In the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we must consider that American political, intelligence, and financial personnel may have had sufficient knowledge of terrorist cells in the U.S. to require them to develop immediate safeguards of American lives. Evidence is now surfacing that indicates that there was prior knowledge of the likelihood of attacks on American soil.
In a September 12, 2001 CounterPunch article, "Sense and Nonsense About September 11," Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair indicated that CounterPunch had learned from two sources that:
"As regards the heightened security at the Trade Center, we are told that according to a businessman working in World Trade Building number 7 (the 41-story structure that collapsed after having been evacuated) "security was heightened three weeks ago, including the introduction for the first time of sniffer dogs and the physical search of all trucks prior to their being waved into the entrance from the street.
"The US army base in New Jersey is the Arsenal at Picatinny. Our informant says that at the start of July the Arsenal was placed at a very high state of alert, with some staff locked in their offices for a period."
A New York Times article on September 16, 2001 by David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis indicated that "two of the men believed to have hijacked the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on Tuesday were known to the authorities as associates of Osama bin Laden and had been sought in the United States since August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement and intelligence officials said today."
A week before the terrorist attack, a Washington Post article by Bob Woodward and Vernon Loeb reported: "The CIA has been authorized since 1998 to use covert means to disrupt and preempt terrorist operations planned abroad by Saudi extremist Osama bin Laden under a directive signed by President Bill Clinton and reaffirmed by President Bush this year, according to government sources."
U.S. intelligence operations must have kept Bin Laden's operation under constant surveillance, so if Bin Laden was responsible for this most recent attack, it represents nothing less than a startling failure of U.S. intelligence--which now will get billions to continue its ineptness.
In May of 2001, U.S. drug enforcement officials visited Afghanistan to celebrate the Taliban regime's success in limiting opium production. The New York Times headline blared: "Taliban's Ban on Poppy a Success, U.S. Aides Say."
On May 17, 2001, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell announced a $43-million grant to Afghanistan in additional emergency aid to Afghan farmers who had stopped planting poppies and to cope with the effects of a prolonged drought. Powell issued a statement that the U.S. would "continue to look for ways to provide more assistance to the Afghans."
All this aid would have sent a strong signal to the Taliban that its support of Bin Laden was somehow acceptable. It would also have allowed U.S. intelligence operatives access to Afghanistan and to Bin Laden.
The strange case of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hamzi
The amount of intelligence on these two terrorists is so extensive that it's difficult to credit the official line that the intelligence agencies were caught napping.
"Cockpit incursions," to use the industry term, were hardly unknown in civil aviation even before this month's hijackings. At least five times in the last two years, passengers bent on mayhem were able to burst into an aircraft's cockpit on a commercial flight. In several cases, the intruder's goal was to attack a crew member, and in some cases, control of the plane was compromised."
September 23, 2001, Los Angeles Times report:
"How Did Hijackers Get Past Airport Security?"
In a September 23, 2001, commentary in the Los Angeles Times, "With No Lobby, the People Are Unheard," Arianna Huffington makes an even stronger case for deadly prior knowledge.
"As we continue to dig, literally and figuratively, through the rubble left by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, it is becoming shockingly clear just how much the powers-that-be knew about our country's vulnerability--and how little they did to ensure our safety.
"Less than three months ago, Osama bin Laden released a recruitment video in which he vowed: "It's time to penetrate America and Israel and hit them where it hurts most." That warning was enough to cause the Pentagon to place U.S. forces on heightened alert but apparently not enough to get our leaders to plug the massive holes in U.S. airport security.
"'We all knew this was going to happen,' says former Federal Aviation Administration special agent Steve Elson. 'The Congress knew the whole government structure knew.' They also knew about the dangerously degraded state of our intelligence-gathering capabilities--particularly our inability to infiltrate terrorist organizations. What are we to make of the FBI's sudden 'Help Wanted' ad, looking for people with a 'professional level in Arabic and Farsi'? Did it really just dawn on the agency that having undercover operatives who speak the terrorists' language might prove helpful?
"Why didn't our leaders react? Could it be because the public interest didn't have lobbyists offering cash incentives to Congress and the White House to protect the people? "If counter-terrorism had been an industry doling out large contributions to politicians and hiring powerful Washington lobbyists, our political leaders would have leaped into action--pushing through legislation to ensure our airports were secure and our intelligence operations actually collecting intelligence.
"The terrorists' attacks not only exposed how vulnerable our airports are but how vulnerable our system of government is when policy priorities are determined not in response to the public interest but in response to the best-funded interest groups."
On September 19, 2001, American and European law enforcement officials said that they were examining whether or not any associates of Osama bin Laden may have tried to profit from the attacks by trading in put options or short-selling particular stocks (betting that a stock price will decline), like reinsurance companies or airlines. German officials had contacted American securities regulators indicating that they were examining short-sales in three large European reinsurance companies whose stock plummeted inexplicably before the attacks.
Neither American nor German securities regulators have any hard evidence of insider trading but both have concluded that there should be a review of any significant and suspicious options trading or short-selling.
Now something even more suspicious has occurred. The Chicago Board Options Exchange, the world's biggest options market, joined a widening probe as to whether or not terrorists may have profited from bearish trades in airline, insurance and brokerage stocks prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange said that they were investigating an unusually high volume of sales of "put" options on stocks such as UAL Corp. and AMR Corp., parent companies of United Airlines and American Airlines, in the days before their jets were used to destroy the World Trade Center and severely damage the Pentagon.
On September 19, 2001, SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt said the agency's enforcement division "has been looking into a variety of market actions that could be linked to these terrible acts."
In a letter dated September 16, 2001, New York Rep. John J. LaFalce, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Financial Services, urged Pitt to ask Congress "for any additional powers or resources you may require" to get to the bottom of the matter.
"To the extent that individuals or entities may have manipulated the broader markets or have successfully devised schemes to profit from acts of terror, the SEC must use all its resources to find those responsible," the letter said.
Even as early as the September 7-10, 2001, weekend, reports of suspicious trading activity began circulating in Europe, having to do with three big reinsurance firms--Munich Reinsurance, Swiss Reinsurance and AXA. Such reinsurers sell backup insurance to protect major insurers from big losses.
In a report September 18, 2001, Bloomberg News said that three trading days before the attack the volume of put option contracts sold for UAL (parent company of United Airlines) was 285 times higher than average. The day before the two American Airlines jets were hijacked and used in a terrorist attack, the number of option contracts for AMR was 60 times the daily average.
Trading in put options for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., which occupied 22 floors of one of the trade center towers, was 25 times the usual volume, Bloomberg reported.
These suspicious market moves will probably be covered up as the result of the economic slump which had been accelerating in September, the already decreasing price in airline industry stock, and the fact that brokerage stocks always fall when the market is down.
John C. Coffee, a Columbia University law professor opined that "if, indeed, terrorist groups were involved in market manipulation, it would mean they are trying to finance a campaign of terror against Western capitalism by using its very core institutions--the markets."
America's crying need at this hour is for a dedicated group of American legislative leaders who will actually carry through with a no-nonsense inquiry into the implications of the Bush administration's prior knowledge of the likelihood of terrorist attacks.
McKinney: The father [George Bush Senior] sits on the board of an organization called the Carlyle Group. Now when we had Frank Carlucci come to testify at the House International Relations Committee shortly after George W was sworn in.
Bernstein: former Defense Secretary
McKinney: former Defense Secretary -- and we have a requirement that organizations that come before our committee, the House International Relations Committee, have to disclose Federal contracts. And so I requested of our chairman, Chairman Hyde, whether or not the Carlyle Group would be subjected to that requirement, since everyone else has to do it. And of course the Carlyle Group was not required to make any disclosure as to the Federal contracts that it had. That in itself means that they are skirting the rules of the House. Notwithstanding that, the fact that the father sits on the board of the Carlyle Group, which is one of the highest level defense contractors in the country. I think they're number 11 or 12 in defense contracts.
Article updated: 5/19/02 ----- Original article: 9/23/01
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