There should be no confusion about the purpose of the 9/11 Commission. The last thing that the current circus orchestrated by the ruling class is designed to do is uncover the truth about the period leading up to 9/11 and the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. While the hearings perhaps have undermined the credibility of the Bush administration and revealed some embarrassing details, the major thrust of the hearings will be a proposal to bolster yet again the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state, strengthen the CIA and the FBI, facilitate domestic surveillance, relax restrictions on searches and seizures at home, and unleash a new round of CIA covert activities abroad. To the extent that the hearings have been critical of President Bush, it is more because of discomfort within large sections of the ruling class about the administration's handling of the situation in Iraq, than because of errors made about the 9/11 attacks. This was made abundantly clear by the remarks, for example, by Commission member and former Democratic Senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, when he prefaced his questioning of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice with a critique of the administration's Iraqi policy.
Public testimony in the 9/11 Commission's investigation of the alleged "intelligence failings" offer ample confirmation of the analysis of these events developed by the ICC in fall 2001, immediately after the attacks. While the bourgeois politicians fingerpoint and try to outdo each other in proposing a revamping of the intelligence apparatus and repressive legislation to strengthen the domestic spying and police powers of the state, the real lesson of the hearings is never mentioned: the American government knew that an attack was coming and consciously permitted it to happen for political and ideological purposes, much the same way that the Roosevelt administration permitted the Japanese attack that it knew was coming at Pearl Harbor in 1941, to give it the pretext to mobilize a reluctant population for entry into World War II.
The timeline emerging from the hearings confirms with more details than were available when we first developed our analysis of why the bourgeoisie permitted the 9/11 attacks to occur. The evidence clearly demonstrates that the bourgeoisie knew that al Qaeda was preparing attacks within the U.S. that al Qaeda was planning to use hijacked airplanes as missiles, that al Qaeda was operating in the U.S., that al Qaeda's agents were training in American flight schools, and that al Qaeda was preparing a major terrorist attack within the U.S. during the summer 2001. The evidence further suggests that the administration, nevertheless, permitted the attacks to occur in order to create a political climate that would permit it to foment war psychoses in the population and simultaneously allow it to beef up the repressive apparatus of the state with minimal opposition. Here is what the timeline shows:
Summer 1996, the "American intelligence community" (in a strange distortion of the word "community", the bourgeoisie uses this phrase as an umbrella term for its foreign and domestic spying agencies) prepared to protect the Atlanta Olympics from terrorist attacks that might utilize hijacked airplanes. Former FBI director Freeh reported similar concerns about terrorists using airplanes to attack in 2000 and 2001.
January 25, 2001, President Bush and National Security Advisor Rice were briefed on al Qaeda and informed that it was operating in the U.S.
On Feb. 7, 2001, Richard Clarke, the Clinton administration anti-terrorism expert that was retained in office by Rice, further briefed Rice on al Qaeda's operations in the U.S.
Throughout spring 2001, Clarke repeatedly requested that he be permitted to address a cabinet level meeting on the al Qaeda threat, but was rebuffed by Rice.
On July 5, 2001 Rice, having declined to convene a cabinet level meeting on al Qaeda, instead asked Clarke to hold lower level meetings to help domestic agencies to prepare for possible domestic attack. This effectively sent a signal downgrading the administration's concerns about an imminent attack.
July 10, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix recommended checking whether al Qaeda operatives were training at American flight schools (they were!).
July 20-21, 2001, Egyptian intelligence sources informed the Bush administration that terrorists were plotting to attack the G-8 Economic Summit in Genoa by crashing a hijacked airplane filled with explosives into the conference building. Italian military personnel manned anti-aircraft weapons around the site to protect the assembled imperialist leaders. For security reasons, Bush did not sleep at the conference site, but stayed aboard an American naval vessel in the harbor.
Aug. 6, 2001, the CIA presented Bush with a Presidential Daily Briefing, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." warned that bin Laden was planning to attack in the US homeland, that al Qaeda cells had been surveilling federal buildings in New York City, that the FBI reported activity consistent with preparations for airplane hijackings by al Qaeda operatives. Implausibly, the Bush administration rationalizes its blas? attitude towards this CIA warning by arguing a) that it was primarily an "historical report" and b) that there really wasn't a threat since time, date, and place were not specifically mentioned.
Sept. 4, 2001, Clarke sent a memo to Rice urging immediate action to block a possible attack, warning of the possibility that hundreds of people could be killed.
The real reason for permitting the terrorist attacks to unfold can be inferred from Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the commission. For example, Rice complained that, "...for all the language of war spoken before 9/11, this country simply was not on war footing." How does one accomplish getting a nation on "war footing"? Following the example of the Roosevelt administration in 1941, Rice explained it quite clearly when she said, "Bold and comprehensive changes are sometimes only possible in the wake of catastrophic events - events which create a new consensus that allows us to transcend old ways of thinking and acting." References to the importance of "catastrophic events" as a means of transcending "old ways of thinking and acting" were repeated several times in Rice's testimony. For example, in answer to one question, she said, "And I think that the unfortunate - and I really do think it's extremely tragic - fact is that sometimes until there is a catastrophic event that forces people to think differently, that forces people to overcome old customs and old culture and old fears about domestic intelligence and the relationship, that you don't get that kind of change."
Still later, she worried that the American people might "forget" the political lessons of these catastrophic events. "I would not consider the problem solved," Rice told the commission. "My greatest concern is that, as September 11 recedes from memory, we will begin to unlearn the lessons we've learned." This of course opens up the possibility of allowing future attacks to keep alive patriotic fervor, and may be linked to the predictions that al Qaeda may strike again before the presidential election in November.
This notion that a catastrophic event could be used to manipulate mass consciousness had been bandied about by leading Republicans even before winning the 2000 election. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had been involved with the Project for a New American Century, a right-wing think-tank that argued as early as 2000 that the United States needed "some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor" to justify a military invasion of Iraq.
So, what the 9/11 Commission will never tell us, is that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were allowed to occur, not because the Bush administration is incompetent or that President Bush was asleep at the wheel, or that American intelligence agencies are poorly organized, but that it was consciously allowed to happen in order to use a "catastrophic event" to manipulate the American people - in the same cynical way that the Roosevelt administration permitted Pearl Harbor to happen in December 1941. The Bush administration may not have foreseen the magnitude of the attack, or the number of lives that would be lost - it is probable that even al Qaeda was surprised that the Twin Towers collapsed into dust - but they purposely allowed it to happen so that they could finally overcome the legacy of the so-called "Vietnam syndrome," and mobilize the population behind the state for imperialist war. That the Bush administration has apparently squandered the ideological capital it gained in September, 2001 with its botched occupation of Iraq is what is creating serious political problems for Bush's bid for reelection.