LXVI – The 9/11 Commission Sideshow

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What
would you like to know about the World Trade Center attacks? What
questions would you want to ask, and to whom would you direct them?
How did these atrocities relate to governmental policies, and is
it possible to find explanations for these events without inquiring
into the fundamental character of the state?

Anyone
desirous of understanding the nature of political systems must first
be willing to confront the collective mindset into which most of
us have been conditioned. Such a point of beginning might include
an appreciation for Thomas Pynchon's observation that "if they
can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry
about answers."

Such
an awareness ought to energize the minds of any analysis of the
current 9/11 Commission hearings, a spectacle reminiscent of the
Warren Commission exercise in the asking of wrong questions. I have
not watched all of the 9/11 hearings, but have seen enough media
reporting thereof to get a sense of their purpose and direction.
I have found them to be much like watching a bunch of carnival hucksters
testifying to a panel of used car salesmen on the ethics of salesmanship!

Like
the Warren Commission, the members of the 9/11 panel have been drawn
from the ranks of politically safe people (i.e., men and women who
have been a part of, or otherwise supportive of, the political establishment).
The politicians and lapdog media continue to speak of the "bipartisan"
nature of this commission. But "bipartisanship" is an
open admission of the one-party nature of the American political
system, extolling the virtue of total agreement as to policies central
to establishment interests. In reality, we have one "Establishment"
party, that bamboozles the public with the illusions of choice in
being able to select from either of its two franchised sub-parties.

A
bipartisan commission, in other words, is one in which its members
can be counted upon to raise no fundamental questions that might
prove embarrassing to the ruling political establishment. Like the
major media, the 9/11 Commission contains no voices that might utter
a discouraging word, or reveal the nakedness of the emperor. A panel
that might include political analysts such as Noam Chomsky, Bob
Higgs, Gore Vidal, Lew Rockwell, or Alexander Cockburn, would be
guaranteed to produce the kinds of interesting questions
that foster greater understanding than do predictable answers.

Like
the Warren Commission, this panel was designed more to pacify the
public than to generate a clear sense of what brought about the
deadly events of 9/11. Witnesses, commentators, and retired intelligence
officials began humming the soothing mantra that tranquilizes minds
in a politically-engineered society: "we will find out what
went wrong and fix it, so that this will not happen again."

It
is for the purpose of reconfirming popular faith in the political
mindset that the 9/11 Commission was created. Most people may be
hopelessly unsuspecting of state purposes, but the vivid, televised
coverage of the WTC attacks made even the most gullible aware of
major flaws in the myths that sustain political systems. By holding
hearings and making findings of fact, the commission will shore
up any latent doubts regarding the state's managerial capacities.
The 9/11 hearings could as easily have been named the 7/11 hearings:
an enterprise created for the purpose of satisfying the appetites
of people seeking round-the-clock consumption of statist nostrums!

In
virtual lockstep cadence, witness after witness testified to the
shortcomings of an intelligence system as the explanation for the
attacks on the World Trade Center. Based upon what has thus far
transpired, it is easy to predict the content of the final report
to be issued by this commission in coming months: the FBI, CIA,
and other government agencies didn't have enough surveillance
powers or money to do their jobs, and only an expansion
of such authority and resources can "protect" Americans
from future attacks. This is the same offertory hymn with which
the government schools and police systems have been able to convert
their increased failures into demands for more money and authority
from the public.

At
the same time, however, these hearings have unwittingly confirmed
what the events of 9/11 clearly demonstrated: governments are unable
to protect people from persons bent on causing harm. When nineteen
men, armed only with box-cutter knives, can precipitate what has
transpired in these past thirty-one months; and when suicide bombers
can wreak the devastation they have, it should be evident that the
capacity to conduct wars has become thoroughly decentralized. In
much the same way that viruses and bacteria mutate in response to
ever-more-powerful vaccines and antibiotics and, in the process,
become even deadlier threats to our existence, we must understand
how state power generates destructive reactions. There is a social
application of the third law of motion assuring that for every action
there is an equal and opposing reaction. Hubris — nowhere more evident
than in politics – often prevents us from comprehending such unintended
consequences, helping to produce the wars, conflicts, and economic
dislocations in which the world is embroiled.

Most
people are uncomfortable questioning the competency of state systems,
or the motivations underlying governmental policies and programs.
Most prefer to believe that government officials are well-intended
innocents who are often beset by evildoers; that some men or women
are better able than others to address such problems; that the system
suffers only from failures of leadership; and that the democratic
process is the most efficacious way of securing such leadership.
We may tinker with, or "fine-tune" the machinery of the
state, but dare not think of doing without it. Questions that go
beyond this point are simply too troubling for minds that have been
conditioned to collective thinking.

But
there are far more basic questions that need to be asked beyond
whether Condoleezza Rice might have failed to properly advise Mr.
Bush, or whether CIA/FBI rivalries might have impeded the flow of
important information. One far more important question to ask is
this: who planned and carried out the WTC attacks? The Bush administration
quickly identified Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network as the
culprits, an accusation that bin Laden was reported initially by
one news network to have denied. I am not suggesting that the al
Qaeda group was not responsible. Bin Laden and his crowd may well
be the perpetrators. I have no more factual background on these
events than have been reported in the media, including the Internet.
But given the numerous lies put forth by the Bush administration
to rationalize its war against Iraq, explanations ought not be accepted
by executive fiat. It is essential to the future of this society
that more far-reaching questions be explored than just the restricted
ones taken up by the 9/11 Commission.

A
commission that was sincere in its avowed purposes ought to have
considered the possibilities of other parties — whether foreign
or domestic — being involved in this attack. It might also have
inquired into the role played by American military policies in creating
anger and frustration among foreign peoples who resent attacks and
other interventions within their nations. When such resentment reaches
a level that scores of men and women are moved to make suicide attacks
upon their perceived foe, intelligent minds would be well advised
to transcend Mr. Bush's simple-minded analysis of such people as
"evildoers."

The
real inquiry regarding these horrific events, however, remains to
be conducted by the rest of us. As the bloody and repressive history
of the 20th century segues into the 21st,
it is time for humanity itself to ask whether political systems
have become outmoded relics to be added to history's trash pile.
Levels of state power now exceed our capacities to absorb the resulting
conflicts, destructiveness, and oppression and still retain our
sense of humanity. The very existence of mankind demands that we
discover new principles and systems by which we can peaceably live
and cooperate with one another. It is time for us to renounce the
self-appointed "authorities" who represent no one but
their own interests, and to reclaim for our individual lives the
power and authority that nature has bestowed upon each of us.

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