Conspiracy And Paranoia As Distraction

by Jan Baughman

June 3, 2002


Perhaps the events of 9-11 could have been prevented, perhaps not. Perhaps you believe in "conspiracy" theories: The administration allowed this to happen to further their agenda; it was not an airplane that hit the Pentagon; the plane that went down in Pennsylvania was actually shot down by US military. Perhaps you are more interested in a few questions that are worth asking: Why did the President continue his visit to the Florida elementary school, during which he learned of these events that fueled his warpath? Why wasn't the military prepared to intercept the plane that struck the Pentagon, when an hour had passed since the first hit on the World Trade Center? Moreover, how does this superpower with a defense budget that surpasses all others have an intelligence infrastructure so inept?

Putting these questions aside, one can note that unlike in most mishaps, injustices, and tragedies in this country, there was no immediate post 9-11 blame. No immediate questioning of intelligence holes, lack of military response, etc. Only months later did the blame game begin. It is noteworthy that the Bush administration's immediate post-September 11 mantra (and eventual action) was that the defense budget must be increased to even more obscene levels. Yet where was the immediate questioning and review of our intelligence departments?

There was no clear warning, so we hear. Except for the ignored FBI warnings; recorded conversations with al Qaeda members on an impending attack; the '93 attack on the World Trade Center; the '98 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.... What does it take for a superpower on the lookout to connect patterns which connect? Better yet, did and does the political will exist to do so?

Meantime, repeated, uncorroborated and vague warnings that something bad might happen are issued; virtual disclaimer labels stamped on our litigious and increasingly paranoid society so that next time they can say, "We predicted this would happen, and we warned you."

May 18, 2002 - CNN
"U.S. intelligence agencies have seen an increased level of activity suggesting another al Qaeda terrorist operation could be in the works, though they have received no specific information about a possible attack, government officials told CNN."

May 22, 2002 - CNN
"New York City authorities are taking new precautions to protect landmarks from new attacks and lawmakers are looking into why a memo noting that Osama bin Laden supporters were taking flying lessons at U.S. schools never surfaced until after September 11. The FBI, citing an "abundance of caution," warned authorities to be ready for possible terrorist attacks against city landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, sources said Tuesday. The new information about possible terror acts in the city was gathered from detainees, but sources said the threats had not been corroborated. The information did not include specifics, such as when an attack could occur."

May 24, 2002 - CNN
"The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a warning about possible attacks on rail and transit systems across the country, law enforcement officials said Thursday. The department's warning was sent out on Wednesday and was based on unconfirmed and uncorroborated information, one law enforcement official said."

May 26, 2002 - CNN
"As the FBI warned Friday that terrorists may try to use small aircraft for suicide attacks, the nation's nuclear power plants were placed on a heightened state of alert. Thursday, the FBI said it had received uncorroborated and unconfirmed information about a possible threat from underwater divers. It did not include any specific locations or industries that may be targeted."

May 31, 2002 - CNN
"Although it has had no specific warnings, the FBI is alerting law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for any signs of terrorist plans to use shoulder-fired missiles against U.S. targets, especially commercial airliners. The alert comes after investigators concluded al Qaeda operatives might have tried to shoot down a U.S. military plane in Saudi Arabia earlier this month. The FBI warning stressed the United States had no specific intelligence that al Qaeda is planning an attack using shoulder-fired missiles."

To keep us under control and away from questioning, frozen with fear, Cheney warns that an investigation could hinder the government's ability to prevent further, perhaps more deadly attacks. (When it couldn't prevent them without the hindrance of an investigation?!?) If there's going to be a scapegoat, it certainly won't be Bush, despite having been advised of potential al Qaeda hijackings one month before they occurred. The FBI is suddenly being overhauled, as director Robert Mueller III is thrown into the spotlight and obtusely suggests the attacks could have been prevented: "I cannot say for sure that there wasn't a possibility we could have come across some lead that would have led us to the hijackers." Heads may have yet to roll.

So let the bureaucrats investigate themselves. If there is something there -- a collective averting of the eyes so as to pursue a political agenda, or total systemic ineptness, it could take years to piece together. In the meantime, we have some work to do, with our voices and our votes, to keep the powers-that-be from dragging us all down a path to violence and a fiscal drain. This is one warning that can be corroborated.

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Jan Baughman is a scientist in the Biotech Industry. When Jan does not travel around the world on behalf of the company where she manages a clinical research department, she spends most of her time devouring books like candies and relaxing over the preparation of the finest recipes in Northern California. She started writing at a very young age when she found this mode of expression easier than having to answer the perpetually boring and conservative chit-chat around her. Jan's sense of observation is directly related to her sense of humor. She is a founding member and co-editor of Swans, and brings to the site wit and a lightness of being.

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Published June 3, 2002
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