Friday, June 16, 2006


Saudis, Pakistanis, Israelis, and Neocons:
Stacking The Patsies of 9/11   
by Chaim Kupferberg

The following are selected excerpts plus new material. The excerpts are taken from Truth, Lies, and The Legend of 9/11, which may be found at
In perhaps the most controversial segment of his landmark article, Chaim Kupferberg argues that, in addition to the "Official" 9/11 Legend, a number of counter-legends were built in so as to generate false leads and to take the emphasis away from the most likely instigators.  Plus:  An all-new section on former CIA agent Robert Baer and Daniel Pearl.
The events of September 11 gave birth to three parallel threads - or counter-legends - pointing the way to the culpability of three possible foreign suspects, or patsies - namely, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Israel.  Of the three, the Saudis were the patsies of choice for the mainstream "critics", who were a motley assortment of neo-cons, FBI investigators, or "retired" national security types opposed to the war in Iraq.  The Pakistan/ISI thread to 9/11 flared up most noticeably in the events surrounding the death of Daniel Pearl and the alleged involvement of Omar Saeed Sheikh - events which were used, in fact, to smother the Pakistani/ISI connection to the 9/11 money trail.  As regards Israel, the most radical opponents of the War On Terror were nursed on the twin threads of an Israeli spy ring and a neo-con cabal supposedly at the helm of the Bush Administration.  

It was not by accident that these three countries were chosen to play the role of second-tier patsies - for each of them contained insular cliques of operatives which had played seminal roles in the covert arms and drug trade - in cahoots with their more senior Anglo-American handlers - throughout the Reagan-Bush years.  Moreover, these countries would make useful patsies for the very reason that they were essentially outside the "established" - i.e. Euro-American - ring of nations.  In other words, if insular cliques of criminal operatives were to be ferreted out of Germany, France, or Italy, no one would think to brand these nations wholesale with the mark of Cain.  The same could not be said of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Israel, whose very security - physical, political, and economic - would be staked to the publicized activities of their own respective political/criminal cliques.  

Moreover, much of the political and corporate elites within these countries were integrally networked with their American counterparts - indeed, largely subservient to them - to such a degree that they would also serve as useful proxies in building their own counter-legends under Anglo-Euro-American supervision.  In the early stages of  the 9/11 Legend, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were employed as the central bases for building up a terrorist home front within the borders of Afghanistan.  As for Israel - despite its aforementioned spy ring and its supposedly allied neo-con "cabal" - its most direct and public contribution to the 9/11 Legend in fact occurred after 9/11, with the November 2002 coordinated attack on an Israeli-owned hotel and airliner in Kenya - an attack for which Israeli investigators now marshaled evidence as proof of Osama bin Laden's opening shot against the State of Israel (which was more likely Israel's "buy-in" in return for a promised attack on the Saddam Hussein regime).

Thus, evidence could be amassed to cast aspersions on the activities of each of these three countries, depending on the intended audience.  On another level, political elites within these countries could be assured that any aspersions would be relegated to insular "rogue" cliques.  In the case of Saudi Arabia, a few princes of the Saudi royal family were thus eliminated within days of one another in 2002.  In the case of Pakistan, "rogue" elements within the ISI were publicly purged in the months after 9/11.  Yet in the case of Israel, its apparent "buy-in" through the 2002 Kenya attack served to strengthen, rather than weaken, the thread connecting Israel as a possible 9/11 culprit.  If, in the context of this article, this would appear to be a short-sighted strategy by Israeli political elites, one can only surmise that these elites were blinded -  or assured - by an apparent post-9/11 geo-strategic shift in favor of Israeli interests (i.e. an attack on Iraq) in conjunction with a publicly affirmed surge in influence among its supposed neo-con allies.  

With three alternative counter-legends in place to co-exist with the Official (i.e. mainstream) 9/11 Legend, the stage was thereby set to muddy the real trail leading to the events of September 11.  With the participation of a global network of well-connected spinmeisters - both passive and active - each of the 9/11 threads could thus be nurtured through a series of carefully calibrated revelations. 

Of all the 9/11 spinmeisters, one of the most effective - and therefore damaging - was Jean-Charles Brisard, co-author with Guillaume Dasquie of  The Forbidden Truth.  Brisard burst on to the mainstream scene shortly after September 11 as one of the first "credible" critics of 9/11, weaving a trail of seemingly incriminating red herrings that will, in all probability, tie up a number of otherwise industrious conspiracy researchers for decades.  In Brisard and Dasquie's version of 9/11, the main protectors of al-Qaida were the Saudis, who in turn were protected by greedy oil interests which sought - through the State Department - to obstruct any investigations that might unsettle their Saudi business associates.  To nail down the point, Brisard recounted his summer 2001 meeting with John O'Neill, in which a frustrated, scandal-ridden O'Neill purportedly confided to Brisard that the "answer" to the al-Qaida riddle lay in Saudi Arabia.  For good measure, Brisard had the well-timed implosion of Enron as a backdrop for his revelation, implicating this now-dead shell of a corporation in a stubborn push for an oil pipeline through Afghanistan (though senior Enron exec - and CIA offspring - Frank Wisner, Jr., was, as it happens, also one of the 17 elite "players" in the aforementioned "Dark Winter" exercise). 

Through Brisard (in addition to Pakistani Foreign Minister Niaz Naik), we learned that the U.S. had made plans as early as June of 2001  to invade Afghanistan by October of that year.  During that summer, as Brisard chronicled it, a number of nations - including Iran, Russia, and India - got together for a four-day conference in Berlin, where the dispute with the Taliban was broached by U.S. diplomats.  The U.S. demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden (in addition to negotiating for pipeline rights).  Otherwise, the Americans threatened to blanket Afghanistan with "a carpet of bombs."  

Brisard's initial theory, then, was that this threat prompted bin Laden to launch a pre-emptive attack against the very nation that was now placing him in imminent peril.  Brisard also seemed to implicate Bush, Sr. by way of his Carlyle Group interests.  But in the end, as Brisard essentially kept bin Laden in place as the sole 9/11 culprit, the aspersions cast on the Bushes, the State Department, "oil interests", et al, would not amount to much - at least from a legal standpoint.  At most, these parties could be judged as too blinded by greed to recognize - and pre-empt - the very real threat from al-Qaida.  However you clothed Brisard's revelations, the "official" 9/11 Legend remained in place.  Al-Qaida was still the defendant (albeit with a new excuse), O'Neill was still a martyr (albeit with a new Saudi gripe), and the Saudis were still suspicious (albeit with possibly a new gripe against Brisard).  Brisard, incidentally, also happened to have written - for French intelligence - the first comprehensive report on the financial structure of al-Qaida, a copy of which was furnished to the Bush administration.  Thus do national security types and their 9/11 critics have a deeper understanding of the 9/11 Legend courtesy of the efforts of Jean-Charles Brisard.

Brisard's co-author, Guillaume Dasquie, also comes by his own intelligence connections, by way of his role as editor of  Intelligence Online.  It was through Dasquie's efforts that Intelligence Online, in March 2002, announced that it had come into possession of a 61-page "secret" DEA report on a large Israeli spy ring of "art students" who were casing federal buildings several months before September 11.  The "leaking" of this document, in conjunction with Carl Cameron's December 2001 Fox News report on the spy ring, ignited an online firestorm among 9/11 critics - pointing the way, for some, to the Israelis as the main operative agents behind September 11.  

Yet, as we shall see, in the campaign to paint Israel as the main suspect, here was a case of  mostly right wing sources doling out the goods for largely left wing consumption (with the obvious exception of Justin Raimondo, a political supporter of, and former speechwriter for, Pat Buchanan).  Thus, while the likes of Stephen Emerson, Daniel Pipes, and John Loftus were doing the lecture circuit at Jewish Community Centers across North America, regaling this influential community with insinuations of  possible Saudi and/or Iraqi involvement in 9/11, a more covert - and subtle - plan was afoot to plant the seeds of a new Jewish neocon/Zionist conspiracy among the left wing (i.e. the traditional foothold of the bulk of the American Jewish community).   

This relatively recent campaign to subvert the left with visions of a Jewish neocon/Zionist conspiracy dovetailed nicely with a more longstanding covert campaign - dating back more than thirty years - to build up a small but powerful right wing contingent of Jews to wean the rest from their knee-jerk liberalism (and thereby sap the strength and vigor of the traditional Democrat wing).  The species of the Jewish "neo" conservative is best represented by Irving Kristol, a self-admitted former Trotskyite who had been a member of the "left-wing" Congress of Cultural Freedom (later exposed as a CIA front) before making a "sudden" right turn in the late sixties, bringing along with him a few other like-minded "disillusioned" Jews from CIA-funded "leftist" groups.  The typical neo-conservative was "neo" in the sense that he would continue to hold liberal social values while espousing hard right (i.e. pro-corporate) economic views and a hawkish foreign policy - pretty much the course that American society has taken in the thirty-odd years since Kristol made his ideological "shift."  

Though the history is far more complex and detailed than indicated above, the crux of the point is this: in order to neutralize the influential American Jewish community on the subject of civil rights and domestic dissent (where they historically predominated), it was not sufficient only to wean the Jews from the left, but to turn the left against the Jews by now slurring them as right wing, Zionist "imperialists" (best exemplified by Richard Perle, who is actually more a product of the national security community than of the Jewish community). 

In concert with this strategy was a plan - also dating back more than thirty years - to wean the South from the Democrats by promoting a fundamentalist Christianity that grew in counter-point to the overall loosening social values.  The typical fundamentalist Christian Republican would hold conservative social views while espousing  hard right (i.e. pro-corporate) economic views and a hawkish foreign policy (best exemplified by John Ashcroft, who is actually more a product of a deeply cynical political community than of the community of belief). 

With that background in mind, we may now touch upon the national security/conservative clique which has furnished most of the information concerning Israeli perfidy and 9/11.  For our purposes, the story begins on May 7, 1997, when Nora Boustany of The Washington Post first broached the existence of Mega, a suspected code name for a suspected Israeli mole within the upper echelons of the Clinton government.  As reported by Boustany,  the National Security Agency had intercepted a request from a Mossad operative to view a diplomatic letter from Yasser Arafat.  When the operative was heard to ask his superior for the assistance of  someone or something called Mega, he received the reply, "We don't use Mega for this."   

The story, in fact, broke on the very day when South Korean spy Robert C. Kim was scheduled to deliver a guilty plea after a plea bargain - a similar bargain that was, in fact, dishonored in the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the mid-80's.  Kim, like Pollard, had worked in the Office of  Naval Intelligence, though Pollard had worked in the counter-terrorism section.  A week before the Mega story broke - on April 30, 1997 - Pollard had petitioned the Israeli High Court to compel the Israeli government to reveal what it knew about his case.  If a battle was brewing between Pollard supporters (Likud/ neocon elements) and opponents (the Bush/ Baker clique/ Woolsey/the national intelligence apparatus), the May 7 Mega leak by way of the National Security Agency seemed to head it off, publicly raising the specter of yet another Israeli mole.  And then the story ultimately went cold, with no official resolution and - most crucially - no hard details by which to flesh out this possible mole hunt.

Yet Jeffrey Steinberg of Lyndon LaRouche's Executive Intelligence Review has attempted to draw a line between this morsel of an item and a Mega Group that was mentioned by Lisa Miller in the Wall Street Journal on May 4, 1998.  In Steinberg's telling, the Mega Group is, in fact, the shadowy Mega from the Boustany article.  As Steinberg put it, the Mega Group - a select group of Jewish billionaires including Bronfman, Steinhardt, Spielberg, Tisch, and others - had come together to influence U.S. security policy toward Israel.  Yet that was a disingenous - and I dare say, dishonest - reading of the Miller article.  In other words - and this was very clear from the Miller article - their main concern was assimilation and philanthropy, not Israeli national security issues, as Steinberg had reported.   But Steinberg's technique was all too typical - mischievously weaving two totally disconnected items so as to give the impression that he was uncovering bona fide evidence of a fully known Jewish/Israeli conspiracy.  

Yet taking the thread of a burgeoning Israeli spy conspiracy further, in May 2000,  J. Michael Waller and Paul M. Rodriguez of Insight magazine (the sister publication of the ultra-right wing Washington Times, which is in turn owned by the Moonies) broke the story that the Israelis had possibly compromised U.S. government phone lines, giving them access to sensitive information.  Carl Cameron of Fox News followed this up on May 5, 2000 by reporting on the investigation into the Israeli-founded company AMDOCS, describing "an alleged penetration of U.S. government phone systems."  

This thread was also taken up by Gordon Thomas, the MI5 (British intelligence) connected editor of the website Globe-Intel.  Thomas, in his book, Gideon's Spies, broached the subject of the Israeli infiltration of the Clinton White House by way of the Mega mole.   He also had alleged that the Mossad had a possible role in the death of Princess Diana; that the Mossad tapped Monica Lewinsky's phone in order to pick up her conversations with President Clinton; and that the Israelis stole the sophisticated PROMIS software, which eventually ended up in the possession of Osama bin Laden.  Incidentally, Gordon Thomas holds himself out as a friend and intimate confidant of Mossad insiders.  We shall return to Thomas shortly, for he - like Brisard and Dasquie - has also played a significant part in lining up new alternate 9/11 suspects (most recently China, in his book Seeds of Fire). 

Picking up the thread, in March 2001 - significantly, several months before September 11 - the U.S. National Counterintelligence Center sent out an advisory for federal employees to be aware that a number of young Israelis were approaching federal agents at their offices and at their residences throughout the country, passing themselves off as art students looking to sell their work - but more peculiarly, identifying themselves as Israeli art students, thereby "red-flagging" themselves for the benefit of the National Counterintelligence Center.  A few months after September 11, Carl Cameron - in December of 2001 - once more visited the issue of Israeli penetration, this time naming a second Israeli company, Comverse Infosys, as having access to nearly all wiretaps placed by U.S. law enforcement.  As part of a four-part series for Fox News, Cameron also cited a "secret" DEA report that chronicled the actions of the aforementioned Israeli "art student" spy ring.  Soon after a transcript of Cameron's report was uploaded on the Fox News website, it was taken offline and purged from the archives - a presumed cover-up that actually raised far more suspicions over Israeli/Jewish influence than the report itself.  
Perhaps that was the intended effect - as the purpose would be to "red flag" this item for an "alternative" online audience, not for the mainstream couch potatoes who were wedded to the Official 9/11 Legend in any case.  Was Cameron simply a dedicated journalist who was muzzled by his conservative, pro-Israeli, employers at Fox?  Or was he rather a passive disinformation asset, coyly nursing the Israeli thread when told to do so?  On May 13, 2002, with government warnings of a follow-up terrorist attack seeding the media zeitgeist, Cameron red-flagged  the Israelis once more, this time reporting that a rental truck with traces of TNT was pulled over near an army base in the State of Washington.  Once again, suspicious Israelis were discovered as occupants, and once again, the news suspiciously disappeared from the airwaves.  
There was a curious parallel to the manner by which various Israelis tended to be "pulled over" in the Israeli/9/11 Counter-Legend as opposed to the manner by which various al-Qaida operatives tended to incriminate themselves through those fortuitous cell phone and email "intercepts" in the al-Qaida/9/11 Legend.  On June 23, 2002, ABC News picked up the earlier story of five "suspicious" Israelis celebrating on the roof of their van in the wake of September 11.  When the police had pulled them over and searched the contents of the van, sure enough, they cutters.  And just as sure enough, this story also "suspiciously" vanished without a follow-up.  It is also a curious fact that former CIA counterterror chief/ABC News consultant Vincent Cannistraro lent his own spin on that report.  As I had pointed out in The Propaganda Preparation For 9/11, and as I will show further in this article, Cannistraro has "spun" a great deal of information on the 9/11 Legend.
While the spy ring story has been neglected by much of the mainstream media, it nevertheless remains in the background, ready to be "mainstreamed" if or when the "official" 9/11 Legend begins to show cracks (or if the resident Israeli government proves to be troublesome).  As I have pointed out, much of the first-hand revelations of Israeli penetrations have come not from alternative sources, but from well-established, "credible" conservative  sources highly placed within the intelligence apparatus.  While Daniel Pipes (CFR member and former Defense Department employee) made a disingenuous attempt at discrediting the spy ring story, the actual DEA report that was acquired by Dasquie's Intelligence Online was confirmed as authentic on February 25, 2002 by Will Glaspy of the DEA's public affairs bureau.  Moreover, according to a May 5, 2002 report in Le Monde, Cameron's four-part Fox broadcast was shown and cleared with the CIA, FBI, and NSA before its airing.  Clearly, somebody high up wants this out in the ether.  

Yet it is a curious fact that some of this information comes from sources which are traditionally known to be friendly to Israeli interests.  For instance, J. Michael Waller, who wrote the Insight piece with Paul M. Rodriguez, is a member of the right wing, pro-Israel Center For Security Policy, which, according to the Center's own site, includes an "extraordinary number of members of the Center's National Security Advisory Council" in the top echelons of the Bush Administration.  Waller, incidentally, also wrote an Insight piece entitled "Preparing For The Next Pearl Harbor Attack" - just a few months before 9/11 - in which he described the plan for a Homeland Security Agency, as recommended by the Hart-Rudman Commission report (yes, they had the "homeland security" blueprint in place several months before 9/11).  

As for Waller's associate, Paul M. Rodriguez - the managing editor of Insight - has had a history of printing incriminating items that don't quite circulate yet get the point across all the same.  One particularly creepy example concerns an Insight piece that Rodriguez wrote in 1989, reporting on a pedophile ring in the nation's capital, linking one of its participants to Donald Gregg, a senior aide to President Bush.  Since then, Gregg has served as Ambassador to South Korea and as head of the Korea Society.  This might have something to do with the fact that the Moonies, owner of Insight, have been rumored to be a front for the South Korean CIA.  Incidentally, since President George H.W. Bush has left office, he has put in a considerable number of appearances at Moonie functions. 

As for Gordon Thomas of Globe-Intel, it turns out that he has been a major contributor to the Israel/9/11/ Counter-Legend in addition to his other contributions to Israeli legends.  Perchance he had come by this good fortune through his father-in-law, a former MI5 British intelligence operative who had introduced Thomas to so many of his intelligence contacts.  Adding his own "insider" gloss to the spy ring tale, Thomas is a source for the claim that Israel sent out spies to infiltrate al-Qaida in the U.S., writing that Israel sent warnings about the impending attacks to the Bush administration through French and German intelligence. 

In his May 21, 2002 article for Globe-Intel, Thomas - in a Mossad "insider" scoop - revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in fact authorized a "leak" of documents showing that Bush was warned by Israel of the approaching al-Qaida threat by virtue of Israel's comprehensive infiltration of al-Qaida cells on American soil.  In other words, Sharon wanted to prove to Bush (and to Globe-Intel readers?) that his Mossad agents - art students, perhaps? - had learned of 9/11 over coffee with Mohammed Atta.  As Thomas put it:  "Sharon's reaction is a calculated response to growing claims that Mossad has been running spy operations in the United States..."  A calculated response?  Either Thomas is serving us up some fairly heavy British intelligence disinformation (false-flagged as a Mossad scoop), or he's implying that Sharon was on some pretty serious weed at the time - for insisting with documented proof that, yes, his own agents did in fact illegally spy on U.S. territory, and what's more, did lunch with the 9/11 hijackers.  Yet given Thomas' record of pinning likely British intelligence "hits" on the Mossad - Princess Diana, Robert Maxwell, etc. - I'm willing to bet that the former is the case.  

In that context, it is perhaps curious that Thomas - like Brisard - has chosen to use John O'Neill, this time in order to weave a counter-legend of Israel at the center of a global criminal network.  In his latest book on Robert Maxwell,  Thomas alleges that Maxwell was an Israeli "super-spy" who, in the words of John O'Neill, "was at the heart of the global criminal network."  Thomas writes that O'Neill's contribution to the book was "enormous" - which is indeed interesting, as the book covers much of the corruption wrought through the British/C.I.A./BCCI networks, though Thomas employs O'Neill to "spin" the global corruption instead as the joint work of Israel (via Maxwell) and Russian criminal gangs.

Thomas' fellow Globe-Intel editors are also an interesting bunch.  One fellow editor, the British Sunday Express correspondent Yvonne Ridley, had made her own entry into the 9/11 Legend as a high-profile captive of the Taliban.  Ridley, who claimed that the British government were inciting the Taliban to kill her by implying that she was their covert agent, was fortunately released by her captors on October 8, 2001, just one day after the invasion of Afghanistan  had begun.  Given such a grave accusation, one wonders why she would subsequently take up office space with an MI5 "groupie" (Thomas) - unless, of course, she had now  established her bona fides as a "credible" source of disinformation.

 [[New material added on December 19, 2003:  Apparently, Yvonne Ridley's episode among the Taliban did help to establish her credibility - at least among the Muslim masses of the Middle East.  In the aftermath of her well-publicized captivity, Ridley embarked on a course of study in the Koran, culminating in her conversion to Islam - and, most significantly, her subsequent posting to Qatar as an anti-Western correspondent for al-Jazeera.  Last month, she was abruptly dismissed from al-Jazeera for reasons that remain unclear.  Sandwiched between her role as a famous Taliban captive and her subsequent incarnation as a fundamentalist employee of al-Jazeera, Ridley was a key source - in collaboration with Gordon Thomas - for the contention that Mossad had provided forewarnings specifically by reason of its infiltration of al-Qaida cells.  Perhaps only time will tell - but Ridley is looking more and more credible as a source of disinformation as her legend proceeds down its bizarre, twisted path.]]   

Rounding out the Globe-Intel editorial group is terrorism expert Martin Dillon, who wrote a well-circulated tribute to his friend John O'Neill, substantiating the official legend that O'Neill was "frustrated" by State Department efforts to block his pursuit of bin Laden.  

In reading the detailed revelations of Brisard, Dasquie, and Thomas, one enters the proverbial hall of mirrors, where subtle truths reflect back upon themselves as half-lies, and perceptions splinter amid a cascade of contradictions.  Such is the world of the disinformation operative.  As a first defense, all you need to know is when you're in it, not particularly what's in it. 
Still, a more curious case is that of John Loftus, a long-standing Catholic friend of the Jews who had served in the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit, where he had discovered - through CIA archives - the depth of the CIA program to smuggle in Nazi war criminals through "ratlines" to the United States after the Second World War.  In his book, The Secret War Against The Jews, Loftus documented in painful detail the anti-Semitic history of the powerful Anglo-American "Establishment", the Wasp clique which, through their oil and industrial holdings, has had a stranglehold on American foreign - and military - policy for close to a century.  Loftus, clearly intimate with a great many operatives in the intelligence community - whom he refers to as the "old spies" - had posited that the Jews were repeatedly used as pawns and scapegoats in the grand match played out by these men on the geopolitical chessboard.  Loftus' reading of this Establishment - which encompasses the likes of the Rockefellers, the Dulles brothers, the Bakers, and the Bushes - dovetails nicely with the writings of  scholars like Peter Dale Scott (whose personal integrity and research skills are beyond question).  In other words, Loftus knows who is the real power behind the throne.  

Yet in the light of 9/11, it appears that Loftus has put on his blinders, going out on the lecture circuit and offering the warmed-over neo-conservative view that September 11 was essentially the work of wicked Saudis intent on destabilizing the West by priming the terror pumps with their oil wealth.  More ominously, Loftus was offering his audiences a neocon bird's eye view into the near future (courtesy of his military contacts out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa) - a future in which a liberated Iraq would be turned over to a compliant Hashemite monarchy (now resident in Jordan), and then on to Saudi Arabia, where the Saudis would be booted and replaced by compliant Hashemite monarchs in a new Hashemite Arabia.  And as for the West Bank Palestinians - well, they would be handed over to the custody of the compliant Jordanian Hashemites.  As for Loftus, he was making his own contribution by heading up a class action lawsuit on behalf of the families of 9/11 against those ruthless Saudi financiers. And, as an aside, he was assuring his mostly Jewish audience that George W. Bush is, at root, a decent fellow.

In short, Loftus was propagandizing his audience toward a highly selective reading of 9/11.  Gone were the ominous shadows of  BCCI and Iran-Contra, casting their pall over the credibility of those powerful  politicians feeding us their take on a new world order.  More than anyone (this writer included), Loftus should have been able to detect a high-level disinformation campaign to set up "the Jews" and "the Zionists" as the main evil conspirators behind 9/11.  Yet ironically, here was Loftus casting his lot in with those very neo-conservatives who will one day serve as the showcase exhibits for what is sure to be the latest entry in an updated blood libel.  From the Crucifixion, to the Rothschilds, and on to the Twin Towers, the Jews were being set up once more to play their historical role as punch toys to smokescreen a powerful oligarchy.
The set-up was on two fronts - foreign and domestic.  On the domestic front, the neo-conservatives headed by Dick Cheney and Richard Perle -widely dubbed  by the mainstream press as the "hawks" - were being marketed as the true ideological powers behind the Bush administration.  Their patchwork of  inter-connected think tanks - Center for Security Policy, Project for A New American Century (PNAC), Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), American Enterprise Institute (AEI) - were deeply involved in sending out various "experts" to explain the War On Terrorism in a mainstream forum, thereby setting out the parameters of debate (in addition to the parameters of the perceived threat).  

But did these neo-conservatives constitute a mere "rogue element" -  an insular "cabal" of pro-Zionist conservatives holding a largely naive President Bush in their sway (as Lyndon LaRouche and the folks at Executive Intelligence Review would have us believe)?  Or rather, were they just a group "cut-out" for other, more powerful interests -  in other words, the public face that would skew the ultimate responsibility, letting the true masterminds off the hook while the "cut-out" proxies would double as potential patsies?  

It had certainly been the case during the Clinton era, when Richard Mellon Scaife's organization took center stage as the most vociferous entity in attacking the integrity of President Clinton.  Thus, while Scaife's cronies made sure that all eyes were focused on Whitewater, Lewinsky, Foster, et al, the mainstream focus was kept far from the infinitely more nefarious, and damaging, scandal that was known by the four-letter word Mena, the crucial transit point  in Arkansas which, under Governor Clinton, had served to sustain the arms/drug dealing operations that were fed through Iran-Contra and laundered through BCCI.  Thus, with Whitewater as the Scaife-funded public face of the Starr inquiry into Clinton, those Clinton associates who could really provide the dirt on the Clinton/Mena connection were being "purged" in plain sight - through various prosecutions, accidents, murders, or well-timed heart attacks (in the case of Jim MacDougall).  Meanwhile, all eyes were directed to the curious stain on the blue dress.  Once Clinton was safely out of office (and a leash presumably was no longer needed), Scaife disappeared from public view as suddenly as he entered it - to be replaced by Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and their coalition of fundamentalist Christian/Jewish Zionists.

Picking up on the above theme, in the excerpt below, Kupferberg analyzes the contributions of Vincent Cannistraro and Robert Baer to the neo-con/Israel counter-legend.  Cannistraro and Baer, two "former" CIA officials who have since served as frequent consultants and "critics" in the mainstream media, have elsewhere inserted themselves personally into the 9/11 Legend - Baer, in his self-professed capacity as Daniel Pearl's "research" partner; and Cannistraro, through his past revelation of an Iraq/Oklahoma City connection.  

Richard Sale [of UPI] would later go on to cite both Baer and Cannistraro (on record here) for their views of the neo-con clique in Washington - the one that was widely marketed as pushing for war in Iraq.  Sale's February 11, 2003 UPI article quoted Cannistraro thusly:

" 'Clearly Iraq is not the last phase of what the administration tends to do in the Middle East.'  According to the neo-con theory, [Cannistraro] said, 'Syria is to be the next target.'  He concurred with another view in Washington that holds that part of the Bush plan was to 'wean the Jewish lobby away from the Democrats' and that 'it's already pretty much happened.' "
As for Baer's own assessment of the neo-cons:
"Former CIA official Robert Baer, when asked about the master plan for the Middle East, told UPI last fall that Bush's team allegedly wanted 'to divide up Syria, give part of Iraq to Turkey, overthrow the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, [and] restore the Hashemites to the Hijaz,' a very center of Saudi Arabian culture.

'The underlying motivation' for this, Baer said, 'is Israel...' "  

Recall that previously I had argued that both the "Jewish" neo-cons and the state of Israel were to be set up as second tier proxy/patsies for the events of 9/11.  And while 9/11 was not at issue in the above-referenced article, it is not unreasonable to conjecture that the article was meant to be read on two levels.  On the "mainstream" level, Baer and Cannistraro were pushing the view that the approaching war in Iraq was a project of an insular group of neo-cons acting on behalf of the state of Israel, allied with the Jewish lobby.  No indication here of a 9/11 conspiracy.  Elsewhere, Cannistraro and Baer had repeatedly gone on record as adhering to the main contours of the Official 9/11 Legend - that al-Qaida was the key perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, perhaps with a bit of help from Saudi elements.  On the "alternative", more "conspiracy-minded" level, Cannistraro and Baer were reinforcing suspicions that this powerful neo-con clique was perhaps responsible for plots more sinister than a push toward Iraq.  In this respect, perhaps it was not just a matter of happenstance that Yosri Fouda had chosen to pair Cannistraro's commentary about the cheering Israelis on the white van with Lyndon LaRouche's well-circulated theory of a "rogue", self-contained, "cabal" of largely Jewish neo-cons behind 9/11.  Again, something for everyone.

Cannistraro and Baer - who both have gone on record as criticizing the neo-cons and their spurious evidentiary claims of an Iraqi connection to 9/11 - also share a common journalistic connection with Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist who has played his own part in discrediting the neo-cons and the state of Israel.  Hersh, in fact, wrote the foreword to Baer's See No Evil - a recommended book for those wedded to the complacency theory of 9/11, to be read in conjunction with Brisard and Dasquie's The Forbidden Truth and Coleen Rowley's congressional testimony. 

Hersh, a classic "access" reporter who first made his reputation in an expose of the Mai Lai Massacre in Vietnam, was playing the neo-con angle for all it was worth.  In the Spring of 2003, in the midst of global hysteria over Iraq, Hersh raised allegations that  arch-neo-con Richard Perle had peddled his influence with the Defense Policy Board for financial gain, thereby forcing Perle to resign his position as Chairman.  Thereafter, Hersh revealed - in a May 12, 2003 article in The New Yorker - the intellectual influence behind the scheming, insular neo-cons:  the late Leo Strauss, a professor at the University of Chicago.  In Hersh's telling, the Bush Administration was in the grip of the influential Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon, dominated by the neo-cons, who were now branded as "Straussians."  In nailing down his point, Hersh quoted Cannistraro, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of this Straussian clique: 

"The group's members, Cannistraro said, 'reinforce each other because they're the only friends they have, and they all work together.  This has been going on since the nineteen-eighties, but they've never been able to coalesce as they have now.  September 11th gave them the opportunity, and now they're in heaven."

Again, Cannistraro here can be - and probably was intended to be - read on two levels.  On the "mainstream" level, the charge consists of nothing more sinister than that of  an "opportunistic" post-9/11 grab at the foreign policy agenda.  Yet on the "alternative" level, Cannistraro was providing a powerful ready-made quote for use by the "9/11 conspiracy crowd."  Indeed, the Lyndon LaRouche apparatus at Executive Intelligence Review was once more playing counterpoint to Cannistraro's melody - for, whether coincidental or otherwise, LaRouche's unveiling of Leo Strauss as the intellectual godfather of the neo-cons (whom he dubbed as the Children of Satan) had in fact just preceded Hersh's more "mainstream" take on the neo-con Strauss crowd.  And now that Cannistraro had furnished his "smoking gun" quote, the LaRouchites at Executive Intelligence Review were subsequently quoting Cannistraro in order to burnish their contention that 9/11 was likely the work of the insular neo-con "Perle/Wolfowitz cabal".

Meanwhile, both Baer and Cannistraro were lending their growing reputations as critics of the War on Iraq in order to bolster the legitimacy of the case for the War on Terror.  At least that was the inevitable effect.  Like Brisard and Dasquie, Baer and Cannistraro seemed to be informational Zeligs, showing up all over the media map, structuring perceptions in a very definite direction, offering legends and counter-legends intended for various audiences, both mainstream and alternative.  On the broadest level, Cannistraro and, especially, Baer were advocating the complacency theory behind 9/11, posing as mainstream "critics" of their "former" CIA employers while at the same time keeping the general contours of the Official 9/11 Legend in place.  In lockstep with the neo-cons, they were also raising suspicions of possible Saudi perfidy, primarily for the Saudi role as financial and political enablers of al-Qaida.  A sub-set of the Saudi thread also connected with the Cheney/ Halliburton / Enron /Big Oil theory behind 9/11.  This theory had a dual use - one, for an opportunistic complacency theory behind 9/11, and the other for an opportunistic complicity theory.  In any case, the ailing Cheney had already been pre-packaged as a self-contained, potentially "rogueish", power behind the Bush throne, while the dead husk of Enron was marketed as the self-contained, rogue manifestation of "Big Oil".   If "Big Oil" and Cheney seemed to be taking a large dose of bad publicity in the first several months following 9/11 and the War in Afghanistan, the storyline - and the villain role - gradually shifted over to the Perle/Wolfowitz neo-cons in the year-long lead-up to the War In Iraq.  And here, too, a dual use was made of the neo-cons - one, to raise suspicions of premeditated complicity, and alternatively, to raise the allegation of post-facto opportunism. 

As for Iraq, Cannistraro seemed to be playing it both ways - casting aspersions on the Iraqis for the Oklahoma bombing, yet giving them a clean bill of health with regard to the alleged evidence linking them to 9/11.  And, as stated before, Cannistraro and Baer's criticisms of the War In Iraq only served to bolster the credibility of their opinions concerning the War On Terror - and, by extension, to lend credibility to the Official 9/11 Legend.  If, during the whole War In Iraq episode, the Bush and Blair regimes' sputtering efforts at propaganda and disinformation were being repeatedly exposed as amateurish and ill-considered, then surely - the reasoning goes - any attempts at information management concerning 9/11 would likewise have been  exposed as fraudulent.  

Yet it is a curious fact that, in the aftermath of the War In Iraq - at a time when more Americans do not trust CNN - the structural pivots of the Official 9/11 Legend appear more sturdy and unassailable than ever before.  For surely if all those British and American intelligence operatives were heaping scorn on the "evidence" linking Iraq to 9/11, then why not repose our trust in them when they tell us exactly who was behind September 11?
End of excerpts.

[The following is new material added December 18, 2003]:

Who, exactly, is Robert Baer?  In the months after 9/11, Baer first emerged on the public radar scope as a "former" CIA official involved in counter-terrorism.  After publishing his widely acclaimed book, See No Evil, Baer established himself as the mainstream media's "go-to" guy when making the case for pre-9/11 complacency and opportunistic blindness.  But his contributions to our understanding of 9/11 didn't end there.  In addition to focusing attention on Saudi Arabia and the dominating influence of the neo-conservatives on foreign policy, Baer has personally insinuated himself into the Daniel Pearl story.   On September 30, 2002, Richard Sale of UPI reported:

"Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was investigating the man who allegedly planned the Sept. 11 airplane hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington when he was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, according to two Central Intelligence Agency officials...

...'I was working with Pearl,' said [Bob] Baer, who had written a book about his time as a CIA official and has acted as a consultant and source for numerous media outlets.  'We had a joint project.  [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed was the story he was working on, not Richard Reid [a.k.a. the shoe bomber].' "

Was Baer being truthful, or rather was he disseminating a blatant slice of disinformation?  You be the judge.  In Baer's latest widely acclaimed book, Sleeping With The Devil - published after the September 30, 2002 UPI article - Baer blatantly contradicts himself, as evidenced on p.199:

"I have no way of knowing whether Pearl went to Karachi and asked about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  The Wall Street Journal says no, that he was working on the shoe-bomber case."

No way of knowing?  What about that "joint project" with Pearl?  According to Baer's UPI version, back in 1997, Baer learned of efforts by the government of Qatar to shield Khalid Shaikh Mohammed from FBI apprehension.  Khalid, at the time, was wanted for his alleged role in the aborted 1995 Bojinka plot.  Yet when none of his former colleagues in counter-terrorism would follow up on Baer's leads, according to UPI, "Baer said he was frustrated and called Pearl..." telling him that "he had a hot story on terrorism..."

However, in Baer's book version, it was Pearl who had first initiated contact after hearing of Baer's leads from other sources:
"In 1998, when I was living in France, I got a call from a young Wall Street Journal reporter named Danny Pearl."
As for that "joint project" alluded to in the UPI article, here is how Baer sums up the course of their interaction in his book:
"We met in Geneva...I told him about KSM [Khalid] and Qatar.  He listened, took notes, and promised to follow up on it one day.  We saw each other from time to time in Washington.  He would bring up the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed story, but neither of us had anything new to add."

And here is the version that Baer offered to UPI, describing the aftermath of his very first telephone contact with Pearl:
"Baer said to his annoyance, Pearl did not begin to work on the story. Nothing was done until the day of the Sept. 11 attacks when Pearl called to talk to Baer."

Thus are we faced with two alternate realities.  In the quantum reality offered in Baer's book, Daniel Pearl is the dogged investigator who tracks down Baer for his story on Khalid, following it up on subsequent meetings with further queries of Baer, though neither has "anything new to add."  Yet in the quantum reality offered to UPI, it is Baer who tracks down Pearl, and who subsequently becomes annoyed with Pearl's presumed disinterest in Baer's revelation - that is, until September 11, 2001.  In Baer's book, three days after September 11, Pearl called Baer after sending him an email the day before.  What follows is Baer's account of their very last conversation:

"I reminded him about our talks on KSM [Khalid] and Qatar.  'Worth thinking about,' [Pearl] replied."

Thus, in Baer's book version, that fateful phone call signals the end of their interaction, consequently leaving Baer with "no way of knowing" whether or not Pearl had picked up the ball and hustled on over to Karachi to flesh out Baer's initial lead on Khalid.  Meanwhile, over in the UPI parallel universe, that post-9/11phone call marks the beginning of their "joint project":
"Baer said he gave Pearl all the old information he had and new information he had since obtained -- for example, that there are files on [Khalid] in the Qatari Embassy in London.

Baer said he and Pearl then 'began to work together' -- in other words, Pearl would get info and check it out with Baer and Baer would feed Pearl what he was getting. It was 'a joint project,' said Baer. Baer was giving direction, but Pearl's contacts were not confined to Baer."

Simply based on the foregoing, one might reasonably conclude that Baer is either a quantum leaper or a bona fide fibber.  But even if Baer's credibility is undermined by all this, what's the big deal?  Isn't Baer, after all, just a retired CIA guy far out of the loop, trolling the media circuit as an "independent" critic?  Or is he, rather, a key operative among an insular (though by no means rogue) counter-terror clique involved in the formation and presentation of the Official 9/11 Legend and its off-shoots? 

At the time of Baer's UPI revelation, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had only been known to the public for less than four months - dating from the time in June 2002 when he was first introduced as the "official" 9/11 mastermind.  Prior to that date, scarcely any details at all were offered to the public concerning Khalid - other than a generic "wanted" listing for his alleged role in the 1995 Bojinka plot.  And, perhaps, a very brief, general reference to Khalid as an expert in the hijacking of planes in Baer's first book.  Yet if we are to believe Baer's post-June 2002 account, Khalid was the object of intense concern to both Baer and Pearl - neither of whom had ever gone on record as evincing any substantive interest in Khalid at any time prior to Baer's September 30 UPI account. More curiously, by June 2002, with Khalid now making the headlines as the brains behind 9/11 - and coming more than four months after Pearl's own widely publicized kidnapping - Baer was continuing to do the media circuit, promoting his earlier book along with his version of the 9/11 Complacency Theory, yet still no word on his purported "joint project" with Pearl on the newly unveiled 9/11 mastermind.  Rather, Baer waited until three weeks after the well-publicized apprehension of Khalid's alleged co-plotter, Ramzi Binalshibh, and only then broached the news of his "joint project" with Pearl, tying this in with the latest bombshell that Khalid had also likely killed Daniel Pearl.  Curious timing, that.
So who, exactly, is Robert Baer - and, more to the point, why should this question matter?  Baer - along with the likes of Vincent Cannistraro and Milt Bearden - is among the select few who have managed to "dirty" their hands with past CIA involvement with the Afghani mujahedin.  Terror, drugs, arms-smuggling,and the Byzantine workings of Mideast geopolitics - Baer has personally seen it all.  In Baer's chronicle of the past CIA/Bin Laden/Muslim Brotherhood nexus, there is really nothing particularly sinister in the fact that the CIA had originally fostered and funded a network that would later go on to unveil itself as America's foremost enemy.  Baer characterizes it all as blowback.

But perhaps Baer manages to provide us a crucial - though probably unintended - insight as to how we may characterize all that purported blowback.  In Baer's oft-repeated account of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's escape from Qatar, he reveals that Khalid had managed to slip away with another member of his al-Qaida cell - a man by the name of Shawqui Islambuli, whose brother happens to be the man who had assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is indeed an artful pairing - for these two men serve, on a symbolic level, as the operative bookends of the Official 9/11 Legend.  At the tail end, of course, stands Khalid as the 9/11 mastermind.  At the front end stands the Egyptian fundamentalist clique whose 1981 move against Sadat would coincide with its recruitment by Baer's CIA colleagues into the Afghan effort.  One member of that Egyptian clique, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, would go on to become a CIA asset, and, after his acquittal in relation to the Sadat killing, would then be cleared to enter the United States in 1990 by way of a CIA-approved visa.  Setting up shop in a Brooklyn mosque, the men in Abdel-Rahman's circle - Sayyid Nosair, Ramzi Yousef, etc. - would go on to be implicated in the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the plot to destroy New York City landmarks, and, most importantly, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. 

If the early shoots of what would eventually evolve into "al-Qaida" look suspiciously like an Egyptian-CIA hybrid, that is probably due to the fact that - from the vantage point of 1993 - a suspicious number of Egyptian CIA assets (and/or FBI informants) were popping up all over the map.  For one, a former Egyptian military officer (and FBI informant) named Emad Salem had managed to "infiltrate" former CIA asset Abdel-Rahman's New York circle, giving his FBI handlers the "heads-up" on the plot to take down the Twin Towers in '93.  Meanwhile, another former Egyptian military officer (and subsequent FBI informant) by the name of Ali Mohamed would train Abdel-Rahman's men in the arts of bomb-making, formation of operative cells, and all the sophisticated military tactics Ali had gleaned from his three-year stint as a U.S. sergeant with the Special Forces at Fort Bragg.  Ali had first entered the United States on a CIA-sponsored visa in 1981, in order to serve his first four-month stint with the Green Berets at Fort Bragg  - incidentally, the same year in which Ali had reportedly joined the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood implicated in the Sadat assassination. 

After being honorably discharged from service at Fort Bragg in 1989, Ali's resume would include the training of Abdel-Rahman's men, an ongoing stint as an FBI informant (carrying on even after the 1993 WTC bombing), the authorship of al-Qaida's training manuals, along with the training of bin Laden's personal security detail and the refinement of al-Qaida's military tactics.  Publicly outed for the first time in 1995 as the trainer of the 1993 New York landmarks suspects, Ali would remain free to carry on his busy globe-trotting itinerary for three more years before being lured out of his cozy Sacramento digs in the aftermath of the 1998 Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.  Duly subpoenaed and then "secretly" indicted, Ali would go on to plead guilty, implicate his fellow conspirators, and then forever fade from public view (and scrutiny). 
With just the foregoing facts in mind, it doesn't take a forensic expert to connect the dots and draw certain conclusions as to the likely paternity of what would later become known as "al-Qaida."  From the vantage point of 1993, where were those suspicious dots connecting this close-knit terrorist network to Saddam Hussein?  Or the Pakistani ISI?  Or the Saudis?  Or the Israelis?  After 1995, however, there would be new dots to connect up, with new links subsequently forming in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, along with new al-Qaida cells springing up in London, Hamburg, and across the globe - and, in lockstep with the times, new investigative cliques forming across the US, UK, and the EU. Yet from that crucial, embryonic time period of 1981-1993, we can venture a reasonable guess as to which entity was most involved in coddling, handling, clearing, and funding this insular grouping of Egyptian-born radicals, from out of which would grow the full blossom of al-Qaida. And so we must ask what the likes of Bob Baer, Vincent Cannistraro, and Milt Bearden were truly up to in those years.
But that, perhaps, is a tale for another day.
For further reading on the Legend of 9/11, please read Truth, Lies, and The Legend of 9/11

To express your opinion on this article, join the discussion at Global Research's News and Discussion Forum , at

Chaim Kupferberg is a freelance researcher, writer and frequent CRG contributor.

The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at grants permission to cross-post original CRG articles in their entirety, or any portions thereof, on community internet sites, as long as the text and title of the article are not modified. © Copyright C Kupferberg 2003  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement.

Executive Secrecy: Conspiracy or Failure?
by Robert Baer Released: 13 Sep 2004
Book mentioned in this article: The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin

Conspiracy theories are hard to kill. They've dogged virtually every national tragedy in our history, from the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and what David Ray Griffin now claims is our new Pearl Harbor: 9/11. What's different about this conspiracy theory is the degree to which it has been helped along by its main suspect: the Administration of George W. Bush.

Bush's initial refusal to investigate September 11 started the ball rolling. When he caved in to political pressure and agreed to a commission, he picked the worst possible chairman, Henry Kissinger, whose legendary but secret client list no doubt includes countries suspected of involvement in the attack. The real traction, though, has come from Iraq. By consciously misleading Americans about Saddam Hussein's role in September 11 to justify an invasion, Bush answered the question every good conspiracy theory turns on: Who benefits?

Griffin's subtitle suggests this book is a search for truth, but don't let that fool you. His mind is all but made up. For a start, Griffin simply cannot accept that our national security system totally failed all on its own on September 11. What went wrong with an air defense system we'd been told would protect us from far more sophisticated attacks? Can the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) really be that incompetent? The FAA concluded that American Airlines Flight 11 had been hijacked at approximately 8:20 am. An hour and forty-three minutes later, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into the ground at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In between, the few F-16s that did scramble seemed to have flown everywhere except in the right direction, but even if they had found the hijacked airplanes, authority from the White House to shoot them down arrived after the fact or was relayed too late.

Then there are the FBI and the CIA. The two federal agencies charged with protecting us from terrorist attacks say they were surprised by 9/11 even though bin Laden all but took out an ad in the New York Times telling us when and where he was going to attack. Nor was recent history mute on how such an attack might go down. In 1994 an Algerian Islamic group ideologically affiliated with bin Laden hijacked an Air France plane and would have flown it into the Eiffel Tower if the French hadn't stormed the plane during a refueling stop. A year later the Manila police uncovered a plot to blow up a dozen commercial airliners over the Pacific. Their investigation revealed that one of the Manila plotters, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, had considered enticing some suicide-minded pilot to fly his airplane into the CIA headquarters. KSM, as we now know, would go on to mastermind 9/11.

Was anyone listening back then at the FAA or the Defense Department? Apparently not, but it gets worse. In January 2000, two members of KSM's cell managed to slip into the United States and set up in San Diego although the CIA had them on a watch list for plotting attacks in East Asia. We're told someone at the CIA neglected to inform the FBI, and the two made their flights on September 11. All this and still no one was fired or reprimanded?

So far, so good, but the 9/11 Commission has rendered much of the detail of this book stale news. What's notable about Griffin's take on these events is how easily he leaps to larger evils, a conspiracy at the top. Griffin is a thoughtful, well-informed theologian who before September 11 probably would not have gone anywhere near a conspiracy theory. But the catastrophic failures of that awful day are so implausible and the lies about Iraq so blatant, he feels he has no choice but to recycle some of the wilder conspiracy theories, several of which were popularized by the crackpot author Thierry Meyssan in L'Effroyable Imposture, a bestseller in France:

§ that the Pentagon was hit by a missile rather than by American Airlines Flight 77;

§ that since it was impossible for the World Trade Center to collapse under the impact of an airplane, it had to have been brought down by internal explosives;

§ that United Airlines Flight 93 was shot down when it was learned that the passengers had taken control of the airplane because the conspirators could not risk the passengers' getting off the plane and telling what really happened;

§ and that, most shocking of all, the Bush Administration knew the attack was coming and either let it happen or abetted the plotters as a way of jolting the nation into accepting its policy of pre-emptive warfare and transforming the Middle East.

It's a monstrous proposition, which makes this a monstrous but in some ways important book. Someone, after all, should be asking in print why our foreign policy seems to have fallen into the hands of some malevolent band of Marx Brothers. For all its merits, the 9/11 Commission Report doesn't even attempt to answer this question. Griffin's book does, but since he's an outsider to Washington's Byzantine ways, he falls back on wacky theories.

Halfway through this litany of what went wrong September 11 and why, I found myself thinking about one morning shortly after I joined the CIA. I was drinking a cup of coffee, reading the morning traffic, when a fellow desk officer sitting next to me said out of the blue: "You know, it was the CIA that took down Nixon." I waited for the punch line, but he wasn't joking. "The Watergate burglars taped the door open on purpose," he continued. "The plan was for a security guard to find the tape, call the police, and leave enough bread crumbs along the way to finger Nixon. Why else would they leave tape on the door like that?"

Working for an outfit that does break-ins for a living, I had to agree that leaving tape on the door was an act of gross incompetence. During basic training, the first thing they teach is that you always "pick to decode"-- make a key. One of the Watergate burglars, James McCord, had been a CIA security officer; he definitely knew that taping or jamming open a door is the quickest way to get caught in a black-bag operation. Stranger still, at the arraignment McCord volunteered that he was a CIA agent, another major Langley no-no. From my office mate's point of view, McCord was practically handing Nixon's head on a platter to the Washington Post. If I worked at it hard enough, I could have come up with a reason the CIA might have wanted to take Nixon down. (It wasn't so Spiro Agnew could take his place.) It was the idea of a conspiracy itself that I never could accept.

Yes, the CIA was formed, in essence, to conduct and foment conspiracies, but even within the vaulted offices of Langley, a secret like that couldn't have lasted twenty-four hours before it had been leaked to the Times, the Post and at least two of what were then the three major TV networks. And so it is with Griffin's Pearl Harbor hypothesis. Like most conspiracies, it has the allure of a deeper truth, but experience tells me that although this Administration is dedicated to keeping the truth away from the average citizen, it could never have acquiesced in so much human slaughter and kept it a secret. Especially when so many people would have to have been involved.

This is what I think happened on September 11. The trillions we put into national security were wasted. The military's early warning system, the CIA's and the FBI's ability to collect and process intelligence, and the White House's ability to deal with a national emergency never adapted to the new threat, terrorism, and the end of the cold war. Fail-safe procedures fail routinely, and depending on them is anything but safe. It wasn't a conspiracy of silence that allowed Osama bin Laden to succeed so spectacularly in his mission; it was a confluence of incompetence, spurious assumptions and self-delusion on a grand scale.

As more facts emerge about September 11, many of Griffin's questions should be answered, but his suspicions will never be put to rest as long as the Bush Administration refuses to explain why it dragged this country into the most senseless war in its history. Until then, otherwise reasonable Americans will believe the Bush Administration benefited from 9/11, and there will always be a question about what really happened on that day.

Robert Baer, a CIA case officer in the Middle East from 1976 to 1997, is the author of Sleeping With the Devil (Crown).