Nov. 17. 2001
I first learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon at a convenience store next to my apartment complex.2 The clerks discussed the breaking news while I was getting change for laundry. I followed the story by Internet from my air-conditioned apartment, giving the day’s events a surreal context.
I authored this article as American-administered assaults around Afghanistan accelerate.3 The campaign portends an uncertain but generally dismal range of potentialities and implications. Consider this a caution against what may transpire, in "a world too busy to revise old judgments."4
According to the best information available, a group of Arab Muslims, foreigners living in the United States for several years, using phony government-required identification, and communicating through unencrypted – and thus detectable – e-mails – trained to fly jet airliners and obtained pilot licenses.5 On Sep. 11, they brought box cutters and ceramic knives with them through the security at airports in Boston, Northern Virginia and Newark, N.J., and hijacked four planes.6 The hijackers encountered no resistance aboard three flights.7 They crashed two planes into the twin towers of the WTC and one into the Pentagon.8
The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, crashed near Pittsburgh.9 On this flight, passengers realized the hijackers’ goal and resisted before the plane crashed. (An alternate but unconfirmed story circulates on the Internet that a jet fighter shot down Flight 93.)10
So far as anyone knows or acknowledges – even the paranoid and the conspiracist – the attack was not coordinated by the federal government, or by rogue elements within, as a “black ops” crisis intended to expand State power.11
The U.S. government scrambled to full alert. The Secret Service – fearful of a threat from someone with inside information – whisked President George W. Bush from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska on Air Force One before he finally returned to the White House (The administration later denied there was a real threat).12
When I glimpsed Bush on television, he looked to be mentally reviewing which foreigner could have masterminded the attack; and whether he had dealings with the Bush clan, and whether he had enough dirt on the clan to prevent a retaliation that would satisfy American desire for vengeance and assure Bush's re-election.13
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all civilian air traffic in the United States.14 Jet fighters patrolled the skies above Washington and New York City, with orders to shoot down civilian domestic aircraft.15 Military officials later said the new policy is only a worst-case scenario.16
On Sep. 14, by executive order, Bush declared a national state of emergency, overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.17
The same day, Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of the U.S. military against the attackers.18
On Sep. 20, Bush asserted before Congress that the attack was "an act of war."19
The same day, by executive order, Bush created a new federal agency, the Office of Homeland Security, and appointed Gov. Tom Ridge, R-Pa., to run it.20
In related efforts, various pre-existing components of the federal government
have, among other things:
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz told Congress he favors reconsidering the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which forbids the military to engage in domestic law enforcement.25 Congress passed the law in the wake of military atrocities against civilians during the War of Southern Secession.26 In the 1980s, Congress weakened the law as part of the war on drugs.27
U.S. officials claim the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks is Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabian millionaire-turned Muslim fundamentalist and CIA collaborator-turned opponent of America.28 U.S. officials also blame bin Laden with masterminding attacks against Americans in Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania, and the WTC bombing in 1993.29
The Bush administration has used its information and a network of international treaties and organizations to build a worldwide, if shaky, alliance against bin Laden.30 In fact, German NATO aircraft patrol American airspace as of this writing.31
So far, the administration’s actions receive support from media pundits along the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, and among the American public at large.32 Many commentators have compared the new mood of “national unity” in America to that during World War II.33 At the same time, significant antiwar opposition has appeared in many cities.34
I yield to no man in wanting the collaborators behind the Sep. 11 attacks punished. Simultaneously, the U.S. government needs to remember the bad guys are foreigners, not U.S. citizens. Circumstances for the past century, and particularly in the last dozen years, make that reminder important, and necessary.35
Firstly, both a national state of emergency and the tool used to declare it – the executive order – are constitutionally dubious. Bush’s proclamation deprives Americans of their First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.36
Moreover, the agency overseeing the national emergency, FEMA, is designed specifically to violate Americans’ rights. During the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, witnesses told Congress that FEMA was intended to oversee the roundup and imprisonment of protesters and other “serious threats to national security,” including survivalists, tax protestors, and gun owners, among others, during a U.S. invasion of a foreign country or a “serious domestic disturbance.”37
On Sep. 20, Bush asserted before Congress that the attack was "an act of war." Yet he's refused to ask Congress for a declaration of war, as required under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.38 U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., is pushing for a formal declaration of war, but Congress has failed to act on this.39 So, is the United States at war or not?40 And if so, with whom, specifically?41
In fact, bin Laden doesn’t operate as a head of state, and has not been proven to operate in collaboration with or under the auspices of an actual government.42 Thus, legally, bin Laden cannot be treated as a government, and therefore, a “state of war” does not exist.43 Indeed, the formally recognized president of Afghanistan has offered help in fighting bin Laden, his group, al Qaeda; and his Afghan network of armed supporters, the Taliban.44
Instead, we have “an incomplete state of hostilities.”45 Prior to the allied bombing on Oct. 7, all the action by the U.S. government had come from federal police agencies arresting suspected terrorists and freezing accounts.46
However, the Constitution provides the means of punishing bin Laden et al. without recourse to war. Congress – and only Congress – has the Constitutional ability to “grant letters of marque and reprisal” to punish those behind the Sep. 11 attacks.47 The current Congress hasn’t done this, either, despite the urging of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, L-R-Texas.48
If U.S. leaders can't manage to accomplish what they want to do overseas without ignoring the very rules that they already have to justify what they want to do in the first place, how do you trust them to keep from getting out of line with you?49
The attack represented a colossal failure of the defense and intelligence establishments.50 So Bush established another permanent bureaucracy, the Office of Homeland Security.51 However, the name loses something in translation from the original German.52
At best, Ridge has a mixed record on firearms issues.53 As governor, his innovation has been to centralize corruption in doling out greasy slices of Pennsylvania political pork from the executive office. Before, pork patronage was more democratically dispensed.54
Guess who serves on the House committee that oversees the new bureaucracy? Alleged rapist and murderer Gary Condit, D-Calif.55
And isn’t the Defense Department supposed to be protecting our homeland? If not, what is the U.S. military protecting?
On the home front, to obtain bipartisan support for its war policy, the Bush administration caved in to the Democrats on the continuation of the Clinton agenda.56 After nine months,57 the dime’s worth of difference between Bush and Gore in the 2000 election has been spent, along with billions extra in bailouts and sweetheart deals for insurance companies, airlines and hotels.58 At the same time, the airlines used the post-attack aftermath as a cover to lay off thousands of employees – including security personnel.59 No doubt other industries are figuring how to do the same in this weakening economy.60
In an unfortunately typical, yet paradoxical pattern, many Americans hold views on the attack that contradict their professed political positions. Far too many citizens, hitherto engaged in restoring constitutional government and solving social problems stemming from earlier wars, have discarded all qualms about granting the federal government increased power over their lives.61 Already the recent biochemical scares are being blamed on militias.62
If the conflict progresses, cunning but powerless statists, including many current protestors, will figure out how to piggyback their agendas onto the “war” mobilization. In turn, they’ll serve as the ideological bodyguards of the existing system – the same one where the political and corporate elites indulge “leftists” in their State-strengthening focus on race, class, gender, and insensitivity.63
The real division in America isn’t between those who support war and those who oppose it. The division is between those who support the best interests of the country, and those who support the interests of the central government.64 In other words, as Ronald Reagan once pointed out, the division is between liberty and power.65 This division exists in all States. Once upon a time, the English understood the problem well enough to correct it. So did Americans.66
Existing problems in America, which resulted in large measure because of previous wars, will increase if this conflict is the “endless” twilight struggle Vice President Dick Cheney predicts.67 In other words, what historian Charles Beard called the American power elite’s propensity for waging “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”68
Such actions derive legitimacy from the war fever that rages unabated in the subdivisions and gated communities of this land, where one encounters conspicuous displays of the American flag – made in Chinese factories working overtime to meet recent demand – and frequent calls to “bomb the sand niggers back to the Stone Age.”69 The loudest cries come from the sunshine patriots, the “phony-tough and the crazy-brave.”70 Military enlistment levels remain unchanged, however.71
For that matter, America in World War II wasn’t quite so united as it seems in sepia-toned retrospect.72
About this time, some of you are probably cursing me aloud for my seemingly unpatriotic, disloyal, even “treasonous” attitude. Remember this: Patriotism is about having enough pride in your homeland to defend it from its enemies.73
The real patriots of Sep. 11 were the airline passengers aboard United Flight 93 who stopped the terrorists before they reached their target. In doing so, they acted as the militia – the real homeland security – which even federal statutory law still defines as every able-bodied citizen, who comes to the defense of his country in time of need.74
Patriotism doesn't mean blindly supporting a bunch of clowns, especially when they failed to defend our homeland, and have no real aptitude for doing so.75 And, legally, treason is constitutionally defined in Article III, Section 3 as giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States. So let’s consider:
Who gave $43 million to the Taliban? Me, or the Bush administration?
Just this spring, the Bush administration gave millions to the Taliban for the war on drugs.76 The Drug Enforcement Administration has nevertheless joined the other alphabet federal police agencies at the wartime trough, since “war is the essentially the health of the state.”77
Who ignored warnings about an impending attack? Me, or the CIA?
Who intercepted electronic communications between the hijackers and the masterminds before the attack, and didn’t tell anybody? Me, or the National Security Agency?78
American intelligence ignored warnings from its foreign counterparts.79 What were the spies at the CIA doing when these warnings came in, making “diversity” quilts?80
Who advocates using international institutions as a means of world domination? Me, or Wolfowitz?
This is the same Wolfowitz, who as an official in the senior Bush administration, leaked a memo to the press wherein he advocated a “new order” of total United States domination of the world, in every aspect, through every method, including using the United Nations and other quasi-world governmental bodies to coerce resisting foreign lands.81 In other words, the blueprint for U.S. foreign policy for the last 10 years.82
Wolfowitz’s main opponent in the Bush administration is Secretary of State Colin Powell. The media report that Powell has been a restraining influence on the administration’s response.83 Powell's restraint almost makes up for his opposition to Americans owning weapons and his role in covering up the 1968 My Lai Massacre.84
If Americans really want to get medieval on Osama bin Laden, are the current occupants of the government really the ones you trust to do it?85
That’s like putting arsonists in charge of the fire department.
Several thousand people died because the federal agencies we entrusted for our common defense – and which have spent untold trillions of our dollars – failed us.86
They failed us.
Now isn’t the time to give them a pat on the back or refrain from criticism to preserve “national unity.” Lots of heads need to roll – and that’s just for starters.
What is to be Done?
The present administration must fix a lot of internal problems, dating back to the Clinton administration and beyond, before it can securely retaliate against bin Laden. The federal government also ought to reconsider existing immigration policies, foreign aid, and overseas military deployments, but the administration hasn’t given any indication of doing so.87
The bureaucrats in the American national security apparatus need to be tried, convicted and punished, especially those appointed or promoted during the Clinton administration. They can’t be trusted.
The Bush administration will also have to purge the military of a lot of officers who were either commissioned or promoted by its predecessor. They can’t be trusted either. Instead, Bush is retaining, and even promoting holdovers from the Clinton years.88
In addition, the U.S. military will have to “defeminize” itself. The military will have to end its current practices and go back to the old, proven ways of doing things, and it must remove women from its ranks, period.89 They don't belong.90
Purging the government payroll is just a prelude to a much-needed overhaul of American foreign policy. In theory, that policy is determined by national security and a messianic desire to remake the world (“social engineering”) with the most recent focus on the Muslim world.91
In practice, "national security" means that the U.S. government bullies foreign governments to accommodate its wishes and those of various politically adept international businesses. Then the inhabitants of these foreign lands learn to hate Americans – not just the guilty ones, but regular folks like us who had nothing to do with these dirty deeds except pay for them with our taxes – or else. It’s what the CIA calls “blowback” – “the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.”92 The Weekly Standard, the biggest cheerleader of the United States acting as an empire,93 could only muster a response that fails to address the “blowback” argument directly, and actually confirms it.94
As for social engineering, remaking the existence of about one billion people is beyond the capabilities of any government, and the aggressive secularists who run modern governments are not suited to lead a religious crusade.95 Also, Islam is not as alien to Western civilization as recent rhetoric would have you believe.96 Indeed, the Byzantines who first encountered Islam regarded it as a Christian heresy.97
Regardless, the U.S. government must expel Muslim foreigners living in this country to flush out any remaining terrorist cells.98
Congress needs to reconsider the immigration policies of the last 35 years. We have to be pickier about who gets in, and who stays.99 The United States can't be the dumping ground for the world's human garbage.100
Additionally, the federal government needs to stop giving aid to foreigners. It doesn’t get to the people who need it, they don’t appreciate it when it does, and it gets used against us either way.101
Domestically, the federal government better abolish all its gun laws, which are unconstitutional to begin with, so we can protect ourselves. And the anti-gun creeps better learn how to use guns, too, because government agents can’t be everywhere to save them during an attack.102
In a similar vein, the feds should permit both airline pilots and passengers to carry weapons, including guns, aboard planes, as long as the ammunition is frangible, the same used by the armed passengers aboard Israeli flights.103
When the U.S. internal problems are fixed, the president and Congress can retaliate according to the Constitution. That means Congress should grant letters of marque and reprisal against bin Laden.
Above all, U.S. policy makers need to remember who's working for who,
and who the bad guys are. If they can remember those two things, a lot
of problems will take care of themselves. And liberty will continue to
thrive in our land.
1 APSB, 204-206; Eliot, T.S. "The Hollow Men." 1925. The Complete Poems and Plays of T.S. Eliot. London: Faber, 1969: 81-86; Gibbs, Nancy. “If You Want to Humble an Empire …” Time 11 Sep. 2001: 31-36+.
2 The WTC was a government boondoggle created by the Rockefellers, one of whom served as New York governor at the time. Ownership of the WTC transferred to private hands just months before the attack. Croghan, Lore. “Booms to Busts to Top of the World.” Crain’s New York Business 14 May 2001: 1; Darton, Eric. Divided We Stand: A Biography of New York’s World Trade Center. New York City: Basic Books, 1999: 57-84; Gillespie, Angus Kress. Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers UP, 1999: 32-46.
3 Lancaster, John, and Vernon Loeb. "U.S. Forces Engaging Taliban in Combat." WP 17 Nov. 2001: A1.
4 Auchincloss, Louis. The Embezzler. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1966: 6.
5 Campbell, Duncan et al. Guardian Weekly 20 Sep. 2001: 5; Cullen, Kevin. “Saudi Diplomats: IDs Were Stolen.” Boston Globe 29 Sep. 2001: A6; Eggen, Dan, and Bob Woodward. “U.S. Develops Picture of Overseas Plot.” WP 29 Sep. 2001: A1; Goldstein, Amy. “Hijackers Led by Core Group.” WP 30 Sep. 2001: A1; Headden, Susan et. al. “The Banality of Evil.” USN 1 Oct. 2001: 23-26; Orin, Deborah. “Stolen ID: How Terror Can Cover Its Tracks.” NYPO 30 Sep. 2001: 8; Seigle, Greg. “Data Pouring in Faster Than NSA Can Decipher It.” NYPO 30 Sep. 2001: 11.
6 Crowley, Michael. “Into the Breech.” TNR 1 Oct. 2001: 14; Eggen. “FBI Launches Massive Manhunt.” WP 13 Sep. 2001: A1; “Knife Laws Cut Holes in Airport Security.” The Australian 14 Sep. 2001: 2; “September 11, 2001.” WP 12 Sep. 2001: A30.
7 Krauthammer, Charles. “The Greater the Evil, the More it Disarms.” Time 24 Sep. 2001: 78+.
8 “Battered but Unbroken.” Fortune 1 Oct. 2001: 68+; Hayden, Thomas, and Philippe Moulier. “A Five-sided Nightmare.” USN 24 Sep. 2001: 19.
9 Lane, Charles. “A Sky Filled With Chaos, Uncertainty, and True Heroism.” WP 17 Sep. 2001: A3; Lane, and John Mintz. “Bid to Thwart Hijackers May Have Led to Pa. Crash.” WP 13 Sep. 2001: A1.
10 Broadcast transcript. WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh. 13 Sep. 2001.
11 Higgs, Robert. Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government. New York City: Pacific Research Center for Public Policy/Oxford UP, 1987; Nutter, John Jacob. The CIA’s Black Ops: Covert Action, Foreign Policy, and Democracy. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2000.
12 Allen, Mike. “White House Drops Claim of Threat to Bush.” WP 27 Sep. 2001: A8.
13 Golden, Daniel, James Bandler, and Marcus Walker. “Bin Laden Family Could Profit From a Jump in Defense Spending Due to Ties to U.S. Bank.” WSJ 27 Sep. 2001: A3; Levatter, Ross. "Operation Re-election." Liberty Dec. 2001: 7.
14 Kessler, Glenn, and Don Phillips. “Air Travel System Grounded for First Time.” WP 12 Sep. 2001: A11.
15 Deans, Bob. “Bush Gave Orders to Shoot Planes, Cheney Says.” AAS 17 Sep. 2001: A5; Jaffe, Greg. “U.S. Forces are Put on Highest State of Alert.” WSJ 12 Sep. 2001, Eastern ed.: A15.
16 Loeb. “Rules Govern Downing Airliners.” WP 28 Sep. 2001: A4.
17 Broadcast transcript. CBS Evening News With Dan Rather 14 Sep. 2001.
The text of the official proclamation can be found at the White House Web site <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010914-4.html>.
18 “Text of Joint Resolution Allowing Military Action.” NYT 15 Sep. 2001: A16.
19 Associated Press. “Bush Warns U.S. of Impending War.” DT 21 Sep. 2001: 1-2.
21 Fennell, Tom. “A Wake-up Call for More Airport Security.” Maclean’s 24 Sep. 2001: 28.
22 McGee, Jim. “An Intelligence Giant in the Making.” WP 4 Nov. 2001: A4; Ross, Sonya. AP. “Bush Signs Anti-Terrorism Bill.” AAS 27 Oct. 2001: A6.
23 Pincus, Walter. “Silence of 4 Terror Probe Suspects Poses Dilemma.” WP 21 Oct. 2001: A6.
24 Levy, Steven. “Getting Carded for Safety.” Newsweek 15 Oct. 2001: 8; Murray, Charles J. “Security: Tech’s There: But Society May Balk at Its Use.” Electronic Engineering Times 24 Sep. 2001: 1; Wakin, Daniel J. “National I.D. Cards: One Size Fits All.” NYT 7 Oct. 2001: L3.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been heavily promoting a national ID database run, of course, on Oracle systems. Ellison worked as a consultant to the CIA in the late 1970s and the CIA was one of Oracle’s earliest customers. Pickering, Wendy. “Oracle’s Ellison Sketches Out an Interactive Future.” PC Week 7 Aug. 1995: 10.
The government ought to know better than to propose an national ID system, especially when many Christians interpret that as tantamount to the apocalyptic Mark of the Beast:
Also it causes all, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six (Rev. 13:16-18 NRSV).George Lamsa writes “This number represents the Aramaic letters which spell Nero Caesar" (Peshitta, 1235n). Kenneth L. Gentry Jr. maintains that the Book of Revelation is a prophecy depicting the early Christian Church outlasting the persecutions of Nero (Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation: An Exegetical and Historical Argument for a Pre-A.D. 70 Composition, rev. ed. San Francisco: Christian UP, 1997).