Column: Does President Bush Really Want an Independent Investigation of 9-11?

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Mr. Carpenter is working on a book about American demagoguery. He is a columnist for HNN.

Oh my. At the eleventh hour Iraqi diplomats threw a wrench into United Nations negotiations over the wording of inspection terms while insisting they're in "100 percent accordance" with that global body's determination to find out what in hell is going on in Baghdad. Every Earthling of passable intelligence knew this would happen, of course, and it just goes to show you, said a U.S. spokesman, "once again the Iraqis want to delay and deceive."

True, delay and deceit are standard tools of the diplomatic trade, and thus, thankfully, far from authentic casus belli. Nevertheless Bush II has added their mealy-mouthed deployment by Iraq as yet another specific and reasonable reason to dispatch the Marines with the latest in guns blazing. Sadly, according to U.S. military officials they'll be blazing away with inadequate protection from Saddam's biological cookery, but best to skip over that for now.

None of this is extraordinary. Everyone expected Iraq to play duplicitous games; everyone expected the Bush administration to capitalize on them; and everyone absolutely knows that whatever transpires diplomatically, hundreds, maybe thousands of young Americans and even more innocent Iraqis--children, women, the aged--are about to die. Aside from habitual hawks, those of politically ambitious persuasions, and dropouts from Elementary Logic, no one is quite clear why these deaths are imperative. But off we'll march behind the exact thinking of George W. and invertebrate Senate Democrats. As columnist Maureen Dowd so eloquently framed our leaders' rationality, "Tom Daschle, Dianne Feinstein and other doubters came around … to the view that Iraq is an urgent threat after the C.I.A. director, George Tenet, sent Congress a memo … stating that Iraq is not an urgent threat." Unsettling? Yes. Extraordinary for Washington? No.

Also unextraordinary was that which occurred the very day before Iraq leveled its "delay and deception" at the ever-truthful world community. The loudest opponent of those scandalous tactics leveled its own delay and deception in investigating the rampant intelligence bumbling that preceded the slaughterous event now cynically used as a pretext for more slaughter. On the heels of a delicately reached bipartisan congressional agreement on the terms of an investigative commission, the White House--whose cooperation seemed assured--shut it down with "fresh objections." Oh my. And at the eleventh hour, no less.

Who ever could have imagined such betrayal coming from an ethically depraved band of former corporate cutthroats? Certainly not the chief dope of the congressionally bewildered, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. He was "surprised" at the administration's underhandedness and openly pondered, "[Does the White House] really want to allow this commission to be created?" It's chumps like Lieberman who entice one to enter the swampland sales profession.

In most open societies, any equivalent display of such swaggering deceit would be scorned and condemned en masse: that sort of behavior is, theoretically, confined to the Saddam Husseins of the world. But not in W's happy little democracy. Rather, it is mostly left to family members of 9/11 victims to directly, straightforwardly express disgust. Despite administration officials' laughable posturing that they really, really want an independent investigation (which is to say, outside inspection), "They're doing everything they can to kill it," said Stephen Push, husband of an airliner-assault victim.

Mr. Push wasn't merely "disappointed," as Senator Lieberman so unctuously said he felt at the White House's flagrant delay and deception. He was supremely, justifiably, and pointedly livid. "We've been talking to the White House for months. They keep saying, 'We just have this one little thing to fix.' So we fix that, and they come up with three other things." It might be they're too busy pointing out it's "the Iraqis [who] want to delay and deceive." Other families in a prepared statement similarly bewailed that W's gang talks a good game "while apparently doing everything in its power to prevent the commission from being established."

Their frustration is heartbreaking--and the story warranted all of about 12-hours serious news coverage, barely a half-life cycle. The otherwise staggering duplicity of W and his imperial henchmen has become that routine, that little noticed or noticeable, that dismissive. Ho-hum duplicity, yes, but their reasons for a Just War are on the level--honestly.

This whole sorry mess of contemporary history someday will elevate to historic profundity Representative Pete Stark's recent words of caveat emptor over W's bill-of-goods militarism: "The bottom line is I don't trust this president and his advisors."

© Copyright 2002 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and

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Al Czervikjr - 10/17/2002

I am reminded of an interview of Ralph Nader that I saw a number of months ago. After allowing Mr. Nader to complain for some time about the policies of the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11, the interviewer asked him what he would have done differently. His only response was that 9/11 would not have happened if he had been elected because one of his first actions as president would have been to reinforce the cockpit doors of airplanes. plan, even with the benefit of hindsight.

Alec Lloyd - 10/17/2002

G. Parks, do explain to us what measures you have in mind.

The arrest of the 19 highjackers? Wouldn’t that be “racial profiling?” I’d bet my word processor that G. Parks would be carrying a sign denouncing this radical infringement of civil liberties should the Bush administration have taken that step.

What would you charge them with, carrying box cutters? I assume we would have to try them in open, civilian court where all of our intelligence capabilities would be exposed to the world. Just as in the 1993 WTC bombing, where Bin Laden learned we could listen in on satellite phone conversations. That little tidbit played no small part in allowing al-Qaeda to keep a lower profile.

Once again we have the same irrational carping on the left: they have no plan, only sarcasm and hate. President Bush should have stopped 9/11, but any measure he could have taken would have elicited charges of “despotism!” “dictatorship!” and “illegitimate government!”

One reason I have cut down on my writing on this page is that the opposition is unworthy of my attention. There are simply no credible arguments, no alternative plan. Whatever the Bush adminsitration is doing must by defninition be short-sighted, belligerent, motivated by greed, etc. but no alternative is ever broached.

Admit it, Mr. Carpenter and company: you have no plan. You are utterly lost, pinned between reflexive hatred of Republicans and loathing of the military. Sanctions are starving Iraqis, so they’re bad, but something must be done to contain Iraq, only it can’t involve the military. Coups and assassinations are only acceptable if perpetrated by non-Americans (Castro=good, Pinochet=bad) so we are left with more meaningless UN resolutions. All the while the world turns, the tyrants arm and we do nothing.

The only real plan of action offered is massive shipments of danegeld to our enemies in the hope that they don’t keep up their attacks and raise their tribute. The subtext is that the West is guilty and that snipers, bombers and terrorists are our just desserts for the crime of being born in an affluent secular society. Best to make out our wills and die with repentance in our hearts.

Christopher Hitchens is on to something. Other prominent leftists have recognized the idealogical vacuum that prevails in the anti-war crowd. After months of flogging the issue, there’s little left to say.

Chris Messner - 10/16/2002

But the democrats couldn't push for such an investigation, knowing that, besides showing the faults of the Bush administration, it would inevitably lead to the 8 year failure of Mr. "international", Bill Clinton, and his short-sited weak responses to terrorism, and his administration's changes to intelligence. And we couldn't allow the real root causes to be reached, better we allow half-truths and ninvestigated recriminations then show Bill to have been an idiot.

Come on people, you want to reform the government then push for term limits and eliminate career politicians on both sides; that's the only way we can end the bribery, the corruption, the leaks of confidential info to get back at each other, and the undue influence of lobbying groups.


G. Parks - 10/15/2002

Of course, the Bush apologists can't imagine that there were/are measures available to prevent/warn about terrorist threats that don't require gross violations of legal rights and that don't involve idiotic color-coded states of "alerts".

Al Czervikjr - 10/15/2002

>>If the Senate Democrats had simple political courage, human decency, or an understanding of the electorate they long ago would have launched a thorough public investigation of this pseudo-administration's failure to take any measures pre-9/11 to prevent the attacks about which it had so much advance warning.

Of course, had the Bush administration taken any measures pre-9/11 to prevent potential terrorist attacks, the G. Parks' of the world would have been the very first to scream about Ashcroft et al's needless assault on civil liberties and Bush's use of purported terrorist threats for political gain.

A nice game...if terrorists attack, its Bush's fault. If terrorist's don't attack, then Bush is cynically overstating the threat for political purposes...head's I win, tails you lose.

G. Parks - 10/15/2002

The Democrats in Congress (with at most a handful of exceptions)clearly are intimidated by the poll numbers for Bush and by the universal support for this pseudo-administration by the mainstream media (all of which are owned by a small number of huge corporations). Their willingness to allow Bush to violate the Constitution, national laws, international laws and treaties makes them complicit in his indefensible policies. Obviously, they don't realize or don't care that their cynical cooperation and/or silence only perpetuates Bush's popularity.

If the Senate Democrats had simple political courage, human decency, or an understanding of the electorate they long ago would have launched a thorough public investigation of this pseudo-administration's failure to take any measures pre-9/11 to prevent the attacks about which it had so much advance warning. Bush would have been begging for a more private commission investigation. Their failure to meet the obligations of their offices now seems likely to cost them control of one or both houses of Congress.

Pierre S. Troublion - 10/14/2002

Mr. Carpenter has, again, illuminated the unsightly and hypocritical underside of the George W. Bush Administration.

If Saddam Hussein really had nothing to hide, he would have let weapons inspectors do their jobs properly years ago. (Sanctions would have been lifted, he'd be about ready for his next war by now, but America might well have begun to stop denying the consequences of its monumentally wasteful addiction to oil, and possibly even taken action to reverse decades of taxpayer subsidizing of such waste, and thereby reduced a foreign trade based on weapons exchanged for SUV fuel).

If Bush & Buddies were not engaged in massive scapegoating, smokescreening and stonewalling, they would have set up a full impartial panel of inquiry on September 12, 2001. (They would have earned the respect of a country and world otherwise mistrustful of them and Democrats might have tried to compete with candor and vision instead of fawning spinelessness).

The reality, unfortunately, is one of denial, deception and evasion. In Baghdad, very obviously. And in Washington, very regrettably.

Pierre S. Troublion