Commission as evidence. Crucially, manifests for all of the flights that day have yet to be made public.

Paul Zarembka, the volume’s editor and an economics professor, examines activity on the US stock market for September 11, 2001. What he finds, citing a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Business, suggests that traders with advance knowledge of 9/11 likely did bet on the prices of airline stocks to fall. The unusually large volume of stock-market activity for a parent company of a carrier involved in two of the hijacked flights had “only one percent probability of occurring simply randomly,” Zarembka writes. In addition, he notes a report in the financial press concerning five financial and insurance firms whose daily average volume of similar stock-market activity increased from 12 to 45 times between Sept. 5 and Sept. 10.

Theologian David Ray Griffin uses 500 recorded observations from the New York Fire Department’s 9/11 oral histories as counter-factual evidence to the mainstream account of the twin towers’ collapse. The eyewitness accounts of various firefighters, paramedics and police officers on duty during those fateful hours are by no means the final words on that chaotic day. However, these first-hand impressions are compelling nonetheless, for they buttress the hypothesis that the total pulverization of the high-rise steel-frame structures could not have been caused exclusively by flames from the aircraft but instead depended crucially – like the collapse of nearby Building 7, which was not struck by a plane – on controlled demolition. This assertion is perhaps the most contentious of the dissident explanations of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

The bipartisan US political narrative that Islamic jihadists attacked America on 9/11 has largely sidestepped Don Jacobs’ probe into the little-known facts surrounding simultaneous nearby US military drills. The implications of their coincidence or concurrence are weighty when put in the context of US history. One example, not made public until 35 years later, is the Department of Defense’s Operation Northwoods of 1962, which involved staging a terror attack on US soil as a pretext for aggression against Cuba. Such declassified operations lend credibility to Jacobs’ detective work, suggesting at a minimum that simultaneous war maneuvers on 9/11 should not be summarily dismissed as unfounded “conspiracy theory.”

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed argues intriguingly that US training of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan did not end with the collapse of the Soviet Union. He delves into Washington’s post-Cold War military training of al-Qaeda members involved in 9/11 to support his claim that they continue to constitute a mercenary force at the disposal of American statecraft. The implications of al-Qaeda as a covert creation of Western intelligence agencies to destabilize Third World states are ignored in the official story of the US War on Terror.

David MacGregor’s historical taxonomy of state terrorism against home populations undercuts the view that the 9/11 attacks were a Third World revolt against US imperialism. He argues persuasively that the desire of the progressive “alternative” media for credibility has led it to ignore significant parallels between the state’s role in the investigation of those attacks and its earlier clandestine role in “neutralizing” radical domestic opposition – including even so respected a leader as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. For MacGregor, the operative term of analysis is “Machiavellian state terror,” which “advances the ruling agenda” under the guise of “reasons different from the publicized ones.”

Bryan Sacks argues that the 9/11 Commission’s concealment of information can be attributed to its structural links with the Bush I and Bush II White Houses. Sacks claims plausibly, for instance, that subpoenas for presidential daily briefings on al-Qaeda before 9/11 should have been—but were not—introduced as evidence in the official investigation of the September 11 attacks. The procedural dependence of the 9/11 Commission upon the George W. Bush administration and the US congressional-industrial-military complex is vital to maintaining support for the War on Terror, which has no apparent end.

Diana Ralph’s chapter on “Islamophobia” shows clearly how anti-Muslim bigotry has facilitated US torture of prisoners of war. However, her argument would have been strengthened by a deeper probe of how US capitalism, or the system of chattel- and wage-labor, produces and reproduces the “peculiar institution” of white-skin privilege in the populace. Wars internal to the US, such as the Drug War that began in the 1980s, have had a strong racial component, resulting in a huge, disproportionately black and Latino prison population. This trend foreshadowed the Bush administration’s creation of “enemy combatants,” mainly nonwhite Muslims, who have not been charged with a crime nor given a trial date, and apparently, are to be held as long as the War on Terror continues. Jamie Morgan’s essay considers capital’s attack on the British system of public pensions. Although not directly tied to the US-led War on Terror, this attack suggests a common ruling-class domestic agenda of rolling back welfare legislation, as was done after the Sept. 11, 1973 US-backed coup in Chile, which paved the way for privatization of that country’s pensions. The failure of the Bush administration’s attempts to privatize social security is a victory of Main St. against Wall St. This resistance is notable for having occurred during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as foreign conflicts are not known for strengthening grassroots mobilization to protect welfare-state policies.

Overall, the collection raises at least as many questions as it attempts to answer. No single question or attempted answer stands out above the others. I take the points of the essays holistically. Together, they can enhance the intellectual powers of the American public, using open source material, to undercut the received wisdom of politicians and pundits for planetary war in perpetuity against the evildoers behind the Sept. 11 attacks. To this end, the writers offer important insights to both researchers and general readers. As US democracy tries to recover from the erosion of civil liberties and from unchecked aggression abroad, citizens need a more complete understanding of how the current process was set in motion.

Reviewed by Seth Sandronsky
Sacramento, California
ssandronsky@yahoo.com

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