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Featured Article
July 2004
Bush’s 9/11 Secrets
Will the true extent of Bush’s complicity in 9/11 ever be made public?



Author’s Forward:

Richard Clarke’s recent testimony before the 9/11 Commission, that the Bush team was simply not focused on terrorism prior to 9/11, has been eye opening to many people. Now that Condoleeza Rice has been cleared to testify before the 9/11 Commission under oath, the public will get to hear her publicly refute Richard Clarke’s allegations.

Unfortunately, Rice’s testimony will come at a high price, because the agreement by the Whitehouse to allow Rice’s testimony hinges on the promise that the Commission will not later ask for the sworn testimony of other members of the Whitehouse staff. This alone, will undoubtedly severely limit the scope of the Commission’s inquiry.

It is even more unfortunate that Bush and Cheney have agreed to answer questions by the Commission only if they could testify at the same time, in a closed-door session without being sworn in under oath. In deference to Bush and Cheney, these sessions will not even be transcribed for the public record. Clearly this agreement works in favor of the Bush team covering their tracks by giving Bush and Cheney the ability to back up each other’s testimony and perhaps even tell a lie or two without the potential of perjuring themselves. And without a public transcript, it will be impossible to tell whether they told the truth.

If Richard Clarke’s allegations were surprising to many people, it should be even more astounding for them to learn that the Bush team actively worked to block investigations into terrorism which might have stopped the 9/11 attacks. And it should come as even more of a complete shock, that at the behest of their cronies in the oil industry, the Bush team re-opened diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban which continued until just five weeks before the twin towers fell.

And yet is extremely dubious that the 9/11 Commission will offer any conclusions that will implicate the Bush team’s involvement in 9/11 to this extent. Instead the Commission will just as likely provide a very incomplete picture of the events leading up to 9/11, not only because they will fail to ask the right questions, but moreover because the Whitehouse maintains the ultimate authority of whom the Commission can call to testify under oath.

While the extent of Bush’s direct knowledge of intelligence blocks of terrorist investigations and the re-opening of negotiations with the Taliban remains to be seen, the evidence points to the fact that Cheney was in all probability the main architect of these plans. In light of the evidence, Cheney should be forced to testify before the Commission while under oath as a means to expand the investigation and call other members of the Whitehouse staff as witnesses. But alas, this will never be. Where is Ken Starr when you need him?

The following was written when the 9/11 Commission was just starting out. This research is concerned with the pattern of the Bush administration to block inquiries into 9/11 while at the same time using the attacks for political gain; the failures of Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks; the refusal of the Bush team to consider the advice of any experts who where not in their employ; the blocking of intelligence gathering where oil interests were concerned; the money trail between the Bush and Bin laden families; and finally the negotiations of the Bush team with the Taliban which may have had a significant role in spurring the 9/11 attacks.

The following should be a checklist for the members of the 9/11 commission if they really want to get at the truth. Failing this, it is offered here, as a resource for anyone who wants to educate themselves on the extent that this administration has failed the American people and why Bush’s claim that he has always been tough on terrorism is a blatant lie.

Part 1: Revisionist History
Resisting an investigation

At the same time that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were the most devastating foreign assaults on American soil in U.S, history since the war of 1812, they were also the best thing that ever happened to the Bush presidency. In the weeks leading up to the 9/11 attacks, Bush’s personal approval ratings in the polls had sunk to under 50%. But soon after 9/11, Bush’s ratings quickly soared to 90% and above. Bush’s approval ratings were boosted after 9/11, because at the same time that the attacks reinvigorated American patriotism, the majority rallied around Bush just as readily as they rallied around the flag. What is more, the attacks of 9/11 would later prove to have a bountiful effect on the success of the Republican party, who with Karl Rove’s guidance would deftly appropriate the 9/11 tragedy into a winning campaign strategy during the 2002 midterm elections.

And yet, despite their eagerness to use the tragedy of 9/11 as a campaign issue, there are many details about the events that led up to 9/11 that the Bush team has wished they could keep secret. While the proponents of investigations into 9/11 sought to learn from the past as a way to insure that such an attack would never happen again, the Bush team took the prospect of such investigations very personally and methodically worked to stop, delay or limit the scope of all such inquiries. And yet, despite the Bush team’s best efforts, in June 2002, nine months after the 9/11 attacks occurred, a joint congressional committee investigation was finally launched. In the course of this inquiry, as if the Bush team truly had something to hide, they did everything in their power to obstruct this investigation by withholding, delaying or obfuscating as much information as they could.

Significantly, the Bush team largely refused the joint inquiry's request to examine the information available to Bush about the potential for terrorist attacks by alternately citing grounds of executive privilege or national security to justify their own desire for secrecy. In a notable instance of their refusal to shed light on how well Bush was informed, the Bush team refused to release the “President’s Daily Briefing” of August 6th, 2001 which stated that bin Laden supporters were planning attacks in the U.S. in the near future. The Bush team also blocked interviews with CIA personnel who could have helped illustrate how this type of brief was generally composed. And while Condoleeza Rice claimed that the August 6th brief was vague and did not point to a specific attack, the joint inquiry was not only barred from questioning her about this document but was also barred from interviewing her about Bush’s counterterrorism policy in general. Instead the joint inquiry was limited to receiving written responses to their questions from Rice’s Deputy, Steven Hadley.

In light of the Bush team’s many attempts to deny pertinent information to its investigation, the joint inquiry dedicated 15 pages of its final report to describing the pattern of denials and delaying tactics used by the Bush team. Commenting on the Bush team’s pattern of withholding information from the joint inquiry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former ranking member of the House intelligence committee commented, "We were never able to get much of the material we requested from the National Security Council." "The nation was not well-served by the administration's failure to provide this critical information."

Ignoring the warnings

One of the Bush team’s techniques of avoiding culpability for 9/11 used the premise that such an attack had previously been thought to be inconceivable. According to this logic: if the method of the 9/11 attacks was inconceivable, the attacks themselves simply could not have been predicted and therefore the Bush team could not be held accountable for their failure to stop them. Condoleeza Rice used this logic at a May 16, 2002 news conference, when she commented on the 9/11 attacks by saying, "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center… that they would try to use … a hijacked airplane as a missile.”

The problem with this statement is that it contradictory to the findings of the joint congressional committee report which states that not only were the 9/11 attacks not inconceivable but that U.S. intelligence had been warned repeatedly that exactly this sort of attack might occur. According to the report, "From at least 1994, and continuing into the summer of 2001, the Intelligence Community received information indicating that terrorists were contemplating, among other means of attack, the use of aircraft as weapons." And "In March 2000, they [the Intelligence Community] obtained information regarding the types of targets that operatives of Bin Laden's network might strike. The Statue of Liberty was specifically mentioned, as were skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants."

According to other sources not mentioned in the joint inquiry’s report, U.S. intelligence was warned repeatedly by their foreign counterparts in the months leading up to the 9/11 attacks that a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil seemed imminent in the near future. The following is only a partial list of the warnings that U.S. intelligence received during the summer of 2001.

• In June 2001, German intelligence warned the US, Britain, and Israel that Middle Eastern terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack "American and Israeli symbols which stand out."

• In late July 2001, the U.S. Consul General was notified by Afghanistan's Foreign Minister that Osama bin Laden was planning a "huge attack" on targets inside America.

• In late July 2001, Egyptian intelligence passed on information to the CIA that "20 al-Qaeda members had slipped into the US and four of them had received flight training…"

• In the summer of 2001, Russian intelligence agencies alerted the U.S. that suicide pilots were training for attacks on U.S. targets.

• In late summer 2001, Jordan intelligence passed on an intercepted message to U.S. intelligence that stated that a major attack was being planned inside the U.S. and that aircraft would be used.

• In mid-August 2001, Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, warned the CIA and FBI that 50 to 200 al-Qaeda terrorists living in the U.S. were planning an imminent "major assault on the US" aimed at a "large scale target" In the days that followed, Mossad gave the CIA a list of 19 terrorists living in the US. who appeared to be planning to carry out an attack in the near future. Later it would become known that at least four of the names on this list were among the known 9/11 hijackers.

Disregarding the evidence of experts

Not only did the Bush team fail to heed the repeated warnings about a potential 9/11 from foreign intelligence sources, they actively worked to stop anti-terrorism legislation supported by the recommendations of a major study chartered by the U.S. Defense Department. Submitted in January of 2001, the bipartisan Commission on the “National Security/21st Century” report (the Hart Rudman Report) flatly stated that the proliferation of unconventional weapons combined with the rise of international terrorism would ultimately result in the vulnerability of the U.S. to a catastrophic attack.

According to the Hart Rudman report, the current U.S. defense “structures and strategies are fragmented and inadequate." One of the primary findings of the commission, Hart argued was that "Good intelligence is the key to preventing attacks on the homeland," and that the nation must come to view "homeland security as a primary national security mission." The report recommended that diplomacy be refocused to emphasize the sharing of intelligence about potential terrorist threats and that the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies must become better integrated with their foreign counterparts. As a priority of the changes that this report strongly suggested was the urgent need for the creation of a new cabinet-level National Homeland Security Agency that would combine the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with several other agencies for the purpose of assessing and responding to terrorist threats.

After the Hart Rudman report was released, its authors worked to lobby congress to enact their findings into law. And initially, congress seemed interested in adopting changes to homeland security based on the report’s findings. For example, in March 2001 Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, introduced the National Homeland Security Agency Act. And at that time, based on the interest of other members of congress in actively supporting this legislation and other similar bills, it seemed hopeful that at least some of the commission’s recommendations had a good chance to become law.

In the attempt to get White House support for their recommendations, Hart met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and both he and Rudman met with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. But the hopes of congress taking the commission’s findings seriously suddenly faded when Bush rejected the commission’s recommendations and directed his own partisans to come up with their own plan. According to Hart, "Frankly, the White House shut it down," "The president said 'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president. We believe FEMA is competent to coordinate this effort.” Subsequently, after Hart and Rudman failed to gain support from the White House, Congress turned their attention to other issues, most notably Bush’s first round of tax cuts to the hyper-rich and Cheney’s industry-friendly energy policy.

Bush’s failure to heed the warnings of the Hart Rudman report is a classic example of his pattern of rejecting findings of fact, which had originated from outside his small circle of partisans. Rejecting the Hart Rudman report is reminiscent of Bush backing out of the Kyoto protocol, which had concluded only after years of scientific study consensus that global warming was an imminent threat. In defense of his rejection of Kyoto, Bush announced the formation of a 10-year initiative to study the matter further.

In following this pattern, the findings of the Hart Rudman report were put on hold until Vice President Cheney and Joe Allbaugh, director of FEMA, had an opportunity to study them and come up with their own conclusions. Although it is doubtable that either of these men had the time to undertake such a massive review, Cheney and Allbaugh were scheduled to present their conclusions on October 1st, 2001. But by then, it would already be too late.

Taking credit for other people’s ideas

On June 7th, 2002, nine months after the attacks of 9/11— in an about face on his earlier stance on the creation of a cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security — Bush told the nation that a sweeping reorganization of the federal government was needed to insure the safety of the American people. Bush said, "Tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission — securing the American homeland and protecting the American people,". And as if the Hart Rudman report had never existed, Bush acted as if he deserved all of the credit for coming up with this groundbreaking initiative; that he and his partisans had come up with the idea to create a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security all by themselves.

To put this in historical perspective: In the seven months between when the Bush team was first briefed on the Hart Rudman report and the events of 9/11, they did nothing about it except to push it aside and declare that the matter needed more study. By the time that 9/11 occurred, it is unclear whether Cheney and Allbaugh had actually even begun their own study to confirm or refute the report’s findings. What is more, in the nine months after 9/11 before Bush’s June 2002 decision to prioritize the formation of the Office of Homeland Security, the Bush team consistently resisted the formation of this department as originally put forward by the Hart Rudman report and supported by many Democrats.

And yet in June of 2002, 16 months after they had first been briefed on Hart/Rudman, the Bush team acted as if the creation of a cabinet level Department of Homeland Security was not only their own idea, but that it was suddenly a matter of the utmost national urgency. Once the Bush team decided that a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security had become urgent, anyone who debated how the new department would be best organized was accused of wasting precious time and putting American lives at risk. In addition, in the months between June 2002 and the important midterm elections of November 2002, the Bush team labeled Democrats as obstructionists for resisting the creation of the new department exactly as Bush had envisioned it.

During the 2002 midterm campaigns, the accusations of Democratic obstructionism reached a fever pitch and many Democrats were portrayed as being simply un-American for failing to cede to Bush’s every wish. With the help of Karl Rove, Bush’s chief political advisor, this argument would ultimately prove so successful during the 2002 midterm campaigns that it would help the Republicans gain control of the Senate.

Part 2: The Ties that Blind
Protecting oil interests

Although the Bush team had originally hoped to thwart any inquiry into the intelligence failures which led up to 9/11, they must have been at least overall pleased with the largely inconclusive and highly censored report that the joint congressional inquiry presented to the public in December 2002. While much of the information regarding how much Bush knew prior to the 9/11 attacks and how poorly the Bush team prioritized the funding of counter-terrorism is missing from this report simply because the Bush team refused to cooperate with the investigation, much of the report’s testimony and findings of fact were also aggressively deleted under the ruse of protecting U.S. national security. The version of this report made available to the public is remarkable, not so much for its conclusions, but because so many of its sources, references and findings are so consistently blacked-out.

When this report did not resort to outright deletions, it repeatedly resorted to unclear language as a means to blunt its conclusions. Again and again, this report refers vaguely to “foreign support” for terrorism while declining to name the country or countries this term is meant to describe. Since the report’s release, it has become common knowledge that the term “foreign support” was used almost exclusively in reference to Saudi Arabia. And yet, the report failed to specifically name Saudi Arabia in its findings, allegedly on the advice of the CIA which cautioned that implicating the Saudis would have adverse effects on national security.

The 27 pages of the report titled “Findings, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters” were classified because they extensively implicated the Saudi government’s role in funding terrorism. According to one U.S. official, these 27 pages detail “very direct, very specific links”, between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers "that cannot be passed off as rogue, isolated or coincidental." While the unclassified version of this report is available to the public online, it is rendered entirely unintelligible because so much information has been intentionally blacked out.

While the CIA cited national security interests in deleting references to Saudi Arabia from the joint inquiry’s report, many lawmakers argued that the censorship took place simply to avoid embarrassment to U.S. intelligence and the Bush team for their failures to investigate Saudi connections to terrorism. The failure of U.S. intelligence to investigate Saudi involvement was not so much the fault of the intelligence agencies themselves as with the orders from the State Department and the White House to back off of such investigations.

As a tragic example of the extreme frustration that this policy engendered among intelligence agents, FBI deputy director and counterterrorism expert John O’Neil — who had played a major role in the investigations of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, the 1998 African embassy bombings and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — resigned in July 2000 to protest the policy of giving a higher priority to oil interests than to protecting the American people. According to O’Neil, ''the main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it.'' In a tragic twist of fate, after resigning from the FBI, O’Neil took a job as chief of security at the World Trade Center where he died on 9/11 in exactly the type of attack his investigations had sought to prevent.

As a case in point of how U.S. oil interests worked to protect the Saudis and the bin Laden family at the expense of investigations into terrorism, consider that even while the mainstream media painted Osama bin Laden as the black sheep of an otherwise respectable family, at one point the FBI did attempt to investigate his brothers Abdullah and Omar for their relationship to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which had long been suspected of funding terrorism. And yet, before any conclusions could be reached about Abdullah and Omar, the investigation was quickly closed. This occurred, according to high-placed intelligence sources, simply because "There were always constraints on investigating the Saudis." According to these sources, under George W. Bush the decision to back off of investigations of Saudis became even more pronounced and in the process "There were particular investigations that were effectively killed." Under Bush, intelligence agencies were simply told to "back off" from investigations involving members of the Bin Laden family and the Saudi royals.

As another case in point of how the interests of the Saudis and the bin Laden family were prioritized over the interests of the American people, consider that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, top white house officials personally approved the evacuation of high-ranking Saudis, including members of the bin laden family, for the fear that they might become targets of retribution. Significantly, this evacuation took place when US airspace was still restricted and all flights required special government approval. Since it had already become clear that 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudi nationals it should seem very strange that even as U.S. law enforcement rounded up thousands of suspects with even the remotest suspected ties to terrorism, that only a perfunctory interview by FBI officials served to absolve this select group from any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. If should be clear, that if these evacuees had not been rich Saudis who accordingly were well connected to Bush’s foreign policy priorities, they might just as well have been rounded up like so many other suspects to face exhaustive interrogation under the threat of trial before a military tribunal. Instead they were simply allowed to go home, with few questions asked.

Oil in the Family

Prior to 9/11, the Bush administration had been deeply conflicted when it came to cracking down on terrorist activities that might have come at the expense of undermining their own oil interests. Of all previous administrations, the Bush administration clearly has bragging rights as being the most fully steeped in the darker side of the oil industry. To name just a few examples: Dick Cheney was formerly the CEO of Halliburton, the world’s largest oil services company, which allegedly earned tens of millions of dollars doing business with Iraq in violation of U.S. sanctions. Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, was previously a consultant for Unocal, which had long sought to legitimize the Taliban as a means to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice previously sat on the board of directors of Chevron, which ignored the human rights abuses in the countries in which it did business and held a majority interest in several companies working to develop Central Asian oil.

Bush himself was closely allied with former Enron CEO, Ken Lay, whom he once gave the endearing nickname “Kenny boy”. While Bush tried to distance himself from Lay after the Enron accounting scandal broke, in reality Bush’s relationship with Enron dated back at least to 1988 when he tried to use his family name to help Enron win a $300 million dollar Argentine pipeline deal. As further evidence of Bush’s close relationship with Lay, when Bush ran for president Lay became a Bush “pioneer” and raised at least $100,000 for Bush’s campaign. Lay also allowed Enron’s corporate jets to be used by the Bush campaign on multiple occasions and later helped bankroll $300,000 to underwrite Bush’s inauguration. In addition, after Bush took the office, Lay seems to have become Bush’s de facto energy advisor who among other things supported Bush’s decision to not intervene in the California energy crisis of 2000; a decision which helped Enron, then one of California’s main energy suppliers, to triple their annual revenues. Clearly the fate of Californians mattered less to Bush than helping his friend “Kenny boy” enhance his profits.

Good Oil Boy’s Network

On the surface Bush seems to have been less successful in the oil business than many of the other members of his administration. Bush’s own experience at running several failed oil exploration companies paints the picture of a man who had little business sense, but whose highly marketable last name often came to his rescue. Bush’s fortunes in the oil exploration business would start to turn when James Bath, the sole business representative of Osama bin Laden’s brother, Salem bin Laden, would invest in Bush’s Arbusto Energy. When Salem bin Laden died in 1988, the powerful Saudi Arabian banker Khalid bin Mahfouz, whom it should be noted was also Osama bin Laden’s brother in law, inherited Salem bin Laden’s business interests in Houston which continued to be represented by James Bath. In 1992 Bath was investigated by the FBI for illegally representing Saudi business relationships and accused of attempting to influence the foreign policies of the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

As for Bush’s oil fortune: after several sell-outs and mergers, Bush’s Arbusto Energy would emerge as Harken Energy. When Harken started to fail, it was bailed out by the investments of Saudi financiers whose banking interests were also represented by Khalid bin Mahfouz. After Harken was given new life by Saudi money and also saw it’s stock price soar after being given rights for an off-shore lease in Bahrain (even though Harken lacked both foreign and off-shore experience) Bush basically took the money and ran. In 1990, after selling all of his Harken stock, which ultimately gave him the money for part ownership of the Texas Rangers, the SEC briefly investigated Bush for insider trading. But a formal investigation into the sitting president’s son was never launched.

Bush’s past business relationship with James Bath and Khalid bin Mahfouz is a telling example of how the U.S. oil industry in general and the Bush family specifically has been inextricably connected with Saudi money and by extension, its financial support for terrorism. Among Khalid bin Mahfouz’s many questionable business dealings in the U.S., was that he held a 20% interest in Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). BCCI was closed down in July of 1991 amid charges that it defrauded depositors of at least $10 billion in what has been called the largest bank fraud in world history. Investigations into the BCCI scandal have concluded that one of the bank’s key businesses was in the laundering of middle eastern money with several equally illegal sidelines including arms brokering, bribery of government officials and financing Saudi terrorism.

Khalid bin Mahfouz was a powerful man with a wide circle of influence. In acknowledgment of the vast sums of Saudi money that bin Mahfouz controlled, he was known in the Arab world as the “king’s treasurer”. Among his many other business relationships, he notably controlled key investments in the defense industry investment firm, the Carlyle Group, which until recently also enjoyed major financial support from the bin Laden family. Significantly, Carlyle also happens to employ many former top government officials, including George Bush Sr. who currently holds the position of senior advisor and formerly sat on Carlyle’s board. For this reason, Carlyle serves as another case study in how the interests of bin Mahfouz and the Bush family are inextricably interconnected.

Part 3: Clear Conflicts of Interest
Continued calls for an investigation

Unfortunately for George W. Bush, the problem of the public’s desire to investigate 9/11 just wouldn’t go away. In addition to the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11 discussed above, the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” (the 9/11 Commission) was created as an independent commission in late 2002, largely as a result of the lobbying efforts of widows whose husbands perished in the 9/11 attacks. Regrettably, even from the start, the 9/11 Commission was not truly independent because Bush himself was granted the authority to name its chairman. Bush’s outlandish initial choice of Henry Kissinger to lead the commission naturally failed to gain the public’s trust, at the same time that Kissinger flatly refused to divulge his conflicts of interest by naming his other clients. As Bush’s second choice to head the commission, he chose former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean.

While the mainstream media lauded the choice of Thomas Kean to head the 9/11 commission by declaring that he was "a man of extraordinary integrity, decency and intellect," and that “he lacks obvious conflicts of interest", a peek into Kean’s business relationships reveals a different story. Notably, Kean continues to sit on the board of Amerada Hess Corporation, which had formed a joint venture for the development of Caspian oil along with Delta Oil Ltd. of Saudi Arabia, which is largely controlled by the Khalid bin Mahfouz family. For this reason alone, chairman Kean has an obvious conflict of interest in pursuing the truth about Saudi influence in funding terrorism. Accordingly he has been put in the awkward position of ultimately investigating his own business relationships.

Even on the chance that Kean can rise above his obvious conflicts of interest, it is doubtable that the 9/11 Commission will succeed in any meaningful way. For one thing, the commission itself is horribly under-funded having been originally granted only three million dollars; a paltry sum to investigate the deaths of over 3,000 people, especially when you compare it to the $50 million that was provided to investigate the recent Columbia space shuttle tragedy where only seven people died.

In addition, the 9/11 Commission was originally only allotted 18 months to complete its inquiry and the first four months were largely lost due to procedural delays. In this regard, Kean himself originally ruled out asking for an extension, saying that it would mean that the "two or three months' delay would put us right in the middle of the election season, and that's not when we want to report." In other words, Kean valued the truth less than the fear that his findings might be so ill-timed as to hurt George W. Bush’s chances of being elected in 2004.

While it is doubtable that the 9/11 Commission will get to the bottom of the events leading up to 9/11, if any investigation into 9/11 actually succeeds in connecting the dots and documenting the backroom deal-making which directly influenced the intelligence and foreign policy failures leading up to the attacks of 9/11, it’s findings would be a shot across the bough of the oil industry, the intelligence community and especially the Bush team. And if investigators start looking in the right places, the implications for the Bush team would likely make Watergate and Iran/Contra seem almost like innocent mistakes.

Slippery Connections

The global oil industry is controlled by a relatively small number of corporate interests whose influence overlaps many corporate and national boundaries. For example, Thomas Kean’s business dealings with Delta Oil indirectly implicate him with Khalid bin Mahfouz’s sponsorship of terrorism. And considering Kean’s business relationship with Delta Oil alone reveals additional connections to many more U.S. oil companies. In addition to its partnership with Amerada Hess, Delta Oil also had a partnership with Unocal for the creation of the trans-Afghan pipeline. As part of this deal, Enron was also under contract by both companies to perform feasibility studies for the project. Significantly, Enron also played a key role, along with representatives of Delta Oil, in negotiating with the Taliban in the hopes they would provide a stable political climate for the completion of this valuable pipeline.

Given the Bush administration’s roots in the oil industry, it should come as no surprise that their efforts to promote America’s energy policy would prioritize their own corporate allegiances. Vice President Cheney, in his role in developing U.S. energy policy, naturally sought advice from his own corporate cronies; but it remains unclear who exactly attended the closed-door meetings of Cheney’s energy task force. Groups as disparate as Judicial Watch, the Sierra Club and the General Accounting Office of Congress (GAO), have unsuccessfully sought court orders to force Cheney to name who had advised him in formulating the National Energy Policy unveiled in March of 2001.

Significantly, in the summer of 2003, Judicial Watch as part of it’s research in its lawsuit against Cheney obtained documents used in Cheney’s energy meetings, which among other things included maps of Iraqi oil fields. The unearthing of these documents has consequently cast the suspicion that Cheney had already begun to covet Iraqi oil, nearly two years before Bush publicly made the decision to invade Iraq. It is also significant that one of the key conclusions of Cheney’s energy task force was that Central Asian oil would soon become critical to the U.S. economy. From this finding alone, it can be deduced that Cheney also had his eye on the completion of the trans-Afghan pipeline, well before the events of 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan.

Trading with the enemy

Under Clinton, U.S. diplomatic ties with the Taliban were broken off in response to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, which were linked to bin Laden. These attacks subsequently resulted in Clinton’s decision to launch missile strikes against terrorist bases in Afghanistan. And yet immediately after Bush took the office, there was a dramatic shift in policy toward the Taliban. Once the Bush team came into power, they immediately reinstated U.S./Taliban diplomatic ties, even though their predecessors had labeled the Taliban as a rogue regime,

In their attempt to do what they knew best, the Bush team sought to exploit their expertise in the oil business by whatever means possible. Significantly the re-opening of diplomatic ties with the Taliban was designed to allow U.S. oil companies to negotiate the joint venture of Delta Oil, Unocal and Enron to build the trans-Afghan pipeline. This alone should make it clear that Bush felt that the Taliban’s potential role in opening the spigots of Central Asian oil far outweighed their role in the sponsorship of terrorism.

In the minds of the Bush team, the Taliban were ideally suited to provide a stable political climate for the completion of the trans-Afghan pipeline. They also thought the Taliban could be easily persuaded to cooperate in exchange for U.S. diplomatic recognition and economic aid. Naively, the Bush team erred in believing that their economic arguments were so strong that they could additionally persuade the Taliban to hand over bin Laden as part of the deal. It is extremely important to note, that the Bush team continued to negotiate with the Taliban over the trans-Afghan pipeline until just five weeks before the 9/11 attacks.

At the same time the Bush team resumed negotiations with the Taliban, they also expanded the orders of U.S. intelligence agencies to back off of certain oil-related investigations. The Bush team was not the first administration to block investigations into the funding of the militant Islamic factions where oil interests were concerned, but they took it to a new level by expanding the blocks to preclude the investigation of Saudi-Taliban-Afghan oil connections. Significantly, it is alleged that Vice President Cheney personally instigated these blocks based on the advice of representatives from Enron who, along with many other Bush insiders, had vested interests in the completion of the trans-Afghan pipeline.

See no evil

The desire of the Bush team to block intelligence into Saudi and Taliban links to terrorism is understandable in terms of their desire to protect their friends in the oil industry. But even more tellingly, this move can be understood in terms of the Bush team’s desire to conduct business as usual, even in unusual circumstances. This ultimately contributed to their general predisposition to ignore threats or warnings from any study that was not authored by their own partisans.

It did not matter whether the question at hand was global warming, homeland security or the proliferation of terrorism; if the issue could not be packaged in a way that it would further Bush’s immediate agenda or was not authored by administration allies, the Bush team consistently discarded the reasoned conclusions of highly credentialed experts as if they were based on nothing at all. By casting a blind eye to the warnings of experts in their respective fields, the Bush team regularly adopted a naïve policy of choosing to “see no evil”.

As an example of how the Bush team’s policy to “see no evil” worked to undermine pre-9/11 intelligence, Minneapolis FBI director Colleen Rowley’s request to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, for his suspicious activity while attending flight training, went completely ignored. While Rowley waited for her investigation to be approved, the French intelligence service (the French Directorate of Territorial Security), which had begun investigating Moussaoui in 1999, repeatedly insisted that her office investigate him immediately. And yet, Rowley’s request for an investigation was clearly not a matter of urgency for the Bush team and even failed to reach the top levels of FBI headquarters.

As another example of how the Bush’s “see no evil” policy kept U.S. intelligence in the dark, the April 2001 memo from the Phoenix FBI office which called for an investigation into the motives of bin Laden supporters attending U.S. flight schools, shared a similar fate with Rowley’s memo on Moussaoui, but with an important twist. While both memos failed to reach the top levels of FBI headquarters, it is alleged that Vice President Cheney personally read the Phoenix memo. The allegation that Cheney had read the Phoenix memo was verified in interviews given by former chief FBI counter-terrorism expert Paul O’Neil who emphasized that Cheney’s refusal to follow up on the leads of the Phoenix memo was a deciding factor in his decision to resign from the FBI.

Down a slippery slope

Before the negotiations with the Taliban over the trans-Afghan pipeline were broken off, the meetings got quite ugly. When the Taliban refused to cede to the U.S. position that included the surrender of bin Laden, it is reported that U.S. representatives openly threatened them. In July of 2001, U.S. representative, Tom Simons strongly implied the use of military force against the Taliban when he said 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option'. In addition, a U.S. representative in attendance at these meetings is reported to have threatened the Taliban with direct military reprisal by saying, "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."

The threat of using military force against the Taliban was not a bluff on the part of U.S. representatives. Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, who attended some of the Taliban negotiations, was told by U.S. officials that military intervention against the Taliban was already in the planning stages; that unless the Taliban delivered bin Laden, a large scale military strike against them was likely to be launched by mid-October 2001.

In fact, well before U.S. representatives even made introductory threats against the Taliban, the military operation against them had already begun. As early as March 2001, a coalition comprised of Russia, Iran, India and the U.S. was already working to bolster Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban “Northern Alliance”. Moreover, the members of this coalition, with the possible exception of Iran, were already on board to materially support a more extensive military intervention by the U.S., should the U.S. negotiations with the Taliban fail to produce their desired result.

If the veil of wishful thinking, encouraged by their predisposition to “see no evil”, could have been somehow lifted from their eyes, the Bush team might have understood the potential for the grave consequences that would follow from their flawed foreign policy toward the Taliban. By failing to understand the political realities underlying their negotiations for the trans-Afghan pipeline in demanding that the Taliban surrender bin Laden at the same time that they actively blocked investigations into the Saudi-Taliban-Afghan oil connection to terrorism, the Bush team set in motion a chain of events which undoubtedly helped make the attacks of 9/11 much more likely to occur.

In asking the Taliban to surrender bin Laden, the Bush team was completely ignorant of the political realities involved. First, the Bush team failed to grasp the extent of the symbiotic relationship of the Taliban and bin Laden, which allowed both factions to prosper. Secondly, the Bush team was clueless as to the level of Taliban indebtedness to bin Laden for his extensive financial support. Third, by blocking U.S. intelligence from launching investigations into the Taliban’s involvement with terrorism in particular and investigations into the use of airplanes as weapons by Islamic extremists in general, the Bush team forced U.S. intelligence to work in the dark, which made it even more impossible for their agencies to have predicted or prevented the 9/11 attacks.

The level of sheer stupidity of Bush’s foreign policy toward the Taliban is made even more clear in recovered Al Qaida documents which show that from the beginning, Al Qaida operatives where aware of the trans-Afghan pipeline negotiations, as well as the plan hatched by the Bush team to link this deal to the surrender of bin Laden. The significance of these documents should be damning to the Bush team because they reveal that while Al Qaida intelligence was unimpeded in gaining a full working knowledge of U.S. actions; at the same time U.S. intelligence was effectively hobbled in their investigations because of the intelligence blocks the Bush team had put in place.

Throughout their negotiations with the Taliban, it was the Bush team’s policy of “see no evil” that stopped them from seeing how impossibly stupid their Taliban foreign policy actually was. Even early on in the negotiations, once the Bush team attempted to link the trans-Afghan pipeline deal with the surrender of the Taliban’s chief benefactor bin Laden, the Taliban must have naturally felt that the ultimate goal of the U.S. was to destroy them as well. Furthermore, after U.S. representatives began to threaten them with military action, the Taliban must have desperately felt the need to act toward their own political survival. Here, it doesn’t take a foreign policy expert to understand that the threat of an imminent attack by the superior military force of the U.S. could understandably result in the Taliban’s decision that they had nothing to lose by attacking the U.S. first. Because of the dynamics set up by the Bush team’s negotiations with the Taliban, it is unlikely that that attacks of 9/11 were an unrelated incident. Instead it is more likely that they were a calculated response to U.S. threats, undertaken in the hopes of creating a widespread war in all of Central Asia and serve as a rallying cry to recruit Islamic extremist from all around the world.

Part 4: Doing Business as Usual
Irony where is thy sting?

While the Bush team undoubtedly helped to undermine counter-terrorism efforts prior to the 9/11 attacks, their response to 9/11 was clear and decisive. On September 12th, after meeting with his National Security advisors, Bush announced that the 9/11 attacks were an act of war and accordingly that the U.S. had no choice but to lead the world in a “war against terrorism”. In the days that followed, Bush told the nation that the ‘war on terror’ was a “conflict without battlefields or beachheads” that would be won “in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.”

On September 18th 2001, Bush named bin Laden as “the prime suspect” in the 9/11 attacks and warned the Taliban that the “people who house him, encourage him, provide food, comfort or money are on notice...” Subsequently, Bin Laden was quickly made into a poster boy to rally the support of the American public for the “war on terror”. Using allusions straight out of the Wild West, Bush flatly announced that bin Laden was wanted ‘dead or alive.’ And for a time, before bin Laden ultimately eluded the invading force in Afghanistan, the demand for his capture seemed to have become Bush’s primary foreign policy statement.

By accusing bin Laden of being the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, while holding the Taliban accountable for harboring him, Bush put forward the perfect rationale for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; an option which had already been on the table well before the attacks of 9/11 had occurred. And in light of the sympathy felt by most of the rest of the world for America’s loss in the 9/11 attacks, most of the international community sanctioned the invasion of Afghanistan, almost without question.

Yet despite the case made by the Bush team that the invasion of Afghanistan was simply intended to punish its resident “evil-doers” for their act of war against the U.S., it should be clear from the foregoing, that the events that led up to the invasion of Afghanistan were not only extremely complex, but they were also exceptionally ironic.

It is extremely ironic that even though the Bush team’s blind determination in pursuing oil negotiations with the Taliban clearly played a key role in the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks — that in the aftermath of 9/11 and going into the 2002 midterm elections — that the Bush team specifically and Republicans in general would be regarded by the majority as being more qualified than Democrats to protect America’s national security interests. It is ironic that even though the Bush team’s bungled foreign policy toward the Taliban helped to allow the planning of the 9/11 attacks to proceed under the radar of U.S. intelligence, that the resulting conquest of Afghanistan, even without the capture of bin Laden, would result in Bush being lauded as a great “war-time” president for his vigilant stance on terrorism.

And yet, the most important irony of these events was that the successful invasion of Afghanistan gave the same oil interests who had convinced the Bush team to negotiate with the Taliban and block investigations into their links to terrorism, something they previously could have only dreamed of in the promise of a stable Afghani political climate that would be heavily influenced by the Bush team’s allegiance to oil interests. For the officials of Amerada Hess, Delta Oil, Unocal and Enron, who had successfully lobbied the Bush administration to pursue their own corporate interests at the expense of the safety of the American people, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was a dream come true which all but insured that the construction of the trans-Afghani pipeline would soon become a reality.

Completing the negotiations

After the Taliban fell, the Bush team set about to make the new Afghan government in their own image. In working to create an oil-friendly government for Afghanistan, Hamed Karzai was hand picked by the Bush team to head the interim Afghani government. Significantly, long before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Karzai had been involved in a CIA plan to instigate a Pashtun uprising against the Taliban. And once the U.S. invasion began, Karzai himself was there on the ground to help spur Pashtun support for U.S. forces. While it is possible that the Bush team lobbied so heavily for Karzai’s political success in post-Taliban Afghanistan as a way to repay him for his help with the invasion, it may have been even more significant that Karzai also had a shared connection to the Bush team’s oil interests. At the same time that Karzai had begun working with the CIA, he was also employed by Unocal as a consultant for the trans-Afghani pipeline project.

In December 2001, days after Karzai was appointed to the head of the new Afghan interim government, Bush appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as the special envoy to Afghanistan. Included in Khalilzad’s resume, was his position as head of the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defense Department, a position that included advising incoming Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Significantly, during his tenure with the Bush-Cheney transition team, it is likely that Khalilzad was extremely influential in helping to put the previously failed negotiations with the Taliban back on the table. In reviewing Khalilzad’s work history, it is significant that in the late 90’s at the same time that he often acted as a Taliban apologist in defending them against charges that they were exporting terrorism, he was also employed by Unocal to do risk-analysis their proposed trans-Afghani pipeline.

With Karzai and Khalilzad, two former Unocal insiders, placed in key governmental positions, it would only be a matter of time before Unocal’s long term investment in Afghanistan would finally begin to pay off. In fact, it only took five months after the U.S. invasion in October 2001 before the preliminary agreement on the trans-Afghani pipeline would be signed. And by December 2002, the legal framework for the pipeline project would be put in place which would all but guarantee that Unocal’s more than decade long pursuit of the trans-Afghani pipeline would finally come to fruition. As an end result, the trans-Afghani pipeline deal — which as far as the Bush team was concerned began with their re-opening of diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban and after 9/11 briefly went through uncharted territory — ultimately would come off without a hitch, almost as if the Bush team and their cronies had planned it that way from the start.

In regard to the long awaited inking of the deal for the trans-Afghani pipeline it is important to note once again the historical ironies, which began with the Bush team’s negotiations with the Taliban and proceeded through the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. In short: without the Bush team’s failed foreign policy toward the Taliban, it is possible that 9/11 might have never happened. Without 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan would have been doubtable. And without the invasion of Afghanistan, the likelihood of Unocal’s pipeline actually being built would have remained remote at best.

But by far, the biggest irony in all of this is that the Bush team — despite its involvement in blocking intelligence about Saudi and Taliban links to terrorism, while at the same time ignoring warnings from U.S. and foreign intelligence sources about an imminent large-scale attack on U.S. soil — has continued to profit politically from 9/11. Not only has the “war on terror” made Bush exceedingly popular, it has helped the Republican party make huge strides toward their total dominance of the U.S. government. And ironically the political fortune of the Bush team and the Republicans has hung almost exclusively on manipulating the public’s perception that Bush and the Republican party alone are best qualified in fighting the “war on terrorism”, a war which might have been avoided if it were not for the Bush team’s naïve foreign policy of doing business as usual while deliberately choosing to “see no evil”.

Time for an oil change

Prior to 9/11, the Bush team was far too involved in their predisposition to “see no evil” to be bothered by requests for counter-terrorism investigations. This helps to explain why they failed to heed the many warnings of an imminent attack foreshadowed by requests for investigations from U.S. intelligence and amplified by the direct warnings from foreign intelligence during the summer of 2001. In retrospect, it is clear that the Bush team not only chose to ignore these warnings, but in doing so they chose to protect their industry cronies at the expense of the safety of the American people. Whether 9/11 would have happened without the Bush team’s prioritization of their own oil interests is still a point open to debate. What is clear however, is that the Bush team’s foreign policy toward the Taliban did nothing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, but at the same time contributed to the circumstances that made these attacks even more likely to occur.

In regard to Cheney’s deliberate blocking of U.S. intelligence in cases where it may have interfered with U.S. oil interests, it does not matter whether he acted to block investigations into the Taliban because he was doing his friends in the oil industry a favor; whether he did so for personal gain in the likely event that his former employer Haliburton (which continues to give him profit sharing bonuses) would make money in the Afghan pipeline deal; or even that he acted out of pure altruism in seeking Central Asian oil for the good of the U.S. economy. In the final analysis, the very idea of negotiating with the Taliban over the trans-Afghan pipeline while at the same time blocking investigations into their links to terrorism was a recipe for disaster. Significantly, the intelligence blocks that Cheney helped put in place allowed al Qaida to complete their plans for the 9/11 attacks under the cover of complete darkness. This alone made it nearly impossible for U.S. intelligence to have acted in ways that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

It is extremely dubious that the 9/11 Commission chaired by Thomas Kean will offer any conclusions that will implicate the Bush team’s involvement or foreknowledge of 9/11 to the extent that is put forward above. And yet if any future official investigation into 9/11 would actually be allowed to get to the bottom of things by asking key players the right questions under oath, it should be relatively easy to determine that Cheney had instigated blocks on U.S. intelligence at the same time that he personally ignored warnings of an imminent attack. Based on the implication of Cheney alone, the scope of such an investigation would doubtlessly be widened and result in a scandal that would insure — as expert correspondent on terrorism John Loftus put it — that “Cheney’s whole house of cards will collapse.”

Once Cheney’s role in the 9/11 attacks is clearly exposed, the scope of a truly independent inquiry would naturally be widened to expose the duplicitous behavior of much of the rest of the Bush team. If this should happen, it would only be a matter of time before, either through the process of indictments and impeachment or at the hands of newly enlightened voters, that the Bush team will ultimately be removed from power. Four more years is too long to wait.

- Dean Heagle ©2004

Notes and references

Part 1: Revisionist History
Resisting an investigation

Documents From Congress' Joint Inquiry into 9/11

U.S. Clamps Secrecy on Warnings Before 9/11
NY Newsday

Congressional Reports: Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
U.S. Government Printing Office

White House, CIA Kept Key Portions of Report Classified
Washington Post

Ignoring the warnings

National Security Advisor Holds Press Briefing
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice


Report questions Rice's statements
St. Petersburg Times

Missing The Warnings

9/11 Probers Say Agencies Failed to Heed Attack Signs
Washington Post

Bush's 9-11 Secrets
Village Voice

They Tried to Warn Us:

The Case For Bush Administration Advance Knowledge Of 911 Attacks


Disregarding the evidence of experts

Commission on National Security/21st Century
Hart Rudman Report Excerpts

U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs

Hart Rudman Report (links to PDF of complete report)
U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century

Commission warned Bush

Paralysis by analysis: Bush proposes yet another global warming study
The Register-Guard

Taking credit for other people’s ideas

Bush wants broad 'Homeland Security' overhaul

Part 2: The Ties that Blind
Protecting oil interests

Saudi Government Provided Aid to 9/11 Hijackers, Sources Say
Los Angeles Times

Saudis Behaving Badly
National Reveiw

A Career Fighting Terrorism
NY Newsday


US agents told: Back off bin Ladens
Independent Media TV

White House Approved Departure of Saudis After Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says
New York Times

Deutsch, Wexler seek probe into Saudi flights
Miami Herald

Administration Approves Evacuation of bin Ladens After 9-11 Despite Open Investigation
Public Education Center

Oil in the Family

Halliburton Iraq ties more than Cheney said

Armitage's Central Asian Targets

Bush Did Try to Save Enron
Consortium News

Whopper of the Week: George W. Bush, "Ken who?"

Don't Cry for Bush, Argentina
Mother Jones

Bush/Lay Correspondence Documents

Kenneth L. Lay (with Linda P.)
Mother Jones

Good Oil Boy’s Network

QUESTIONABLE TIES:Tracking bin Laden's money flow leads back to Midland, Texas

Connecting The Dots Bush..Bath..Bin Laden
Bin Laden's Brother-in-law Had Close Ties to Bush

Scoop New Zealand

Bush's Former Oil Company Linked To bin Laden Family

Bush Said Friend's Arbusto Investment Was His Own, Not Saudi Money
Houston Chronicle

‘ Frauds-R-Us’: The Bush Family Saga Part II: BCCI (Bank of Credit & Commerce)
Information Clearing House

George W. Bush's Dubious Friends
Centre for Research on Globalisation

George W. Bush Financial Scams: CRG selection of articles
Centre for Research on Globalisation

The Bush-Bin Laden Money Connection


More on Bushladen Carlyle Group: George Soros & James Baker are part of the Family

Meet The Carlyle Group

US arms group heads for Lisbon
Centre for Research on Globalisation

Part 3: Clear Conflicts of Interest
Continued calls for an investigation

Four 9/11 Moms Battle Bush – NY Observer
Scoop New Zealand

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

“ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” Public Law 107-306, 107th Congress
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

New Chairman of 9/11 Commission had business ties with Osama's Brother in Law
Centre for Research on Globalisation

Creation of 9-11 Commission: Public Law 107-306: 107th Congress
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

9-11 Commission Funding Woes

Slippery Connections

'Oil War' Questions Surround Cheney Energy Group
Inter Press Service

[PDF] National Energy Policy May, 2001

High court may hear Cheney appeal
Boston Globe

Judicial Watch

Players on a rigged grand chessboard: Bridas, Unocal and the Afghanistan pipeline
Centre for Research on Globalisation

Trading with the enemy

U.S. Policy Towards Taliban Influenced by Oil - Say Authors
Inter Press Service

U.S. energy companies negotiating with the Taliban

See no evil

Would Be Hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui
Centre for Research on Globalisation

Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller

Senators question 'Phoenix memo' author

The Phoenix Memo

The Politics of Treason

Agent Alleges FBI Ignored Hamas Activities
Washington Post

A slippery slope

Laundering the 'Truth'
Village Voice

U.S. Taliban Policy influenced by Oil
Centre for Research on Globalisation

US 'planned attack on Taleban'

India joins anti-Taliban coalition

India in anti-Taliban military plan

Bush, oil and the Taliban

Part 4: Business as Usual
Irony where is thy sting?

Target: bin Laden: Bush says terrorist is 'wanted dead or alive'
NY Newsday

Hell to Pay, Part Four: The Proving Ground

A Creeping Collapse in Credibility at the White House: From ENRON Entanglements to UNOCAL Bringing the Taliban to Texas and Controlling Afghanistan

Completing the negotiations

Karzai: A true patriot?
BBC Monitoring

USA: Unocal Advisor Named Representative to Afghanistan

Central Asia gas deal signed

Agreement On US 3.2 Billion Gas Pipeline Project Signed



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