Unlikely Suspect

by Philip Greenspan

November 12, 2001

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The 9/11 attacks have been extensively compared with Pearl Harbor. While some obvious similarities have been explored a rather subtle one has not been mentioned. Why was the United States surprised both times?

In 1941, there was a threat of war. US-Japanese negotiations had reached a critical stage. Why then was the attack on Pearl Harbor a military surprise? The sad truth is the lack of preparation was deliberate!

FDR was convinced that the Axis powers had to be defeated and it was necessary for the US to enter the war. The American public was not. A Gallop Poll taken in September 1940 showed that 88 percent of the public opposed America's entry into the war. Roosevelt had won reelection by promising that "Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." But he also had mentioned to his staff, "Of course, we'll fight if we are attacked. If somebody attacks us, then it isn't a foreign war, is it?"

To overcome the public's anti-war stance the administration implemented a clandestine plan to entice the Japanese to attack the US. Part of that plan provided for an unprotected Pearl Harbor. The Admiral heading the Pacific fleet opposed a weakening defense and was transferred. The immediate results of that deception cost over 2,400 lives, brought the US into the war, and made the American public 'gung ho' for fighting the Axis. Pearl Harbor was a catastrophe but it solved Roosevelt's conundrum. (1)

That the present government could have actually been involved in a plot to effect the 9/11 attacks is inconceivable. So, why did security fail?

The attacks were an extremely well planned and executed operation involving at least four aircraft and nineteen participants. It was years in preparation. Five of the terrorists trained at US military installations. During those years the CIA (with a budget of $30 billion a year) and the FBI must surely have gotten some clues of the terrorists' intents. It is strange that our security forces should have been so unprepared. Consider some evidence:

There have been numerous terrorist actions against the US — Berlin disco, 1986; World Trade Center, 1993; American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, 1998; and USS Cole, 2000.

The authorities were well aware that sites such as the World Trade Center, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels had previously been targets of terrorists' misdeeds.

There was a warning from foreign security agencies of an upcoming terrorist attack. (2)

Willy Brown, the mayor of San Francisco, was warned the day before to be cautious of flying. (3)

There was exceptional heavy short selling of stock and put options of the airlines and insurance companies involved in the crash days before the attack. (4)

A surprise attack could—in the most favorable light for our security services—only be explained as gross negligence. Unless as in the Pearl Harbor—perish the thought—the attack was welcomed by the government and unpreparedness was DELIBERATE!

What could possibly be the reason for such an incredible decision?

Like before WWII the public was opposed to a major US war. Since Vietnam every administration has been extremely cautious in their use of the military. The Reagan administration was most desirous of destroying the Sandanistas but knew that the American public would not welcome a US military action. Accordingly, they attempted to secretly fund proxies, the Contras, to accomplish the job; and suffered exposure with the Iran-Contra scandal. Military actions where the US acted alone were against weak opponents, undertaken without prior consultation of Congress, with a minimum of American casualties and were over before repercussions could develop — Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Somalia, and bombings of Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan. In more complex operations, like Iraq and Yugoslavia, an alliance of international forces employing overwhelming firepower resulted in minimal American casualties. In other occasions, like Columbia and elsewhere, private companies of former US military personnel are hired by the government to fight its battles, thus avoiding US military casualties.

The government was extremely reluctant to commit the military to a major undertaking — a lengthy campaign, many casualties, major expenditures, home front sacrifices. An enemy attack, à la Pearl Harbor, would be the perfect antidote for the Vietnam 'anti-war' syndrome!

In addition, it would get the country united and behind the actions of the Administration. If ever there was an administration that needed such action it was this one. Landslide George's approval ratings were consistently dropping. The traditional post-election honeymoon was fast disappearing.

And it worked! Just look at the results. A united country; overwhelmingly supportive Democrats, almost unanimous in backing a Republican administration; legislation that would at best have been extremely difficult to pass sailed through Congress with substantial majorities; the corporate elite and the fat cats have been gorging on all the benefits that have been accruing their way since 9/11; the recession is attributed to and excused by the events; and for the military-industrial complex, the ultimate prize — an open invitation for unlimited war, for an unlimited length of time, against whomever Dubya selects! George Jr. will sure show us he's no wimp.

If all this looks too fantastic, too hard to believe, then now is the time to recall the famous words of that icon of journalism, I. F. Stone, (5) who warned journalism students: "Governments lie!" Then, with the assistance of the main media, these lies are disseminated to a trusting public.

In time the truth emerges and the duplicity is uncovered. Two instances:

The Munich Agreement....used in every instance when a government seeks war. But the truth is that the Chamberlain administration rather than attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution to Hitler's demands was secretly encouraging him to continue his aggressive policies into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Hitler's impatience for conquest prevented Chamberlain from softening up the British public and war ensued. (6)

The Gulf War was preceded by a period during which laws were broken to supply Iraqis with arms forbidden by legislation. A devious credit scheme used the agriculture department to get American taxpayers to finance the Iraqis with not only unauthorized hardware but biological weapons as well. And like the Pearl Harbor scheme, which enticed Japan to attack Pearl Harbor, Hussein was encouraged to attack Kuwait. A great deal of this sordid history is known as Iraqgate. Although it was quite effectively covered up, again with the assistance of the main media, the story emerged in Congressional hearings and in court. (7)

Finally, we end up at war with a country that the overwhelming majority of Americans had very little or no knowledge of prior to the September tragedy. Yet, a country in which, by some strange coincidence, the government was planning to intervene militarily as early as December 2000. (8)

The BBC reported that Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, claimed that American officials told him in July 2001 that a military operation was planned for Afghanistan in mid-October. (9) The 9/11 attacks sure simplified the administration's case before the public! Why was war with Afghanistan considered in December 2000, over nine months before the 9/11 attacks?


How ironic that the public should be so trusting of a government whose officials, only a short time ago, were so critical of....government! Sadly, the instincts of the public have been distorted by the 9/11 attacks.

We should heed the wisdom of thoughtful men:

"There was never a good war or a bad peace."
--Benjamin Franklin

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
--George Orwell

"When the rich wage war, it is the poor who die."
--Jean Paul-Sartre



1.  Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit : The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor, 2001, Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0743201299  (back)
2.  "Israeli security issued urgent warning to CIA of large-scale terror attacks," by David Wastell in Washington and Philip Jacobson in Jerusalem.
"ISRAELI intelligence officials say that they warned their counterparts in the United States last month that large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent.
The attacks on the World Trade Centre's twin towers and the Pentagon were humiliating blows to the intelligence services, which failed to foresee them, and to the defence forces of the most powerful nation in the world, which failed to deflect them.
The Telegraph has learnt that two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation." news.telegraph.co.uk, September 16, 2001.  (back)
3.  San Francisco Chronicle, September 12, 2001.  (back)
4.  Los Angeles Times, September 19,2001; The Independent, October 14, 2001.  (back)
5.  Isador Feinstein Stone was born in Philadelphia on 24th December, 1907. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants who owned a store in Haddonfield, New Jersey. He studied philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and while a student he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
After leaving university he joined The Camden Courier-Post. Influenced by the work of Jack London, Stone became a committed radical journalist. In the 1930s he played an active role in the Popular Front opposition to Adolf Hitler.
Stone moved to The New York Post in 1933 and during this period supported Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. His first book, "The Court Disposes" (1937), was a defence of Roosevelt's attempt to expand the Supreme Court.
After leaving The New York Post in 1939, Stone became associate editor of The Nation. His next book, "Business as Unusual" (1941), was an attack on the country's failure to prepare for war. "Underground to Palestine" (1946) dealt with the migration of Eastern European Jews at the end of the Second World War.
In 1948 Stone joined The New York Star. Later he moved to The Daily Compass until it ceased publication in 1952. A critic of the emerging Cold War, Stone published the "Hidden History of the Korean War" (1952).
Inspired by the achievements of George Seldes and his political weekly, In Fact, Stone started his own political paper, the I. F. Stone's Weekly in 1953. Over the next few years Stone led the attack on McCarthyism and racial discrimination in the United States. In 1964 Stone was the only American journalist to challenge President Johnson's account of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Throughout the 1960s Stone exposed the futility of the Vietnam War. The I. F. Stone's Weekly had a circulation of 70,000 but ill-health forced Stone to ceased publication in 1971. Isador Feinstein Stone continued to write in depth about politics until his death on 17th July, 1989.

"He was the modern Tom Paine," wrote Ralph Nader in a Tribute to I.F. Stone, in Multinational Monitor JULY/AUGUST 1989 - VOLUME 10 http://www.essential.org/monitor/hyper/issues/1989/07/mm0789_01.htm  (back)
6.  Clement Leibovitz, Alvin Finkel, Christopher Hitchens, In Our Time : The Chamberlain-Hitler Collusion. 1998, Monthly Review Press; ISBN: 0853459991  (back)
7.  Alan Friedman, "Spider's Web : The Secret History of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq." 1993, Bantam Books; currently out of print.  (back)
8.  Washington Post, December 19, 2000; The Toronto Sun, December 4, 2000.  (back)
9.  Gilles d'Aymery, "Osama bin Laden: Convenient Scapegoat?" Swans 10/29/01.  (back)


       Philip Greenspan's bio is concise and right to the point: 75 years old, married 49 years, 2 children, 3 grandchildren. Veteran World War II Army of the U.S. Graduate Brooklyn Law School, member of the NY bar. Private law practice, followed by employments in the motion picture industry -- distribution and exhibition, and data processing industry -- retailing and stock market; retired 6 years.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Philip Greenspan 2001. All rights reserved.

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Published November 12, 2001
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